Support Us




In 2003, just before David Fajgenbaum left his home in Raleigh, NC to attend college at Georgetown University in Washington DC, his mother Anne Marie was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Anne Marie passed away in 2004, and as a result of a promise he made to her, David created an outlet for college students who, like himself, were coping with a loved one’s illness or death and suffering in silence. He called the group Students of AMF, a dual acronym for his mom (Anne Marie Fajgenbaum) and Ailing Mothers and Fathers.

Students of AMF began as a support group for 10 of David’s peers and quickly grew into a network that involved more than 400 members of the Georgetown community. Soon, other students across the country heard about the Georgetown Students of AMF model and wanted to do something similar on their campuses. Today, Students of AMF chapters exist throughout the country and we continue to create new chapters.

Along with the efforts of David’s best friend, Benjamin Chesson, National Students of Ailing Mothers & Fathers Support Network was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in April 2006. To be inclusive, our name was changed to National Students of AMF (rather than Ailing Mothers & Fathers) in 2009, where the letters AMF continue to be a tribute to our inspiration, Anne Marie Fajgenbaum, and where college students grieving the illness or death of any loved one are welcome.

In 2017, Actively Moving Forward (AMF) became a HealGrief program. As a HealGrief program, AMF continues to remain faithful to its legacy and mission.

The mission of Actively Moving Forward is to support young adults grieving the illness or death of a loved one. We accomplish this with Actively Moving Forward campus chapters, which consist of a support group where bereaved students can relate to peers also facing the unique challenges of grief during their young adult years. In addition, each chapter service group, open to the entire campus community, helps raise awareness and funds for causes important to chapter members. We also support non-collegiate young adults by creating a wealth of virtual information, programming, and community.


HealGrief continues to honor Students of AMF’s founding members, as well as those members instrumental in the development and execution of the agency’s mission and programs.

Members prior to 2017:


Benjamin Chesson, Co-Founder & past Board Chair, National Students of AMF Support Network
Associate, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Benjamin is the co-founder of National Students of AMF. He was primarily responsible for transforming the support network into a national, 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Ben also founded the second chapter of Students of AMF while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Through his friendship with David Fajgenbaum, Ben knew Anne Marie Fajgenbaum very well. Her heroic battle with cancer inspired him to honor her by helping students to cope with similar losses. In the summer of 2005, Ben took on the duties of director of outreach to help make Students of AMF reproducible on other campuses. Later, he used a Kauffman Grant from UNC to incorporate the organization and then took on all business and legal responsibilities. Today, Ben remains active as a member of HealGrief’s board of directors.

Benjamin received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law, where he was an editor for the Wake Forest Law Review. He earned his B.A. in political science and B.A. in public policy analysis, with a legal concentration, from UNC. While there, Ben was inducted into the Order of the Old Well, which recognizes students and faculty members of high character who have demonstrated outstanding humanitarian service and whose service has gone uncompensated and unrewarded.

Josh Haymond, CPA, Vice Chair, National Students of AMF Support Network
Director of Business Development, Vaco

Josh serves as Director of Business Development at Vaco, assisting clients with consulting opportunities in accounting, finance, and IT. Prior to joining Vaco, Josh was an assurance manager at PwC. Here, he was heavily involved in on-campus recruiting at both NC State and UNC-W, also chairing the Network Development Committee.

Josh earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Accountancy from University of North Carolina Wilmington, and maintains his CPA license in North Carolina. Josh is an active member of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network, North Carolina Association of CPAs and the Center of Entrepreneurial Design.
Josh resides in Raleigh, NC with his wife, Christie. He enjoys personal development, yoga, and wellness, maintaining a personal blog at Josh also volunteers at the Raleigh City Farm.

David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA, MSc, Co-Founder, National Students of AMF Support Network; Co-Author, We Get It: Voices of Grieving College Students & Young Adults
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Translational Medicine & Human Genetics, University of Pennsylvania 

While a student at Georgetown University, David founded Students of AMF, a peer-led support group and service program, in memory of his mother, Anne Marie Fajgenbaum (AMF). Working with co-founder Ben Chesson, David grew the Georgetown chapter into a national, nonprofit organization, “National Students of AMF” in 2006. David received a BS Magna Cum Laude in Honors Human Sciences with Distinction from Georgetown University, where he was 2007 USA TODAY Academic All-America First Team and a Rhodes Scholar Finalist. After Georgetown, David attended Oxford University as the Allbritton Scholar and completed a 12-24 month master’s (M.Sc by Research) in Public Health in 8 months. He went on to earn his MD from the Raymond & Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a 21st Century Gamble Scholar. Dr. Fajgenbaum completed his MBA at Wharton, where he was awarded the Joseph Wharton Award, Core Value Leadership Award, Kissick Scholarship, Eilers Award, Mandel Fellowship, and Commencement Speaker.

