United States of America

Professor Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D.

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, and maintains an active consulting and coaching practice. He also directs the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, which provides online and onsite training internationally in grief therapy. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has conducted extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention.

Neimeyer has published 30 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy: Assessment and Intervention and Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning, the latter with Barbara Thompson. The author of over 500 articles and book chapters, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process, both in his published work and through his frequent professional workshops for national and international audiences.

Neimeyer is the Editor of the respected international journal, Death Studies, and served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counselling. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Distinguished Research Award, the Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Eminent Faculty Award by the University of Memphis, elected Chair of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement, and given the Research Recognition, Clinical Practice and Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Association for Death Education and Counselling. Most recently, he has received the Phoenix Award: Rising to the Service of Humanity from the MISS Foundation, been given ADEC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and been recognized as an Honoured Associate of the Viktor Frankl Association for his lifetime contributions to the study of meaning.

Dr Christopher J. Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr Christopher J. Johnson received his Ph.D. in Sociology with a major in Aging and Family and minor in Social Psychology from Iowa State University, Sociology with major in Aging and Family. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Denver. He has had a part time practice in gero-counseling with a gero-psychiatrist while in Louisiana as a licensed MFT, LPC. 

Chris retired as Director of Gerontology and Professor of Gerontology and Sociology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). He also was on the Board of the Geriatric Education Centers at LSU and Ole Miss. At ULM, he developed an award-winning (best academic program in Louisiana by Governor Foster) online M.A. in Gerontology Program. As Director of the Institute of Gerontology (NIA grant-funded) he has published in numerous journals and books. Dr Johnson taught in the Dementia Studies graduate programs at Stirling and Edinburgh Universities, Scotland and worked for the Dementia Services Centre at Stirling University. His exemplary teaching and research skills were recognized by being awarded a Distinguished Fellow in Gerontology. Working for Aging Consultants he and his wife Dr Roxann Johnson (PhD in Dementia Studies) have designed and developed over a hundred Memory Care neighbourhoods in long-term care homes in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. First published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the Johnson’s model of Alzheimer’s as Time Travel has won international acclaim. 

In the area of teaching, Chris came to Texas State to initiate and be a major contributor to the new online M.S. in Dementia and Aging Studies. His online Masters in Gerontology at ULM was awarded as a top academic program among Louisiana Universities by Governor Foster. He was recognized among the top five teachers at his former University (The University of Louisiana at Monroe or ULM) and has won teaching accolades at Texas State being voted favourite Professor by the student Honor Society three times. 

In research, besides procuring over 3 million dollars in grant and private funding, his interests are in end-of-life dementia care, social models of dementia care, suicide, thanatology, religiosity, and world religions. At his previous university, he was twice awarded “Researcher of the Year” in the School of Arts and Sciences. He has conducted a state-wide needs assessment of elderly in Iowa but specializes in oral histories. He was awarded an Endowed Professorship in Gerontology in Louisiana based upon his outstanding teaching and research skills.

Dr Rachael D. Nolan (she/her)

Rachael is an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine (UCCoM), and maintains an active consulting and grief recovery practice as an Advanced Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®. She is the co-founder and business owner of Sages of Grief, LLC, that specializes in assisting individuals and businesses navigate through grief and loss, charting a course towards grief recovery.

Dr. Nolan is a co-editor for the Ohio Journal of Public Health and currently serves as the Concentration Director of Health Services Management and Deputy Director in the UCCoM Masters of Public Health Program, which prepares students to promote health, prevent disease, and protect the well-being of communities, both locally and beyond. As an advocate for death, dying, end of life, and the unique needs of persons impacted by significant loss, Dr. Nolan’s research specializes in understanding the unique social determinants of grief experienced by underserved and medically disadvantaged communities, older adults, LGBTQ* folk, and the differently-abled.

In recognition of her scholarly contributions to the public health discipline, Dr. Nolan has been granted the distinguished merit as a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health (London, UK).


Dr Arian Nachat MD

Arian is an emergency medicine and palliative care physician, educator, and changemaker. She is a regular speaker and contributor on emergency medicine, palliative care, Traditional Chinese Medicine and pain management. Most recently, she founded Pallity - a specialty-specific platform to access education, medical guidance, social support, as well as a marketplace for goods. Their goal is to ensure that anyone with palliative needs has access, regardless of diagnosis and prognosis. Dr. Nachat has been recognized for the past two years as “Top Doctor” by her peers. She founded Kaiser’s first inpatient integrative symptoms management service in northern California, served on the State of Oregon opiate prescribing taskforce and is an exam item writer for the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Nachat currently practices emergency medicine and serves as clinical faculty at Balboa Naval Medical Center, the VA Medical Center and Scripps Memorial in San Diego, California.


Dr Joan Blanusa Ed.D.

Joan has been in education for over 35 years, starting as a high school social studies teacher and administrator, moving on to teaching education at the college and graduate school levels. Throughout her career she has focused on what fosters higher older, critical and creative thinking skills, and social emotional development. She holds a doctorate in Teaching and Learning from Harvard Graduate School of Education, where her research focused on adult development and education, and what influences adult meaning making at the deepest levels.

Upon completion of her doctorate Joan started a business called A Better Conversation where she drew upon her qualitative research methods and vast experience in leading discussions about complex topics, to help individuals, faculties and organizations develop a keen understanding of what leads to productive discussions and deliberations and apply these tools to their work and personal lives.

