Laura Crandall, MA
Cofounder, President and Executive Director
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Laura Gould Crandall, MA is currently a research scientist in the Department of Neurology at the NYU School of Medicine, joined NYULMC as the director of the SUDC Registry and Research Collaborative, and President and Executive Director of the SUDC Foundation. Laura is also a licensed Physical Therapist in New Jersey and New York. She earned her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from New York University in 1990 and 1996.
In 1997, her first child, Maria, succumbed to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) at the age of 15 months. Through the death investigation of Maria, Laura was convinced that changes in the system could and should be achieved. So, she advocated for new child death investigation legislation in New Jersey, which became law in 2000. A subsequent New Jersey law regarding research passed in 2006, and in 2014, “The Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act” was signed into law by President Obama. At the SUDC Foundation, Laura strives to support families by upholding the mission of being the centralized resource for SUDC information, support, advocacy and crucial research. Laura’s work has been important for epilepsy, because a third of SUDC cases have a history of febrile seizure.
In 2007, Laura was honored as Glamour magazine’s “Woman of Your Year”, and in 2015, she was the recipient of the “Portrait of Courage” award from the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD). Laura is a member of the National Association of Medical Examiners, an advisory member of the National Sudden Death In the Young (SDY) registry, an executive board member of the North American SUDEP Registry (NASR), executive officer of the (Federal) Organization for Scientific Area Committees (OSAC), subcommittee for medicolegal death investigation, and board member of the National Forensic Science Commission’s subcommittee on medicolegal death investigation. Laura lives in NJ with her three daughters.
Chrisula Tasiopoulos, MSW, LCSW
Director of Support Services
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Chrisula is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 15 years’ experience in clinical social work and non-profit management. Specializing in relational or interpersonal trauma, Chrisula has been a manager and program director for various non-profits, as well as having clinical experience in both non-profit and private practice settings. The majority of her experience is with trauma survivors, as well as working with mood and anxiety disorders, bereavement, relationship and family concerns, and a wide range of other presenting problems. Using an empowerment perspective, the focus is on the individual's strengths and in the therapeutic relationship itself.
She is an Instructor for the Rutgers Institute for Families Continuing Education program, and is a Lecturer for the graduate level Social Work course “Working with Survivors of Abuse and Trauma” at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She is also a presenter for a workshop at the National Association of Social Workers – New Jersey Chapter annual conference entitled “Clinical Presentations of Survivors: Neurobiological and Intrapersonal Impacts”. Additionally, she has been published as a contributing author for a book on interpersonal trauma. Chrisula has also participated in numerous community and statewide working groups and committees as both an advocate, activist, and clinician.
Chrisula received her Master’s in Social Work from New York University where she was trained as a psychodynamic psychotherapist. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies. Chrisula lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and two cats, and enjoys being a foodie, practicing yoga, meditation, reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.
Lisa Macri, RSCWI, ABD
Support Services Coordinator
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Lisa Macri has spent the last twenty years working with families and communities as a social worker in a variety of settings. She has experience in the non-profit and program management sector, as well as several years of experience working as a therapist. Her clinical work with families has focused on honoring the experiences that families go through in terms of encountering life's challenges, while recognizing the family's strengths and their unique capabilities that affect their resilience in facing these challenges. Lisa integrates the strengths-based and empowerment perspectives into her clinical social work practice and acknowledges that it is a privilege to work with families in this way.
Lisa earned her Master of Social Work from Rutgers University in 2007, where she was recognized for academic excellence with the Dean's Award for an Outstanding MSW Student. She is currently on track to complete her Ph.D. in Social Work/Public Affairs in 2017 at the University of Central Florida. Lisa also works as an adjunct professor for the University of Central Florida School of Social Work, teaching courses in research methods, human behavior, communities, and documentation. She has published several academic articles in peer reviewed journals and has presented at national and statewide conferences on women's issues, domestic violence, and most recently, on aggression and dementia at the Society for Social Work and Research 2016 annual conference.
Lisa's professional and research focus is on improving the lives of families and communities. She loves being a social worker because she is able to achieve this at the individual level through providing therapy and at the community level through research, education, and policy. Lisa lives in Orlando, FL with her husband and her two daughters. In her free time, she focuses on her meditation practice, paddle-boarding, and spending time with her family outside.
Support Services Assistant
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Michelle has excellent organizational and people skills. She is an essential part of the Support Services team as a behind-the-scenes coordinator. Prior to being a full-time mother to three children, she worked as an account executive for a large telecommunications company. Michelle and Chelsea Hilbert (cofounder of The SUDC Program in 2001) were neighbors in Charlotte, NC when Chelsea’s son died. Michelle and her husband, Etienne, were a great source of support and information. In fact, Michelle researched information about metabolic disorders and assisted Chelsea’s family with finding metabolic testing when their second child was born. Michelle and her family live in Southern California.
Cofounder, Vice President, Ass't Executive Director & SUDC Parent
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Lorri is a graduate of Katherine Gibbs's business school and has vast administrative knowledge. After a 10-year career as a legal assistant and paralegal, she experienced the tragic loss of her firstborn daughter in 2003. Jenna was a thriving, healthy and happy child. She passed away while taking a nap at her daycare on January 10, 2003, at the age of 16 months, and subsequently died on life support the following day. After Dr. Krous of The SUDC Research project reviewed Jenna's records and autopsy report, the medical examiner ruled Jenna's death unexplained and related to SUDC. A short time after Jenna's death Lorri found the SUDC Program.
Lorri feels that the resources offered to her have given her the building blocks to manage to live after such a tragic loss. She began volunteering for The SUDC Program in 2003 and, in 2004, she took on a larger role in an administrative position within the organization. Today, she is the Cofounder, Vice President and Assistant Executive Director of the SUDC Foundation launched in 2014. Lorri is committed to making a difference for SUDC families. In addition to her work at the Foundation, she also holds leadership positions within her local Woman's Club, as a Girl Scout Leader and serves as a Catechist as a CCD teacher. She is a lifelong resident of NJ, where she and her family lives.
Director of Development
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Elizabeth is a vibrant business professional with twelve years of experience in strategic operations and non-profit development. She brings a successful track record of achieving earned and contributed revenue growth by fostering relationships with individuals, foundations, and corporations through the coordination and execution of a comprehensive fundraising plan. Elizabeth also has extensive experience in providing complete special event planning and marketing support through various media platforms.
A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Elizabeth holds a B.A. in Behavioral and Social Sciences. She recently completed the Executive Philanthropy and Resource Development Certificate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, is a Level III Certified Grant Writer and has taken coursework in Corporate Sponsorship and Sustainability Analysis Planning. She has participated in several National Points of Light Foundation Conferences.
Elizabeth lives in New Jersey with her husband, children and yellow Labrador; she enjoys the arts and spending time outdoors with family and friends.
Heather Maher, MSFS
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Heather earned her undergraduate degree from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. At Quinnipiac, Heather’s concentration was in Biomedical Sciences with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. She continued her education and earned a Master of Science in Forensic Science from Pace University in New York City. Her thesis was presented at the 35th Annual North Eastern Association of Forensic Scientists Meeting in 2009. Heather also attended the Lorenzo Di Medici University in Florence, Italy.
Prior to joining SUDC, Heather worked for the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory as a Forensic Scientist for six years. At AFDIL, she participated in many missions. One of which, was to identify the remains of soldiers from past wars. While there, Heather gained vast knowledge and experience in working with DNA and genetic analysis. Heather is a resident of New Jersey and is married with a son.