Throughout his academic programs and between personal medical challenges with Castleman disease, David led AMF as Executive Director (2006-2009, 2010-2013) and Board Chair (2006-2014). He grew the program to help over 3,000 students on over 200 college campuses across the US.

David co-authored a book for grieving young adults called “We Get It: Voices of Grieving College Students and Young Adults” in 2015, which is written by grieving young adults and for grieving young adults.

David Fajgenbaum is now an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Translational Medicine & Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania, the Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN), and Associate Director, Patient Impact of the University of Pennsylvania’s Orphan Disease Center. Dr. Fajgenbaum is also a Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics and Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Dr. Fajgenbaum’s work has been highlighted by the New York TimesScienceToday ShowReader’s Digest (“Make it Matter” story of the month), Everylife Foundation (2016 RareVoice: Federal Advocacy Award from Rare Disease Legislative Advocates), Forbes Magazine’s 2015 30 Under 30 Healthcare list, Global Genes (2015 RARE Champion of Hope: Science award by Global Genes), University of Colorado (2013 Distinguished Service Award), Eli Lilly (Welcome Back Award), and the Do Something Organization (2007 BRICK Award).

David continues to serve as a member of HealGrief’s board of directors.

George Apelian
Founder, Accentuate Staffing

Graduated from Lake Forest College (1978) BA, and the University of Rochester Simon School (1980) MBA.  Founded Accentuate Staffing, in 1996, a $20m+ revenue, 500+ contract employee, recruitment agency singularly focused upon the Raleigh-Durham marketplace.  The company has been recognized with 8 Triangle Fast 50 Awards, 4 Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Awards, and the #222 ranking on the Inc. Magazine 500 List.

A company core values remains the strong encouragement of community-based service.  Personally served on the Eastern NC Make-A-Wish and Raleigh-Durham Dress for Success Board of Directors.  The company has provided meaningful assistance to the Children’s Flight of Hope, the MS Society, and the Triangle Food Bank, amongst others.

Shortly after the start of freshman year at Lake Forest College, my grandmother passed away.  During my junior year, one of my freshman suite mates committed suicide.  In both instances, I found myself very isolated and unprepared to “deal” with their meaningful absences.  As one not likely to seek professional help, the prospect of a student lead organization like ‘Students of AMF’ would have been a very appealing and needed alternative.

Alison Anderson
Marketing Director, Gena Chandler; Marketing Director, Quintessentials

Alison Anderson is a graduate of Hollins University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Business Communication & Technology, with an Art History minor.  Alison has over 8 years of experience with strategic marketing planning, corporate branding, advertising, event planning, and direct marketing.  More recently, she has begun utilizing public relations, web development, and social media marketing to improve her clients advertising presence.

During her years in the advertising and marketing field, she has managed accounts including the American Cancer Society, First Citizens Bank, and Duke Raleigh Hospital.  Previously, she was a television producer for Scripps Networks, which includes Food Network, HGTV, DIY and Fine Living.  Currently, she is the Marketing Director for Gena Chandler and Quintessentials in Raleigh, NC.

Alison is an active member of the Junior League of Raleigh. She is currently co-chairing the marketing committee for their largest annual fundraising event, “A Shopping SPREE!” Alison has served on the marketing committee for AMF’s Spring Soiree in 2010 and 2011.

She enjoys spending time with her husband Michael and their daughter Mary Wells, along with their labradoodle, Miles. Her other hobbies include tennis, golf and spending time on the North Carolina coast at her family beach house.

Allan From
Partner, Howard, Stalling, From & Hutson

While attending George Washington University, Allan was active in many extra curricular activities resulting in his election to Omicron Delta Kappa, an honorary fraternity. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the George Washington University, where he is Assistant Secretary, Chairman of the Student Affairs Committee, and a member of the Board’s Executive Committee. While in law school, he served on the legal staff of the Internal Revenue Service, Estate and Gift Tax Division. Allan also has been active in his community and has served as President of the Wake County Jewish Federation.

Gary Park
President, University of North Carolina Hospitals

Gary Park has served as President of University of North Carolina Hospitals (UNCH) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since March 2004.  UNCH is an academic medical center with 799 licensed  beds.  He also serves as Chief Executive Officer of Rex Healthcare, a 435 bed hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is part of the University of North Carolina Health Care System.  The hospital system is comprised of 1260 beds and approximately 10,000 employees.  Gary previously served as Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Moses Cone Health System from October 1997 until December 2000.  He also served as President of Wesley Long Community Hospital from November 1992 until September 1997 when Wesley Long merged with Moses Cone.  Prior to his position at Wesley Long, Gary was President of Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston West Virginia from 1986 to 1992.  He has an undergraduate and graduate degree from West Virginia.  He and his wife, Cindy, have four children and are active members of the community.

