Kids and families don’t get to take time off from the pain, monotony and hopelessness of long-term hospitalization. So neither do we. Our job is to ensure we meet the needs of the sickest children today, tomorrow and into the future. To this end, we have assembled an engaged board, enthusiastic investors, committed hospital partners and empowered a passionate, professional child life team embedded in hospitals whose round-the-clock commitment to the children make them the real superheroes of our organization.
CEO & Founder,
Hope for Henry Foundation
For 30 years, Laurie Strongin has helped draw attention and resources to issues of emerging national significance.
She began as a PR professional at Podesta Associates and The Kamber Group, two of Washington DC’s premier public relations firms. Laurie then took her advocacy expertise to the issue of affordable housing, serving as the Deputy National Coordinator for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation’s Campaign for Home Ownership; and subsequently running Fannie Mae Foundation’s multi-million dollar portfolio to advance homeownership counseling, foreclosure prevention, and asset-building investments.
“Everything about Hope for Henry is growing. From our geographic footprint, to our staff, to the innovations we take from bench to the bedside. We are not just helping make sick kids happy, we are helping them get better faster with fewer long-term effects.”
In 1996, Laurie became drawn through personal experience into the frontlines of a breakthrough medical procedure that held the promise of saving her son, among countless other children. Turning her advocacy and media skills to that issue, Laurie participated in national medical policy panels (alongside Newt Gingrich and Dr. Bernadine Healy, among others); worked with then-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) to urge Senate passage of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act; secured coverage of the issue on ABC’s “Nightline” and in a Sunday New York Times magazine cover story; authored “Vetoing Henry,” a Washington Post op-ed criticizing President Bush’s 2006 veto of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research; and advocated for parental perspectives on NBC, the CBS Early Show, and MSNBC. In 2009, when President Obama lifted the ban on federal funding for stem cell research, Laurie was one of a few dozen honored guests.
Laurie’s subsequent memoir, “Saving Henry” (Hyperion 2010), has been featured on Good Morning America, The Diane Rehm Show, The Bob Edwards Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and BBC; and featured in USA Today and The Washington Post. Since its publication, Laurie has headlined over 60 speaking engagements across the U.S.
Laurie’s leadership has been recognized by numerous institutions. She has received Children’s National’s Chairman’s Award, Georgetown Pediatrics’ Flame of Hope Award, Children’s Charities Foundation’s Star for Children Award and the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s 2016 EXCEL Award. Laurie was featured as a “Heroes Among Us” in People magazine in 2016. In addition, in 2015-2016, she served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Ethical and Social Policy Considerations of Novel Techniques for Prevention of Maternal Transmission of Mitochondrial DNA Diseases. She serves on the board of directors of the National Marrow Donor Program, and on the Association of Child Life Professional’s Advisory Council.
Kelly Beck, CCLS
Certified Child Life Specialist
at Sinai Children’s Hospital
Kelly became a Certified Child Life Specialist in 2011 after graduating from Towson University and accepted a position at Children’s National Health System, where she was first introduced to Hope for Henry. In the spring of 2016, Hope for Henry expanded to the Baltimore area, and Kelly became the child life specialist for the Lenny “Batman” Robinson Hope for Henry program at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. Kelly whole-heartedly believes in the mission of Hope for Henry and feels that it aligns with her personal belief that excellent medical care combined with the power of play and laughter can help kids heal faster.
Alison Chrisler, PhD, CCLS
Senior Manager of Program Expansion
Ali is Hope for Henry’s Senior Manager of Program Expansion. She became a Certified Child Life Specialist in 2008 and worked in outpatient surgery at CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan and ran a one-person program at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland. While earning her master’s degree in Youth Development, she focused her attention on research and began working at Child Trends as an intern and later as a Research Analyst. After completing her doctoral degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University, she worked on an evaluation team as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Penn State. Most recently, she was a Researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago where she worked on a number of implementation and evaluation projects that focused on serving the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Ali remains active in the Association of Child Life Professionals by publishing in the Child Life Focus and Bulletin, presenting at the national conference, and sitting on committees. Currently, she serves at the co-chair for the Proposal Subcommittee, which is part of the larger Scientific Advancement of Professional Practice and is a member of the Focus and Bulletin Review Committee.
Alix FitzGerald, CCLS
Certified Child Life Specialist
Cleveland Clinic Children’s
What do you get when a top-notch New York City child life specialist marries a native Clevelander? Lucky kids and families at Cleveland Clinic Children’s!
Meet Alix FitzGerald, the newest member of Hope for Henry’s exceptional child life team. After a Cornell University undergraduate degree in human development, a master of science in child life from Bank Street College of Education, and deep, valuable experience in various child life roles in the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital system, Alix decided to bring her talents to Cleveland. She and her new husband were looking to move to the area just as Hope for Henry was making its own big move, expanding to Cleveland Clinic.
