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Stef received a BA from Tufts University and a JD from American University, Washington College of Law.  After graduating from college, Stef freelanced in television production and worked for both NBC and CBS sports.  She is currently Vice President and Corporate Counsel with The Prudential Insurance Company of America, specializing in restructuring and bankruptcy.  Stef was previously a partner in the bankruptcy group at Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

In October 2005, Stef and her husband lost their first child, Olivia Hope, at one day old.  After their loss, Stef and Brian organized a fundraiser to raise money for the NICU at the hospital that took care of their daughter.  Since then, Stef has thought a lot about ways to help others dealing with infant loss, as she did not have any support services at the time Olivia was born.  Pockets of Light is just the opportunity she has been looking for to support families in similar situations and bring them "Hope".


Stefanie lives in Randolph, NJ, with her husband, Brian, daughter Carly and son Jed.


Jennifer is a Co-founder of Pockets of Light.


After completing her BA in psychology from the State University of New York at the University of Buffalo, Jennifer continued her education at Long Island University, CW Post earning an MA in school counseling. During her work as a high school guidance counselor at the Solomon Schechter Hebrew Day School in New York, Jennifer focused on individual and group counseling for her students.


Jennifer and her husband have three children; their second daughter Zoe having died three days after birth in 2010 from a genetic disorder called Polycystic Kidney Disease.  After their loss, Jennifer and her husband organized a fundraiser to raise money for the NICU at the hospital that took care of their daughter. They also created a team where they walk every year to raise money to fight PKD.


Jennifer completed perinatal bereavement training and currently facilitates support groups for Pockets of Light. 


Katherine Gifford is a Policy Specialist with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-WOMEN). She has worked with UN Women in various roles since 2011 providing overall program management, country-focused technical support and policy advocacy with a focus on bringing gender equality into national plans and budgets.

Katherine received her Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2007.  Directly after graduating, she worked with the United Nations Population Fund on efforts to address maternal mortality and morbidity globally. Earlier in her career, Katherine served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali (2002-2004) where she delivered HIV/Health Education counseling and training. She has also provided direct health-focused counseling to women and girls in Chicago and New York and has extensive experience in developing health-related projects, monitoring and evaluation.

After living in New York City for 12 years, Katherine recently moved to Maplewood, NJ, with her family.

ERIN TRUXILLO, Executive Director

After graduating with a marketing degree from James Madison University and working as a marketing coordinator for a couple of years, Erin decided to pursue her teaching degree and completed a secondary education program at George Mason University. She taught mathematics at the middle and high school level in Fairfax, VA and Charlotte, NC.


In 2008, Erin’s first child Hailey was stillborn a month shy of her due date. At the time, Erin and her husband were living in Charlotte, NC, and became involved with a non-profit called KinderMourn that offered support to grieving parents. Through participation in KinderMourn’s support group as well as speaking at grief workshops and the annual holiday memorial service, Erin’s interest in helping those who had lost a baby continued to grow.


After relocating to Montclair, NJ a few years ago, in an effort to continue to help bereaved parents, Erin became a community volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. After some research, she came to the realization that there was very little consistent support in the area for those who had lost a baby and became determined to change that.


Since the loss of Hailey, Erin and Tom were fortunate enough to bring home two healthy children. Sadly, in 2015, they experienced a miscarriage at 10 weeks. 


Erin completed perinatal bereavement training and currently facilitates support groups for Pockets of Light. 


Ushta is a board certified licensed genetic counselor with nearly 18 yrs of experience in clinical genetics. Empowering individuals to understand and navigate their genetic health is her passion.

In 2018 she founded FiND Genetics, an independent telemedicine genetics consulting practice after recognizing that there is a gap in access to genetics support and information for the general population.  Her work currently ranges from providing reproductive, adult, and general genetic counseling, consulting in clinical operations to providers and companies, community genetics education, and mentoring.

Ushta's prior experience ranges from running a collaborative care fetal diagnostic center at Columbia University Medical Center, working in prenatal, pediatric, and cardiac genetics, and leading a large nation-wide genetic counseling team at CooperGenomics, a reproductive genetic testing lab. 

She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with her masters in Human Genetics in 2005 and completed her undergraduate work at Rutgers University.

Ushta lives in the suburbs of NJ and is a mom to 3 boys who she loves sharing her passion for cooking and baking.


Prior to co-founding Pockets of Light, Denise spent over a decade working in senior roles at Boys & Girls Clubs – a non-profit serving at-risk youth – in both New York and San Francisco. She most recently held the position of Vice President, Capital Campaign, in San Francisco, where she was responsible for the fundraising and marketing of a successful multi-million-dollar campaign.  She previously developed strategic marketing and communications platforms that raised awareness and increased funding of the organization through partnerships, publications, web development, and other new and traditional media.


Before moving into the non-profit sector, Denise spent 5 years at DeVries Global, a corporate marketing and PR firm, developing and executing plans to shape the brands of Fortune 500 companies including Procter & Gamble,, and 3M. She began her career working in media relations at American University.


Denise and her husband suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss and have endured seven miscarriages. She lives in Montclair, NJ with her husband Jason, son Paolo, and daughter Sylvie. 



As a new organization, we are currently building our Board of Directors. We are looking for passionate and generous individuals in our vicinity with a commitment to our mission and skills that will help support us as we build Pockets of Light. Desirable areas of expertise include:


  • Finance/Accounting

  • Non-profit Management

  • Perinatal Loss and Bereavement

  • Marketing & Public Relations

  • Fundraising

  • Technology


If you or someone you know would like more information about joining our Board, please contact us.

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