Tony Talerico
Network Architect, Cisco Systems

Tony has years of experience reviewing local nonprofits’ Technology Plans in order to match their needs with Cisco’s resources. Tony also serves as a technology consultant for another local nonprofit organization…

Pat Morrell
Sales Development, Skookum Digital Works (

Upon graduating from the University of the South (Sewanee) in 2007, Pat began his career in the marketing and sales department of the Washington, DC-based executive research and consulting group, the Corporate Executive Board.  He then joined President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, leveraging emerging media to organize and mobilize campaign volunteers in Ohio.  Returning to DC following the campaign, Pat joined the Congressional press staff of Ohio Representative Charlie Wilson (DC-06).
Pursuing a passion for marketing and digital communications, Pat became a founding employee of the Raleigh-based digital marketing agency, Three Ships Media.  Over a nearly three-year tenure with Three Ships, he worked as the Director of Content Development and the Director of Business Development.  As of June 2012 Pat has joined the Sales Development team at Skookum Digital Works, a premier applications development and custom software company based in Charlotte, NC.
Pat and his wife Clay make their home in Charlotte, NC where she is a high school teacher at the Cannon School in Concord, NC.  Pat is an active volunteer with GHA (Group Homes for the Autistic), a member of Sewanee’s historic Red Ribbon Society, and a board member of the Kappa Alpha Order Alpha Alpha Chapter Housing Corporation.

Thomas Schaffer
Partner, New York Life


Natasha Garcia
Human Resources Manager, Starbucks Corporation

Natasha is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California where she earned a degree in Business Administration focusing on Managerial and International Business.  After attending LMU, she attended post-graduate classes to continue to grow her knowledge in the HR field and earned a certificate in Human Resources Management from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.  She began a career with Starbucks Coffee Company in 2004 while attending college and has grown within the organization, currently holding the role of Human Resources Manager supporting the Mid-Atlantic Region.  Natasha has been involved with Students of AMF as a volunteer since 2008 as a Chapter Development Coordinator and recently has joined the Board.

Natasha currently lives in New York, New York with her husband, Grant.  When not working, she enjoys doing anything outdoors – skiing, swimming, running, boating, biking and hiking are among her favorite activities.

Newest members of the Board of Directors (Class of 2016):

Dawn Carlson

Dawn Carlson graduated from the University of New Haven in 2002 with dual Bachelors Degrees in Chemistry and Biology while completing a cooperative research program at Yale University School of Medicine. After seven years in research, she completed an Executive MBA with a concentration in leadership and corporate strategy at the University of New Haven. Dawn has over a decade of pharmaceutical research and development experience, successful management of scientific programs, and holds several patents for new drug entities. Currently, she is the client relationship manager for one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world focusing on conflict resolution, business development, and ensuring a reliable global supply chain.

Dawn travels extensively throughout the world as part of her job and enjoys learning languages and cultures, particularly foreign business cultures. She tries to spend as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors and hiking with her dog or doing anything fitness related. Dawn lives in Morrisville, North Carolina after relocating from Connecticut in 2011. She joined AMF after moving to the area and has volunteered on various committees. The purpose of AMF is very personal to Dawn as both her mom and dad passed away while attending school.

Margaret Griffin

Margaret was a charter member of the Georgetown Students of AMF and has been a volunteer since graduating in a number of areas including the Spring Soiree, creating an Alumni Network, and fundraising. Margaret works as a paramedic in Durham county and volunteers on the Angels Among Us committee at the Duke Brain Tumor Center. Margaret hopes to go to Physician’s Assistant school in the near future. Margaret lives in Carrboro with her husband, Mark, and their daughter McKinley.

Shellie Gruber

Shellie Gruber is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans where she earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Computer Information Systems.  She worked the next 13 years in the Information Technology industry in the Raleigh/Durham area.  Since her children were born, she has spent time working for her husband’s company, RPG Solutions, and being active in her community.

Shellie is a co-founder and former Board Member of Band Together NC.  She is also on the Advisory Board and volunteers with the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program.  Her other volunteer service has been with Special Olympics and Stop Hunger Now.

While this service is meaningful, Students of AMF hits the closest to home.  Nine months after suffering the loss of 3 family members in a plane crash, Shellie left home to attend college in another state.  To have had a peer group who understood her grief and fears would have changed the dynamic of her college years.  Years later, after reading an article about Students of AMF in 2012, she knew she had to be involved to provide the support she never received.

Shellie and her husband, Phil, have 2 children who all enjoy anything outdoors; including traveling, wakeboarding, biking, snow skiing, hiking, boating and rock climbing.  Shellie is also a triathlete who enjoys training rides and runs with her friends, as much as the actual race.

