Featured Presenters & Contributors

Francesca Arnoldy

Program Director, UVM End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate

Francesca ArnoldyFrancesca Arnoldy, UVM alumna and longtime birth worker, is the course developer, facilitator, and program director of the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine’s End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate Program. She is author of Cultivating the Doula Heart: The Essentials of Compassionate Care and leads in-person workshops about doula approaches and end-of-life wishes. Her goal is to encourage people to hold one another’s hands through life’s intensities and sacred rites of passage. She founded Contemplative Doula as a resource to help people to prepare for birth, death, and life with the doula heart. Francesca lives in quaint Hinesburg, VT with her family in a most idyllic village.

Judy Ashley

End-of-Life Doula Facilitator

Judy Ashley headshot imageMs. Ashley graduated from Trinity College of Vermont with a major in psychology and minor in gerontology and went on to obtain an M.S. in Community Counseling from the University of Vermont. For the past twenty years, she has been the District Director for the Vermont Department of Health covering Franklin and Grand Isle counties retiring August 2019. She was also an Instructor at the Community College of Vermont, and an Adjunct Professor at Trinity College of Vermont. Death and dying have played a significant role in her life. She lost her father at the age of nine and was the primary support for her mother’s dying (1985) where she realized that the experience of dying could and should be different. Her intention is to continue growing in this field through experiential learning, study, reading, workshops, conferences, self-reflection and continual engagement. She enjoys hiking and traveling with her husband of 34 years, reading, knitting, spending time on the Maine Coast, visiting friends, and enjoying her six grandchildren as much as possible.

Heather Caulfield Mills

End-of-Life Doula Facilitator

Heather Caulfield MillsHeather is an end-of-life doula and one of the first graduates of the UVM program. She is passionate about serving her clients and their loved ones throughout their journey – honoring each client’s wishes for their death. She lives in Vermont with her husband and two small children. She is an award-winning writer and has edited several published works in the end-of-life field, including Francesca Arnoldy’s book Cultivating the Doula Heart. Heather found her own experience in the UVM EOL doula program to be invaluable both personally and professionally. She is grateful for this opportunity to share the course with others, and looks forward to discovering the unique skills and experiences each learner brings with them.

Tessa Cone

End-of-Life Doula Facilitator

Tessa Cone is a yoga teacher, caregiver and Hospice Volunteer. As a graduate of the UVM EOL Doula Professional Certificate Program and other trainings for end-of-life care, she is passionate about serving as an EOL Doula. After many years of tutoring students, teaching rock climbing, Yoga, personal training and guiding people in the mountains, she is thrilled to be part of the team for the UVM EOL Doula Professional Certificate Program. Tessa lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and can be found outside on most days indulging her love of gardening, climbing, walking her dogs, meditating and simply being surrounded by the beauty of the natural world.

Virginia Chang, Ph.D.

End-of-Life Doula Facilitator

Photo of Virginia Chang outside wearing a scarfVirginia Chang, Ph.D., is a certified end-of-life doula and founder of Till The Last. She works 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 certified yoga teacher and life-long practitioner, she also incorporates meditation and breathwork into her approach bringing a mindfulness and peace to her work. She is passionate about increasing awareness of end of life, self-care, and bioethics. She is grateful to be part of the UVM team and to share the knowledge that she gained through the course with other learners. When relaxing, Virginia can be found reading, playing the harp, travelling, or exercising. She lives in New York City.

Diane Button

End-of-Life Doula Facilitator

Headshot of Diane ButtonDiane is a founding partner of the End-of-Life Doula Alliance in Northern California. She holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Goddard College in Vermont. Her master’s thesis, The 7 Components of a Meaningful Life, became the genesis for her life’s work of supporting people to find meaning and peace in life and in death. She is a hospice volunteer, is INELDA certified, and is proud to be an alumna of the UVM EOL Doula Program. Diane is the author of several books and trainings, including The Letter Box, a legacy project that has been translated into several languages. With her three children, she co-authored Special Delivery: A Cookbook for Food & Life. In 2008, she founded Dream of Better World, a non-profit run by kids who raise awareness and funds for other children and families around the world. Their motto is, “You’re never too young, or too old, to make a difference.”

