Meet Our Staff | Mountainside and Newark, New Jersey

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

Mary Robinson
Executive Director

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.

Connie Palmer
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.”

Headshot of Kaitlin Casey wearing a red sweater
Kaitlin Casey
Development Manager

Kaitlin comes to Imagine from the field of higher education fundraising. She earned her B.A. in English from Binghamton University and her M.A., also in English, from The College of Saint Rose. Kaitlin understands the importance of Imagine’s work from personal experience, and she’s excited to rally the community together to ensure no child grieves alone.

Headshot of Nicole Hudson smiling at the camera
Nicole Hudson
Donor Engagement Specialist

Nicole is happy to join the Imagine team as their Individual Giving Specialist. She has 16 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including starting and running her own 501c3 for several years. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Rider University in 2004 and her Master’s of Public Administration with a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Villanova University in 2017. She received her CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) certification in 2015. She served on the board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals – New Jersey Chapter from 2016-2019. Nicole loves theatre, music, reading, cooking and spending time with her husband Stephen, their 1-year-old daughter, Evangeline and their 13-year-old retired therapy dog, Griffin.

Veronica C. Ortiz
Program Associate

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.

Valerie Stierhoff
Office Manager

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.

Adult woman smiling at the camera
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.

Richard Szeto
Business Strategy and Operations Specialist

Richard started and continues as a Volunteer Facilitator Imagine and now supports Imagine as a 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.

Jacelyn Matthews
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.

Headshot of Imagine staff member Jamie Saltamachia
Jamie Saltamachia
Newark Program Associate

Jamie Saltamachia, LSW joined the staff at Imagine Newark as the In-School Program Associate in 2019. Jamie received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Fordham University and her Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services. As a graduate student, Jamie studied community-based practice and leadership while researching and developing pilot mental health programs for schools in the Bronx. Jamie has experience in program development as well as several years of experience working with children and adolescents in her previous role as a school social worker in Newark, NJ. Jamie is passionate about utilizing trauma-informed care in her work with children and adolescents and supporting grieving children and families in Newark.

Imani Smallwood
Newark Program Associate

Imani Smallwood, MSW completed her 2nd year graduate internship at Imagine in 2020. She received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology, from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She continued her education at Montclair State University, graduating with a Masters in Social Work, and is currently pursuing her LSW. As a student, she has gained much experience, providing at-risk youth with community-based services to strengthen families. She has worked with children and families in different settings such as in schools, in communities and in group homes. She is driven to help families find ways to manage, cope with, and overcome the many losses in life and to see the power in one’s own story.