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. In 2020, Routes to Resilience became part of a larger offering, Good Grief Schools, which consists of four programs developed specifically to create a healthy and supportive environment for students, educators, and parents. 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 [email protected] 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.


Joe Primo is the CEO of Good Grief. An international speaker, author and commentator, Joe serves on the Boards of Option B at the Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Family Foundation and Vennly, an audio-focused spiritual health app. He is the author of “What Do We Tell the Children? Talking to Kids About Death and Dying,” Abingdon Press. Primo is the national spokesperson for the National Funeral Director’s Association and their Youth & Funerals Initiative, and is a past president of the National Alliance for Grieving Children. Joe received his Master of Divinity degree from Yale University, where he concentrated in end-of-life care. He later served as a hospice Chaplain at both The Connecticut Hospice and The Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut.

Joseph M. Primo, MDiv.
Email: [email protected]
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: [email protected]
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
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8013

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: [email protected]
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8001

St. Rachel Ustanny has over 20 years’ experience working with nonprofit organizations to improve the quality of life of underrepresented and underserved communities. As a human rights advocate, she has represented the government and people of Jamaica in several international spaces including at the United Nations. Her work in programs spans more than 15 years and has included program design and development, management, and evaluation. St. Rachel has her Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, her Masters in Gender and Development Studies, and her Bachelors in International Relations and Political Science. In her spare time, St. Rachel can be found hiking with her children, Taitu and Benjamin, at one of New Jersey’s beautiful parks.

Dr. St. Rachel Ustanny
Program Director
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 908-522-1999 x8009

Paul cultivates partnerships with K-12 school districts, bringing Good Grief Schools to where children learn and play throughout their early lives. These school-based programs take a comprehensive, schoolwide approach to build resilience in children and overcome grief and adversity by learning new skills and developing supportive relationships.

Paul grew up in Ohio, lived in South Carolina after earning his undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina, and eventually moved to the Northeast where he helped raise his family. He's been a supporter and advocate of public education for twenty years, first as a school board member and in recent years as a provider of services and resources that help educators advance student achievement. Paul earned his Master of Management degree from University of Phoenix, and is now most excited to bring Good Grief's valuable programs to school systems seeking a compassionate approach to social emotional learning.

Paul Breda
School Partnerships Manager
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8017

As Senior Advisor for Brand and Engagement, Paul is focused on building awareness and understanding of Good Grief's new mission and brand with all the organization's key stakeholders. Having experienced the loss of a younger sibling as a teenager, Paul is a strong believer in the value of services and support Good Grief provides to children and families grieving the loss of a loved one. Prior to joining Good Grief, Paul spent nearly three decades in communications leadership roles with a number of global companies in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and service industries. A native of Toronto, Canada, Paul holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario and a graduate degree from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Paul Fitzhenry
Senior Advisor of Engagement and Brand
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 908.377.9515

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: [email protected]
Phone: 609.498.6674 x8014

As the Director of Development, Joanna works with the team to move Good Grief’s mission forward by connecting with our community and raising funds through a variety of different avenues. Joanna’s non-profit career has been centered around mental health where she believes passionately about building resiliency through growing programming for children navigating adversity. Joanna is excited to be a part of such a dedicated team working to change the lives of so many children experiencing grief.

Joanna Green
Director of Development
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 908.522.1999 x8010

Will McKenna comes to Good Grief with a clinical background in Social Work. He most recently worked at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center where he provided individual, group, and family therapy to youth and their families, ages 13-24. Will specializes in practice through a trauma-informed lens and is excited to be continuing this line of work as the new Program Manager at our Morristown location.

Will McKenna
Program Manager
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 908-522-1999 x8004

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
Senior Team Coordinator

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

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
Senior Team Coordinator

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
Senior Team Coordinator

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.

2021 Board of Directors

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

Guy Langford – Vice-Chair, Partner, M&A Transaction Services, Deloitte

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

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

Danielle Blank Adest, CFO, Planned Parenthood

Conor Dolan, Commercial Real Estate Advisor, CBRE

Jean Frydman, Esq., Corporate Compliance Director, Aquestive Therapeutics

Bill Hector, President, William Hector & Associates

David Kushner, Author and Journalist

Jennifer Mauer, Head of Global Communications, Viatris

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

Nicole Shellenberger, Regional Account Manager, Biomatrix Specialty Pharmacy

Dr. Jody Stowe

Alain Van Loo,  Founder, Assetive

Slide Slide
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