The Three Little Birds Advisory Board is comprised of administrative level volunteers, medical professionals whom we have personally connected with and who vocally support the organization, as well as families we have supported in the past. They will provide valuable input on all aspects of Perinatal care and how it relates to the goals of Three Little Birds. All members have gone through an application process and have committed to serving a minimum of one year with our organization. We are proud to list our advisory board appointments for 2018 are as follows:
Kristen Samuelson, Founder, Executive Director & SBD Bereavement Doula email@example.com
Kristen was thrust into the world of baby loss when her first child, a little girl named Jimmie Anne, was stillborn nearly 28 weeks. After four days in the hospital, she and her husband Brent got to spend a few hours with her before having to say goodbye. A few weeks into their healing, they discovered lots of resources, services and assistance available to them, but not offered by their hospital. After the Samuelson’s lost their rainbow baby, Chloe, due to a misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy a few months later, the Samuelson’s were appalled by the lack of support offered, despite the severity and tragic realization that they had to leave the hospital once again empty armed and brokenhearted.
Soon after, Kristen began volunteering with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit whose mission is to give the gift of infant remembrance portraiture to families suffering the loss of a baby. It was then she met Desiree Miller and after months of supporting families throughout the Philadelphia metro region, they decided there was so much more they could be doing to help families. That is when Three Little Birds Perinatal & Palliative Care Advocacy & Support Center was founded.
Over the past two years, Kristen, Brent, Desiree and dozens of volunteers (local and from all over the US) have assisted nearly 100 families through various types of loss. While no two losses or babies are the same, we are able to provide empathetic support knowing just how overwhelming, confusing and isolating baby loss is. Our goal is to nest families and encouraging them to “not worry, about a thing, because every little thing is going to be alright”.
Kristen is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in Communication Studies and has nearly 20 years of marketing experience as a Senior Marketing Specialist at Remington & Vernick Engineers. In addition to managing and growing Three Little Birds, she and Brent enjoy spending time with their furry children, traveling, photography and living the best lives they can in their children’s memory and encouraging people to never give up hope! Read more about Kristen’s story and the services the organization offers to families like ours here!
Brent co-founded Three Little Birds with his wife, Kristen, after they tragically lost two much loved babies. As a loss dad, he was personally disappointed at the lack of resources to support fathers through the loss of a baby, not just within their hospital, but across the nation. Fathers are often the overlooked parent and spend most of their time tending to the needs of their spouse through loss, often ignoring their own needs and grief. In Brent’s case, he developed shingles in the months leading up to his late daughter’s due date and wished he had someone to talk to, somewhere to go for help with others who could empathize. Hence, Three Little Birds was founded.
As a loss dad, he knows firsthand all the tribulations of losing a child. It is through his work with Three Little Birds, providing the gift of remembrance portraiture and creating an outreach for fathers to come together and connect, is where he finds the most personal healing. In meeting others through Three Little Birds, he has created a nest for himself of other parents who can empathize, support and validate each other. His primary focus within the organization is developing programs, support items and fundraising events to gather dads, families and volunteers together to show families the support available to them that he had wished was there for himself. The response from other loss dads he has connected with has been tremendous!
Brent is a Nursing Tech in the Same Day Surgery Unit at Cooper University Hospital, where he serves as the in-house Perinatal Bereavement Photographer and Three Little Birds Volunteer Representative. A Michigan native, he calls the Philadelphia region home and loves spending his free time photographing its beauty and the people who make it so great through his hobby, Mr. B Photography.
Since 2006, Desiree has helped more than 130 families create tangible memories and bond with their babies who have passed away. As a Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep volunteer affiliated photographer, she is often called bedside to capture the short time families share together, and giving them the priceless gift of professional portraits. She has a special way of gently encouraging family members, especially fathers and siblings, to participate in the making of these memories. While sometimes initially frightened at the thought of a stranger with a camera entering their sacred space, nearly all families reach out after to thank her for the validation and encouragement she gave for them to use that time to bond!
After a decade of witnessing firsthand, the lack of education for medical staff, the gift of validation to families and the lack of resources available, she and co-volunteer Kristen Samuelson founded Three Little Birds to support loss families in the community. As StillBirthday Certified Bereavement Doulas, they have created numerous services and programs for loss families to utilize, both immediately and long-term.
