Speakers and Bios
Almaveria Hudson – Almaveria Hudson has been a client in the Maternity Group Home Program for Project Oz since April. During this time, she has gone beyond the standards and has wowed everyone. She just gave birth to her second daughter and has started back at work recently. She also has recently started the Penn Foster High School Education Program. She is projected to receive her diploma in May.
Amy Jeck - Amy Jeck is a nontraditional, first generation, college student who is working towards their bachelors in Sociology while taking a blend of courses at Heartland Community College and ISU. Amy is a committed mental health advocate who believes in the power of peer support as it has been essential to their mental health recovery. She serves on the board of NAMI Mid Central IL and works as the Coordinator of Student Wellness at Heartland Community College.
Amy Rademaker is responsible for the development, implementation, marketing, and evaluation of all farm safety and rural health initiatives in the Carle Health region, covering over 30 counties. She is also East Central Illinois’ only Progressive Ag Safety Day® Coordinator, this year hitting a record 100+ Safety Days; more than any coordinator in Progressive Ag history. On a daily basis, Amy works with farmers, schools, Farm Bureau, Extension, physicians and nurses, collaborating on many rural health and farm safety projects. When Amy came to Carle, she coordinated one Progressive Ag Safety Day Camp annually. Over time, she has increased her reach by coordinating five Progressive Ag Safety Days® annually, presenting at schools across the area, and coordinating agricultural emergency response training. Among other offerings, Amy has become a Mental Health First Aid Instructor to provide her with the training and education to support those in a mentally taxing profession. The constant stress, isolation, and financial uncertainty those in the agriculture community can face requires the need for awareness and resources to cope and preserve their passion for their profession. Amy has presented agricultural mental health education to numerous groups and has also been a part of QPR training. Each year, she reaches more than 4,000 people through programs and other efforts, and she is constantly working to improve by creating new props, hands on activities and evaluation tools to be used in all of her classes. Amy is nationally recognized for her work in agriculture safety and health having most recently served as past president of the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health. Amy also serves on the Farm Family Resource Initiative Advisory Council, IL AgrAbility Advisory Board, the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, and the AgriSafe Women’s Advisory Group.
Angie McLaughlin, MSW, is the practice manager for outpatient behavioral health at Carle Health in Bloomington, IL. Angie was raised in rural McLean County and is now raising her own family in the town where she grew up. Angie is passionate and committed to improving the health of our community and has held leadership roles in child welfare, community non-profits, and primary care settings. Angie was the previous executive director of the Community Health Care Clinic and continues to serve on the board of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.
Annette Fairchild - Annette is the lead speech/language pathologist at Lifelong Access, formerly known as Marcfirst. She has 13 years of experience in the public schools and 2 years experience in the private sector. Annette lives in Gibson City with my husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs, and cat and enjoys reading and playing music in my band!
Carol Shegog-Parker has been with the McLean County Public Defender's Office since 2019. She currently serves as the Specialty Court Attorney and represents participants in three of the problem solving courts of McLean County.
Carrie Haubner - Carrie serves as the Director of Student Counseling Services at Illinois State University. She joined SCS in 2011 and has has the pleasure of serving in many different roles both within the department and across the institution in that time. Prior to becoming a staff member at SCS, she worked at several other university counseling centers around the Midwest. She obtained both her Master’s degree and Doctorate from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Some of Carrie’s clinical interests include mood and anxiety disorders, body image concerns, trauma, identity development, and training and supervising developing professionals. Her approach to therapy is integrative and incorporates interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, developmental theories, and multicultural lenses. Away from work, Carrie enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, entertaining, and being active outdoors
Cathleen Hays - Cat Hays is a Certified Medical Assistant and Certified Recovery Support Specialist who serves as the Recovery Specialist for the McLean County Recovery-Oriented System of Care (ROSC). Cat is also a person with lived experience of long-term recovery from non-suicidal self-injury, bipolar disorder, complex PTSD, and survivorship of abuse.
In off hours, Cat moonlights as a creative nerd who wears her heart on her sleeve. She enjoys adventuring as a live action role play (LARP) hero, exploring fictional worlds, creating art and crafting imperfectly perfect masterpieces, volunteering, and going down Internet rabbit holes of obscure historical trivia.
Cheris Larson – Cheris Larson LCSW, Director of Youth Services at Project Oz, has over 15 years of experience working directly with runaway and homeless youth (RHY), as well as expertise in program planning and evaluation, community outreach, and staff training and development. She began her career with Project Oz as an intern providing direct service to youth experiencing homelessness and now serves as the Director of Youth Services, overseeing the operation of several state and federally funded grants for RHY. Cheris is passionate about connecting homeless and runaway youth to safe shelter and caring adults and has been instrumental in the development and expansion of Project Oz’s emergency shelter. Cheris advocates for the needs of RHY on numerous local and state boards and helps train staff from other providers state-wide on competencies related to serving runaway and homeless youth.
