Meet Our Staff | Mountainside and Newark, New Jersey

“Imagine is a wonderful, safe place making this a better world for those coping with loss.”

Our Staff

Lindsay Schambach-Headshot
Lindsay Cullinan Schambach
Executive Director

Lindsay Cullinan Schambach is the Executive Director of Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss.  She is formerly of KIPP NJ and Miami where she served her community as the Founder of KIPP THRIVE Academy, the School Leader of KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy and the Director of Leadership Development, training principals to create loving communities for educational equity. 

She began her career teaching in Newark, NJ, serving at Martin Luther King Jr. School and Newton Street School.  She served in various leadership capacities with Teach for America.  Lindsay is a graduate of Loyola University in Maryland receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minoring in Sociology.  While at Loyola, Lindsay’s love for the University’s motto, Men and Women for Others, only grew.  She went on to receive her Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in Educational Leadership from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in Newark.

Lindsay’s personal experience with loss began as a teen and young adult, losing many close family members including her father, Joseph Patrick Cullinan, II. Lindsay’s loss of her husband, Michael Paul Schambach at the age of 38, drives her commitment to ensuring that all over, children find loving listeners who can remind them that they are not alone.  Together, as a community, we can find resiliency and strength, and honor the lives of those who have gone before us. 

Lindsay currently resides in her hometown of Bridgewater, NJ, with her son, Cameron and daughter, Chloe.  She can be found spending quality time with her loved ones and soaking up all life has to offer.  She is honored and humbled to serve as an advocate for children and families coping with loss and grief. 

Mary Robinson
Founder and Executive Director Emeritus

Mary Robinson, MA, CT, is the Founder and former 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 Chair of the Board 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.

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Connie Palmer
Grief Educator

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.”

Kelsey Fama
Program Associate

Kelsey happily joins Imagine as a Program Associate. Kelsey is a Licensed Social Worker who obtained her MSW from Fordham University, and her bachelors in Psychology and Gender & Sexuality Studies from The College of New Jersey. Kelsey has prior experience working with grieving families, as well as experience with the LGBTQ+ community, and youth in foster care. She is passionate about supporting youth and families, social justice, and destigmatizing mental healthcare. Kelsey enjoys baking, hiking, and crafting in her free time.

Daris Mendez
Program Associate

Daris joins Imagine as a Program Associate. Daris received her Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Communications-Journalism from Kean University and her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in children and adolescents from Montclair State University. Daris has experience in youth development and providing socio-emotional support to underserved youth in the school setting. Daris is very passionate about supporting children and youth in highlighting their strengths. In her free time, Daris enjoys exploring new places, picnics, and relaxing at home.

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Veronica C. Ortiz
Training and Education Director

Veronica C. Ortiz (she/her/ella) received her BA in Psychology from Rutgers University and her MA in Professional Counseling from Seton Hall University. She is a certified School Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor. Veronica has over 10+ year of bilingual (English/Spanish) experience working with children, adolescents, and families in schools and community settings. She began her time at Imagine as a volunteer facilitator prior to her employment as Program Associate then moving to a Program Manager role. Her most recent role at Imagine is Training and Education Director. She is passionate about helping to empower communities by providing education and support.

Abigail Priece Headshot
Abigail Priece
Interim Mountainside Program Manager

Abigail Priece, MS, LAC started at Imagine as a volunteer facilitator in 2014 and joined Imagine’s staff as a Program Associate in January 2018.

Abigail earned a Bachelors in Human Services and a Master’s 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 a special interest in working with children who have experienced trauma, facilitating groups, and engaging families. She lives in Scotch Plains with her husband and sons.

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Valerie Stierhoff
Special Projects Manager

Valerie Stierhoff has her Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science from Drew University and her certification in early childhood and elementary education. She began as a  facilitator and office volunteer at Imagine in 2014, and joined the staff as Office Manager in 2017. She is currently Imagine’s Manager of Special Projects. 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 enjoys spending time with her family, reading and traveling.

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Kathleen Sullivan
Development Associate

Kathleen Sullivan joins Imagine as a Development Associate. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston College and is a current MSW student at Rutgers University focused on Clinical Social Work with an emphasis on Children, Youth and Families. Prior to working at Imagine, she worked as a Marketing Coordinator at Graham-Pelton Consulting, focused on social media, managing marketing campaign data, and coordinating logistics for marketing initiatives. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, being on the beach, and spending time with friends and family.

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Richard Szeto
Business Strategy and Operations Specialist

Rich started as a volunteer facilitator at Imagine and later served as Interim Executive Director. He now serves as Imagine’s Business Strategy and Operations Specialist.

Rich had worked in the financial industry for 24 years before taking his expertise to the healthcare, non-profit and educational fields. He earned his B.A. in Biology and Economics; B.S in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis.

Other volunteer activities included being on the board of trustees for HomeFirst in Plainfield and the Fanwood Memorial Library. A former masters track and field competitor, Rich can now be found on a bike or hiking around the country.

Angela Marie Tayco
Communications and Development Manager

Angela joined the Imagine team in 2021 as the Development and Communications Manager. With fundraising and communications experience since 2011, Angela has worked with organizations in New Jersey but started her nonprofit career in Tokyo, Japan. She’s traveled all over Asia, Africa and North America creating marketing and fundraising strategies to drive awareness to organizations and their missions. She has her B.S. in Communication Studies from Emerson College and A.A. in Communication Studies from Raritan Valley Community College.

An expert on local digital and traditional marketing, Angela also opened a small business with her husband, Nicholas, in Raritan Borough during the Covid-19 Pandemic. She resides in Hillsborough and enjoys spending time with her cat, Merlin, and dog, Billy, biking through Duke Farms and learning new languages to connect with all kinds of people around the world.

Angela Vivar
Newark Senior Program Associate
Angela joins the Imagine team as Newark’s Senior Program Associate. Angela graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in Rehabilitation and Human Services and minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Angela completed her MSW at Rutgers University with a concentration in Violence Against Women and Children. Angela has served the greater Newark community over the last 6 years focusing on the HIV/AIDs and homeless population. She is passionate about incorporating trauma informed care practice in her everyday work.
In her free time, she enjoys taking long walks and venturing out to new surroundings with her family.