Our Faculty

Our national faculty have expertise in Zero Suicide implementation, change management, assessing and managing suicide risk, patient safety, and lived experience.
Photo of John Ackerman

John Ackerman

Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital

John Ackerman, Ph.D., is a child clinical psychologist with the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital (NCH). He coordinates community and school-based suicide prevention efforts throughout central and southeastern Ohio. Dr. Ackerman is faculty on the pediatric acute care clinical psychology internship track at NCH. He serves on the Zero Suicide Implementation team at NCH and also is the PI on a grant looking at ways to enhance transition care using text-based caring contacts with youth and families. He is involved in training on suicide screening, risk assessment, and safety planning in primary care and community settings. Dr. Ackerman is a member of the American Association of Suicidology and serves on several committees including Youth Suicide Prevention, Autism and Suicide, and the Strategic Media Response Task Force.

“It has never been more important than now to challenge our systems and ourselves to reduce gaps in suicide care. As we learn more about what treatments work best and for whom, we can create new pathways of hope and healing for individuals at risk for suicide and those who support them. Zero Suicide is a catalyst for this growth. It has already made a major impact on our hospital system and we are really just beginning.”

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Brian Ahmedani

Director, Center for Health Policy & Health Services Research
Director of Research, Department of Psychiatry, Senior Scientist
Henry Ford Health System

Brian Ahmedani is a director of research, senior scientist, and licensed clinical social worker who has particular expertise in suicide prevention. He has led and participated in numerous federal and other funded studies on suicide prevention and has also conducted an evaluation of the award-winning Perfect Depression Care/Zero Suicide program at Henry Ford Health System. Dr. Ahmedani has provided training and consultation on the Zero Suicide Model and Evidence-Based Suicide Prevention Approaches in healthcare settings both nationally and internationally.  

“The Zero Suicide Model just makes sense. It’s really a health care model focused on caring about people that’s ultimately designed to continue to improve over time as more evidence becomes available.”

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Bart Andrews

Vice President of Clinical Practice and Evaluation
Behavioral Health Response

Bart Andrews, PhD, is Vice President of Telehealth and Home/Community Services at Behavioral Health Response. Dr. Andrews is the Co-Chair of the Suicide Lifeline’s Standards, Training and Practices committee, a member of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) Steering Committee, a ZeroSuicide Academy Faculty member and member of the American Association of Suicidology’s Executive Board of Directors. Dr. Andrews served on the board of the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors for 9 years (2009-2018), his last two serving as Board President. Dr. Andrews is a suicide attempt survivor and a proponent of embracing of lived expertise in our suicide prevention efforts.

"I believe that the path to suicide prevention must be framed in the context of relationships, community, and culture."

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Sarah Bernes

Behavioral Health Specialist
International Association of Fire Fighters

Sarah Bernes provides training and technical assistance to IAFF affiliates across the United States and Canada. Previously, Ms. Bernes served as the Director of Suicide Prevention at the Institute for Family Health, a network of federally qualified health centers in New York where she oversaw all activities related to caring for suicidal patients including training, policy, and research. She also provided individual and group therapy to a small caseload of high-risk patients. At the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Education Development Center, Ms. Bernes founded the Zero Suicide Institute and was instrumental in developing the Zero Suicide Toolkit. She received her master's in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public and her master's in social work from the University of Maryland.

"Zero Suicide will only be possible if we suspend belief that it cannot be done."

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Edwin Boudreaux

Professor of Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and Quantitative Health Sciences
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Dr. Boudreaux is a clinical health psychologist with 20 years’ experience in Integrated Behavioral Health across a variety of settings, including emergency medicine, inpatient, and primary care.  His suicide intervention work has included both traditional bedside interventions, as well as mHealth and telehealth interventions.  Dr. Boudreaux serves as the Principal Investigator for the UMass Zero Suicide Framework implementation.

“To truly reduce suicide, we have to make our healthcare systems serve the individual, rather than the other way around, and we must leverage our technology innovations to improve connectedness between the individual, families, providers, and communities, both within and across care settings.”

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Colbie Caughlan

Suicide Prevention Project Manager THRIVE
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

Colbie Caughlan, MPH, is the Suicide Prevention Project Manager for project THRIVE (Tribal Health: Reaching out InVolves Everyone) at the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB). Ms. Caughlan manages the SAMHSA Garret Lee Smith youth suicide prevention and IHS Substance Abuse & Suicide Prevention grants and provides suicide prevention training and technical assistance to Northwest Tribes. She also works to develop and disseminate culturally-appropriate suicide prevention materials and resources.

"With passion and hard work Zero Suicide can absolutely be achieved and sustained in our everyday work!"

