About Good Grief

Good Grief builds resilience in children, strengthens families, and empowers communities to grow from loss and adversity.
“Without Good Grief, I’d probably be lost and so would my family.” Clara, 16-years-old


Good Grief started in 2004 with a group of concerned volunteers who believed grieving children lacked advocates. In those early days, we began by educating teachers and community groups. In 2007, Good Grief started providing direct programming to children and their families. The need and response was tremendous, requiring Good Grief to grow our programs each year. In 2012, Good Grief responded to the emerging need of families traveling long distances to Morristown by bringing Good Grief programs to Princeton. In 2017, we launched our first satellite location for urban youth through our In Community program in Jersey City, which expanded to include Newark programs in 2019. In 2017 we also launched Routes to Resilience,  a social-emotional learning program that is based on over 15 years of education and programs. While we are best known for the thousands of lives we have impacted through our direct programming, our comprehensive education and advocacy efforts throughout New Jersey and across the nation have acquired notoriety and prestigious partnerships, including Sheryl Sandberg’s Optionb.org, KIPP NJ, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters Essex, Union, and Hudson county, Arizona State University, Duke University, Scholastic, National Funeral Directors Association, Outward Bound Adventures, the National Alliance for Grieving Children, and more.

Take a Tour

Members of the community can get an introduction to our mission, programs, and facilities by attending one of our impactful open houses. If you are considering finding a way to get involved with Good Grief, whether as a volunteer, donor, or advocate in the community a tour of our center is the best way to find out more, ask questions, meet staff, and become a part of our community. Open houses are approximately 75 minutes long and offer a quick, but thorough introduction to all things Good Grief!

To sign up, visit our calendar!

Individual and group tours can also be arranged by contacting info@good-grief.org or 908-522-1999.

 NOTE: This tour is not for interested peer support program participants. Please contact one of our Family Coordinators to learn more about enrolling in our programs.


Since 2007 Joe has helped build a robust, fiscally responsible, energetic, and highly impactful organization for children, teens, and families who are grieving. He came to Good Grief after supporting many young parents dying in hospice. As CEO, Joe is an ambassador for Good Grief throughout New Jersey, and a passionate advocate for changing the conversation on grief and bereavement. Joe is the author of What Do We Tell the Children?: Talking to Kids About Death and Dying, Abingdon Press, 2013 and “The Business of Grief,” At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die, CNF Press, 2012. Joe is the Immediate-Past President of the National Alliance for Grieving Children, where he has been on the Board of Directors since 2010. He is a graduate of Yale University, where he studied ethics and end of life counseling. Most importantly, Joe is obsessed with cake, music, hiking, pizza, biking, and Airstream trailers in that order.

Joseph M. Primo, MDiv.
Email: joseph@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8011

Melissa Parrish is the Chief Operating Officer at Good Grief. In her role, she is responsible for the management of staff and organizational priorities by ensuring that all of Good Grief's strategies, timelines, goals, and outcomes are met successfully. Melissa received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Montclair State University, and she has worked clinically with children, families, and adults within hospitals and community-based mental health programs.

Melissa has worked with Good Grief since 2009 and has served in numerous roles during her tenure. Most recently as Director of Programs, Melissa led the organization through extensive program expansion at its two centers, oversaw and developed programming for the launch of Good Grief's satellite locations in urban communities, designed and launched Good Grief's summer camp, and fostered the development of key partnerships, including Arizona State University’s Resilient Parenting for Bereaved Families. Melissa is committed to the organization's vision of ensuring that Good Grief is able to reach more kids locally, regionally and nationally. Outside of work, Melissa can be found spending time with her son.

Melissa Parrish MA, LAC, NCC
Chief Operating Officer
Email: melissa@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8003

Jesse is responsible for Good Grief's education programs in the external community. Through education and advocacy, Good Grief is working to transform the environments that grieving children inhabit on a daily basis like schools, community and faith organizations, other nonprofits, and more. Good Grief uses workshops, curriculum, and coaching to increase community awareness and competency in providing support to grieving children and their families. Jesse grew up in Washington state and made his way out to New Jersey for graduate school, earning a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. While at PTS, Jesse focused his studies on ethics, spirituality, and counseling. Jesse joined Good Grief after completing a graduate internship, working first as a Program Director before taking on this educational role. Jesse's favorite thing about Good Grief is the incredible community of families, volunteers, and staff who inspire him with their stories and desire to wrestle with life's big questions.

Jesse W. Bassett, M.Div
Director of Education and Learning
Email: jesse@good-grief.org
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8013

As Director of Communications, Malena uses communications and marketing to spread the hope, courage, and life-changing lessons that occur within the two beautiful Gg centers. Malena is inspired on a daily basis, by Good Grief families, her fellow facilitators, the surrounding communities, and Good Grief's amazing staff. She feels privileged to be a part of a mission that is not only changing the culture around grief, but one that is creating more compassionate and supportive communities.

