Elise Lark, PhD, LCSW, Founder, Chair
Elise Lark is the Visionary Founder of Circle of Friends for the Dying (CFD). She received her PhD in Leadership and Change, with a concentration in healthcare, through Antioch University. In her dissertation, Making Space for Dying: Portraits of Living with Dying, she describes the lived experience of dying and the care culture in community-based end-of-life residences, introducing the Home for the Dying model to the literature. Earlier academic research led to the co-founding of CFD. Through her fieldwork, she has observed the benefits of community-centered care of the dying for patients, families, and lay caregivers. Elise is an Oncology Social Worker, at the HealthAlliance Hospital Oncology Support Program. She was involved in an initiative to develop palliative care services at the hospital and is a member of the palliative care team. Since 1988, she has been a licensed massage therapist, practicing traditional Oriental massage, and later developed SYNtegration Therapy, uniquely blending somatic and psychotherapeutic modalities with the expressive arts.
Laurie Schwartz, MA, Co-Founder
Laurie Schwartz, is a co-founder of Circle of Friends for the Dying. She is one of the early leaders of the Hospice movement in the United States. In 1979, she co-founded and directed what is now Hudson Valley Hospice and was recognized in 1995 by Hudson Valley Hospice and ARCS as a dynamic visionary and social activist. She has trained hundreds of people in the arena of dying, death, and bereavement through Hospice’s volunteer trainings and through Securelanding programs. Laurie co-founded Community Possibilities in 1984 (which assisted community leaders in forming their desire into vision and then into action) and the Woodstock Jewish Congregation in 1986. She has served on numerous Boards of Directors, held positions of administration, and worked as a trainer/facilitator. Laurie is presently a doctoral candidate in Thanatology.
William Gooch, MD, Vice Chair
William Gooch and his family discovered and embraced the Hudson Valley in 1988. Since then, while practicing neurology in Kingston, he has served on the Board of the Kingston Hospital, acted as the Medical Director of the Benedictine Acute Rehabilitation Unit and as the Stroke Program Director of both Benedictine and Kingston Hospitals. He continues to practice neurology and serves as a consultant to the Northeast Center for Special Care in Lake Katrine.
Karen Porcelli, Treasurer
Karen Porcelli is a native Kingstonian. Karen lived out west after studying Business Administration, Business Law and Accounting. Upon returning to the area after 15 years, Karen has been actively working for small businesses in and around Ulster County. She has over 20 years experience in the areas of bookkeeping and administration. In the past, Karen has served as Treasurer for her High School Reunion committee and Breath of Hope Foundation, NYC. Karen currently resides in Saugerties, with her husband.
Gai Galitzine, Secretary
Gai Galitzine has lived twelve years in Ulster County. Born in Dublin with degrees from Trinity College Dublin she came to the United States while at her first job, with the Financial Times of London. Most of her career has been spent as an executive search consultant, initially with a leading boutique firm and then as a partner in her own firm. Since 2002 Gai has taught management courses at the undergraduate and graduate level at Long Island University, and, since moving to Ulster County, at The Culinary Institute of America and Excelsior College. In the past she has been an active Toastmaster and currently is a member of the Initiating Group of Kingston Transition. She is excited to be part of a community based venture that addresses the need for compassionate care for the dying by using the resources of the community itself. Being a strong believer that communities can achieve what individuals and institutions cannot, she believes communities can solve tomorrow’s problems – and care of the ballooning elder population is certainly a problem we need to start solving today.
Rev. Lynda Elaine Carré
Lynda is an Interfaith Palliative Care and Hospice Chaplain, dedicated to serving the aging, ill, and dying with compassionate, experienced care for spiritual well-being and symptom management, end-of-life education, advanced care planning, patient/family advocacy, goals of care discussions, transition coaching, and meaningful rituals. For individuals, families, and their circle of carers, her spiritual care work incorporates interfaith spiritual psychology and integrative healing arts therapies. Ordained by The ChI Community of The Chaplaincy Institute for the Arts and Interfaith Seminary, Berkeley, California, Lynda completed her Clinical Pastoral Education residency as Palliative Care Chaplain at UCLA Hospital, Los Angeles before moving permanently to Woodstock in 2015 and establishing Wellspring Passages. She is a certified thanadoula (death midwife) and family-directed home funeral guide through Sacred Crossings and the Being with Dying training at Upaya Zen Center. Her professional lifetime includes decades as a national-level expert in communications and creative services related to multi-cultural healthcare and spirituality.
Hayes is a real-estate broker long active in Ulster County community activities. He is a former Alderman on the Kingston Common Council, and has served on the boards of Bardavon/UPAC, the Ulster County Democratic Executive Committee, the Kingston Local Development Corporation, and the Friends of Historic Kingston, among others. A native of North Carolina, he graduated from Duke University, earned an MBA at the University of Virginia and worked in the publishing and television industries in New York City before moving to Kingston 10 years ago.
Stephen is retired from multiple careers and now lives in Willow with his wife, Susan. They both have been active members of the Zen Mountain Monastery community for more than 20 years. Stephen has worked in construction, run a cabinet shop in Los Angeles, and he has spent 16 years as a school business manager, where-in he was responsible for multiple construction projects, financial reporting, employee benefits, risk management, endowment, kitchen and maintenance and served for 8 years on the NYSAIS Business Affairs Council. He has served on a number of non-profit boards and is very pleased to be able to contribute to the efforts to provide quality end-of-life care.
Honorary Board Member:
Barbara Sarah, LCSW, Co-Founder and Honorary Board Member
Barbara Sarah, a co-founder of Circle of Friends for the Dying, is the founder of the Oncology Support Program at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston New York. Following a breast cancer diagnosis in 1992, she left a 20-year career as a school social worker on Long Island and chose to dedicate herself to work in oncology. She is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NY State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and the NY State Governor’s Award for Innovation in Breast Cancer Education. Her work in the Hudson Valley has taught her the importance of creating a Home for the Dying. For 25 years she has been an instructor of Morita and Naikan therapies, Buddhist-based strategies for mental wellness. She is now a resident of Westchester County, organizing conversations in the community about the end of life including Death Cafes. She will continue to participate in CFD meetings and events and work on projects supporting their mission.