Our Board of Directors
President Merilynne Rush, RN, BSN, co-founder, former home birth midwife and hospice nurse, is an End-of-Life Doula Trainer, Respecting Choices® Facilitator and Instructor, home funeral guide, and green burial educator. She is a Nurse Educator with an MS in Hospice and Palliative Studies. Rush owns two end-of-life related businesses, Lifespan Doula Association, and After Death Home Care. She founded and facilitates the Ann Arbor Death Café, and is an emeritus member of the National Home Funeral Alliance and Green Burial Council boards of directors.
Vice-President Suzanne O'Brien, co-founder, is the proud Founder and Creator of Doulagivers: End of Life Doula Training, Eldercare Doula Training, and Doulagiver Care Consultant Training. Suzanne established The International Doulagivers Foundation where she serves as president. Suzanne is an end of life educator, speaker, consultant and author of the book Creating Positive Passings & End of Life Doula Level 1 Caregiver Training (2015).
Secretary Pamela Stohrer recently retired after 42 years of public school work as a K-8 teacher of general music, drama, chorus, recorder and guitar. She is a certified therapeutic musician, and plays the Celtic harp at Concord Hospital, CRVNA Hospice House, Presidential Oaks and other medical facilities in Concord, New Hampshire. She also performs solo as ThistleWood Harp and as half of the guitar/harp duo ThistleWood. Pamela is also trained as an EOL Doula through the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine, and practices in the Concord, New Hampshire area.
Treasurer Lee Webster, co-founder, is the Director of New Hampshire Funeral Resources, Education & Advocacy, co-founder and historian of the Conservation Burial Alliance, former President of the National Home Funeral Alliance, and former board member and educational consultant for the Green Burial Council. She is a national speaker on funeral reform and author of several home funeral and green burial books, including Essentials for Practicing Home Funeral Guides and Changing Landscapes: Exploring the growth of ethical, compassionate and environmentally sustainable green funeral practices.
Membership Secretary Kim Adams comes to the Board with many years of experience in the death/dying field, having begun in the early 1990's as a case manager, and housing and legislative advocate for people with HIV/AIDS. She is Secretary of the National Home Funeral Alliance, a certified, professional End of Life Coach, home funeral guide, hospice volunteer, Reiki practitioner, and an Advisory Board Member of Threshold Support Circle in Baltimore, Maryland.
Director Alua Arthur is an end-of-life doula, attorney, and the founder of Going with Grace, an end of life planning organization that exists to support people as they answer the question 'What must I do to be at peace with myself so that I may live presently and die peacefully?' From private end-of-life consultations and public education about death to online coursework to train death doulas, she is tirelessly committed to bringing awareness to death and dying which she believes can inspire the way people live. A jewelry addict, Alua is also a life enthusiast, bicycle fanatic, and developing nation aficionado. She is inspired by life, the little joys we can find even in dark times, the freedom of authenticity, and the power in the word yes.
Director Elizabeth Aungier is the co-founder and owner of Promise Hospice located near Pittsburgh, PA. She is the creator and trainer of the Professional End of Life Doula Program, and teaches live End of life Doula trainings. These trainings are approved for continuing education through the National Association of Social Workers. Elizabeth holds her BSW and MSW from West Virginia University. Her passion is providing end of life care, while supporting people to die on their own terms. She has worked in end of life for over 25 years, as a medical social worker, bereavement coordinator, executive director, and now hospice owner.
Director Nada Frazier is Founder of The Sacred Servant where she serves as an End of Life Doula, Guide, Mentor, Trainer, Educator and Consultant. She has served as a hospice volunteer in various capacities, and founded and facilitates The Death Café of Northeast Florida. Nada is a non-denominational ordained minister and has served as Spiritual Leader of Unity of Jacksonville Beach since 2015. She has served on numerous boards, is a trained mediator and published co-author with over 30 years experience working as a paralegal. She holds a B.A. in Communication, with a minor in Women’s Gender Studies.
Director Joseph Knight brings over 30 years of managerial experience to the board and currently is the Quality Assurance Manager for Olympic Steel in Detroit MI. He has been a member of the board of examiners for the national Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence Award and is a judge for the Michigan Performance Excellence program. In addition to a BS in Industrial Administration from GMI, he has an MS in Hospice and Palliative Studies from Madonna University. He is a Certified Medical Hypnotherapist, member of the St Vincent DePaul Society, and end of life doula.