Malena Brown
Director of Communications
Email: malena@good-grief.org
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8008

As Director of Operations for Gg, Moira is responsible for the day to day operations, from bills to HR to lightbulbs and everything in between. Gg is so much more than the rooms between its walls. Gg is an understanding; an acceptance of each individual’s unique journey with grief; it is a place to grow. Moira is grateful for the warmth, patience and generosity of Gg’s volunteers, staff and families that provides the safe environment for each child to discover their map for their journey.

Moira Clarkin
Director of Operations
Email: moira@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8001

Christina is the Program Director at Good Grief. In her role, she is responsible for growing and overseeing all aspects of Good Grief's programs. Christina received her Masters in Social Work from Fordham University and has a background in working with children and families. Christina began working for Good Grief as a Program Manager in 2018. She is passionate about creating a warm and welcoming environment for grieving families. Christina's is inspired everyday by the dedicated volunteers and staff that shape this community.

Christina Discepola
Program Director
Email: christina@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8009

As a Development Assistant for Good Grief, Holly researches and writes grants to help sustain and grow Good Grief’s mission. After retiring from a career as a regulatory compliance and appellate litigation attorney in 2017, Holly was inspired by friends of the Gg community and her own grief journey to become a volunteer facilitator. As a facilitator, she has been privileged to witness firsthand how Good Grief’s programming helps grieving children and their families experience healing and connection in a compassionate, caring environment. She is grateful to be part of this empathetic community, helping to continue and expand the reach of Good Grief’s life-changing mission of supporting grieving families in all of their environments.

Holly Barbera
Development Assistant
Email: holly@good-grief.org

Kate started out at Good Grief an intern in the summer of 2016! As Development Assistant, she assists in planning events, and ensuring families support in their time of need through fundraising. Kate studied psychology and social work at Montclair State University. Having been a grieving teen herself, Kate knows the importance of Good Grief's work, and she is thrilled to be part of an organization that advocates for, educates, and provides a safe space for grieving children.

Kate DeLeon
Development Assistant
Email: kate@good-grief.org
Phone: 609.498.6674 x 8021

Mary joined Good Grief in January 2008, first as a volunteer facilitator, and then as a member of the staff in 2010. As Education Consultant for Gg, Mary develops and delivers a variety of learning programs about loss and grief for our facilitators, our families, for schools, community organizations, and businesses. She is a retired educator and elementary school principal, holding a Doctorate in Education from Columbia University and a Certificate in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Mary loves working at Gg, being part of this caring community, and having the opportunity to help others learn about grief and loss as well and to understand how to support those who are grieving.

Mary Fleck
Education Consultant

As the Senior Development Manager, Heather works with a very talented fundraising team to raise both funds and awareness for Good Grief's mission and programming. She also plans and helps to host our three signature events each year - Golf Fore the Kids, 5K Run and Walk for Hope, and the fall Gala. Heather was inspired to join Good Grief by a dear friend who grew up coping with the loss of a parent. She is inspired, amazed, and touched by the strength, resilience, and growth that occurs daily within the Good Grief community.

Heather Goodman
Senior Development Manager
Email: heather@good-grief.org
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8014

As Family Coordinator for Good Grief in Princeton, Anita is responsible for family orientations, providing ongoing support to families and maintaining a supportive relationship with participants. Anita joined Good Grief in June of 2018 after a long career in working with and for children at Chapin School, HomeFront, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She considers herself very lucky to be doing work she loves in an organization that she deeply respects, and that has such a big impact on the lives of people in her community.

Anita Hanft
Princeton Family Coordinator
Email: anita@good-grief.org
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8006

Rachel is the Family Coordinator for Good Grief in Morristown. As Family Coordinator, Rachel is responsible for family orientations, providing on-going support to families and maintaining a supportive relationship with participants. Rachel began volunteering at Gg in 2006, became a volunteer facilitator in 2008 and joined the staff in 2010. Rachel feels truly fortunate to be a part of Good Grief. She believes in the mission and sees firsthand how the program has changed the lives of Gg’s participants and volunteers.

Rachel O’Brien
Morristown Family Coordinator
Email: rachel@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8012

As Education Coordinator, Steve delivers the Routes to Resilience curriculum throughout schools our the communities. He began volunteering at Good Grief in 2017 and was very happy to join the staff in January 2019! Steve has enjoyed working with young people in various capacities over the years, most recently as an adolescent sexuality educator for 11 years at HiTOPS in Princeton. Through Routes to Resilience, Steve hopes to give students the tools they need to navigate the various challenges and emotions they experience. He is passionate about educating young people with the ability to affect our community’s understanding of topics we seldom discuss like loss, adversity, and resilience.

Steve Pitts
Education Coordinator
Email: steve@good-grief.org
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8017

As the Princeton Program Manager, Tyler is responsible for the coordination and implementation of program services , comprehensive community outreach plans, and volunteer/intern recruitment and supervision for the Princeton center. Tyler found a passion for non-profits during her time in graduate school. She knew that Good Grief would be the right fit after hearing about all of the incredible work they were doing with families and the local community. Tyler’s favorite thing about Good Grief is the resiliency, empathy, and strength that can be found in each and every individual involved with the organization.

