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Gwendolyn Anderson

Director of Psychological Health
Alaska Army National Guard

Speaker Bio

Gwendolyn Anderson obtained her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Georgia in 2013. She is the Director of Psychological Health with the Alaska Army National Guard. Prior to her current role, she was employed with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Senior Social Worker. She has nearly a decade of experience working with the military and veteran population with an emphasis on medical readiness, psychosocial rehabilitation, and case management for homeless veterans.

Monique Andrews

Clinical Supervisor Behavioral Health
Providence Alaska Medical Center

Speaker Bio

Monique Andrews is an Alaska Army National Guard Soldier since 2006 where she has worked as a Victim Advocate, Master Resiliency Trainer, Suicide Prevention Specialist, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist, and a Resilience and Risk Reduction Program Coordinator. She currently works as the Supervisor of Behavioral Health at Providence Alaska Medical Center’s Mental Health Unit and is a member of Alaska’s Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, The Alaska Mental Health Board, The Alaska Psychological Association, and the Alaska Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. She is also the owner of a Step Forward Counseling and Consulting, LLC in Anchorage, AK. In addition she is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Alaska Pacific University. Monique received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Alaska Pacific University with a graduation date set for Summer 2023. Her research focuses on resilience and other factors associated with the prevention of Suicide. Monique is also a Licensed Professional Counselor, a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor by the state of Alaska, and certified Victim Advocate through the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program.

Daniel Ballin

Clinical Director
Covenant House California

Speaker Bio
Daniel Ballin, Ph.D., LCSW, is the Clinical Director of Covenant House California, Hollywood. Daniel supervises a team of therapists and provides individual therapy to transitional-age youth who experience homelessness. Daniel works with the entire Covenant House program and other community agencies to deliver comprehensive and trauma-informed services to youth experiencing homelessness. Before his work at Covenant House, Daniel managed programs at the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Services, Inc. for youth in the justice system experiencing mental health issues. At the Weingart Center Association (WCA) on Skid Row, Daniel oversaw a residential treatment program for parolees experiencing homelessness upon their release from incarceration. Daniel obtained his doctorate in Depth Psychology with an Emphasis on Somatic Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute in 2022. His dissertation, entitled Wounding the Healer: Suicide’s Quest for Voice, explores the experience of clinician suicide loss survivors. Daniel received his Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) degrees from the University of Southern California in 1989. He served on the National Advisory Board of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Technical Training and Assistance Center (RHYTTAC). In addition, Daniel taught at the California State University, Northridge School of Social Work as a part-time faculty member. Daniel is a qualified trainer in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

Becky Bitzer

Senior Manager
Agnew::Beck Consulting

Speaker Bio

Becky Bitzer is a Senior Manager with Agnew::Beck, joining the team in 2017. She holds a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Becky strives to bring the social work values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the individual, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence to both her personal and professional life. These values guide and bring success to her work connecting with stakeholders statewide. Becky brings an understanding of both the civil and forensic behavioral health systems, serving as analyst and best practice researcher for the 2019 ASHNHA Acute Behavioral Health Care Improvement Project and the 2019 Division of Behavioral Health Forensic Psychiatric Hospital Feasibility Study. Becky recently completed her role as project manager for the AHHA Acute Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Care Improvement Project released in early 2023 and is the current project manager for the HB 172 Patient Rights Report to the Legislature and the Crisis Now Initiative Project Management contract.

Eric Boyer

Program Officer
Alaska Mental Health Trust

Speaker Bio
Eric Boyer is a Program Officer for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, based in Anchorage, AK, where I oversee two focus areas: workforce development in the healthcare industry, and behavioral health. Previous work history: I worked for University of Alaska Anchorage as a Training Coordinator for six years with the Center for Human Development. I have over 20 years’ experience working in the residential and community based psychiatric services for children and adolescents. Eric serves as the Chair of the Advisory Board for the University of Washington School of Psychiatry Mental Health Technology Transfer Center. Eric also serves on the advisory board at the UW School of Medicine Addictions Technology Transfer Center. Currently I am working with our community partners statewide on workforce recruitment and retention issues in the healthcare industry, as well as healthcare delivery issues like psychiatric emergency support services. I am also a third year Masters of Public Health student at UAA. On the home front, I am married and have three sons living in Anchorage, either attending UAA or the Anchorage School District. We love to eat fresh organic food, fish, hunt, hike, ski, and camp all over the state.

