The Life Forest Team
The concept of Life Forest was created by Mel and her desire to bury her mother in a place that did not yet exist. Her dream of a space unlike any other where healing would be found through nature by burying cremains under trees, but also having the protective qualities of a traditional cemetery became a mission within reach thanks to the talents and efforts of the people introduced here.
As a Co-Founder and with graduate studies in Leadership and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Sociology Mel has always been intrigued by the human condition and how our life experiences such as pain, illness, belief, community, tradition and family can shape us. Mel believes that a genuine kindness and respect for others, as well as the situations that have shaped people's lives, is the starting point in achieving that feeling of fulfillment that we all deserve to have.
Growing up in small-town England, John traveled to the United States as a young man. It is here in the United States that he established his family life and a successful business career. As a Co-Founder of Life Forest, John's business acumen helped bring the concept to life. Through a passion for listening to the needs of others and working to meet those needs. He understands the importance of creating a space that evokes a sense of peace, and he brings his work ethic and personal passion to redefine how we feel when we visit our loved ones.
Dr. Caitlyn Hauke became interested in the Death Care Industry as a way to help her grieve the loss of her father. She has found her way to Life Forest, where she combines her education and leadership to serve families as the Director of Strategic Planning and Development. Caitlyn is proud to offer a more ecologically-friendly Death Care option to grieving families in a place that provides peace and healing.
Caitlyn has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Dartmouth College, serves as President on the Green Burial Council Board of Directors, and has experience as a municipal cemetery trustee as well.
Working for several years in the Death Care industry as a Funeral Director, and with a strong passion for animals and the outdoors, Traci is Life Forest's Director of Burial Services.
Traci also spearheaded Life Forest's Guardianship Program which you can learn more about through her free 2 credit CEU Course on Redesigning the End, Protection of Human Rights and Dignity Through Burials.
Traci is the owner and operator of Denver Undertaking Services LLC, and graduated from the New England Institute at Mount Ida College in 2012 with a BA in Bereavement Studies and Funeral Service. Prior to that, she obtained her BA in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University. Traci’s knowledge of the Death Care industry combined with her passion for conservation has made her an integral part of the Life Forest® team.
Dr. Colton Sawyer brings mathematical and technological brilliance to Life Forest® as our Director of Mapping Technology, ensuring that our mapping data is accurate and that data points are in line with real world coordinates. Working as an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Southern New Hampshire University, Colton's research is based on modeling biological systems using physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling techniques.
Learn more about Colton's essential role in developing Life Forest's GIS data storage, design, and environmental information.
Danielle is Life Forest's Family Support Specialist ensuring that your questions receive the gentle guidance and answers necessary for you to make important end of life decisions around burial.
Life Forest was proud to have Danielle join the Life Forest Team after a long leave from the banking industry to raise her family. At Life Forest, we value the sacrifice, commitment and love it takes to be a stay-at-home parent, and Danielle's ability to stay calm raising three sons attests to her strength and fortitude! Having always been in member services during her career, Life Forest is the perfect fit for her to continue her passion to be of service when people need it the most.
Danielle lost her mother and mother-in-law early in life and these experiences have given her a desire to help others in the grieving and healing process. Danielle and her husband of nearly 30 years as well as their three boys are life long residents of New Hampshire.
Sayr is honored to work with Life Forest as the Director of Educational Outreach. Her experience as a funeral director helps her bring a sincere approach to ensuring people receive personalized and quality death care. Sayr works to help communities learn about the eco-friendly burial option Life Forest offers by providing a place full of peace, hope, and compassion.
Addie is our Life Forest Team Administrator, promoting support, communication, and encouragement between Life Forest team members. Addie keeps record of team meetings, as well as helping to facilitate team communication through the use of technology such as Slack, Google Docs, and DocuSign. She reviews all documents prior to digital filing to ensure accuracy. She also sends words of encouragement each morning to the Life Forest team!
Addie has learned to understand and respect those who are struggling in life, as she was adopted at 10 months old from an orphanage in China. This experience has taught her to be grateful for the life that she has and has empathy for those that are not as fortunate.
