Featured Speakers

National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp
May 24 - 27, 2019
Arlington, Virginia

Featured Speakers

National Military Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp
May 24 - 27, 2019
Arlington, Virginia

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.

Joshua Black


Joshua Black, PhD

Dr. Joshua Black is a grief dreams researcher, speaker, author, and host of the Grief Dreams Podcast. He has focused all of his MA and PhD research (in psychology) on investigating grief dreams from many types of loss (including prenatal loss and pet loss). The majority of his research on grief dreams has been specifically on dreams of the deceased. Due to the lack of academic research in this field, Joshua has focused his efforts on raising awareness on grief dreams through doing talks, workshops, and interviews. Additionally, he hosts the Grief Dreams Podcast, developed a grief dreams website, runs several social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and wrote a children’s book on grief dreams, Dreaming of Owl.


Charles Blankenship, MD


Charles Blankenship, MD

Dr. Charles Blankenship is the former Chief of General Surgery at the National Naval Medical Center. His three-decade military career included assignments as a general surgeon at Naval Regional Medical Center Oakland, Naval Hospital Groton, and National Naval Medical Center Bethesda and ship’s surgeon on USS Coral Sea, USS Carl Vinson, USS America, and USS Kitty Hawk. He also deployed during Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Dr. Blankenship has led workshops and has been a consultant for surviving families at bereavement seminars for over ten years.


Dr. Frank Campbell


Frank Campbell, PhD, LCSW, CT

Dr. Frank Campbell 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 20 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). 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.  Dr. Campbell received the Louis Dublin award at the 2010 American Association of Suicidology Conference. He is a past president of AAS and received the Roger J. Tierney Award for service. He was named Social Worker of the Year in Louisiana and was the first John W. Barton Fellow selected in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisana.


Dr. Franklin Cook


Franklin Cook, MA, CPC

Franklin Cook is an Army veteran whose father, an Air Force veteran, 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. Franklin was a member of the board of directors of the Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN USA) for six years and served as Director of Survivor and Bereavement Programs for SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) and is a longtime member of the Loss Survivor Division of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) where he was named AAS Survivor of the Year in 2013. Franklin has been a member of the Consumer-Survivor Subcommittee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline since 2005.


Bob Delany


Bob Delaney

Bob Delaney 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—a cause of 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. His 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. 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.


General Martin Dempsey


General Martin E. Dempsey, US Army (Ret)

General Dempsey retired as the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 2015, after previously serving as the Army’s 37th Chief of Staff. Past assignments have taken him and his family across the globe during both peace and war from platoon leader to combatant commander. He is a 1974 graduate of the United States Military Academy and a career armor officer. General Dempsey’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge. In addition to his Master's degree in English, he holds Masters' degrees in Military Arts and National Security Studies. Dempsey now brings his extensive leadership qualities to the Chairmanship of USA Basketball. Elected to the post by the board of directors, Dempsey will lead USA Basketball through the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. General Dempsey and his high school sweetheart, Deanie, have three children who each have served in the U.S. Army. They have nine wonderful grandchildren. General Dempsey recently joined the TAPS Board of Directors.


Dr. Ken Doka


Ken Doka, PhD, MDiv

Dr. Kenneth J. Doka is a professor of gerontology at the College of New Rochelle Graduate School and senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America.  A prolific author, Kenneth's books include Spirituality and End-of-Life Care, Grieving beyond Gender: Understanding the Ways Men and Woman Mourn, and Living with Grief: Children and Adolescents, amongst others.  He has published more than 100 articles and book chapters and is editor of both Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying and Journeys: A Newsletter to Help in Bereavement.  Dr. Doka has keynoted conferences throughout North America as well as Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He participates in the annual Hospice Foundation of America Teleconference and has appeared on CNN and Nightline. In addition he has served as a consultant to medical, nursing, funeral service and hospice organizations as well as businesses and educational and social service agencies. Dr. Doka is an ordained Lutheran minister.


