Jennifer Leslie Gray Golick, Ph.D.
Dr. Jennifer Golick was instrumental in the creation of Muir Wood and the development of its adolescent treatment program. Through the years, Jennifer became a leader, not just at Muir Wood, but in the larger northern California treatment community where she spoke often and passionately about the dangers of high-potency cannabis use among teens. Jennifer worked side by side with Muir Wood Founder and CEO Scott Sowle until leaving the center in late 2017 to pursue her career closer to her beloved daughter Makena and her husband Marc. Jennifer joined the clinical team at The Pathway Home in Yountville, CA where she used her considerable talents counseling combat veterans, many suffering with PTSD.
On Friday, March 9, Dr. Golick and co-workers Jennifer Gonzales-Shushereba and Christine Loeber were taken hostage and subsequently murdered by a former patient.
Reaction was immediate, with grief and disbelief flooding across the community of professionals that worked with Jennifer and also among the families of the teens that were helped by her work at Muir Wood. Scott Sowle wrote:
“It is with paralyzing sadness and utter disbelief that our dear friend and colleague Jennifer Golick has been taken from us. In the five years she worked alongside me, Jennifer helped countless families heal. I’ve heard from many of them today. The boys at Muir Wood would literally line up at her office door waiting for her to arrive in the morning. I’ll always remember her as incredibly caring and kind. One of the brightest I’ve known, always with a big, warm smile, and just the right words to say. Jennifer left Muir Wood last year to work closer to home for her beautiful daughter Makena and her husband Marc. They were high school sweethearts. Family was everything to her. If there is a place where the best of us go after this life, Jennifer is most certainly there.”
A GoFundMe page was created to support Jennifer’s daughter Makena and her husband Marc. Please consider a donation and forwarding the link below on to friends and colleagues. Visit www.gofundme.com/napa-tragedy-momfrienddoctor
Condolences and Remembrances
Countless friends, colleagues, Muir Wood alumni, and alumni families expressed their grief and sorrow as well. What follows is a collection of sentiments received in the immediate days following this tragedy.
“It is taking time for the reality to sink in. The very special person that saved our son, and so many other parents’ sons, is now lost to us all – in such a tragic way. It is a slow and increasingly painful reality that we are trying to process. We haven’t told our son, the son that you and Jennifer gave back to us. We are not sure how he will process and handle this sort of shock. We are eternally grateful to you and the staff at Muir Wood for all you did for our son, Chris.
Jennifer was central to his recovery, healing, and reentry into the world outside of Muir Wood. Her knowledge, kindness, and insight facilitated not only our son’s recovery, but the repair of our relationship with him. It is truly unimaginable that Jennifer will no longer be among us as a mother, wife, healer, and as the extraordinary human being that she was. We are truly heartbroken and extend our deepest sympathy to you and the staff at Muir Wood for your loss.”
– Parents of a Muir Wood alumnus
“I was so shocked and saddened to learn that Jennifer was one of the shooting victims at Pathway Home. As I believe you know, she and I worked several times together to educate parents about substance abuse dangers and I had nothing but the highest regard for her. She truly was one of the most amazing women I’ve known, with a heart that was huge and the ability to make everyone around her feel cared about. I’m SO sorry she won’t be able to continue her work and unfortunately, I know personally what horror her family is dealing with having lost her so suddenly. They are in my thoughts in prayers, as are you and the staff and residents of Muir Woods.
I know how much this hurts everyone who had the fortune to have crossed paths with her at Muir Wood and elsewhere, as I did. I’ll never forget this dreadful day, in part because her death fell on what would have been my son Joey’s 30th birthday. It was already a tough day to get through and then this.”
– April Rovero, NCAPDA
“We were shocked to learn that Jennifer was one of the hostages shot and killed at yesterday’s tragic incident at (The Pathway Home). She was truly very professional and caring during our grandson Noah’s stint at Muir Wood. Our condolences and prayers to family she left behind.”
– Grandparents of a Muir Wood alumnus
“She meant so much to our son. She really believed in him and was a great mentor to him. My heart is breaking for her family and I’m praying for them. If I can do anything to help please let me know. I’m wondering if someone might be setting up a Go Fund Me for her daughter or the many causes she supported.”
– Joyce, Mother of a Muir Wood alumnus
“I admired her so much. Paralyzing sadness. You two brought Muir Wood to life.”
– Cynthia E. Miller, Ph.D., LMFT
“It was with great sadness that we heard of Jennifer’s tragic death. While the pain of her loss will remain, solace can be taken in the great healing work she did while touching so many lives.”