Rebekah, Life Forest’s Social Media Coordinator, uses her creative abilities to educate people about how special Life Forest is to our environment, and most importantly, to people who have lost loved ones.
Rebekah works directly with families who wish to celebrate special memories and important moments to help families share the legacies of their loved ones through social media platforms.
The teacher, and mom of three, has always enjoyed art and teaching others about it. “Art has always brought me happiness. Creating content that lets me express myself while simultaneously promoting something I truly care about, has brought me so much joy”.
With a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, a Master's Degree in Special Education and a background in Art History and Art Integration, Rebekah, transforms Life Forest’s mission into weekly posts on 3 different social media platforms.
Jamie holds one of the most important roles at Life Forest as our Groundskeeper. When visiting Life Forest you most likely will see Jamie watering the memorial trees, hand digging our burial tree plots, keeping any invasive species at bay, as well as keeping a protective eye over your loved one's final resting place.
Fate brought Jamie to Life Forest and we appreciate that he is an integral part of the Life Forest team. Jamie is not a stranger to loss. Jamie lost his wife Bobbijo to cancer. Jamie found passion and healing in creating a Cancer Awareness Float in memory of his late wife. Jamie was widowed with 2 school aged sons, providing him with an empathy for others who have experienced the loss of a loved one.
At Life Forest you may also meet Jamie's now adult sons J.J. and Anthony. They help their dad at Life Forest displaying a hard work ethic and an obvious respect for their father and for the Life Forest land.
Rev. Jessica Johansson, M.Div. serves as Volunteer Coordinator at Life Forest. It was on her first visit to Life Forest that Jessica knew she had found something very special, and she wanted to be a part of it. In line with Life Forest's mission of community engagement and involvement, Jessica's deathcare knowledge, creative spirit and engaging personality made her the perfect fit to spearhead volunteer projects on Life Forest land. Jessica has also spearheaded the creation of a beautiful healing labyrinth at Life Forest.
From a young age, Jessica has been drawn to supporting people at end of life. She is a NEDA Proficient End-of-Life Doula (also called death doula or death midwife) and Companion Animal End-of-Life Doula, having completed her training at the University of Vermont. She collaborates closely with hospice, funeral directors, and other professionals, taking a holistic approach to end-of-life care. Jessica is grateful for the opportunity to serve both people and pets in their end-of-life journeys.
In addition to her doula work, Jessica is an Ordained Interfaith Minister, Certified Professional Coach, After-Death Care Educator, Reiki Master Teacher, and the host of the Greater Monadnock Region Death Café. Her mission is to empower individuals to lead a conscious and fulfilling life in order to approach death with a similar mindset.
Theresa, Life Forest’s Tree Doctor, advises our team on appropriate forest and soil maintenance as well as closely monitoring each memorial tree after planting.
"Botany was an early interest for me. I spent my summers designing, planting, and maintaining various garden sites in Michigan and Ohio. I spent my winters reading everything that I could about plant life that thrived in those regions.
Whatever the setting; there is a voice from that space that tells me what is needed. I start by studying the soil and move onto the geological make up of the property. Then we add the soft scape- the perennials, shrubs, and trees that will compliment, and coexist with the terrain.
There is a balance to be found in every space, it is a pleasure for me to find and maintain that beautiful balance."
Racy is Life Forest's Shroud Artisan. With an established career in surgery, Racy takes the skill set of surgical stitching and gentle patient care to hand sew our family's beautiful wool burial shrouds.
In the surgery environment, Racy became well-versed in showing respect and compassion to people in trauma, as well as in the respectful handling of human remains. She brings this important level of expertise to Life Forest.
Andrea joined Life Forest as a Tour Guide. Andrea found Life Forest through a colleague in the healthcare industry. Andrea began a search for a special place to lay her beloved son Kaleb to rest. When she arrived at Life Forest it was an instant love for her and her family. They felt her son Kaleb would love Life Forest, as it offered everything that he loved about being outdoors. Andrea and her family lost Kaleb to death by suicide on 9/28/21.
Joining the Family of Life Forest and becoming a tour guide felt so right to Andrea, and it also serves as a way to assist Andrea and her family with the grieving process of losing Kaleb.
