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. 


FEATURED SPEAKERS


Karen Anderson, MA, ATR-BC, GC-C
Art Therapist/Artful Grief

Karen has been facilitating art therapy-based workshops since 2012. She is a graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Master’s Art Therapy program. Presently she gives monthly groups about self-awareness, codependency and life’s challenges. Karen is part of the Artful Grief team. Karen completed the certification program for Grief Counseling from the American Institute of Health Care Professionals in April 2013.

 

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.

Individual Sessions
Dr. Blankenship will be offering 20 minute 1-on-1 sessions by appointment only and will answer any medical questions you may have about whether your loved one suffered.

 

 

Dr. Frank Campbell, Ph.D., LCSW, CT
Suicide Loss Expert, Campbell Consulting
TAPS Seminar Faculty

Frank is the former Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center and the Crisis Center Foundation. He is certified in Thanatology, with a focus on Suicidology and postvention services. He is currently Senior Consultant for Campbell and Associates Consulting, LLC, where he consults with communities on forensic suicidology cases and the Active Postvention Model known as Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS). It was due to his more than 20 years of working with those bereaved by suicide that he introduced his Active Postvention Model (APM) most commonly known as the LOSS Team. 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 need to cope with this devastating loss. The APM has shown to have a positive impact on both the newly bereaved and team members,who are most often bereaved individuals who received help and now provide the installation of hope to other newly bereaved. The model has now been replicated in countries as diverse as Australia, Singapore, Northern Ireland, Canada and America. His work with survivors and victims of trauma has been featured in three Discovery Channel documentaries. A past president of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS),Frank received their Roger J. Tierney Award for Service and, in 2010, the Louis I Dublin Award for his contributions to the field. Frank was also selected in 2009 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) to receive the Dr. Norman Farberow Award for his international contributions on behalf of those bereaved by suicide. A past social worker of the year in Louisiana, he was the first John W. Barton Fellow for excellence in nonprofit management in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Frank divides his time consulting and training communities in reaching out to survivors and first responders. Frank is compiling research for his book, “The Canyon of Why: Metaphors for Healing from Sudden and Traumatic Loss.” It was his research into this book that uncovered the need for caregivers to practice basic self-care techniques when helping others cope with a sudden and traumatic loss. To find out more about his work in the field of suicidology you can visit www.lossteam.com.

Workshops
My Loved One Died by Homicide - Group Roadmap Session
How to Grieve Like a Man (for men only)
They Died in Combat: Is My Grief Different?
Of Metaphors and Men (for men only)

 

Katherine Castelo, LCSW
Grief & Loss Professional

Katherine currently oversees a Defense Health Agency Program for transitioning service members and veterans as a Defense contractor. Previously she served as the U.S. Army Reserve Psychological Health program director. In this role, she oversaw the program’s non-clinical consultation and outreach services to more than 205,000 service members and their families as well as Command and Government Programs. She also served on the US Army Reserve Fatality review board to provide consultation on psychological autopsies post suicide.

Katherine has previous experience as a civilian employee assistance (EAP) manager for the United States Navy and as a casualty assistance consultant in the civilian EAP for U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Services (US NCIS). In these roles, she was responsible for development and implementation of the EAP, organized, and conducted operational analysis for pre- and post-deployment health assessments. Katherine has also worked as a psychotherapist at her private practice, Awaken Wellness Center, where her clinical work focused on crisis intervention, trauma, loss and grief counseling, deployment-related mental health issues and the assessment and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. She has expert knowledge of military culture and military lifestyle both as a professional and as military spouse.  Katherine is dedicated to bringing best-in-class practices to the forefront of mental health issues affecting military members, their families and returning war veterans. She has conducted seminars to military service members, mental health professionals, and community providers on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide Prevention and Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

Katherine earned a Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice and Bachelor of Arts, English from Indiana University and completed her Masters of Science in Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a certified clinical therapist in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. Katherine also provides consultation and therapy services to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

Workshops

The 411 on Professional Grief & Trauma Counseling: Clinical Support and Helpful Interventions
Supporting My School-aged Children Throughout the Grief Journey
Legacy Building: A Long-term Goal for Success

 

Franklin Cook, MA, CPC
Author, Unified Communities
TAPS Seminar Faculty

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.

