Dear Grateful Living Community, 

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, I am excited to announce a new chapter for our organization.

A year ago, our esteemed Executive Director Kristi Nelson shared her desire to move out of a leadership position in order to allow her to do more teaching and donor-development work for Grateful Living. During her nine-year tenure, Kristi focused the organization, grew the team, and launched many new initiatives — such as our website makeover —that took our work to a new level of service. Her book, Wake Up Grateful, presented our principles and practices in a fresh, new voice and opened up a larger, more diverse audience for our work. 

Finding Kristi’s replacement mandated looking for someone who could build on the foundation she established and take us to the next level. But finding the right person was more challenging than we thought. We reviewed hundreds of resumes and interviewed dozens of candidates to fill a role that demanded both a deep understanding of our mission and a strong track record of leading and growing a non-profit organization. It was indeed a painstaking process. But, as the saying goes, good things are worth the wait, and we found someone who inspires us.

This month, Kristi will step aside for Joe Primo to take over executive leadership of Grateful Living. Joe received his Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School where he became a lifetime student of Br. David Steindl-Rast. A prolific thought-leader on grief and resilience, Joe is the author of What Do We Tell the Children?: Talking to Kids About Death and Dying and numerous, related articles. He has been a board member of organizations such as Option B and the National Alliance for Children’s Grief, as well as a spokesperson and advocate for other public and private organizations.

Joe comes to us as the former CEO of Good Grief, Inc., where for 15 years he built and led its nationally recognized programs, including at its four campuses in New Jersey and more than 250 school partnerships. Having grown Good Grief from a start-up nonprofit to a $3MM organization, Joe has both the organizational development skills and heart to further strengthen Grateful Living’s mission and to ensure our global community continues to embrace all those — across every demographic, age, spirituality, and lived experience — who seek to live meaningful, happy, and grateful lives. Prior to his tenure at Good Grief, Joe was an interfaith hospice chaplain at Connecticut Hospice. 

With this track record, it should not be surprising that Joe was the unanimous choice — by the board, Kristi, and staff — to lead Grateful Living. He is already rising to the challenge and we will soon let you know of new initiatives that are sure to inspire your engagement and support.

After taking a short break, Kristi will rejoin Grateful Living in her new role in April. And, sometime soon, we’ll be doing something special to honor Kristi properly for the amazing contributions she has made to our organization.

Over the past few weeks, Kristi and Joe have worked together beautifully to ensure a seamless transition. I could wax on about their teamwork, but I think a video is worth a million words. See below for a message from them both as this new era dawns for us.

Gratefully yours, 

Stuart McFaul
President of the Board

Learn more about Joe and our team here.

Video Transcript

KRISTI NELSON: Hi, my name is Kristi Nelson and I have been the Executive Director at Grateful Living, also known for a long time as A Network for Grateful Living, for nine beautiful years, and what a blessing it has been. I am somebody who believes very deeply in leadership transitions done beautifully well, and we have the opportunity right now to be able to facilitate one of these. I'm so excited and so proud to be introducing you to someone who I have come to respect and admire so much in the weeks that we've been working together and who feels like a real partner in the mission — our alignment keeps impressing and inspiring us — and someone whose calling is so clearly to do this work in the world. I am really proud to be able to turn the leadership of the organization over to someone who will also allow me to refine the role that I'm going to be occupying in the future with this organization, and with whom I can partner.

So right now my work is to introduce you to Joe Primo, our next leader of Grateful Living. 

JOE PRIMO: Thanks, Kristi. Hello friends. I'm Joe, and Kristi, I have to start by thanking you for the incredible grace and generosity in which you have led this organization for nine years and especially during this transition. In this process, I've been so impressed by our committed board, by the talents of our team, and by this caring and compassionate global community.

In my work with those who were dying and with children and families who were grieving, I've come to understand that when we look back, we can see gratefulness in abundance. And when we stop and we look, we can see love in strangers and in unexpected places. And also through this work, I have a great appreciation for the courage that it takes to shine gratefulness in the most difficult parts and times in our life.

And so I come with great excitement for the privilege to lead this organization. And as Brother David says "every moment is a gift." And for me, this moment is such a gift for my life. I'm so excited and grateful to be here and to see where we are all going to go as a community together. So thank you, Kristi, for all you've done to lead and to this community for the honor and the privilege to build upon this strong foundation.

KRISTI NELSON: Thank you Joe, and I look forward to continuing to work with you and the community in the ways that we can to advance this beautiful mission and Brother David's legacy, which I know you are so deeply committed to. So we are really blessed and so lucky to have you now at the helm. Thank you.

JOE PRIMO: Thank you.

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