Alyssa Relyea, MA, Board Member, Chairperson of the Women's Outreach Committee, and Volunteer Coordinator
Alyssa has been involved with the AFSP since the Overnight Chicagoland Walk in 2005. As a volunteer, Alyssa serves as the Chairperson for the Women’s Outreach Committee, a Survivor Outreach volunteer, a Chicagoland Walk Team Captain, Volunteer Intake Coordinator, and Survivor Group Facilitator. Alyssa’s passion for suicide prevention began in 1997, when she lost her twin brother, Andrew, to suicide. Having lost a classmate and uncle since then has strengthened her dedication to the cause. Follow Alyssa on Twitter @AlyssaBernice1
Angela Cummings, Associate Director and Director and Chairperson of the Out of the Darkness Springfield Community Walk
Angela Cummings is the Associate Director the Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Angela was promoted to this role after her stellar work for suicide prevention throughout the state. Angela graduated from the University of Texas and has over 10 years professional experience including extensive nonprofit fundraising experience. Having lost a family member and a close friend to suicide, she is committed to the cause of suicide prevention. Follow Angela on twitter @AngelaPCummings
Anne Gulotta, Board Member & Co-Chairperson of the High School and Middle School Outreach Committee
Anne Gulotta is Senior Vice President at Northern Trust Securities, Inc in Chicago. Her two passions in life are suicide prevention and organ donation. Anne began volunteering for AFSP-IL in 2006 when she attended her first overnight walk in Chicago. Anne continues to participate in the Chicago Community walks, and is Co-Chair of the High School Outreach Committee. Anne resides in Barrington, IL, and lost her husband to suicide in 2002. She is a board member of HERE in Barrington Coalition dedicated to providing help, encouragement, resources, and education to promote mental health and reduce the occurrence of suicide and other harmful behaviors. Follow Anne on Twitter @GulottaAnne
Brandon Rohlwing, Co-Chairperson of the College & ISP Committee
Brandon Rohlwing is currently an undergraduate student at Roosevelt University studying Integrated Marketing Communications. Brandon became involved with AFSP through the Out Of The Darkness Overnight Walk in 2012 after losing his sister, Biz, to suicide. In addition to being co-chairperson for the College Outreach and ISP Committee, Brandon is active on Roosevelt's campus by educating others on mental health awareness. Graduating in May of 2016, Brandon hopes to pursue a career in the field of suicide prevention or mental health awareness. Follow Brandon on Twitter @BRohlwing
Cara Levinson, Esq., Secretary of the Board of Directors and Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Committee Member
Cara Levinson’s 18 year old younger daughter died by suicide in 2007. She is a long-time participant in AFSP’s national Field Advocate program and is a top fundraiser in the AFSP Chicagoland walks. An attorney, Cara is currently working on a book of interviews with people who have lost someone to suicide. She is dedicated to removing the stigmas that still attach to suicide and mental illness and to supporting AFSP’s suicide research initiatives. Cara is a member of the AFSP Illinois Executive Board and serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors. Follow Cara on Twitter @CaraLevinson
Carla Craig, LCSW, MSW, President of Board of Directors & Chairperson of the Senior Outreach Committee
Carla has been working as a clinical social worker for many years. Working in mental health in outpatient and inpatient settings has developed a strong commitment to join AFSP in effort to raise awareness about the importance of mental health treatment, suicide prevention and associated outreach activities. Carla proudly supports our fundraising to support critical research, and provide all community activities provided freely. Carla serves as President of the Illinois Chapter Board, Chair of the Senior Outreach Committee, and a member of the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Committee and is Team Captain of team NCH Thrive! that will be walking in the Chicagoland Walk. Follow Carla on Twitter @CarlaLCSW98
Carly Jacobson, Co-Chairperson of the Lived Experience Committee
Carly Jacobson serves as Co-Chair of the AFSP Illinois Chapter’s new Lived Experience Committee. Carly became involved in AFSP through the Out of the Darkness walk in 2012 after opening up about her own struggles. As a multiple suicide attempt survivor and a certified peer specialist, Carly is passionate about lived experience recovery. In addition to volunteering with AFSP and other mental health organizations, Carly is working on a project that will focus on family education and peer support. By sharing her story and co-chairing the very first Live Experience committee, Carly hopes to inspire courage and engagement. Follow Carly is on Twitter @TheCarlProject
Elaine Larsen, Co-Chairperson of High School and Middle School Outreach Committee & Chairperson of the Out of the Darkness North Western Illinois Community Walk
Elaine service as Co-chair of the High School Outreach Committee and Chairperson of the Out of the Darkness North Western Illinois Community Walk in Freeport. Elaine wanted to become involved with the AFSP after she lost her only child to suicide in 2011. Elaine said, "There was nothing I could do to make it better for us, but maybe I could do something to help others."