– Dan Barmettler, Co-Director of Conferences, Health Communications, Inc.
“Sending condolences and blessing.”
– The Rev. Sam Satkin
“Dear Scott and all our friends at Muir Wood, we are devastated, and grieve with you.”
– Eric Bolton, Duffy’s
“So incredibly heartbroken about this and hoping everyone is holding up as best as could be expected under such tragic circumstances.”
– Lindsay Goodlin, LCSW
“In the short time I worked with Jennifer at Muir Wood Teens, I was astounded by her seemingly never ending capacity for love, compassion, and heartfelt professional commitment to the kids. She had a ready smile and was always there for me personally as a friend and colleague. I’m truly devastated by this senseless loss. Please God watch over her and her family, and give them the capacity to make it through this impossible time. Hold them in the palm of your hand, and give them peace – as much as this is even possible. You will be so,so missed Jennifer. Rest easy, know that others will step up to carry your work on.”
– Your buddy, Jerry Bayer
“Hard to understand how a life devoted to healing these tragedies would be ended by someone still wracked by unhealed pain. May healing and positive growth emerge as the phoenix from these painful ashes, and her loving family receive comfort and sustenance.”
– Loi Eberle, CPC
“I am saddened by the loss of the three doctors that lost their lives helping veterans. I myself met one victim many years ago when she worked in the downtown area. Jennifer Golick was an outstanding lady, doctor and friend. She helped me many, many years ago. I loved talking to her. I recently got reconnected with Jennifer from working at the PX in Yountville. She’d come in to purchase lunch items. After all these years that passed between us, we got to share a hug once again. My daughter and my grandson were there one day when Jen came in. I was so proud for her to re-meet Jamie and, meet Jarod. Jennifer Golick you are a special woman, you helped me so much. What a loss, my heart goes out to her family and everyone involved with this horrible, horrible situation. THANK YOU DR. GOLICK. And to the husband and daughter, I’m so sorry for this tragic situation. Hold the good in your mind and hearts. I’m sure Jen helped many families.”
– Diana Blevins-Stark
“My heart is breaking….such a beautiful human being inside and out. So kind to Ben, such a wonderful mentor, so important in his life and his role as teacher at Muir Wood.”
– Kathy Ketcham, best selling author and mother of a Muir Wood alumnus
“I would love to help you keep the memory of Jennifer alive. When I first showed up to Muir Wood I was a broken kid, I didn’t know how to be a proper person in society. Working with Jennifer gave me the foundations that helped me become the man I am today. I have over two and a half months sober, I have a job, and I’m working towards my psychology degree. None of this would’ve been possible without her and Muir Wood and I’m forever grateful.”
– Logan F., Muir Wood alumnus
“I was very fond of Jen for her professionalism, intelligence, clear, precise, incisive clinical views and for her obvious dedication, hard work, warmth, caring and compassion for her clients. She made a big impact on me in a very short period of time because of the above. But I guess that was Jen.”
– Stephen Pereira, M.D.
“I was so heartbroken to hear about what happened last Friday. Jennifer was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Hearing about what happened brought back an overwhelming flood of emotions regarding my time at Muir Wood and the amazing work we did together. More than anything, I remember how much the boys wanted to get out of class so they could go talk to and hang out with Jennifer.”
– Ben Spencer, author and former Muir Wood teacher
“In our brief time with Dr. Golick we learned how kind, generous, and passionate she was in her healing work with youth, families and veterans. You may not know that she volunteered her time last May to drive 6 hours RT up from St. Helena to Squaw Valley because she wanted to share her expertise in youth substance abuse treatment with our participants at the summit. She wanted to help meet the needs of people who were suffering and she responded to our request with humility, dedication, and warmth. If you were fortunate to have attended her workshop in the afternoon on May 12th, 2016, we know you were impacted by her work and insights. She will be profoundly missed. There are no words that can fill the void of the loss of Jennifer to her family, friends, coworkers, colleagues, clients, and the prevention and treatment field. However we can honor her memory by being inspired by her work, and her passion for serving others.”
– Truckee Future without Drug Dependence Coalition
“I am deeply saddened to be writing you regarding the tragic incident yesterday at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville. Our thoughts are with all of the victims and their families. Pathway Home center executive director Christine Loeber, program therapist Jen Golick, and clinical psychologist Jennifer Gonzales were all killed by a former patient. This senseless violence hits very close to home – both Christine and Jennifer were beloved members of the SFVAHCS Mental Health Service. All three selflessly devoted their lives to caring for veterans, especially those affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.
