Seminar Presenters

During the seminar, you will have the opportunity to hear from national experts in grief, trauma, health and wellness and more. Below is a list of the speakers and presenters who will be in attendance.

Make sure to also download the TAPS Events app. Recommended session schedules for different grief programming and speaker information are all built into the easy-to-navigate app. 

 

KEYNOTE PRESENTERS

Bonnie Carroll

Bonnie Carroll is President and Founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), America's frontline resource offering compassionate care for all those grieving a death in the Armed Forces and serving more than 70,000 survivors with 24/7 support services and programs. Ms. Carroll founded TAPS in 1994 following the death of her husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, in an Army aviation crash. Ms. Carroll is a veteran of the United States Air Force with over 30 years of service in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. In her professional career, she worked as a defense consultant on Capitol Hill, a senior appointee in the Reagan and both Bush Administrations, and as Deputy Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Communications in Baghdad, Iraq. She currently serves on the Defense Health Board and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Association of Death Education and Counseling Clinical Practice Award. She is the co-author of "Healing Your Grieving Military Heart" and numerous articles on coping with traumatic grief. Ms. Carroll holds degrees in Public Administration and Political Science from the American University. She makes her home both in Arlington, Virginia and Anchorage, Alaska.

SPECIAL GUESTS

Chef Robert Irvine

With more than 27 years in the culinary profession, Chef Robert Irvine has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels and on the high seas. Robert hosts the Food Network series "Restaurant: Impossible," where he saves struggling restaurants across America by assessing and overhauling their weakest spots. He also previously hosted "Dinner: Impossible" and "Worst Cooks in America." Robert has authored two cookbooks, "Mission: Cook!" and "Impossible to Easy," and one healthy-living book, "Fit Fuel: A Chef’s Guide to Eating Well and Living Your Best Life." He tours with his interactive live show, "Robert Irvine Live," and appears regularly as an expert guest on national morning and daytime talk shows.

In 2015, Robert launched Robert Irvine Foods, a company that features a nutritionally improved line of food products without compromising great taste. He recently established his eponymously named non-profit organization, The Robert Irvine Foundation, in an effort to support military personnel and their families. In recent years he was honored with two very distinguished recognitions for his dedication to the armed services and our country’s heroes. He was first designated Honorary Chief Petty Officer by the U.S. Navy, and later that year awarded the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment and Support of our Service Members, bestowed upon him by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Continuing his support of the military, Robert became the first celebrity chef to open a restaurant — aptly named Chef Robert Irvine’s Fresh Kitchen — at the Pentagon, in the fall of 2016. His other recent projects include the Robert Irvine Magazine in May 2016; the opening of a new Gold’s Gym in Largo, Florida, in January 2017; and the opening of a new restaurant in Las Vegas at the Tropicana in late 2017. For more information on Chef Robert Irvine, visit www.ChefIrvine.com.

SPECIAL GUEST EMCEE

Kimberly Dozier

Kimberly Dozier is Senior National Security Correspondent for The Daily Beast and a CNN Global Affairs Analyst, after four years as AP’s intelligence writer with trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and 17 years as an award-winning CBS News correspondent, covering the Mideast, Europe, the White House and the Pentagon. She held the 2014-2015 Gen. Omar Bradley Chair at the United States Army War College.  She authored "Breathing the Fire," about recovering from a car bomb that killed her CBS News team and the Army captain they were filming in Iraq in 2006. Author’s profits from the paperback and e-book go to military-related charities. Born in Hawaii, Dozier graduated from Wellesley College, and earned a Masters of Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a recipient of the Peabody Award, several Edward R. Murrow Awards, and she was the first woman journalist recognized by the National Medal of Honor Society for her coverage of Iraq.