Melissa Bradley

Epidemiology Specialist
Alaska Department of Health

Speaker Bio

Melissa Bradley is the Epidemiology Specialist for the Alaska Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Death Review, housed in the section of Women’s, Children’s and Family Health. She is a graduate student in Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Previously, she was a Research Coordinator at Johns Hopkins University.

Andrea Fenaughty

Senior Chronic Disease Epidemiologist
Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Speaker Bio
Andrea Fenaughty has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology, and spent a decade at the University of Alaska Anchorage conducting research on HIV risk behavior before becoming an epidemiologist with the Alaska Division of Public Health in 2002. She currently serves dual roles as Chronic Disease Epidemiologist and Deputy Section Chief for the Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Andrea sees surveillance and evaluation as powerful tools that can be used to improve public health programs and, ultimately, the quality of life of Alaskans.

Steven Riley Fitting

Epidemiologist – CSTE fellow
Alaska Department of Health

Speaker Bio
Riley Fitting is an Applied Epidemiology Fellow with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and lives and works on the land of the Dena’ina in Alaska. Prior to this position, Riley was a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa and a Paul D. Coverdell graduate fellow at New Mexico State University. His epidemiological work informs Alaska’s public health approach to child abuse/neglect and household challenges. Riley’s work is focused surveilling on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) through multiple sources of statewide survey data and administrative databases to describe ACEs in Alaska. Projects that Riley is currently working on include creating a new survey to measure protective and adverse childhood events, and adult health outcomes in Alaska, a case-control study of adolescents involved with child welfare and their suicide risk, and creating an ACEs data visualization dashboard. In his spare time, Riley fishes, hunts, and spends time with his partner and three dogs.

Dr. Keita Franklin

Director/Specialist Executive
The Columbia Lighthouse Project

Speaker Bio
Dr. Franklin is an accomplished senior executive who is widely credited with revolutionizing several large scale, national public health systems. She has focused her expertise in suicide prevention, mental health, and substance abuse. A transformational leader, Dr. Franklin has spent her 25-year career driving complex organizational and policy change in the federal sector before recently transitioning to the private sector. She has served as a senior executive in both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), where she served as the principle advisor on all matters related to suicide prevention. Dr. Franklin has lead national level multi-discipline teams of experts in the advancement of evidence-based prevention practices for over three million active duty members, 20 million veterans, and their families. Dr. Franklin has represented DoD and the VA during testimony in front of both chambers of Congress and she has advised the Office of the President, the Domestic Policy Council, and the National Security Council. An innovative leader, she spearheaded a national effort to close the gaps between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs by authoring a presidential Executive Order addressing critical periods of risk for servicemen, women and veterans. Dr. Franklin is now the Co-Director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project where she advocates for strong suicide detection and screening protocols across universal settings. She also serves as an Executive at Deloitte where she continues to drive impact in the field of mental health and suicide prevention across the federal enterprise.

Amber Frasure

Research Assistant
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Speaker Bio
Amber Frasure is graduate research assistant at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). Amber has worked with ANTHC for the past 2 years in the behavioral health department working on several projects, notably the Alaska Blanket Exercise and facilitation of the Addiction Medicine ECHO training series. She works on programs related to addiction, stigma and historical oppression focused on promoting healing centered systems and breaking histories of harm. She moved to Dena’ina lands in 2017 where she earned her Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology and is a third-year doctoral student in the Clinical-Community Psychology program at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Anna Frick

Syndromic Surveillance System

Speaker Bio
Anna Frick is an epidemiologist with the State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology, where she manages the syndromic surveillance program.

