Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home4/grief/public_html/partho/newgrief/shared/connectionfile.php on line 2
Grief Support Services. org
A Place For Comfort, Remembrance And Help During Times Of Sorrow
A Program of National Grief Support Services Inc.
Espanol Francais
National Grief Support Services has a culturally diverse board of directors that reflects a broad range of expertise in human services, and multimedia communications, as well as grief-related issues and services. Board members work on a volunteer basis to provide advice, counsel and expertise in the formation of policies, procedures, programs and services. The board also plays an instrumental role in public, corporate and community relations and resource development.
 Karen Russell, National Grief Support Services Founder, Executive Director,and President of the Board  

Karen has a Masters degree in Gerontology, Social Work and Therapeutic Recreation from Ohio State University. She has worked in human services for over 30 years including positions as Senior Center Director, Activity Director, Adult Day Care Supervisor, Director of Social Services, and as a consultant in aging. She founded and directed a nonprofit information and referral organization, Opportunities and Services For Seniors. Karen conceived the organization's annual program, Time Of Your Life Expo, which was the nation's largest senior citizen exposition, with over 50,000 people in attendance annually. She later founded and directed Activity Source For Seniors, which provided mobile recreation services for the elderly and education for professionals in the field. In memory of her first husband, who died tragically in a car accident, she founded National Grief Support Services in 1994 to provide comprehensive grief related services. Karen lives in Los Angeles California with her husband, two sons and menagerie of animals. Her talking parrot and four dogs have been a part of pet therapy programs. Karen has tirelessly used her talents to give the elderly, the sick, and grieving the love, compassion and services they deserve.

Christina Barker | Desire Benkmann | Bruce Bennett | Bryan Brannan
Robin Brenneman | Preston Campbell | Hanna Chusid | Randy Cohen
Bob Datz | Sandi Garron | Patti Langston | Shari Goodman
Ed Haynes | Betsy Minkin | Pat Onuorah |Brenda Penepent
Gail Ruckel | Barry Russell | Shirin Tataria |Sylvia Weishaus
Darla Weiss | Howard Weithorn  
 Christina Barker
   Chris earned a degree in Psychology as well as a teaching credential from California State Lutheran University. She is certified for multiple subjects and is currently working on her Masters degree in Special Education. Her early career as a Vascular Technologist for Los Angeles hospitals was influenced by interest in her father's work as a world-renowned vascular surgeon and Chief of Vascular surgery at the UCLA Medical Center. Chris taught in early childhood education for many years, and now teaches teens in Los Angeles with mild to moderate disabilities. She is a strong local community activist and lives in California with her two children.
 Desire Benkmann

 Desiree earned her Bachelor's in Business and Master's in Public Administration from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She pursued a career in corporate healthcare, working with hospitals in over a dozen states. In order to be more in touch with the psychological needs of patients, Desiree decided to go back to school to become a nurse. Since being licensed as a Registered Nurse, she was worked in a variety of healthcare facilities including hospitals, psychiatric units, nursing homes, clinics and Alzheimer's care settings. She currently works as a nurse consultant with the Los Angeles Free Clinic and as a charge nurse with Carl Bean House, a facility noted for providing care to AIDS and hospice patients. She has also worked with severely developmentally disabled students in the LA Unified School District. Desiree believes strongly in helping bring about an understanding of dying, as part of the circle of life. She tries to do something each day to make the world a more giving place and hopes she can inspire others to do the same.

 Bruce Bennett

 Bruce graduated in Accounting from Cal State Northridge in 1977. He was licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in 1986 and later worked for the State Board of Equalization, as well as various accounting firms, before opening a private practice in 1989. Bruce is a community activist and has done search and rescue work, served as a member of the Disaster Response Team, and volunteered with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. His generous gifts of his time are additionally appreciated by the American Youth Soccer, where he is a referee, and by National Grief Support Services, where he donates accounting services. Bruce lives in Oak Park California with his son and daughter.