Workshops
They Died By Accident: Is My Grief Different?
Addictive Behaviors and Healthy Coping
Reflections on Meaning Making: An Exploratory Experience
What Men Want Women to Know About Our Grief (for women only)
How Can We Turn Our Pain Into Purpose?

 

Bob Delaney
NBA Cares Ambassador
TAPS Board of Advisors

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.

Workshop
Covert: What Going Undercover Taught Me About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

Alison Gilbert
Author
TAPS Board of Advisors

Allison Gilbert is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on grief and resilience. The author of numerous books including the groundbreaking, “Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive,” her stirring work exposes the secret and essential factor for harnessing loss to drive happiness and rebound from adversity.

Workshop
Action Driven Remembering: Healing Heartbreak
Resilience After Loss: The Reflection Effect

 

James Gordon, MD
Founder & Executive Director, Center for Mind-Body Medicine
TAPS Board of Advisors

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 groundbreaking 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.

Workshops
Mind-Body Medicine for Healing Trauma
Utilizing a Trauma Healing Diet

 

Jen Harlow
Community Partner and TAPS Supporter

Jen has 20 years of experience providing support to military survivors and service members. She served as a Certified Military Benefit Specialist, Department of Veterans Affairs Service Officer, and Program Manager for survivor programs.

Workshops
Concerned Over Upcoming Changes to Survivor Health and Dental Benefits?: TAPS Has Your Back - Info Session
Surviving Benefits and Education Questions?: Let Us Help - Info Session

 

Dr. Heidi Horsley, Psy.D., LMSW, MS
Founder, Open To Hope
TAPS Board of Advisors

Heidi is a survivor of sibling loss and the Executive Director for the Open to Hope Foundation, an organization committed to helping people find hope after loss. A licensed psychologist and social worker and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, she 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.

Workshops
My Loved One Died by Accident
Sibling Grief: The Forgotten Mourners
Easy Techniques for Stress Reduction
When Things Get Real: Loss and the Shifting Family Dynamics

 

Rachel Blythe Kodanaz
Author
Grief & Loss Professional

Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker and consultant helping her audiences to Embrace Life’s Challenges at work and at home.  Overcoming her own adversary following the sudden death of her husband coupled with her experience in the management of large corporations, she is fully aware of the see-saw created when personal and professional challenges collide. 

Rachel was instrumental in creating and supporting all programs at HeartLight Grief and Loss Center in Denver as a facilitator, board member and Executive Director.  She has served on the Board of Soaring Spirits International (Camp Widow) and Denver Grief Network Alliance.

Rachel has been speaking passionately to national audiences of all sizes for 20 years, addressing all aspects of change, growth, and acceptance that comes with embracing life challenges – those expected and unexpected. Rachel’s work has been featured in numerous publications, blogs, radio, conferences, company endorsements and Good Morning America.  Her books:  Living with Loss, One Day at a Time and Grief in the Workplace: A comprehensive guide for being prepared have received international acclaim.  

Workshops
The Magic of Six Piles: Sorting Through Belongs, a Practical Approach
Grief and the Workplace: Navigating the Waters of Employment After Deep Loss

 

Linda Langford, Sc.D.
Evaluation & Communications Scientist
Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Linda has been at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) since 2006. In recent years, she has worked on several efforts designed to promote safe and effective messaging in suicide prevention. She supported the development of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Framework for Successful Messaging (SuicidePreventionMessaging.org), which aims to increase the effectiveness of public communications and help shift the focus to include hope, help, resiliency, resources, and taking positive action. She provided an April 2009 briefing on safe and effective suicide prevention messaging and stigma reduction to the Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces and is the lead author of an American Journal of Public Health article on safe and effective communications about military and veteran suicide. She served as an expert on Make the Connection, an online resource for Veterans and their supporters to find information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives and her real stories of Veterans who have dealt with tough times. She has conducted numerous trainings and workshops on creating effective communications, including co-facilitating dialogue sessions with suicide loss survivors who are interested in working in prevention. From 1998 to 2005, she was an Assistant Clinical Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, teaching a core course in strategic planning for health behavior change in the health communications program. Dr. Langford holds a doctorate in social and behavioral sciences from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Workshops
Crafting your Story of Loss for the Public: Safe and Strategic Sharing

 

Donna Naslund, RN
Art Studio Assistant
ArtFUL Grief

Donna has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland. She has 16 years of experience in surgical intensive care and emergency room settings. Donna has been a volunteer at Gilchrist Hospice for the past five years where her roles include: end of life doula, monthly bereavement calls, bereavement support group and workshop facilitator for numerous types of groups. Her personal experiences with loss include being widowed at the age of 27, the death of a child at birth and the suicide of her niece.

