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Survivors Say is a Boston-based nonprofit created by David Guarino, a trusted strategic communications, political and business adviser to leaders, nonprofits, associations and corporations. David brings significant hands-on media relations and crisis management experience to Survivors Say, both as a longtime former newspaper and a strategic communications adviser.

As a newspaper reporter, David covered high-profile events including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 1994 mass shootings at women’s health clinics and many other violent crimes and accidents that led him to interview and work with survivors, victims and families. As a communicator, David directed all communications for the state’s chief law enforcement official in the Office of the Attorney General for two years. He later worked with Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet, families who lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and other high-profile incidents.

Along the way, David had the opportunity to help those thrust into the limelight in the midst of family tragedies. With the support of countless friends and allies and his colleagues from Melwood Global, the strategic communications firm he owns with fellow former journalist John Boit, David officially founded Survivors Say with the goal of engaging other communicators and allies who support our mission, vision and goals.

Photo used with permission from Jason LeRocque.

The LeRocque Family

In 2017, we were introduced through mutual friends to the family of Rhonda LeRocque, a 42-year-old mother who was murdered alongside 57 others in the mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival. We worked collaboratively with family and friends to keep the media at a respectful distance in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, helped create and manage a public statement press conference and managed press through the private wake and memorial service. Throughout the process, the media respected the LeRocque family and friends, allowing them the space to grieve in peace.

"In the painful days after Rhonda's death, we were surrounded by so much love and support from family, friends and total strangers who just wanted to lend a hand. Our family values our privacy and, while we respected the media's need to cover the story of Rhonda's death, we wanted to grieve in private, particularly in those most painful days leading up to her funeral. Working with David and his group helped make sure the media kept a respectful distance and, when we were ready to speak, David made sure the public statements were heard and kept the focus where it should be – on Rhonda's life and legacy. Our family is so grateful to have had this experienced, dedicated support when we needed it most." ~ Jason LeRocque, husband of Rhonda LeRocque.

The Charabati Family

We worked hand-in-hand in July 2020 with the family of Zakhia Charabati, a 52-year-old Manchester, New Hampshire man who had been missing and presumed dead. At the family’s request, we issued a statement to the media on the day investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered remains of a body which was later identified as Zakhia. The statement ensured more information was shared about Zakhia’s life and included a specific statement asking the public to provide further information to investigators, as the family and investigators wished. This statement allowed the family to share its message at one moment while protecting their privacy.

"David was very helpful to our family during the most difficult time in our life. He was able to help us filter our statement and assist in what we said. He was also compassionate and empathetic to our situation and made us feel very comfortable and cared for." ~ Marie Charabati, Zakhia's sister-in-law.

Photo used with permission of the
Charabati Family.

Photo used with permission of the
Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.

Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund

For more than a decade, David has offered pro bono communications support for the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund and the families of those killed as a result of military conflicts since September 11, 2001. David, with the pro bono support of his team at Melwood Global, has publicized large scale Military Heroes Fund events including the annual Memorial Day garden of more than 37,000 American flags on Boston Common (one signifying every hero from Massachusetts who has died as a result of combat since the American Revolution) and the annual Day of Service on 9/11 to support military personnel from Massachusetts still serving overseas and homeless veterans throughout Massachusetts.

"David Guarino and Melwood Global have provided over a decade of support and guidance to bereaved military families served by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund. David and the team work diligently to ensure that the voices and concerns of survivor military families are at the front and center of all our communications. Media coverage of our annual Memorial Day Flag Garden on Boston Common is an example of David’s ability to amplify bereaved military voices wanting the sacrifices of their fallen loved ones to be remembered and heard by our community. David’s kindness, sensitivity, compassion, and empathy drive his work with Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund and we are more powerful, client-centered advocates as a result." - Diane Nealon, LICSW, Executive Director, Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.

We greatly respect the privacy of the individuals we work with. Information above was posted with approval from the families in hopes that their stories will help others.