Former FBI Thanatologist Teaching at Hood

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Kathleen D Hall Photo (2)

Kathleen D. Hall has utilized her M.A. in Thanatology from Hood College to assist victims of complex, high-profile crimes, disasters and tragedies across the country and to educate special agents and law enforcement about victim assistance. Now retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where she was hired as the Bureau’s first Thanatologist, she is supporting Hood College as a member of the new Thanatology Advisory Council in addition to her role as an adjunct professor in the Psychology/Thanatology program.

In 2004, Kathleen served as a disaster cadre member for FEMA, assisting victims devastated by four hurricanes in Florida. She then joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation, serving as Victim Assistance Program Specialist, Unit Chief and Deputy Program Director for the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance in Washington, DC.

Representing the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Department of State, Kathleen traveled internationally to speak about victim assistance and assist local law enforcement with start-up victim assistance efforts.  In 2011, as the Bureau’s first Line of Duty Death Liaison, Kathleen developed and implemented the FBI Line of Duty Death protocol, for which she received the FBI Knowledge Award for innovation and excellence.

Kathleen received the FBI Director’s Award Distinguished Service to Victims of Federal Crime, the Bureau’s highest award, for her exemplary assistance to victims, families and survivors of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown, CT, and the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Service Award for her coordination of services to the Boston Marathon Bombing victims.  In 2014, Kathleen was asked to lead and develop an FBI National Law Enforcement Victim Assistance Training and Certification Program to promote the need for Victim Specialists within local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies throughout the country.

Kathleen retired from the FBI in 2015, but she continues to serve in a number of capacities within law enforcement, hospital and educational environments to communicate the need to expand victim assistance and death education.

Thanatology Program Announces Advisory Board

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The Hood College Graduate School recently welcomed the first Advisory Board for the Thanatology program. The group’s mission is to provide advice, guidance and recommendations regarding program and goal development, marketing and program implementation to ensure the program’s future success.

The new Board includes experts in the fields of thanatology, hospice care, gerontology and funeral administration:

  • RaeAnn Butler, Administrator, Edenton Retirement Community
  • Laurel A. Cucchi, Executive Director, Hospice of Frederick County
  • Gary Fink, Vice President of Spiritual Care and Volunteer Services, Montgomery Hospice
  • Kathleen D. Hall, Program Specialist, FBI Victim’s Assistance Program
  • Jarred Harrington, Vice President of Operations, Alden-Harrington Funeral Home and Thanatology student
  • Jacqui Kreh, Maryland Licensed Funeral Director/Mortician and Certified Funeral Celebrant, Stauffer Funeral Homes
  • Suzanne Morris, Chaplain, Homewood Retirement Center of Frederick
  • Rebecca S. Morse, adjunct professor at George Mason University, University of Maryland at Shady Grove, Marian University and Hood College
  • Donna Mowry, Pastoral Counseling Program Candidate at Loyola University
  • Carolyn True, Director, Frederick County Department of Aging

The Board also includes program alumni and students and, as ex officio members, Thanatology program faculty representatives, the Dean of the Graduate School and the Provost.

At its inaugural August 6, 2015, meeting, Advisory Board members were asked to submit responses by September 1 to three questions: (1)   Given the larger program developments at Hood College and elsewhere, who should be Hood’s audience for the Thanatology degree today?; ( 2)  Do the program’s learning outcomes address the needs of today’s audience?; and ( 3)  How can Hood better market its Thanatology program?  The program director, Dr. Elizabeth MacDougall, will in turn present the feedback to the Dean of the Graduate School for consideration.  

Harris Receives Outstanding Thanatology Grad Student Award

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Chad Harris with Dr. Elizabeth MacDougall, Hood Grad School alum and adjunct instructor Jacqueline Kreh, who established the Thanatology Student Award, and Dr. Ron Volpe, Hood president. .

Chad Harris (in blue) with Dr. Elizabeth MacDougall, Hood Grad School alum and adjunct instructor Jacqueline Kreh, who established the Thanatology Student Award, and Dr. Ron Volpe, Hood president.

Chad Harris is the 2015 recipient of the Dr. Dana G. Cable Outstanding Thanatology Student Award. While at Hood, Chad showcased the power of communication and education to build and strengthen bonds with the revival of the Thanatology program’s student newsletter. As a blog contributor, he uses his writing talent to help combat the stigma that death — one of the few universal human experiences — is a topic which should never be discussed.

Chad’s current research is focused heavily on the responsible use of communication  in moments of public tragedy. He hopes to help educate media organizations and public-safety forces on how to interact with the grieving during tragedies to ensure that they are not harmed by the harsh spotlight of the 24-hour news cycle and endless social-media scrutiny.

Working with fellow Hood Thanatology students, Chad helped to organize and run Frederick’s first Death Cafe, a gathering at which people came together and shared their thoughts on a variety of issues surrounding death and dying. He is eager to participate in a second Death Cafe that will take place in Frederick later in 2015.


Osmer Honored with Thanatology Award

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Samantha Osner with Thanatology program director Elizabeth MacDougall and Hood president Ron Volpe

Samantha Osmer with Thanatology program director Elizabeth MacDougall and Hood president Ron Volpe

Samantha Osmer came to study Thanatology at Hood curious about grief — particularly from pet loss — wanting to understand why it can be so painful and so difficult to find guidance for navigating the grief one feels when a pet dies.

