The role of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Steering Committee is to provide the network's primary investigators/administrators with expert guidance on the issues that affect the SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, its administration, the crisis center community, and its consumers.
David Covington, LPC, MBA (Chair)
David Covington, LPC, MBA serves as CEO and President of RI International, is an owner of Behavioral Health Link and leads the international initiatives “Crisis Now” and “Zero Suicide.” He is a two-time national winner of the Council of State Governments Innovations Award, in 2008 with the Georgia Crisis & Access Line and again in 2012 with Magellan Health. For five consecutive years, he competed as a national finalist in innovations award competitions, including Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government in 2009, and was featured in Business Week magazine.
He is an acclaimed global speaker, with top-ranked TED-style Talks and conference keynotes. In 2015, readers of his healthcare innovation blog represented 90 different countries. Previously he served as Vice-President at Magellan Health responsible for the administrative, clinical, financial and programmatic operations of the $750 million per year integrated health plan contract with Arizona Medicaid and the Department of Health Services.
Mr. Covington has served as a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention since it was created in 2010, co-chairing task forces on clinical care and crisis services. He has served as vice-chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline SAMHSA steering committee since it was created in 2005. He has served as the clinical division chair of the American Association of Suicidology since 2014. He served on the National Council for Behavioral Health board of directors from 2011 to 2014 and the Relias Learning Behavioral Health Advisory Board from 2014 to 2016.
Mr. Covington’s behavioral healthcare management history also includes CEO of Behavioral Health Link and Director of Public Sector Quality Management at APS Healthcare. He is a licensed professional counselor and has an MBA from Kennesaw State and a Master’s of Science from the University of Memphis.
Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D. (Vice-Chair)
Dr. Michael Hogan served as New York State Commissioner of Mental Health from 2007-2012, and now operates a consulting practice in health and behavioral health care. The NYS Office of Mental Health operated 23 accredited psychiatric hospitals, and oversaw New York’s $5B public mental health system serving 650,000 individuals annually. Previously Dr. Hogan served as Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health (1991-2007) and Commissioner of the Connecticut DMH from 1987-1991. He chaired the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in 2002-2003. He served as the first behavioral health representative on the board of The Joint Commission (2007-2015) and chaired its Standards and Survey Procedures Committee. He has served as a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention since it was created in 2010, co-chairing task forces on clinical care and interventions and crisis care. He is a member of the NIMH National Mental Health Advisory Council. Previously, he served on the NIMH Council (1994-1998), as President of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (2003-2005) and as Board President of NASMHPD’s Research Institute (1989-2000). His awards for national leadership include recognition by the National Governor’s Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, the American College of Mental Health Administration and the American Psychiatric Association. He is a graduate of Cornell University, and earned a MS degree from the State University College in Brockport NY, and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University.
Bart Andrews, Ph.D.
Bart Andrews, PhD, is Vice President of Clinical Practice/Evaluation at Behavioral Health Response. He started at BHR as a crisis intervention clinician in 1998. Dr. Andrews has dedicated the last 18 years of this life to suicide and crisis intervention. Dr. Andrews is a person in recovery and a suicide attempt survivor. He believes that the path to suicide prevention must be framed in the context of relationships, community and culture. Suicide is a community health problem, and everyone can help. Dr. Andrews was recently recognized as one of the top 21 mental health professionals to follow on Twitter.
He has over 20 years of experience providing behavioral health services. Bart received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University. He is actively involved in raising community awareness about the risk of suicide and training community members, law enforcement and other professionals in suicide assessment and intervention. He participates on several crisis and suicide related boards: serves as President of the National Association of Crisis Director and Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Standards, Training and Practices Sub-Committee. Dr. Andrews is also an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) Senior Training Coach. Through BHR, He created the first suicide follow-up program in the State of Missouri, and BHR has expanded suicide follow-up care to youth and adults throughout the eastern region of Missouri. He is the Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's Standards, Training and Practices Committee.
Jennifer Battle, LMSW
Jennifer Battle is the Director of the HelpLine at The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD Services in Houston, Texas. The Harris Center HelpLine serves as the main contact center for The Harris Center which is the largest provider of behavioral health services in the State of Texas, and as the crisis line for 39 Texas counties. The Harris Center HelpLine partners with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide coverage for previously under-served Texas area codes. Jennifer is a Mental Health First Aid, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, ASK about Suicide to Save a Life, and SafeTalk Trainer and supervises the Community Training Department for The Harris Center. In collaboration with the Houston Police Department and Houston Emergency Communications Center, she works to provide a Crisis Call Diversion Program to route people attempting to access mental health services via law enforcement to a more appropriate level of care through local behavioral health options.
