Our team includes 275+ hosts across the country—men, women, and gender non-conforming folks, gay and straight, of various colors and creeds and histories, who spend their days as chefs, artists, lawyers, therapists, yoga instructors, graphic designers, academics, students, writers, creators, and more.
Becca Bernstein / Community Director & Regional Manager, Midwest / Chicago
Becca first discovered the Dinner Party on Thanksgiving morning of 2015 (gratitude, anyone?), 2 weeks after her mom died from Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and ALS. Never having expected that most of her 20s would involve caregiving for a terminally ill parent, she was ridiculously grateful to find the Dinner Party community. Along with her incredible co-host, Mark, she founded a table in Philadelphia and her love of TDP took off from there. She feels so lucky to be the Dinner Party’s newest Community Director. Prior to TDP, Becca worked at a range of nonprofits and colleges/universities, including the Center for Civic Reflection, the University of Maryland’s Leadership & Community Service-Learning Office, and, most recently, on issues of gender, sexuality, and sexual violence at Swarthmore College. Outside of work, Becca loves reading old mystery novels, seeing live music, and rooting for her beloved Chicago sports teams.
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. Carla is also on the founding team of enso, a mission-driven creative agency working with brands such as Google, Khan Academy, and Nature Conservancy on their impact campaigns. Helping grow the team from 6 to 40, Carla was General Manager of the agency before becoming its part time Community Lead in 2016. She's an NYU Social Entrepreneurship Fellow, and Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg School of Communications Innovation Lab. Carla is a Monterey, CA native, and now splits her time with her rescue pup Biscotti between Venice Beach and Joshua Tree.
Lennon Flowers / Co-founder & Executive Director / Los Angeles
Lennon lost her mom during her senior year of college, following a four-year fight with lung cancer. Three years later, she hitched up her wagon and headed West. Three-thousand miles away from home, 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. When Carla, a friend, colleague, and soon-to-be roommate, invited her over for dinner, it was a no-brainer. In January 2017, she, together with partners at Faith Matters Network and Hollaback!, launched The People’s Supper: a nationwide effort to create healing spaces that strengthen our individual and collective resilience and wellbeing, and to repair the breach in our interpersonal relationships across political, ideological, and identity differences. Lennon previously served as Community Director for Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative. She has written for CNN, Fast Company, YES!, Forbes, Open Democracy, and others. She is an Ashoka Fellow and an Aspen Ideas Scholar, and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.
Iana Malcolm / Regional Manager, South & International / Miami
At 27, and after seven years of being her caregiver, Iana lost her mother to Breast Cancer. At 31 years old, she lost her father to brain cancer. Since then Iana has dedicated her life to the support of caregivers and all those managing life after loss. Outside of her work as a Community Manager for TDP, Iana is a birth Doula. She finds a beautiful balance in serving those in both life and death. She is a Yoga and Meditation teacher and leads Wellness retreats worldwide with her company Bliss Out Retreats. She is a native New Yorker but traded it all in for the sunny beaches of Miami, FL five years ago. A foodie, a dog lover and a fan of all things wine, Iana is thrilled to be part of The Dinner Party community!
Sally Phillips / Regional Manager, Northeast / New York
Sally’s dad died of AIDS when she was 11. After keeping his illness a secret for years, she finds it liberating to speak about him now. Her table has been a great source of support and genuine friendship. She feels incredibly lucky to be a part of The Dinner Party, having transitioned from Host to volunteer to staff member. Most recently she worked for Housing Works, a non-profit dedicated to fighting AIDS and homelessness. Outside of The Dinner Party, she loves to draw and practice yoga. Sally graduated from Barnard College and currently serves on the board of Columbia Pride, an alumni LGBT+ organization.