Included below is correspondence from John McQuaid, our Vice Chair for Psychiatry at SFVAHCS. The loss is being felt especially acutely in this part of our family, but the tragedy touches every corner of the department.
Early next week, I will follow up with additional information regarding opportunities for us to come together as a community, including a discussion on security issues. Incidents like this, the recent murders in Parkland, Florida, and growing list of mass shootings in the U.S. all remind us of the challenges our society faces in respect to gun violence and the critical importance of what we do for a living – both treating individuals who may be at risk to harm themselves or others, as well as caring for survivors, their families, and other loved ones.
Unfortunately, there is a tendency when these events take place for some to turn a spotlight on the mentally ill in a way that is not helpful or accurate. For those of you who have not yet had a chance to read it, I am including a link to an excellent recent piece by our own Matthew Hirschritt and Renee Binder that substantively addresses what is known about the nexus of mental illness and violence.”
– Matthew W. State MD, PhD, Oberndorf Family Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry Executive Director, UCSF Child, Teen and Family Center
“We had the privilege of working with Jennifer Golick when my son was admitted to Muir Wood. It was his his, and our, first experience with residential treatment. Jennifer was kind and caring, I appreciated her calm and strong demeanor. Please know we join the community in mourning her passing. May her soul continue to be a shining light.”
– Judith, mother of Muir Wood alumnus
“This is Jacob. I was very sad to hear about Jennifer. She was an amazing woman who helped so many of us. I was hoping to talk to you about doing something for her family. I think it would be really nice for them to hear from the boys who have been through Muir Wood. I was hoping to get short letters written from as many alumni as possible talking about how she affected our lives. I think it would be nice for them to know how many lives she changed. I send my condolences to everybody at Muir Wood.”
– Jacob S., Muir Wood alumnus
“We were so saddened to learn about the tragic loss of Jennifer Golick. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family and to you and the Muir Wood family.
Jennifer was very courageous in the career she chose and the selfless work she did every day. She new the risks of helping others face their demons and took her role head on with passion and excellence. She will remain a model for others in her field.
We were impressed with Jennifer from our very first meeting at Muir Wood. The more we shared with her, the more she showed of herself. She was committed, fearless, inspiring. We credit her work and care with our son in helping him turn his life around. Our entire family has the gift of knowing her and are forever impacted like so many she was able to touch.
You have suffered a personal loss that no one can explain and only time will heal. Our hope is the grieving process will pull the Muir Wood family together as Jennifer would want. We pray you find strength and peace and light in the days ahead.”
– Derek, Mary, Jackson & Jace, Muir Wood alumnus family
“It is taking time for the reality to sink in … The very special person that saved our son, and so many other parents sons, is now lost to us all – in such a tragic way. It is a slow and increasingly painful reality that we are trying to process. We haven’t told our son, the son that you and Jennifer gave back to us. We are not sure how he will process and handle this sort of shock.
We are eternally grateful to you and the staff at Muir Wood for all you did for our son, Chris. Jennifer was central to his recovery, healing, and reentry into the world outside of Muir Wood. Her knowledge, kindness, and insight facilitated not only our sons recovery, but the repair of our relationship with him.
It is truly unimaginable that Jennifer will no longer be among us as a mother, wife, healer, and as the extraordinary human being that she was. We are truly heartbroken and extend our deepest sympathy to you and the staff at Muir Wood for your loss.”
– Sandi and Mark, parents of a Muir Wood alumnus
“Jon and I send our love and condolences to you and the Muir Wood family. Jon and I have reflected on how much Jennifer meant to our family. She helped to mend our relationships and never wavered in her dedication to Dylan’s recovery. I am so, so sorry for your loss.”
– Kelly N., mother of Muir Wood alumnus
“We wanted to reach out and express our condolences and support over the tragic loss of Jennifer yesterday. I know she was no longer working for Muir Woods but realize this must be a huge loss for you. We are thinking of you and your staff and sending our thoughts and prayers.”
– Gina C., mother of Muir Wood alumnus
“It is with a heavy heart that I convey the very sad news that our partner and friend, Jennifer Golick was unmercifully killed yesterday at the Veterans Home in Yountville. Jennifer was an ally to the Coalition and provided education around marijuana – the science and impact on youth. Her style was receptive to both parents and teens. She knew her stuff and she knew how to convey difficult information. We are all saddened by this senseless loss and grieve for the Muir Woods community (where she worked before Pathway House), her family and all who had the privilege of knowing her. She was an advocate for youth and offered her extensive knowledge freely. Our hearts are broken.”
