Speaking from the Heart

For everything there is a season, and for me the season of being the Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends will come to an end before the next issue of the E-Newsletter is published. What an honor it has been to serve in this prestigious position, and I will forever be filled with gratitude for having had this nearly four-year experience guiding the largest grief organization in the world.

Our organization is all about love, but we also have to take care of business so that we can continue offering our amazing services to grieving families.  The saying in the not-for-profit world, “no money, no mission”, is very true.  An Executive Director for TCF has to be a person who is both compassionate to our members, but also responsible with our finances.

I was honored to be a member of the search committee who selected our new Executive Director. After a nationwide search and a complete review of all of the candidates, it was clear there were several highly-qualified people to choose from.  But one particular individual kept rising above the others and her entire life’s challenges seemed to all have one common denominator; she was successful.

As you no doubt have already heard, Tony’s mom, Debbie Rambis has been selected as our new Executive Director. I could not be more excited for The Compassionate Friends.  You can read the press releases to learn more about Debbie’s professional achievements, which are outstanding, but I want to talk about Debbie, the incredible compassionate friend who I know very well.

Debbie and her husband Mark were living in Savannah, Georgia when their son Tony drowned. They were disheartened to learn that there wasn’t an active Chapter of TCF in Savannah, and they were too newly bereaved to start one on their own, but that didn’t stop them. They found others who were a little farther down the road and built the Savannah Chapter into one of the strongest in the United States. Their Chapter was successful, by any measure, as they received wonderful press coverage and were the national winners several years in a row of our Friends-Helping-Friends virtual Walk to Remember.

Soon, Debbie was working as a Regional Coordinator for Georgia and sharing her Chapter leadership wisdom by doing workshops at the TCF National Conference on creative ideas for Chapter meetings. Eventually Debbie and her family would move to the Houston area and once again she would build a successful Chapter.  Her election to our National Board of Directors was just another opportunity for Debbie to share her vast business experience and in-depth Chapter leadership skills with those who made decisions for our national organization.

Now, all of that sounds pretty amazing, but the most amazing part of all is that Debbie is the real deal when it comes to true and heartfelt compassion for all those grieving the death of a child, grandchild or a sibling. Debbie’s heart is BIG, just like the state of Texas she now lives in.  Debbie has been a trusted advisor to me, a constant source of support for TCF, and will be an amazing Executive Director.

Debbie’s love and compassion for TCF and for people is something very special.  Debbie’s understanding of the business of TCF and the challenges organizations like ours are facing will be incredibly beneficial as we continue to grow. I am honored to hand over the reins of TCF to Debbie Rambis, and that truly comes from the heart!

Thanks for the honor of allowing me to serve as your Executive Director,


Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen
877-969-0010 ext. 308

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