Our team includes 8 full- and part-time staff, all of whom have experienced significant loss. Our community is powered by 300+ volunteer hosts across the country—men, women, and gender non-conforming folks, gay and straight, of various races and histories, who spend their days as chefs, artists, lawyers, therapists, yoga instructors, graphic designers, academics, students, writers, creators, and more.
The thing that brings all of us to the table? The loss of someone significant in our lives. The thing that keeps us coming back? The amazing humans who gather around it.
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.
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.
Community Director & Regional Manager, Midwest / Chicago
Becca is the Community Director of The Dinner Party and first discovered TDP two weeks after her mom died from Frontotemporal Dementia and ALS. Never having expected that her 20s would involve caregiving for a terminally ill parent, she was incredibly grateful to discover community and connection around the most isolating aspect of her life. She’s now passionate about helping others to find collective care at the moments when they need it most. Prior to working at TDP, Becca worked on other issues that isolate us - from gender identity, LGBTQ+ issues, and sexual violence at Swarthmore College, to race and the implications of doing work with high rates of burn-out with the Center for Civic Reflection. Becca lives in Chicago and is dedicating her career to providing space for people to feel fully human and talk authentically about the issues that matter most.
Operations and Partnerships Manager / Los Angeles
Throughout his career, Justin has worked for a variety of nonprofits and municipalities 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 camps, 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 all 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.
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!
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.
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.
Community Manager, The People’s Supper / Washington D.C.
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 D.C.
Karen Erlichman, D.Min, LCSW
TDP High Priestess / San Francisco (On-Call Consultant)
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.
Our Board of Directors
Mary Anne Cook / Grief Counselor
Ashley Gunn / TDP Host / Bottom Line
Joanne Heyman / Executive Coach / Heyman Partners
Douglas Weiss / Facebook
Reid Williams / Philanthropist and Private Investor