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.
Liz Cervantes, M.S.
Esperanza Group Coordinator
I started working at the Dougy Center as a volunteer when I moved to this country in 2019 and I must say I fell in love with it. The amazing work that it's done for the families and the warmth from everyone (staff, volunteers, and participants) made me feel at home. Dougy center is a safe place for me and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate as a facilitator and contribute to support the Latinx community. Outside of Dougy Center, I'm a bilingual mental health therapist who enjoys art, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I feel so honored to be able to join the amazing team at Dougy Center. As a native Oregonian, I love knowing this important work is having such a meaningful impact on local families. I’ve worked in non-profit databases for several years, and sometimes spreadsheets feel like a second home. Outside of work you can find me reading, playing video games, and spoiling my rescue cat Finley.
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, M.S.
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.
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 & Training
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 & Group 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 & Group 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.