PROFESSIONAL PRESENTERS

Karen Anderson, MA, ATR-BC, GC-C

Karen is a board-certified art therapist and grief counselor.  Since 2010, she has co-facilitated the Artful Grief: Open Art Studio at the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminars and National Military Suicide Survivors Seminars.  She has been a flight attendant for American Airlines for nearly three decades, where she provided support to co-workers following 9/11 and flight 587 in 2001.  At home in Connecticut, she offers workshops using art and meditation for healing life's transitions, losses and grief.  Karen's father and two brothers served in the Navy, which cultivated her understanding of military culture.  Karen's personal experience of grief is shaped by the loss of her 48-year-old brother. She has two grown children and two cats that are still growing and continue to inspire her own healing.

Capt. Charles Blankenship, MD, USN (Ret)

Dr. Blankenship was a surgeon at the National Naval Medical Center. During his three-decade career as a Naval officer, he served in many capacities including service as ship's surgeon and staff surgeon, as well as deploying during Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Frank Campbell, Ph.D., LCSW, CT

Frank is the former Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center and the Crisis Center Foundation in Louisiana. He is currently the Senior Consultant for Campbell and Associates Consulting where he works with communities on forensic suicidology cases.  It was due to his more than twenty years of working with those bereaved by suicide that he introduced his Active Postvention Model (APM) most commonly known as the LOSS Team (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors). His work with survivors and victims of trauma has been featured in three Discovery Channel documentaries.

The APM concept involves a team of first responders who go to the scene of a suicide and provide support and referral for those bereaved by the suicide. The goal has been to shorten the elapsed time between the death and survivors finding the help they feel will help them cope with this devastating loss. APM has shown to have a positive impact on both the team members (most often bereaved individuals who have gotten help and now provide the installation of hope to the newly bereaved) as well as the newly bereaved. The model has now been replicated in countries as diverse as Australia, Singapore, Northern Ireland, Canada and America.

Frank has also been selected to receive the Louis Dublin award at the 2010 American Association of Suicidology Conference. He is a past president of AAS and has received the Roger J. Tierney Award for service. He was Social Worker of the Year in Louisiana and the first John W. Barton Fellow selected in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Franklin Cook, MA, CPC

Franklin is an Army veteran (1972-1975) whose father, an Air Force veteran (1948-1952), died by suicide in 1978. Since 1999, Franklin has used his experience as a recovering addict and as a survivor of a loved one's traumatic death to promote and implement peer support for bereaved people. He has worked as a consultant at TAPS national seminars since 2012, and he recently helped TAPS produce a booklet for people newly bereaved by suicide. At many TAPS national seminars, he facilitates a nightly sharing group based on the 12-step recovery model. His one-on-one work with the traumatically bereaved is described at personalgriefcoach.com.

Bob Delaney

Bob currently serves as the NBA's Vice President of Referee Operations and Director of Officials.  He previously worked 25 seasons as an NBA referee. Prior to his career in professional basketball, Delaney was a highly decorated New Jersey State Trooper who went undercover to infiltrate the Mafia - cause for his own post-traumatic stress journey.  His firsthand experiences coupled with a passion to better understand traumatic stress have made him an expert on the subject.  Delaney's efforts to educate and bring attention to the topic of post-traumatic stress have entailed visits to military troops around the world, including multiple trips to Afghanistan and Iraq.  He has also been a television guest on networks such as CNN, having been interviewed by media personalities including Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Described by General Robert Brown, U.S. Army Four Star Commander Pacific as the person who "related to soldiers better than any visitor I have seen in my 36 years in the military," Delaney authored a book on the topic, "Surviving the Shadows - A Journey of Hope Into Post Traumatic Stress." He is also the author of "Covert: My Life Infiltrating the Mob."

Keita Franklin, Ph.D.

Keita is a member of Senior Executive Service and serves as Director for the Defense Suicide Prevention Office. She is responsible for policy and oversight for the Departments Suicide Prevention programs. Dr. Franklin previously served as the Behavioral Health Branch Head where she was charged with leading the integration of USMC behavioral health programs. In this capacity, she was responsible for the administration of a number of key program areas including; Research, Program Evaluation, Data Surveillance, Program Development, Functional Systems and Prevention and Clinical Services comprised of Substance Abuse, Family Advocacy, Suicide Prevention, Combat Operational Stress Control and non-medical counseling programs. Dr. Franklin is a licensed social worker with a specialization in children and families and has a Ph.D. in social work with specialized training/certifications from the Center for the Advancement of Research Methods and Analysis. Dr. Franklin received a leadership award from Virginia Commonwealth University for leading efforts to help train and advise the social work profession on working with military families.

