Brennan Wood has served as the Executive Director of Dougy Center: The National Grief Center for Children & Families based in Portland, Oregon since 2015, where she has been on staff in various roles since 2004. Brennan’s professional background and expertise are grounded in fundraising, strategic planning, organizational development, and capacity building. She is the author of, A Kids Book About Grief and is a member of the National Advisory Council for the COVID Collaborative as well as the Advisory Council for Hidden Pain. She was the 2020 Light-a-Fire Award Extraordinary Executive Director and a 2022 Women of Influence Award recipient. Brennan is passionate about Dougy Center’s mission to provide grief support, resources, training, and community response to children, teens, young adults, and their families who are grieving before and after a death, and those who support them. Brennan walked through the doors of Dougy Center for the first time in 1987 when her mother, Doris, died three days after she had turned 12-years-old. Her experience in a peer support group at Dougy Center shaped her life and she has strived to provide the same opportunity that she had to other children and families who are grieving in her community, across the country, and around the world ever since. Under Brennan’s leadership, Oregon Business named Dougy Center as a “Best Nonprofit to Work For” for the past six years, and local CEOs voted Dougy Center as a “Most Admired Company” for the past four. Since becoming Executive Director, Brennan has championed Dougy Center’s commitment to equity and inclusion and has brought innovative partnerships, programs, and resources to the field of childhood bereavement. Brennan is committed to making the world a more grief-informed place where we all can acknowledge grief as a natural and normal response to loss that is interwoven into a sociocultural context.
Jennifer Wiles, MA, LMHC, BC-DMT
Jennifer Wiles, MA, LMHC, BC-DMT, is the Director of the HEARTplay Program and Camp Erin Boston at Good Shepherd Community Care in Newton, MA. She has directed these programs since 2012, and has overseen their growth and expansion during this time. During her tenure, HEARTplay has been the recipient of several grants from both local and nationally-based organizations. Jennifer has taught and trained people in the field of children’s bereavement and expressive therapy locally, nationally and internationally. Her current project, Expanding the Language of Grief, is focused on providing access to compassionate grief support services to people of all abilities. Jennifer is a board-certified dance movement therapist/licensed mental health counselor and is on the adjunct faculty at Lesley University’s Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences where she also serves as a clinical site supervisor. She has taught grief counseling and dance movement therapy at the Apollo Institute, Beijing, China. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief where she also chairs the Education Committee. She received a certificate in Nonprofit Management from The MetroWest Nonprofit Network/Framingham State University in 2021. She is a professional member of the New England Children’s Bereavement Network, the MA Mental Health Counselors Association, the MA Coalition for Serious Illness Care, The American Dance Therapy Association, The National Alliance for Children’s Grief, and the Association for Death Education and Counseling.
Darcy Walker Krause, LSW, J.D.
Darcy Walker Krause, MSW, LSW, J.D. (she/her), is the Founder of Good Grief Gal and is a non-profit and grief consultant, specializing in non-profit management, leadership, capacity building, and transformational growth. Having experienced the loss of her mother at the age of 15, Ms. Krause has spent the last thirteen years researching, advocating on behalf of, and supporting grieving children and their families. From 2013 through 2022, Ms. Krause was the Executive Director at Uplift Center for Grieving Children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this role, Ms. Krause led Uplift through transformational growth, including Uplift being recognized as a national thought leader and award-winning organization for its innovative Philly HopeLine. Ms. Krause has presented nationally for the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the NACG on a variety of topics, including human resources, partnering with government and local agencies to combat violence, research studies, and attachment in grief therapy. Ms. Krause is a frequent guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and has been featured on a variety of media outlets, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Fox29, and podcasts (including the Dead Parents Society at the University of Pennsylvania). A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice and the Duke University School of Law, Ms. Krause has served as Secretary, Vice-President, and President of the NACG Board of Directors, and is Secretary of the Philadelphia Duke Alumni Board.
Adam D-F. Stevens, MA, RDT
Adam D-F. Stevens (they|them), MA, RDT are a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) who works at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a non-profit organization that serves LGBTQAI+ youth in NYC. Their role includes supporting queer youth in transforming their loss and grief into unapologetic, abundant joy and empowerment. Previously, Adam worked at the Cooke School & Institute, NYC, guiding young people with developmental and intellectual differences. They are alumni of Marymount Manhattan College and New York University where their areas of study included Theatre Arts and Drama Therapy respectively. Adam serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Creative Arts Therapy Programs at Antioch University in Seattle, and New York University and Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. They have sat on the Board of Directors for the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) as Chair of the Cultural Humility, Equity, and Diversity Committee. Adam is a political and social justice practitioner who supports organizations and schools worldwide amplifying diversity, equity, and inclusion. Adam’s superpowers are rooted in the fantastical forces of creativity and love.