In addition to bedside bereavement support and photography, Desiree is a fierce advocate for informed consent when it comes to medical care, bereavement options and funeral preparations. She aims to work with local funeral care providers to assist in alleviating the financial burden of burial and funeral services for families. Additionally, she is dedicated to changing the landscape of Perinatal bereavement care in hospitals, and along with Kristen, is creating a Perinatal Care Workshop Program to be presented to hospitals throughout the region.
When she is not advocating for and photographing families, Desiree is a wife and Mama Bird to two amazing teenagers. She also is co-owner of a successful Maternity & Newborn Photography business, Image is Everything Studios in Swedesboro, NJ.
Maria Perno, Etsy Store Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria has been a fierce Three Little Birds supporter and volunteer since its founding in 2015. Since joining the nest, she has joined our Advisory Board and became our Etsy Store Coordinator and manages our Perinatal and Miscarriage Comfort Care Box Program. As a wife and mom to two fun and energetic little boys, she's always wanted to volunteer but wasn’t exactly sure in what capacity. After experiencing a second loss, she received a Miscarriage Comfort Box from Three Little Birds, offering her comfort, support and validation. The package made her smile and cry, but then realize there were other empathetic people who cared and were there for her during one of the worst moments of her life.
Fast forward a few months when Three Little Birds was seeking volunteer support from families we have served. Maria jumped right in to help with our Miscarriage and Perinatal Comfort Boxes. It was just like that Maria not only found her role, but healing to her broken heart. Maria says, "It is such an honor to put each box together, knowing it will bring a little bit of comfort to families during their absolute worst."
In addition to our Box Program, Maria will oversee the purchases and completion of sales of other items sold in our Etsy store created to provide validation, personalization and honor to the losses faced by 1 in 4 women. Many of the items in the store are created by other families looking to create legacy projects to honor their little ones and bring lots of comfort to other families suffering from miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal loss, SIDS as well as families who have received a life-limiting diagnosis and are unsure of what their future holds. Maria received a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree from Rowan University and also received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Maria is a Registered Nurse and stay at home mom to her sons, Dominic and Peter and wife to Nick. Their family is excitedly expecting a rainbow baby in September 2018. When asked about how Three Little Birds helped her during her family's time of loss Maria says, "Three Little Birds was a huge part of my support system when many family and friends failed to, maybe didn't know how, to provide support and love to our family. I am so grateful for all of the support, encouragement, and love provided by them and am now so honored to play a small part in it."
Bobbi Daniels, Director of Fundraising email@example.com
Bobbi reached out to Three Little Birds after suffering a miscarriage after their second round of IVF, a little boy they lovingly named, Noah. It had been a couple months since her loss when she discovered Three Little Birds, but she was so grateful to find there was SOMETHING in her community for her to reach out to during this dark time. After receiving a Miscarriage Comfort Package from the organization, Bobbi joined as a volunteer and has lifted the organization to new heights in such a short time..
With a background in non-profit management, Bobbi jumped at the opportunity to serve as Director of Fundraising. With a personal connection to the mission of the organization, coupled with the excitement and enthusiasm of those working with her, she is creating meaningful connections through gatherings to support Three Little Birds in providing its mission and services for free to the community. Knowing the struggle firsthand, she believes no one should have to pay for support when dealing with the loss of a pregnancy or child when there are so many empathetic and giving individuals out there that are able to help.
Bobbi has developed an Events subcommittee who’s goal is to bring numerous fundraisers to fruition. While the goal is to raise funds to support the organization, the heart and pulse of these events is to gather people together into our nest of support. Having found the value of connecting with others who have similar struggles in person and through the internet has help her and her husband tremendously through their journey. In addition to fundraising, one of Bobbi’s goals with the organization is to launch an infertility support program for families like hers who have faced the uncertainty and sometimes hopeless struggle of not being able grow their families naturally.
Douglas Francisco, Director of Internal Finance firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug and his wife, Jen, were introduced to Three Little Birds when their daughter, Kristina, passed away shortly after birth. Three Little Birds provided them with the gift of remembrance portraiture, an angel burial gown, resources for navigating the next few weeks and an empathetic shoulder to lean on. Months into their healing journey, they felt compelled to find out more about the organization, but more importantly how they could help out and give back.
