Our Team

Jennifer Kaplan, Founder, Director or Research & Training

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.

Elyse Hyman

Elyse Hyman – Executive Director

Elyse Hyman joined the Jeff’s Place team in October, 2021.  Elyse comes with over 30 years of non profit experience serving in numerous roles.  She was the Executive Director of a synagogue in Newton for a number of years, a major gifts officer at Jewish Big Brother Big Sister and most recently was the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire.  Elyse is the new Director of Development and will be helping Jeff’s Place continue to raise the funds needed as the agency continues to grow.

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.

Jenny Silverberg, MA – Clinician

Jenny holds a Master’s Degree from Lesley University in Expressive Arts Therapy with a specialization in Dance/Movement Therapy. With a history of working in a trauma based program, Jenny is experienced in individual and group therapy, trauma informed yoga, and integrating mindfulness into everyday life. She has used these modalities with children, teens, adults and elders. She believes that we already have everything we need inside of us to heal, and utilizes the wisdom of the body and nonverbal communication to empower from within.

Robby Auld, MA – Clinician

Robby received their MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University. They have worked with older adults at a Council on Aging and with children and adolescents in various environments. In their own creative practice Robby is a poet, dancer, and musician, and believes deeply in the potential for meaning-making and healing within all art forms, and within our imaginations. Robby is thrilled to join the team as a clinician after spending a year as a clinical intern.

Marie Calder, Accountant

Marie Calder joined Jeff’s Place in July 2021. She is a graduate of Bentley University and spent more than 25 years as a financial manager int the architecture and engineering profession. She left the corporate world to finish her career as the business manager of a synagogue in Newton and retired in 2019. In July 2021 she joined her friend and colleague Elyse Hyman and will be performing accounting and human resource function for Jeff’s Place.

Michele Dillon, Education Coordinator

Prior to Jeff’s Place, Michele worked for 20 years supporting special education students in the Natick and Framingham Public Schools. In addition to her classroom role, Michele held Professional Development workshops for teachers which focused on Children’s Grief. She volunteered as a grief group facilitator for 17 years. She has a BA from FSU, studied Thanatology at The National Center for Death Education, Mt Ida College.  Michele received her Grief Support Specialist Certificate from the Univ. of Wisconsin and is a Certified Grief Educator. Michele was honored by the Myra Kraft Charitable Foundation and awarded the Community Volunteer

MVP Award in 2015 for her volunteer work at Jeff’s Place.


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