What We're Trying to Do
To transform life after loss from an isolating experience into one marked by community support, candid conversation, and forward movement.
Who We Are
We're a community of men and women who have each experienced significant loss--a parent, a sibling, a partner--and come together over potluck dinner parties to talk about loss and whatever else is afoot in our lives, exploring the way loss continues to affect our present relationships, work, and aspirations. Our tables are full of 20- and 30-somethings, looking for others who get it and don’t wish to avoid the topic. Beyond a shared experience, we’re looking for people who share our hunger to make the most of the lives ahead of us.
We currently have Dinner Party circles in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Baltimore, New York City, and Chapel Hill, and are looking for more hosts in each of those cities and beyond. Interested in getting involved? Want to find out what it takes to start a circle of your own? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our team includes a social innovation designer, therapist, yoga instructor, educator, graphic designer, nutritionist, coach, and more than 40 hosts across the country—among them chefs, artists, lawyers, academics, students, writers, creators, and more.
The Dinner Party HQ
Carla Fernandez / Co-Founder / Los Angeles
The family dinner table is sacred ground in the Fernandez family - so when her dad passed away of brain cancer, coming back to the table was a natural way for Carla to connect with others and unpack the experience of life after loss. When not cooking up a mean Vegetarian Paella or messing around with Joss Paper, Carla is the Director of Brand and Culture of Enso, a creative agency that unites business success with positive social impact.
Lennon Flowers / Co-Founder / Los Angeles
Lennon lost her mom during her senior year of college, following a four-year fight with lung cancer. It had been more than three years since her passing, when she hitched up her wagon and headed West to Los Angeles. Suddenly 3,000 miles away from home and the friends she’d known for years, she found she no longer had anyone with whom she could talk about her mom, and explore the way in which her life, death, and absence continued to affect her. So when Carla, a friend, colleague, and soon-to-be roommate, invited her over for dinner, it was a no brainer. Lennon most recently served as Community Director for Ashoka’s Start Empathy. She has written for YES! Magazine, Forbes, Elephant Journal, Open Democracy, EdWeek, and GOOD.
Dara Kosberg / Chief Community Builder / Bay Area
Dara was in college when her mom died of breast cancer. Among the many things that got her through was a group of people within her friend circle who had gone through similar experiences, and were comfortable talking about grief and loss. Today, she's working to create that same feeling of community and shared understanding for others. What's more, she's found that – more than a decade later – there is much that she has yet to acknowledge about her mom's absence and the role it continues to play in her life. She's grateful to be able to carve out space for those conversations, and is helping TDP grow its partnership network. Dara currently leads teacher recruitment and coaching for Curious, an education technology start-up in Silicon Valley. She previously developed experiential learning programs and conferences at Net Impact.
Molly Barker / Founder / Running Mates
Molly is the founder of Running Mates USA, and previously founded and led Girls on the Run. A four-time Hawaii Ironman triathlete, she used her background in social work, counseling, and teaching, along with research on adolescent issues, to develop Girls on the Run. Since its launch in 1996, Girls on the Run has grown to include councils in more than 200 cities across North America serving more than 150,000 girls and women each year.
Sebastian Buck / Co-founder and Strategic Lead / Enso
Sebastian Buck is Strategic Lead of Enso and oversees strategic development across all clients. Recently, he co-founded and was Strategic Lead of GOOD/Corps, where he led work with Pepsi on the Pepsi Refresh Project, with Starbucks on Create Jobs for USA and Vote.Give.Grow and with Google, GE, MasterCard and the Gates Foundation. His focus is on building initiatives that achieve social impact through strategy, communications and community building. His background is in strategy consulting and development for major companies and new initiatives. Previous work includes the strategy and development for GOOD's media and community business, the launch of Disney Mobile in Japan and multiple European countries, establishing British Telecom's video on demand service in the UK (BT Vision), and strategy development for Helio, a new-entrant US wireless operator. He holds a law degree from the University of Warwick, UK, and studied corporate finance at London Business School.