 

Dr. Jon K. Reid, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Trauma Counselor
TAPS Board of Advisors

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).

Workshops
The 411 on Professional Grief and Trauma Counseling: Clinical Support and Helpful Interventions
A Place for Me Outside of Church
Supporting My School-aged Children Throughout the Grief Journey

 

Heather Stang, MA
Mindfulness Speaker and Author, Frederick Meditation Center
TAPS Board of Advisors

Heather is a thanatologist, mindfulness speaker and author of the grief book "Mindfulness & Grief: With Guided Meditations To Calm Your Mind & Restore Your Spirit." Her focus on teaching others to use mindfulness-based techniques to reduce stress, cope with grief, and cultivate personal growth is inspired by her own journey of love, loss and post-traumatic growth. She is best known for using present-moment awareness to relieve suffering, cope with and eventually reengage with life after loss. She has a Master's in Thanatology (death, dying and bereavement expert) from Hood College, which she earned in 2010. She lives on South Mountain overlooking Maryland’s Middletown Valley with her husband and is the founder of the Frederick Meditation Center. Learn more about meditation for grief, read articles and contact Heather at www.mindfulnessandgrief.com.

Workshops
Gaining Focus and Relaxation Through Mindful Practice
A Mindful Moment, A Powerful Intention
Mindfulness for Managing Difficult Emotions

 

Sharon Strouse, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT
Art Therapist, ArtFUL Grief
TAPS Board of Advisors

Sharon is a board certified Art Therapist and licensed clinical professional Art Therapist, author, teacher, facilitator, speaker and survivor. Her world dramatically changed on Oct. 11, 2001, when her 17-year-old daughter Kristin ended her own life. Sharon's own process of meditation and collage making, in response to the trauma of loss, became a template for her work with others. She is a grief and bereavement specialist and national workshop presenter for TAPS. Sharon is a co-founder of the Kristin Rita Strouse Foundation (www.krsf.com), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting programs that increase awareness of mental health through education and the arts (www.krsf.com). She is the author of “Artful Grief: A Diary of Healing” (www.artfulgrief.com).

Workshops
Artful Grief Studio - Open throughout the weekend
Transformation Through Mask Making

 

Paul Tschudi, Ed.S., MA
TAPS Advisory Board

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.

Workshops
From Caregiver to Griever: Coping with Death Due to Illness
Illness and the Death of My Loved One: Info Session

 

William Wagasy
TAPS Board of Advisors

A former outside linebacker and special teams player for the University of Notre Dame under Coach Lou Holtz from 1992 to 1996, William Wagasy 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. He is a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL, having completed four combat tours from 2002 to 2012, three to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and one to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In the SEAL teams, his specialties included being a lead sniper, a lead breacher, a JTAC and a lead navigator.

After his time in the Navy, he served as the director of veteran's outreach for the Gary Sinise Foundation and continues to be an official ambassador for the foundation as well as works with TAPS and the Orange County Community Foundation's veteran initiative. Currently, William 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. He provides national commercial services for national accounts and major projects from coast to coast and has accounts in New York City, Texas, Colorado and California. He also is an inspirational and motivational public speaker, having spoken on the Patriot Tour with Marcus Luttrell of Lone Survivor, as well as to major corporations such as, imortgage, Shea Homes, Tri Pointe, Zellman Associates and Orbis, as well as universities and sports teams such as the Texas A&M football team, Ohio State football team, Pepperdine Law School and the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team.

Workshops
Finding Invictus: Conversations on Kindness, Mental Resilience and the Courage to Be Where You Are

 

Ben Wolfe, M.Ed., LICSW
Thanatology Fellow, Association for Death Education and Counseling
TAPS Board of Advisors

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!

