Grief Coach Team
Our team of grief and loss experts, and technology pioneers, believes in people, and in our vast capacity for love and learning. We believe in technology too, as a tool for creating connections & strengthening relationships.
Emma Payne, Founder & CEO
Emma is a seasoned technology entrepreneur and award-winning change-agent, whose 25 year career leading online and mobile projects has included building tools to register young people to vote, creating online networks of support for families facing health challenges, and launching North America’s first online crisis intervention line. She also founded a scrappy, action-oriented, national non-profit focused on women & technology, that broke boundaries and developed leaders for 17 years.
Grief Coach combines Emma's passion for mobile technology and engagement, with her deep commitment to giving people the confidence and tools they need to support each other through grief. She knows that, while nothing makes grief go away, supporting someone through loss is powerful and transformative for the supporter, and alters the trajectory for the grieving person too.
An MIT graduate and best-selling author, Emma started building online communities before Netscape was born. She’s developed online strategies and products for dozens of fledgling start-ups as well as large corporations such as Nike, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Virgin Mobile.
Emma's first experience with grief is captured in this 30 minute audio piece, where she walks to the park where her husband took his life. You'll also hear from her Mum, as well as from her husband's Aunt, and the man who happened to be out walking his dog that morning.
Robert Ouimet, VP Operations
Robert is a creative technology leader with a background in broadcasting and digital media. An award winning journalist, he was an executive with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for over 25 years and was at the vanguard of their digital distribution and user generated content. Under his leadership, CBC websites and radio programs won over 30 international awards, including the Prix Italia, New York Festival, and multiple Webby awards.
Robert has worked with clients including Microsoft, The National Film Board of Canada, The First Nations Financial Management Board, The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association, Ecole Chocolat, and Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.
Katie Hawkins-Gaar, Content Manager
Katie is a journalism consultant, freelance writer, and organizer of The Poynter Institute’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media. She was previously Poynter’s digital innovation faculty member, and taught journalists how to make the most of social media, rethink workflows, and foster creativity. Prior to Poynter, Hawkins-Gaar was the managing editor of CNN iReport, the network’s global citizen journalism platform. She writes a weekly newsletter called My Sweet Dumb Brain, which she started to help process the ups and downs of grief after her husband died unexpectedly in 2017. She also built digitalwomenleaders.com, a site offering free mentoring sessions for women working in journalism. Katie is passionate about improving relationships through transparency and vulnerability, and is a firm believer that you can learn a lot by simply listening.
Adrian Jones, Lead Developer
Adrian has over 25 years experience in software development. He loves the challenge of building interactive data visualization tools, from the database to the front-end. He has worked with a wide range of businesses, universities, governmental, and non-governmental organizations around the world.
He also enjoys contributing to open source software and avidly follows the latest web and app development tools and frameworks.
Shannon Emmerson, Marketing Director
Passionate about crafting and sharing important stories, Shannon has deep experience working with purpose-driven leaders and brands to tell and amplify their stories online. She’s created content strategies, brand stories and content marketing campaigns for brands like Electronic Arts, London Drugs, Science World, CPA Canada, and Grupo Bimbo, uncovering authentic stories that resonate with target audiences, and that foster trust and connection.
Ann White, Advisor
Ann has been helping children, parents, educators and health professionals better understand and support human reaction to grief and loss for over 30 years. While serving as the Family Services Director at The Healing Center of Seattle, Ann created programs, facilitated groups, worked as a therapist for children, adults and families, and supervised volunteers and interns who worked in the children’s program there. She also consulted and partnered with the public schools, as well as other agencies who work with grievers.
While in Seattle, Ann also worked to organize a supportive group for bereavement specialists in the Seattle area, created an Online Teen Bereavement Support Group and introduced an educational puppet show she created while working in North Carolina to the Seattle public schools.
Before moving to Seattle she co-founded Kids Path of Greensboro, the pediatric arm of Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, where she worked from 1988-2005.
Debra’s roots lie in the advertising industry. As Senior Vice President of Research and Planning at J. Walter Thompson Chicago, she worked on a richly diverse group of businesses and led efforts to understand consumer dynamics and purchasing behavior. During her time at JWT, Debra also taught, in conjunction with Northwestern University, the marketing research segment of the Association of Advertising Agencies’ introduction to advertising course for professionals. After her decade of agency work, Debra co-founded and led two marketing/marketing research businesses, continuing to focus on strategic and new product development.
Debra’s interest in working with those dealing with grief stems from her own personal losses and her work as a 7 year board member of Safe Crossings Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping children grieving the loss of a loved one.