Karen is a California native who grew up in San Jose and then lived in San Diego for nearly 17 years, She moved to the Phoenix area with her husband and young son in February of 2005. It was an exciting time for her family but sadly, her husband died suddenly in August of 2007 of an aortic dissection when their son was just 4 1/2 years old.
After a brief time with the US Customs Service and US Internal Revenue Service, Karen spent 8 years as an Investigative Assistant with the US Secret Service. Deciding to follow a dream, she resigned from the US Secret Service and started Elegant Expressions, San Diego’s premier calligraphy and event planning studio which she owned for 9 years. For the last 13 years, she has worked as an Executive Assistant, supporting senior level executives at Leap Wireless/Cricket Communications and Banner Health. She is currently an Executive Assistant supporting the CEO of a nationally recognized Phoenix-based company.
In 2009, Karen was awarded a “Hope” award from Stepping Stones of Hope on behalf of her work and fundraising with the Steven M. Turner Memorial Scholarship Fund, named in honor of her late husband. The Scholarship Fund provides for families grieving the loss of a loved one to attend grief camp.
Being the Founder of Acts of Simple Kindness is among the proudest of her personal and professional accomplishments. Widowed at 38 years old, she knows first-hand the trials and tribulations of not only widowhood but being a single parent to a child grieving the loss of a parent.
Susan has lived and traveled extensively both domestically and internationally. As she has traveled she has made it her passion to support and help out the community in which she finds herself. Whether volunteering, pursuing in-kind donations, or fundraising, Susan commits wholeheartedly to the causes that mean the most to her. Most recently, Susan spent three years in Guadalajara, Mexico working alongside the Junior League of Guadalajara, Mi Bebe y Yo, Casa Hogar, and La Casita.
Professionally, Susan’s background is in commercial property management, where she has over 13 years’ experience managing Class A and Class B buildings in Orange County, California and Arizona. She currently works for Arizona Community Action Association, where she helps low income families become self-sufficient and unites communities to end poverty through community based initiatives and solutions.
In addition to working full time, she is the Executive Director for Acts of Simple Kindness and is an active volunteer and advocate for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Susan lost her father in 1986 and her husband in 2012 to suicide. Suicide prevention is one of the many causes close to her heart. Susan has a son, Duke, who is the light of her life and keeps her going.
Kim was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She has degrees in Life Science from Glendale Community College and ASU West. She has been in the medical field for a nice chunk of her working career and is currently in school pursuing surgical technician to help further her medical career. She met her fiancé, Derek, after Christmas 2012 and shortly after they were blessed with the pregnancy of their daughter Cassie. Sadly, Derek took his own life June 19, 2013; Kim was four months pregnant. Suicide prevention and awareness has become a big part of her life, along with caring for the light that keeps her going, Cassie D. She hopes to keep Derek’s memory alive so Cassie D can know her father through her and his family.
Marie Dyson lives in the small town of Surprise, Arizona with her two young children. Until 2007, Marie worked as a software engineer in the aerospace industry. Following the birth of her son, Marie chose to become a full-time
stay-at-home mom…a calling she considers to be “the best job ever!” After a struggle to conceive a second time and a successful IVFprocedure she was blessed with a baby girl in 2010. Her family was perfect and complete. A few days before Christmas on December 21st, 2011 her husband passed away suddenly, forever changing her path.
Marie is blessed to continue staying home with her children, she runs her own small
business and makes jewelry to relieve stress! Marie met Karen through a mutual friend of theirs and she credits Karen with helping her to remain hopeful after her husband died – it was important to meet someone who truly ‘got it’ when it came to being widowed young with children. Marie is happy to be able to give back to other widowed families because she truly knows what they’re going through
Laurie was born and raised in San Diego, California and married her high school sweetheart in 1986. Their one and only daughter, Katie was born in 1992. Laurie worked in a variety of office settings, from talent agent to law firm, until 1994 when she decided she was tired of paying someone else to raise her daughter and decided to become a stay-at-home Mom. A few years ago, she returned to working in the “outside world” and is currently in Admin Services for Qualcomm, Inc. in San Diego.
She is fortunate to still have her husband with her, but she has seen the harrowing effects of the loss of a parent and a spouse on a family. While it’s not first-hand knowledge, she has seen how grief, fear and mind-numbing exhaustion threaten to take over the lives of those who find themselves suddenly alone. She is looking forward to helping Acts of Simple Kindness lighten the load for parents and keep kids involved with the things they love, that help them heal and make life seem just a little bit more like “normal.”
Sadly, Laurie lost her beloved father after a short illness in May of 2012, bringing her even closer to appreciating the mission of Acts of Simple Kindness. It’s hard to lose your father, regardless of how old you are.