Greg Brown

End-of-Life Doula Facilitator

Headshot Photo of Greg BrownGreg received his Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College, not far from the Ohio village where he was raised. Continuing his education in the Upper Midwest, he received a Master of Arts in Music Theory from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Nearly two decades later he pulled up his roots to return to his hometown to become the primary caregiver for his terminally ill father. Greg has always centered his life around music: teaching college-level music theory, giving piano lessons to children, singing in choirs, playing keyboards in bands, and volunteering to make playlists for people receiving hospice care. He loves late-night conversations about how people of all cultures use music to make meaning in all stages of their lives, particularly during the final days and weeks. Greg currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, where in his private end-of-life doula practice he welcomes opportunities to meet the needs of LGBTQIA+ clients and others whose support systems and family/friend networks are atypical.

Cheri Rigby

End-of-Life Doula Facilitator

Cheri Rigby headshot imageAs a young child, Cheri dreamed of one day becoming a nurse. That dream became a reality, over time, as a second career. Becoming a nurse later in life has allowed her the opportunity to harmonize her vast life experiences into her work. She is deeply grateful for all that she has learned from her patients, their families, and communities of caregivers. In her current role as a clinical manager for a VNA and Hospice agency, she is able to integrate her background in oncology, community health, maternal-child health, palliative care, and psychiatric nursing. Cheri embraces a holistic, compassionate approach to her care and is passionate about serving people from all walks of life who are facing serious health challenges.

Robert E. Gramling, MD

Holly & Bob Miller Chair in Palliative Medicine Division Chief, Palliative Medicine Physician, & Associate Professor and Research Director, University of Vermont College of Medicine

Robert E. Gramling, MDBob Gramling, M.D., D.Sc. is the Holly & Bob Miller Chair in Palliative Medicine and Tenured Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Vermont. Bob is the Chief of the UVM Division of Palliative Medicine, where his compassionate team cares for and about thousands of seriously ill people every year. He is the PI of the Vermont Conversation Lab, an inter-disciplinary team of inspiring student and faculty scholars dedicated to understanding and promoting high quality communication in serious illness. Bob has received major research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Palliative Care Research Center, the Greenwall Bioethics Foundation and the American Cancer Society. He has authored more than 100 publications, including the recent Palliative Care Conversations book with his brother, David, a world-renown cultural linguist. Bob received his undergraduate degree from Colby College, his Doctor of Medicine from Dartmouth Medical School, and his Doctor of Science (Epidemiology) from Boston University School of Public Health. He and Lindy are proud parents of Cailin and Finian, two pretty amazing UVM students, and Pancake, their trusty golden-doodle.

Reverend Jared Hamilton

Pastor, United Church of Hinesburg, Hinesburg, Vermont

Rev. Jared HamiltonRev. Jared Hamilton (United Church of Christ) serves the United Church of Hinesburg in Hinesburg, Vermont. As pastor, Jared works in this vibrant faith community, advocating a faith of exploration, mutual support, inclusion, and works of justice. Ministering to a multigenerational community, Jared’s work includes pastoral visits with those who are ill, those at the end-of-life, and those grieving who seek spiritual guidance and support.

Jared received his Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological Seminary in 2012. He has served as a chaplain at New England Baptist Hospital and on staff at Human & Civil Rights Organizations of America. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Next Generation Leadership Initiative of the United Church of Christ.

Jared gardens and keeps bees. He is married to Leah Hamilton and his downtime is spent with their three young children, Camille, Simon, and Miles.

Craig Phillips

Death Doula

Craig PhillipsFully realizing and embracing our imminent impermanence, Craig retired from the role of a Fortune 500 corporate business executive to give back and do something meaningful.  Craig now sits with actively dying patients in hospice two or more days per week.

As altruistic as giving back sounds, Craig believes it’s also selfishly motivated, as he gains refreshed perspective on the tenuousness of life from the honor of performing this service for another, and heightened gratitude for the value of every moment alive. “In light of death one can (perhaps) step back, and laugh at all the silly things we thought were important. Everything other than love becomes unimportant.”

This work, combined with meditation and filling life with little adventures each day, has brought Craig great happiness—which he expects to continue—come what may.

