Author & Mental Health Advocate
Deena Baxter is a published author, wellness advocate and strategic management consultant with more than 30 years of experience in finance, program management, and communications. She earned her B.S. and M.B.A. from Boston University. Her business articles and humor columns have been published in numerous print and online publications. In September 2014, she launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, after losing her youngest adult son to suicide. She lives and works in Southwest Florida.
Safe Schools/Student Assistance Consultant, Macomb Intermediate School District
Nancy has worked at the MISD for 18 years. She provides leadership, service and support to educators from the 21
Macomb County districts in the areas of school safety, crisis response, suicide prevention, bullying prevention, and mental health promotion. She also leads the county’s Student Assistance Program (S.A.P.) Network. Nancy earned a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and a Masters in Counseling and Mental Health. Nancy chairs the Macomb County Suicide Prevention Coalition and is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker and Certified Trauma Consultant.
LMSW Psychotherapist; Founder, Institute for Hope and Human Flourishing
Gigi Colombini is a Clinical Social Worker who, since 1990, has focused her passion on working with youth and adults who experience trauma,
grief, anxiety, depression and suicide. She has worked as a Crisis Counselor/Supervisor, facilitated grief groups, and led CISM teams and various suicide prevention e orts throughout Southeast MI. She has consulted on programs for Harvard, Dartmouth, and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Ms. Colombini is a sought out speaker who has provided extensive education in business and community settings. Her Institute for Hope and Human Flourishing outpatient clinic is located in Birmingham, MI.
Co-Author, “Dying to Be Free”
Jean Larch, S.W.T., is a crisis intervention specialist who has spent many years working with suicidal individuals, and family members who have survived such a loss. She developed a renowned workshop on the subject of the suicidal mind and trained mental health professionals on various aspects of suicide. She co-authored “Dying to Be Free” with Beverly Cobain. This book is an excellent choice for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide.
Resource & Crisis Line Coordinator, Common Ground
Amelia Lehto specializes in crisis intervention and suicidology on the local, state, and national levels through training, advocacy and technology. She is a Manager of Clinical Quality Improvement at Crisis Text Line. She is an Advisory Council member, conference committee member and Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group co-founder to Kevin’s Song. She is a Suicidology and Crisis Intervention Consultant, past President of Michigan nonprofit Six Feet Over, and past Crisis Centers Division Chair for the American Association of Suicidology. Amelia is a Certified American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor and a LivingWorks Education ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and suicideTALK Master Trainer. After experiencing loss at a young age, she discovered that one is not defined by how they died, but how they lived.
Dennis Liegghio lost his father to suicide when he was a teenager. For years he battled guilt, shame, anger, depression and his own thoughts of suicide. A song that he wrote years
later allowed him to begin a journey towards healing. Eventually, this song ignited a passion to raise awareness about suicide in his community because the subject is highly stigmatized and rarely discussed. With the help of family, friends and colleagues, KnowResolve was born in 2007 and remains dedicated to raising awareness about youth suicide and advocating for prevention.
Loss Survivor, Suicide Prevention Trainer, Advocate
Karen M. Marshall has more than
25 years of experience in suicide awareness, prevention, intervention and postvention. She recently retired
as Outreach and Prevention Coordinator with American Indian Health and Family Services of SE Michigan, where she coordinated and delivered training for Native American populations throughout Michigan and the Bemidji Indian Health Service Region.
CEO & President, Northeast Guidance Center
Sherry Ellen McRill is the President/ CEO of Northeast Guidance Center, a nonprofit behavioral health/integrated healthcare organization serving
northeastern Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties. She has extensive experience as an administrator and consultant for behavioral health organizations for more than 40 years. She earned a Master of Arts in Psychology and Counseling from Oakland University and is a Limited License Psychologist.
Kenneth J. Meisel
Ken Meise, LMSW, has been licensed to practice psychotherapy since 1986. He achieved an undergraduate degree in Social Work from Wayne State University in 1985, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from The Center for Humanistic Studies (now The Michigan School of Professional Psychology) in 1986. Prior to gaining his Masters Degree, Mr. Meisel worked as a youth counselor for runaways on Detroit’s east side. Currently he specializes in individual and marital therapy, and has maintained an active private practice serving individuals, families and marriages since 1988. Mr. Meisel is clinically trained to provide marital therapy and EMDR. He has presented widely since 1998 on topics that include marriage, parenting, eating disorders and trauma. In November, 2015, Mr. Meisel presented to the Wayne County Family Bar Association on the effects of Secondary Trauma among legal professionals .In addition to working as an LMSW, Mr. Meisel is a 2012 Kresge Arts Literary Fellow, and the author of five books of poetry. His most recent book of poetry, The Drunken Sweetheart At My Door, was published in 2015. Proceeds of books sales will be donated to First Step, an organization that assists women in escaping domestic violence.
Executive Director of the Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network
Working in this field for 27 years, Barb Smith is recognized nationally for the work she has done at both local and statewide levels. Barb is
the executive director of Survivors of Suicide. She is certified as a T4T and state coordinator for Yellow Ribbon (gatekeeper training), ASIST trainer (applied suicide intervention skills trainer) safeTALK trainer (suicide alert for everyone), victims advocate for the Saginaw County Sheri Dept, and a suicide outreach specialist. As a survivor of her brother and sister-in-law’s suicide, Barb had the opportunity
to present to over 70,000 people not only on her lived experience but new research and how we can use it to prevent future deaths to suicide. Most recently, Barb introduced Zero Suicide to the Great Lakes Bay Region where 3 major hospitals are now implementing Zero Suicide into their health care system and collaborating with behavior health and the community at large creating a “region-wide” zero suicide initiative. Barb is the author of a short story in the i’Mpossible Project book.
Rabbi Daniel B. Syme
Temple Beth El
Rabbi Daniel Syme graduated from the University of Michigan with Phi Beta Kappa honors. After a near fatal
bout of cancer at age 21, he vowed to devote his life to God, and five years later Syme was ordained from the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati campus. He earned a doctorate in education from Columbia University Teachers College. He is a published author or co-author of 26 books, on topics such as Jewish parenting, youth suicide prevention, Christian-Jewish Relations, Jewish social action, ritual, theology and education.