2017 Speakers, Workshops & Panel Discussions

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort
With Dr. Ron Wolfson
The Jewish tradition is widely recognized as a psychologically sound system of mourning customs. Yet, perhaps even more important are the Jewish insights into how we – the family members and caregivers – are to comfort those who are dying and those survivors who are mourning. We will explore these insights with true stories, both poignant and humorous, from those who have traveled this journey.

Loving Support and Choices for Pets During Transition
With Dr. Betty J. Carmack, Dr. Cori Bussolari and Sandy Irber
Most people look to the San Francisco SPCA for adoptions, training or veterinary care for their pets. The SF SPCA provides support for all stages of a pet's life, including illness, death and bereavement. The panel will discuss animal-related end-of-life issues such as how to prepare for and cope with the death of a beloved pet; how animals improve the quality of life for the sick and dying; how they can help survivors grieve and heal; how to memorialize your pets; how to provide for your pets and ensure they are well cared for should they outlive you; and how you can access support and services that can help you deal with the difficult decisions and emotions one faces upon the loss of a pet.

Window into Mindful Caregiving
With Cassandra Palmer
Interested in engaging in deeper conversation about death and dying? Need support in your role as a caregiver? Looking to expand your mindfulness practice? This workshop serves as an introduction to our unique approach to compassionate end-of-life care, a glimpse of our educational offerings, and an opportunity for self-discovery through a sample module exercise. Learning to improve our own caregiving abilities is an opportunity to better ourselves as human beings. 

Being with Death: Birth of the Soul
With Rabbi Mel Gottlieb
This session will explore our journey toward wholeness as we encounter death and dying. It will delve into the inevitable anxieties and include our capacities toward resilience, acceptance and integrity in the face of our mortality. We will examine how the attenuation of traditional religion has impacted our psyches and coping capacities and what modern culture has substituted as an antidote. We will articulate what the psycho-spiritual masters contribute and what the Jewish tradition brings to this last stage of life and its view of the afterlife.

Advance Care Planning Seminar & PREPARE Workshop
With Rebecca Sudore, MD
This seminar will help you learn how to prepare for important medical decisions – before you are faced with a healthcare crisis. In this interactive session, you will learn how to make informed decisions about your end-of-life care and have important conversations with loved ones about your medical wishes.

Life after the Diagnosis: Expert Advice for Living Well with Serious Illness for Patients and Caregivers
With Dr. Steven Z. Pantilat
How to conduct discussion about mortality can be the greatest challenge in a healthcare provider's career.  Dr. Steven Z. Pantilat's new book, Life after the Diagnosis: Expert Advice for Living Well with Serious Illness for Patients and Caregivers is a guide for professionals, families and patients when faced with poor prognosis and the need to talk about chronic and end-of-life issues. After 27 years of practice in palliative care, Dr. Pantilat has gained valuable knowledge and unique insights and how to best address these concerns. His work is dedicated to creating opportunities to bring up issues earlier to allow patients to make wiser choices, achieve better palliation and create possibilities to work on life closure. Life After The Diagnosis offers clinicians, therapists, social workers, theologians, chaplains and healing artists expert advice on embracing palliative care and talking to patients and family members about it effectively.

Getting your Ducks in a Row Before You Go
With Deborah L. Fox, Esq.
We will discuss the essential estate and incapacity planning documents that every person needs regardless of financial status.  We will also discuss common mistakes and pitfalls faced by those with existing estate planning documents and how to spot and fix these mistakes before it's too late.

Preparing Financially for the End of Life
With Chris Remedios, CFP
Most of us don't know when or how our life will end. We're not quite sure how much money we will need to get the support we need as we make the journey. Financial planning helps you to build financial flexibility. Join us for a discussion on some of the financial issues related to the end-of-life.


Dr. Cori Bussolari

Dr. Cori Bussolari is an Associate Professor in the Counseling Psychology Department at the University of San Francisco.  Her current research interest is pet loss, with specific emphases on post-traumatic growth, continuing bonds expressions, and euthanasia. Dr. Bussolari facilitates the Pet Loss Support Group, held monthly at the SF SPCA. Dr. Bussolari is a licensed psychologist and credentialed school psychologist. She has over 25 years of experience working in clinical, hospital and school related settings.  She currently has a private practice where she specializes in working with individuals and families dealing with the heartbreak of grief and loss, trauma, coping with a chronic/terminal illness, or navigating through a particularly challenging life transition.