Laurie Borden

Program Director for Hospice Volunteer Services & ARCH Community Coordinator for Addison Respite Care Home

Laurie BordenIn studying death and dying, Laurie believes she has a mission to bring familiarity to the language, and compassion to the experiences that are inherent to this sacred process.  Laurie thrives on the relationships built with the people who are present during this process–the patients, their loved ones and their caregivers, and considers herself very curious about each person’s individual experience and the potential for learning and love at every step. Laurie earned her BA in English at Colby College and her MS in the Science of Education, with a specialty in Child Life at Wheelock College.  She pursued this new path by becoming a hospice volunteer, completing one unit of CPE at UVM and the Respecting Choices Training for Advance Care Planning.  Laurie worked at Porter Hospital for 23 years in Public Relations and Development, serving on a Comprehensive Care Committee, Palliative Team, and Wellness Initiative, and currently serves on the ARCH Board of Directors and is Co-President of her Unitarian Universalist faith community.  When Laurie is not engaged in the above activities, she loves to read, walk, and be home with her husband (with whom she shares five children), her 92-year-old mother, and three Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Nina J. Thompson

Founder, Wake up to Dying Project; End-of-Life Consultant

Nina J ThompsonNina Thompson founded the Wake Up to Dying Project in 2012 and is currently consulting with organizations that are working in the death awareness movement. She brings 20+ years of entrepreneurial and business-consulting experience to the industry. She is experienced in community organizing, project management, event production, political campaigns, and organizational development. Nina draws her passion and capacity for this work from her experience founding and managing the Wake Up to Dying Project over five years, hospice and chaplaincy volunteer work, and Zen meditation practice. In 2014, Nina completed the Certificate program in Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

Michelle Acciavatti, M.S.

End-of-Life Specialist at Ending Well

Michelle AcciavattiMichelle Acciavatti is an End-of-Life Specialist at Ending Well, LLC. Her work includes teaching people to be empowered patients, advance planning, being a pregnancy loss and end-of-life doula, training end-of-life doulas, creating meaningful and personal rituals for after death, including home funerals and green burial, and giving community workshops. What she enjoys most about her work is helping people make a personal connection with dying and death.

Michelle has her Master of Science in Neuroscience, a Clinical Ethics Certificate from Harvard Medical School, and has completed multiple end-of-life and home funeral programs. She previously worked as a consultant for the Office of Ethics at Boston Children’s Hospital. Michelle is proud to be the citizen champion of a green burial bill and founder of an LLC dedicated to helping people approach the end-of-life. In her spare time she devours books.

Coleen Wright, MA, MAT

Hospice Bereavement Coordinator, Psychotherapist, Educator

Coleen Wright, MA, MATColeen has worked in Hospice and Homecare in a variety of capacities. As a Psychotherapist, she specializes in end-of-life, grief, life transitions, and prenatal and postnatal support. Her work with new families has also included teaching prenatal and postnatal yoga, and being a Birth and Postpartum Doula. Her most recent role is as the Bereavement Coordinator for Bayada Hospice in Burlington, Vermont. As Bereavement Coordinator she provides education and support to bereaved individuals, families, healthcare workers, and community members. Additionally, she recently served as the Coordinator for the Madison-Deane Initiative, an end-of-life education program at the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grande-Isle Counties of Vermont. Coleen received her Master’s in Psychology from Naropa University, in Boulder, Colorado. Coleen trained in the Contemplative approach to care, an approach that draws from mindfulness practice and the Buddhist tradition. As a professional, she most enjoys the depth and richness of life-lessons that end-of-life and the grieving process bring. For her, it is an honor to hear stories of resilience and human spirit. When she is not in the office, Coleen loves to paint watercolors, practice yoga and meditation, garden, cook and spend time with her husband and daughter.

Leslie Davis

McClure Miller Respite House; Traveling Hospice Volunteer on behalf of Cabot Creamery Cooperative

Leslie DavisLeslie started volunteering at the Vermont Respite House in Williston, VT in 2011. Since then, the Respite House has moved to a new location in Colchester, VT, and is now called the McClure Miller VNA Respite House. Leslie is also a Hospice volunteer on behalf of Cabot Creamery Cooperative, where she travels throughout the East Coast visiting non-profit Hospice organizations. In both roles, she has sat vigil, read, played games, prepared meals, held hands, and visited with many residents. What she enjoys most about Hospice volunteer work is the opportunity to help others.