Upon reaching out to Three Little Birds to help, Doug was asked to join the Advisory Board to help grow the services and programs of the organization. As a loss dad, he felt underwhelmed by the lack of support to fathers and wants to assist Co-Founder Brent Samuelson in creating a space for loss dads to gather, connect and memorialize their children. As Director of Internal Finance, Doug works closely with our fiscal sponsor, FNC Philly and helps develop budgets and strategies for fundraisers, events and programs.
As a hobby nature photographer, Doug has set a goal to become a volunteer photographer so that he too can provide the gift of infant remembrance portraiture to families like his. Doug cherishes the photos taken during the short time they had together as a family and wants other families to feel validated in the same way. Doug is a graduate of Goldey Beacom College with a degree in Finance and is currently completing his MBA at Wilmington University. In addition he is a husband and father to their son, Brian and angel baby, Kristina. They are pursuing IVF procedures with genetic testing in order to prevent the same issue from happening again, as they have a 50% chance of the same complications occurring due to isoimmunization.
“The day Kristina was born and passed was a whirlwind. I don’t remember who was there, or who helped us, but knowing someone was not only there for us, but could empathize with our experience was pivotal to our healing. The more we get involved as volunteers with Three Little Birds Perinatal, the more we know just how necessary the empathy and service of others who have walked the same journey is for families like ours.”
Jennifer Francisco, Director of Data & Research email@example.com
Jen and her husband Doug were introduced to Three Little Birds when their daughter, Kristina, passed away shortly after birth. Three Little Birds provided them with the gift of remembrance portraiture, an angel burial gown, resources for navigating the next few weeks and an empathetic shoulder to lean on. Months into their healing journey, they felt compelled to find out more about the organization, but more importantly how they could help out and give back.
As a loss mama, Jen is dedicated to helping other families understand, cope and heal with their losses in a healthy and supported way. In order for the organization to procure grants and funding to facilitate these program and services, we need to collect, organize and report data to funders. Jen has assisted the organization in developing data entry and consolidation strategies to streamline our grant funding process.
Additionally, Jen is particularly interested in supporting the educational aspect of Three Little Bird’s mission. Perinatal bereavement care is not taught in medical or nursing school and this lack of knowledge has a tremendous effect on the communication, care and understanding between the patient and caregiver during this sensitive time. It is Jen’s goal to help develop the organization’s Perinatal Bereavement Care Workshop, to not only educate but empower the medical staff in truly and effectively caring for these families during these situations.
Jen is a graduate of West Chester University and University of Delaware, and serves as a Training/Consulting Specialist for the Center for Effective Schools, with direct experience in training, data analysis, and research within the educational field. She and Doug are parents to their son, Brian and their angel baby, Kristina. They are pursuing IVF procedures with genetic testing to prevent the same issue from happening again, as they have a 50% of the same complications occurring due to isoimmunization. "On the worst day of our lives, Three Little Birds was able to not only anticipate many of our needs, but provide services that we weren't even aware we wanted or needed. The only thing I truly remember after losing Kristina was holding her and memorizing every feature about her, and Three Little Birds provided us with such beautiful photos that I will always treasure."
Jill Kelley, Director of Support Outreach firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Kelley has a personal connection to Three Little Birds as cousin to Founder, Kristen Samuelson, in addition to her own personal journey of infertility and loss. Moved by the experience within her own family and knowing first-hand the struggle and isolation of pregnancy loss and infertility, she jumped at the chance to help others.
Jill’s personal experience, coupled with her professional experience as a nurse, insurance company analyst and project management experience, and former Director of Nursing, it is her goal to support the outreach of Three Little Birds to the local medical community. Witnessing first hand personally and professionally, the lack of effective communication between doctors, nurses and patients during his delicate and tragic time, it is important to Jill that the medical community step up and take charge of giving infertile and loss families everything they need to have the best possible experience on the worst day of their lives.
Jill is also interested in Event Planning for the organization. She is working closely with Bobbi Daniels and the Events subcommittee to facilitate, network and gather resources to host events to connect families, medical professionals, volunteers and family members and friends in understanding the need for validation and support during these types of journeys faced by 1 in every 4 families.
Jill is a graduate of Bucks County Community College with more than three decades of experience in the medical field. She shares her life with her husband, Shawn and their 4 fur children, Gus Gus, Zena, Erial and Sammijo.