In addition to her work at The Harris Center, Ms. Battle serves as the Vice-President of the Board for the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD) and is the past Co-Chair and current member of the Texas Suicide Prevention Council. She is currently part of the Zero Suicide Texas (ZEST) Learning Collaborative, the Trauma Informed Practice Implementation Team for The Harris Center, and serves at the Suicide Prevention Officer for The Harris Center.
Ms. Battle is a proud Social Worker and teaches as adjunct faculty at her alma mater the University Of Houston Graduate College Of Social Work. She also enjoys teaching Bachelor level social work classes at the University of Houston - Clear Lake and University of Houston – Downtown. She served as a member of the Lifeline Standards, Training, and Practice Committee for seven years.
Kita S. Curry, Ph.D.
Psychologist Dr. Kita S. Curry has been President and CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services for almost 20 years. Founded in 1942, Didi Hirsch is dedicated to serving communities where stigma or poverty limits access. From 11 locations and 100 schools, it provides transformative mental health and substance use care to children and adults in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
The first in the nation, its Suicide Prevention Center has been recognized nationally and internationally. Last year, its innovative attempt survivors’ support group model was accepted for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) Best Practice Registry; since then, there have been over 400 requests for the curriculum. A National Suicide Prevention Lifeline member since its inception, Didi Hirsch answered more than 70,000 calls/chats last year. One of three members with Spanish-speaking counselors 24/7, it also is one of three selected for the national Disaster Distress Helpline.
Dr. Curry has testified before the California legislature and served on California’s Advisory Committees on Suicide Prevention and on Stigma and Discrimination. Past board president of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, which co-sponsored a ballot initiative that created a tax to support mental health, she now serves on the board of the National Council on Behavioral Healthcare. To help erase stigma, Dr. Curry has shared her family history of mood disorders and her own struggles with suicidal depression widely in media interviews. Suicide has taken the lives of three relatives.
A Phi Beta Kappa English major from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Curry earned her doctorate in psychology at UCLA, supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Training Grant. Also an award-winning poet, her poetry collection, What Snakes Want (Mayapple Press), was released under the name Kita Shantiris in 2015.
Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, PhD.
Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, PhD., is the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). Prior to her appointment she held varied roles at the Department including Deputy Commissioner, Senior Policy Advisor and Director of the Office of Multicultural Healthcare Equality. Under the Obama Administration, Dr. Delphin-Rittmon served as Senior Advisor at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) with the Department of Health and Human Services working on a range of policy initiatives addressing behavioral health equity, workforce development, and healthcare reform. Dr. Delphin-Rittmon has also held positions as Assistant Professor and Director of Health Equity and Multicultural Research and Consultation with the Program for Recovery and Community Health in the Yale Department of Psychiatry.
Mary Drexler, MSW
Mary Drexler is currently the part-time Executive Director for CONTACT USA. She has served in this position for the past 5 years. She has an extensive background in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. She worked eleven years as an Information/Referral and Crisis Center Director in Connecticut that served residents statewide. She has been in the social services field since 1979. She served three years as Crisis Division Chair on the Council of Delegates for the American Association of Suicidology. Mary is also an ASIST trainer. She has also established Drexler Consulting, LLC as an entity for providing training to organizations and community groups, in areas such as suicide prevention and intervention, effective listening, stress management, and more.
Mary also serves as the full-time Executive Director of the CT Council on Problem Gambling. She serves on the National Council on Problem Gambling’s Board of Directors. She hopes to pursue further research in the area of problem gambling and suicide in the future. She holds a Masters of Social Work from the University Of Connecticut School Of Social Work.
Pamela End of Horn
Pamela End of Horn comes to the Division of Behavioral Health for the U.S. Indian Health Services from the Department of Veterans Affairs, working in suicide prevention and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Pam was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota. She is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. Pamela has a Master’s Degree in Social Work with practicums in Domestic Violence. In addition, she is certified in Cognitive Processing Therapy. She currently holds advanced practice licenses in North Dakota and Minnesota as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.
Robert Gebbia serves as the CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which has become the leading suicide prevention nonprofit organization in the United States. In 16 years, Gebbia has developed a nationwide network of 75 chapters and increased AFSP’s annual revenue from $700,000 to over $16 million in support of the mission. In the last five years alone, AFSP has initiated and funded one out of every five studies on suicide – making AFSP the largest private funder of suicide research in the United States. In 2014, Gebbia announced AFSP’s bold goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.
Mr. Gebbia helped launch the Out of the Darkness Walks to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention. The walks – now held in almost 400 locations across the country – have given millions of people a way to raise awareness and take action against this leading cause of death. In 2009, Gebbia led the effort to bring AFSP and the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA together to strengthen grassroots advocacy. The merger has helped advocates secure funding for mental health and suicide prevention programs at both the state and federal levels.
