WESTPORT, CT, February 26, 2020 – Gainesville, FL resident, Brian Beach, and Los Angeles local, Kristina Jones, were named to the Board of Directors of Experience Camps, a national, no-cost program for grieving children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver. The organization’s one-week, overnight summer camps and year-round programs help to empower kids with invaluable coping skills and community that enables them to move forward with their lives.
As Board members, Brian and Kristina will leverage their unique backgrounds across a variety of industries to support the organization’s programming, branding, and strategy with the goal to further the mission and transform the lives of grieving children.
One in five U.S. children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18, and 5.2 million will mourn the loss of a parent or sibling. Over the last five years, demand for Experience Camps programs has increased 500%. The COVID-19 pandemic means tens of thousands more kids are now being impacted by grief. Grieving children are at higher risk than their non-grieving peers for depression, anxiety, truancy, isolation, behavior problems, lowered academic achievement, drug and/or alcohol abuse, incarceration or suicide.
Experience Camps provides a safe environment where kids can explore their grief, break the isolation they may feel. These programs connect grieving children to a community of peers who understand what they’re going through while normalizing the grief process and giving them hope for the future.
“It is normal for children to struggle after a loss and we want to give them all the benefits of traditional camp experiences and additional programmatic support while showing them they are not alone,” said Todd Arky, Chair of the Board. “Our board members are key ambassadors of the organization and are integral to ensuring we can continue to deliver a high-quality program to as many grieving children as possible. Brian and Kristina exemplify a strong commitment to the mission and desire to grow the organization. We are thrilled to welcome them to the board.”
Brian Beach is a senior executive with experience leading global teams in areas that include strategy, transformation, CX, analytics, and business development. Brian is currently president of Beachside Strategy, LLC, where he works with leadership teams as they create a vision and plan for transformation in the face of rapid change.
He was most recently SVP Sysco Labs and Customer Experience at Sysco Corporation, the global leader in foodservice. In his role, Brian led innovation strategy, CX, digital transformation, and enterprise analytics for Sysco, with teams in Houston, Austin, Silicon Valley, and Sri Lanka. Brian brings his extensive background in cultural and strategy transformation to the board as the organization enters a new phase of rapid growth. His unique expertise and dedication to the mission will help the organization develop new, scalable ways to deliver the essential programs.
“Losing someone close is so difficult for anyone, and I lost my mom when I was in my 20s. As an only child, raised by a single mom, I was lost. But, at that age, I had the capacity to think about grief in ways that a younger person or child simply can’t,” Brian said. “It is on each of us to help children who are struggling, and Experience Camps brings together amazing kids, volunteers, and activities to address grief and deliver something so positive for someone who truly deserves it. My hope is that we can continue to find ways to reach even more of those children who are struggling with grief today.“
Brian also has experience as a senior leader in higher education, venture capital, and investment banking. He holds a BS in Finance and an MBA from the University of Florida.
Kristina Jones is an award-winning advertising art director turned tech entrepreneur. When Kristina was looking for the next tech company to build after scaling her business nationwide, raising $7 Million in funding, and becoming the 14th African American woman to ever raise more than $1 Million for a tech startup, she started with a personal story.
When Kristina was seven, her father died from cancer and she knew one day she wanted to share her story on how she kept the connection to her dad alive. Throughout the process of writing and editing, “My Forever Guardian” (Myforeverguardian.com), she noticed the immense lack of online support for the millions of grieving children here in the US. After connecting with the nation’s best grief counselors and getting feedback from over 500 grieving parents, she quickly got to work building guardianlane.com which is on a mission to make grief counseling fun, interactive and accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Guardian Lane mixes video sharing technology, community and tele-counseling with a very large dose of fun to accomplish this mission.
Kristina’s work has been featured in Vanity Fair, Forbes, CNN Business, Inc., Entrepreneur, Essence, Black Enterprise, and more. Kristina’s experience as an accomplished entrepreneur and leading large start-up teams will be invaluable as the organization works to foster a more grief-smart culture.
“I care about this mission because at seven years old, when my father died, I thought I was alone in my experience. I never knew there was an opportunity like Experience Camps where I could connect with other grieving children on such a deep level and away from my current reality. I want to make sure no child grieves alone ever again,” Kristina said.
About Experience Camps
Experience Camps is a national nonprofit that gives grieving children experiences that change their lives forever by working to foster a more grief-smart culture and raise awareness of childhood grief as an issue that deserves attention. Experience Camps provides no-fee, camp and other innovative programs for kids who have lost a parent, sibling or primary caregiver, as well as resources and advocacy to benefit many more. Since 2009, the organization has empowered thousands of children with the confidence, skills and support to move forward with their lives. Experience Camps’ 5-year goal is to double the number of kids attending camp and expand our reach and resources to millions more through innovative programs and childhood grief advocacy and education so that every grieving child lives a life rich with possibility.
Media Contact: Lexie Radwan, (703) 403-5710