K Scarry / Community Manager, The People's Supper / Herndon, VA
An avid journaler and self proclaimed master of the cupid shuffle, K, (yes, just the letter), sees herself as made for life around the table. The table has been the space where she has learned what it means to be human, and where she has seen profound connections made between the most unlikely people. Driven by a conviction that people should have consistent space where they are welcomed in, K launched an open community meal in her hometown a few years ago that continues today. Her love of people has led her to a number of different work spaces, including addressing sex trafficking with She Has a Name in Columbus, Ohio, living as a fraternity house director in Atlanta, Georgia, and working as a chaplain in a maximum security prison. K is currently working towards her Masters in Divinity in Washington, DC.
Katie Seidler / Regional Manager, West Coast & Mountain / Denver
Katie found an incredible, authentic community in The Dinner Party after a two-year period that included the suicides of two friends and a beloved uncle. She was thrilled to transition from Dinner Partier, to host, to volunteer, to staff member. Outside of her TDP work, Katie is a research physical therapist – specializing in quality improvement and implementation projects designed to elevate the level of care provided to older adults. She is passionate about improving the quality of resources available across the wellness spectrum to individuals of all ages.
Justin Thongsavanh / Operations and Partnerships Manager / San Pedro, CA
Throughout his career, Justin has worked for a variety of nonprofits and municipal governments focusing on the development and implementation of programs for youth. Prior to joining The Dinner Party, Justin worked for one of the nation’s largest bereavement camp, developing programs and raising funds for children and teens who experienced the loss of a parent or sibling. After the death of his own father at the age of 12, he felt isolated and alone. As an adult he has made it his mission to not only find a community for himself, but to also help create a community for folks who have experienced loss and subsequent adversities. Justin holds a B.A. in Liberal Studies, a Certificate in Non-Profit Management, and a Master’s in Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach. Outside of work Justin likes to spend his time hiking, hanging out with friends, and taking pictures with his friends’ pets.
Karen Erlichman, D.Min, LCSW / Consultant & TDP High Priestess / San Francisco
Karen recently provides psychotherapy, spiritual direction, supervision and mentoring in San Francisco, employing a mind-body-spirit approach to healing. She was introduced to the Dinner Party in
2015 through her work as a facilitator with the Center for Courage and Renewal under the leadership of Parker Palmer. Karen has recently been walking her own healing talk since the death of her
mother at the end of 2016.
Karen’s writing appears regularly on her own blog, and has been published in numerous journals, blogs and anthologies, including Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Zeek, Tikkun, Sh’ma and in the interfaith anthology Spiritual Guidance
Across Religions. She is a faculty member in the Jewish Spirituality D.Min program at the Graduate Theological Foundation. Karen is passionate about creating diverse and welcoming spaces for
exploring spirituality, social justice and community.
HQ TEAM ALUMNI:
Dara Kosberg / Founding Team Member and Business Partnerships Lead
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.
Elizabeth Jones / Community Coordinator / Brooklyn
Elizabeth credits NYC with helping her figure out a way to do life amid loss - it's also where she first stumbled on The Dinner Party. Elizabeth's mother committed suicide when she was 19 years old - three years later, her boyfriend died in a scuba diving accident. The Dinner Party gave her a space filled with humans who (finally!) could relate to the confusion that is grief in your 20s. Elizabeth grew up in Las Vegas, NV and, pre-TDP, worked as the lead fundraiser for Global Health Corps. In addition to an obsession with visiting all 50 states before she turns 30, Elizabeth adores good people, good sleep, and good food - and is pushing herself to write more about her experience with grief and those she's lost.
Taylor Rae / Community Development Officer / Brooklyn
Taylor Rae feels at home joining The Dinner Party in building empowering, authentic social spaces and solidarity networks. Since losing her uncle to lung cancer shortly after graduating from college, Taylor was inspired to shift toward downsizing and simple living, realizing the intrinsic value of memory, experience and most of all, spirit. A 2013 graduate of Williams College, where she majored in English and Philosophy, Taylor translates the privilege of her liberal arts education to community-oriented media as a freelance writer and social media consultant, representing independent artists and nonprofits. She is passionate about radical municipalism, inclusive infrastructure and philosophy of narrative. A creative writer who eventually will return to fiction, Taylor currently manages Little Local Life, a lifestyle blog on urban sustainability, regenerative economy and millennial minimalism in Brooklyn.
Gabriel Back-Gaal / Former Community Development Officer / Brooklyn
Gabe lost one of his moms to ovarian cancer when he was a teenager. After years of processing his grief through movement and writing, Gabe heard about The Dinner Party - a community where people could live their grief among others, without feeling the need to box it up and hide it away - and began hosting a table in Brooklyn, NY. Outside of The Dinner Party, Gabe’s work includes babysitting and co-chairing the New York chapter of COLAGE, a community-building and leadership-development organization run by and for people with one or more LGBTQ+ parent. He is deeply interested in the intersections of identity, social justice, and holistic well-being, and hopes to continue bringing these diverse threads together in his work.
Heather Abbott / Former Community Director / Dallas
Heather is a visual storyteller who specializes in photo/videography and editing, graphic arts, volunteerism and activism. She helped found The Dinner Party’s (TDP) first table in Austin, TX in 2014 before returning to her home city, Dallas. Today, she leads The People's Supper's efforts as Community Director, managing our ever-growing host community and connecting them with guests, as well as working to build safe and inclusive communities for newcomers, longtime guests and hosts, and to give voice to collective and historic grief and trauma. She is one of several designers behind Say Their Name, begun in response to the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and is the voice and curator behind The Invisible Tomboy, a popular Instagram account working to challenge gender norms. She otherwise spends her days social cycling, fort-building and signing "rap karaoke" with friends. Heather has experienced three major losses her life – her father, her grandmother and her 17 year old cat. Despite processing grief daily, Heather still laughs a little longer, and little louder than others.
Somer Ann Greene / Former Community Development Intern / Cambridge, UK
Somer is a recent graduate of Occidental College, where she created her own academic major to pursue a career in Community Based Marketing and Research in the non-profit sector. She's currently living in England, studying at the University of Cambridge for her Masters in Sociology with an emphasis in Nonprofit Media and Culture. She is passionate about volunteerism and student activism, her work focusing on connecting students with Los Angeles community partners in service projects on and off the college campus.
Sara Lord / Former Web Development Intern / NYC
Sara is a writer living in New York City. But before all that, she was a devoted daughter, who lost her Mom to sudden illness. Grief allowed her to focus on what truly made her happy which was how she found New York City and, subsequently, The Dinner Party. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from San Francisco State University with a BA in English: Creative Writing. As the Web Development Intern, her main focus is the transition of TDP’s web platform.
Jules Ostro / Former Community Director / Berkeley
Jules considers the dinner table a unique space for storytelling, connecting over ideas, and sharing ritual. After her father passed away from breast cancer in 2008, Jules hoped to find a community that embraced #realtalk and found that in TDP when she first met co-founders Lennon and Carla in 2011. Jules has been a part of TDP's core team since 2015, and in her first eight months oversaw a 300% growth in active Dinner Party tables and cities. Jules graduated from UCLA magna cum laude, balancing her passion for the humanities and commitment to social research by studying Art History and researching stigma and stereotype threat. Prior to that, Jules completed an internship with mentally disabled children and adults at Ability First and received awards of recognition from both the CA State Senate and Legislature. As of fall 2016, Jules has been a Research Assistant for an alternative sexualities study at the UC Berkeley Extension school, and is applying for graduate school in Sociology to study where grief meets gender and queerness.
Our BOARD OF Advisors:
Marty Krasney / Executive Director of the Dalai Lama Fellows
Reid Williams / Philanthropist and private investor
Sebastian Buck / Co-founder and Strategic Lead / Enso
Delphyne J. Platner / Ph.D., MFT, CHT
Jan Visick / Writer & Editor, Social Impact Evaluator
Sarah Perez / Affordable Housing and Community Development Attorney / Partner, Gubb & Barshay
Pam Allyn / Executive Director and Founder of LitWorld
Mary Anne Cook / Grief counselor / Technology in Government Steward at Institute for Education