Board Member Emeritus

Kenneth Martin
Principal CPA, Stancil & Company

Ken currently serves as a tax partner at Stancil & Company, a local accounting firm in Raleigh, N.C. As such, he is responsible for the tax planning and compliance services for the firm’s business and individual clients. Ken is a member of the American Institute of CPA’s and the North Carolina Association of CPA’s.  He is a member of the Professional Development Committee and the Taxation Committee with the North Carolina Association of CPA’s.

Ken graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While a college student there, Ken experienced a roommate or close friend losing an immediate family member three times. When Ken learned of the mission of Students of AMF Support Network, he was very excited at the opportunity to be involved.

On a personal level, On a personal level, Ken enjoys being very active in his church and in serving on the boards of other non-profit organizations. He is married to Anita, and they have three beautiful daughters, Anna, Emily, and Molly. (updated June 2017)

Board Member Emeritus

Bette Jacobs, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University O’Neill Health Law Institute

Bette Jacobs is distinguished professor, Georgetown University O’Neill Health Law Institute and fellow, University of Oxford Campion Hall. Her career has emphasized engaging multiple disciplines and methods in mission-centered performance organizations. She recently concluded 10 years as academic dean at Georgetown University, transforming the School of Nursing to the School of Nursing and Health Studies offering four majors, establishing the Center on Health and Education, and co-founding the O’ Neill Health Law Institute.

Prior to her work at Georgetown University, Bette was a corporate officer for Honda of America Manufacturing. She also held academic and administrative positions in higher education, including the University of Alabama Birmingham. Bette received undergraduate and graduate degrees at California State University and her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bette is the mother of three adult children and the grandmother of six. She is married to Dr. Joseph Jacobs who works for Abbott Molecular. They reside in Washington, D.C.

Board Member Emeritus

Alison Malmon Mahowald
Founder & Executive Director, Active Minds

Alison is founder and executive director of Active Minds, Inc., the only national organization that uses students as the driving force to change perceptions about mental health on college campuses. Alison formed the organization in 2001, following the suicide of her only sibling, 22-year-old brother Brian Malmon. Wanting to combat the stigma that had caused her brother to suffer in silence and ultimately take his own life, she created a group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania that promoted an open, enlightened dialogue around mental health issues. Just two years later, Alison formed the 501(c)3 organization to develop and support chapters of the student group on campuses around the country. She has since served as executive director of the non-profit organization, engaging thousands of student leaders in hundreds of chapters nationwide and promoting a unified national voice for young adults in the mental health awareness movement.

For her efforts, Alison was named Washingtonian of the Year, in 2007, by Washingtonian Magazine; Citizen of the Year, in 2008, by the Potomac, Maryland Rotary Club; and a Woman of Distinction by the American Association of University Women and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. She has also received the Tipper Gore Remember the Children Award from Mental Health America, the inaugural Young Leadership Award from the National Mental Health Research Association (NARSAD), Leadership Award from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, and was named the first-ever Montgomery County Public Schools (Maryland) Distinctive Alumnus. Alison has been profiled as a “Person You Should Know” on CNN, and in stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, Glamour Magazine, and ABC’s Good Morning America, among others.

In addition to her work at Active Minds, Alison sits on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Consumer/Survivor Subcommittee, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Leadership21 Committee, Bringing Theory to Practice Project Planning Committee, and Students of AMF Board of Directors. In her spare time, Alison enjoys teaching the flying trapeze at the Trapeze School in Washington, D.C., and thinks everyone should “fly” at least once in his or her lifetime!


Mental Health Professionals

Phil Meilman, Ph.D. (Chair)
Director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services, Georgetown University

Philip W. Meilman is the director of the Counseling and Psychiatric Service and a professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University. In this role, he provides leadership for the university counseling service, consults with university faculty, staff, and administration, and provides direct clinical services to students.

Dr. Meilman earned a B.S. from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and did his internship in clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. In addition to his work at Georgetown, Dr. Meilman has volunteered as the co-director of The Core Institute Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Studies at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale since 1990. Prior to coming to Georgetown, Dr. Meilman worked in counseling centers, conducted research, and taught at the College of William and Mary, Dartmouth Medical School, Dartmouth College Health Service, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Books and monographs authored by Dr. Meilman include: Beating the College Blues:  A Student’s Guide to Coping with the Emotional Ups and Downs of College Life, First and Second Editions (with P.A. Grayson), Alcohol and Drugs on American College Campuses:  Use, Consequences, and Perceptions of the Campus Environment, Volumes I, II, III, and IV (with C.A. Presley and R. Lyerla), and College Mental Health Practice (also with Grayson). He is also published in Developmental PsychologyJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical TherapyThe Clinical Journal of PainJournal of College Student PersonnelJournal of Pain and Symptom ManagementJournal of American College HealthInternational Journal of the AddictionsJournal of College Student DevelopmentThe Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, and College Mental Health Practice, among others.