Donna Callejon / Chief Business Officer / GlobalGiving
Donna is responsible for development of corporate and other strategic partnerships for GlobalGiving. She joined GlobalGiving in 2003, and has worn quite a few hats, including Chief Operating Officer. Now she gets to spend her days doing what she loves - working with companies to help them contribute positively to communities around the world. Donna also serves on the Boards of GlobalGiving UK, Women's Funding Network, and Water for People. She previously was on the Boards of the Washington Area Women's Foundation (three years as Chair) and Business for Social Responsibility. In a prior life, Donna was a senior executive of Fannie Mae having, over a dozen years,led business units as varied as strategic planning, international consulting, marketing, product development, and customer technology. She holds a B.S. in Managerial Economics from UC Davis, but is most proud of her high school basketball team's CCS championship in 1980.
Tim Carpenter / Founder & Executive Director / EngAGE
Tim is the founder of EngAGE and host/producer of the EXPERIENCE TALKS radio show. EngAGE is a nonprofit that changes aging and the way people think about aging by transforming senior apartment communities into vibrant centers of learning, wellness and creativity. EngAGE provides life-enhancing arts, wellness, lifelong learning, community building and intergenerational programs and events to thousands of seniors living in Southern California. Experience Talks is a radio magazine that shines a light on the value of experience in society, airing for 250,000 listeners on Saturdays at 8 a.m. Pacific on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara and streaming live worldwide on the web at www.kpfk.org. The show is syndicated by the Pacifica Network to up to 100 cities nationwide. Tim catalyzed the creation of the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a first-of-its-kind senior apartment community with high-end arts amenities and programs. Tim serves on the board of the National Center for Creative Aging. In 2008, Tim was elected an Ashoka Fellow for being one of the top social entrepreneurs in the world, and in 2011 he received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.
Brenda Kiefer / Brand Communications & Marketing Consultant
Brenda helps some of the world’s most loved brands create world-changing initiatives and share their successes through creative communications. Working at Cone Communications, the agency that pioneered cause branding, she advised companies like Starbucks, Harley Davidson, Jockey, L’Oreal and Nestle Waters on their corporate responsibility and strategic philanthropic efforts. Wearing her nonprofit hat, Brenda oversaw Marketing & Communications for Net Impact, where she led the organization through a major brand transformation that has brought new clarity, vitality, and engagement to the brand. She was also a member of the team that created the strategy for the award-winning American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign.
Delphyne J. Platner / Ph.D., MFT, CHT
As a Doctor of Women's Spirituality and a psychotherapist, Delphyne Platner believes we all possess an innate ability to heal ourselves. She aspires to help clients awaken to their inherent wisdom, empowering them with tools to facilitate their own healing. Dr. Platner’s vision of healing is very much in alignment with the spirit in which The Dinner Party was born. She has witnessed The Dinner Party since its inception. Once it was decided to grow The Dinner Party beyond the original table, Delphyne, deeply inspired by this plan, offered to serve as a mental health consultant, supporting the founders in the ongoing cultivation of their project. As a psychotherapist who has practiced in San Francisco and New York, she cannot emphasize the extent to which we need The Dinner Party in the world. It is entirely unique in the field. In more than fifteen years of doing this work, Delphyne has yet to encounter groups where she feels comfortable sending clients who are grieving. Until now.
Kirk Souder / Co-founder and Creative Lead / Enso
Kirk Souder is the Creative Lead of Enso. Enso helps brands, businesses and organizations align business strategy with social impact to help them achieve new levels of business success and audience participation. Previously Kirk was Creative Lead & ECD of GOOD/Corps, whose clients include the Pepsi Refresh Project, Starbucks, Google, GE, Shell, Cisco, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Carnegie Foundation. Prior to GOOD/Corps, Kirk was working as ECD with Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai on Nike, Converse, and Proctor & Gamble projects, and was Partner ECD of GMMB in Washington DC, the world’s foremost cause and advocacy communications firm. While there, Kirk oversaw all creative product of the company whose clients include the White House (Obama’s Call to Service Campaign), the United Nations Foundation, the Girl Up campaign, the Red Cross, AARP, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and Obama For America. Kirk was also an Executive Producer and Co-Creator of “ART & COPY”, a film in the Official Documentary Selection of Sundance 2009 and an Emmy Winner in 2011.
Jan Visick / Writer & Editor, Social Impact Evaluator / Ashoka
Jan is a freelance editor, and has served since the 1990’s as a consultant and second-opinion interviewer for Ashoka, conducting hundreds of in-depth interviews with candidates for one of today’s most strategic social entrepreneurship Fellowship programs. She is a member of the board of directors of Commonweal, in Bolinas, California, and is the mother of two sons.