Mr. Gebbia is a founding member of the National Council for Suicide Prevention, serves on the National Lifeline Advisory Committee, the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and the Board of Directors of the National Health Council.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Hofstra University and a master’s degree in Sociology from the New School for Social Research. He completed the Harvard Business School’s Human Services Management Executive Program and IBM’s Leadership Commitment Program for nonprofit executives.
Madelyn Gould, PhD, MPH
Madelyn Gould, PhD, MPH, is a Professor of Epidemiology in Psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center, and a Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. During the past three decades, she has obtained extensive experience in the area of suicide prevention, conducting numerous federally funded grants from the National Institute of Health (NIMH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and publishing several seminal articles on youth suicide risk and preventive interventions. Her current SAMHSA-funded projects focus on the evaluation of telephone crisis follow-up services, continuity of care enhancements in EDs, chat crisis services, and telephone crisis interventions with callers at imminent suicide risk. She is also studying youth suicide screening programs, and suicide risks related to bullying, contagion and modeling, and the effect of a peer’s suicide on fellow students.
Dr. Gould has a strong commitment to applying her research to program and policy development. She has participated in a number of U.S. government commissions on suicide prevention and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Shneidman Award for Research from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) in 1991, the New York State Office of Mental Health Research (NYSOMH) Award in 2002, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Research Award in 2006, the New York State Suicide Prevention Center’s Excellence in Suicide Prevention Award in 2011, and the 2013 Dublin Award from the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), which is a lifetime achievement award for outstanding contributions to the field of suicide prevention.
Brian Hepburn, M.D.
Dr. Brian Hepburn is the Executive Director of the Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration (MHA). He has been the Executive Director for MHA since 2002. Prior to his current position, he was the Clinical Director for MHA from 1996 to 2004. He was also the Director of Psychiatric Education and Training for MHA from 1987 to 1997. He also maintained a private practice until 2004. Dr. Hepburn received his M.D. degree in 1979 from the University Of Michigan School Of Medicine. He received Residency Training in Psychiatry at the University of Maryland from 1979 to 1983. He was a Full-Time Faculty Member at the University of Maryland from 1983 to 1988 and has been on the Volunteer faculty at the University of Maryland since 1988. Dr. Hepburn is the Executive Director of the Public Mental Health System (PMHS) in Maryland. The PMHS provides community mental health services to over 150,000 individuals who have Medicaid or are uninsured. In addition, the PMHS has oversight responsibility for 7 state facilities. Dr. Hepburn is a member of NASMHPD, NASMHPD Medical Directors, NRI, and SPRC. He is committed to the goal of zero suicides and values his role as a member of the Lifeline Steering Committee.
Dwight Holton is Oregon’s former U.S. Attorney and current Chief Executive Officer of Lines for Life, the leading suicide and substance abuse prevention nonprofit in the Northwest. Lines for Life helps over 50,000 families a year with its crisis line services, including the Suicide Lifeline and the innovative YouthLine and Military Helpline. As a part of the Veterans Crisis Line network, Lines for Life helped nearly 25,000 vets and family members in 2015 alone. Lines for Life also promotes healthy kids and communities through drug and alcohol awareness, youth and parent drug prevention education programs, advocacy and public policy.
Mr. Holton took the reins at Lines for Life after 15 years as a federal prosecutor, most recently as Oregon United States Attorney. Through his work as a prosecutor, Mr. Holton learned the importance of early intervention and prevention strategies – and as U.S. Attorney, he launched efforts to improve access to addiction treatment and better mental health services. Mr. Holton was selected as first-ever recipient of OHSU Pain Awareness and Investigation Network (PAIN) Award for his efforts to address the prescription drug overdose epidemic in Oregon.
At Lines for Life, Mr. Holton is leading the organization to expanded work in prevention of suicide and substance abuse. Lines for Life is launching an innovative school climate initiative designed to implement a comprehensive approach to improving school climate and student mental health, academic performance, attendance and more equitable discipline practices. Lines for Life is also working to build youth suicide prevention efforts in regions throughout Oregon.
David A. Jobes, Ph.D., ABPP
David A. Jobes, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor of Psychology and Associate Director of Clinical Training at The Catholic University of America; he is an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He has published five books and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles. Dr. Jobes is a past President of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and he is the recipient of various awards for his scientific work including the 1995 AAS “Shneidman Award” (early career contribution to suicidology), the 2012 AAS “Dublin Award” (for career contributions in suicidology), and the 2016 AAS “Linehan Award” (for suicide treatment research). He has been a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jobes is member of the Scientific Council and the Public Policy Council of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and is Board certified in clinical psychology (American Board of Professional Psychology). Dr. Jobes maintains a private clinical and forensic practice at the Washington Psychological Center. He is the Co-Chair of the Natioal Suicide Prevention Lifeline's Standards, Training and Practices Committee.
