Michele Little, CEO of Beautiful Dying LLC, is an author and certified Death Midwife dedicated to the celebration of life and the honoring of death. Her journey began after her brother, FDNY Firefighter David M. Weiss was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 (aka 9/11) in New York City.
To honor her brother, his service and his love for children, Michele began speaking in support of first responders and survivors, and founded the nonprofit, Unite in Peace to give children a voice. Michele has been interviewed on NBC, CBS, KUSI, FOX, Today Show, Adelphia Communications (News and Take 5), San Diego Magazine, Visions Magazine, San Diego Union Tribune and the North County Times. Michele received proclamations from the City of Encinitas and the City of San Diego, California.
Today, Michele’s company, Beautiful Dying, a Concierge Dying and Death Management Service assists with preparing and organizing critical documents, coordinating in-home care, honoring faith-based traditions and supporting the grieving in the dying and death experience.
As producer of the annual Beautiful Dying Expo, Michele and her team bring together groundbreaking products, services, resources and experts in a unique 3-day trade show devoted to easing the transition at end of this life and perhaps, the afterlife?
Christy Marie, Co-Producer
Christy Marie survived and thrived despite heartbreak, multiple deaths in the family, and her own cancer diagnosis and recovery, all while raising her beautiful children to adulthood. She spent 10+ years as an early childhood educator and has now come full circle with a return to college to study human development and aging. She is currently the co-producer of the annual Beautiful Dying Expo & Trade Show.
Christy is an end-of-life doula who works with clients at all ends of the diagnosis spectrum, from those who have just received word to families in crisis needing urgent support. The benefits of working with a Doulagivers® Specialist include reduced stress on the family, increased choices and quality of life, and support in making your end of life journey one of dignity, pride, empowerment, and love!
Dr. Karl Steinberg is currently President-Elect of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine and is editor emeritus of their news magazine, Caring for the Ages, and an associate editor of their peer-reviewed journal, JAMDA. He is a past chair and current board member of the Coalition for
Compassionate Care of California. Dr. Steinberg is on the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s Public Policy Committee, serves as vice president of the National POLST organization, and is on the National Quality Forum’s standing committee on Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine. He has been an advisor for Beautiful Dying since 2017.
Karl has board certifications in family medicine and in hospice and palliative medicine, and is certified as a nursing home and hospice medical director in addition to having a certification as a healthcare ethics consultant.
Karl enjoys presenting at educational conferences to professional audiences and the public,
and also serves as a consultant and testifying expert witness in civil lawsuits and regulatory matters, frequently educating reporters and legislators about issues in geriatrics, palliative care and long-term care. However, up until the COVID pandemic started, Dr. Steinberg was probably best known for taking
his dogs on patient care rounds with him on most days.
Arlene Stepputat, M.A.
Arlene Stepputat is a Death Doula and Death Educator. She co-leads a group of volunteers to service in this unique way. Arlene was trained and is a member of the nonprofit INELDA (International End of Life Doula Association).
Arlene is also a chaplain and minister and a certified Advance Care Planning Facilitator. She has presented workshops and keynotes at national conferences, including the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Arlene serves on two committees for this latter organization, as well as serving on the Beautiful Dying Advisory Council.
Arlene holds a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in Family and Community Education and a Master’s in Theology from Peace Theological Seminary. In addition, she holds a certificate in Applied Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
Arlene trained as an Anamcara, (Celtic for “Soul Friend”) for four years through the Sacred Art of Living Center. She is an End-of-Life Practitioner and graduate of the Metta Institute founded by Frank Ostaseski.
Arlene is the author of “The Caring Heart”.
Dr. Ben Janzen
Ben Janzen, Dr. Theol., Ph.D., APBCC, Chaplain Bereavement Services Manager-VITAS Healthcare
Ben grew up in Germany. Upon finishing High School, he joined the Franciscan Capuchin Order of the Catholic Church where he enjoyed his education as a Catholic Theologian within the Franciscan tradition. When he received his doctorate in Theology, he became a lecturer at the Franciscan College for Philosophy and Theology in Muenster, Germany. His love for Star Trek and anything SciFi brought him to the USA.
He studied comparative literature at UC Riverside working on the role of Spirituality and Religion in Star Trek and graduated with a Ph.D. in 2006. A year earlier, he had met his now husband Sal and consequently left the Order. Ben has been working with VITAS Healthcare, San Diego, as a Chaplain since 2010. He was trained at VITAS, and he worked as a resident and a team chaplain for five years. In 2015, he took the position of Bereavement Services Manager. He has been an advisor for Beautiful Dying since 2017. In 2018 Ben was certified as a Grief Recovery Method Specialist. Ben and Sal have a dog, Sammy, and they enjoy traveling, cooking, baking and anything having to do with food.
Joe'l Simone Anthony
Joe'l Simone Anthony, known as The Grave Woman, is a licensed funeral director and owner of Final Transitions, LLC, and sacred grief practitioner in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally from Beaufort, South Carolina, she was raised in the heart of Gullah and Geechee culture. Spirituality has always been a huge part of her life and professional approach which is deeply rooted in ancient wisdom passed down from community elders, generation to generation.
During Joe'l's decade of service in the funeral service industry, she fashioned her unique background and professional experiences into a caliber and style of care and comfort that guides countless families toward healing through the exploration of alternative practices designed to help you navigate and heal through your journey with grief.
It is her life's work to educate everyone –regardless of faith, race, age, or status – that death, dying and grief are sacred and transformative to our journeys as human beings.
Gary Wederspahn has been an active supporter of the Death-with-Dignity movement since the 1980s with the Hemlock Society. He is a board member of Final Exit Network (FEN), a leading national right-to-die organization that grew out of the Hemlock Society, and he is also a member of Compassion & Choices and Exit International.