James S. Gordon, MD

James is a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, is a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, anxiety and psychological trauma. He is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM), a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and served as Chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Dr. Gordon has created ground-breaking programs of comprehensive mind-body healing for physicians, medical students, and other health professionals; for people with cancer, depression and other chronic illnesses; and for traumatized children and families in Bosnia, Kosovo, Israel, Gaza, Haiti, and Syrian refugees in Jordan; in post-9/11 New York and post-Katrina southern Louisiana; with Native Americans on Pine Ridge Reservation, and for veterans and active duty military. Dr. Gordon's most recent book is "Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey Out of Depression."

Artis Henderson

Artis is the author of "Unremarried Widow," a memoir about her husband's death in Iraq. The book was featured in the New York Times, People and Elle magazines, and on NPR. It was named to more than 10 Best of the Year lists. Henderson has a graduate degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.

Rachael Hill

Rachael is the surviving spouse of Captain Jeff Hill, mom of two VERY active boys, and an Air Force veteran.  She is a graduate student at Marian University and will finish her Master's Degree in Thanatology this coming summer (2017). She has been a TAPS Peer Mentor since 2012 and has been a guest blogger and speaker for numerous organizations including TAPS, Folds of Honor, Blue Star Families, military.com, and the Air Force Marathon to name a few. After her husband's death she started a non-profit organization, the Jeff Hill Legacy Fund, through which educational scholarships are given to Air Force ROTC cadets at select universities across the country. She is also a group fitness instructor at her local YMCA. Most importantly, however, since the death of her husband she has found that in addition to helping her children grow into thriving and respectful young men, her true passion lies in helping others who have found themselves on a similar grief path.  By sharing her story, she hopes others can relate and find that there can always be hope, even through the hardship of loss. 

Gloria Horsley, Ph.D., MSN

Gloria is a licensed marriage and family therapist, founder and president of Open To Hope, one of the world's most visited multimedia, web-based resources for the bereaved. Along with her daughter, Dr. Heidi Horsley, Dr. Gloria is the host of the award-winning "Open To Hope" television and radio shows. She has authored a number of books and articles including "The In-Law Survival Manual and In-Laws a Guide to Extended Family Therapy."  She is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and has been a faculty member at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. She is a past member of the board of directors of The Compassionate Friends (TCF) and currently serves on the TCF and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation advisory boards.  She blogs for the Huffington Post, MADD, Maria Shriver and is a member of the Forbes nonprofit council.

Heidi Horsley, Psy.D., LMSW, MS

Heidi is a survivor of sibling loss and the Executive Director for the Open to Hope Foundation, opentohope.com, an organization committed to helping people find hope after loss. She is a licensed psychologist and social worker and an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Heidi hosts a weekly award-winning cable TV and Internet radio show called "Open to Hope" and has a private practice in New York City. She serves on the National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends and is the author of eight books.

Rayanne Hunter

Rayanne is the surviving spouse of Staff Sergeant Wesley Hunter. A yoga enthusiast for 18 years, she officially certified as a yoga instructor in 2011. In addition to teaching yoga and body movement, Rayanne also received specialized training in yoga for post-traumatic stress.

Donna Naslund, RN

Donna is a Registered Nurse with over 15 years experience in ICU and Emergency Room settings. She has worked in bereavement for the last 10 years. Donna currently volunteers at Gilchrist Hospice in Baltimore, Maryland where she serves as an end of life doula, grief support group facilitator and grief services program developer. Donna earned her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in August 2016 and runs yoga and grief programming for Gilchrist Grief Services. Her personal experiences with grief include being widowed at the age of 26, the stillborn death of a baby girl, the death of her father and the suicide of her 17-year-old niece. This is her sixth year facilitating in the Open Art Studio for TAPS.