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Diana Cortez-Yanez

Lived Experience Consultant and Peer Support Specialist
Harborview Hospital

Diana Cortez-Yanez serves as a Peer Specialist and DBT instructor at Harborview Hospital & the University of Washington. As a National Lived Experience Consultant, she has shared her story to benefit suicide prevention in many different venues and consulted with different organizations and educational institutions.

"What drew me to want to be a part of Zero Suicide was the direct approach to address suicide prevention at a systems level. I've always believed that sharing my experiences in the system would contribute to helping make the necessary changes."

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David Covington

CEO & President
RI International

David Covington is a member of the DHHS Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) established in 2017 in accordance with the 21st Century Cures Act to report to Congress on advances in behavioral health. Mr. Covington is the President-Elect of the American Association of Suicidology and has served on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Executive Committee since 2010. He is also the Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline SAMHSA Steering Committee. He co-chaired the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Clinical Care & Intervention Task Force with Dr. Michael Hogan.

"Zero Suicide is the catalyst for a new approach in health care, one that pushes through the fatalism around this wicked challenge, and introduces...hope!" 

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Cynthia Ewell Foster

Child Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan

Cynthia Ewell Foster, Ph.D. is a Child Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, specializing in youth suicide prevention. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and has led or participated in multiple federal grants, including the Youth-Nominated Support Team Intervention and Michigan’s Garrett Lee Smith youth suicide prevention grants. Dr. Ewell Foster is also a clinician and clinical educator; she is an AMSR trainer and co-authored the recent book:  King, CA., Ewell Foster, C.J.and Rogalski, K. (2013) Teen Suicide Risk: A Practitioner Guide to Screening, Assessment, and Management.  Guilford Press.

“The Zero Suicide Toolkit is an incredible resource for our health care systems and communities. It synthesizes the best available research evidence with clear, easy to follow implementation guidelines. As providers, we all want to do right by the families we servethe Zero Suicide model can help us to do that.” 

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Candace Frierson

Executive Director of Patient Services/CNE
Community Health Network

Candace Frierson has worked most of her career in Behavioral Health as a registered nurse or nursing/operations leader. She has worked in a variety of settings including acute, residential, and community providing behavioral health care. Currently, she oversees operations for 135-bed behavioral health inpatient service as well as a crisis service in the Indianapolis area.

"Suicide is Preventable, Recovery is Possible, Treatment Works."

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Lia Gaggino

Medical Director Behavioral Health Services
Bronson Healthcare Group

Lia Gaggino has been a general pediatrician for nearly 30 years with an interest in mental health and is now the medical director for behavioral health for children and adults in the Bronson Healthcare Group system. Bronson was awarded a one-year grant that allowed the system to train staff and to develop suicide prevention processes and we continue to build integrated behavioral health practices in primary care with a focus on the Zero Suicide model with an emphasis on identification, risk assessment, safety planning and coordinated care.

"Zero Suicide has given us a framework to respond to patients at risk of suicide with a well-outlined process and numerous resources to support our staff and leaders. Before Zero Suicide individual clinicians did the best they could without direction; with Zero Suicide we have a plan."

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Laurie Gerdt

Program Manager
SAMHSA Garret Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention Indiana Award

Laurie Gerdt is a licensed mental health counselor with nineteen years of direct care service in both acute psychiatric inpatient and community mental health settings within a larger healthcare system. Ms. Gerdt's current role is as Program Manager for the SAMHSA Garret Lee Smith youth suicide prevention Indiana award. Gerdt is also the current chair for the Indiana Suicide Prevention Network Advisory Council, which is comprised of members from the private and public sector as well as numerous state agencies, who collaborate on suicide prevention efforts.

The Zero Suicide model breaks down the walls of what has historically been a segregated society between mental health care and health care.  The Zero Suicide model helps us preach to new audiences versus preaching to the choir.

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Erin Goodman

Certified Peer Recovery Specialist
Washington County Zero Suicide

Erin Goodman is the Peer Recovery Specialist for the Washington County Zero Suicide Program and an employee of Wood River Health Services in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. Previously, she was the Program Director and lead facilitator of the Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS) Training at Parent Support Network of Rhode Island. Ms. Goodman is also a suicide attempt survivor, an ordained interfaith minister, and 2021 Fellow of Yale University’s Lived Experience Transformational Leadership Academy, LET(s) LEAD.

“One of the many things I love about the Zero Suicide approach is the emphasis on creating a 'just culture' to identify and address gaps in our healthcare systems.  The days of looking out from our limited, siloed perspective and assigning blame elsewhere must be behind us. It is essential that we work collaboratively, creatively, and system-wide to ensure we are providing suicide-safe care for all.”

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Leah Harris

Peer Integration Strategist
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)

Leah Harris is a trainer and consultant to the federally-funded National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC). They are a trauma survivor and suicide attempt survivor who brings their lived experience to all aspects of their suicide prevention work. Harris is especially interested in speaking and writing about the intersection of traumatic experience and suicidality, peer support, and mind-body resilience-building skills and strategies.