Dr. Brent Monseur, M.D., Director of Education email@example.com
Dr. Brent Monseur worked closely with Three Little Birds last summer during a particularly difficult month at Jefferson University Hospital. Their labor and delivery unit and NICU had experienced nearly 10 losses in the span of a week and was desperately trying to give each family the opportunity to bond and memorialize their baby. Unfortunately, there was a shortage of available volunteer photographers during that time. Dr. Monseur worked with Founder and Executive Director, Kristen Samuelson, to coordinate a “Plan B” to give these families photographs of their precious children through the retouching services of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. He was also able to provide each family with Three Little Birds resources and information regarding the support available to them as they begin their healing journeys.
As an OB-GYN Resident at Jefferson University Hospital, he witnesses perinatal loss on a regular basis. In addition to serving families who lose pregnancies through miscarriage, elective termination and stillbirth, Dr. Monseur is also a trained Reproductive Biologist from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health. During this time, he became vested in maternal mortality and access to abortion services. He served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of Medical Students for Choice -- an organizing dedicated to training tomorrow's pro-choice physicians and abortion providers. Most recently, he is completing a one-year term on the Board of Directors of Path2Parenthood, a national organization dedicated to providing clinicians and patients with innovative resources surrounding the often difficult path to parenthood when facing obstacles. Resources have been specifically tailored to marginalized populations like single men/women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, as well as military couples. Additionally, Dr. Monseur is pursuing a sub-specialization in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, a field that highly connected to the care and research of recurrent pregnancy loss. Dr. Monseur is particularly passionate about coordinating care to abortion services when facing legal and financial barriers.
As a OB-GYN, Dr. Monseur will oversee the development and implementation of the organization’s Perinatal Bereavement Care Workshop. Part of the organization’s mission is to educate the medical community of how to effectively communicate with loss families, encourage bonding and family time as well as setting the stage for healing as the family leaves the care of the medical team. His input, empathy and experience will be invaluable to the development of this program. Additionally, he is overseeing the informal research study of infertility on behalf of the organization for the development of support services for families struggling with growing their families.
In his free time, Dr. Monseur enjoys international travel, scuba diving and is a MINI Cooper driving enthusiast.
Glenda Barachko, ARDMS, Program Sponsor: Wondertime, LLC firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenda Baracko became a volunteer of Three Little Birds within moments of hearing about its mission, services and programs. Having both a personal and professional connection, she was sure she could make difference for so many families. She has 11 years of experience as a medical sonographer having dealt with miscarriage, and late term pregnancy loss, in both hospitals and outpatient settings. Additionally, she has a personal connection to infertility and the impacts on one’s life.
Glenda recently opened her own business, Wondertime, LLC, a 4D/3D Elective Ultrasound Imaging Studio in Pitman, NJ. Here, she gives clients the unique opportunity to bond with their baby through high resolution imagery in a comfortable, non-clinical setting, allowing families to share the experience with their loved ones. Families can purchase numerous keepsakes to memorialize this experience, including heartbeat capture bears, high resolution photos, unique picture frames and more.
When Glenda heard about the mission of Three Little Birds, she knew she had to help out, not only as a volunteer, but as a Program Sponsor. She was particularly moved by the organization’s Palliative Care Program for families who face an uncertain or life-limiting prenatal diagnosis. Seeing the importance in bonding with all babies in-utero, Wondertime LLC is offering complementary ultrasound sessions for our palliative care families, complete with printed images and heartbeat capture bears. Through this validation, Glenda is giving such an amazing gift to families facing the most unthinkable circumstances through helping them use their love and bonds in a positive way.
In addition to developing other Community and Program Sponsorship's for the organization, Glenda is particularly interested in the development and facilitation of Three Little Birds Hospital Sponsorship Packages. The organization has developed a comprehensive training program for staff, including support materials for families to help ease communications, expectations and care when facing the loss of a pregnancy or infant. These services are needed not only in our community but across the nation!
Glenda graduated from Gloucester County College in 2006, with an AAS in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and is certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), a non-profit organization that administers examinations and awards to qualified ultrasound professionals. When Glenda isn’t managing her new business, Wondertime, LLC, and volunteering for Three Little Birds, she is wife and mom to twins Thomas and Sarah.