"Finding people that are going through similar situations is really helpful."

— Margaux


Meet Our Team

Helping Grief Make Sense.

At Grief Stories, we passionately believe sharing stories and insights fosters connection, helping people to cope with grief.

Grief Stories Board of Directors

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Lana Missen

Lana Missen (she/her) is an artist, photographer, and arts administrator. Born and raised in Northumberland County, she recently returned to the area after nearly a decade of studying and working in Toronto. She holds a BFA in Photography from OCADU and a post-graduate certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. 

Driven by the importance of community and collaboration, Lana is thrilled to join the Grief Stories board. She brings a background in donor stewardship, fundraising, capacity building, and a passion for good spreadsheets. She is fortunate to work with families at Habitat for Humanity Northumberland and in donor engagement with Green Wood Coalition. She has volunteered with Northumberland Players, Ten Thousand Villages, and is currently a board member of SONG (Sounds of the Next Generation). 

Lana is an advocate for social change, and believes in the power of sharing stories and human connection. She also has a love of coffee, cats, books, and desserts. When she is not working or volunteering with not for profits, you will find her on a hike or a patio.

Greg Burns

Greg Burns


Greg Burns worked as a community developer and senior municipal administrator for nineteen years, followed by a twenty-year career as a college professor. As a private consultant, Greg has provided training in fundraising and strategic planning to municipal, provincial, state and federal agencies in both Canada and the United States. He has founded several community-based organizations dealing with youth, the unemployed, food bank, and environmental sustainability.

Greg has personally dealt with grief – the death of a daughter and the tragic loss of a close friend due to ALS. He wants to help make a difference through his volunteer work with Grief Stories by applying his various skill sets to increase the visibility of the organization and its various programs and services.

Doug Bates

Doug Bates

Doug Bates is a former banker and current co-owner of Brown Bag Co. and ComGo. He also drums and does many musical events for various charities in his community.

He also the founder of the Kaitlyn Bates Initiative which is an organization dedicated to his daughter who he lost in a tragic car accident. It focuses on self esteem issues. Doug runs ABRAutism dedicated to helping individuals with Autism.

Doug is actively involved in his community and was given the 2011 Northumberland YMCA Peace Medal and was the winner of the Toyota Wishgiver Contest in 2015 for his contributions to the community.

Doug lives with his wife and 2 kids in Northumberland County.

Doug became involved in Grief Stories to share his loss of his daughter and in turn he hopes to help others find ways to heal.

Jodi Pereira

Jodi Pereira

Jodi Pereira wants to be remembered for helping to develop compassionate communities. She has
worked in, and with Community, not for profits for over 30 years. Jodi was a director at one of the
largest Community Hospice in Ontario for 9 years. She was the creator of HUUG (Help Us Understand
Grief) Program, a one to one/group support program for children and families living with illness, grief
and death: A program model which has been adopted by other hospices across the province. Jodi
initiated a regional grief collaborative called the Children and Youth Grief Network (CYGN) which
became the catalyst for the development a national partnership – the Canadian Alliance for Grieving
Children and Youth.

In her past and current roles, Jodi has seen the benefit that connection can have in grief. In one of her
current roles as the Director of Camp Erin Toronto, she frequently bears witness to the transformative
effects of children and youth meeting and connecting with others living with the death of a significant
person in their life.

Mary Schulz

Mary Schulz

Mary Schulz joined the Grief Stories board of directors in 2021.  A professional Social Worker for over 35 years, Mary has supported many people through life-limiting illnesses and loss. In learning to live with grief in her own life, Mary hopes that her lived experience will help Grief Stories continue to be an ever-evolving tool for those who are grieving.


Susan Kesper

Susan Kesper is a Regional Secretary with a Canadian public sector union.She is a labour rights and human rights activist, visual artist, avid animal lover, friend/daughter/sister/aunt, and cat mom to her three cats, Archie, Linus, and Beans.

Susan’s professional role is to work alongside Staff Negotiators to support members of unionized workplaces as they engage in contract negotiations, contract enforcement, and day to day operations of their Union Locals. While her priority is to service the Union membership, an extremely important part of her job is building and maintaining a healthy working relationship with Employers. In addition to labour relations, grief support is a cause close to Susan’s heart.

Susan is a 31 year old white, queer, disabled woman who lives with her cat babies on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples, which is covered by Treaty 13 (also known as Toronto).

Ian + Jessica

Jessica Coleman

Jessica Coleman (she/her) is an industrial automations and robotics specialist currently working at Durham College. With post secondary education from both Trent University and Durham College, she branches out from her STEM career by filling her spare time serving her community.

A member of the Rotary Club of Port Hope, a volunteer for Be My Eyes, and now a Director of Grief Stories, she is driven by helping her community through stories, compassion, and humour.