“Among the many things I appreciate about Zero Suicide is the deep and enduring commitment to honoring and infusing the wisdom and insight that comes from lived experience throughout the approach.” 

Photo of Jenna Heise

Jenna Heise

State Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Texas Health and Human Services

Jenna Heise has over twenty-two years working in the field of behavioral health as a nationally certified counselor, trainer, and administrator. For the last seven years, she has been the statewide Suicide Prevention Coordinator in Texas. She oversees all suicide care services in the public mental health system, implements/analyzes suicide prevention legislation, and has acted as project director for two federal statewide suicide prevention grants.

"Having been part of Zero Suicide since the beginning, I believed in the ideas being pulled together because it intuitively made sense. I had been in the field working as a therapist, an administrator, I had personal experience with suicide. All of these led me to know that this systems approach in healthcare was going to work and was critical. When we finally saw the model come together and how strong it was, it was no surprise to me when the historical data from our beginnings with Henry Ford began to show in other places really working for fidelity with Zero Suicide. It has been remarkable to watch everything grow. You must be part of this, it is truly LIFE CHANGING!"

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Mike Hogan

Hogan Health Solutions

Mike Hogan spent 25 years managing the mental health systems in Connecticut, Ohio, and New York and now works independently as a consultant and advisor on high-urgency mental health issues including suicide prevention. Dr. Hogan chaired President George W. Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which recommended “forming a national level public-private partnership to advance…the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention" and now serves on that body: the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Executive Committee. He also served as the first behavioral health field representative on the board of The Joint Commission, and on the National Mental Health Advisory Committee for the NIMH. Dr. Hogan co-chaired the Action Alliance’s Crisis Care and Clinical Care and Interventions Task Forces and works nationally to advance suicide prevention in health care (Zero Suicide) which emerged from the Clinical Care effort.

“My major professional mission—with the Zero Suicide Institute and beyond it—is to work toward a health care system where suicidal people are safe and have hope.”

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Marjan Holloway

Faculty, Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Professor of Medical & Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry
Director, Suicide Care, Prevention, and Research Initiative
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Dr. Holloway is a Professor of Medical and Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a Diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, and Faculty Speaker for the Beck Institute. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania under the mentorship of Dr. Aaron T. Beck. As the Founder and Director for the Suicide Care, Prevention and Research Initiative, Dr. Holloway has served as a Principal Investigator on studies funded by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, Defense Suicide Prevention Office, Military Operational Medicine Research Program, Military Suicide Research Consortium, the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Special Operations Command. Dr. Holloway has served as a member of the Defense Health Board Task Force and the Chair of the NATO Research Task Group on military suicide prevention. She has developed and disseminated a number of evidence-informed psychosocial programs for the prevention of suicide including the Air Force Guide for Suicide Risk, the Chaplains-CARE program, Special Operations Cognitive Agility Training, and Post-Admission Cognitive Therapy for inpatient psychiatric care. Dr. Holloway maintained a private clinical practice for 15 years, shifting recently to a consulting practice.

Zero Suicide Institute is a strategic partner for healthcare organizations and their providers who value saving lives through delivery of optimal and evidence-informed suicide-focused care.

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David Jobes

Professor of Psychology & Associate Director of Clinical Training
Catholic University

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 six 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 National Institute of Mental Health, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense, and Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jobes is a 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, consulting, and forensic practice in Washington DC. 

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Sue Jungen

Zero Suicide Initiative Wisconsin

Sue Jungen, an AODA Clinical Supervisor Consultant, began her career in 1979 as a Substance Abuse Counselor and retired in 2014 as the Director of Behavioral Health Services for Affinity Health System in Appleton, WI. As a recognized leader in the Mental Health field during those 35 years, Ms. Jungen was able to bring many advancements in Mental Health to my community, including learnings from a collaboration with Dr. E. Coffey at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. She has been involved with the Zero Suicide Institute for one year and with the Zero Suicide initiative in Wisconsin for the past three years.

"The work of the Zero Suicide Institute is breathing life into the Mental Health field, and I am proud to be part of the team."

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Virna Little

Chief Operating Officer
Concert Health

Dr. Virna Little is currently the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Concert Health, a national organization providing behavioral health services to primary care providers and the co-founder of Zero Overdose, a not for profit addressing the national crisis of unintentional overdoses. Prior Dr. Little worked for 22 years as a Senior Vice President for a large FQHC network in New York overseeing over 300 behavioral health and community staff and worked for New York City Health and Hospitals as a citywide family violence coordinator. She has a Doctoral degree in Psychology, a Masters in Social Work, a Masters in Business Administration and Healthcare, is a Certified Care Manager(CCM) and a recognized Substance Abuse Professional (SAP). Dr. Little is a nationally and internationally known speaker for her work in integrating primary care and behavioral health, developing sustainable integrated delivery systems and suicide prevention. Dr. Little was a member of the University of Washington AIMS center and National Council for Community Behavioral Health consulting teams. She is also a faculty member for the national and international Zero Suicide initiatives and has spoken on national suicide prevention strategies at the White House.