Erika Barber, MAT, Board Member & Co-Chairperson of the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk
Erika Barber became involved with AFSP in 2005, when she participated in her first Out of the Darkness Overnight. She has since served as a Co-Chairperson of the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk for the past several years. Following her sister Andrea’s suicide in 1983, Erika has strived to have a positive and supportive influence on survivors struggling with the effects of sibling death. Her publication,Letters from a Friend: a Sibling’s Guide for Coping and Grief,has been utilized in many therapeutic settings and grief support programs nationwide. Erika is a certified Child Life Specialist and holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from National Louis University. In July 2015 Erika lost her father to suicide. She remains committed to suicide prevention and awareness opportunities and is a dedicated advocate of AFSP’s mission. Follow Erika on Twitter @ErikaBarber_
Hua Mao, Chairperson of the Media Watchers & Journalism Committee
Hua Mao has volunteer for AFSP Illinois for three years including at the Chicagoland Community Walk. Hua currently serves as Chairperson of the Media Watchers & Journalism Committee. Hua said she volunteers to, "Reach out to increase the recognition of the depression and suicide, to create awareness of available resources, education and support."
Ji Suk Yi, Board Member and Co-Host of ABC 7 Chicago's Windy City Live
While she has covered everything from breaking news to Chicago politics, Ji Suk thinks the best part of being out in the field was getting to meet everyday Chicagoans who had unique stories or who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Ji Suk Yi shared her all too common experience of loss by suicide on Windy City LIVE this year. She spoke about her father’s death by suicide over twenty years ago. Ji openly shared the complex feelings she had as she grieved.
Ji Suk Yi joined Ryan Chiaverini in his music video for “Chicago”. You can watch it here . The celebrity filled video ends with a link to our website. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is grateful to Ji Suk Yi for her efforts to reduce the stigma of suicide loss. In 2014 Ji Suk Yi served as Keynote Speaker at the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk, the largest suicide prevention event in the country. In 2015 Ji continued her service to suicide prevention by joining the Board of Directors. Follow Ji on Twitter @Ji_WCL
Judson Ely, MBA, Treasurer of the Board of Directors
Jud is Chief Financial Officer of POS Remarketing Group that is based in Wauconda, IL. He also serves as AFSP – IL Chapter Board Treasurer and has been involved with the AFSP as a volunteer since 2011. As a volunteer, Jud is on the Chicagoland Community Walk Planning Committee and serves as walk registration coordinator. Having lost a friend to suicide in 2004, he has a passion for raising awareness about suicide prevention and money for the Chicagoland walk. Follow Judson on Twitter @Jud_Ely
Megan Graf, Board Member and Chairperson of the Community Outreach and Education Committee
Meg Graf is the Chairperson of the Community Outreach & Education Committee in addition to serving on other Committees and Walking in the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk. Meg leads the efforts to organize a Community Education Event each year as well as the annual Research Connection Program. Meg is an active Board Member of the Illinois Chapter of AFSP. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegMGraf
Mike Bushman, Co-Chairperson of Lived Experience Committee
Mike Bushman serves as Co-Chair of the AFSP Illinois Chapter’s new Lived Experience Committee. A former congressional aide and corporate public affairs executive, Mike now writes on mental health and public policy reform. Suicide Escape, a combination memoir and novella, tackles Mike's battles with teenage depression and suicide ideation, including sharing valuable mental health recovery lessons he learned as an adult. In addition to volunteering with AFSP and other mental health and youth mentoring organizations, Mike is working on a project to share the recovery story of a multiple attempt survivor who serves as the other Co-Chair of the Lived Experience Committee. Follow Mike on Twitter @m_bushman
Nancy Perlson, LCSW, Survivor Outreach Program Coordinator
As a licensed clinical social worker, Nancy Perlson has extensive experience working in the field of grief and loss in private practice and with groups. Nancy’s yoga bereavement
support program, which began in January 2010, Connecting through Yoga, integrates the beautiful practice of yoga and its teachings along with therapeutic interventions to provide grieving individuals with additional tools and resources to use while moving through the complicated process of grieving the death of a loved one. Nancy has been involved with AFSP since 1998 and has served on the Board, been an Outreach Speaker at a number of events and is currently the Coordinator the Survivor Outreach Program (SOP) for Illinois.
Rachelle Jervis, MBA, Director of Illinois Chapter, Director & Co-Chairperson of the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk, and Regional Director for AFSP National
Rachelle Jervis is a results-driven nonprofit leader with over 15 years of industry experience and a published author on the topic of nonprofit fundraising. Prior to her current role she served as Executive Director of Local First Chicago where she increased membership by 400% and newsletter subscribers by 1500%. Rachelle earned a Bachelor of Science (ISU), a Masters of Business Administration (Loyola), and a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership (United Nation’s Mandated Universidad para la Paz). In 2014 she received the Aspiritech’s Spirit of Service Award for her volunteerism.