As a life-long advocate of civil and human rights internationally and in the United States, he strongly believes that the choice to die on one’s own terms is a basic human right that must be respected and defended. He has lived and worked in countries in which death is accepted as a natural aspect of life that is a comfortable topic of conversation and the focus of cultural activities involving families and communities.
Gary has lived and worked in eight foreign countries for seventeen years. Business travel has taken him to 33 countries. In addition, he has over thirty years of experience as an intercultural consultant, trainer, speaker and author.
Jane Asher is a natural connector, who got her start in media through Michigan radio in 1980. She soon traveled west and has worked at legendary radio stations such as KTYD Santa Barbara, KGB, KSON and K-BEST 95 in San Diego. She also received the prestigious Marconi Award for her work on 98.1 KIFM.
Her natural curiosity led her to expand her business by including marketing and social media. When anyone asks her what she does for a living she responds; "I connect inspired people with one another, especially those with a desire to help others."
Jane has been involved in many international missions. She is part of a team for the past five years that has been building homes in Tijuana for families in need. She has also traveled to El Salvador to feed the homeless, Malaysia to help build a school on Borneo, and Armenia to work with women and children in the small village of Amre Taza. Recently she was in the Dominican Republic on a humanitarian mission.
After years in broadcasting, voiceover and social media she is finally answering her true calling. Writing. Her forthcoming book(s) deal with her fascination and connection with souls that have transitioned. She is actively in research mode and writing daily. Her show on Empower~ The Next Room is part of her attraction process and research for her book. Jane is the official podcast sponsor of The Beautiful Dying Expo.
Maureen Pisani is a Certified Master Hypnotherapist and the founder of Pro Thrive Science Based Hypnotherapy, where she works with individuals and groups (both in-person and online) to help them empower, streamline success and truly thrive. Maureen is also a world-renowned Motivational Speaker and was the Resident Hypnotherapist at the Chopra Center (Carlsbad, CA) for almost 9 years, until its closure in December 2019.
Aside from being a Hypnotherapist, she is also a Trainer in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and is at the Mastery Level in Therapeutic Guided Imagery, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping), and Reiki Energy work. She employs a variety of modalities when working with her clients to bring them the best tools and resources for positive and lasting change. Maureen has also been a Director, Instructor and Mentor at two nationally accredited universities where she shared her love and knowledge of Hypnotherapy. As of December 2020, she has published 16 books and has also co-authored a research paper issued by the Neuroscience Department at UCLA.
Maureen Pisani is the poster child for how hypnotherapy can help change your life for the better. After a work injury left her in constant pain, she found Hypnotherapy to offer her relief and a new lease on life. Although she now lives in San Diego, CA, Maureen is originally from the Island of Malta and continues to share her love of her home country with all of those she encounters. In her free time, she also enjoys dancing, crocheting blankets for premature babies and gardening.
Adam Englund, Esquire, has been in solo practice for over 30 years. He handles transactions in the areas of business entity formation and operation, contracts, intellectual property, including trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights; many aspects of entertainment law and trust and estate planning. In the estate planning arena, in addition to advanced health care directives, power of attorney, real estate transfers and wills, Adam helps individuals and families avoid probate all together by preparing a revocable living trust. He has been an advisor for Beautiful Dying since 2017.
Adam says, “The best bequest is to have your affairs in order”.
MSgt. Glenda Villegas USAF (Ret.), served her country for over 20 years in the Air Force and then found a new way to serve her community when tragedy struck her family.
Glenda’s dad suffered a major stroke in 2016 which left him unable to speak or walk. Although he would eventually make a miraculous recovery and regain his ability to speak, he died in November of 2017 at the young age of 66. With nothing documented and no pre-planning in place, the family decided on cremation. This was, in fact, the only detail discussed while he was alive. The financial burden and emotional stress post-death took its toll on Glenda and her family and was the driving force to her new career path; educating and advising families of end-of-life choices and options before a time of need.
Glenda has worked for several mortuaries and cemeteries where she learned the in’s and out’s of the funeral industry. Now, she provides consulting services to families for pre-planning decisions, and educates veterans and their families regarding their military burial benefits. Glenda is available for public speaking events and conferences that focus on end-of-life options and rights.
Rev. Jennifer Cormier is a Grief Coach and Earth Based Ceremonial Artist who brings twenty years of experience in the Healing Arts to clients moving through life transitions and grief.
Jenn is committed to the revolution of how we view death and walk with grief.
When we can shift our perspective to see grief as a potential creative collaborator in our lives we can connect more deeply, love more fully, find healing, and live a truly satisfying life.
Penny Little - Producer and Project Shepherd - author, artist, musician, teacher, event organizer and film director on award winning movies and documentaries.
Shawn LaValleur Adame
Shawn LaValleur-Adame founded DIY Dying early 2018. She is trained as a Death Doula and Funeral Celebrant.
Hugh Wunderman is an industry event planner veteran with over 30 years experience and has owned his own Boutique Entertainment business since 1980. He is the sole owner of the boutique global Events & Entertainment Company "A Gala Event"- a division of Gala Creative Group International, LTD, based in New York.
Karen Wyatt, MD
Karen Wyatt, MD is the best selling author of the books The Tai of Death and What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from Stories of the Dying, which contains stories of patients she cared for as a hospice doctor and the spiritual lessons she learned from them at the end of their lives. Dr Wyatt also hosts End-of-Life University Podcast.
Elisa Kisselburg, Attorney
Elisa Kisselburg is a San Diego attorney and divorce mediator, certified by the State of California Board of Legal Specialization as a Specialist in Family Law.