“What drew me to Zero Suicide was the ability to engage primary care."

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Jean Scallon

Regional Vice-President, Network Development
Springstone, Inc.

Jean Scallon is the Regional Vice-President, Network Development for Springstone, Inc. with responsibility for Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, and North Carolina.  Scallon works with teams to implement innovative strategies to be able to meet consumers where they are at when they need support most. Ms. Scallon also adjuncts at Indiana University, sits on the Board of the Indiana Hospital Association, and Chairs the Behavioral Health Council for IHA. She is on the Zero Suicide Grant Advisory for Indiana and is passionate about suicide prevention.

“Every life counts and approaching care with the right attitude is key to saving someone. The Zero Suicide Principles encourage dialog, research and partnerships at all levels of care. It’s humbling."

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Toni Simonson

Executive Director/Behavioral Health
Hospital Sisters Health System of Wisconsin

Toni Simonson is responsible for the overall operations of Behavioral Health Services in the Western Wisconsin Division of Hospital Sisters Health System and Prevea Health. Ms. Simonson has a PhD in Psychology and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Substance Abuse Counselor with over thirty years of behavioral health experience. An advocate for and recognized leader in the area of suicide prevention, she has provided training and consultation to many health care organizations and community programs across the state of Wisconsin. Simonson has served on the Zero Suicide Institute Faculty since the summer of 2016.

“Zero Suicide simply makes sense. There isn’t a target other than Zero that I can envision striving for when considering suicide. One loss is one too many."

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Brad Steinfeld

Interim Medical Director
Kaiser Northwest

Brad Steinfeld has been a mental health clinician for the past thirty years. In those thirty years, Dr. Steinfeld has had multiple administrative positions within an integrated delivery system focused on population-based approaches to mental health care. For the past five years, Kaiser Northwest has focused on the development of Zero Suicide care processes with specialty behavioral health as well as primary care. Dr. Steinfeld has served as a Zero Suicide Faculty since September 2017

"There is nothing more important than prevention of suicide."

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Becky Stoll

Vice President, Crisis & Disaster Management

Becky Stoll is responsible for the overall operation of Centerstone’s Crisis and Disaster Management services. Ms. Stoll graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee with a BS in Psychology. She received her Master’s in the Science of Social Work from the University of Tennessee in Nashville, Tennessee. Ms. Stoll is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 20 years of behavioral health experience. She is a recognized leader in the areas of crisis services, disaster mental health, and suicide prevention. She is a member of the National Action Alliance’s "Zero Suicides in Healthcare" Advisory Group as well as serving as a faculty and mentor. Ms. Stoll has provided training, consultation, and response nationally and internationally to aviation, banking, educational institutions, emergency response organizations, and professional sports. Ms. Stoll 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.

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Rick Strait

Program Manager Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders (ITCD)
Community Counseling Center

Rick Strait is a licensed professional counselor and certified substance abuse counselor. Mr. Strait is also a suicide attempt survivor. Strait has worked with the co-occurring population for eighteen years. He is a board member of the Eastern Chapter of Missouri American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and serves as the education chair and well as an advocacy ambassador. He has helped organize multiple suicide awareness conferences in Missouri. Strait’s unique ability to bridge his knowledge with his lived experience provides him with a depth of understanding and practical application to better serve the consumers and the programs he works with.

“Zero Suicide is a practical and manageable solution that saves lives.”

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Donald Warne

Professor and Chair, Department of Public Health/Senior Policy Advisor North Dakota State University/Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board


Donald Warne is a family physician who has worked in primary care medicine, public health, research, and academics. Dr. Warne earned his MD from Stanford University and his MPH from Harvard University. He has been on the Zero Suicide Faculty since 2016.

"Suicide has touched many lives in Indian Country, including mine. I lost a nephew and an uncle to suicide. We must do everything in our power to end this epidemic!"


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Ursula Whiteside

Now Matters Now

Ursula Whiteside is a psychologist, researcher, resource developer, and trainer who specializes in the treatment and management of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Dr. Whiteside is CEO of NowMattersNow.org, Clinical Faculty at the University of Washington, and has been awarded grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She has served as Zero Suicide Faculty since 2013.

"I want health systems to know their cracks–where they are losing people to suicide–where they are failing–and to lean on Zero Suicide to solve that problem. Model organizations who have had success don't reinvent the wheel and get their lived experience partners at the table."