Workshops
Grief 101: Rebalancing and Relearning
Looking Below the Surface of Loss

TAPS Staff Presenters


Audri Beugelsdijk
Vice President, TAPS Survivor Services

Audri oversees operations providing immediate and long-term survivor support, including the National Military Survivor Helpline, the Survivor Care Team, the Peer Mentor Program, the Online Community, and Youth Programs. Her background includes a a master’s in psychology, and her work is a testament to her passion for the TAPS mission and her wish to offer a place of gentle understanding and comfort to military families. Through her dedication, Audri, a Navy veteran herself, honors the life of her first husband, CTRSN Jason Springer, USN.  

 

Kristen Buergey
TAPS Survivor Care Team

Kristin, surviving daughter of P02 James D. Clapper, is proud to honor her father’s service by showing compassion and love to other survivors through TAPS. After graduating from Grand Canyon University, it was clear that she wanted to work with the same TAPS family that had supported her in grief. With her deep passion for people and Jesus, she serves on the Survivor Care Team assisting survivors at TAPS events and supporting other adult children survivors.

 

Nichole Bukowski   
Program Manager, TAPS Health & Wellness

Nichole came to TAPS from Belmont High School in Massachusetts, where she was a health and wellness educator. Prior to teaching, she worked for Launch Your Future, where she developed a wellness and life-skills curriculum. Nichole was a wellness consultant for the TAPS Inner Warrior Wellness Retreat, where she taught yoga classes, fascia release training, running programs, and nutrition classes. She has a bachelor’s in communications from Boston College and a master’s of education from the University of Massachusetts in addition to being certified in yoga, Functional Movement Screen, healthy running, Spin, TRX, and many other disciplines.

 

Kim Burditt  
Manager, Programs & Logistics, TAPS Red Team

Kim is the surviving sibling of USMC Pvt Jon Hoffman. She has contributed to TAPS outreach as a peer mentor and Survivor Care Team member, offering support to survivors of suicide loss. Kim previously worked at Samaritans of Merrimack Valley, where she created and presented suicide prevention/awareness outreach workshops and trainings for civic, public, and private organizations. She was also the editor of the Journey With Hope newsletter for survivors of suicide loss. Kim has a bachelor’s in communications from Salem State College.

 

Bonnie Carroll
TAPS President & Founder  

Bonnie is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer, the surviving spouse of Brigadier General Tom Carroll, a former staffer in the Reagan and Bush White Houses, and the President and Founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, the leading national Military Service Organization providing comfort, care, and resources to all those grieving the death of a military loved one. Ms. Carroll founded TAPS following the death of her husband in an Army C-12 plane crash on November 12, 1992.

 

Zaneta M. Gileno,  LMSW, CT
Director, TAPS Community Based Care      

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 the Columbia University School of Social Work and a grief professional and certified thanatologist, Zaneta offers direct survivor support, ensures the TAPS community of survivors is connected to grief counseling and support groups, establishes and maintains the network of TAPS’ support group models, and supports TAPS professional development programs and webinars. She is also the liaison for the TAPS Board of Advisors. 

 

Kyle Harper
Vice President, TAPS Health & Wellness

Kyle guides TAPS Health and Wellness initiatives, coordinating and engaging the team in fostering knowledge, practical tools, self-care, and survivor empowerment for a healthy foundation of coping with grief and loss. Kyle holds a master’s in women's studies from Georgetown University and has served in various capacities at TAPS, including leadership roles in developing retreats, seminars, special events, and communications. She continues to honor the life and service of her fiancé, Army SSG Michael Hullender, through her work at TAPS.

 

Ashlynne Haycock   
Deputy Director, TAPS Policy and Legislation

Ashlynne Haycock is currently Deputy Director, Policy for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), she also serves on the VA’s Advisory Committee on Education (VACOE). She is the surviving daughter of US Army SFC Jeffrey Haycock, who died in the line of duty in 2002, and US Air Force Veteran Nichole Haycock, who died by suicide in 2011.  She graduated from American University with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science in 2013. While at American University she was one of the first recipients of the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Fry Scholarship. 