DeQuincy Lezine, Ph.D.
Dr. Lezine attempted suicide during college, but turned his personal despair into advocacy by forming the first student-led college mental health and suicide prevention group (Brown University chapter of the Suicide Prevention Action Network; B-SPAN). Since 1996, Dr. Lezine has worked with many organizations to promote suicide prevention including Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN) USA; National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI); the Organization of Attempters and Survivors in Interfaith Services (OASSIS); La Frontera / EMPACT Suicide Prevention Center; National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance; Suicide Attempt Survivor Task Force and Impact Group); Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC); Oklahoma Suicide Prevention Council; the Center for Dignity, Recovery, and Empowerment; and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Voice Awards by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
After graduating from UCLA with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology Dr. Lezine completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with an emphasis on public health approaches to suicide prevention at the University of Rochester Center for the Prevention and Study of Suicide. He is the Chair of the Attempt Survivor and Lived Experience Division of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) as well as an internationally recognized scholar, advocate, and public speaker. As a professional writer, he is the author of “Eight Stories Up: An Adolescent Chooses Hope over Suicide,” released in 2008 by Oxford University Press and primary writer of “The Way Forward: Pathways to hope, recovery, and wellness with insights from lived experience” released in 2014 by the Action Alliance (Suicide Attempt Survivors Task Force). Dr. Lezine is President and CEO of Prevention Communities, an applied research organization with a focus on suicide prevention and mental health promotion. He is the Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's Consumer Survivor Committee.
Laura Mayer is the Program Director at PRS CrisisLink, a 24-hour crisis hotline, text line and telephone reassurance program serving northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. PRS CrisisLink is a program of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Inc. and exists so that individuals living with mental illness, substance use disorders, mild intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and anyone who faces life crises can achieve safety, personal wellness, recovery and community integration. As the Program Director, Ms. Mayer has been instrumental bringing cost effective and evidence-based suicide prevention programming to the local community. In 2014, Ms. Mayer partnered with the local public mental health system to provide crisis texting to the Fairfax County Public School System and the surrounding communities. Ms. Mayer has been building partnerships with the sexual violence and domestic violence communities to bring a trauma-informed approach to crisis care and suicide prevention. She hopes to expand these relationships to bring improved coordinated care between emergency departments, public emergency mental health and the sexual and domestic violence serving agencies.
Ms. Mayer is a member of the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia, the Youth Suicide Fatality Review Team and mental health promotion workgroups in several jurisdictions. She has been interviewed and featured by Comcast Newsmakers and NBC4’s Changing Minds Campaign. She is currently working towards her degree in Social Work and Community Health at George Mason University.
Patricia Morris, M.Ed. MAC
Pat Morris has been Program Director of Care Crisis Response Services at Volunteers of America Western Washington since 2006. She is responsible for administration of an AAS and CONTACT USA accredited 24 hour Regional Crisis and Triage line, a Regional Utilization Management program and a centralized intake and referral call center for mental health services and a Chat online emotional support program. The Crisis Line is a Lifeline affiliate, and Ms. Morris has been a member of the Lifeline Steering Committee since 2009. She serves on the NASCOD Board of Directors and recently served as AAS’s Crisis Centers Division Chair. She is a member of a Washington State Regional Integrated Crisis Response System and sits on numerous regional committees and task forces. She provides regional and statewide trainings on Suicide Prevention/Intervention; Substance Abuse, Co-occurring Disorders and related Mental Health topics. She is a certified ASIST and safeTALK training through Livingworks. She also provides regional Crisis Intervention training to law enforcement personnel. Prior to her work at Volunteers of America Western Washington, Ms. Morris was the Program Director for a Hospital-based Chemical Dependency Program in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with special emphasis on Co-occurring Disorders and Addictive Family systems.
Ms. Morris is a licensed professional counselor, a nationally certified mental health and Master Addiction counselor with a Masters of Education Degree from the University of Idaho. During her thirty year career in the Mental Health and Chemical Dependency field, she has experience providing mental health case management, involuntary treatment evaluations, psychosocial and Clubhouse rehabilitation and outpatient therapy. She has worked in Mental Health emergency services and crisis lines in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. She has developed and administered inpatient and outpatient chemical dependency programs, specializing in co-occurring disorders. She has also served as an Adjunct professor in Northwest Universities teaching graduate level coursework, and is currently an instructor at Western Washington University.
Kenneth Norton, L.I.C.S.W.