Chris Wellin is a sociologist whose teaching and research interests focus on critical gerontology; the study of work and occupations; and qualitative/interpretive research methods. Wellin has done ethnographic studies in diverse settings and communities, including technical theatre, factory work, and paid caregiving, especially for older people facing chronic illness and disability. In this connection, he was commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences to review qualitative research on paid caregivers, with the goal of enhancing the recruitment, training, retention, and compensation of this key part of the labor force--one which is facing shortages that are vital for us to address. His publications have appeared in such outlets as Current Research on Occupations and Professions; Teaching Sociology; Qualitative Sociology; Journal of Aging and Social Policy; and the Handbook of Ethnography. He was on the faculty of Miami University, Ohio, and for nearly 15 years was a faculty member and coordinator of gerontology programs at Illinois State University.
Chuck Hartseil - I am a graduate of ISU with a masters and doctorate of Education. I am married and between us we have 6 children and 10 grandchildren. I am a retired Director of Education, currently work as a contracted consultant with ISU to assist the Illinois State Board of Education on evaluating special education programming and volunteer as a consultant/advocate for parents, agencies, and schools. We love to travel, vacation, and spend time with our grandchildren.
Claire Farnsworth - Claire Farnsworth is a fresh face at Project Oz. Beginning her work in Mental Health Education as a Prevention Specialist in January of 2023, she has trained extensively with the mastermind behind the county-wide initiative for NAMI's Ending the Silence, Colleen O'Connor. Claire herself is a recent alum of ISU's Human Development and Family Studies department. When she is not doing what she loves in the classroom, she can be found hanging out with her cat or listening to Taylor Swift.
Coleen Moore has been working in the field as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor for over 25 years. Over the course of career, she has provided services to children and adolescents receiving psychiatric care, adolescents receiving addiction and recovery services, and mental health services for individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and other delays. Coleen has also trained all over the country regarding Process Addictions and is published. Coleen currently works at Lifelong Access as the Vice President of Clinical Services. She oversees Lifelong Access Pediatric Services, Applied Behavioral Analysis, and the Behavioral Health Clinic.
Colleen O’Connor – Colleen O’Connor, CPS, CADC, is an award-winning educator and mental health professional. She uses her gift for storytelling and her lived experience with mental illness to create connection, reduce stigma, and inspire hope. In 2016, she initiated McLean County’s youth suicide prevention and mental health education program, NAMI Ending the Silence, as a partnership between Project Oz and NAMI Mid Central Illinois. She is a Lead Prevention Education Specialist at Project Oz, and she coordinates and delivers this program, which now serves all twenty standard, public junior high schools and high schools in the county. She also serves as the Executive Director of NAMI Mid Central Illinois, provides mental health education for other populations, and consults with neighboring communities. Over the course of her career, she has educated approximately 25,000 people, and she has received the American Red Cross Saluting Our Heroes Award, the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, the McLean County Public Health Award, the Illinois Wesleyan University Outstanding Young Alumni Award, and recognition from the Illinois State Senate.
Dameca Kirkwood is a Bloomington native and has worked and served the non-profit and social service community for the last 10 years. Beginning in 2013, Dameca worked at The Salvation Army Safe Harbor homeless shelter as the Shelter Aid Supervisor, then moving on to Long Life Access formerly known as Marcfirst working as a Lead Direct Support Personnel in a residential home, in conjunction with working at a local non-for-profit legal aid law firm as a Community Resource Specialist. She is also a member of the NAACP and Bloomington Normal’s Moms Demand Action. Dameca's son Trevonte' was murdered here in Bloomington at the ripe age of 27 due to gun violence. Dameca will speak on how ("because of this senseless act") how she became a victim and a survivor of gun violence and the trauma that she works through and deals with on a daily basis.
Daniel Lannin - Daniel G. Lannin, M.Div., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Clinical/Counseling Psychology at Illinois State University where he teaches counselling skills and theories to graduate counselling students as well as courses in personality, psychopathology, and motivation. Dr. Lannin has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles, magazine articles, and book chapters—as well as over 100 conference presentations and invited talks in the areas personality, help-seeking, and interpersonal relationships. His research and teaching center around empowering people to effectively seek and provide help to others. Dr. Lannin is the recipient of multiple awards at Illinois State University for the impact of his research and teaching, and he hosts a popular podcast called Psychology Life Lessons where he interviews psychology experts about how to apply psychological knowledge and wisdom to a person's life.
Dr. Burgundy Johnson has dual board certifications in both general psychiatry as well as child and adolescent psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She is the physician lead of child and adolescent psychiatry in behavioral health at the Carle BroMenn outpatient center in Bloomington, IL. In her role at Carle, she provides virtual evaluation and treatment of patients in addition to her leadership role of shaping and promoting the growth of programs to support pediatric mental health. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa with her husband, two sons, and two cats.