Jon K. Reid, Ph.D., LPC, NCC

Jon is an experienced counselor and has conducted counseling in a variety of contexts, such as public schools, churches, counseling agencies, psychiatric hospitals and in private practice. For six years, he served as consultant and supervisor of grief counselors for Camp Strong Heart, a summer camp for grieving children. Jon has also consulted with earthquake survivors in Sichuan Province, China, and has made professional presentations in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Barbados. A long-time member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), Jon served as president of the ADEC Board (2013-2014). He is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas and a National Certified Counselor. A native Texan, he earned a Ph.D. in family studies (1990) from Texas Woman's University and has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University for over 20 years. Jon has been published in several journals including "Death Studies," "School Psychology International," "Journal of Personal and Interpersonal Loss," "Illness, Crises and Loss," as well as a chapter in "The Handbook of Death and Dying" (2003) and the "Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience" (2009).

Heather Stang, MA

Heather is a thanatologist, yoga therapist, and the author of "Mindfulness & Grief," which is based on the eight-week grief support program she facilitates online and at the Frederick Meditation Center in Maryland. Her passion for helping others reduce grief-related suffering is inspired by her own story of love, loss, and posttraumatic growth. She offers many free resources, including guided meditations, at mindfulnessandgrief.com.

Sharon Strouse, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT

Sharon is a board-certified art therapist and licensed clinical professional art therapist with 30 years of clinical experience with adults in both group and individual settings. A year after her 17-year old daughter Kristin ended her own life; Sharon immersed herself in a creative process involving collage which became the foundation for her book, "Artful Grief: A Diary of Healing." Additional published works can be found in Neimeyer's "Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved" and Thompson and Neimeyer's "Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning." She is a workshop presenter for The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors 2008-2017, The American Association of Suicidology 2012, 2014, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 2016, The Association for Death Education and Counseling 2012-2015, The Compassionate Friends 2005-2015, the American Art Therapy Association National Conference 2016-2017 and the Expressive Therapies Summit 2015-2017. She is a board member of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Sharon is the co-founder of The Kristin Rita Strouse Foundation a nonprofit dedicated to supporting programs that increase awareness of mental health through education and the arts. In addition to national workshops, she leads weekly art therapy circles and spiritual and intuitive development circles for survivors of loss.

Paul Tschudi, Ed.S., MA

Paul has over 25 years of experience working with people facing grief, loss and life transitions. He maintained a private counseling practice for over 15 years before his faculty appointment at George Washington University. His interest in end-of-life issues was born out of the experience of serving as a medic in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.

From 1993 until 1997, he was Executive Director of The Wendt Center (aka St. Francis Center), a center for counseling and educating people living with loss and illness. Tschudi currently serves on the Advisory Boards of The Wendt Center for Loss and Healing and TAPS.

William Wagasy, JD, MA

William grew up in Missouri. A former player for Notre Dame under Coach Lou Holtz, he graduated with an accounting degree and a second major in philosophy in 1996. He went on to receive his Juris Doctorate from Pepperdine University in 2000 and his Master's Degree in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine in 2001. Following the attacks of 9/11, he enlisted in the Navy and became a U.S. Navy SEAL in 2003. He completed four combat tours from 2004 to 2011 to Iraq and Afghanistan. After his time in the Navy, he served as the Director of Veteran's Outreach for the Gary Sinise Foundation for 18 months and continues to be an ambassador for the foundation. Today he is the Vice President of National Sales, National Commercial Services for Commonwealth Land Title Company as well as for Fidelity National Title Group for Home Builder Services.

Wildefire (with Tony David, Kerry Edwards & Lindsay Solonycze)

WildeFire offers a wide variety of music from the big band sounds of the 40s, 50s old-time rock 'n' roll sock hop, classic rock, country and American standards. They perform the songs the way they were intended by the original artists, mixing it up for all types of listeners young and old. Their top charitable focus is TAPS having raised over $200,000 by donating their performance time and assistance to numerous fundraisers.Visit their website at www.tonyentertains.com for more details.