Ashlynne has been involved with TAPS as a survivor for over 16 years. She has been on staff with TAPS for four years and was instrumental in creating the TAPS Education Support Services program and online education portal. She is an experienced professional in all areas of education benefits for surviving children and spouses at the federal, state and private levels.  Ashlynne is regularly invited to participate in forums focusing on veteran and survivor education benefits. She has assisted over 2,300 survivors in accessing education benefits worth over $200 million in assistance since 2013. Ashlynne was highly involved in growing the partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014 to create a Memorandum of Agreement which was recently expanded in 2017.  

 

Kellie Hazlett
Manager, TAPS Peer Mentor Program & Online Care Programs   

Kellie was widowed in 1997 when her husband, Marine Corps Capt. Mark Nickles, died in an F-18 plane crash. Since then, she has supported military families across the world through a variety of programs mentoring adults and children. Kellie holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in education. She also has advanced training in death, dying, and bereavement through the Center for Loss & Life Transition and is a licensed respiratory therapist with advanced training in critical care.  

 

Carole Hilton
Survivor Care Team

Carole is a senior member of the Survivor Care Team and came to TAPS with her young children following the death of her husband, Navy LT Lawrence Hilton in 2004. She served as a volunteer Peer Mentor before coming onboard as staff with the Survivor Care Team in 2010. Prior to her life with her Navy husband, she enjoyed a career as a licensed clinical social worker and holds bachelor's and master's degrees in Social Work, along with certification in Thanatology. She is grateful to be able to combine her professional background with her experience as a surviving widow and mother of her 3 bereaved children as she provides outreach and support. When she is not working, Carole enjoys spending time with each of her children as they all journey through life together.  

 

Erin Jacobson
Senior Advisor, TAPS Outreach and Engagement  

Erin is the surviving fiancée of Army Ranger Cpl. Jason Kessler. A grief professional with more than a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector, she has been leading TAPS workshops and retreats with an emphasis on empowerment, peer connection, and experiential- based grief work since 2011. Erin’s undergraduate studies include art history, religious studies, and a bachelor’s degree in counseling. She is completing her master’s degree in nonprofit management at Fordham University.

 

Don Lipstein
TAPS Survivor Care Team   

Don is proud to be a TAPS Survivor Care Team Advocate working to connect survivors to grief resources. He does this in honor of his son, MA2 Joshua L. Lipstein, who died by suicide while serving in the Navy in 2011. After more than 30 years in hospitality management, Don joined TAPS in 2012 as a Peer Mentor Coordinator and transitioned to the Survivor Care Team in 2017. He will receive his Family Recovery Specialist Certification from the State of Pennsylvania in 2018. His passion and love for people have helped him be a guiding light for many military survivors as they find their way to safety.

 

Deb Lucey    
Deputy Director, TAPS Survivor Care Team  

Deb is a licensed clinical social worker whose background includes working with children and families and with individuals struggling with substance abuse. She has also worked with victims of domestic violence and physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. She brings her professional experience as well as her personal experience as a suicide loss survivor to her role at TAPS.

 

Kathy Moakler
Director, TAPS External Relations & Policy Analysis

Kathy has an extensive background as a survivor specialist focusing on policy and legislation, including more than two decades at TAPS and the National Military Family Association. She has represented survivors on The Military Coalition and the DOD/VA Survivor Forum and worked to ensure that surviving military families have the best benefits possible. Kathy is the spouse of an Army retiree and a Blue Star Mother to two service members.

 

Renee Monczynski  
Coordinator, TAPS Young Adult Program

Renee works with surviving military children and siblings ages 18 to 24 through service projects, skills camps, campouts, and regional and national seminars. She began her time at TAPS as the surviving spouse of AT2 Matthew S. Monczynski, USN, and eventually became a mentor, then a volunteer group leader for the Good Grief Camps. After serving active duty in the United States Marine Corps and as a reservist in the United States Navy, Renee earned her first undergraduate degree in early childhood education and a second in psychology. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology with a concentration in child development to further her work with the bereaved children of our fallen military.