Dr. Jibran Nasser Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, I attended medical school in Pakistan and completed residency training in Family Medicine at Michigan State University and I am Board certified in Family Medicine and Urgent Care Medicine. Bloomington quickly became home for my wife and three young kids. We love the small-town feel and the sense of community. My desire to serve the community with my vast experience in Primary care, Urgent care has led me to where I am today. God Country Cricket!
Dr. Omar Khokhar - Dr Khokhar is a central Illinois native and has practiced in central Illinois since 2010. He completed his gastroenterology training from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. Dr Khokhar has a passion for digestive cancer screenings, including esophageal, pancreatic, and colon cancer. Dr Khokhar performs EUS, which helps with staging of upper and lower GI cancers, and non-invasive tissue sampling of pancreatic lesions.
Erin Kennedy is the Manager for the Community Resource Center at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center. With over 25 years of experience in the health care field, Erin’s focus has been on improving the health and well-being of her communities through education, prevention, and chronic disease management. Erin’s primary responsibilities include program development, community health needs assessment and planning, and community benefit reporting. She also manages the hospital switchboard and volunteer services at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center. Her favorite part of her job are the partnerships she’s involved in to collectively make an impact on overall health of the community. Erin received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and Exercise Physiology from Illinois State University.
Gabriela Vo – My name is Gabriela Vo. I am one of PATH Inc.'s Quality Assurance for our 988 department. I am a graduate from Illinois State University's Clinical-Counseling Psychology Master Program.
Gordon Bender - Gordon Bender, B.S., is a Lead Prevention Specialist at Project Oz. He has provided substance use prevention education for thousands of students in multiple grade levels throughout McLean County. Prior to his work in prevention education, he worked as an addiction treatment counselor. He is passionate about understanding current trends among youth, and when school districts expressed a clear need for more information about this topic, he extensively researched teen vaping and began providing additional presentations. In addition to teaching youth, he has also provided education about vaping for parents and community groups.
Gregory Cox – Mr. Gregory Cox is currently The Fatherhood Coalition Coordinator at BrightPoint. As an author, Gregory Cox has written “Promising the Moon”, a personal journey into his life, which was adopted as a required text for Illinois State University’s School of Social Work 2016 Fall course on Child Welfare Services. He has also co-authored “The Parents’ Get Real Guide to Getting Your Kids Back,” and “The Parents’ Get Real Guide to Keeping Your Kids at Home” and has published several articles regarding fathers’ rights and responsibilities. He previously served as Chairman of The Cook County Birth Parent Council (BPC). This Council is a product of DCFS’s Partnering with Parents Initiative. One of Gregory’s greatest achievements as chairman includes developing the concept of annual Institute Day that empowers birth parents with information on navigating the child welfare system. This
Gregory Wilson - I am currently the owner and operating manager for the YANI Collective and LMMHM Consulting, LLC. I also serve as the Community Relations Manager for the City of Bloomington. I attend Walden University for my doctorate in business administration with a concentration in leadership. I am in Chapter 2 of my dissertation titled, “Small Business Leaders Strategies To Improve Organizational Performance”. I also hold a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I am a board member for Peoria Public Schools District 150. In my tenure, I have placed an emphasis on expanding mental health services across the student body and staff.
Hannah Mesouani - Hannah Mesouani, was born and raised in Tangier, Morocco, but she eventually made her way to the United States in 2006 to pursue her education. With a dual B.A. from Muhlenberg College in Media & Communications and Film Studies, and a Master’s from ISU in Communications, Hannah is passionate about the ways we communicate our values. Having worked on several non-profit boards including Pennsylvania’s largest LGBTQIA+ organization and at the YWCA McLean County where she is currently the Director of Mission and Equity Consulting. Hannah received her Ph.D. in Education for Social Justice through the University of San Diego. Her thesis focus was on the construction of whiteness and the racial identification of Middle Eastern and North African communities. Hannah lives in Bloomington with her wonderful wife and mostly well-behaved cats and dogs who serve as her home office colleagues and live-in alarm clocks.
Hannah Mesouani - Hannah Mesouani, was born and raised in Tangier, Morocco, but she eventually made her way to the United States in 2006 to pursue her education. With a dual B.A. from Muhlenberg College in Media & Communications and Film Studies, and a master’s from ISU in Communications, Hannah is passionate about the ways we communicate our values. Having worked on several non-profit boards including Pennsylvania’s largest LGBTQIA+ organization and at the YWCA McLean County where she is currently the Director of Mission and Equity Consulting. Hannah received her Ph.D. in Education for Social Justice through the University of San Diego. Her thesis focus was on the construction of whiteness and the racial identification of Middle Eastern and North African communities. Hannah lives in Bloomington with her wonderful wife and mostly well-behaved cats and dogs who serve as her home office colleagues and live-in alarm clocks.
