Meet our Team
Dougy Center is committed to providing grief support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families can share their experiences before and after a death. Our team of dedicated professionals enacts this mission every day with both heart and skill.
Director of Marketing & Communications
I am passionate about inspiring awareness and support for Dougy Center. With 30 years of experience in marketing and graphic design, I first began working at Dougy Center in 2009. In 2013, I left for new opportunities but found I couldn’t stay away. I returned as Communications Manager in 2018 and I am humbled to once again be part of this important work.
Cristina Chipriano, L.C.S.W.
Director of Equity & Community Outreach Esperanza Program Coordinator
When I first walked through the doors of the Dougy Center, I thought to myself, “I need to find a way to be a part of this work!” Fast forward a few years, I am honored to call myself a member of Team Dougy. I am passionate about supporting children who are grieving, particularly those who historically have not had access to services. When I am not doing this work, I enjoy spending time with my family watching all types of sports but soccer is #1 in my heart, traveling, playing music, and exploring new food spots!
I am a Portland native and I've spent much of my career working in accounting for local nonprofits. I love being able to support the amazing mission of Dougy Center. On weekends you can find me on nearby hiking trails.
Jana DeCristofaro, L.C.S.W.
Community Response Program Coordinator
When I walked through the doors of Dougy Center 20 years ago as a volunteer, it was the first time in my social work career that I felt like I was home. Eighteen years into my professional role here, every time I pedal my way to work, I'm grateful for the chance to make a difference by creating community and connection for those in grief. You can also catch me on the airwaves, practicing my radio voice as the host of our podcast, Grief Out Loud.
After finishing my bachelor’s degree in Advertising, I knew I wanted to work for a local non-profit to assist with marketing and social media. Having participated in activities over the past 6 years with Oregon Make-A-Wish and CASA, I am grateful to have found a place on Team Dougy. In my role I get to be creative and utilize my skills, while continuing to learn. I look forward to sharing the positive impacts and important work the Dougy Center provides children and their families. In my free time you can find me reading, watching reality TV, and playing with my cats, Remy and Olaf.
Director of Campaign Strategy & Engagement
I’ve served nonprofits almost my whole career in the areas of fundraising, marketing and organizational development. And my work has always been driven by my passion for creating space for growth, new ideas, and possibilities; individually and organizationally. In my new role, I am eager to help expand the reach of Dougy Center services to those living on the west side of Portland. I’ve known loss as a child and as an adult and I’ve experienced the powerful presence of those who have walked the road before me; giving me courage to grieve deep and grieve well. I, in turn, want to create that space for others.
Rebecca Hobbs-Lawrence, M.A.
Pathways Program & Grief Services Coordinator
I have enjoyed supporting and working alongside many wonderful people over the past 20 years at Dougy Center. I like getting my hands messy both at home and at Dougy Center with art projects, culinary delights, and any endeavor that encourages others to express themselves.
I first became a part of the Dougy Center community as a volunteer children’s facilitator. Now on staff coordinating our online bookstore, I ship our grief-related publications all over the United States and abroad. It is a wonderful reminder to me of how our work here supports children, families, educators and health care professionals far beyond our immediate community. Outside of Dougy Center, you might see me walking in the woods or scribbling away on an assignment for a current class.
Meredith Kelley, M.S.W.
Volunteer Placement & Grief Services Coordinator
After experiencing the death of my sister, I discovered the healing power that comes with being of service to others. Her death led me to my career in social work, where I’ve had the pleasure of working with youth and families in nonprofits and schools throughout Portland. I am honored to be present with families at Dougy Center as they experience grief. Outside of work, I enjoy sewing and walking my dog, Mac & Cheese.
Sat Kaur Khalsa, M.S.W.
Family Services Coordinator
As a young child, I experienced the death of a sibling long before folks understood the impact of childhood grief. It completely altered my life and perspective and absolutely informed my choice to become a social worker. Imagine my joy when I moved to Portland and found out about Dougy Center from a booklet on a new friend's coffee table! The next day I called to sign up for volunteer training with a plan to one day become staff. The plan became reality 1.5 years later and now 10 years in I am one of the Family Coordinators. I am honored to help families navigate their peer support journey from orientation and group placement to running 6 groups and answering firstname.lastname@example.org emails. Working at Dougy Center feels like a full-circle moment for me. Outside of work, I find joy in my family (both human and canine), the spectacular nature of the PNW, and baking!
Alysha Lacey, L.P.C., A.T.R., F.T.
Director of Program Services
I've worked in the nonprofit world for most of my career, but at Dougy Center, I feel the most at home. My role is the perfect mix of supporting people, creativity, and administration. My schedule and job tasks are wildly different every day, which I really love. Outside of work, I spend as much time as I can on the beaches and mountains of the PNW with my family or exploring new routes to run.
Capital Campaign Coordinator
I have been in the nonprofit world for over six years and assisting my community has always been important to me. I am so thrilled to be part of Team Dougy and helping support children and families. In my spare time you can find me going adventuring with my dog, watching holiday themed movies, and getting into shenanigans with friends and family.
Juliette Martinez, M.S.W.
SC L.Y.G.H.T. State Coordinator
While learning how to navigate through life after experiencing my own loss and grief, Dougy Center gave me an opportunity to help shine L.Y.G.H.T. into so many lives in the child welfare system. I've always known my passion in life was to give back to a population that I was once a part of. Dougy Center provided that pathway of healing and it's been an amazing journey from the start. In my free time, I enjoy being a mom, sister, friend, and mentor to the youth I serve.
Alicia McKay, M.S.