Leslie has a degree in Accounting and enjoys spending time with her 12-year-old Chihuahua, family, creating folk-art, and sewing. She had the honor of creating an Ethan Allen doll for the Historic Strawberry Mansion in Pennsylvania, PA. This doll, that she proudly fabricated with her mother, represents Vermont in the Millennium State Doll Collection.

Roberta MacDonald

Hospice Volunteer, EOL Doula

Roberta MacDonaldRoberta is nearing 40 years of consumer product marketing experience, the last 28 of which she has spent as SVP of Marketing for Cabot Creamery Cooperative. She has helped turn the small, farm family owned dairy cooperative into a national player through creative, award-winning and occasionally over-the-top campaigns.  When not at her day job she volunteers for hospice services in Burlington, Vermont.

Roberta previously served as Vermont’s first Marketing Director, a position created for her by Governor Kunin in 1984. She has been recognized with many awards for design, promotions, and high-impact public relations programs, including the highest individual award by B Corps. Prior to moving to Vermont, Roberta provided marketing consulting and/or staff services for the San Francisco Opera, National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, American Express, Information Industry Association, NYU, CBS, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Roberta is a long-time champion of the co-op movement and speaks frequently on how Cabot rewards volunteers for an indelible brand connection with its farmers’ values.

Margie Bekoff

EOL/Dementia Music Specialist

Margie-BekoffMargie Bekoff is a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner. For the past 40 years, she has served in several professional and volunteer roles including as a biomedical scientist (Ph.D. Immunology), science writer, homeschooling parent, therapeutic harp mentor, hospice volunteer and harpist. She received her therapeutic harp training through the International Harp Therapy Program, graduating in 2006. She works primarily with elders with memory loss and people facing the end-of-life in a variety of residential settings and hospitals. After more than a decade of this work, she is ever grateful for the privilege of being invited to share the sacred space created as someone approaches their death.

In her free time, she loves cycling, hiking, her musical duo with her husband (harp and horn), and playing harp outside with the wind creating harmonies as it blows through the strings.

Priscilla Baker

(Emeritus) Program Director, Hospice Volunteer Services (HVS)

Priscilla BakerAfter training as a hospice volunteer in 2003, Priscilla became an active patient care volunteer, and was then hired to coordinate volunteer training, assignments and supervision.  Since then she has conducted 10+ training classes, as well as designed and taught an academic class, Hospice and End-of-Life Care, at Middlebury College.

Priscilla is a life time learner and teacher, who now focuses on training hospice volunteers.  She especially enjoys designing educational opportunities.  In 2005, she helped to start a hospice singing group, Wellspring, which sings at patient bedsides and in community care facilities.  She has a BA in Human Relations from Earlham College and an MA in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University.

In Priscilla’s own words, “this work provides the opportunity to touch the sacred, during which we are both giver and receiver in the circle of life.  I feel an ever-deepening sense of gratitude.”

Erica Marks

M.A Director of Volunteer Services at Age Well

Erica MarksErica previously coordinated the Hospice Volunteer Program for the VNA of the Champlain Valley where she developed an intensive training program for volunteers working in End-of-Life Care.  She has many years of recruiting, training and supporting volunteers for work in hospice and aging.  She personally has provided Doula services at the end-of-life for families and friends and brings both her professional and personal experience into the classes she teaches.  As an avid Rotarian, she finds inspiration from being of service both locally and internationally and is honored to be a Paul Harris fellow. In her work, she designs and delivers presentations using the learner centered dialogue approach enhancing student engagement. She holds both her Bachelors and Masters degree in Psychology and has over 27 years working in the field of Human Services.

Kathleen Scacciaferro

Healing Touch Practitioner; UVM College of Nursing Lecturer

kathleen-doulaKathleen Scacciaferro, R.N., M.S.A., Certified Healing Touch Practitioner/Instructor. Kathleen is the School Nurse at Vergennes Union Middle / High School, Vergennes, VT, where she promotes a holistic health focus for faculty and students. She practiced and taught Healing Touch as part of End-of-Life Care at UVM Med Center, where she was a Critical Care Nurse and Manager for over 25 years. She is Part Time Faculty of the College of Nursing & Health Sciences at UVM.  Kathleen teaches Healing Touch and Energy Medicine; online courses: LGBTQ Health Disparities and Dismantling Rape Culture; and leads UVM travel study courses to Cuba: Complementary Therapies in Cuban Health Care & Cultural Immersion and Mongolia: Traditional Mongolian Medicine & Cultural Immersion.

