Board of Directors
President and Founder
Marcella Johnson invented the world’s very first weighted therapeutic teddy bear after the death of her son, George Gabriel Johnson, on April 11, 1999. When she first began she made each teddy bear by hand and personally delivered them to every hospital in her hometown of San Diego, CA. The Comfort Cub is now in top hospitals across the USA and is used on every continent to help alleviate grief.
Although its was originally created for mothers who lose a child, The Comfort Cub has effectively been used to provide profound relief for loss of any loved one, adoptions, trauma, occupational and autism therapy. Her goal is help bring healing to anyone experiencing a significant loss in their life. She is the mother of five children, has been married for 28 years and lives in San Diego, California. She is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and has been a tireless volunteer to many non-profit organizations in the San Diego area.
Mrs. Jean Colarusso is President of Friends of the Poor, a non-profit, non-denominational service organization founded in 1982 that works in partnership with volunteer relief workers globally to provide necessary funds, material goods, medicines and food to aid in the alleviation of poverty and suffering. Mrs. Colarusso has worked on multiple charitable projects in the USA, Mexico Guatemala and Nigeria.
Mrs. Colarusso worked closely with Mother Teresa for many years in Mexico and has most recently devoted her efforts in serving the poorest of the poor in Nigeria. Marcella has served on the board with Mrs. Colarusso on Friends of the Poor-Africa. Mrs. Colarusso brings a wealth of non-profit experience and a huge heart to the Comfort Cub board.
Lizabeth Sumner RN, BSN, MA, ORGL
Director of the Center of Compassionate Care, of The Elizabeth Hospice where she is a member of the senior leadership team, Liz is recognized as a pioneering leader of pediatric and perinatal palliative care. She has received the NHPCO’s “Heart of Hospice” award; the American Hospital Association’s “Circle of Life”; recognition from the AACN for her dedication to end of life nursing education. Ms Sumner is an accomplished author and national lecturer. She represents The Elizabeth Hospice on multiple state and national councils including: Co-Chair of The Pediatric Leadership Council for the National Hospice & Palliative Care organization; Director for Camp Erin San Diego. Leads several key initiatives such as : revision of agency core values; community partnerships including Girl Scouts of San Diego, Cal State San Marcos, Rady’s Children’s Hospital San Diego, University of San Diego Palliative Care Research and Education Institute Advisory Board. She is certified as an RTS Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator, credentialed in Servant Leadership. Created and managed the regional Children’s Program of San Diego Hospice and Palliative for over 18 years which became a nationally acclaimed model for Pediatric and Perinatal Hospice care. She was appointed to the prestigious Institute of Medicine Committee of the National Academy of Sciences that published the landmark report in 2002, “When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End of Life Care for children and their families.” She is the mother of 2 daughters.