Mr. Norton is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI NH). Mr. Norton led the development of NAMI NH’s Connect Suicide Prevention Program which is designated as a National Best Practice Program in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. He has served on numerous local and national workgroups and committees related to suicide prevention efforts and has presented nationally and internationally. Mr. Norton participated in the planning for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and serves on several Action Alliance task forces. He worked to legislatively establish the NH Suicide Prevention Council and the NH Suicide Fatality Review Committee. Mr. Norton has a great deal of experience dealing with mental illness from the family perspective and has also worked extensively in community mental health as well as on advocacy issues related to mental health care and suicide prevention.
Jerry Reed, Ph.D., MSW
Dr. Jerry Reed is the Director of the federally funded Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), where he and his staff provide state and local officials, grantees, policymakers, interested stakeholders, and the general public with assistance in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs and strategies to prevent suicide. Dr. Reed is also a Vice President of the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) and serves as the Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Injury, Violence and Suicide where he co-directs the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention (ICRC-S) with partners at the University Of Rochester Medical Center.
Dr. Reed served on the Board of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) from September 2007 – September 2013 as Chair of the Council of Organizational Representatives and is a member of the Violence Prevention Alliance Steering Committee operated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and international partners. He is also an inaugural member of the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (NAASP) where he co-chaired the Task Force responsible for revising the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP).
Prior to joining EDC as SPRC’s Director in 2008, Dr. Reed served for five years as Executive Director of the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA), a national non-profit created to raise awareness, build political will, and call for action with regard to advancing, implementing and evaluating a national strategy to address suicide. Additionally, he served in the Office of Senator Harry Reid (NV) addressing health issues, served as a career civil servant with the Department of the Army for fifteen years as a Community Services Program Manager both in U.S. and Europe, and served in the U.S. Navy before being honorably discharged in 1978.
Dan Reidenberg, Psy.D., FAPA, DAPA, FACFEI, CRS, BCPC, CMT
Dr. Dan Reidenberg is the Executive Director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), the Managing Director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention and US Representative to the International Association for Suicide Prevention. He is a Diplomate, Fellow, Certified Master Therapist, Certified Relationship Specialist and is Chair of the Advisory Board of the American Psychotherapy Association, Chair of the Certified Relationship Specialists program, and serves on the Advisory Boards for Reachout.com and YRB Council in Canada.
Dr. Reidenberg began his career working on crisis lines at Crisis Connection in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he handled calls and spoke publicly for the agency on crisis management. He went on to work at the Bill Kelly House (one of the first dual programs for adults in the country), maintained a private practice and worked on in-patient psychiatry adolescent and adult units in St. Paul, Minnesota. At Family & Children's Service he oversaw ten mental health and community programs that included crisis lines and intervention programs for youth and adults. He has extensive experience in psychotherapy, forensic work, consulting and training of both attorneys and healthcare professionals. Dr. Reidenberg speaks nationally and internationally on suicide prevention issues, assisted with groundbreaking research on billboards and media related to suicide prevention and serves on various national and state suicide prevention task forces and committees. Under his direction, SAVE operates a national multimedia campaign, professional and community education and training programs, as well as develops resources and support for those in crisis and survivors. He was responsible for the development of Linking Education and Awareness of Depression and Suicide (LEADS) an evidence-based best practices program curriculum in suicide prevention for use in high schools, as well as several other best practice materials. He also led the task force that created the Recommendations for Media Reporting on Suicide and the development of the Online Technology tool for social media.
Marlon R. Rollins, PhD, LMHC
Dr. Rollins is a Director of Operations from the Behavioral Health product line in Community Health Network in Indianapolis, Indiana. Community Health Network (CHNw) is a 3 billion dollar not-for-profit healthcare system with the largest integrated behavioral health services with eight hospitals and over 200 ambulatory sites of care in Indiana. The behavioral health services include a 123 bed inpatient hospital, an 80 bed youth residential treatment facility and mental health services in 92 schools. Dr. Rollins oversees the Crisis and Access departments, which includes a 24/7 walk-in clinic and supports seven different emergency departments with telepsychiatry services. Community Health Network is a recipient of the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Grant from SAMHSA. Dr. Rollins is a member of the Zero Suicide Initiative (ZSI) core group responsible for mobilizing suicide prevention systems throughout CHNw.