Kerry Edwards is a native of Salt Lake City. He performed in musical theater productions and has been singing professionally since 1972. Kerry has played with a variety of rock and jazz bands and has a vocal range and diversity that connects him to his audience. His energy and professionalism enable him to perform a variety of materials to keep the evening entertaining.

Tony David was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and has performed all over Colorado and on stage with many highly acclaimed singers and songwriters from Nashville and New York to Hollywood in front of tens of thousands over the last 20 years. He has been an active board member for ten years for the Colorado Celebrity Classic golf tournament to benefit TAPS.

Lindsay Solonycze lights up any room with her blue eyes and a smile as big as the New York skyline. Her music and style are magnified by world-class music training in opera and vocal performance. Raised in Arkansas, Lindsay was drawn to all things music and started singing in her church choir at age nine. After graduating high school, she studied vocal performance and opera at the University of Colorado, where she was awarded the Julia Holbeck scholarship. She broadened her musical perspective by completing a study abroad program in Novafeltria, Italy. She is currently working with songwriters in Los Angeles and hopes to continue inspiring listeners and giving back through her music.

Brigitta White, MS, R-DMT

Brigitta received her Master of Science in Dance/Movement Therapy from The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York in 2007. She is a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist with the American Dance Therapy Association since 2007. Brigitta holds a certification in children's yoga since 2010. She has volunteered with TAPS Good Grief Camp since 2012 and coordinated the volunteer effort with Washington, D.C.-area dance/movement therapists.  

Ben Wolfe, M.Ed., LICSW and Thanatology Fellow

Ben is a grief, loss and transition trainer and consultant after 28 years as director and grief therapist of St. Mary's Medical Center's Grief Support Center in Duluth, Minnesota, where he provided life-threatening illness and bereavement counseling (from any cause of death) for all ages. He is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Fellow in Thanatology as well as a former president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and has received a number of awards, including the ADEC Service Award in 1994, the ADEC Death Educator of the Year Award in 2011, the first-ever Senator Paul Wellstone Legacy Award presented by the Minnesota School Counselors Association in May 2004 for his work with schools and communities in crisis, and in May 2005 was selected as "Employee of the Year" by St. Mary's Medical Center. He was appointed by the National Kidney Foundation from 2001 to 2005 to the 11-member National Donor Family Council Executive Committee. He consults and trains internationally and has given over 2,000 presentations dealing with grief and loss. He is a clinical member of the Northeastern Minnesota CISD team, and in 2013 was awarded the regional "Friend of EMS Award." In addition to chapters in books, he has authored numerous articles related to grief and loss and served for ten years on the St. Mary's Medical Center's Bio-Ethics Committee. Additionally, for over 25 years Ben taught university graduate courses on death and dying, and for 23 years he also taught a course on life-threatening illness at the University of Minnesota, Duluth School of Medicine. He also loves to bake bread…the old fashion way…by hand!

Traci J. Voelke, Esq.

Traci is an attorney at the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a dual major in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and Government and Politics. Ms. Voelke earned her Juris Doctor from University of Georgia, School of Law and is licensed to practice in New York, Georgia, the District of Columbia and Virginia. Upon law school graduation, Ms. Voelke clerked for the Honorable G. Mallon Faircloth, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the 11th Circuit, Middle District of Georgia. She has also worked as an Assistant County Attorney, Jefferson County, New York and an Assistant Attorney at the Attorney General's Office, for the District of Columbia. Ms. Voelke's current practice areas include estate planning, family law, probate, small claims, military administrative law, guardianship/conservatorship, landlord-tenant and Service Members' Civil Relief Act compliance. She is the surviving spouse of Maj. Paul C. Voelke, U.S. Army, and volunteered as an Army spouse during their 12-year marriage. She lives in Northern Virginia with her two sons, AJ and Benjamin.  

Claire Wudowsky

Claire and her charitable organization, Knitters and Crocheters Care, have donated handcrafted items and taught knitting and crochet at TAPS since 2001. Claire is honored to be included in the TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar again this year and looks forward to working with TAPS families.