Jim Santucci, CPA
Jim Santucci, CPA, is a graduate of the U.S Military Academy. Jim served four years in the active duty Army as an Infantry officer with the 25th Infantry Division and later commanded the 227th Engineer Company while a member of the Hawaii National Guard. After his 10-year-old daughter died in 2008, he received support from Kara, a non-profit grief services agency in Palo Alto California. Soon after he began volunteer work for organizations advocating for pediatric palliative care (Children’s Hospice & Palliative Care Coalition, Coalition for Compassionate Care of California) and supporting bereaved parents and individuals (Kara, Lucile Packard Family Partners Group). In November of 2013, Jim became the Executive Director of Kara. In addition to his daily chief executive responsibilities, he is a peer group facilitator for parents who have suffered the loss of a child and serves annually as a counselor at Camp Kara (a weekend bereavement camp for children and teens). His non-profit service also includes time with Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto and over 19 years of operations management for two faith- based organizations. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
Jim Price has over 50 years of experience in the funeral profession and is a graduate of the California College of Mortuary Science. Knowing now that 1 out of 5 children in North America are grieving based upon the loss of someone that is very close and significant in their lives, he is hopeful that as a director in the NACG he will be able to better connect those in his profession with regard to how very important it is to have the appropriate conversation with children’s parents. Jim believes it is critical to understand the importance of reaching out to bereavement counselors in communities as well as supporting the wonderful efforts of NACG.
Brianne (Brie) Overton, FT, LPC, NCC
Brianne “Brie” Overton is the Chief Clinical Officer of Experience Camps, a national nonprofit that provides no-fee, clinically informed programs for kids who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver – as well as resources and advocacy so all grieving children can live a life rich with possibility. Brie received her MA in Thanatology from Hood College, her M.Ed in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from University of Missouri – St. Louis, and is a doctoral candidate in counseling at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She has spent 13 years in the field of thanatology providing grief education, support, counseling, death education, suicide prevention and intervention, and consultation.
Michael Milward has been an attorney since 1981 and has worked in the end-of-life care and bereavement field since 1997. He did his legal studies at Santa Clara University and his graduate work in Theology and Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley. He has worked with and been committed to grieving children and teens his entire career. He has also been a hospice chaplain since 2000. In 2012 he became the CEO at Hospice of Santa Cruz County on the central coast of California and served in that role until 2020. He currently serves as the CEO of the California Hospice Network and as a senior advisor to the National Partnership for Hospice and Healthcare Innovation (NPHI), a national collective of almost 100 nonprofit community-based hospices, all of whom have robust community grief support programs for children, teens and adults. He sees a necessary and natural intersection with and between these hospice programs and the collective mission of NACG.
Ryan Loiselle, MSW, LICSW
Ryan Loiselle, LICSW is the program director for FRIENDS WAY. In his role, Ryan manages the day-to-day operations including intake, referrals and community outreach, as well as supervising the volunteer facilitators. In 2001, Ryan began his tenure at FRIENDS WAY as a volunteer group facilitator. He has been the program director since 2011.
Prior to joining FRIENDS WAY, he worked at Merrimack Valley Hospice with a concentration in pediatric palliative care and children’s bereavement. He also served as the program director of “Jeff’s Place”, a bereavement center in Wayland, MA created by FRIENDS WAY founder, Jenny Kaplan.
Ryan studied at the University of Rhode Island and received his degree in Human Development and Family Studies, with a minor in Thanatology (the study of death, loss, grief, and bereavement). He went on to Simmons College in Boston, MA and received his master’s in social work.
Ryan also has a private practice, Rhode Island Grief Counseling, LLC in Providence, RI.
Additionally, he has presented at several conferences for NASW (National Association of Social Workers) and for NAGC (National Alliance for Grieving Children) on children’s bereavement. He joined the board of directors for the NACG in January 2022.
Catherine Alicia Georges, EdD, RN, FAAN
Catherine Alicia Georges, EdD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Catherine Alicia Georges a professor and chairperson of the department of nursing at Lehman College is a leader in academic nursing, health policy development, community engagement, organizational development, and healthy aging. Her leadership in these areas is known nationally and internationally through her service as a member of health policy boards, health care delivery boards, professional organizations, governmental boards, and the world’s largest consumer organization board of directors. She is committed to assuring social justice and equity for marginalized and vulnerable communities.
Dr. Georges served as the national volunteer president of AARP from 2018-2020. AARP is the world’s largest consumer organization. She served as the fifth president of the National Black Nurses Association and is the president of the National Black Nurses Foundation. She is a Lifetime member of the National Black Nurses Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. And an honorary member of Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority. In October 2021 Dr. George became Chair of the National Easter Seals Board. She is the first Black female volunteer to serve as Chair in the 100-year history of the organization. Dr. Georges is a fellow of the NY Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Nursing. In 2019 she was named a Living legend by the American Academy of Nursing. In June 2020, Dr. Georges received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Seton Hall University. In October 2021 she received the Academy of Nursing Lifetime Legacy Achievement Award
Dr. Georges received a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from Seton Hall University College of Nursing, a Master of Arts degree in community health nursing administration and supervision from New York University School of Education, Division of Nursing, and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Vermont.