Jessica lives in Port Hope with her husband. Born and raised in Northumberland County, you will find her either enjoying a drink where her and husband met, or on a walk near the Ganaraska River or Lake Ontario.

Get Involved

Grief Stories is growing and looking for people who are passionate about our mission and have the skills and experience to make a difference.

Grief Stories Operations Team

Sean Danby

Sean Danby


Sean Danby has crafted numerous videos and multimedia commercial and corporate projects. Sean’s commercial client list includes ING Insurance, Leon’s, McDonald, Questrade, Reliance Home Energy and Sony BMG. He has also created and directed projects for Motorola, Randstad Canada and Scotiabank International. Executive Producer of “Basketball City,” a fast paced and youth oriented television series broadcasting basketball’s grassroots throughout Canada and starring two-time NBA MVP, Steve Nash. Sean views the grieving process as a personal experiential part of life, and that by sharing our stories we can better understand our own grief.

Rob Quartly

Rob Quartly


If you grew up watching Much Music in the 80’s, you already know Rob Quartly. Or at the very least, you know his work. As both a director and a producer, he gave birth to Canada’s music video production industry. It’s a role that has been recognized with JUNOs, CFTA personal achievement awards and his induction as the first member of the Much Music Hall of Fame.

His activity in the advertising industry has been equally successful with recognition at Cannes, Toronto and New York Art Directors Club, Bessies, Clios, One Show, Marketing Awards…

Television projects have seen him direct The Vacant Lot series, act as Co-Creator of the hit CBC show “The Triple Sensation”, and create/direct/executive produce the CHUM comedy series “And, Go!”

Maureen Pollard

Maureen Pollard

Healthcare Expert

Maureen Pollard is a Registered Social Worker who has worked in the field of social work since 1991. In private practice since 2011, Maureen is a specialist in traumatic bereavement, helping individuals, families and groups navigate life after losses, including pregnancy and infant loss, child death, suicide loss, homicide loss and sudden or accidental death. Maureen is a certified Compassionate Bereavement Care provider, and she is trained in RTS (Resolve Through Sharing) Bereavement Care.

Maureen’s practice areas also include work as a certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist and Educator, supporting front line professionals in building the resilience necessary to survive and thrive in high-stress, trauma-exposed work.


Alyssa Warmland

Executive Director

Alyssa Warmland is an interdisciplinary artist and activist. Her work utilizes elements of radical vulnerability, restorative justice, mindfulness, compassion, performance, and direct action.

She is a mother, La Leche League Leader, writer, podcaster, producer, director, performer, content creator, not-for-profit administrator, and abstract visual artist. Lyss is a strong advocate for fumbling towards an ethic of care, especially when it comes to the topics of birth, matresence, and grief. Most of all, she’s interested in the way people choose to tell their stories and how that keeps them well.

Lyss is a 32 year old white, queer, disabled woman who lives with her partner and their son in a Small Town on the traditional territory of the Anishinabek, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga/Eastern Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) peoples, also known as Port Hope.

Kaye Torrie

Kaye Torrie


Kaye has been a Child Witness Advocate for the past 12 years. For the past 4 years her work with child victims has included the help of an accredited facility dog. Kaye has volunteered with several organizations that have child welfare and social justice at their core including the Thrive Northumberland, Northumberland Children’s Aid Society (now Highland Shores), and The Green Wood Coalition. She is also an active member of the Northumberland Players through which she enjoys producing and stage-managing community theatre productions. Kaye is a lifelong resident of Northumberland County where her two children were born and raised. Kaye has watched and been inspired by the way Grief Stories has grown and touched so many people

Sharron Spencer

Sharron Spencer

Social Service Worker

Sharron Spencer is a grief counsellor, with a BA in Thanatology (the psychological coping mechanisms in death, dying and bereavement) and is a Registered Social Service Worker with experience working in Mental Health & Addictions. She has been provided grief counselling and support in community hospice and residential palliative care since 2017, as well as caregiver support and counselling. Sharron is also an educator, and a designated Funeral Celebrant, offering secular personalized memorial and funeral services. Sharron is honoured to share space alongside individuals and families in their grief journey, as well as supporting frontline professional caregivers in their professional and personal losses.


Charles Solomon

Songs of Solace Curator

Charles has always been passionate about music, and sharing that passion with others has taken him on an interesting and rewarding journey. 

It began as a teenage DJ in Cape Town, continued as a music program producer/editor with the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s pop radio station Reshet Gimmel, and led eventually to a number of positions in the music industry.  

He subsequently became head of the International Music department at Hed Arzi, Israel’s largest record company, and after he moved with his family to Toronto, he worked as the jazz, classical and world music marketing coordinator with Warner Music Canada.   