 Bryan Brannan
Bryan received his received his B.B.A. in Finance from Southern Methodist University in 1982 and his Juris Doctor degree from USC Law School in 1986. After clerking for a U.S.Federal Judge and serving as Staff Editor of both the Major Tax Planning Journal and Computer Law Journal, Bryan opened a private law practice. He has appeared as a featured legal expert on ABC, CBS, FOX, and CNN, is a published author and has lectured on both the local and national level. In addition to his busy professional life, Bryan finds time to give to the community and was honored for his service on National Philanthropy Day. He has served on the boards of the American Lung Association, National Grief Support Services, and The Church of the Valley, where he serves as President of their Foundation. Bryan believes strongly in the importance of physical fitness. He owns a nutritional supplement company, is a competitive athlete and even swam from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco city shores, without a wet suit. Bryan practices what he preaches by balancing his personal, professional, community and spiritual life.
 Robin Brenneman

 Robin earned both her Bachelors degree in Education and Masters degree in Theatre from Ohio State University. She is a 27-year veteran high school teacher at Hilliard High School, in Ohio. She has helped teenagers reach their greatest potential through teaching English, Speech and Theatre. Robin has also served as Director of the Theatre program, during which time she directed over 90 productions. Additionally, she has served the High School's Chairman of the English Department, and as the District Diversity Coordinator. Robin has received national recognition for her work in education. She has been honored by the Kennedy Center and has also been twice chosen to represent the state of Ohio at the American High School Theater Festival. Robin is active in her community, has taught children's acting classes, directed over 25 community productions and is a member of Kiwanis International, as well as the National Association for Multicultural Education. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, Ken, who is also a teacher, now retired, after over 30 years of service.

