Meet the professional counselors who lead each of our sessions.

When you join a Sad Isn’t Bad session, you’re part of a group of your peers — children, adolescents or adults — led by a facilitator. They guide activities and help each group talk about grief in an age-appropriate way. You can get to know the counselors here.

Children’s group

Whitney Burroughs

“I am currently the junior kindergarten-8th grade school counselor at Tri-Valley in Colton, South Dakota. I also am an LPC (licensed professional counselor). I have past experience working in various school settings and also in private practice/the mental health field. I love working with children and adolescents on a variety of issues and just truly love the population I get to work with. I want to help anyone I work with through whatever it is that they are facing and while things are not always easy, it’s so much better when we have someone who supports us — I love being that person for others.”

Gretchen Ritter

“I have a master’s degree in individual and family counseling with additional coursework to be certified as a school counselor in South Dakota. I was a social worker with DSS for eight years prior to working as an elementary school counselor for 25 years. Since retiring I continue to sub in the Sioux Falls school district as well as several volunteer opportunities in our community. I have been a facilitator with SIB since the program began. It is an honor to come alongside families during this challenging time in their lives.”

Adolescent group

Ian McClure

“I graduated from SDSU with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and now work at Southeastern Behavioral Healthcare as a home based therapist working with clients ages 6 to 65. I work with individuals, families, couples, and groups on a variety of issues. I have been a facilitator with Sad Isn’t Bad for three years now.”

Renae Oines

Renae Oines is a school counselor by trade and has worked with high school students in the Sioux Falls School District for almost 10 years. She has been a facilitator in the adolescent group for Sad Isn’t Bad for four years and has served on the board for the past three years. While her main area of focus in counseling is career development, she has a special interest in working with children and teens who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Having lost one parent at the age of 8 and the other when Renae was 23, she can relate to how impactful these events can be and how complex it may be to make sense of them as a child and young adult.

adult group

John Hegg

Jon Hegg earned a BA from St.Olaf College and master’s in counseling from South
Dakota University. He was a professional school counselor in Canton, South Dakota; Keflavik,
Iceland; and Edison and Memorial Middle Schools in Sioux Falls. He has facilitated and directed parent education groups using Love and Logic Parenting and Active Parenting of Teens curriculums. He was an adjunct professor at
SDSU, USD and Augustana University teaching Human Relations, Adolescent Development and Wellness.
He has trained with Dr. Wolfelt, director of the Loss and Life Transition Center in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and with the Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families in Portland, Oregon.

Mary Standeart

Mary Standeart has been involved in the Sad Isn’t Bad program since its inception and was part of founding the program. She also served on the board for many years. She states it has been some of the most rewarding work she has done as a social worker. To see the support of group members working together to start the healing process has been a privilege to witness. She has worked with child, adolescent and parent groups. Mary worked as a school social worker in the Sioux Falls School District where she worked with students and their families and has since retired. Since then, she has substitute taught in early childhood classrooms and alternative school programs and has continued to be a facilitator for Sad Isn’t Bad. Being in a support group herself when her brother died unexpectedly helped her realize the power in sharing her grief with others who had also experienced the loss of a sibling.

Let’s support each other.