Our Team

Our New Hope staff is a dynamic group of talented professionals who are dedicated, committed, compassionate, and who genuinely care about those who are living with grief.


David Leonard, Executive Director

David has a decade of experience working in the non-profit sector serving children & families, Iraq/Afghanistan War Veterans, fighting hunger and now caring for those who grieve. David attended Cal State University Long Beach earning a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Marketing.

David is no stranger to grief. David has experienced the loss of many loved ones, including the death of his mother in 2007. After the loss of his mother David learned about New Hope, joined a grief support group and discovered his new-normal along the way. He connected with the mission of New Hope and started volunteering as a camp counselor working with school age children who had lost a loved one. Those volunteer hours became the stepping stone for David to become the Director of Marketing and Development in 2012.

In November of 2014 David became New Hopes second Executive Director. His own experiences with grief and compassion for the grieving give him great insight to best meet the needs of our grieving community. David enjoys spending time with his son Isaiah his wife Gerty.

jerrywJerry Wilson, M.Ed., M.S., CT, LMFT, Clinical Director

Jerry is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a grief specialist who is Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

Jerry’s professional background includes work as a minister, an educator, and as a businessperson. Following the death of his wife in 2005 Jerry began his journey to become a therapist in order to work with others facing the loss of a loved one. Along the way, he has led grief groups for adolescents and adults, counseled many individuals, and led workshops for other health care professionals on dealing with grief.

Not a stranger to New Hope, Jerry has been a volunteer facilitator since 2008 leading adult grief support groups and participating in Family Camp. This new chapter in Jerry’s life as Clinical Director at New Hope Grief Support Community gives him the opportunity to work with an even greater number of others who share his passion for helping those in grief find healing.

New Hope Malari SwierengaMalari Swierenga, Program Coordinator

Malari began her social service career in 2009 working in the employee assistance field, and later served as a case manager at a transitional housing facility. She attended Calvin College, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and went on to complete her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Malari lives in Long Beach with her husband Dan, and their two children. She is passionate about investing in her local community and seeing it thrive. She also enjoys running, hiking, reading, and visiting art museums.



Meghan V.Meghan Vanderbeek, Program Coordinator (currently out on maternity leave)

Meghan has been working in the non-profit sector since 2013, working with adults with disabilities and coordinating art and music workshops throughout Southern California. Meghan attended Oregon State University, earning a Bachelors of Science degree in Human Development and Family Sciences.

In 2010 Meghan did an internship with New Hope working with groups for grieving children. She lives in Long Beach with her husband Ben, son Noah, and two dogs Winnie and Science. Meghan enjoys knitting, weaving, silk screening and anything else that has to do with creating.