 Preston Campbell
Preston has been a marketing professional for 18 years. He has worked with a wide variety of client projects of all sizes ranging from small sole proprietor campaigns to directing the marketing for major international corporations and leading efforts to capture multi-billion dollar programs. He is now focused on helping small, medium and large businesses through consulting, coaching, training, and seminars. Preston has been involved with Internet marketing since 1995 (an old timer in Internet terms), both promoting his own products and helping others to promote theirs. He has authored three books, for release in 2003: Unleashing Your Value Potential, TeleSeminar Success Secrets, and Secrets to Explosive Profits with Networking. Preston is the Principal Consultant for Y2Marketing and Profit Zone Marketing,
 Hanna Chusid
Dr. Hanna Chusid, Ed.D, is licensed as both a clinical social worker and psychologist and currently practices in Southern California. She has 30 years of professional mental health experience in Canada and the USA, facilitating creative healing with individuals, couples, groups and organizational teams across the life spectrum of crises and natural cycles of change/loss, transition and growth. Early in her career, she served on a community Burial Society and in recent years served as a certified childbirth and postpartum support professional. She has served as an educator and mentor to mental health professionals and other healers at undergraduate, graduate and continuing education levels. Hanna has developed programs to educate professionals, as well as the public, on the use of the arts, movement and story as a method for healing and growth. Hanna is also an experienced yoga instructor and a certified meditation instructor, currently offering continuing education courses on the application of yoga to the healing arts.
  Randy Cohen
Born in New York City, Randy graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona with a BA in education. She taught briefly before finding her niche at an international C.P.A. firm in Los Angeles, where she is Director of Client Relations. Since 1980, while working at Grobstein, Horwath & Company LLP, Ms. Cohen has been involved with many charities, not-for-profit organizations and community groups. Ms. Cohen has served on the boards for the Executives of the Jewish Home for the Aging, Temple Aliyah, the Textile Professional Club, and The Apparel Industries Group for the City of Hope. She has also devoted time to Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca's Sheriff's Youth Foundation. Randy lives in Calabasas, California with her husband and two sons.
 Bob Datz
Bob has spent more than 20 years as a journalist in New England newspapers and brings a background of advocacy for humane and progressive causes to his work focusing on the nonprofit sector. Bob is a self-employed multimedia consultant, proprietor of datzmedia, based in Brimfield, Massachusetts. A piece of his practice known as Head Over Heels Media Works, provides graphic and web design services. ( A Cleveland native, he and his wife Elaine have two teen-age children.
 Sandi Garron
Sandi grew up in Boston and moved to Kansas City in 1973. It was there that she studied to become a Registered Nurse and received a BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Missouri. Sandi worked in the area of geriatrics and soon discovered a need for a company that could help families deal with issues and make informed decisions about elderly parents. She founded "The Senior Connection" to bring services and programs to the aged, with the goal of enhancing the quality of their lives. She also counseled facility licensees and their nursing staffs on overall operations, including optimizing care and therapy for elderly patients. Sandi completed a Masters Degree in Gerontology with an emphasis in counseling. She has taught "Death and Dying" courses at both private and public universities and has done considerable grief counseling. After moving to Los Angeles in 1997, Sandi became a licensed administrator for residential care facilities for the elderly. She serves as both an administrator, a consultant in aging and support group leader. Sandi also has a private counseling practice. Her free time is spent with her husband and daughter who both work in the TV industry.
 Patti Langston
Patti, known as McPatti (an affectionate blend of her maiden name Patricia McCarthy), grew up in Southern California, a "Valley Girl," and graduated from Cal State Northridge with a degree in Management. She now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, Bruce, and son, Dillon. Her life's journey has taken her from Cal State to positions as a research scientist, landlord/tenant liaison, pre-school teacher, dance instructor, investigator for 14 years, interior designer, and volunteer on many projects. McPatti is an extraordinary community organizer and networker with a rare talent for bringing resources to others. Her strengths include people interactions and creative solution resolutions, including many that have been of great benefit to National Grief Support Services.
 Shari Goodman
