Walter Horak and Jessica Horak Stout

Jessica Stout has a professional background in clinical social work, with a focus on children and families in mental health settings. She holds a BA in Psychology from Connecticut College and an MSW from Columbia University. In recent years, Jessica has been a full time parent, a role encompassing great joys as well as the profound sorrow of losing her middle child to a terminal illness. A life-changing experience, this loss has prompted Jessica’s deep exploration of human grief and confirmed, for her, the cathartic and illuminating power of the written word.

Walter Horak is a professional sculptor who exhibits widely and whose work is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States and abroad. During his career as a visual artist, Walter has held teaching positions that have ranged from primary grades through the college level. He holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard and graduate degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He resides in Rhode island.

Ira Byock, MD is a leading palliative care physician and public advocate for improving care through the end of life. He serves as Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health and Services, based in Torrance, CA. Dr. Byock is Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He served as Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire from 2003 through July 2013.

Dr. Byock has authored numerous articles on the ethics and practice of care. His research led to conceptual frameworks for the lived experience of advanced illness, subjective quality of life measures, and effective life-completion counseling. His leadership in development of groundbreaking prototypes for concurrent care of people through the end of life has been foundational to advancing patient- centered care. More information is available at