Our Team

Jennifer Kaplan, PhD, LICSW, Fellow in Thanatology – Founder and CEO

Jenny was awarded the second annual Excellence in Service Award at the 2018 Symposium for the National Alliance for Grieving Children. She is the Founding Director of Jeff’s Place Children’s Bereavement Center, Inc., serving all of MetroWest, FRIENDS WAY in Rhode Island, and Founding Clinical Director Experience Camps, week long overnight camps for grieving boys and girls in California, Georgia, Maine and New York. Jennifer has worked extensively with bereaved children, teens and families in various settings over the past 25 years providing counseling, professional training and education, and crisis response. Jennifer’s publications include: You Are Not Alone: Young Adults Coping With Death, book chapters, and peer-revised journal articles. She is a graduate of Simmons College School of Social Work in Boston, where she has taught as an adjunct faculty member. Jennifer’s dissertation was testing the psychometric properties of the Inventory of Youth Adaptation to Loss (IYAL), an outcome instrument she developed through the support and collaboration of many children’s bereavement programs around the country and Canada.

Melissa Kennedy Panto, LMHC, ATR, CT – Clinical Director
Melissa received her master’s degree at Lesley University and is a licensed mental health counselor and registered art therapist. She coordinates and implements all programming activities at Jeff’s Place, including volunteer facilitator trainings and supervision of clinical internships. She has spent her professional career working with children, teens and adults, both individually and in groups, who have experienced trauma. She uses art as a healing tool for others to explore, express, and empower.

Aliya Kleiner, LMHC – Program Director 
Aliya earned her Master’s Degree in Expressive Therapies and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. She has worked with children, adolescents, and adults. Aliya incorporates art, music, play, and a lot of humor in her work. She brings with her a sense of warmth, compassion, and optimism.

Cameron Burke, MA – Program Coordinator

Cameron earned his Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University. Prior to Jeff’s Place he has worked with children, adults with developmental disabilities, and elders with various dementias. Cameron uses music, play, movement, poetry, and visual art to augment his work.



Sarah Robinson – Clinical Intern

Sarah is a first-year graduate student at Lesley University on track to earn her Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Art Therapy. She has experience working with individuals, ages 12-89, in a variety of settings, including a psychiatric hospital, a partial hospitalization program for adolescents, and an adult day center. As a lifelong lover of art, Sarah is passionate about facilitating healing in people’s lives through creativity, and independently explores a variety of mediums, including charcoal, sculpture, and fiber arts. Sarah is so excited to work with the participants at Jeff’s Place and to be part of our team.





To connect with any of our team directly, please contact us here.