Dr. Meilman was elected an honorary lifetime member of the Black Faculty and Staff Forum at College of William and Mary for his efforts to recruit black professionals to the university. He has been named to the Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, and Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare. He was given the Management Achievement Award by the University of Nebraska Medical Center administration, Outstanding Teacher for 1982-83 at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute, and The Martin S. Wallach Award at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Meilman is married and the father of two. He resides in Arlington, Va.

David E. Balk, Ph.D., FT
Professor, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Brooklyn College

David E. Balk is a professor at Brooklyn College where he directs Graduate Studies in Thanatology. His research has examined adolescent bereavement over the death of family members and friends. He is collaborating with colleagues at different universities, particularly Andrea Walker, to establish the prevalence and severity of college student bereavement. Dr. Balk is associate editor and book review editor of the peer-reviewed journal Death Studies, and editor-in-chief of the 2007 publication Handbook of ThanatologyThe Essential Body of Knowledge for the Study of Death, Dying, and Bereavement. In addition, he is a member of the editorial board for the peer-reviewed journal Omega: Journal of Death and Dying. With Charles A. Corr, he edited for Springer Publishing Company Adolescent Encounters with Death, Bereavement, and Coping and Children’s Encounters with Death, Bereavement, and Coping. In 2011, Springer Publishing Company will publish his book, Helping the Bereaved College Student. Dr. Balk feels strongly that bridging the gap separating practitioners and researchers is both a practical and moral imperative for professional associations and for curriculum aimed at producing researchers or practitioners.

Dr. Balk earned a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1981. His father’s death from cancer while Balk was in doctoral studies influenced him to study death and bereavement. His dissertation examined the self-concept and bereavement reactions of adolescents following sibling death. He has worked as Director of Research and Director of Program Evaluation in two community mental health centers in Arizona. In 1987, he joined the faculty of Kansas State University, where he was promoted to full professor in 1995, and served as President of the K-State Faculty Senate from 1996-1997. From 1997-2004 he was a member of the faculty at Oklahoma State University. K-State’s College of Human Ecology honored him as Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1992 and as Outstanding Researcher of the Year in 1995. OSU’s College of Human Environmental Sciences honored him in 2004 as Outstanding Advisor of the Year.

Dr. Balk is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and is serving the last years of a three-year term on the ADEC Board of Directors. He was president of the board of directors for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs in Manhattan, Kansas, and in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Dr. Balk also enjoys movies, reading a wide variety of books, and watching sporting events, including baseball and football. His favorite music is jazz, but he likes other music as well, particularly classical and some rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s. His wife is an expert in many things, including computers, and it is rumored that she can fix anything. His daughter is a very gifted teacher, and he finds he misses her a lot now that she has moved out and is living on her own. They both enjoy many types of movies and often watch movies when they get together.

R. Kelly Crace, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President for Health & Wellness at the College of William & Mary
President, Applied Psychology Resources

Kelly is the Associate Vice President for Health & Wellness at the College of William & Mary.  He is a licensed psychologist, the co-author of the Life Values Inventory, and creator of The Life Values Inventory Online, an online mini-course for values clarification and personal development. He has published and presented in the areas of values, flourishing, transition, identity development, and multi-generational family organizational development.

Kelly is president of Applied Psychology Resources and has conducted over two thousand seminars for academic, business, and sport groups. He has served as director of two college mental health centers at Duke University and at the College of William & Mary.  He received his academic and clinical training from Vanderbilt University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. He is co-inventor of a U.S. Patented Interactive Sports Simulator System designed for scientific and entertainment application.  Kelly was the recipient of the Chambers-Reid Award for Professional Excellence at William & Mary. (updated June 2017)

Illene Cupit, Ph.D.
Ben J. & Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Human Development, Psychology and Gender Studies
Professor, Human Development/Psychology/Women’s Studies, Institute on Dying, Death and Bereavement, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Illene Cupit, who earned her doctorate at Temple University, is a Professor of Human Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She developed the Dying, Death & Loss course on her campus more than 20 years ago, and is the founder of the campus Death, Dying and Bereavement Institute, providing outreach education for professionals in northeast Wisconsin. Dr. Cupit’s research has focused on college student bereavement, adolescent grief, death education and death in child care centers. She also founded Camp Lloyd, a day camp for grieving children, named in honor of her husband.

Dr. Cupit is a past board member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and past president of ADEC for 2012. She is also a member of the American Psychological Society, International Society for Infant Studies, National Collegiate Honors Council, and Society for Research in Child Development. She was recently awarded the 2010 UW-Green Bay Research Scholar Award.