– Linda Henn, Project Coordinator, The Coalition Connection (internal communication)
“I cannot believe that news – Jennifer was such a big part of getting Marcus back on track, we owe a debt of gratitude to her.”
– Gary R., father of Muir Wood alumnus
“We will never forget the bright, shining, funny and wise Jennifer Golick. She was an inspiration to Chris and to our entire family — always ready to lend an ear and provide guidance. The world lost someone very special yesterday. We will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to know Jennifer. Please let us know if there is a fund where we can direct a gift. With deep sympathy to you, her family and everyone at Muir Wood.”
– Diana and Craig, parents of Muir Wood alumnus
“I am so saddened to be writing you today. Dolph and I saw the news today about the VA Home shooting. Words cannot express how sad we are that Jennifer lost her life. The only solace I can find is that she was doing what she loved and was so incredibly good at. We are keeping the whole Muir Wood community who knew Jennifer and worked with her as well as her family in our prayers.”
– Maureen J., mother of Muir Wood alumnus
“I wanted to reach out as I just heard for sure that one of the victims in Napa was Jennifer. I am so truly sorry. She was such a warm and kind professional, she really made a difference for me personally. I have thought of her often since Joseph went to Muir, and exchanged a few nice emails with her. Some of the words and phrases she used have resonated in my mind as I try to navigate parenting my guy, and I smile when I think of the jokes she often made. Joseph also really connected to her as well as Sasha. We have not told him yet.”
– – Joanell S., mother of Muir Wood alumnus
“I heard the news about Jennifer and would like to express my condolences to you and the rest of the Muir Wood community. Jennifer was a truly great person and the work you both did changed my life immensely. She was one of the only people who could see through all the bullshit 16 year old me would throw at the world and she recognized me as a human being. I’m now 2 and a half years sober and living a life I could only have dreamed of while loaded. I could not have gotten where I am if not for Jennifer, Muir Wood and AA. Please keep doing what you do, it changes people’s lives.
If you ever feel like it would aid the boys to talk to someone who has gone to college, lived in a drinking city like New Orleans and/or works in the music industry, while still being a sober, step-taking member of Alcoholics Anonymous, please feel free to contact me. I was given a great life through Muir Wood and AA and paying it back is the least I can do.”
– – Joe K., Muir Wood alumnus
“I am devastated to learn of Dr. Golick’s passing. She was a shining light in a very dark time in our lives. I still use her brilliant strategies she taught us as we go through our life raising children and being part of a family. Ryan was one of the first through your program and I am happy to report his success in school and maturity to young adulthood. We owe her so much. Please know she, her loved ones and your staff are all in our prayers during this difficult time.”
– Patty, Mike and Ryan, Muir Wood alumnus family
“For starters, Jennifer was and is no victim. She was a freaking woman warrior for life and lived so passionately and completely. I knew Jennifer because she was the clinical director at the adolescent treatment facility I work at and she had just recently gone to work at the Veterans facility. So you can only imagine the strength, care and compassion someone who works with our at-risk youth then moves on to care for our veterans, has.
You know how some people just have a positive, warm presence about them? That was Jennifer. I’ve had many leaders at various jobs, and some I may have even known better than her, but she just had a way of touching lives; and she sure impacted mine. I always felt heard, supported and encouraged by her. Because for her, her office was open to anyone. And if you needed a moment she gave it to you. She was so intelligent, bold, brave and incredibly kind. The kind of woman you tell your daughters about to show them women can be anything we want. She was a doctor, a clinical director, an avid giants fan, lover of Tough Mudder, a wife and a wonderful mother among so many other things. She made it seem easy being all those things and so much more. She made people want to do better, and be better.
Jennifer had so much love for her daughter who I got the pleasure of meeting. Such a smart, fierce and beautiful little girl, just like her mother. I hope she knows how often her mother spoke of her and how proud she was of her. Jennifer loved her family so much, and I cannot even begin to imagine the depth of their loss.
As I’m getting older I’m seeing that life can be so horrible and terrifying. But Jennifer dedicated her life to helping others and she lived her life so fully and generously. So I will try to honor her by doing the same. I will try to be a more patient, understanding and positive person. I will keep her legacy in my mind and heart and remember all the beauty, brilliance and compassion she brought to the world. Because the world is damn sure a better place for having had her in it. Rest easy Jennifer. And thank you for all you gave this world and everything you gave to those who love you. You’ll be so incredibly missed.”
– Delilah, Muir Wood staff