Shari was born in Munich, Germany and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to earning a B.A. in Sociology and a Masters in Special Education from Kent State University, she attended Southampton College in New York; studied drama in Montreal, Canada; and appeared in theater productions in the Cleveland, Ohio area. After relocating to Los Angeles, Shari became a contributing editor for Israel Today, where she interviewed many prominent people, including the late mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, Vidal Sasson, Gloria Allred, comedian David Steinberg. Her commentaries have appeared in the L.A. Times, Daily News and the L.A. Jewish Journal. A founder of Second Generation under the auspices of The Simon Wiesenthal Center, Shari was also active in the Jewish Federation's Leadership Development Committee. For the past decade and a half, Shari has taught special education classes for the learning disabled in the Los Angeles area and recently co-founded Grateful Americans, a non-profit civic and educational organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation and loyalty for American ideals, values, and the many contributions America has given mankind.
 Ed Haynes
Ed Haynes is a minister and the founder and Executive Director of Community Capacity Builders, Inc. He is also the Co-founder of Community Information Network a non-profit organization dedicated to the collection of data and production of materials to assist resource-lacking community based organizations to be more accountable to potential funding sources. Ed serves on the Los Angeles Children's Planning Council, where he was selected to be the representative of the African-American community. He is a community activist serving on Spark of Love, collecting and distributing toys to foster children, and is also an advisor to the Midnight Mission, serving the homeless population in Los Angeles.
 Betsy Minkin
Betsy earned her AB in Economics from Princeton University and her Masters in Labor Relations from Cornell. Since 1982, she has worked for the New York Stock Exchange, and is a manager in the Market Surveillance Division. Betsy has faced her own mortality on a number of occasions, including undergoing one of the first liver transplants in 1981, a kidney transplant in 1995, and being hit by a car, sustaining serious injury. Her happiest moment, in addition to marrying her husband Josh in 1983, was adopting her daughter Emma from China. Her greatest sorrow was when the baby they had waited so long for died from a sudden illness. Her positive, indomitable spirit, along with the support of family and friends, helped her through these painful times. In March of 2002, she and her husband were blessed to adopt baby Adina. Betsy believes in giving back to the community through local politics, organ donation advocacy, as well as grief support and religious service. She cherishes life and believes in living in the moment.
 Pat Onuorah
Adaeze (Princess) Pat Onuorah, was born in Nigeria to a royal, humanitarian family. She worked with her parents to help educate, feed and care for starving children. At any given time, she watched her mother caring for 300 orphans. She joined her mother, when she was selected by Pope John to be visited and honored, during his most recent visit to Nigeria. Pat graduated in Pre-med from USC. She earned her Masters degree in Public Health, and is currently completing her doctorate at Loma Linda University. For over ten years, she directed the Women, Infant and Children's Program for the Watts Health Foundation. She was Director of the High Blood Pressure Council of Los Angeles and was the Nutritionist for CARE Unit Hospital. Pat is currently the Health Services Manager of the Head Start Program for the Charles R. Drew University of Science and Medicine Center. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her three teenage children and is also the owner of African Suya Food and Catering Service.
 Brenda Penepent
Brenda started her career of healing upon graduation from nursing school in 1989. As a float nurse, she experienced many types of nursing including hospice care for terminally ill children. In 1998, her daughter Carrie died in an automobile accident. This began a long journey of grief and recovery. No stranger to the pain of loss (Brenda lost a baby in 1984), she started a local chapter of Healing Hearts for Bereaved Parents for which she is Executive Director. Today, the group is part of TAB Learning Systems, a non-profit foundation helping children with cancer. She currently publishes a free bereavement newsletter, offers support meetings, teaches Life After Loss classes and is very active with, an online grief support site. Brenda is a published poet and writer and continues to work as a nurse locally, while compassionately reaching out to those suffering the pain of bereavement.
 Gail Ruckel
Gail has both a Masters Degree in Education, as well as A Masters Degree in Business Administration. She currently works as a Studio Teacher, instructing and protecting children working in the entertainment industry. Gail is an instructor/ social worker for the Kinship Providers program and is also a Licensed Massage Therapist, who has studied and practiced throughout the world, bringing relaxation and comfort to the stressed and bereaved.
 Barry Russell
