"Imagine is a wonderful, safe place making this a better world for those coping with loss."
Mary Robinson, MA, CT, is the Founder and Executive Director of Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss in Westfield, NJ and the Founder and former Executive Director of Good Grief located in Morristown, NJ.
Working and volunteering in the field of grief support since 1997, Ms. Robinson’s commitment is to ensure grieving children’s resiliency, emotional health, and well-being, and to create communities where children coping with loss get the love and support they need to thrive and live up to their unique potential.
Mary has a BA in English, a Master's Degree in Applied Psychoanalysis, and holds a Certificate in Thanatology, the study of death and dying, and a Certificate in Computer Technology from Chubb Institute. She is a member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling, the National Alliance for Grieving Children and is a board member for the Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis.
Good Grief and Imagine grew out of Mary’s own personal experience of loss as a child and her commitment to make sure no child grieves alone. When not at Imagine, Mary can usually be found hiking, cooking, reading or sleeping.
Mandi, MSW, Grief Recovery Specialist, has been the Program Director at Imagine since 2012, overseeing all aspects of program development and management.
She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Child Development and New York University with her Master’s in Social Work and has since earned a certificate in Grief Recovery. She is a lead responder for the Union County Traumatic Loss Coalition and serves on the membership committee for the National Alliance for Grieving Children.
Prior to working at Imagine, Mandi had extensive experience working with children in the public school system as well as in hospice settings working with people of all ages at the end of their lives. Mandi is a lifelong resident of Westfield, where she lives with her husband, two children and her dog.
Director of Development
Kathy Vergel joined the staff at Imagine in September 2016 as the Director of Development and has spent her entire professional career working in the nonprofit sector, specifically in fundraising. Her passion for this type of work was sparked through her volunteerism after college at an organization in Seattle called HOME ALIVE. Kathy holds a B.A. in Theater Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Masters in Latin American Studies from NYU. Kathy lives in Westfield with her husband, son and daughter.
Clinical Training Director
Connie, LCSW, has been the Clinical Training Director of Imagine since Imagine was founded in 2011, coordinating nights of support, providing trainings for Imagine facilitators and offering trainings on grief and loss in schools, workplaces and community organizations.
She is a licensed clinical social worker who is an experienced teacher, therapist and school counselor with more than thirty years of experience working with children, youth and their families.
Connie has a B.A. in Elementary Education and taught school for many years before getting her Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers University. She has attended The Center for Grieving Children’s Train the Trainer and Alan Wolfelt’s Comprehensive Bereavement Skills Training.
“I have learned from my work at Imagine that knowing how to support someone who is grieving any type of loss and knowing what to say and not to say is a life skill that can be learned with support and guidance.”
Veronica C. Ortiz
Veronica C. Ortiz, MA, EdS, LAC started working as Imagine's Program Associate after being a volunteer for a few years. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Rutgers University and Master's degree in Counseling and Education Specialist degree in Professional Counseling from Seton Hall University. Veronica is certified as a School Counselor and is also a Licensed Associate Counselor. Veronica has many years of experience working with children and adolescents in various settings and is passionate about helping youth develop hope, strength, and resilience.
Abigail Priece, MS, LAC started at Imagine as a volunteer facilitator in 2014 and has been a Program Associate since January 2018. Abigail earned a Bachelors in Human Services and a Masters in Counseling & Human Relations, both from Villanova University. As a Licensed Associate Counselor and a certified school counselor, Abigail has experience supporting children in various school and community settings. She has special interest in working with children who have experienced trauma, facilitating groups, and engaging families. She lives in Scotch Plains with her husband and her son.
Valerie Stierhoff has her Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science from Drew University. She’s been a facilitator and office volunteer at Imagine since 2014, and joined the staff as Office Manager in 2017. She’s pleased to support the Imagine staff as they work to help grieving children and their families. Val is a mother of three, and she and her family live in Westfield.
Business Strategy and Operations Specialist
Newark Program Director
Jacelyn comes to Imagine with over 10 years’ experience in the areas of social and mental health services, program development, and education. Jacelyn received her bachelors in psychology from St. John’s University, her MA and EdM in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is currently working to complete her EdD in education and social justice from Rutgers University. She became interested in understanding the intersections between trauma, grief, and the role that schools played in the healing process while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. She has continued work in this field as a mental health clinician in a youth and adolescent partial hospital program, and as a trainer assisting teachers and administrators on creating trauma informed schools in the Essex county area. Jacelyn is passionate about walking alongside grieving youth and families as they journey on their path to healing.
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