Our Team

Catharine DeLong


Catharine DeLong tends to the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of palliative patients with harp and voice. She is a certified Contemplative Musician and Music-Thanatologist through the Chalice of Repose Project, with a second certification through the Music Thanatologists Association International.

Catharine is an ordained interfaith minister affiliated with the One Spirit Interfaith Alliance in New York City. She provides chaplaincy services, as well as music-thanatology sessions to Aspire Home Health & Hospice patients in Salt Lake City, Utah.

James Excell


James Excell lives in Ashland, Oregon in the Rogue Valley. A certified Music-Thanatologist, he is part of the palliative-care team at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center – the regional trauma center for Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Jennifer Hollis, CM-Th, MDiv

Project Director, Co-Founder

Jennifer Hollis is a writer, music-thanatologist and the author of Music at the End of Life: Easing the Pain and Preparing the Passage. She has offered music-thanatology to patients in Montana, Oregon, Chicago, and Boston. She is the Board President of the Accorda Music-Thanatology Institute and lives outside Boston with her family.

Katie Lahiff


Katie Lahiff became a certified Music-thanatologist in 2014. She was subsequently employed by Midwest Palliative and HospiceCare Center, continuing on with JouneyCare until 2019 after the two hospices merged with a third hospice to form the largest nonprofit hospice in the state of Illinois. Since the onset of Covid 19, Katie has been attending to those who are dying via remote platforms. She is excited about being a member of Harps of Comfort, expanding music offerings to bring relief and comfort for those who are ill with Covid19.


Jennifer Mackinnon, MD, MM

Medical Director, Co-Founder, Advisory Committee Member

Jennifer Mackinnon, MD, MM is an Internal Medicine Physician at Froedtert General Internal Medicine Clinic and Associate Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. She has a Master’s in Harp Performance from Northwestern University and began volunteering then playing her small Irish Harp for the local hospice. She performed in Italy with the Rome Festival Orchestra for a season and at The Palace Hotel as the resident musician in Japan. Later after medical school at Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School and residency at the University of Illinois, she completed a research project on the effect of music on the heart collaborating with a cardiologist in the electrophysiology studies of patients. As attending physician at Cook County Hospital/ Assistant Professor at Rush University, Dr. Mackinnon would keep her harp in her office and had musical volunteers play for patients as well as she did through their Palliative Care Division.  Then upon moving to the Medical College of Wisconsin she works in the clinic with a large primary care practice and is director of Executive Health. She teaches Music in Humanities of the Arts Class for the medical school and has given many lectures from her work in women’s health to healthcare advocacy to the role of music.Most recently, the project Harps of Comfort came to light to help bring virtual musical sessions to patients in isolation with COVID.

Jean Madden, CM-Th, RN, BSN

Harpist, Advisory Committee Member

Jean Madden is a Certified Music-Thanatologist, graduating in 2015 and receiving certification the following year. Presently Jean is employed with SacredFlight, a non-profit organization providing harp vigils, located in Portland, Oregon. Jean retired from the nursing profession in 2021, after 39 years of service. She brings her nursing background to the bedside providing music for patients, and is excited to be part of the Harps of Comfort team.  

Elizabeth Markell, CM-Th, CMP


Elizabeth discovered music-thanatology while working as a massage therapist for hospice, and instantly knew this work was for her. She became a Certified Music Practitioner in 2007, working in Olympia, WA. After moving to Ashland, OR she finished training and became a Certified Music-Thanatologist in 2009.  She is grateful to live and practice in the Rogue Valley with her husband James Excell, mainly working with the 
palliative care team at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

Nicole Newell

Field Education student

Nicole is a master of divinity candidate at Harvard Divinity School. During the pandemic, she worked as a chaplain at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, CA. Prior to coming to Harvard, she worked in public policy, education, and caregiving. She graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota in 2015. She is interested in chaplaincy, writing as a contemplative practice, and embodied practices in ritual settings. She sings regularly for local events and is learning to play the harp.

Kima Rodgers, CM-Th

Founding Friend

Kima is a Certified Music-Thanatologist since 2016. She has provided her services in various institutions in Brisbane, Australia, including St. Vincent’s Hospital, Wesley Mission Queensland and Palliative Care Queensland, St. Michael’s Hospice in Alberta, Canada, and Hope House, a hospice for the homeless in Tokyo, Japan. Her deep compassionate nature and desire to support the populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality as she joined the Harps of Comfort team.

Roberta Rudy, CM-Th


Roberta Rudy, CM-Th, has been providing harp music for patients, their families and support-staff in hospices, hospitals and nursing facilities for over 16 years. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, gardening and cooking. 

Duncan Saunders, M.A/A.B.S., CTHP 

Advisory Committee Chair

Duncan Saunders has been playing therapeutic and palliative harp for patients, staff and families since 1998 at two hospitals and a hospice in Washington state. He has extensive experience in working with psychiatric patients as well as playing in hospitals including the ED, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, ICU and numerous other units. He believes and is dedicated to seeing therapeutic and palliatve harping in every hospital and hospice in the country, and currently serves on the Harps of Comfort Advisory Board. He is a Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioner through the International Harp Therapy Program.

Judith Shotwell, M.Ed, C-MT

Founding Friend

The founding director of Circle of Love, Judith has offered thousands of individual palliative music vigils primarily in northern New Mexico since 1995.  She has also drawn upon a career in professional theatre to produce and perform numerous artistic performances and presentations for deepening our awareness of music and end-of-life issues.

Dia Walker


Claudia “Dia” Walker lives on Whidbey Island,  north of Seattle, Washington and has been a certified music thanatologist since 2008. She has been active in Music Thanatology Association International serving on the Certification team and has recently been a presenter for the group singing segment Schola Cantorum of MTAI’s Annual Conference

Bonita Wood, CMP, RN, BMus

Founding Friend

Bonita Wood has been a Certified Music Practitioner and Therapeutic Harpist for 17 years and a Registered Nurse for 40 years. Since childhood, she has had a dual love of music and medicine and always sensed a connection between the two. She trained in the Music for Healing and Transition Program where she found a formal way to integrate music into medical settings. She resides in Annandale, VA close to DC.