Development Systems Associate
Conversion Project Manager
The loss of my father as a child, as well as the loss of many other loved ones during my youth, have impacted the person I am and who I work toward becoming every day. Dougy Center is a perfect fit for the intersection of my passions of helping people and data analysis. I have an MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and I still get very excited about data. Outside of my professional life, you’re likely to find me walking my dog, reading, or laughing at terrible puns.
Linda Miles, M.B.A.
Director of Community Philanthropy
There is nothing that brings me joy like connecting passionate donors with ways to make a difference for grieving kids. I’ve worked in fundraising for more than 20 years and Dougy Center’s mission is near and dear to my heart. Fun fact about me: my undergraduate degree is in theatre arts.
Monique Mitchell, Ph.D., F.T.
Director of Training & Translational Research
National Director, L.Y.G.H.T. Program
El español es como música para mi alma y siempre estaré agradecido por cómo el idioma me consuela. In addition to my love for languages and globetrotting, considering how to best support children who are grieving is where I invest most of my time. While my own losses have compelled me into the depths of grief, I place my greatest value on what I have learned from the children I serve. I am grateful to work at Dougy Center where I provide grief education and training about children’s grief, advocate for systems change for children who are grieving a death and non-death losses, and discuss the importance of becoming grief-informed.
Donor Relations Associate
In 2008 I found my calling in the nonprofit world on the development/fundraising side, and in 2013 I joined the development team at Dougy Center! As the Donor Relations Associate, I love finding creative ways to show our donors how much we appreciate them, how vital their support is, and the life-changing impact their support has on children and families who are grieving. As a proud mom and grandmom to three littles, I am grateful every day that Dougy Center is here for families and grateful to be a part of this amazing team.
Melissa Peede Thompson, M.S.
Grief Services Coordinator
After finishing my bachelor’s degree in psychology, I was unsure where I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to continue my education and when I found the opportunity to get my master’s degree in grief and bereavement it felt like a natural calling. My personal life experience in loss and death has created a passion for normalizing and validating grief. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Dougy Center and those who enter our doors.
Administrative Assistant – Training & L.Y.G.H.T.
After finishing my BA with a major in Political Science and minors in Conflict Resolution and Communication, I had become disillusioned with the extent of the changes I could make in the political realm. Feeling somewhat adrift at this realization, I turned with renewed vigor to pursue a career at a non-profit where I felt I could make a real change in my community. With a longstanding interest in serving children & families and/or underserved populations the Dougy Center seemed like a clear choice. Hired in 2022, I am honored to assist the Training Team and the LYGHT Team. In my free time I enjoy reading, walking, drawing, and listening to music.
You will see me at the front desk to welcome you to our home in Southeast Portland, but I first came to Dougy Center over 30 years ago with my daughter when my husband died. I began as a volunteer facilitator in 1995 and joined the staff in 2007. When I am not welcoming people to the Dougy Center and connecting them with our groups and resources, I am probably enjoying the outdoors.
Donna Schuurman, Ed.D., F.T.
Senior Director of Advocacy & Education
Executive Director Emeritus
I’ve had no deeper life privilege than serving children, teens, and families at Dougy Center, from 1986 when I first started volunteering, through 25 years as Executive Director, and in my current role writing, training, and advocating on their behalf. Dealing with death has deepened my appreciation for life. My soul is fed through travel, reading, kayaking, riding my Harley-Davidson, camping, hiking, skiing, hanging out with friends, and all things outdoors.
I believe that grief is my life-long companion and supporting young people in their grief is my life-long passion. After five wonderful years volunteering at Dougy Center, I transitioned into the Operations Manager role in 2021. I am honored to be a part of Team Dougy! You can find me supporting the team, strategizing, organizing, and finding ways to laugh a lot. In my spare time, I’m usually camping with my husband and our two dogs, fly fishing, hiking, and re-reading Harry Potter.
Special Events & Corporate Partnerships
As a native Oregonian, I’ve grown up exploring the great outdoors and love the majestic beauty of Oregon from the coast to the mountains! I am passionate about planning fundraising events for the Dougy Center and enjoy finding creative ways to share our incredible mission with others.
Valenca Valenzuela, M.S.W.
Volunteer Engagement & Grief Services Coordinator
Throughout my childhood, I experienced several significant losses, including the death of my father. This profoundly changed me and was the catalyst for my social work career. When I found Dougy Center, I knew I wanted to be a part of its important mission. I have had the great honor of serving Dougy Center families as a volunteer facilitator since 2009. I am beyond grateful to now be the Volunteer Engagement & Grief Services Coordinator, where I get to still assist the families, as well as help the fantastic volunteers that are an integral part of our grief support mission. Serving the families at Dougy Center feeds my soul, along with time spent in nature, camping, beach combing, gardening, traveling, doing art, and spending time with my beautiful children.
Brennan C. Wood
It is truly an honor to work alongside the tremendous Team Dougy — our dedicated staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors — to support children and families who are grieving. As a past Dougy Center participant, volunteer facilitator, and current Dougy Center parent, it is my life’s work and passion to further this critical mission. Outside of work, my time is spent with family and friends honoring my mother’s legacy of making every day a celebration.
The grief of losing loved ones permeated my childhood, most significantly with the death of my father just before my eighth birthday. Fully understanding the necessity of services for families before and after a death, I began volunteering at Dougy Center as a group facilitator in early 2022. I am overjoyed to be on staff with Team Dougy, and help support the invaluable work done here every day. In my free time, I love cooking and baking, DIY projects around the house, doing the daily crossword, and hanging out with my husband and our dog.