Charley MacMartin, MA, CT

Hospice Volunteer Services Manager; UVM Health Network Home Health & Hospice

Charley MacMartinCharley has worked in a number of roles over the past two decades in end-of-life care. A commitment to learning and education is at the center of his current work with volunteers supporting hospice and palliative care clients and families. Charley holds a certification through the Association for Death Education and Counseling and is pursuing a self-designed M.Ed. in end-of-life education at the University of Vermont with an emphasis on mindfulness, gender and bereavement, and social justice. Charley lives with his family in Burlington, VT.

Chelsea Chalfant, BSN, OCN, CHPN

Nurse, UVM Health Network Home Health and Hospice

chelsea-doulaChelsea Chalfant, RN, is the Hospice and Palliative Care Educator at the VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties. She has spent the past ten years working in surgical, palliative care and oncology settings, most recently at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, where she cared for adults, children and infants facing life-limiting illness. This transformative experience has led Chalfant to focus her career on hospice clinical education and championing the importance   of person-centered, high quality end-of-life care for patients and families.

Chalfant holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) from Kent State University as well as Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN) and Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) clinical certifications. Originally from Indiana, Chalfant recently relocated to Vermont where she is exploring new hiking trails, sampling maple syrup and creemees and enjoying all the natural beauty the Green Mountain state has to offer.

Steve Gregory

Stephen C. Gregory and Son Cremation Service

Steve GregoryStephen C. Gregory and Son Cremation Service of South Burlington, Vermont specialize in direct cremation, memorial services and pre-need planning throughout Vermont. We pride ourselves in providing dignified, caring, compassionate end-of-life care, while making the process simple and affordable for families. We own and operate our own crematory which means your loved one is always in our care, guaranteeing positive identification. Our crematory is owned and operated by two generations of licensed funeral directors, Stephen C. Gregory and Stephen K. Gregory. A family run business with expertise in direct cremation.

Oceana Sawyer

EOL Doula

Portrait image of Oceana SawyerI became compelled to assist folks on their journeys back in 2005 when I sat vigil for my father’s passing. Since that time, I have accumulated more knowledge and training, honed my skills, and had more opportunities to connect with folks and help them die in a context of love, grace, and beauty.

I draw upon my meditation practices, my experience as a sensuality educator, earth-based spirituality, and intensive study in the expressive arts and integral counseling psychology. I have successfully completed End-of-Life Doula training programs from the University of Vermont and the Conscious Dying Institute. Being a qualified facilitator of Living Funeral Ceremonies and a Funeral Celebrant are also among my competencies. Additionally, I am a member of the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (NEDA).

I live happily in the San Francisco Bay Area with my devoted husband and two border collies.

Patty Brennan

Doula, Educator, Author

Headshot image of Patty BrennanPatty Brennan is a doula, retired midwife, educator, author and entrepreneur. Over the last 22 years, she has personally trained over 2,000 people to become birth, postpartum and end-of-life doulas. Patty is an expert in the Doula Model of Care and business development for doulas and is enthusiastic about making doula work sustainable. She is the author of The Doula Business Guide: How to Succeed as a Birth, Postpartum or End-of-Life Doula, 3rd Edition and The Doula Business Guide Workbook: Tools to Create a Thriving Practice, 3rd Edition. Patty is the owner of Lifespan Doulas, offering online training and business development guidance for doulas.

Lee Webster

Director of New Hampshire Funeral Resources & Education

Lee Webster headshot imageLee Webster is an author, editor, and national public speaker on funeral reform. She has served in key leadership positions of the National Home Funeral Alliance and Green Burial Council, helped found the Conservation Burial Alliance, National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, and NHPCO EOLD Council, and is Director of New Hampshire Funeral Resources & Education. Her latest book, The Future of the Corpse: Our Changing Places and Perceptions of the Dead and Mourning, is a collaboration edited by Christina Staudt and Karla Rothstein of Columbia University’s DeathLab.