TAPS STAFF PRESENTERS

Nichole Bukowski

Nichole is an experienced athlete, yogi, and health and wellness educator who serves TAPS both as the Program Manager for Health & Wellness and as an Inner Warrior program coach. She uses powerful movement and purposeful release to help survivors identify life skills, find momentum, and re-discover their best selves. Nichole was a wellness consultant for TAPS for the Inner Warrior Wellness Retreat where she taught yoga classes, fascia release training, running programs, and nutrition classes. In addition to her B.A. in Communications from Boston College and a Masters of Education from the University of Massachusetts, she is a certified Balanced Athlete Coach, TRX and Spin instructor, Healthy Running Coach, Functional Movement practitioner, and dog lover.

Lalaine Estella

Lalaine has been with TAPS for nearly three years. She first came to TAPS as a volunteer at the National Military Survivor Seminar and then came on board to staff the National Military Survivor Helpline before joining the Community Based Care team. She is a surviving daughter of Petty Officer 1st Class Francisco Estella, U.S. Navy. She walks her dog daily, practices yoga a few times a week and enjoys running with Team TAPS. She is a yoga instructor and has recently completed additional training to lead yoga for trauma survivors.

Zaneta M. Gileno, LMSW, CT

Zaneta began her social work career as a professional in the child welfare system. Her efforts to reunite families and empower parents helped shape her as a practitioner. A graduate of Columbia University School of Social Work, Zaneta now serves as Director of Community Based Care for TAPS. As a grief professional, she offers direct survivor support, ensures the TAPS community of survivors is connected to grief counseling and support groups, and establishes and maintains the network of TAPS own support group model. In addition, she oversees internal professional education as well as TAPS professional development offerings. She is also the liaison for the TAPS Clinical Advisory Board.

Kelly Griffith

Kelly Griffith is the surviving sister of Marine Corps Major Samuel Griffith, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in December 2011. Kelly was home alone when the knock at the door came, but with the help of TAPS, she has found she isn't alone in her grief journey. Kelly now shares her skills, serving as manager of TAPS internal communications.

Ashlynne Haycock

Ashlynne is the Education Services Coordinator for TAPS, where she works with hundreds of survivors of military loss to connect them to education benefits and resources to further their goals. She helped facilitate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between TAPS and the Department of Veterans Affairs that allows TAPS to make it easier for survivors to access their benefits. Ashlynne is the surviving daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Haycock, who died while training to deploy in 2002, and Senior Airman Nichole Haycock, who died by suicide in 2011. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the American University in 2013.

Claire Henline

Claire Henline is a native of Washington, D.C. and the surviving daughter of LTC William Henline, U.S. Army. She has worked almost 15 years for military organizations in both historic preservation and communications. She began working at TAPS in 2014 and currently serves as the social media manager. Claire attended her first TAPS event in 2008 at the invitation of the family of a National Guard colleague and saw the benefits of TAPS mission. Claire's father was a career U.S. Army officer and Vietnam veteran who died in 2005 due to service-related cancer. Her family members have served in almost every major American conflict going back to the French and Indian War.

Erin Jacobson

Erin is the Director of Survivor Programs and has been with TAPS since 2011 after her fiancé, Army Ranger Cpl. Jason Kessler was killed in Mosul, Iraq. Prior to joining TAPS, Erin was employed as a counselor for at-risk youth and had a career in marketing, event planning and graphic design. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling and has completed post-baccalaureate studies in Art History and Fine Arts. She is originally from Seattle and currently resides in New York City.

Kathy Moakler

Kathy serves as the Director of Survivor Advocacy.  Kathy has been with TAPS for just over two years and works with Congress and policymakers to improve and sustain important survivor benefits.  The spouse of a retired soldier, she has worked as an advocate for military families for over 20 years.

Jonathan Kirkendall

Jonathan is the Youth Programs Manager and licensed therapist with over 20 years experience. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Naropa University. A member of the American Mental Health Counselors Association and the International Network of Integrative Mental Health, he serves on the board of the D.C. chapter of the AMHA and is a senior teacher at the D.C. Shambhala Meditation Center.