John Feal


John Feal

Following his service in the United States Army, Airborne Division, John began working in the construction industry as a demolition expert. John suffered a severe injury resulting in the amputation of his left foot during the cleanup and recovery mission at “Ground Zero” following the terror attacks at the World Trade Center. It was out of this experience that John made it his mission to help alleviate the many obstacles he had endured. Today, John Feal is best known for his work with the FealGood Foundation (FGF), a 9/11 First Responder advocacy group that has provided both economic aid and individual comfort to countless First Responders, as well as his tireless efforts on behalf of those Responders in the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.


Allison Gilbert


Allison Gilbert

Allison Gilbert is a thought-provoking and influential writer and speaker on grief and resilience. An Emmy award winning journalist and author of numerous books, including the groundbreaking Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive, she creates stirring work that exposes the secret and essential factor for harnessing loss to drive happiness and rebound from adversity.  She is also co-editor of Covering Catastrophe: Broadcast Journalists Report September 11, the definitive historical record of how broadcast journalists covered that tragic day. The landmark book was turned into a documentary by the U.S. State Department and distributed to embassies and consulates around the world.  Allison started her career in TV news, first as a special projects producer at WABC-TV and an investigative producer at WNBC-TV, followed by CNN.  Allison graduated from Georgetown University and lives outside New York City.


James Gordon


James 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 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.


Jen Harlow


Jennifer Harlow

Jennifer Harlow is the Assistant Project Manager supporting the DoD Online Survivor Benefit Report (OSBR) program managed by AFSC Magellan Federal. In this roll, she supports the OSBR Family Assistance Support Team (FAST), MyArmyBenefits, and the future MyAirForceBenefits website. She has 20 years of experience providing support to military survivors and service members. Jen has served as a military and survivor benefits expert and has experience as a Department of Veterans Affairs Service Officer. She is proficient in military survivor benefits law and claim filing with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Social Security Administration, Tricare, DEERS, SGLI/VGLI, and Department of Veterans Affairs. Surviving Daughter of SGT. Jeffrey L. Boster, USAF.


Amanda Jaska


Amanda Jaska, MA, LCPC, NCC, CT

Amanda Jaska, has been employed as a Clinical Grief Counselor with Gilchrist since 2007. Ms. Jaska earned a Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling Psychology from LaSalle University, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Maryland, a National Certified Counselor, and holds the credential Certified in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Ms. Jaska is a national speaker, having presented at NHPCO’s 15th Clinical Team Conference and Pediatric Intensive as well as the 36th Annual ADEC Conference. In addition to providing individual and group support to bereaved individuals, she has offered support to local schools and agencies focusing on topics such as grief and self-care.


Rachel Blythe Kodanaz


Rachel Kodanaz

Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker, and consultant helping her audiences embrace life’s challenges at work and at home. Overcoming her own adversity following the sudden death of her husband coupled with her experience in the management of large corporations, she is fully aware of the seesaw 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 for 20 years, addressing all aspects of change, growth, and acceptance that come with embracing life challenges, both expected and unexpected. Rachel’s work has been featured in numerous media outlets, and her books (>em>Living with Loss, One Day at a Time, and Grief in the Workplace) have received international acclaim.


Eileen O'Grady

Eileen O'Grady, PhD, RN, NP, PCC

Eileen O'Grady is an Adult Nurse Practitioner and Wellness Coach and has practiced primary care over two decades. She recently co-authored and edited the textbook, Advanced Practice Nurses: An Integrative Approach 6th ed. (Elsevier), published in 2018. She has extensive experience in health care, uses an evidence-based approach with people to reverse or entirely prevent disease and she is an expert on intentional change in adults. She believes deeply that more attention must be paid to getting us unstuck from lifestyles that do not support wellness. Dr. O’Grady has a practice that includes coaching individuals on a wide range of issues and speaks all over the U.S. emphasizing the importance of extreme self-care, high-level wellness and how to identify and remedy a life that is out of balance.


Tessy Ojo


Tessy Ojo

Tessy Ojo is the Chief Executive of The Diana Award – the only charity that bears the name of Diana, Princess of Wales and through it has developed internationally recognized programs that give young people skills to create positive change. Tessy is a passionate campaigner for social equity and justice for young people. At the heart of her work is the belief that, with the right support and investment, young people are the best instigators for achieving sustainable change for both themselves and society. Tessy sits on a number of non-Executive Boards including; The BBC’s Advisory Committee, Comic Relief, The Royal Taskforce on Cyberbullying and UK Council For Child Internet Safety. In 2019 Tessy became the first British person to be honored with the Martin Luther King Award.