Jonathan Guerrero

Graduate Student
University of Alaska Anchorage

Speaker Bio
Jonathan is an Indigenous CHamoru from the Pacific Island of Guam and is a third-year PhD student in the Clinical-Community Psychology program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He received his MS in clinical psychology from the University of Guam. Before moving to Dena’ina lands in 2020, he worked as a behavioral health therapist serving adults and youth with diverse backgrounds from the Asia Pacific and Micronesia regions. Jonathan is a core member of the community group Independent Guåhan and helps organize education and outreach activities focused on decolonization and political self-determination.

Addison Helsper

Attempt/Loss Survivor – CARES Team Trainer & Supervisor
Ball State University (Graduate Student & Research Assistant), NAMI of Delaware County (LOSS Team Coordinator and Trainer)

Speaker Bio
Addison is a loss & attempt survivor that found meaning and hope as an AAS-certified suicide prevention counselor for the national lifeline as well as a behavioral interventionist, clinical case manager, mental health program facilitator, and various other mental health advocacy projects including public speaking, teacher training, and college lectures. They are currently working on their PhD in Educational Psychology, focusing on coping flexibility as a protective factor for adolescents.

Charity Lee

Program Coordinator | Suicide Prevention
Department of Health
Division of Behavioral Health

Speaker Bio
Charity Lee is the Zero Suicide Program Coordinator for the Division of Behavioral Health and has been leading Zero Suicide implementation efforts for the state. She earned a BA from Western Washington University in 2014 and a MSW from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2021. Ms. Lee has been engaged in the field of social work within Alaska since 2014.

Adam Lesser

Deputy Director
The Columbia Lighthouse Project
Speaker Bio
Adam Lesser is a licensed clinical social worker, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatric Social Work in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Lecturer at the Columbia University School of Social Work and the Deputy Director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project at the New York State Psychiatric Institute where he assists with all suicide prevention activities related to public health including the international dissemination and implementation of the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). He has published, presented internationally and consulted to state and local governments on best practices for suicide risk identification and prevention and has trained over 100,000 individuals on these methods. His work has been featured in Social Work Today Magazine and on Atlanta National Public Radio, CNN-espanol, Univision and other local media outlets.

Christina Love

Senior Specialist
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Speaker Bio
Christina Love is an Alutiiq/Sugpiaq woman (she/her) from Egegik village who was raised in Chitina, Alaska. Christina is a consultant, recovery coach and civil and human rights activist. Christina has dedicated her work and energy to systems change for targeted and marginalized populations. She is a formerly incarcerated person in long term recovery who currently works as a Senior Specialist for the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA), the state’s coalition of domestic and sexual violence programs. Christina’s role focuses on intersectionality with an emphasis on trauma. Christina is part of a collective movements that works to end violence, oppression, shame, and stigma through the liberation of education, community healing, and storytelling.

Keygan Miller

Trevor Project

Speaker Bio
Keygan Miller is the Interim Director of Public Training for The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ young people. Keygan oversees design and facilitation of public trainings to advance Trevor’s life-saving suicide prevention work and teach audiences to be strong allies for LGBTQ youth. Prior to this work, Keygan was an Advocacy Manager at The Trevor Project and they served as an Intervention Specialist for Cincinnati Public Schools. Keygan received a Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Cincinnati as well as a Master of Education and Human Development in Education Policy from The George Washington University.

Dustin Morris

Alaska Statewide Area Director AFSP
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Speaker Bio
Dustin Morris is the Alaska area director with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and is responsible for implementing AFSP’s fundraising and program initiatives within the assigned market areas and working within the chapter service area. He has also worked closely with and served the Alaska Native Professionals Association, the Alaska Native Village Corporations Association, First Alaskan’s Institute, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and the Alaska Police and Fire Chaplain’s board of directors. He also volunteered as a seminary instructor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and now sits on the Alaska Careline Crisis Call Center board of directors, Alaska 988 Coalition, Anchorage Suicide Prevention Council steering committee, and the AFSP national programs and education committee.

Eric Morrison

Project Assistant
Statewide Suicide Prevention Council

Julie Rocco

Attempt/Loss Survivor / Founder, President, and CEO
What I Would Have Missed, Inc.