Judge Russell is a graduate of UCLA where he received both his Juris Doctor and Degree in Engineering. He was a former U.S. Assistant Attorney and was later appointed to the bench in 1974. As of January, 2003, Judge Russell is the Chief Judge of the Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California, as well senior judge of the 9th circuit. Judge Russell has taught Evidence and Ethics at UCLA, USC, Loyola and Whittier Law School and is the author of the book, "Bankruptcy Evidence Manual." He lectures throughout the United States and the world and has received countless awards and honors, including being the first American invited by the Supreme People's Court in China to lecture on Bankruptcy. Judge Russell is a past president of the Federal Bar Association and also developed the Mediation Program for the Central District of California, for which he received recognition for his distinguished service in promoting mediation in the courts. Judge Russell is also the founder of the Medal of Valor Program, which is a the prestigious annual program saluting Federal Law Enforcement officers, who daily put their lives on the line to protect the citizens of the U.S.
 Shirin Tataria
Shirin Tataria was an artist in the earlier part of her life. She graduated from the famous school of Performing Arts in New York and performed as a jazz vocalist for many years. Her career change took place when she took on her most important role, that of being a mother. Shirin is no stranger to grief, as she faced her son's life-threatening illness. Combining her belief in the power of the mind, and her nurturing and intuitive personality, along with her love of helping others, she went into the field of Hypnosis, which has played a significant role in the health of her child today. Shirin is a graduate of the college of Hypnosis Motivational Institute and is now a Certified Master Hypnotherapist. She has two offices in Los Angeles where she treats both adults and children. Her practice involves working directly with the subconscious mind which produces positive behavioral results. Shirin has also completed courses in Handwriting Analysis with similar methods that agencies like the FBI use. She and her husband of 27 years, live in Los Angeles with their two gifted teenage sons.
 Sylvia Weishaus
Dr. Weishaus completed her undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and her Masters and Doctorate at University of Southern California. In addition to a Ph.D. in Psychology, she has over 7 years of postgraduate work in Gerontology. Dr. Weishaus, a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist, is the Clinical Director and Co-Founder of the Making Marriage Work Program. She is also an author, speaker and educator. Sylvia is living proof that she practiced what she "preached." Her husband, Jim, a prominent psychiatrist, was her soul mate for over 60 years, until his death. Since 1993, she combines her personal experience with her clinical skills to teach classes in PAIRS, Practical Application Of Intimate Relationship Skills. When Sylvia's not busy professionally, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
 Darla Weiss
Darla is a graduate of UC Davis, with a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering. Her talents have been utilized in diverse arenas. She was a part of the US Olympic committee and IBM's creation of the bobsled simulator, used to train Olympic bobsled drivers in Lake Placid, NY and Park City, Utah. Darla worked at Morgan Manufacturing, a designer and manufacturer of amusement park rides. She later took her skills to the Internet, for companies such as Alta Vista, Autodesk, Cisco and HP. She and her fiancé, also a computer engineer, are the owners of a software development company in Northern California. Darla has great concern for others, the environment and wildlife. She has worked with and studied cats, from her own pet cat, Suz, to big cats. Here she is pictured with Suz, her beloved pet since childhood. Darla's concern for others is further demonstrated by the time she has dedicated to act as a technical advisor to National Grief Support Services, with regard to the many complexities of
 Howard Weithorn
Dr. Weithorn, a licensed clinical psychologist, has been in a professional private practice since 1968. In the early years, while in a part-time practice, he served as the co-director of an educational program at USC. Later, he was the director of a first-of-its-kind program for Vietnam Veterans at UCLA. Dr. Weithorn has also taught at both USC and UCLA. In 1978, he opened a full-time private group practice. His specialties include working with victims of violent crime, substance abusers, and individuals with eating disorders. He was also the Clinical Director of an in-patient eating disorder unit in a full-service hospital. His work also includes working with post-traumatic distress, various forms of depression and anxiety, and stress reduction. His practice offers individual and group treatment, along with marriage counseling.
The seemingly innumerable resources on this website could not have been assembled for the convenient use of our visitors without the careful and dedicated efforts of our researchers, who continue to play a role to improve the site's features.