Dr. Rollins has testified before state legislators on expanding crisis services in the state of Indiana. He shares his knowledge and lived experience on various media platforms to fight stigma on mental illness including the loss of his sister to suicide who was a registered nurse. He is a member of the National Association for Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD). Dr. Rollins is a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Council for CHNw. He is the recipient of the Human Achievement award from the Center of Leadership Development, Inc. and is trained in Lean Six Sigma. He has provided training to the Indiana School Counselors Association and school nurses on self-injury. He has published quantitative and qualitative research in the Journal for Gifted Studies and Roeper Review as well as a contributing author for the Handbook of Multicultural Counseling. For five years, he was the Coordinator of Counseling Services at a 300 capacity residential school for gifted students called the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities and an instructor of AP Psychology. He was elected as the Outstanding Psychology Student of the year for his undergraduate class in 2001 as an honors student. He conferred his doctorate degree in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling Psychology and Gifted Studies from Ball State University in 2010. Additionally, Dr. Rollins is an ordained minister from the Church of God In Christ, Inc. His research interests include advanced crisis systems, outcome assessment, suicide prevention, educational development, high ability studies, social justice and multicultural counseling.
Tanya A. Royster, M.D.
Dr. Tanya A. Royster is the Director for the DC Department of Behavioral Health, the single state authority for mental health and substance use disorders services. She is a Board certified general, child and adolescent psychiatrist. Dr. Royster previously served as the Director of Behavioral Health at the Franciscan Physicians Network in Illinois. As Chief of Clinical Services System with the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health, she led the efforts to integrate mental health and primary care — proven to lead to the best outcomes. She also has served as medical consultant to an Illinois care coordination entity that provides care coordination services for the Illinois Medicaid agency.
Dr. Royster is a seasoned clinician, teacher, researcher and innovator. She earned tenure at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she published multiple articles and taught in the departments of medicine, nursing, social work and Honors College.
Dr. Royster has a proven track record and long-standing interest in creating and sustaining healthy communities, delivering culturally competent, high quality services, creating data driven, outcomes-based system transformation and reducing health care disparities. The Annie E. Casey Foundation selected her as one of its 2010-2011 Children and Family Fellows. The Fellowship is an intensive results-based executive leadership program that supports child and family-serving leaders across sectors in enhancing their efforts at leading major system reforms and community change initiatives that get results.
Dr. Royster is a graduate of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and completed her general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry residencies at New York University/Bellevue Hospital Medical Center.
Linda Rosenberg, MSW
The National Council for Behavioral Health is our nation’s most effective advocate for behavioral health prevention, early intervention, science-based treatment, and recovery. Harnessing the voices of the 10 million adults, children, and families served by the National Council’s 2,700 member organizations, Linda Rosenberg’s leadership helped secure passage of the federal parity law, expanded integrated behavioral and primary care services, introduced Mental Health First Aid in the U.S., and built an array of organizational, clinical and workforce improvement initiatives. The National Council’s strong support of the Mental Health Excellence Act will result in the first comprehensive effort to establish community accountability for the health of people with serious mental illnesses and addictions, the consistent utilization of evidence-based practices, and the standardized measurement of outcomes.
John Santopietro, M.D., DFAPA
Dr. John Santopietro is Chief Clinical Officer of Behavioral Health at Carolinas HealthCare System, an 8.5 billion dollar not-for-profit healthcare delivery system headquartered in Charlotte, NC, with 60 thousand teammates providing 13 million patient encounters a year across three states. He has devoted his career to transforming systems in order to improve care and the experience of care for people suffering with mental illness. He has held leadership positions in public mental health, hospital systems, and the community and is nationally known for his work. He is passionate about the need for clinical leadership in solving the substantial challenges which confront our healthcare system and teaches on psychiatric leadership. In his current role he has driven transformation through such projects as the building of a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital, integrating behavioral health into primary care and Emergency Rooms using ‘virtual’ teams and telemedicine, as well as training four thousand people in the Charlotte area in Mental Health First Aid. Dr. Santopietro graduated from Yale University, Northwestern University Medical School, and completed his internship, residency, and fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a board member of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists. He was president of the Connecticut Psychiatric Association where he earned the CPS Service Award for his leadership during the Sandy Hook tragedy. He has served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Connecticut Mental Health Commissioner’s advisory board and currently serves on two state-wide task forces in North Carolina – one called by the NC Institute of Medicine and one by Governor Pat McCrory. Dr. Santopietro grew up in Rhode Island where he spent summers at his grandfather’s fish market learning hard work and leadership. He most enjoys spending time with his wife, Kathy, and their three sons.
Sally Spencer-Thomas, Psy.D., MNM
As a clinical psychologist, mental health advocate, faculty member, and survivor of her brother’s suicide, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas sees the issues of suicide prevention from many perspectives. Currently, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, an award-winning organization dedicated to sustaining a passion for living through suicide prevention, social enterprise and support for people bereaved by suicide. Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas is also the past Director of the Survivor of Suicide Loss Division with the American Association of Suicidology, and is the Co-Lead of the Workplace Task Force with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Within her role as CEO of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas has established and founded Working Minds, the nation’s first comprehensive suicide prevention program exclusively dedicated to suicide prevention in the workplace; founded the FIRE Within program for youth and social entrepreneurs; and, was the principal partner on the award-winning Man Therapy social marketing campaign.
Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas has received wide recognition for her work and has been an invited guest to the White House Briefing on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in DC and to the World Health Organization’s World Suicide Report Launch in Geneva. As a professional speaker, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas was the first national speaker to frame suicide prevention as a social justice issue and has presented at dozens of college campuses and regional/national conferences empowering students to join the suicide prevention and mental health promotion movements.
Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas is also a published author and co-author of several books and articles addressing suicide prevention and postvention in the workplace, college suicide prevention, spirituality and mental health, men’s mental health, and suicide and first responders. Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas has delivered countless conference workshops, webinars and major seminars on these topics and has been invited to make plenary addresses internationally in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Estonia, Australia, Norway, Uruguay, China and Italy. She is the Co-Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's Consumer Survivor Committee.
Becky Stoll, LCSW
Becky Stoll, Centerstone’s Vice President of Crisis and Disaster Management, is a recognized leader in the areas of crisis services and suicide prevention. Becky is responsible for the operation of Centerstone Tennessee’s Crisis Call Center and Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams and the Clinical Pathway for Suicide Prevention for all Centerstone states (Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee). She is a member of the National Action Alliance’s “Zero Suicides in Health and Behavioral Healthcare” Advisory Group as well as serving as a faculty member for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center at Zero Suicide Academies across the country. Becky has participated in the international movement around Zero Suicides in Health and Behavioral Health Care by attending the first meeting of suicide prevention leaders in Oxford, UK and the most recent meeting in Atlanta, GA. She also has extensive training and experience in crisis and disaster management for human-made and natural disasters. Becky is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress and a Diplomate of the American Association of Experts in Traumatic Stress. She is a Certified Employee Assistance Professional. Ms. Stoll has provided training, consultation, and post-event response nationally and internationally to aviation, banking, educational institutions, emergency response organizations, and professional sports.
Caitlin Thompson, Ph.D.
Dr. Caitlin Thompson is the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Mental Health Director of Suicide Prevention and Community Engagement. She is responsible for policy development, provider and patient education in the areas of suicide awareness and prevention, implementing assessment and treatment strategies and the dissemination of new findings in the area of suicide throughout the VA system and broader community. Prior to this role, Dr. Thompson spent five years as the Clinical Care Coordinator for the National Veterans/Military Crisis Line. A licensed clinical psychologist by training, she also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University Of Rochester Department Of Psychiatry. In 2012, she spent five months detailed as the VA Liaison for the DOD’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office. Dr. Thompson completed her Bachelor’s degree in music at Brown University and her Master’s degree and Doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia.
Debi Traeder is the Community Behavioral Health Liaison, serving the suicide and substance abuse prevention needs of Central Wisconsin through North Central Health Care, Wausau, Wisconsin. Utilizing her extensive background in marketing and public speaking to provide training, technical assistance and consultation she collaborates with local, state and national resources, to assist community partners in identifying needs and gaps in services so to develop and implement strategies to bridge those needs. Prior to North Central Health Care, Debi was the suicide prevention coordinator for Mental Health America-Wisconsin, helping found and coordinating programming for the statewide initiative, Prevent Suicide Wisconsin. Debi also spent eight years as an educator and outreach coordinator liaison with Aspirus Behavioral Health Services in Wausau. In these positions, she continues to provide trainings on mental health topics to agencies across Wisconsin. She has also exercised her passion for prevention as a chair of Prevent Suicide Marathon County and member of the AOD Partnership. Ms. Traeder is a Master Trainer in QPR, Question, Persuade, Refer - a national suicide prevention program; able to train others to present the program. She also is a certified QPR-T instructor, a specialized risk assessment and management training for mental health professionals. She also serves on WISE - Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination. She is also a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor as well as a trainer in Trauma-Informed Care and bullying prevention. Ms. Traeder serves on the National Zero Suicide Initiative and prior to being elected to the Lifeline Steering Committee, served on its Standards, Training and Practices Subcommittee, as well as various subcommittees with the American Association of Suicidology and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She also serves on the Wisconsin Crisis Network and the Mental Health Substance Use Recovery Training and sits on both planning committees. She is also an accomplished public speaker, presenting on topics in mental health, alcohol and other drug abuse, life skills and overall wellbeing.
Ms. Traeder also serves her local community as a United Way action team member and as a member of Rotary International, having served as past president of the Rotary Club of Wausau and currently as the district training chair. She also serves on the board of the Salvation Army and Healthy Marathon County, the Rural Health Initiative, and other community projects.
Eduardo Vega, M.A.