Speaker Bio

Julie Ann Rocco is a suicide loss survivor and a suicide attempt survivor. Julie is also the Founder, President and CEO of What I Would Have Missed, Inc. where she seeks to create an international movement to prevent suicide and promote mental wellness by cultivating connections, community collaborations, and courageous conversations. She does this by creating unique conduits for suicide attempt and ideation survivors to share their stories and spark open dialogue about suicide and mental wellness. She is the podcast host of What I Would Have Missed and the creator and curator of the international What I Would Have Missed art exhibit. She is also the creator of The Life Line, an interactive activity of reflection and sharing grounded in our individual connections to suicide loss, suicide attempt and ideation, and anchors that help us stay. The Life Line becomes a piece of community art that produces an opportunity for continuous engagement and spontaneous conversations over the lifecycle of its installation. What I Would Have Missed, Inc. amplifies the power of lived experience by connecting our truth to a path that brings purpose to our pain. In our sharing, we encourage others to step into the expanded opening of love and acceptance which yields a reverberating echo of “You are not alone. I, too, know the struggle of trying to stay. I want to share my story.” Julie still has dark days and acknowledges the journey of finding hope, healing, and happiness is not linear, but she has fully committed to a future she is not willing to miss. And, it is not lost on her, this bio in its entirety is a life she would have missed had she died by suicide. Please, visit where you will find links to our social media and podcast.

Ray Romberg

Prevention Director
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Speaker Bio
Ray Romberg (German, Scottish, Irish) has called Alaska home for 16 years and is deeply grateful to live on the unceded territories of the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska, supporting statewide wellness, healing and violence prevention efforts. Ray’s work in the field began in direct services- as advocate and shelter manager at Haven House in Homer- and they are honored to carry the incredible stories of many survivors with them. Ray has a long history of working with youth in the arts, social emotional learning, and leadership, and loves to imagine, create and color with kids of all ages. They are passionate about supporting individuals and communities in using their wisdom to create environments where all people can thrive. As a resident of what is now known as Juneau, on Áak’w and T’aaku Kwáan land, Ray is lucky to get to coparent a bright and bold four-year old with their amazing partner. When not working, Ray can be found on the beach or the trail, usually with a ridiculous number of dogs.

Tina DeAsis Samaniego

Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator
NAMI Juneau

Speaker Bio
Tina is T’akdeintaan from Hoonah, AK and child of the Deisheetaan from Angoon, AK, though she was born in Juneau, AK. She also has Scandinavian ancestry from her mother and Filipino ancestry from her father. She holds her spirituality, her familial and community relationships, roles, and responsibilities as integral parts to who she is. Tina relies on the concepts of Civic Intelligence and Social Innovation, her multiracial background, lived experience, and commitment to continuous learning and practice of equitable principles in program development. As the program coordinator for Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition (JSPC), Tina and colleagues have been “Indigenizing” their programs to better serve SE Alaska Native communities.

James Savage

Director of Operations
True North Recovery

Amber Schmidt

University of Alaska Anchorage

Speaker Bio
Amber Schmidt is a third-year PhD student in the Clinical-Community Psychology program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She grew up in Juneau, Alaska and earned her BS in Psychology in 2019 from Nebraska Wesleyan University. In her clinical work, Amber employs person-centered collaboration with adolescents and young adults who experience complex trauma, suicidality, and severe mental and physical health concerns. Similarly, her research is focused on addiction and suicide experienced by adolescents and young adults through individual, family, community and system level change.

Aaron Surma

NAMI Juneau

Panikaa Teeple

Program Coordinator
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Speaker Bio
Panikaa Teeple was born in Bay Mills Indian Community, Michigan. She is Ojibwe, Lakota, and Yup’ik, with family from Bay Mills, Standing Rock, and Toksook Bay, Nelson Island. Her Ojibwe name is Waasanoday-Kwe (Northern Lights Woman) and Yup’ik name is Arnaqulluk. Previously, she worked in Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Cultural Foundations Program as an educator, and in College Gate’s Yup’ik Immersion as a family advocate. Panikaa graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2021. Now, she is the program coordinator for the Alaska Blanket Exercise Program within ANTHC’s Behavioral Health Department. Panikaa continues to learn her cultural teachings and knowledge from her family and communities.