They deserve so much more than a public introduction and have the thanks of the entire board of directors. Users of the site will also come to be grateful for their efforts.

 Bj McRobbins

 Bj is the veteran wife of a retired navy career man and the mother of two children. Life has given Bj diverse roles. In a professional capacity, she has worked as both a nurse and teacher. Perhaps her favorite roles include being a mother, empathetic listener and caring writer of encouraging words. Bj says, "My journey with grief has humbled my nature, revealing just what little control I have over the currents of life and death. Devastation has been the fertile soil of my compassion and sincerity. Learning and growing is the experience I hope to share. Peace and acceptance is the hand of consolation I extend."

 Brenda Penepent
Brenda started her career of healing upon graduation from nursing school in 1989. As a float nurse, she experienced many types of nursing including hospice care for terminally ill children. In 1998, her daughter Carrie died in an automobile accident. This began a long journey of grief and recovery. No stranger to the pain of loss (Brenda lost a baby in 1984), she started a local chapter of Healing Hearts for Bereaved Parents for which she is Executive Director. Today, the group is part of TAB Learning Systems, a non-profit foundation helping children with cancer. She currently publishes a free bereavement newsletter, offers support meetings, teaches Life After Loss classes and is very active with, an online grief support site. Brenda is a published poet and writer and continues to work as a nurse locally, while compassionately reaching out to those suffering the pain of bereavement.
 Christine Walters
Christine graduated from California State University of Bakersfield with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She is currently continuing her education there as a graduate student in sociology. Before coming to work with National Grief Support Services, Christine was a University Ambassador as well as a peer mentor since 1999, providing guidance to high school and junior college students. She balances her work and studies, along with devoting time to her young daughter, her husband and their menagerie of pets. Christine also has a passion for helping the elderly and spends time visiting her two grandparents, whom she considers to be her best friends.
 Nora Ericson
Nora earned a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Yale University, where she graduated with honors. Her specialty is painting, although she is experienced in drawing, photography, printmaking and sculpture. Among her many awards, Nora also received a fellowship award to study painting and drawing in Norway. Along with her artistic side, Nora is a humanitarian, having worked for Park Central Presbyterian Church, Onondaga Pastoral Counseling Center, AIDS Education Project, America Reads Program and as an art teacher for "at-risk" youth, before coming to National Grief Support Services.
 Wesley Burt
Wes is originally from Austin, Texas but moved to Los Angeles in 1997 to attend the University of Southern California. Among his many accomplishments, Wes interned at the White House and also for the Riordan for Governor Campaign. He graduated from USC with a degree in Public Policy and Management and currently works for Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Don Knabe. Wes has lived in Paris, France; Washington, D.C.; Houston and Dallas, Texas, but plans to stay in Los Angeles for awhile, eventually moving back to Texas to attend graduate school. When Wes is not busy working for L.A. County and National Grief Support Services, he enjoys water skiing, traveling, military history, Major League baseball and spending time with Meghan, his girlfriend of 5 years.
We would also like to recognize George Adler, Nan and Wiley Barker, MD, Helene Bizar, Kris Bleighton , Jeri Bowman, Crystal and Steve Bryson, Bob Cline, Sharon Coles, Kay Condra, Jonathan Daks, Adam Dondro ,Michael Eugenio, Al and Kathy Falk, Janet Gallea, Janice Freedman, Barry Garron, Linda Hoffman, Bracha Jacob, Claudia Kazanjian, Kevin Knoll, Prem and Rakhee Lalchandani ,Bruce and Patti Langston, Michele Leibovitz, Alex Lep ,Gayle Oliver, Ron Marinelli, Bill Mayer, Melissa McCann, Lynn Rangel, Phyllis Riggio, Don and Karen Ross, Stacey Russell, Elise Sandler, Reid Sheppard, Lorraine Snipper, Wendy Stein, Malka Tabak, Marci Turlo, Russell Wolvek, and Schirete Zick for their many contributions.

African Red Tea Helps You and the Community, Too

National Grief Support Services is most grateful and proud to announce the sponsorship of African Red Tea Imports, a charter partner with our nonprofit in launching We work in harmony to promote healthful living in all respects. We believe this provides a foundation for the greatest success, especially in the challenge of facing life's most difficult experiences.

When dealing with stress, or for pure enjoyment, African Red Tea has many healthy, delicious products to support you.  For example, Red Rooibos is organic, naturally caffeine free, very low in tannic acid, and high in antioxidant, with 50 times more than green tea. There is extensive scientific documentation to support its. health benefits, which include powerful anti-aging and antioxidant properties.

Not only does African Red tea help you, but the community, too!  A portion of their proceeds is donated to National Grief Support Services, which in turn helps us provide our many free services.

 Name Contact
Zubair Ahmed Ionplex
Eva Almeida
Alpha del Bosque  
Howard Brown  
Preston Campbell
David DaVinci  
Mitch Davis Yearbook of Experts,
Tony Feghali Frys Electronics
Catherine Franz
Carl Galletti www.Ad  
David Gersch  
John Harricharan  
Robert Hollis
Robert Imbriale
Steve Krug
Web Usability Expert and Author of
"Don't Make Me Think"
Audri Landford  
Audri Lanford  
Alex Mandossian
Perry Marshall Google Ad Words
Bill Mayer "Master Your Questions, Master Your Life", 
Ken McCarthy,
Armand Morin 
Mustafa Motiwala  
Madhu Rapole 
Partha Sen  
Kamel Shehata
Yanik Silver  
Joan Stewart  
Mark Vaona Computer Engineer  
Darla Weiss  
About Us  l   Contact Us  l   How To Navigate Our Site  l   Tell A Friend
Media Room   l   FAQ  l   Compassion Cooperative  l   Help Us Do More  l   Login