Dr. Cupit edited (with C. Sofka) Dying, Death and Grieving: The New Science of Thanatechnology, and co-authored (with H. Servaty-Seib, S.T. Parikh, R. Martin) “Forging a Pathway Through College During Bereavement and Grief: Findings of the National College Student Grief Study,” which is under review for the Journal of Adolescent Research. (updated June 2017)

Richard Kadison, M.D.
Chief of Mental Health Services, Harvard University Health Services

Richard Kadison is the Chief of the Mental Health Service at Harvard University Health Services. He is a board-certified Child and Adult Psychiatrist with special interests in student mental health and eating disorders. He has worked with student health and eating disorder programs at several schools for 25 years, and has consulted with universities around the country.

Dr. Kadison earned a B.S. from Brown University and his medical degree from Loyala University Medical School. He completed residencies in adult psychiatry at Boston University and child psychiatry at McLean Hospital.

He is the author of College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It published by John Wiley and Sons in 2004, and is the proud father of six-year-old Will Kadison.

Robin Lanzi, Ph. D., MPH
Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Robin Lanzi is an associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Lanzi has expertise in adolescent parenting, child maltreatment, maternal depression, early intervention programs, developmental outcomes, research methods, ethical issues, and social policy. Over the past 15 years, Dr. Lanzi has been consistently funded by NIH and other federal and state agencies and foundations as Principal Investigator or Co Principal Investigator. Prior to her appointment at UAB, Robin was a professor at Georgetown University, where she supervised and collaborated with David Fajgenbaum on a summer research fellowship advisor and senior honors thesis which was a comprehensive assessment of university practices, policies and programs for bereaved college students. Lanzi also is a co-author on a paper, “Building a Network of Grief Support on College Campuses: A National Grassoots Initiative,” with Fajgenbaum and AMF co-founder Benjamin Chesson in the April issue of the Journal of College Student Psychotherapy.

Dr. Lanzi received her B.A. in Psychology from Hollins College Magna Cum Laude and her Ph.D. (Developmental Psychology) and M.P.H. (Maternal and Child Health) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. During graduate school, Dr. Lanzi was selected as a policy fellow in the “Putting Children First” Fellowship Program in Child and Family Policy at the Center for Young Children and Families, Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

“My dad passed away during my second year in graduate school at UAB,” Lanzi says. “It is important it is to have something like the National Students of AMF available. Grief is a very isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be so. AMF provides tremendous resources and outlets to those learning to deal with their grief.”

Heather L. Servaty-Seib, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Counseling and Development, Department of Educational Studies, Purdue University

Heather Servaty-Seib is a counseling psychologist and received her Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. She is currently an associate professor and training director of the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program in the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University. Dr. Servaty-Seib also maintains a small, grief-focused, private practice.

She is well published in the areas of adolescent bereavement, social support and grief, and the use of loss as a broad model for conceptualizing significant life events. Her recent publications include an edited volume entitled Assisting Bereaved College Students published by Jossey-Bass, a chapter on friend death, and a review article on college student bereavement published in The Counseling Psychologist. Dr. Servaty-Seib currently serves as member of the editorial boards of four national refereed journals including Death Studies and Omega: Journal of Death and Dying. She is a past president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and was principal investigator of ALIVE @ Purdue — a three-year, campus suicide prevention grant received from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Servaty-Seib is committed to translating scholarship into action. As examples, she teaches a service-learning course in which graduate students serve as the facilitators of an eight-week support program for bereaved families and she is currently organizing a two-day summit focused on developing a template for colleges and universities to implement bereavement leave policies for college students.

Dr. Servaty-Seib lives in Lafayette, Ind., is married and the mother of two small children. She enjoys playing with her girls, eating excellent meals, hiking, and reading (fiction!) in the hammock in her backyard.

Tamina Toray, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology Division, Western Oregon University

Dr. Tamina Toray is a professor in the Psychology Division at Western Oregon University and affiliate faculty in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. She earned her Ph.D. in Family Studies from Oregon State University, and her M.S. in Counseling from Truman State University.

Dr. Toray has been involved in the field of death, dying and bereavement for more than two decades and has taught courses, been published in peer-reviewed articles, and been asked to contribute to edited book chapters on end-of-life topics. She has also been a speaker at national and international conferences on grief and loss. Dr. Toray served on ADEC’s National Test Committee, which was responsible for creating the body of knowledge required for national exam standards. She has served as a member of the board of directors for Benton County Hospice for the past eight years. During that time, she has served as a member of the Ethics Committee, Quality Assurance Committee and is currently the chair of the Transitions Committee (a new program providing palliative care to community members).

Dr. Toray co-founded one of the nation’s first grief and loss clinics focusing on the human animal bond at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and has taught clinical communication and end-of-life courses at several veterinary colleges.