Dr. Jon Reid


Jon K. Reid, PhD, LPC, NCC

Dr. Jon Reid is an experienced counselor in a variety of contexts, including public schools, churches, counseling agencies, psychiatric hospitals, and 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), he served as president of the its board (2013-2014). He is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas and a National Certified Counselor. He has been a faculty member in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University for more than 20 years and published in several journals.


Denise Rollins


Denise Rollins, PhD

Denise Rollins is a master life coach, speaker and and executive director of the Whole Heart Grief & Life Resource Center in Frederick, Maryland, where her team offers one-on-one coaching and group support services. She holds a doctorate in marriage and family therapy and a masters in thanatology. In addition, at the Gary L. Rollins Funeral Home in Maryland, she partners with her husband, Gary, in managing the business and providing aftercare services. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate America, where her roles included training, human resources and diversity. Denise's personal experience with loss changed her career path. She is author of 2Grieve 2Gether: A Journal from the Heart Helping Survivors & Supporters Navigate the Healing Process, an autobiographical account of her own grief journey.


Heather Stang


Heather Stang, MA

Heather Stang is a thanatologist and mindfulness speaker along with the author of Mindfulness & Grief. 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 loss, and eventually re-engage with life.  Heather developed a “Yoga for Grief” course, an 8 week program uniting yoga, meditation, journaling, expressive arts and death education.  She has a master's in Thanatology from Hood College and is the founder of the Frederick Meditation Center in Maryland. Heather is a public and keynote speaker, presenting for organizations such as National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation, National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, LiveOnNY Organ Donation Network, Association of Death Education and Counseling, and the Maryland Library Association.


Sharon Strouse


Sharon Strouse, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT

Sharon Strouse 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. and 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. She is a board member on the Johns Hopkins Medicine: Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. In addition to national workshops, she leads weekly art therapy circles and spiritual and intuitive development circles for survivors of loss. She is the author of Artful Grief: A Diary of Healing.


Paul Tschudi


Paul Tschudi, EdS, MA

Paul Tschudi has more than 25 years of experience working with people facing grief, loss, and life transitions. He maintained a private counseling practice for more than 15 years before his faculty appointment at George Washington University. Currently, Paul is an assistant professor with dual appointments at the George Washington University's School of Medicine and Health Sciences as well as the Graduate School of Education and Human Development Counseling Department. Paul is a faculty advisor for both the ISCOPES Transitioning Veterans Collaborative service learning team and the George Washington University Student Veterans Organization. In addition, he conducts workshops, retreats and classes for colleges, nonprofit organizations, conferences, government agencies and companies addressing issues of loss, grief, spirituality, veterans transitional issues and self-care. He is also the former Executive Director of The Wendt Center, a center for counseling and educating people living with loss and illness. His interest in end-of-life issues was borne out of the experience of serving as a medic in Vietnam.


William Wagasy


William Wagasy

William Wagasy, a former Notre Dame football player under Coach Lou Holtz, William 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 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 and one to Afghanistan. After his time in the Navy, he served as the Director of Veterans Outreach for the Gary Sinise Foundation 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.


Ben Wolfe


Ben Wolfe, MEd, LICSW

Ben Wolfe 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 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, the ADEC Death Educator of the Year Award, the first-ever Senator Paul Wellstone Legacy Award presented by the Minnesota School Counselors Association, and Employee of the Year at St. Mary’s Medical Center. He consults and trains internationally and has given more than 2,000 presentations dealing with grief and loss.

TAPS Staff Presenters


Kim Ruocco


Bonnie Carroll
TAPS President and 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.


Ashlynne Haycock


Ashlynne Haycock
Deputy Director, TAPS Policy and Legislation

Ashlynne is the surviving daughter of SFC Jeffrey J. Haycock, who died in an Army training accident on April 12, 2002, and Nichole C. Haycock, an Air Force Veteran who died by suicide on April 25, 2011. She graduated with a bachelor’s in political science from American University in 2013. Before joining the TAPS staff, Ashlynne attended the Good Grief Camp for seven years and volunteered as a GGC mentor for four years. She manages TAPS Education Services, assisting survivors with access to education benefits, and also serves on the VA’s Advisory Committee on Education.