Tyler Ramsin
Princeton Program Manager
Email: tyler@good-grief.org
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8015

Patty, a grieving mom herself, helped bring Good Grief to Princeton. For the past 6 years, she has helped Good Grief reach more children in families throughout central New Jersey. Patty is inspired daily by Good Grief's unique mission and dedicated staff and feels privileged to witness the comfort that participant families bring to one another, along with the relationships formed through Good Grief's peer support groups.

Patty Ryan
Princeton Community Ambassador

As Morristown Program Manager, Adrienne is responsible for the planning and implementation of Nights of Support, and is a Team Coordinator for Nights of Support. Adrienne received a BA from Skidmore College, and after a career in advertising and corporate communications, decided to change direction and earned a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. It was in Portland where Adrienne discovered her passion for working with grieving children and families at The Dougy Center. Adrienne strives to achieve Good Grief’s ongoing mission to provide a warm and safe place for all grieving children and families.

Adrienne Shaver
Morristown Program Manager
Email: adrienne@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8022

As Program Manager for Good Grief's In Community Program, Taylor is responsible for planning and implementing Nights of Support, and spreading awareness about Good Grief throughout the community. She enjoys developing relationships with families and partners in the cities that Good Grief serves, and is proud to be a part of an organization with such a strong mission. Taylor has a passion for working with diverse populations and providing support for communities in need.

Taylor Simeon
Program Manager
Email: taylor@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 ext. 8004

As Good Grief’s Donor Engagement Officer, Pam serves as a cultivator, steward and relationship builder with Good Grief’s donor base and prospective relationships. Pam also pursues the expansion of Good Grief network by attending events within the community including private, corporate, civic and other community functions. Pam feels fortunate to be working with a team of people whose work ethic is as big as their hearts. She is passionate about Good Grief’s mission because she is able to witness first-hand the effects that the program has on its families. Pam was in the first class of facilitators trained in 2007, and has been a loving listener ever since.

Pam Sullivan
Donor Engagement Officer
Email: pam@good-grief.org
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8007

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is the strategic brainpower of our mission. These exceptional leaders not only have extraordinary resumes and life experience, but they also have unwavering passion for and commitment to this mission. This hardworking team of leaders moves Good Grief forward each and every day.

2020 Board of Directors

Jennifer Leonard – Chair, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, EyePoint Pharmaceuticals

Mark Durham – Vice-Chair, Managing Partner, Strawn Arnold & Associates

Sean Leonard – Treasurer, President of The Leonard Group, LLC

Ted Grover – Secretary, Owner of ESG, Inc.

Linda Hough – Immediate Past Chair, MBA, CPA

Andrew Dinnhaupt, Portfolio Manager/Research Analyst Global Financial Services, Franklin Mutual Advisers, LLC

Conor Dolan, Commercial Real Estate Advisor, CBRE

Latonia Harris, Scientific Director, Janssen R&D, Johnson & Johnson, Good Grief Mom

Bill Hector, President, William Hector & Associates

Guy Langford, U.S. Transportation, Hospitality & Services (TH&S) Leader, Deloitte

John McDermott, JD, Group Managing Director, Senior Strategic Regulatory Advisor at UBS

Robert Meirowitz, MD, President of Princeton Gastroenterology Associates

Ryan Pirchio, President, Terabyte Consulting

Leigh Porges, Founder, One Gift

Nicole Shellenberger, Regional Account Manager, Biomatrix Specialty Pharmacy

Patrick Sullivan, Managing Director, Private Advisor Group

Irv Urken, Northwestern Mutual, former Princeton Councilman

Alain Van Loo, Chief Investment Officer, Sharp Financial Group

Special Thanks To

A Little Hope Foundation
Andrea and Victor Richel Family Foundation
Bayer Foundation
Christine’s Hope for Kids Foundation
Church & Dwight
Community Foundation of NJ
E. F. Harris Family Foundation
E.J. Grassmann Trust
F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc
First Data Foundation
George A. Ohl, Jr. Charitable Trust
Glen Ridge Community Fund
Green Family Foundation
Healey Family Foundation
Jennifer Swift Fieldman Foundation
Jewish Community Foundation
Leen Foundation
MCJ Amelior Foundation
New York Life Foundation
NJ Association of Student Councils
O’Toole Family Foundation
Overlook Hospital Foundation
Pioneer Boys of America Inc.
Princeton Area Community Foundation
The Provident Bank Foundation
PSEG Foundation
Rite Aid Foundation KidCents
Santiago Abut Foundation, Inc
Selective Insurance Group Foundation
Summit Area Public Foundation
TD Bank
The Allstate Foundation
The Alpine Foundation
The Berk Foundation
The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
The Hyde and Watson Foundation
The John Bickford Foundation
The Steven M. Rothbard Foundation
The Willis Foundation
Thomas Glasser Foundation
Union Center National Bank
Union Foundation
United Way
United Way of Northern New Jersey
Walter and Adi Blum Foundation
Weil, Gotshal & Manges Foundation, Inc
William and Catherine Krame Family Foundation
William E. Simon Foundation
York Children’s Foundation

Where You Can Find Us

Morristown, NJ

Princeton, NJ

Where You Can Find Us

Morristown, NJ

Princeton, NJ