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Updated: October 13, 2023

Longtime leader of Portland’s Center for Grieving Children to retire

woman outdoors Photo / Molly Haley Anne Lynch Heros joined the Center for Grieving Children staff in 1994 and became executive director in 2001.

After 29 years with the Center for Grieving Children including more than two decades at the helm, Executive Director Anne Lynch Heros will retire, the organization announced.

Heros joined the Portland-based nonprofit when her family needed grief and support following the sudden loss of a child in 1991, dedicating her life’s work to the center’s mission of offering support, resilience and healing.

“The loving support my boys and I received gave us what we needed to continue,” she said. “The center will always be part of me and I will hold it forever in my heart — it has been a beautiful journey.”

With plans to spend time with family and travel to her native Ireland, Heros will stay on during the transition as the organization seeks a replacement. The announcement did not specify a date for the planned retirement.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be trusted as the executive director of the center,” she said. “I have always been so moved by the love given by our volunteers, who hold the magic of the Center simply by listening and giving so much of themselves.”

Heros joined the staff in 1994 as a peer support facilitator. As executive director since 2011, she has expanded program offerings, led a $2.8 million capital campaign and managed the nonprofit, which employs 15 full-time staff members and relies on more than 200 volunteers.

Every year, the center provides 20,000 hours of free grief support for nearly 700 families and individuals.

Founded in 1987 by a local resident, Maine’s Center of Grieving Children offers a variety of programs to address grief for children and their families. 

In 1997, Heros started an intercultural program to address the needs of New Mainers who experienced war, natural disasters and loss in their home country. In 2011, Heros oversaw the expansion of bereavement support services into York County with a satellite center being established in Sanford.

Heros is also a  founding member of America's Camp, a national summer camp that built a network of grief-support "buddies" for children and siblings of first responders who died in the 9/11 tragedy.
The Center for Grieving Children was founded in 1987 by Portland resident Bill Hemmens following his sister's death. 

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