Renee Monczynski

Renee served in the Marine Corps and as a U.S. Navy Reservist. With a background in early childhood education, she began volunteering with TAPS Good Grief Camps in 2010, where she especially enjoyed supporting the teen population through transitions and building their peer support network. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2016. Renee was hired to launch the Young Adult Program within the TAPS family to bridge the gap between youth and adult programming. Renee is the surviving spouse of Matthew Monczynski, U.S. Navy. She and their daughter, Ashley, reside in Texas.  

Emily Clark Munoz

Emily started volunteering with TAPS Good Grief Camps in 2007 and began working full time for TAPS in 2014. The surviving spouse of an Army Special Forces operator whose excellence still fondly irritates and fiercely inspires her, Emily created the Inner Warrior program to connect survivors with the best parts of themselves. She teaches classes at bTone Fitness in Boston and is certified or licensed in multiple fitness modalities. She enjoys hope, healing, deep conversations, terrible jokes, dance parties, and the opportunity to grow stronger every day.

Kim Ruocco, MSW

Kim is the Chief External Relations Officer for Suicide Prevention and Postvention for TAPS and has been instrumental in raising awareness using the voices of military suicide survivors. She has developed comprehensive, peer-based programs that provide specific care to all those grieving a death by suicide in the military. The most impactful of these services is the TAPS Annual Survivors of Suicide Loss Conference, which offers hope and healing to thousands of adult survivors, and a camp for children grieving a death by suicide. Kim is currently the co-lead on the National Action Alliance Military and Family Task Force and an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) trainer. Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a Master's Degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston University. She is also the surviving wife of Marine Corp Maj. John Ruocco, who died by suicide in 2005.

Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton, EdD, LMHC, NCC, FT, CCTP

Carla serves as the Director of TAPS Suicide Postvention Programs, where she supervises the outreach and care to families after the traumatic loss of a service member. As a subject matter expert concerning issues surrounding grief, traumatic loss, and suicide, she consults with staff, civilian providers and military leaders in providing effective outreach to military personnel, veterans, and military families. Her credentials include a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a Doctorate of Education in Counseling Psychology. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Qualified Supervisor, Certified Fellow of Thanatology, Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, and a counseling educator in higher academia. Carla is the surviving spouse of Marine Corps Drill Instructor Sgt. Richard Stumpf who by suicide in 1994 several days before the couple's only child was born.

Doug Windley

Doug is a TAPS Survivor Care Team member who enjoys discussions on faith, grief and God when he is invited to do so. In addition to working with TAPS, Doug is a Chaplain in the North Carolina Army National Guard and has served in El Salvador, Kuwait, Qatar and Afghanistan. He graduated from Western Carolina University with a B.S. in Business Administration. He received his M.A. in Theological Studies and M.Div. in Biblical Studies from Carolina Graduate School of Theology, and Clinical Pastoral Education from the Durham VA Hospital. Doug enjoys speaking at events and churches sharing his passion for his faith, love for military service members and veterans, and heart for families of the fallen.

SPECIAL GUESTS

Therapy Assistance Paws for Survivors

For the 12th year in a row, TAPS is proud to host emotional comfort dogs at our National Seminar. Each year, these furry mental health superstars and their people (wearing TAPS volunteer t-shirts) attend our National Military Survivor Seminar to provide unconditional love, comfort, affection and sometimes even wet doggie kisses to our survivors. They'll most likely be found in common areas where you'll be sure to see them. Studies show that loving attention from a friendly animal can reduce stress and anxiety and we know for sure that they bring lots of smiles and giggles to survivors' faces! Please note that some of the dogs you will see this weekend are trained therapy dogs, but not all.  In addition, therapy dogs receive different training than individual service dogs, which some attendees may bring with them this weekend. Therapy dogs are on site for everyone to love on and be loved by; service dogs are doing a job and will need space to work and rest. The easy way to tell the difference is to see if the dog is wearing a TAPS doggie bandana, which is a sign they are a part of the Paws for Survivors.