She currently works as an independent tutor helping students ages 15 and up develop and harness their academic and social emotional skills to achieve academic and personal success. Because of her in-depth background in what fosters learning and higher order thinking, she can tutor any subject except the content of math and science.

Originally from the Seattle area, she has also lived and taught in the Northern California and the Boston area where she currently resides.


Dr Qwynn Galloway-Salazar

Qwynn is an Army Veteran and End-of-Life Doula, Educator, and Founder of In Their Honor, LLC. Throughout more than two decades of dedication to enhancing the quality of life and well-being of Military and Veterans communities, Qwynn has acquired a deep understanding of how military experiences can have long-term impacts on one's life and the lives of loved ones.

Qwynn's passion for serving those who have served their country is reflected in her work. She deeply understands the unique needs and challenges that Veterans face as they approach the end of their lives, and she is committed to raising awareness and implementing initiatives to address these issues. Her recent work has touched the hearts of those compassionately caring for and supporting Veterans and their loved ones. Qwynn works closely with communities, End-of-Life professionals, and organizations to ensure Veterans receive the care and compassion they deserve. Her warmth, dedication, and compassionate approach inspire and touch the hearts of all those she serves.

Her passion for supporting and uplifting others has led to an instrumental collaboration with the renowned PsychArmor Institute. Together, they are set to release the highly anticipated “Caring for Veterans Through the End of Life” series this fall. This ground-breaking initiative aims to provide invaluable support to communities, Caregivers/Loved Ones, and Healthcare Providers, showcasing Qwynn's determination to make a positive impact and create a legacy of compassion and care.

In addition to her work as an end-of-life doula and advocate, Dr. Qwynn Galloway-Salazar serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors for the Minority Veterans of America and sits on the Advisory Board of the Veterans Studies Association. Additionally, her research interest includes the visibility of Women Veterans and story collecting. Her contributions to the field of Veterans' care are significant, and she has an impressive academic background, having earned a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Walden University.

Qwynn was recognized by the Georgia Department of Veterans Services as the inaugural Woman Veteran of the Year for her unwavering dedication to service for 2022-2023.


Suzanne O'Brien RN

Suzanne is an international speaker, bestselling author, and pioneer in the End-of-Life Doula movement.
She is the proud Founder and Creator of the INTERNATIONAL DOULAGIVERS FOUNDATION INC
She created the award-winning programs; Doulagivers End of Life Doula Training, Eldercare Doula Training, and Doulagiver Care Consultant Training and has traveled the world donating her education and training programs to over 150,000 people to help support communities globally.
Awarded "Worldwide Leader in Healthcare” by the International Nurses Association for creating Doulagivers and in 2019 was named Humanitarian Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine.

Suzanne is also the former Vice President and a founding member of NEDA (The National End of Life Doula Alliance) and Founding member of NHPCO’s End of Life Doula Council.

She currently Facilitates DOULAGIVERS LIFE CAFÉ, a monthly global gathering to help raise individual and collective consciousness. Suzanne is also the founder and creator of "World Training Day" and Founder of “National Death Doula Day”.


Michael P Bourque

Michael is an inventor from Boston with over 36 years of design and manufacturing experience. He is passionate about bringing bold ideas to market and is committed to ensuring high levels of quality, design, and user experience. He has a vast background in industrial design, manufacturing, and automation and is always looking for ways to advance the state of the art in hardware, software, or both. 

He started his journey as an inventor as a machinist and rose through the ranks to become a top programmer at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. He later served as the Vice President of PTC, a $1.3 billion software company near Boston. After 27 years in the industry, Bourque started his own company and raised over $7.5M in funding before successfully exiting. He then joined Stratasys, one of the world’s leading 3D printing technology manufacturers, where he played a major role in developing AM software and hardware technology. 

Currently, he is the Director of Digital Manufacturing at PDS Vision focused on helping companies design and transform their products using modern manufacturing technology. 

Michael’s brings a tremendous wealth of experience in product development and innovation. He plans to leverage this to expand and grow the platform to benefit future generations. 

In his free time, Michael enjoys painting, sculpting, composing, designing, and creating art, as well as writing code and doing computer modelling to keep his skills sharp. He is an insatiably curious person who loves to learn and invent the future.


Jerry Fenter

After 30 years of ministry as a pastor for churches, Jerry began a new career as a hospice chaplain in 2010 and felt that he had found his true home in serving people on their end of life journey. Jerry serves as the System Director of Spiritual Counselors for Harbor Healthcare System, a multi-site hospice agency. Jerry is also the co-owner of The Heart of Hospice podcast and uses that platform to encourage and educate hospice professionals.  In 2018 Jerry was selected to serve as a member of the Palliative Care Interdisciplinary Advisory Council for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.  It’s his passion to use each of these roles to help improve the quality of life for every person needing hospice and palliative care.  


Helen Bauer

Helen has worked in nursing for over 30 years, specializing in hospice and end of life care for the past 10 years. She is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Registered Nurse with a background in compliance and consulting.  As co-owner of The Heart of Hospice, she provides end of life education and consulting services for both hospice providers and consumers.  Helen’s passion for quality end of life care can be heard on The Heart of Hospice podcast as she leads discussions on hospice philosophy, how to get the most from your hospice experience, and advance care planning.