Michelle is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, and has been dedicated to supporting grieving families since 2002. She is mentored by J. William Worden, Ph.D. and is current Manager of Donor Family Aftercare Department for OneLegacy where she started a grief program & national Facebook support group. Internationally, she speaks and trains on child, teen, and family grief, trauma, death notification, stress management, self-care, group facilitation, executive leadership and team building.
Past experience includes: Consultant to several start-up non-profit organizations, Chair of AOPO National Donor Family Services Council; NAGC Board Member, Secretary, and Membership Committee Chair; former trainer for American Academy of Bereavement and Global Leadership Symposium faculty.
Breakout Session Speakers and Topics
Sandy Gramling: Young Adult Grief
Eleanor Haley & Litsa Williams: Grief and Rituals
Pam Kovacs: Supporting Families at the End of Life
Steffanie Lorig: Art with Heart: Using Creativity to Heal from Loss
Michelle Post: Suicide CPR & First Aid: Assessing and Intervening
Allison Jackson and John Richardson-Lauve: Trauma and Resilience Basics and Building Individual and Community
Allison White Twente: Gender Differences in the Experience of Grief
Tammy Ruiz Ziegler: A Steady Ship in Choppy Seas: Journeying with Families Experiencing Perinatal Death
Breakout Speaker Bios
Sandra Gramling, Ph.D., LCP, FT is an Associate Professor in the department of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has a strong personal and professional interest in coping, recovery, and growth following bereavement, particularly among young adults. She serves as one of the faculty mentors for the student organization AMF which provides peer-led support groups for bereaved students (as well as educational and community service events around issues of student loss and grief). She has published and presented her research in a variety of venues including The Journal of Death Studies and the Association of Death Education and Counseling.
Sandy teaches over 900 undergraduates a year and about 40% of these students have experienced the death of a loved one in the previous two years. Through writing exercises, focus groups, and quantitiative research studies she has developed a deep compassion for bereaved young adults and the unique developmental challenges that they face when confronted with the loss of a loved one. The research out of her lab has included religious coping proecess; ethnic and gender differences; and the use of writing exercises to facilate meaning making among bereaved young adults. In addition, Sandra serves as the Coordinator of Grief Ministries at Richmond Hill and is a board member of the Virginia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Eleanor Haley MS and Litsa Williams MA, LGSW are the co-founders of the grief websites ‘What’s Your Grief’ and ‘Photogrief’. Both are mental health professionals with a collective 15 years experience working in grief and bereavement. Before founding What’s Your Grief, Eleanor and Litsa worked with patients and families at end of life, supporting patients and their families and providing ongoing grief and bereavement support in the years following a death. Feeling frustrated with the online and print materials that were available for grievers, the two founded What’s Your Grief as a resource offering concrete, practical, creative, down-to-earth, and relatable grief support. What’s Your Grief offers hundreds of articles on all topics around grief and loss, print resources to support grievers, a weekly podcast, a grief book club, and in-person support including workshops and support groups.
Pamela J. Kovacs, (Pam) MSW, PhD, is associate professor emerita with the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University, where for 17 years she taught clinical practice, social work practice and health care, and qualitative research and served as a field liaison. Her earlier clinical practice that influenced her teaching and research included work with individuals, families and groups in oncology, hospice, and mental health settings. Her major areas of interest were HIV/AIDS, hospice and palliative care, volunteerism, family caregiving, and preparing social workers and other health care professionals to work with families experiencing a health challenge.
Steffanie Lorig parlayed her background in graphic design, illustration, and writing with her passion for helping children facing difficult circumstances into the nonrprofit that she founded called Art with Heart, a nonprofit organization that inspires hope and transforms lives through creative expression. Since its inception in 1996, Art with Heart has helped over 136,000 children.
She has served as the creative lead for all of Art with Heart’s intensive training sessions for therapists since 2006, teaching “tips and tricks” for using collage, wire, paint, poetry, and visualizations to engage youth in meaningful creative exploration.
She is the visionary on all Art with Heart’s books from concept to content creation and completion, authoring or co-authoring seven children’s books and two curricula that teach mental health professionals to use creativity to help children learn life-long coping skills.
