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Hearts Connected has a mission to meet the unique needs of children, teens, and families facing difficult situations and stressful life transitions.  Through our innovative, yet proven therapeutic play and interventions, our team is a secure and supportive partner for coping with and healing from, the unexpected and unpredictable challenges life presents to us all.

We serve clients throughout the United States.
These are just a few of our team members that are available to help you and your family.


Meet Our Founder,
DD Fritch

Hearts Connected, LLC was founded by DD Fritch. She is a pediatric nurse of over 30 years and mom of three.  While she is now a healthcare leader and consultant, she was at the bedside for many years where she personally witnessed the impact that child life specialists have on both the child and the child’s loved ones while they faced situations that were hard to understand during their medical care.

She, along with the team of child life specialists at Hearts Connected have a deep desire to bring the services that typically are only available to patients in pediatric hospital settings to families in the community. DD is excited to be able to connect child life specialists all over the United States with parents, caregivers, family members and most importantly, the children they love!


Providing services to help children cope, grieve and heal.

Meet Carissa Menard,
Operations Manager & Child Life Specialist

Carissa has been a Certified Child Life Specialist for 7 years, working at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego for the majority of her career before Hearts Connected. Carissa is passionate about supporting and advocating for children and teens throughout life's many difficult challenges and building upon an individual's resilience. 


Carissa completed her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Minor in Child Development at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Carissa also earned her Masters of Science in Child Life Specialist from Loma Linda University. Throughout her graduate career, Carissa worked as the Bereavement and Community Educator's assistant, planning and facilitating grief camps for children, and developing grief resources and programming. Recently, Carissa has implemented child life services at a chiropractic office, as their patient care coordinator, expanding their pediatric programming and services for children with Autism and sensory processing disorders. 


Carissa resides in Northern California and in her free time, she enjoys cooking, hosting family and friends, and hiking or camping. 


Meet Our Team

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Meet Alice Shi,
Child Life Specialist

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Meet Dr. Stephanie Walsh

Chief Strategy Officer

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Meet Suzan Watkinson, Child Life Specialist &

Academic and Student Support Advisor

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Meet Janine Kreider,
Child Life Specialist

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Meet Leora Zomick,

Students Connected Research Analyst

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Meet Yifan Wang,
Child Life Specialist



Eileen Murray

RN-NIC Consultant

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11Alive News 

Author & Reporter: Kaitlyn Ross

Good Neighbor Podcast - Featuring Hearts Connected
00:00 / 22:47
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Meet Lisa A. Ciarrocca, Certified Child Life Specialist, Registered

Meet Lisa A. Ciarrocca, Hearts Connected Consultant

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Belinda Hammond,

Academic and Student Support Advisor

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