Founder and Executive Director
Vice President of the Board of Directors
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.
Lisa is a certified grief educator, grief management professional, consultant and respected speaker. Experience includes serving 8 years as Executive Director for Phoenix, Arizona’s premier provider of grief support programs and serving 17 years as a victim assistance crisis interventionist with the Phoenix Fire Department. Lisa is passionate about helping grieving children and families, and authored two books on behalf of the American Hospice Foundation, Grief School: Training Guide and Resource Manual and Grief at Work which became available in 2009 and 2010.
Lisa has 18 years of experience and demonstrated skills in not-for-profit management, crisis management, developing strategic alliances, cultural competency, leveraging networks, public speaking and leading with integrity. She is recognized for her ability to effectively communicate, manage multiple priorities, foster relationships with all constituents and lead with problem solving, reasoning and creative skills.
Currently, Lisa balances two passions simultaneously. First, as a consultant for not-for-profit organizations with a focus on building infrastructure, identifying areas of risk and liability, strategic planning and grant writing. The tapestry of her perspective is influenced by real world, in the trenches experience including developing and evaluating programs, writing curriculum, helping build not-for-profit grassroots organizations from inception through the various life-cycle stages, and years of successful grant writing.
Her second passion is supporting children and adults who have experienced a significant death in their life and educating the community on all facets of grief and bereavement. She began Grief Etc. as a forum to provide education and support to children ages 4 and older in their homes while utilizing non-threatening techniques to teach practical coping skills. She also support adults, consult with schools and employers, educate the academic, medical, first responder and medical communities on issues related to grief and bereavement and provide crisis response support to schools and businesses after a tragedy.
Lisa is a Valley Leadership graduate, was named Executive Director of the Year, and received a Healthcare Hero’s award from the Phoenix Business Journal.
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.
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.
Maggie is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and comes from a family of 10 children.
Her close-knit family serves as an enormous amount of love, understanding and support to her since the sudden and untimely death of her husband Jeffrey in June 2001.
At the time of Jeffery’s death her children were 15, 12, 7 and 3 and she takes great pride in her role as their Mother, her role as grandma to 1 grandchild, and the closeness they share.
Maggie has worked in the health care industry for 17 years, currently working in a surgical hospital in Phoenix. She has a true passion for patients, their families and the community of her hometown. Maggie has a love for athletics, particularly Major League Baseball and is a devout Arizona Diamondbacks fan. She is heavily involved in Pop Warner football, Little League baseball and a local elementary school.
Maggie believes it is important for children to have organized, positive choices for outlets in community activities. Children that have had a Mom or Dad die need a place that they can just be children, a part of the team, or included without standing out as the child “with no Daddy or Mommy”. That unfortunate statistic already has them feeling different or dis-engaged from other kids.
Being involved in ASK is a honor and humbling experience for Maggie, she is proud to be part of an organization that offers families resources and options for hope and healing along their journey of grief.
Susie Johnson – Info Coming
Colleen White – Info Coming