About Our Chapter

Welcome. We are the Western New York chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The grassroots work we do focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.

As a part of AFSP’s growing nationwide network of chapters, we bring together people from all backgrounds who want to prevent suicide in our communities. Families and friends who have lost someone to suicide, vulnerable individuals, mental health professionals, clergy, educators, students, community/business leaders, and many others energize our chapter.

Board of Directors

Board Chair: Sarah Bedrin

Sarah Bedrin is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo (undergraduate) and St. John Fisher college (graduate) and currently is a high school Spanish teacher in the Rochester area.  Sarah also works part-time as a companion to the elderly.  On August, 7th, 2006 Sarah lost her step-father John, age 50, to suicide.  Sarah began volunteering with AFSP in 2008 to do something positive in light of tragedy.  Sarah has served on the Out of the Darkness walk committee, advised a campus walk in St. Bonaventure and is a Survivor Outreach volunteer.  Sarah also participated in the 18 mile Out of the Darkness Overnight walk in Chicago in 2009. Sarah currently serves as the board chair for Western NY. 

Survivor Outreach Program Coordinator: Kristy Wright

Kristy Wright become involved with AFSP since losing her brother Jeff to suicide in 2009. She has been committed and dedicated to spreading the awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. She has participated on the Out of the Darkness Community Walk Committee from 2011-2013.  She joined the AFSP WNY Chapter Board in 2012 to devote more of her time to suicide prevention & to support mental health research. She became the Survivor Outreach Program Coordinator in 2013. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work & has been in the Human Service field for the past 15 years.

International Survivors of Suicide Day Coordinator: Karen Heisig

Karen Heisig resides in Webster, NYwith her teenage son and daughter. Having lost her brother-in-law in 1999 and her husband in 2006, both to suicide, she has a deep compassion for others who have faced the same loss. She is currently the board coordinator for our chapter's International Survivors of Suicide Day held each year at multiple sites in Western New Yorkand around the country. Karen's husband was a proud US Army veteran so she also volunteers with the RochesterVeteransOutreachCenter.

Board Treasurer: Daniel Wright

Dan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics at Nazareth College and continued on for his Master’s degree in Economics at SUNY Albany. He began his career in the spring of 2005 as an Information Analyst at Coordinated Care Services, Inc. in Binghamton and was later promoted to the Rochester office as a Senior Financial Analyst.  In 2011, Dan took his current position as a Budget Analyst with Unity Health System, where he handles the budgets and applicable analytics for the Departments of Surgery, Medicine, and Housing. Dan is an active member ofSt. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where he serves on the Vestry. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter, Anika. Dan follows both the NY Knicks and Mets. He enjoys playing basketball, softball, and golf. Working with the AFSP board has been a pleasure for Dan – he is proud to be a part of such an important group, working to help raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Survivor Outreach Program Coordinator: Phil Chearmonte

Phil Chearmonte currently resides in Amherst, NYwith his wife Linda, two surviving sons, Michael (Age 22), and PJ (Age 12) and two Labrador Retrievers (Stryker & Bailey). Twenty-six years of marriage has brought many life challenges. However, the most difficult arrived over three years ago now. Typical suburban family life changed suddenly and drastically on February 23rd 2010 when their second born son Joe took his own life one week after his 17th birthday.  While this devastating tragedy is very difficult to discuss and comprehend, Phil and Linda feel the only positive outcome from their story is to help other young people, families, and community become aware of the serious nature of this issue. The experience has led them to embark on a lifelong mission to help eliminate the stigma surrounding the issues of teen depression and suicide. Through advocacy and participation in dedicated organizations, Phil and Linda will continue to enhance awareness, promote prevention, and guide anyone needing assistance to seek support from qualified professionals, organizations and agencies. Phil is currently an active board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) WNY Chapter, an AFSP National Advocate, and trained AFSP Survivor Outreach volunteer. He has worked on the Buffalo OOTD walk committee for the past three years. The Chearmonte’s organized the top team “Joe’s Shining Light” for the Buffalo Out of the Darkness Community Walk in both 2010 & 2011. Phil and Linda have also participated as local panelists at the 2010 & 2012 Buffalo, and 2011 Rochester, International Survivors of Suicide Day, and participated in numerous forums, programs, and media interviews in support of our collective mission.

Marketing & Communications Chair: Lexy Baglia

Lexy Baglia, Social Marketer and Technical Assistance Coordinator for Chautauqua Tapestry, has her BA in Communications from State University College at Buffalo. She has worked in the field of marketing for 7 years and has honed her skills through various experiences. Prior to her time at Chautauqua Tapestry, Lexy worked as the Director of Marketing and Sales at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena where she coordinated and oversaw all of the marketing efforts and sponsorship sales of the organization. This is where she also learned the ropes of event planning and coordination by helping to execute several major concerts and many family and social events. Prior to this she worked as a Marketing Representative for Lincare, Inc., marketing various home healthcare items to physicians and hospitals; and as an Account Executive for Time Warner Cable working with clients on building effective marketing campaigns through television commercials. Lexy is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; a member of the Board of Directors for Family Service of the Chautauqua Region, Inc.; and a member of the Executive/Communications Committee of the Chautauqua County Alliance for Suicide Prevention. She was one of the main developers of Chautauqua County's suicide awareness and prevention campaign and organizers of the first annual Out of the Darkness Walk. Lexy has created and coordinated various community events surrounding the support of mental health and wellness for National Children's Mental Health Awareness month and continues such efforts to date.

Advocacy & Public Policy Chair: Jann Ball