Andrea (far right) with her daughter and family during a sunset winter hike event hosted by Life Forest.
Lee - Professional Adviser
A longtime resident of New Hampshire, Lee is ready to advise and assist families who want a full body to earth burial either at home or in an established cemetery. She is currently partnering with Life Forest to develop a publicly accessible conservation burial ground in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire.
She comes to Life Forest from many years as an internationally recognized public speaker and educator on home funerals, green burials, and home burials and has served in major leadership positions of the Green Burial Council (president), Conservation Burial Alliance (co-founder), National Home Funeral Alliance (president), National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (co-founder), New Hampshire Funeral Resources & Education (founder and Executive Director) and the Funeral.org Partnership (co-founder, website content and design).
Lee is also the author of several home funeral and green burial books, including The After-Death Care Educator Handbook, Changing Landscapes: Exploring the growth of ethical, compassionate and environmentally sustainable green funeral service, and contributions to The Future of the Corpse: Our Changing Ecologies of Death and Disposition. She teaches and guest lectures at various colleges and universities, including the FINE Mortuary School, University of NH, Dartmouth College, OSHER, OLLI, and Redesigning the End.
Rick - Professional Adviser
Dr. Rick Van de Poll is the principal of Ecosystem Management Consultants (EMC) of Sandwich, NH and is a Certified Wetland Scientist (#110). Rick comes to Life Forest with a passion to provide services that help soften our footprint on the Earth.
Since 1988, Dr. Van de Poll has conducted wetland delineations and wetland assessments on over 350,000 acres in 102 towns. Rick is the past Chairman of the NH Joint Board of Natural Scientists, and has taught various wetland courses at the graduate, undergraduate, and high school level, including Wetlands Science and Policy , Wetlands Flora, and Wetlands Identification. He is the senior wetland scientist author of the ‘NH Method’ (2015, 3rd edition) and offers training workshops around the region with the other co-authors.
Wendy - Professional Adviser
Wendy Van de Poll, MS, CEOL is the owner of Center for Pet Loss Grief and Spirit Paw Press, LLC comes to Life Forest as the Pet Loss Grief Consultant and Publishing Consultant. Wendy has been instrumental in the guidance to create Life Forest's self published books, meant to create outreach and support for our Life Forest families as well as to build positive, supportive relationships with other deathcare professionals.
She is a pioneering leader in the field of pet loss grief support and animal mediumship for over 25 years. She is a Certified End of Life and Pet Grief Support Coach and an international best-selling and award-winning author (26 books and counting) and speaker.
Wendy is also the founder of Spirit Paw Press where helps and empowers other authors to master the art of self-publishing and marketing. She consulted with Life Forest with their first book, Women in Deathcare that reached bestselling status.
She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Wolf Ecology and Behavior and has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard.
Darrin - Professional Adviser
Owner of STONEFALLS GARDENS. Darrin is our tree expert. Darrin’s focus on sustainability in his own nursery drew us to him. He runs a pesticide-free company that recycles cardboard and plastic containers and also accepts leaves and grass clippings from homeowners and landscapers to create the wonderful COMPOST that is used on Life Forest®’s burial trees. All of our memorial trees are purchased through Darrin, ensuring that they have had expert care prior to planting; as well as careful follow-up after planting.
Cyndi -Professional Adviser
Cyndi is the CEO and Artistic Director of Edgeworks Creative, the company responsible for our web presence. Cyndi has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a concentration in Visual Media. Her design work is varied and encompasses all areas of print and media design. She finds the Life Forest® to be the perfect peaceful alternative to the current offerings available within the Death Care industry, and she is committed to helping to market this wonderfully unique way to honor a loved one. When she is not in front of her computer, you can find Cyndi out in her gardens or with her head buried in a seed catalog.
Ed -Professional Adviser
Ed, also of Edgeworks Creative, has extensive experience in web design and development, having worked in and led teams both small and large over the last two decades. Ed is a certified Google Partner and loves helping the Life Forest® (and other organizations) reach their audience and grow their business through effective search marketing.