Kellie Hazlett


Kellie Hazlett
Senior Manager, TAPS Peer Mentors and Online Care Community

Kellie serves as the Senior Manager for the Peer Mentor and Online Care Community programs, fostering connections with survivors and engagement of TAPS Peer Mentors. Her passion for supporting military families is a tribute to her first husband, CPT Mark Nickles, USMC, who died in an aviation accident in 1997. Kellie holds a BA in Broadcast Journalism, a MA in Elementary Education and Curriculum Development, and a certification in critical/emergency medical care as a Respiratory Therapist. She also has advanced training in death, dying, and bereavement through the Center for Loss & Life Transition. Kellie’s passion to support peer-based care transcends the everyday survivor connection.


Erin Jacobson


Erin Jacobson
Senior Advisor, TAPS Outreach and Engagement

Erin is a grief professional with over a decade of experience in the nonprofit space, she came on staff with TAPS in 2011, building transformative programing within the retreat and seminar programs with an emphasis in women’s empowerment, art, mindfulness and nature based healing. Erin is the surviving fiancee of Army Ranger Cpl. Jason Kessler. Erin’s undergraduate studies include Art History, Religious Studies, and a bachelor’s degree in Counseling as well as master's studies in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Erin currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia.


Emily Muñoz


Emily Muñoz
Director, TAPS Health and 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. She holds a bachelor’s in international studies.


Nikki West


Shauna Springer, PhD
Senior Director, Suicide Prevention & Postvention

Shauna is known to many veterans as Doc Springer. She has helped hundreds of warriors reconnect with their tribe, strengthen their most important relationships, and build lives that are driven by their deepest values. Dr. Springer has particular expertise in attachment processes, trauma recovery, innovative suicide prevention approaches, relationship counseling, peer support program development, and veteran issues, including post-discharge adjustment and strategies for engaging Veterans in behavioral health care.


Carla Stumpf-Patton


Carla Stumpf-Patton, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC, FT, CCTP
Senior Director, TAPS Suicide Postvention & Prevention

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.


Nikki West


Nikki West
Senior Education Coordinator, TAPS Education Support Services

Nikki West has participated in and volunteered for TAPS events since 2003 following the death of her husband, Captain Eric Das "Boot", in an Air Force fighter jet crash in Tikrit, Iraq. Mrs. West is a Veteran of the United States Air Force with over a decade of service in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and as a U.S. Government contractor. In her professional career, she worked as in the F-15E Strike Eagle community, as a senior analyst in counterterrorism operations, as an executive officer in a Reserve F-22 Raptor squadron, as a psychiatric treatment counselor to teenage girls in a residential treatment facility, and as a treatment foster parent in her own home. She currently volunteers as a family liaison in the Army and is remarried to Zach West. She holds an undergraduate degree in International Affairs from University of Colorado, Boulder and from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, a masters degree (Education in Emergencies focus) from The George Washington University. She currently makes her home in Clarksville, Tennessee but will go where the Army sends them next.


Tara Woodruff-Dukes


Tara Woodruff-Dukes
Manager, TAPS Care Groups

Tara Woodruff Dukes is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, which she has used with great passion for over 13 years to bring healing to others. She has shared her skills and talents in the fields of critical care, progressive cardiac care, emergency medicine, and nurse management. Tara leads the nation-wide TAPS Care Group program to provide safe spaces for honest discussions focused on grief, loss, and connection in a structured peer-based support group format. Before joining the TAPS staff, Tara served as a TAPS Peer Mentor. She herself, a veteran, comes from a family legacy of military service. Together, Tara and her husband have 4 children. In her spare time, as a certified yoga instructor, Tara teaches kundalini yoga. Tara’s grief journey began with the death of her husband, LCDR Jay L. Woodruff, USNR in 2009. Her loss brought her to this TAPS family, at first for healing, and now for serving in Jay's honor.