Featured Presenters & Contributors
Lead Instructor, UVM End of Life Doula Certificate
Certified Doula and Childcare Educator
A graduate of the University of Vermont College of Education and Social Services Human Development and Family Studies Program, Francesca Arnoldy lives in Hinesburg with her husband and two children. She pursues a number of endeavors, including birth work as a certified labor doula and childbirth educator, advocacy and volunteer efforts, gardening, and writing. Through personal experiences with providing support at deaths and the completion of training programs in hospice and End of Life care along with her strong belief in the essence of doula work and being “of service,” she is grateful to extend her focus beyond the childbearing years to the other bookend, death, by developing and facilitating UVM’s certificate program for End of Life Doulas to promote peaceful, personalized, well-supported passages in and out of life.
Reverend Jared Hamilton
Pastor, United Church of Hinesburg, Hinesburg, Vermont
Rev. 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.
Fully 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.
Program Assistant for Hospice Volunteer Services
& ARCH Community Coordinator for Addison Respite Care Home
In 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 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 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, 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 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.
McClure Miller VNA Respite House
Traveling Hospice Volunteer on behalf of Cabot Creamery Cooperative
Leslie 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.
Along with training to care for people in Hospice care, Leslie has a degree in Accounting.
Leslie 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 Historical Society at the Historic Strawberry Mansion in Pennsylvania, PA. This doll, that proudly fabricated with her mother, represents Vermont in the Millennium State Doll Collection, and is housed at the Historic Strawberry Mansion.
Hospice Volunteer, EOL Doula
Roberta 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.
EOL/Dementia Music Specialist
Margie 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.
Program Director, Hospice Volunteer Services (HVS)
After 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.”
M.A Director of Volunteer Services at Age Well
Erica 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.
Healing Touch Practitioner
UVM College of Nursing Lecturer
Kathleen 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.
Chelsea Chalfant, BSN, OCN, CHPN
Nurse , Hospice & Palliative Care Program
VNA Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties
Chelsea 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.