Virginia Chang, Ph.D.
Virginia is a Certified End-of-Life Doula and Advance Care Directives facilitator. She is currently working with the dying and their families/caregivers to approach end of life in a positive, meaningful, and affirming way. She supports clients one-on-one and helps to advocate for and realize their needs and wishes. As a 300-hr certified yoga teacher and life-long practitioner, she also incorporates meditation and breath work into her approach that brings a mindfulness and peace to her work. Virginia has been trained by the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY). To learn more about Virginia, please visit her website or email her.
Harriet is an End of Life counselor and sole practitioner of The Road Ahead, where she provides a variety of services, activities and tools to guide people and families who are facing this most difficult stage of life. Harriet started building this venture 2 years ago after decades providing housing and services for people living with the challenges of poverty, homelessness, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and substance use. She has worked primarily in non-profit organizations and also served in NYC government. Harriet has a Masters in Psychology from the New School and is a graduate of the Zen Center for Contemplative Care’s and its Foundations in Contemplative Care and End of Life Doula Programs, and has been a Hospice and Vigil Volunteer. Her ever unfolding practice provides individual, family and community support, programming and education. To learn more about Harriet please visit her website.
Gina Colombatto is amazed, awed, inspired, and intrigued by death. She has facilitated groups with teens making life choices, hospice clients working through loss, and has created The Ultimate Shavasana workshop held in both CA and NY to keep the death conversation alive! An Integrative Thanatology Counselor, Gina invites everyone to The Fine Art of Living and Dying to shift the attitude around death from pain and sorrow, to the joys and celebration of the ones who leave here first!
Amy Cunningham is a Brooklyn-based progressive funeral home owner, licensed director, celebrant and home funeral guide who collaborates with New York City families to help them create the best funerals and memorial services possible. She specializes in green burials, home funerals, memorial events, and cremation services at Green-Wood Cemetery’s crematory chapels. She blogs about the funeral business at TheInspiredFuneral.com. To learn more about Amy please visit her website.
Jane is a Registered Nurse with over 30 years of experience working in the healthcare field including working with pediatric and adult emergency care, and clinical coordinator for NIH/NIAID AIDS Clinical Trials Group at NYU Medical Center. It was in this role of clinical, epidemiological and ethnographic research that Jane worked with individuals at end-of-life. She believes that any service that starts with understanding people holistically from a place of empathy will result in solutions that reduce complexity and inspire connection with the experience. To learn more about Jane please visit her website.
Catharine is a certified Contemplative Musician and Music-Thanatologist in New York City. She plays the harp and sings to Visiting Nurse Service of New York hospice patients; to individuals receiving palliative care at Bellevue Hospital; to late stage breast cancer clients being served by the You Can Thrive Foundation; and to others who are approaching the end of life. Catharine is the current facilitator for the the New York Open Center’s Art of Dying “Integrative Thanatology” certificate program. As a freelance harpist, she also provides contemplative music for wakes, memorial services and more. She is a second-year student at the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. To learn more about Catharine please visit her website.
Thomas is the writer and journalist behind Immortal We Ain’t—a project exploring mortality, dying, death, and the possibility of an afterlife through stories about various end-of-life perspectives, experiences, and issues. He’s diving even deeper into this subject as a student in the Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program through the Art of Dying Institute at the New York Open Center. To learn more about Thomas please visit his website.
Márcia has a strong commitment to improve the dying process, how we support the grieving and how we care for our dead. She is interested in integrating death discussions at all layers of society, from family matters to medical procedures. Through her eight years of practice and study of Tibetan Buddhism and meditation, she is particularly interested in the transference of consciousness during the dying process and after death, which requires a peaceful environment and specific care for body disposition. Márcia believes that a meaningful transition and funeral also brings alleviation of the pain of grief for loved ones. To further her pursuits, she completed a certificate program in Integrative Thanatology at New York Open Center in 2018 and has been facilitating the completion of Advance Care Directives. To learn more about Márcia or to contact her please email her.
Beth has been a nurse at Morristown Medical Center in NJ for over 30 years. The majority of her experience has been in acute care specialty units including surgical step down, interventional radiology and hemodialysis. Beth currently works per diem as a nurse navigator at the Rippell Breast Center at MMC. Most of her work with the dying comes now from being involved in pastoral care at her Unitarian Universalist church. Beth is a graduate of the Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program through the Art of Dying Institute at the New York Open Center and has attended many other workshops over the years on the topic. Her favorite guru is Frank Ostaseski – he is the real deal! To learn more about Beth or to contact her please email her.
Adrienne is a trained end-of-life doula (NPEC, INELDA, Quality of Life Care, Mount Sinai), an alum of the Open Center’s Art of Dying Integrative Thanatology Program, a student at the NY Zen Center for Contemplative Care and a trained mediator (NY Peace Institute). She has a professional background in human resources, a personal background in pastoral care, and a passion for exploring conversations and bringing connection to New Yorkers, especially those aging alone. To learn more about Adrienne or to contact her please email her.
Emily Eliot Miller
Emily is a death educator and doula supporting individuals and groups at all stages of life and health as they prepare for and navigate mortality, death and grief. She has trained with leaders in the death awareness and palliative care movements, and developed her unique approach during over a decade of experience as an educator, artist, and hospice volunteer. EE holds a CT in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and masters degrees in Electronic Arts and Public History. EE is a badge-holding member of the National End of Life Doula Alliance (NEDA). To learn more about Emily please visit her website.
Caroline Schrank is a Licensed Funeral Director in NYS and the owner of Down To Earth Funerals in Brooklyn NY. The death of both her parents inspired her to take on a career in the funeral industry. After the death of her father in 2008, she found his funeral experience, which she organized and held at home, incredibly healing. As friends and family shared stories and remembrances of her father, she was touched by the moving memorial ceremony and resulting closure. It is her hope to take the confusion and complexity out of funerals for others. Caroline graduated from AAMI in 2015 and if Licensed in NYS. She opened Down To Earth Funerals in 2018 and to learn more about Caroline please visit her website.
Tara is an End of Life Planner and Death Educator at Bringing Death Into Life who helps life-loving, creative people explore and plan their end of life wishes. Tara brings her diverse skills and experience to the table using knowledge and insight developed through her thanatology studies, organizational skills from her work as a project manager, and creative experience as an art director/graphic designer. She guides and supports clients through the options and process of getting their end of life wishes in tip top order. To think about death helps you live! Tara is a graduate of Art of Dying Institute Thanatology Certificate program offered from The New York Open Center as well as a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. To learn more about Tara please visit her website.
Shatzi was previously a registered nurse for 47 years but now in retirement is a Death Educator. Shatzi completed both The Art of Dying Thanatology Certification Course at The Open Center as well as a Hospice Program with The NYC Visiting Nurse Service. In June 2018, Shatzi gave herself a FUNeral, which is a funeral while still alive with more then 100 people in attendance. Some of the attendees included a reporter and photographer from The New York Times which featured Shatzi in a front page story, The Positive Death Movement Comes to Life by John Leland in the June 24, 2018 Sunday section and then a follow-up article, Putting the Fun in Funeral, the following day. Shatzi’s focus in her workshops is to have people share their experiences, their fears, their hopes for their own end of life and for their loved ones. Shatzi shares her process, what she’s learned, the changes that she has gone through, where she is now and what she is still eager to learn more about. In her workshops topics include: the med-tech system, palliative care, hospice, end of life doulas, green burials, medical assisted death, death cafes, etc. To learn more about Shatzi or to contact her please email her.