As a content creator, design entrepreneur, artist, and creative director, she enjoys community collaboration and turning chaos into order. As creator of Art with Heart’s therapeutic activity books, she has collaborated with hundreds of well-known illustrators as well as therapists throughout the world.
She is a four-time winner of Sappi’s “Ideas That Matter” national grant and her children’s book and the book she co-authored with her husband, “Such a Silly Baby,” received a favorable review from the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Publisher’s Weekly. And in 2014, she was honored by Seattle Met Magazine for “game changing action” for work done in Newtown, CT after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
John Richardson-Lauve is a licensed clinical social worker who manages Mental Health Service at ChildSavers. His passion is developing his program and his staff to meet the needs of our community, particular underserved and under-resourced children and families. His work has included a variety of settings, including parenting over 50 children in foster care. He has worked in non-profits for 20 years and has a commitment to promote a level playing field for everyone in our community.
Allison Jackson, PhD, LCSW, LICSW, CSOTP is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Sex Offender Practitioner in the State of Virginia and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in the District of Columbia. Her clinical practice and research has focused on advancing effective trauma informed treatment practices for persons who experience significant conduct related behavior problems. Her areas of specialty include attachment based models of treatment; sexual abusiveness in children and adolescents; neuropsychology; and the use of neuroscience to inform work with children and adults with complex trauma disorders.
Dr. Sampson-Jackson is a person of lived experience as well as being a professional who has provided services to “at-promise” youth and their families via the Department of Social Services, Public Mental Health Clinics, as well as within Juvenile Detention and Correctional facilities. For 13 years, Dr. Sampson-Jackson worked for Providence Service Corporation. During her time with Providence, she moved from working with children and families as a mentor and therapist to serving as a Vice President of Clinical Operations and National Trauma Informed Service Line Leader. In her final year with Providence, she co-led 17 National Trauma Informed Teams with Providence through the National Council of Behavioral HealthCare’s Trauma Informed Learning Collaborative.
Today, Dr. Sampson-Jackson works independently as the CEO of Integration Solutions, providing trauma informed care consultation, education and technical assistance to human service organizations interested in furthering their integration of trauma informed child and family service systems. For more information about Dr. Sampson-Jackson’s work you can visit http://traumaholisticcare.com
Dr. Allison White Twente, Ph.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, works with children and adolescents and their families. She has expertise and interest in children’s social relationships and in facilitating the adjustment of families to change, especially following death or divorce. She provides individual counseling to all age groups, and also counsels couples and families and guides parents in facilitating their co-parenting. Dr. Twente is trained in Collaborative Practice and works as a divorce coach and a child specialist in collaborative approaches to divorce.
Dr. Twente is a licensed clinical psychologist. After completing her professional training at UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Denver, she worked for five years at The Children’s Hospital, Boston for the department of surgery as the pediatric organ transplant psychologist. While in Boston she was an instructor in Psychiatry for Harvard Medical School. She refined her interests in all facets of child development and was especially drawn to helping children cope with chronic medical conditions and grief. After moving to Richmond in 1994, she worked for MCV and then started a small private practice. Dr. Twente later founded Westhampton Family Psychologists, PC a collaborative group practice, in 1998 with her husband, Dr. Stephen Twente.
Dr. Twente and her husband, together for more than 25 years, share in the raising of their two sons.
Tammy Ruiz Ziegler, RN CPLC has been a nurse for 30 years and has worked much of that time in critical care and end of life care including Pediatric ICU, Neonatal ICU, Hospice and Perinatal Bereavement and Perinatal Palliative Care. She began a perinatal palliative care program which provides care and support with babies prenatally diagnosed with life limiting conditions and she has taught internationally on the subject and hosted site visits from professionals from Japan and Ireland. She designed and implemented a respectful burial program that has provided burial for 498 babies.
Tammy has published in The International Journal of Childbirth Education, The Journal of Illness, Crisis and Loss (England), and Hourglass – a parent loss support publication in Queensland, Australia. Her work has been used in national professional curriculum and been translated in to 6 languages.