By far the most rewarding part of this journey has been his volunteer work at a number of long term care homes in Toronto. 

Music and memory is one area with which Charles has been fascinated, so over the past five years he has been visiting residents in three long term care homes – these weekly visits include one-on-one music sessions. Every resident has his or her own music tastes, so he selects and plays songs with which they are familiar. There are times when they literally come alive singing along with their favourite tunes.  

Charles now facilitates a twice weekly music appreciation group at a day program for seniors who still live in the community. 

Always open to discovering new music, it’s now mainly his children who expose him to new music. 

The journey continues!     


Adrienne Pringle MMT, RP, MTA

Registered Psychotherapist (CRPO), Certified Music Therapist (MTA, CAMT)

Adrienne brings 20 years of clinical experience in end of life care and bereavement care in sharing her perspectives with grief stories. She believes strongly in the power of music and creative expression to heal, and has experienced this first hand in her work with clients she supports.

She is a past President of the Canadian Association of Music Therapists (CAMT) and Music Therapist at Carpenter Hospice and CHM Therapy. Adrienne is co-founder and Director of Beyond the Studio and Sing it Girls!®.

Adrienne created the Singing Well bereavement program, her research conducted in collaboration with Dr. Laurel Young and Concordia University is published in Bereavement Care. Adrienne is a proud east coaster, growing up in Halifax, these days she lives in Burlington, Ontario, she and husband Travis stay active keeping up with their teenagers, Bailey & Alec.


Laurel Young PHD

Certified Music Therapist (MTA), Psychotherapist (Québec), Fellow of the Association for Music & Imagery (FAMI)

Laurel is also an Associate Professor of Music Therapy at Concordia University (Montréal). Prior to joining Concordia in 2011, she was the Professional Leader of Creative Arts Therapies at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Toronto). Dr. Young has received awards from Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo) and Temple University (Philadelphia) for outstanding contributions to her field.

In 2014, she received the Canadian Association of Music Therapists’ (CAMT) Research & Publications award. She has over 25 years of diverse clinical experience, authored several publications, presented internationally, and served on the CAMT and Canadian Music Therapy Fund Boards. She is a research member of Concordia’s PERFORM Centre, Concordia’s Arts in Health Research Collective (AHRC), and the Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology (CREGÉS).

She currently serves as the Associate Director of engAGE: Concordia’s Centre for Research on Aging. In her spare time, Laurel pursues her own musical interests and hangs out in the country with her partner James (artist and art therapist) and their two cats Gladys and Mont


Matt Kowalyk

Chief Analyst

Matt Kowalyk tries to use both sides of his brain as much as he can. An interdisciplinary artist focusing on storytelling through music, lyric, drama, and poetry, he spends his days as a Data Analyst for a major telecom.  Matt has served on multiple boards for nonprofits and volunteers in the community teaching music with groups like SONG and Rebound.

Using his two decades of analytical and data mining experience, Matt is looking forward to diving into the information and providing clear examples on how Grief Stories can continue its journey to being a reliable and trusted resource for so many in need.

Matt came to Grief Stories as a person in need of help and GS did indeed help.  From content to consume, to contributing content, Grief Stories continues to be a place that shows we are not alone, and that we are strong enough.


Ellen Torrie

Musician / Songwriter

Ellen Torrie is an Ontario-born soprano, singer-songwriter, and performance curator living in Montreal. They first became involved with Grief Stories in 2016 when they were interviewed about the loss of their grandmother. Now Ellen is using their background in music therapy to help generate new ways for this resource to reach individuals and heal communities. As a queer non-binary artist, Ellen is guided by the knowledge of their queer elders and ancestors in the research and performance of radically inclusive stories as they continue to develop musical languages to explore that which is most richly human.

A white woman with wavy, shoulder-length brown hair in a white and grey striped shirt smiles into the camera.

Jessica Milette

Registered Social Worker (MSW, RSW)

Jessica Milette is a registered social worker, practicing since 2018.

Jessica has experience working at a Hospice co-creating meaningful legacy projects with families, providing support to those at end of life and their families, as well as creating individual and group supports for anyone grieving in the

Jessica is the owner and of Cultivating Connections. Her expertise includes helping individuals and
families facing anticipatory grief, ambiguous loss, disenfranchised losses, and sudden deaths.

Jessica believes in the power of connection; within ourselves, with those who have died, those we are in
relationship with, and with our greater communities. Through sharing our stories of grief and loss, we
tend to our connection with those who have died and creating connections with others.

Jessica is a white woman living on the traditional territory of the Anishnabek, the Haudenosaunee, the
Attiwonderonk, and the Mississaugas of the Credit peoples, also known as Guelph, ON.