 

Emily Munoz  
Director, TAPS Health & Wellness

Emily spearheads the TAPS Inner Warrior Program and facilitates activities offering a healthy and active healing path for survivors. Emily came to TAPS following the death of her husband, Captain Gilbert A. Munoz, Army 7th Special Forces Group. Emily brings a strong background in event planning and execution, having served previously at the U.S. Chamber Hiring Our Heroes to promote veteran employment. Emily holds a bachelor’s in international studies and is energized by offering survivors the ability to focus on strengthening their mind, body, and spirit through the grief journey.

 

Ashley Rao
Project Manager, TAPS Empowerment Retreats

Ashley has been connected to TAPS since the death of her husband, SSG Jack Martin in 2009. Ashley is passionate about the transformative power of bonds created within our TAPS family. Her experiences working with women who’ve experienced trauma, as a hospice nurse, and as a surviving spouse provide a broad foundation for our Empowerment programming.

 

Gabriel Rao  
Manager, TAPS Community Engagement  

Gabriel facilitates a broad array of events with TAPS survivors and community partners. He came to know TAPS through the service and sacrifice of his brother, SGT Elijah J.M. Rao, who died in combat in 2009. Bringing more than 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry and nearly five years across multiple teams within TAPS, Gabriel focuses his energy on providing safe, comfortable spaces for survivors to remember their hero and forge new paths.

 

Kim Ruocco, MSW  
Vice President, TAPS Suicide Postvention and Prevention

Kim develops comprehensive, peer-based programs that offer comfort and care to all those who are grieving the loss of a service member to suicide. Kim also provides suicide prevention education and is a national speaker, providing trainings to military audiences. She holds a bachelor’s in human services and a master’s in clinical social work. Her husband, Marine Major John Ruocco, was a decorated Marine Cobra helicopter pilot who died by suicide on February 7, 2005, while preparing for a second Iraq combat deployment.

 

Dr. Shauna Springer, Ph.D.
Suicide Postvention Senior Advisor
TAPS Red Team      

Shauna joined TAPS from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where she worked as a front-line psychologist offering services to a large and diverse group of patients. She is a licensed psychologist with expertise in close relationships, stressor effects on marriage, trauma recovery, and Veterans’ issues. Within the VA Healthcare System, she was the lead clinician for the VA Northern California Relationship Seminar Series. She has also worked in a private practice, three university counseling centers, and a clinic specializing in the treatment of OCD and other anxiety disorders. Shauna has co-authored several publications in professional journals and books, presented her research at multiple conferences, and was awarded the McLaughlin Dissertation Research Fellowship for her meta-analysis of stressor effects on marriage. She received her bachelor’s degree with honors in English literature from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the University of Florida.

 

Stephen Stott, MSW
TAPS Community Based Care      

Stephen is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Social Work. His passion for the area of grief and loss was set in motion following the death of his sister. Peer support and the guidance of grief professionals helped prepare him to use his story and education for the good of others. Stephen meets the growing demands of the program by connecting survivors to free and unlimited grief and trauma counseling. His heart for the LGBTQ community provides a drive that has informed TAPS’ practices and ensured that we are present for the entire TAPS family.

 

Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC, FT, CCTP
Director, TAPS Suicide Survivor Services    

Carla was pregnant when her first spouse, USMC Drill Instructor Sgt. Rich Stumpf, died by suicide in 1994. She contributes to TAPS’ efforts in supporting survivors of suicide loss as the Director of Suicide Postvention. Carla is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Certified Fellow of Thanatology, and professional member of the American Association of Suicidology and Association for Death Education and Counseling. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology, a master’s in professional mental health counseling, and a Doctorate of Education, for which she completed her dissertation research on military families bereaved by suicide. Carla is currently married to an active-duty service member and is passionate about her work at TAPS.

 

Walter Sweeney
Advocate & Analyst, TAPS Casework

Walter focuses on survivors who have lost a loved one to cancer. Walter joined TAPS from Telephase Corporation, where he was an Information Assurance Engineer. Prior to that, he worked as a Regional Case Manager for the Virginia Department of Veteran Services and as Transition Coordinator at George Mason University’s Office of Military Services. Walter served in the United States Marine Corp as an Infantry Team Leader and currently presides over a local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter. He has a bachelor’s in conflict analysis and resolution with a concentration in group and community conflict from George Mason University.