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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Audri Beugelsdijk


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 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.


Chantel Dooley


Chantel Dooley
TAPS Impact Assessment

Chantel Dooley works in Impact Assessment for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Chantel is the proud surviving fiancée of Captain Alex J Stanton, United States Air Force. In honor of Alex, a Special Agent with the Office of Special Investigations in Phoenix, Arizona, Chantel joined TAPS as a survivor and is now giving back to continue the mission of providing comfort, care, and resources for all who grieve the death of a military loved one. Chantel holds a BS in Biology from Arizona State University, an MA in Secondary Education from the University of Phoenix, and will earn her Ph.D. from Grand Canyon University.


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.


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.


Kim Ruocco


Kim Ruocco, MSW
Vice President, TAPS Suicide Postvention & 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.


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.