featured contributors

Emma Payne

Founder & CEO

Emma is a seasoned technology entrepreneur, MIT graduate, and award-winning change-agent, who started building online communities before Netscape was born. Her 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.

Vanessa Callison-Burch

Product Manager

Vanessa is a Silicon Valley product manager with the heart of a hospice volunteer. As a leader on Facebook’s Compassion team, she was the product manager responsible for shaping how Facebook cares for the accounts of people who have passed away. She has a BA from Stanford University and additionally graduated from Upaya Zen Center’s Buddhist chaplaincy training program with a focus in end-of-life care. Vanessa is excited to continue to explore the intersection of technology and compassion by supporting the Grief Coach team.

Melissa Lunardini

Director of Operations

Melissa has more than 15 years of experience in program conceptualization, training, and curriculum design focused on grief, loss, and trauma for healthcare, academia, youth-based NGOs, and other grief and loss-related industries. She holds a Fellow in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling, MBA, and has a clinically trained background. She is adept in childhood bereavement, bereaved students, YA bereavement, suicide prevention/postvention, traumatic loss, and theory. Melissa is a nationally recognized speaker and contributor in the childhood bereavement field. She is a published academic writer and peer reviewer. She is currently supporting the Grief Coach mission as the Director of Operations.

Adrian Jones

Lead Engineer

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.

Megan Devine

Lead Content Partner

Psychotherapist Megan Devine believes that making the world a better place starts with acknowledging grief, rather than seeking to overcome it. Through Refuge in Grief, Megan advocates for a revolution in how we discuss loss - personally, professionally, and as a wider community. Megan is the author of the best-selling book, It’s OK that You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief & Loss in a Culture that Doesn’t Understand. Her animated “how to help a grieving friend” video distills a complex issue into simple, actionable steps in just over seven (adorable) minutes. Gaining over 35 million views in its first few months, the animation is now used in training programs all around the world. Her work has been translated into 15 languages, and is featured widely in the media, including the New York Times, NPR, Washington Post, GQ, Harvard Business Review, and The Atlantic.

Shelby Forsythia

Content & Marketing Manager

Shelby is the author of Your Grief, Your Way and Permission to Grieve and podcast host of Grief Book Roundup, Grief Seeds, and Coming Back: Conversations on Life After Loss. Following the death of her mother in 2013, she became a “student of grief” and set out on a lifetime mission to study the human experience of loss. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Bustle, and The Oprah Magazine. As Grief Coach's Affiliate Program Manager and Marketing Manager, Shelby helps end-of-life professionals get the word out about our text-based support service and creates social posts and articles that help people support others and themselves through a subscription to Grief Coach texts.

Deb Levesque

Director of Research

Deb is a PhD-level research psychologist who has been developing and testing evidence-based digital programs to improve well-being for over 20 years. A generalist, Deb has been Principal Investigator on large-scale National Institutes of Health- and foundation-funded research grants applying behavioral science to a range of social, medical, and mental health conditions, including depression, pain management, and caregiver stress. She’s dedicated to using participatory approaches that rely on the wisdom of end-users (community members, patients) and stakeholders to help ensure that the programs resonate, are usable and appealing, and have maximum impact under real-world conditions.

Sarah Khatau

Sales Operations Lead

Sarah purchased a Grief Coach subscription in 2019 after her dad died. She found Grief Coach to be so impactful and helpful that she began sharing her story on podcasts such as The Mourning Meeting and also contributing to research and articles about the role that text-based grief support played in her healing. With experience in both psychology and sales, Sarah is delighted to be helping to build Grief Coach's sales pipeline so that many others can receive the same support she did on her grief journey.

Rah Adams

Client Account Manager

Rah is a NEDA Proficient End-of-life doula and a graduate of the Going with Grace End of Life Training program. With a BS in Education and over 10 years of entrepreneurial experience, Rah is elated to share her passion for death and grief work through compassionate client and subscriber support and education. In her spare time, Rah volunteers on the bereavement team of her local hospice and participates in the volunteer network for Compassion and Choices. She is honored to work hand-in-hand with Grief Coach clients as they support people in their grief.

Beccah O'Brien

Subscriber Support Specialist

Beccah is passionate about making sure Grief Coach subscribers, clients and affiliates are well cared for within the Grief Coach community. As a grieving sister and daughter, Beccah's personal perspective helps to ensure that our subscribers are well cared for. As an American Indian she also helps to make sure that Grief Coach content is inclusive and culturally appropriate. It was Beccah's own experience with the death of her loved ones that first drove her to find her calling while working as a facilitator for multiple children and teen bereavement support groups. Beccah is a field advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and is passionate about diversity and community mental health.

Branden Brown

Subscriber Support Specialist

Branden is a mental health professional with over two decades of professional and leadership development experience. As a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, he has a passion for helping others. Through his military experience as a Navy Chief, Branden has traveled the world-leading groups of men and women through adverse conditions, while helping to build resilience. These experiences led him to become the Founder of Modern Family Coach, a personal development company, that aspires to help others to live life on their terms. As a Subscriber Support Specialist at Grief Coach, Branden is passionate about making sure all of our subscribers have the practical and emotional support they need.