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Ellen O’Donnell, PhD

Ellen is a child psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Shriners Hospital for Children-Boston and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. At the hospital, she specializes in working with children and families affected by Type 1 diabetes, traumatic burn injuries and other chronic illnesses and medical conditions.  She also has a private practice where she does testing for learning disabilities and provides parent guidance to families struggling with their children’s educational and mental health needs.

Ellen has authored and co-authored numerous articles and book chapters on topics in child psychology such as learning disabilities, coping with a child’s or parent’s medical illness, and on positive parenting practices to prevent depression and anxiety in children. Her research in graduate school was in applying self-determination theory to parenting to foster children’s intrinsic motivation.

Aside from all the academic stuff, Ellen has become known around New England as a dynamic speaker on parenting related topics. Ellen is regularly invited to speak at Type 1 Nation - a day long conference for families impacted by Type 1 diabetes hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - where she has presented on topics including parenting a teen with Type 1. She is known for distilling parenting research, her clinical experience and weaving in personal stories and a lot of humor to present TED-like talks on parenting and raising kids and teens.  

Ellen consults to and presents at Clara Barton and Joslin Diabetes summer camp and the College Diabetes Network. She also runs parenting groups for families facing the challenge of raising kids and teens with disfiguring burn injuries. In her private practice, parents and pediatricians around the Boston area seek her out for her approach to understanding each child’s unique strengths and weaknesses and guiding families on a path that best supports both.

Bless This Mess is Ellen’s first opportunity to use her clinical and speaking voice as an author. Ellen lives in Concord, MA with her husband and two boys, who find ways to pull her away from reading books and doing yoga to learn to ski, fish, paddleboard, hike and build stuff in the woods.

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Reverend Molly Baskette

Molly is the Senior Minister of First Congregational Church of Berkeley, CA and the author/co-author of several series of books, including grief workbooks for children and practical how-tos for church renewal that are also a lively and compelling spiritual read.

The ministry bug bit Molly at progressive Christian church camp when she a nerdy teenager, and she has worked for God for a living ever since, in a wide variety of settings: Mexican orphanages; large, quiet suburban Anglo churches where the median age was 65; less-quiet urban multiracial churches where the median age was 9; and before moving to Berkeley in 2016 was the senior minister of First Church Somerville, a radically renewing UCC that boasts its own Drag-Queen-in-Residence in Berkeley’s doppelgänger, Somerville, Massachusetts.

Her books fill gaps in the progressive Christian canon: so far, a book about church renewal (Real Good Church: How Our Church Came Back From the Dead and Yours Can Too), a book about how fun it is to publicly confess our sins (Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession, see book trailer), and two grief workbooks for children co-authored with Jewish psychologist Nechama Liss-Levinson (Remembering My Pet and Remembering My Grandparent). She is a cancer survivor and is now at work on a memoir of faith and survivorship.

Molly teaches around the country and online, with expertise in church renewal, adaptive/disruptive leadership and organizational change, social media and spiritual formation for the new millennium. She has an online video presence, most recently in short theological/spiritual takes such as Word “Word Takeaway” and “Church on Fire”. The blog she wrote when she was in cancer treatment generated over 2,000 unique daily visitors.

She lives in Alameda, CA with her husband and two children, where she loves to march in the streets, bike the Bay, or read in the hammock, depending on God’s agenda for the day.