Center Staff

M. Katherine Shear, MD

Center Director

M. Katherine Shear, MD is the Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and the founding Director of the Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia School of Social Work. Dr. Shear is a clinical researcher who first worked in anxiety and depression and held several academic appointments in these areas. For the last two decades, she has focused on understanding and treating people who experience persistent intense grief. She developed and tested prolonged grief disorder therapy (PGDT) (previously called complicated grief therapy: CGT), a short-term targeted intervention and confirmed its efficacy in three large NIMH-funded studies. PGDT is strength-based and focused on fostering adaptation to loss. Dr. Shear is widely recognized for her work in bereavement, including both research and clinical awards from the Association for Death Education and Counseling and invited authorship of articles for Uptodate and the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Shear is also engaged in teaching and training students and professionals of several mental health disciplines in the identification and treatment of prolonged grief disorder. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Tufts University School of Medicine, and completed residencies in internal medicine and psychiatry at New York City medical centers. 

Colleen Bloom, MA, MSW

Center Manager

Colleen Bloom, MA, MSW, is the Manager of the Center for Prolonged Grief. She has worked with Dr. Katherine Shear for over a decade and was part of the founding team for the Center. Colleen manages the day-to-day activities of the Center for Prolonged Grief, including coordinating the center’s professional training, overseeing the website, performing human resources functions, directing marketing strategy, liaising with the Center’s supporters, coordinating referrals, and providing programmatic support. Colleen also provides support for teaching and research activities. Colleen previously served as an independent evaluator for the Complicated Grief Research Program at the New York Psychiatric Institute. Colleen holds a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience from Brown University, an MA in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, and MS in Social Work from Columbia University.

Gaëlle Bottex, MSW

Program Assistant

Gaëlle Bottex, MSW, has been the Program Assistant at the Center for Prolonged Grief for the past five years. In this role, she assists our center manager by coordinating training workshops and webinars and providing operational support to research and outreach projects. She is a recent graduate of Columbia School of Social Work, where she focused on children, youth, and families in the advanced generalist practice and programming track. During her studies, Gaelle served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Social Work Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal for students and scholars of social work. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, Gaelle earned dual degrees in psychology and Spanish.

Natalia Skritskaya, PhD

Research Scientist & PGDT Trainer

Natalia Skritskaya, PhD is a clinical psychologist who currently holds a position of adjunct associate research scientist at the Center for Complicated Grief.  She focuses on co-leading training workshops and presenting invited talks on Prolonged Grief Disorder and its treatment, as well as contributing to the center’s research activities. Natalia was a part of the founding team of the Center years ago. Before that, she was a therapist and researcher in clinical trials on complicated grief and health anxiety at Columbia University. Natalia completed her undergraduate studies in psychology at St. Petersburg State University in Russia. She also holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Eastern Kentucky University and a doctoral degree in clinical and school psychology from Hofstra University.

Nicole Alston, MSW

Community Liason & Clinical Field Instructor

Nicole Alston, MSW is a social worker with a particular expertise in grief who has served the Center for Complicated Grief  in various capacities over many years. Nicole has worked as a community liaison and recruitment coordinator and an independent evaluator for several of the Center’s studies. Nicole is also a frequent contributor to the Center’s presentations and training. Outside of her work with the Center, Nicole has taken clinical and non-clinical roles providing grief support including pediatric social work, group facilitation, and development of grief curriculum for schools. More recently, Nicole has drawn on her diverse skillset to provide support as an associate producer on a film focusing on communities affected by disparities in health. Nicole holds a Masters Degree in Social Work (Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming) from Columbia University.

David Robertson, MA, MSW

Social Work Technologist

David D. Robertson, MA, MSW, is a Social Work Technologist at the Center for Prolonged Grief. David supports community outreach initiatives, curriculum development, and special projects. David has a background in qualitative and quantitative research on courage and has worked as a community mobilization specialist. He combines his knowledge of advocacy, social justice, grief, and trauma-informed practices with contemporary methods like restorative practices and wellness writing to support organizations in creating shared experiences that foster belonging and connection. Outside of his work at CPG, David is an associate therapist for a private practice. David holds BA in Global Health and a MA In Teachers and Community Leaders from Northeastern Illinois University and an MSSW from Columbia University.

Bonnie Gorscak, PhD

Senior PGDT Trainer

Bonnie Gorscak, PhD is a clinical psychologist and serves as a senior trainer and supervisor at the Center for Complicated Grief. Bonnie has been engaged in work on prolonged grief since 2001, when she was a therapist in the first NIMH-sponsored study led by Dr. Shear. In her current role, Bonnie assists in the Center’s efforts to educate and train clinicians about prolonged grief disorder and its treatment. Bonnie oversees and implements training workshops and contributes to the development of accessible and effective training programs and initiatives. She also supervises students, trainees and study therapists. Outside of her work at the Center, Bonnie is a therapist in private practice providing CGT and has previously held several teaching appointments. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Baldwin-Wallace College, a Master’s degree in psychology from Duquesne University and completed her doctoral training at Duquesne University.

Danielle Glorioso, LCSW

PGDT Trainer & Curriculum Developer

Danielle K. Glorioso, LCSW, is a clinical social worker with over ten years of experience who serves as a trainer and supervisor for the Center for Prolonged Grief. Danielle has been a member of the UCSD Division of Geriatric Psychiatry since 2001 and has taught, mentored, and published extensively in mental health, aging, and nutrition. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Healthy Aging and the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, providing leadership and direct oversight of Center operations. Danielle is an experienced prolonged grief disorder therapist and maintains a private practice focusing on grief, prolonged grief disorder, and suicide bereavement. She holds a BS in nutrition from the University of Massachusetts and an MS in Social Work from San Diego State University.