Selected publications by Dr. Toray include (with Cooley and Roscoe) “Reactions to Loss Scale: Assessing Grief in College Students” in the Journal of Death and Dying;, “The Human-Animal Bond and Loss” in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling; (with Cooley); “Disordered Eating in Freshman Women:  A Prospective Study” in the Journal of College Health (also with Cooley); “Coping in College Students:  The Value of Experience” in the Journal of College Student Development;;“Children’s Bereavement Over the Deaths of Pets” in Children’s Encounters with Death, Bereavement, and Coping;”; and “Children’s Friendships and the Death of a Friend” in Corr & Corr’s, 1996 edition of Helping Children Cope with Death and Bereavement.

Dr. Toray was the recipient of the Oregon Academy of Science 2007 award for Outstanding Teacher in Higher Educationis a member of the Who’s Who in Death Dying, Suicide and Bereavement Community (awarded by King’s College Centre for Education about Death and Bereavement)was nominated for the Teacher of the Year Award, Western Oregon University 2000-2004 & 2010, and received the Academic Advisor of the Year, Western Oregon University in 2005.

Andrea Walker, Ph.D, LADC
Associate Professor, Psychology, Oral Roberts University

Andrea C. Walker, Ph.D., is a family science specialist, focusing her research on multicultural issues, adolescence, and grief within the family. She is Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and holds a License in Alcohol and Drug Counseling in the state of Oklahoma. Currently she is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Jim Welsh, M.D.
Chair of Family Medicine, MedStar Georgetown University Medical Center

James C. Welsh is currently the chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and was formerly the assistant vice president of Student Health Services for Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is an associate professor of Family Medicine in the School of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Human Science in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Dr. Welsh completed his undergraduate degree with honors from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and completed a residency in Family Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. He received an MBA from the University of Mary Washington and received an M.S. in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. He is board-certified in Family Medicine and was a practicing family physician in Fredericksburg, Virginia before coming to Georgetown in 1995.

From 1995 to 2001, Dr. Welsh held a number of positions at Georgetown University Hospital, including the vice president of the Community Practice Network and the associate medical director of the hospital. Since 2001 he has been responsible for the Student Health Center and, in his current role, oversees all medical and behavioral health services delivered to more than 15,000 students of Georgetown University. He has chaired the Department of Family Medicine since 2008 and oversees the academic and research activities of faculty in that department. (updated July 2017)


Board of Advisors

Jim Branch, President of Hand Up Foundation, the Former President of Nova Development Group, and a Board member at North State Bank.  In addition to being a community-wide celebrity and supporter for several other local nonprofits, Jim has been a dedicated supporter for AMF since day 1.

Fran Buckley has been involved with the organization since its inception in 2006. Fran is so supportive of AMF because she lost her father during her senior year of high school. It was because of a mutual bonding over the loss of a parent that Fran and her roommate, and still closest friend, Maren Dinsmore became friends their freshman year at Georgetown. Fran believes that finding a forum to discuss loss and coping mechanisms is so important to college students. Fran is a current Trustee at Ravenscroft and a third term member of the Board of Regents at Georgetown University.

Gena Fajgenbaum Combs is the Co-owner of Gena Chandler, a local fashion boutique. Gena has been involved with every major decision for AMF since its inception, chairing the 2010 Spring Soiree, serving on the AMF Board of Directors from 2008-2010, and promoting the organization through her store.  On a personal note: Gena is Anne Marie’s daughter and David’s sister.

David M. Fajgenbaum, M.D, is an Orthopedic Surgeon in the Bone & Joint Surgery Clinic, Raleigh, NC. David has been involved in the community serving on the Boards of Raleigh Community Hospital, North Ridge Country Club, Ravenscroft School, and North State Bank. David has been a strong supporter of AMF for years. On a personal note: David M. is David’s dad and husband to Anne Marie.

Lisa Fajgenbaum is a Family Risk Manager for BB&T Insurance Services, where she specializes in the implementation of comprehensive personal risk management programs for affluent and high-net-worth individuals and families. Lisa holds a B.S. in Psychology from Duke University. In addition to her work with AMF, Lisa served on the Alumni Council for Ravenscroft School. Lisa currently resides in Raleigh, N.C. and is the oldest of the three children of Anne Marie Fajgenbaum, who inspired Students of AMF.

Marcie Gordon is currently the Director of Community Engagement and Marketing at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, NC and has extensive non-profit board experience, specializing in Public Relations with the Junior League of Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of History, Playspace Museum, and Historic Yates Mill.  Marcie has also planned and executed PR efforts for Daniels Middle School’s 50th Anniversary, North Carolina State University’s Celebrate NC Wine Festival, and Special Olympics World Games. In addition to her support for so many other nonprofits, Marcie has led all Public Relations efforts for National Students of AMF for the last five years.  Marcie attended Converse College, graduated from UNC and did her graduate studies in Arts Administration at American University and post-graduate Public Relations studies at Duke University and UNC-CH School of Journalism.