Alix is thrilled to introduce Hope for Henry’s distinctive, high-quality, fun-stamped, research-proven mix of patient and family care, support, and diversion to the city’s premier pediatric hospital. Describing herself as “drawn to families in intense situations,” Alix brings her own unique know-how — including around bereavement issues — skills, and extensive PICU training to Hope for Henry’s offerings.
When Alix took her first internship in child life, she expected her role would be to encourage sick kids to play. What she quickly found out was that sick kids, like all kids, want and need play in their lives. With that idea at the heart of Hope for Henry’s mission, Alix is proud to bring Hope for Henry’s built-for-smiles programs and services to Cleveland’s kids and families who need them most.
Carolyn Schneiders Fung, CCLS
Director of National Programs
Carolyn Schneiders Fung has been a part of the Hope for Henry team since 2012. She became a Child Life Specialist in 2008 and began her career at Duke University Medical in Durham, NC. She discovered her passion for working with children and teenagers receiving solid organ transplants, and helped pilot a child life position within the adult lung transplant team. In 2012, she was hired to work at Children’s National Medical Center, becoming Hope for Henry’s first full-time, in-hospital staff member. In that role, she provided services alongside with the hospital’s top-notch child-life team, delivered Hope for Henry’s unique and exciting programming, and worked to create new programs to improve patient well-being and outcomes. Building on Hope for Henry’s special focus on play, learning, child development, and advocacy, Carolyn helped create the new patient incentives program—Hope for Henry’s Super Path to Super Duper Better. In the spring of 2016, Carolyn became the first-ever program director for Hope for Henry, and in 2018, she became the Director of National Programs.
Carolyn’s passion for the field of child life has led to becoming involved with the Association of Child Life Professionals. She was selected to be a participant in the ACLP’s first inaugural Leadership Academy, has served on the Conference Committee as an Abstract Reviewer, and currently serves on the Community Based Non-Traditional Committee.
Ashlee Milnes, CCLS
Certified Child Life Specialist
at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
Ashlee Milnes is a Certified Child Life Specialist for the Hope for Henry Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. At the start of her career in 2011, Ashlee worked as a child life specialist at Children’s National Health System where she was first introduced to Hope for Henry. Most recently, Ashlee has worked at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for three years where she worked with multiple chronic patient populations. While working with those populations, Ashlee experienced firsthand the positive long-term effects when the importance of play and laughter is prioritized in a child’s medical treatment plan. Ashlee is incredibly excited to be a part of the Hope for Henry team and to bring the innovative, exciting programs to the patients and families while continuing her passion for decreasing medical related stress and trauma.
Jess Murray, CCLS
Child Life Consultant
Jess Murray is Hope for Henry’s Director of Innovation & Expansion. A Certified Child Life Specialist since 2011, Jess most recently worked as the embedded Hope for Henry specialist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Jess pursued a background in psychology after knowing she wanted to be a child life specialist at a young age. As a child, Jess’s sister was in and out of the hospital and as difficult as that was for Jess and her family, her memories are overwhelmingly positive because of the impact of the wonderful child life specialists they met during that time. Having worked on the frontlines to deliver Hope for Henry programs to children with cancer and other serious illnesses in Washington, DC, Jess is an expert in understanding the need of children and the benefits that Hope for Henry brings to kids in hospitals across the country.
Rachel Snow, MS, CCLS
Certified Child Life Specialist at Children’s National Medical Center
Rachel is a certified child life specialist for the Hope for Henry program at Children’s National Health System. Rachel received her Master’s degree from Towson University in Child Life, Administration and Family Professional Collaboration. Rachel became a child life specialist in 2010 and began her career at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore, MD. There, Rachel discovered a passion for thinking differently about how to provide support for infants and toddlers working to reach their developmental milestones. In 2011, Rachel joined the team at Children’s National, where she worked with patients on multiple units, including the Neonatology Intensive Care Unit, ranked #1 in US News & World Report. Rachel first learned about Hope for Henry in 2012, when Hope for Henry embedded the first ever full-time Hope for Henry Child Life Specialist into the hospital setting. Six years later, Rachel is excited to be serving as the Hope for Henry Child Life Specialist at Children’s National Medical Center.
Meredith Wade has been with Hope for Henry since 2016, first as a volunteer and, soon after, transitioned into her role as an in-house management consultant. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Meredith brings her experience as a lawyer in private, government, and university settings to her position. She is responsible for improving Hope for Henry’s efficiency and performance to enable growth, and her strategic approach, recommendations, and guidance aid Hope for Henry’s implementation of its vision. Additionally, Meredith is responsible for planning and executing Hope for Henry’s convening, a series of conferences that bring together national experts to collaborate on reinventing the pediatric patient experience.