Eduardo Vega is the Executive Director for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHA-SF). In this role he serves as Director and Principal Investigator Center for Dignity, Recovery and Stigma Elimination, the nation's first consumer-run technical assistance, research and training center (TARTC) focused on best practices for recovery, social change and stigma reduction including stigma around suicide.
Mr. Vega has served on the Lifeline Steering Committee since 2005. In 2009 he was appointed to the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance on Suicide Prevention, a joint public-private project of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense, in 2010 through which he chairs the Task Force on Suicide-Attempt Survivors and helped develop the revised National Strategy on Suicide Prevention. He was founding chair of the Lifeline's Consumer-Survivor Subcommittee. Mr. Vega served as California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) in May 2007 until 2012 and was the first Chief of the Office of Empowerment and Advocacy for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Previously, as program manager with the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse and dissemination Director of the UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration, he developed content and resources for related programs nationally.
As a thought leader in recovery and system transformation and previous community provider, Mr. Vega has worked to advance mental health systems and policies locally, nationally and internationally for over 20 years. For his work to promote cultural competence and challenge the legacy of racial disparities in mental health he was honored by the U.S. Senate and the National Resource Center on Hispanic Mental Health in 2009. Mr. Vega has taught and trained on mental health advocacy, consumer empowerment, recovery programs, suicide prevention and policy at conferences across the United States and in Tokyo, Kobe, China and Canada. He holds an M.A. in Psychology from New School for Social Research and serves on the SAMHSA Recovery-to-Practice Initiative, Social Justice Advisory Committee of the California Mental Health Directors Association. He is President and co-founder of the California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations (CAMPHRO).
Edgar K. Wiggins, M.H.S.
Edgar Wiggins is the founding Executive Director of Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. In this capacity, for over the last 23 years he functions as the Chief Executive Officer and oversees the operations of BCRI, a community-based behavioral health crisis intervention organization. He has been involved in several mental health organizations for over the last forty years. He has served as the Executive Director of the Black Mental Health Alliance, Director of Psychiatric Clinics at the Charles Drew Community Mental Health Center, and Day Hospital Director at COMHAR, Inc.
He has also served as a consultant and trainer to a variety of public and private organizations including Yale Department of Psychiatry Mobile Crisis Team, Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Psychiatry and the DC Bureau of Mental Health. He was selected to travel to Cuba as part of a delegation of health professionals and city governmental officials. Mr. Wiggins has provided training to police, paramedics, and 911 operators regarding the management of mental health emergencies. He is a past Executive Board member of the American Association of Emergency Psychiatry. Currently he serves on the Boards of the Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry and the National Family Resiliency Center.
Mr. Wiggins is the recipient of many awards, including awards from the Mental Health Association, the Anti Stigma Project, the National Association of Health Services Executives, and the Governor’s Citation for Suicide Prevention. The program, Mental Health Matters, won the Cameo Award for excellence in public access television programming in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. In 2005 he received the Mental Health Professional of the Year Award from National Alliance of The Mentally Ill. In 2006 Mr. Wiggins received the Outstanding Merit Award from the Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry, in 2007 he received the Heroes Award from NAMI and in 2008 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Mental Health Association. Mr. Wiggins received the Excellence in Community Mental Health Services Award from NAMI 2010. In 2011 Mr. Wiggins received the Governor’s Citation for Inspiring Leadership and Service, he received the Mayor’s Certificate of Recognition and he also received the NAMI Maryland Certificate for Service and Leadership. In 2012 Mr. Wiggins received a Certificate of Special Recognition from the Baltimore City Police Department for police training. In 2013 Mr. Wiggins received the Visionary Award from the Anti-Stigma Project of On Our Own of Maryland, Inc. and the Honorable Judge Robert M. Bell Excellence in Community Service Award from the Sojourner-Douglass College. In 2015 he received the Marcia G. Pines Lifetime Advocacy and Service Award from NAMI.
Leslie S. Zun, M.D., M.B.A.
Dr. Leslie S. Zun is the System Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Sinai Health System in Chicago, Illinois and Chairman & Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine and a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/Chicago Medical School in North Chicago, Illinois. His background includes a medical degree (M.D.) from Rush Medical College and a business degree (M.B.A.) from Northwestern University's JL Kellogg School of Management. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Zun was a chief operating officer and acting chief executive officer for a 200 bed hospital in Chicago. Dr. Zun’s research interests include healthcare administration, violence prevention and behavioral emergencies. His publications have addressed the administration of the hospitals and emergency departments, physicians’ bonus and incentive plans and quality improvement topics. He has presented his research and lectured on these topics both nationally and internationally. He is a board member of American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the President Elect for the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry. He is the chief editor of the Behavioral Emergencies for Emergency Physicians textbook and course director for the past six years for the National Update on Behavioral Emergencies conference.
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