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Dr. Betty J. Carmack

Dr. Betty J. Carmack, Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing, has worked in pet loss since 1982. She initiated and led the support groups at the San Francisco SPCA for 33 years. In addition to working with individuals grieving the death of their companion animals, she's worked with staffs of humane societies, veterinary hospitals and animal care organizations about specific grief and stress issues related to their work with and care of animals. She is the author of the book Grieving the Death of a Pet.

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Deb Fox

Deb L. Fox is a local probate attorney specializing in estate planning (including companion animal trusts), estate and trust administration and conservatorships.  She worked as a geriatric case manager for several years before becoming a lawyer specializing in elder issues. Deb graduated magna cum laude from the University of San Francisco Law School and is certified by the California State Bar as a specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law.

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Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, PhD

Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, PhD is the President of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, former Hillel Director at MIT and Princeton, and Co-Founder of Claremont Lincoln University. He has taught Myth, Literature and Religious Studies, as well as Jung, Freud and Kabbala at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has been on the faculty of Columbia University, Yeshiva University and USC School of Social Work. Rabbi Gottlieb has widely published in national journals and books and is a frequent engaging and dynamic lecturer at the Jung Institute of Los Angeles. His current research is on living authentically and dying with integrity.

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Sandy Irber

Sandy Irber is the Legacy Giving Manager at the San Francisco SPCA. She manages the Sido program, ensuring that enrolled cats and dogs will be lovingly cared for if they outlive their guardian while the SF SPCA works to find the pets their next loving home. She has worked for a variety of nonprofits including Skyline Community College in San Bruno, the San Francisco Maritime Museum and Planned Parenthood. She has a BA in English from SF State and a Director of Development Certificate from USF's College of Professional Studies.

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Cassandra Palmer

Cassandra Palmer has served as a volunteer caregiver at the Zen Hospice Project Guest House for five years and is committed to providing mindful support to families and residents experiencing the end-of-life process. Cassandra is an active facilitator in the Mindful Caregiver Education and Open Death Conversation programs and is passionate about providing opportunities for people from all walks of life to explore their relationship with death and compassionate care. Cassandra is also trained in being an End-of-Life Doula and has an academic background in Holistic Psychology and Counseling.

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Steven Z. Pantilat, MD

The bookseller for this event is
Books Inc. Laurel Village

Steven Z. Pantilat, MD is a Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; the Alan M. Kates and John M. Burnard Endowed Chair in Palliative Care; and the founding Director of the UCSF Palliative Care Program. He is also the Director of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center that trains teams from hospitals across the country on how to establish Palliative Care Services. He is Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Internal Medicine from the University of California School of Medicine. His expertise has been nationally and internationally recognized as a thought-leader in palliative medicine. Dr. Pantilat's extensive publications and research focuses on improving care for seriously ill patients in hospitals through communication and palliative care. In his book, he writes, “When we or our loved ones become seriously ill, many of us don't know where to turn, the questions to ask, or the actions to take. Helping seriously ill people and their families is my passion; it is my mission, my life's work. Although the book I have written pertains mostly closely to those who are seriously ill and their families, it is also about life and living.”

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Chris Remedios

Chris Remedios is a Certified Financial Planner ® Professional in San Francisco. She is ProBono Director for the SF Financial Planning Association and is passionate about offering financial planning to all. Chris is married to the Medical Director of Kaiser SF's Supportive Care Services. They spend many dinner conversations discussing how to prepare and respond to the financial and medical needs in the late stages of life.

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Dr. Rebecca Sudore

Dr. Rebecca Sudore is a Professor of Medicine at UCSF, a clinician-researcher, a geriatrician, and a Hospice and Palliative Care physician. She is also a Staff Physician at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Dr. Sudore's research focuses on the intersection of health literacy, geriatrics, advance care planning, and informed medical decision-making. Her current research program is focused on designing and testing interactive, web-based interventions to prepare patients and their surrogate decision makers to make complex medical decisions over the course of serious and chronic illness.

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Dr. Ron Wolfson

Dr. Ron Wolfson is the Fingerhut Professor of Education in the Graduate Center for Jewish Education at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Dr. Wolfson is a popular scholar-in-residence for synagogues and communities, traveling the world speaking on a wide range of topics in Jewish life, a co-founder of Synagogue 3000, and a pioneer in the field of Jewish family education. He is the author of A Time to Mourn, a Time to Comfort; Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community; The Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community; and his newest book – The Best Boy in the United States of America: A Memoir of Blessings and Kisses. He is also President of the Kripke Institute for Jewish Family Literacy which supports Jewish family life and Jewish education.

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