Rachelle began her career at AFSP as Area Director for the Greater Chicago Area Chapter. As she and the Board grew the Chapter into an active statewide organization her title changed to Area Director of the Illinois Chapter. She now serves as Regional Director to AFSP National, Director of the Illinois Chapter, and as Director and Co-Chair of the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk. Follow Rachelle on Twitter @RachelleJervis
Dr. Richard B. Kirchhoff, DDS, Co-Chairperson of the Board of Directors
Dr. Kirchhoff works as a Pediatric Dentist. He has an extensive military background and is a retired Army Aviation Officer. He is the Co-Chairperson of the Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Rick continues to earn top walker awards at the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk. He also serves on the National Chapter Leadership Council and Chair the National Public Policy Council. Follow Rick on Twitter @Kirchhoff_R
Rosa Alvarado, Chairperson of the Hispanic American Outreach Committee
Rosa Alvardo is Chairperson of the Hispanic American Outreach Committee. Follow Rosa on Twitter @RosaAlvarado16
Ryan Chiaverini, Board Member and Co-Host of ABC 7 Chicago's Windy City Live
Ryan Chiaverini is co-host of ABC 7's, talk and entertainment show Windy City LIVE, which airs weekday mornings at 11 AM. Formerly the sports anchor for ABC 7's top-rated weekend newscasts, Chiaverini auditioned for Windy City LIVE and was chosen for the top co-host job from a field of several hundred candidates. This year Ryan Chiaverini spoke out about suicide on Windy City LIVE. He used his public platform to reduce the stigma of suicide loss by sharing his losing of his brother to suicide.
In an inspirational act of bigheartedness, Ryan Chiaverini donated all proceeds from his song “Chicago” to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk. Ryan shared that it was the first upbeat song he was able to write after the loss of his brother. In 2014 Ryan served as Keynote Speaker of the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk. In 2015 Ryan continued his committment to suicide prevention by joining the Board of Directors. Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanWCL
Sarabeth Salzman, Chairperson of the Jewish Outreach Committee
Sarabeth Salzman is the Chairperson for the Jewish Outreach Committee. She has been involved in AFSP since 2013 beginning with the Out of Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk in memory of a close friend who died of suicide at a young age. Sarabeth is working to grow the committee and provide more outreach and awareness within the Jewish Community. She is always looking for others to help with the effort. Follow Sarabeth on Twitter @SaraBethSB1
Dr. Scott A. Langenecker, Ph.D., Board Member
Scott A. Langenecker, Ph.D. is a clinical neuropsychologist, Director of Cognitive Neuroscience and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Langenecker's research and clinical work focuses on the translational cognitive neuroscience of mood disorders across the lifespan. His current work is focused on the late adolescent translational period in which risk for mood disorders is at a peak, and suicide risk is very high. He has been a walker in Out of the Darkness Community Walks since 2003. Dr. Langenecker joined the Board of Directors in 2015.
Sheila Applegate, Co-Chairperson of the College and ISP Committee
Sheila Applegate has volunteered her time to numerous non-profits organizations over
the last 25 years. She became involved with AFSP in 2012 after the death of her 17-year-old son. She has been an active fundraiser for the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk earning the top fundraiser award in 2013, and 2014. Her team, Alongside Andrew has also been honor as the top fund raising team in 2012, 2013, and 2014. She serves as the Co-Chairperson for the College and interactive Screening Program (ISP) Committee and is as a member of the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Committee. Sheila is passionate about bringing awareness to, educating people about, and de-stigmatizing mental illness and suicide. Follow Sheila on Twitter @SheilaAppleg8
Simon Chavez, Chairperson of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Outreach Committee
Simon Chavez is a nonprofit advocate committed to building the capacity of nonprofit organizations by connecting various communities under the umbrella of a common cause. He especially enjoys and prides himself on working with LGBT groups. Simon has served as Co-Chairperson of the LGBT Outreach Committee for three years. Folow Simon on Twitter @SimonCvz
Steve Moore, Esq, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, Chairperson of the Advocacy and Policy Committee, and Captain of the Race AFSP Team
Steve Moore, whose 19 year old son died by suicide in 2006, joined the board of the
Illinois chapter in 2008. Steve is the chapter’s Co-Chair, a member of its Executive Committee, Chair of its Advocacy and Policy Committee, its representative on the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance and Captain of the Race Team. He is on AFSP’s national Public Policy Council and a participant in AFSP's Field Advocate program. He is also a facilitator for survivor support groups in a program run by Chicago Catholic Charities. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMoore1406
Tommy John, Board Member & Chicagoland Walker
Baseball legend Tommy John is a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball whose 288 career victories rank as the seventh highest total among left-handers in major league history. This includes 17 seasons with 10 or more victories. He also had 46 career shutouts; a remarkable feat. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is honored that he will be speaking at the Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Chicagoland Walk. Last year, Tommy John's Walk Team, Team Taylor, walked in memory of Taylor John. This year Team Taylor's fundraising page shares: "On March 9, 2010, Taylor passed away. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has given us the opportunity to create some hope out of our immense loss and sadness. Taylor used to wear a red bracelet that read, "Never Give Up." The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is grateful to Tommy John and all of Team Taylor for their generous support. Follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyJohn288
Whitney Robinson, Chairperson of the African American Outreach Committee
Whitney Robinson was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Graduated from Jackson State University with a B.S. Broadcast Production and currently enrolled and studying to be a Certified Bible Instructor. She is currently State titleholder as Miss Illinois Plus America and enjoys going to the movie theatre with her 5 year old son Jett. Whitney is the founding Chairperson of the African American Outreach Committee where she's served for three years.