Leah Van Kirk

Acting Executive Director, Statewide Suicide Prevention Council
Alaska Mental Health Board/Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Department of Health

Hannah Warren

HIV/STD Prevention Program Manager
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Speaker Bio
Hannah Warren (she/her/hers) is the HIV/STD Prevention Program Manager with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. She is an enrolled member of the Chevak Quissunamiut Tribe, located in Chevak, Alaska. Hannah graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with her Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences, with minors in AK Native Studies and Psychology. Hannah additionally holds a Masters of Public Health in Public Health Practice, focusing her studies on healthy relationships and sexual health and wellness education among the Circumpolar North. In addition to having a passion for harm reduction and sexual health and wellness education, Hannah is an advocate for incorporating cultural competency and trauma-informed care into services for Alaskans.

Carmen Wenger

Director of Programs
All Alaska Pediatric Partnership

Speaker Bio

Carmen Wenger joined A2P2 in July 2017 as the program director for Help Me Grow Alaska. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Earth Science from Dartmouth College and a Master of Public Health Degree in International Health and Development from Tulane University. Carmen has worked in public health and community development in the United States, Latin America and southern Africa. Her work has centered around social justice causes, primarily focused on access to appropriate health services and other basic human rights. Carmen’s work in Alaska has included positions with the State of Alaska’s Immunization Program, the Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness and the Joy Greisen Jewish Education Center. She has recently transitioned to the role of Director of Programs at A2P2.

Amber Webb

Peer recovery Support Coordinator
Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation

Speaker Bio
Amber Webb is a Curyung tribal member who resides in Aleknagik, Alaska and grew up between Anchorage and Dillingham. She is an artist and OUD Peer Support Coordinator at BBAHC. She was awarded the Choggiung LTD Shareholder of the year award, the BBNC shareholder of the year award and the Walter Soboleff Warrior of Light Award in 2019 for her advocacy to end violence against native women. In 2018, she was awarded a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Project Award for the Qaspeq Project in honor of MMIWG2S+ that she hopes to bring to more communities in Canada and the US. Her artwork visually explores the evolution, strength and sovereignty of indigenous people as we continue to survive genocide and racism. She is deeply invested in community healing from lateral and internalized oppression and protecting native land and people from exploitation by building on our strengths using Yupiaq teachings from elders across Southwest Alaska.

Tiffany Webb

Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation

Speaker Bio
Tiffany Webb is a Curyung tribal member who lives and works in her home community of Dillingham, Alaska. She is holding the Opioid Overdose Prevention Coordinator position at the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation. She is currently focusing on cultural reclaiming and destigmatizing people’s responses to trauma. Returning to our traditional Alaskan Native family or community systems and kinship revitalization is the heart of her work and learning right now. Tiffany has a Bachelors Degree in Human Services from Alaska Pacific University. She loves to laugh with her children and promote recovery with anyone who will listen.

Lisa Wexler

University of Michigan

Speaker Bio
Lisa Wexler is a Professor of Social Work and an Institute of Social Research Professor at the University of Michigan. She has been working with Alaska Native communities to develop and try suicide prevention and mental health promotion initiatives for over two decades. Dr. Wexler’s federally-funded, participatory research program work with community partners to learn, reflect and mobilize to reduce suicide risk and promote youth wellness. Her program of research aims to (1) translate research into strategic, self-determined community action; (2) describe and amplify sources of strength in Indigenous communities; (3) develop practical multilevel approaches to reduce youth suicide risk across the prevention spectrum, and (4) work within health systems to provide strength-based support and care. Her current projects include a clinic-based universal intervention to increase safe firearm storage in people’s homes (PI for R61MH125757; Subrecipient of CDC R49-CE-003085), a community mobilization approach to suicide prevention (PI for R01 MH112458), and a descriptive study of community strengths that correlate with youth wellness (co-PI with Drs. Allen and Rasmus for U19 MH113138). This work uses a variety of mixed methods including intergenerational and digital storytelling, social network analysis, narrative analysis, and community-level measurement to generate useful information for action.