Director Lisa Patterson is a Professional Counselor by trade, with degrees in Psychology, and certifications in grief support and palliative care social work, she is currently training as an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) instructor. She coordinates the Mercy Supportive Care Services Pain & Palliative consultative department at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, MI; she also directs the “No One Dies Alone” and Bereavement programs there. A well-seasoned clinical human services provider, educator, advocate, outdoor enthusiast, pastoral care associate and volunteer, Lisa is also an EOL Doula.
Director Karen Reppen is the founder of Persephone’s Garden, offering education, training, and direct support around aging, illness, death and grief. She also provides guidance for home funerals and natural burials through Walking Each Other Home, and facilitates Death Cafés through the Great Circle Collaborative. She helped form Solace Home, a social-model hospice program for those experiencing homelessness. She has more than 16 years’ experience as a hospice communications professional and direct-care volunteer. Her training includes UVM's EOL Doula program from theLarner School of Medicine, Upaya’s Contemplative EOL Care program: Being with Dying, and Stephen Jenkinson's Orphan Wisdom School in Ottawa, Canada. Karen holds a Grief Support Specialist Certificate through UW-Madison.
Director Leann Thrapp is a Registered Nurse and Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator specializing in grief, loss and death. Her career began in High Risk Obstetrics and Labor & Delivery caring for parents who experienced perinatal loss and, most recently, she is Executive Director at WesleyLife Home Health and Hospice. Leann’s held numerous clinical leadership positions in Arizona, California and Iowa and has been published in a number of clinical texts. Leann is on the Board of Directors for Opus Peace.
Who We Are
The NEDA Board is a determined and talented band of like-minded, expert practitioners, trainers and natural death care pioneers who have forged an alliance and have the public interest as our highest priority. NEDA is an inclusive, welcoming, and transparent network of doulas from many backgrounds, philosophies, and skill levels who come together to share our wisdom with each other and the individuals, families, communities and caregivers we serve. We are wise and we are many.
As we empower each other thus we empower others. Join our growing and dynamic network and help us spread the abundance of our efforts.
NEDA unites all those in the end-of-life doula field, both trainers and practitioners, to define and promote our role as caregivers, volunteers and/or professionals.
The role of the End-of-Life Doula is new and evolving. We need your voice. By being in good communication with each other, openly sharing information, developing tools, and sharing experiences and resources, we will spread the word and help the dying and their loved ones to be well cared for so they can achieve the kind of death they desire.
How Practitioners and Consumers Benefit
By working together as end-of-life doulas and trainers to define ourselves, discover our commonalities, and discuss our differences, we will promote the EOL doula model of care to the public and to other EOL caregivers.
In order for EOL doulas to provide consistent and high quality care, NEDA has developed core competencies to inform doula training curricula. In addition, we have established Standards of Practice and a Code of Conduct for ethical, professional EOL doula practice.
With 10,000 people turning 65 each day in the US, more and more elders, as well as those with life-limiting illness, will need our services. Our primary task is to work diligently to inform the public about the excellent services we offer so that everyone who wants a doula can have one.
To learn more about trainings, check out our EOL Doula Trainer Directory (coming soon!)
Patty Burgess, co-founder
Teaching Transitions and Doing Death Differently
Trudy Brown, co-founder
Deanna Cochran, co-founder
Quality of Life Care
Tarron Estes, co-founder
Conscious Dying Institute
National Home Funeral Alliance
Board Member Opportunities
The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance welcomes board members from diverse backgrounds who are interested in furthering the NEDA mission. Our open application process runs from September 1 - 30 when we replenish the board for the coming year. Applications are welcome year round and will be considered during the active nominating period and in the case of seats opening up during the year. Please send inquiries to: NEDA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIONAL END-OF-LIFE DOULA ALLIANCE (NEDA)
PO BOX 456
HOLDERNESS NH 03245
NEDA is a nonprofit 501c6 membership organization dedicated to supporting end-of-life doulas and the families they serve. Content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice.