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Melissa Lunardini


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Curriculum Vitae:

Creative, innovative leader with over 17 years of experience in grief and loss, specializing in childhood bereavement and trauma. Proficient at developing new offerings, scaling existing programs, cultivating community partnerships, and managing high performing teams. Founder of Radical Grief, an organization that enhances healthcare professional and educators’ understanding of the foundational aspects of childhood grief, loss, and trauma and provides evidence-based interventions to reduce maladaptive behaviors in bereaved youth. Sought-after presenter on childhood bereavement and trauma.


  • PhD, International Psychology & Trauma –Chicago School of Professional Psychology, current student

  • Fellow in Thanatology – Association for Death Education & Counseling

  • MBA – California State University San Bernadino, CA

  • MA, Psychology – Chapman University, CA

  • BA, Psychology – California State University San Bernardino, CA



2020 – present

Director of Operations

Responsible for overseeing daily business activities, implementing operational policies and procedures, working with HR to implement hiring procedures, improving company operations, identifying growth directives, and managing the following departments:


Subscriber Support

  • Hire, train & manage a team of subscriber support specialists who will monitor the experience of all Grief Coach subscribers

  • Review all new text messages that will be delivered to Grief Coach subscribers

Client Care

  • Manage our team of Client Care Managers, ensuring that all clients are onboarded quickly and are hitting targets and deadlines.

  • Provide all launch and implementation training to new businesses



  • Work with Research Lead to direct research initiatives 

  • Contribute to both user research and academic research

  • Support funding efforts as Grief Coach seeks funding for research initiatives


Human Resources

  • Ensure that all employees and independent contractors are onboarded and evaluated


2020 – present

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Radical Grief Consulting provides grief, loss, and trauma training to healthcare, mental health, academia, and NGOs. Programs are designed to enhance leaders’ understanding of the foundational aspects of childhood grief, loss, and trauma and provide evidence-based interventions to reduce maladaptive behaviors in bereaved youth. Clients include Rady Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles County Office of Education, San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency, San Diego Youth Services, Boys and Girls Club of America, International Doula Life Movement, and Olive Crest.


  • Consulted with Fanconi Anemia Research Foundation to develop virtual grief programming 

  • Created a series of grief and loss learning modules that train and educate to end of life Doulas

  • Designed and delivered trainings for Rady Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles County Office of Education, San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency, and San Diego Youth Services to address the impacts of grief and trauma on bereaved children and teens

  • Developed a comprehensive grief-focused resource guide and intervention package for schools in San Diego Unified School District, Bonsall Unified School District, Desert Sands Unified School District, Vista Unified School District   


2015 – 2020

Children’s Bereavement Manager

Oversaw the most comprehensive offering of free grief support services for over 1,000 children, teens and families in San Diego County and Southwest Riverside County. Managed a team of two professionals, 250 volunteers and 10 interns.


  • Conceived, developed, and managed two Children’s Bereavement Centers, dedicated spaces that provide free, peer-based support groups for grieving youth and their families, ages 3 to 17

  • Designed and directed Camp Spero, a proprietary summer weekend grief camp program, serving first-time campers and return campers, combining traditional camp fun with grief-related activities

  • Established partnerships with 25 school districts for in-school support groups that served 800 students annually and designed an evidence-informed school-based curriculum

  • Provided community grief education and crisis intervention for students and faculty in schools throughout San Diego and Southwest Riverside Counties

  • Conducted CEU-based training programs on thanatology, the study of death and its impact on children and families, for approximately 150-200 physicians, psychologists, social workers, school counselors and other health professionals and educators annually


2007 – 2014

Children’s Bereavement Program Director

Directed children’s bereavement services for the Palm Springs community, including peer-based support groups, school-based support groups, summer grief camp, crisis intervention and professional trainings


  • Grew enrollment in children’s bereavement services averaging over 63% year after year

  • Wrote and secured grant funding, generating $150,000 for children’s grief support services

  • Established a partnership with Betty Ford Center for referrals

  • Served as hospice bereavement coordinator, following families for 13 months after a death to address bereavement needs



  • Association for Death Education & Counseling

  • National Alliance for Grieving Children

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

  • American Psychological Association


  • Boys and Girls Club of America, National Training Consultant, 2016 – present

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Board Member, 2007 – present

  • National Alliance for Grieving Children Member, 2007 – present


  • ​“Everything You Need to Start a Successful School-based Program in Your Community,” National Alliance for Grieving Children Symposium, 2021

  • “The Silent Stories Behind Suicide Loss,” Meeting of the Minds Conference, San Diego, 2020

  • “What Bereaved Children Can Teach Us,” Critical Issues in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Conference, 2019

  • “Trauma-Informed Practices and Emotional Safety,” Boys and Girls Club of America Conference, 2019

  • “Supporting Children and Teens When a Loved One Dies,” American Academy of Pediatrics, San Diego, 2019

  • “Anticipatory Grief,” National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, 2019

  • “When Infants and Toddlers Grieve,” Early Childhood Mental Health Conference, 2018

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