Angela Hampton is a Community Affairs Specialist at ABC11 WTVD and Host of “Heart of Carolina Perspectives”.  She is an Emmy award winning journalist whose 20 year career as a News Anchor and Reporter took her to Albany, New York, Minneapolis, Minnesota and back to her hometown of Raleigh. Angela developed a great respect for National Students of AMF after profiling founder David Fajgenbaum and the organization in a news story for ABC11, which led to a sponsorship partnership for the Boot Camp Fundraiser.  Angela also serves on the Board of Navigate Cancer Foundation and is very active volunteer at her daughter’s school and in her various extracurricular activities.

Charlotte Harris has owned and operated Charlotte’s, Inc., three well-known retail stores in the Carolinas that specialize in fashion, gifts and home accessories, since 1990. Charlotte received a degree in Education from Baylor University and an M.S. in Learning Disabilities in 1973 from Texas Christian University. Charlotte has helped with and been involved in every major event and initiative in the Triangle area for AMF. Charlotte helped to organize both Spring Soiree’s and served on the AMF Board of Directors from 2008-2011. On a personal note, Charlotte was Anne Marie’s best friend and David’s God Mother. In addition to her work with AMF, Charlotte is a member of the Raleigh Junior League and Capital Community Church.

Buddy Kelly, a former co-owner of Piedmont Air Conditioning and current business development advisor at “Piedmont Service Group,” graduated from West Georgia College and also served in the United States Navy Reserve. Buddy, while very active with several other important local charities, has been a supporter of AMF since its inception.

Larry Kelly is a professional engineer, former co-owner of Piedmont Air Conditioning, and current business development advisor to “Piedmont Service Group.”  Larry attended Georgia Tech. Larry, while active with several other important local charities, has been a supporter of AMF since its inception.

Kit McConnell is an Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Volunteer in the Triangle community. She ran, and then sold in 2007, a successful travel agency business. Since then, she has embraced every opportunity to get involved in the community to help those in need through volunteering and philanthropy

Ginny McKay is a long-time friend of the Fajgenbaum family who has witnessed first-hand the importance of creating a loving and supportive environment for family members affected by the loss of a loved one.  Ginny is an active member of the Raleigh, NC community and is a passionate supporter of the AMF cause and the important role it plays in providing an outlet for families dealing with grief.  Ginny believes that the AMF embodies Anne-Marie’s spirit of support and represents a legacy that we should all embrace, responding with love.

J. Fielding Miller is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of CAPTRUST. Fielding is also actively involved with philanthropic endeavors and has held leadership roles in several community organizations, including the Ravenscroft School Board of Trustees, the East Carolina University Board of Trustees, the Oak Ranch Board of Trustees, and the House of Hope Board of Trustees. Fielding is a proud graduate of East Carolina University and earned his Certified Investment Management Accreditation (CIMA) through the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Lee Sender is an international lawyer based in Washington and Chicago whose non-traditional career has included work in the Middle East, especially Iraq; positions involving project finance, post-conflict reconstruction, and the legal dimension of persons with disabilities at the World Bank; an on-going affiliation with Jesuit works in the USA and abroad; and the training of young international lawyers from 600 law schools in over 90 countries. A personal brush with cancer and several other life-threatening diseases at an early age, as well as the deaths of family members and friends who were suddenly diagnosed with various late stage cancers too late for treatment, led to Lee’s initial commitment to serve AMF back in 2007.  Lee is currently working in Chicago on a project to expand the service capacity of a large public interest legal aid provider, including obtaining entitlements and rights for cancer patients and their families whose claims have been ignored, denied or delayed by the Social Security Administration as well as other federal, state and local entities.

Dan Thorpe is a graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, and a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership. Dan is married to Erin, a stay-at-home mom to their two daughters, Carly and Lila. Dan and Erin grew up in Virginia Beach, VA and relocated to the Raleigh area in 2008.  Dan is the Vice President for the American Heart Association for the Eastern North Carolina area.

Further biographical information to be provided for:

Player Barefoot, Co-owner, SouthTech Orthopedics

Sylvia Fajgenbaum, Design Consultant; Host, AMF Banquet/Spring Soiree 2006-2011; Committee Chair, Boot Camp 2 Beat Cancer 2005-2010; Committee member, “Applause for AMF

Willa Kane, Design Consultant, Kane Realty Corporation; Board Member, The Healing Place of Wake County; Vestry, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Founding Member; Board of Advisors, Habitat for Humanity Wake County

Chandler Norman, Co-owner, Gena Chandler

David Tyre, President and Owner, A. David Tyre & Associates

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