Mary Sormanti, PhD

Clinical Field Instructor

Mary Sormanti, Senior Educational Partner, has extensive experience in social work education and a long-standing interest in loss, grief, and adaptation associated with life-threatening illness. She organizes and supervises our field placement program and works with us on a range of educational and research projects. She is a member of the support team for our mobile app for bereaved families.

Emily Mabel Cruz, MSW

Project Assistant

Emily Mabel Cruz, MSSW, is a project assistant for GriefCare, a mobile app for bereaved families. Outside of her work with the Center, Emily works as a psychotherapist providing anxiety, depression, and grief treatment to adolescents and adults. Emily holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MS in Social Work from Columbia University.

PGDT Trainers and Supervisors

John Bean LCSW-R

Center Affiliate & CGT Trainer

John Bean, LCSW-R is a clinical social worker with expertise in complicated grief, depression, anxiety, and issues related to young adult life transitions, work performance, acculturation and marital health. At the Center for Complicated Grief, John has served as a trainer, presenter and supervisor for many years. Outside of his work at CCG, John maintains a full-time private practice specializing in loss, work performance, couple’s conflict and communication. Previously, John has served in several clinical and administrative leadership positions for community based outpatient mental health organizations. John holds a Masters of Social Work from Hunter College, has completed post-graduate clinical training at New York University, and is a licensed psychoanalyst.

Meredith Charney, PhD

PGDT Trainer

Meredith Charney, PhD  is a clinical psychologist with expertise in trauma, anxiety and complicated grief who serves as a trainer and supervisor at the Center for Complicated Grief. Dr. Charney has worked as an independent evaluator and study therapist for several studies concerned with complicated grief, and has also led efforts to provide training in the gold standard evidence-based psychotherapies for anxiety, trauma, and complicated grief to clinicians who are either in training or have not yet learned these specific treatment protocols. Throughout her appointments at the VA Boston Healthcare System, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Maine Medical Center, Dr. Charney has provided direct patient care and clinical leadership as well as contributing to teaching and supervision of psychology and medical students and psychiatry residents. Dr. Charney holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Boston University.

Nancy Turret, LCSW

PGDT Trainer

Nancy Turret, LCSW is a clinical social worker who serves as a trainer and supervisor at the Center for Complicated Grief. Nancy has extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of complicated grief, having served as study therapist on the Center’s studies and maintained a private psychotherapy practice focusing on complicated grief for many years. Outside of her work with the Center, Nancy has worked as a research psychiatric social worker at the New York Psychiatric Institute (NYPSI), where she was responsible for administering testing instruments. Nancy has also worked as a clinical social worker at NYSPI, where she is appointed as an Instructor in Clinical Psychiatric Social Work,  providing counseling and case management for patients and teaching and supervising psychiatry residents and social work interns. Nancy continues to work in her private practice where she continues to work with patients who struggle with complicated grief, depression, trauma and anxiety, Nancy holds a Master's degree in Clinical Social Work from Fordham University.

Center Affiliates

Kim Glickman, PhD

Center Affiliate

Kim Glickman, PhD, is a Center affiliate and has worked as an independent evaluator, assessment trainer and assessment co-rater on several of our studies. Dr. Glickman holds an appointment as assistant professor at York College/CUNY, Department of Social Work, where she teaches courses on social work practice and social research. Dr. Glickman also conducts research on the prevalence and treatment of prolonged grief disorder in the United States and abroad and has published several papers on the topic. She maintains a private psychotherapy practice focused on the treatment of prolonged grief disorder. Dr. Glickman holds an MSW from New York University, an MPP from Harvard University, and a PhD in social work from Columbia University.

Christine Mauro, PhD

Consultant Biostatistician

Christine Mauro, PhD is an assistant professor in biostatistics at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and serves as a consultant biostatistician to the Center for Complicated Grief as well as co-investigator on several of our studies. Outside of her work with the Center, Christine is an active public health  researcher, teacher, and mentor. Christine holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Fairfield University, and masters and doctoral degrees in biostatistics from Columbia University.

Desmond Patton, PhD

Faculty Affiliate

Associate Professor Desmond Upton Patton is a Public Interest Technologist who uses qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine the relationship between youth and gang violence and social media; how and why violence, grief, and identity are expressed on social media; and the real world impact these expressions have on wellbeing for low-income youth of color. Dr. Patton is the founding Director of the SAFE lab, a member of the Data Science Institute, a faculty affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and holds a courtesy appointment in the department of Sociology. He is the recipient of the 2018 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR), and was named a 2017-2018 Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

Dr. Patton studies the ways in which gang involved youth conceptualize threats on social media, and the extent to which social media shapes and facilitates youth and gang violence. In partnership with the Data Science Institute, he is developing an online tool for detecting aggression in social media posts. Dr. Patton’s research on “internet banging” has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Boston Magazine, ABC News, and Vice. It was cited in an Amici Curae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, which examined the interpretation of threats on social media.

Daniella Spencer-Laitt, MSW

Center Affiliate

Daniella Spencer-Laitt, LMSW has worked with the Center as an independent evaluator on a study, as a research assistant and as a consultant on various projects. Outside of her work with the Center, Daniella has worked as a commercial lawyer, psychiatric social worker, and in the non-profit sector. Daniella holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Australia, a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, and is currently a PhD student in clinical psychology at Boston University.