At graduation in May 2015, she received the Donna Mowry ’98, M.A. ’07 Thanatology Award for 2015. This monetary award is given annually to a female Thanatology graduate student who makes a significant contribution to the field,  through research, practice, volunteerism, or the like.

At the same time she was studying at Hood, Samantha completed the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement’s counseling course. She also volunteered in the emergency department at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School’s small animal hospital . There, she saw first hand the difficulty pet owners have grappling with both the emotional and financial burdens that come with a pet’s health crisis.

As Samantha progressed through her courses she learned that the emotional processes experienced in pet loss are remarkably similar to those that result from the death of a close human friend or family member. A pivotal assignment for Samantha was her final paper for the Professional Orientation in Thanatology course for which she researched and wrote about the emergence of veterinary hospice, an option not yet widely available but one that can provide both animals and their people with the supports they need. Paper submitted, Samantha then headed for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where she took part in a course to provide coping strategies for those who work in animal rescue.

Samantha is now working with her local Bucks County, Pennsylvania, emergency veterinary hospital to provide crisis support and grief counseling on a volunteer basis. She is also an active member of Death Cafe in Philadelphia that she plans soon to branch out.

Alums Forge Careers in Thanatology Field

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Lynne Tobin

Lynne Tobin

Andrea Warnick

Thanatology students Lynne Tobin and Andrea Warnick left Hood with a commitment to making a difference in how people think, feel and communicate about death and dying.

Today, Lynne is a private-practice  licensed professional counselor based in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. She works with individuals and families during “end-of-life” journeys, facilitates group discussions and advocates for patient-directed care in the state legislature.

Andrea, who holds a master’s in Thanatology and is also an R.N., specializes is helping children who are experiencing the illness or death of a loved one. Based in Toronto, Canada, she counsels in person as well as via webinars, phone and Skype and is also a sought-after speaker.

Learn more about these alums.

March 23: Grief Session for Hood Students

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Grief candlesHood College undergraduate and graduate students who are coping with the death of a loved one have an opportunity to receive support from graduate students in the Thanatology program. They will provide a guided grief support session on Monday, March 23, 8 until 9:30 p.m. in the Thanatology Library (Rosenstock 1).

The free session is sponsored by the Hood College Department of Psychology and the Office of the Dean of the Chapel. For more information, please email Beverly at

Author of “Motherless Daughters” to Speak at Hood March 2

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Hope EdelmanHope Edelman, the acclaimed author of Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, will be the guest lecturer for this year’s Dana G. Cable Memorial Thanatology Lecture Series at Hood College.  Ms. Edelman’s topic is “Motherless Daughters: Twenty Years Later.”

The lecture will be held Monday, March 2, 7 pm, in Hodson Auditorium at Rosenstock Hall on Hood’s campus. A Q&A session will follow Ms. Edelman’s remarks. Admission is free.

A sought-after speaker, Hope Edelman presents around the world and has appeared on television programs such as TodayGood Morning America, CNN and Good Morning Australia. She has written six books and has been published in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles TimesThe Huffington Post, Glamour, Child, and Real Simple, among other publications

The lecture series is named in honor of Dana Cable, former professor of psychology at Hood who passed away in 2010.

Reception for All New Students: August 20

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All students who are new to the Hood Graduate School for the Fall 2014 semester are invited to an orientation on Wednesday, August 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The informal welcome reception, to be held at Whitaker Campus Center, will provide an opportunity to meet faculty, staff and fellow students.

The agenda includes a campus tour, introduction to the bookstore and Apple computer lab, a welcome from Graduate School Dean Dr. Maria Green Cowles, and dinner with the program directors. Get the complete agenda and then RSVP here 

Death Cafe’ Enlightens Thanatology Student

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Nikki MoberlyNikki Moberly is an executive with Cisco, a hospice volunteer and bereavement team member. In her spare time she serves on the board of contributors for the Frederick News-Post and is a Thanatology student at Hood’s Graduate School.

In a recent FNP column, Nikki described her experience as a participant in the Death Cafe’ led by fellow Thanatology students Kriste Kidd and Bunny O’Dell (see this post).  As Nikki explains, “In my column, I like to focus on life — and death is certainly a part of life. To me, it’s really about learning to find joy in unexpected places, to find hope when apparently there is none.” Find out more about Nikki’s Death Cafe takeaways and observations here.

Thanatology Students and Adjunct Hold Death Cafe

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Kriste Kidd

Kriste Kidd
Photo by Graham Cullen
Frederick News-Post

Kriste Kidd, a hospice worker and student in the thanatology master’s program at Hood College, worked with her colleagues to bring Frederick its first Death Cafe on June 7. The informal discussion group covered everything from last wills and estate planning to healthy ways to deal with grief.

Kriste stated that the Death Cafe concept started in England and has now arrived in the United States. “Death is the most important conversation that America’s not having.”

Two other thanatology students, Bunny O’Dell and Chad Harris, as well as adjunct professor Cheryl Parrott joined Kriste in planning and facilitating the informational event. Read more here