David Sternburg – Executive Director
David was most recently the Director of Development and Special Projects for Commonwealth Care Alliance, a 17,000 member non-profit healthcare organization assisting vulnerable populations after he spent six years fundraising and advocating on behalf of people with disabilities as the Director of External Relations with the Boston Center for Independent Living. David was also the Executive Director of Handi Kids (now called The Bridge Center), a therapeutic recreational center for challenged children after spending years as an award-winning filmmaker. David can be reached at

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. She can be reached at

Aliya Kleiner, LMHC – Program Director 
Aliya earned her Master’s Degree in Expressive Therapies and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University in 2013. She has worked with children, adolescents, and adults over the past 8 years.  Aliya incorporates art, music, play, and a lot of humor in her work. She brings with her a sense of warmth, compassion, and optimism and is delighted to a part of the team! She can be reached at

Cameron Burke, MA – Program Coordinator/Clinician

Cameron earned his Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University in 2017. 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 and is thrilled to be part of  the Jeff’s Place family. He can be reached at

Jennifer Kaplan, PhD, LICSW, Fellow in Thanatology – Founding Director and Research Director

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, weeklong 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. She is proud to partner with Alex Cares for Grieving Youth and Jeff’s Place in a pilot project to test the reliability and validity of the revised IYAL. She can be reached at