Hilary Pacha - Hilary Pacha is the founder and Executive Director of One Hope Project, whose mission is to walk alongside clients on their journey to recovery from eating disorders through education, intervention, and treatment. In addition to her professional experience, Hilary has personal experience as it relates to eating disorders. This is why she founded One Hope Project, the only agency providing services to those suffering from eating disorders. It is her belief that everyone deserves to have a place they can go to get the help they need and feel supported by professionals who dedicate their time to ending the stigma of eating disorders. But more importantly, Hilary believes those suffering do not need to do so alone! They deserve to be freed from the strongholds that eating disorders have on their lives.
Before founding One Hope, Hilary has over 18 years of experience in leading social service
organizations and programs. She has an exemplary background in building organizations and initiatives from the ground up. In her work with these agencies, Hilary has served a variety of populations, ranging from adults with developmental disabilities, to formerly incarcerated women, and sexual assault survivors. Hilary has earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Illinois State University and a Master of Art in Criminal Justice from American Public University. She also is a Level II Certified Eating Disorder Recovery Coach (CEDRC). Without a doubt, her top priority and proudest accomplishment is being a single mom to her 12-year- old son and four foster (soon to be adopted) children. She is actively involved in a variety of community organizations, and her church, and enjoys spending what little free time she has with family and friends.
Jack Blahnik currently serves as the Esports Program Manager for Redbird Esports at Illinois State University. As a former student involved with the esports program, Jack knows how important it is to strike a balance between online activity and your mental health. Jack's work involves overview of the facility, including enforcing the policies and procedures in place to protect and safeguard patrons. He also interacts daily with students as the primary staff member charged with operations and logistics of the Redbird Gaming club program.
Jack Pennoyer has worked for Lifelong Access since 2015 and has performed many duties as a Direct Support Professional, Job Coach, Case Manager, and now coordinator of the Lifelong Access Transition Program. He primarily fosters skills related to independence in his classroom and works to create a community out of his groups of students, aged 16-22. Outside of programming related to life skills, he also attends yearly goal-setting meetings for students and young adults with disabilities looking to prepare themselves and their support systems (often parents / guardians) for their adult lives.
Jamie Potter Advocate for people with disabilities and equal rights for the LGBT+ community. Jamie has a support group for LGBT+ and individuals with disabilities called Rainbows of Steel that meets on the third Friday of each month. They are interested in talking with people about my experiences and learning from them. Also, we may be able to help each other learn and thrive because of our life experiences.
Joan Hartman has worked in the behavioral health field since 1984. She has experience in all aspects of behavioral health including community based and acute psychiatric, crisis intervention along with all levels of substance abuse services. Her greatest passions have been creating new programs to meet the needs of people in recovery and mentoring new staff. During the day, she is the Chief Executive Officer for The Center for Human Services. Joan works to create partnerships with local, regional, and national collaborators. She holds a Master of Education degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Louisville and a bachelor’s degree in Alcohol and Drug Studies from the University of South Dakota. Joan has been in active recovery from a substance use disorder since 1983.
Joanna Oyer - Joanna Oyer, MSW, LCSW is a Mental Health Therapist at Carle BroMenn Medical Center and Carle Cancer Institute Normal. She has worked in healthcare for over 30 years, including hospital social work, oncology, dialysis, home health and hospice. During her 10+ years employed in hospice as a social worker and bereavement coordinator, she provided individual, family and group counseling and organized the hospice memorial services. She has also taught English as a Second Language, Social Work and Psychology courses at Heartland Community College. Joanna recently completed training in EMDR therapy and utilizes these techniques with her patients.
Kassy Diaz - Hello, my name is Kassy Diaz and I am a first-year in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Master's program at Illinois State University. I currently work at a Student Navigator in which I assist student's with issues regarding basic needs. I also am a primary instructor for two undergraduate research labs. In my undergrad, I was a volunteer for PATH 211 and on the board for the International Honor Society in Psychology and the Student Psychology Association.
Keith Brotheridge – Keith Brotheridge, MSW, LCSW, a clinical social worker for 30 years, has devoted much of his career to helping those impacted by traumatic stress. Mr. Brotheridge has worked at The Baby Fold – an agency providing special education, adoption support, foster care programming and numerous other services to children and families – since 2009, serving as the Therapy Supervisor and Assistant Director of the Residential Treatment Center for the first eight years of his career there. Currently, as Training Coordinator, Mr. Brotheridge is tasked with providing trauma-informed training and consultation to the entire agency to ensure that all programs operate in a trauma-sensitive manner. Mr. Brotheridge has also provided a wide range of trauma-informed trainings and consultations to various schools and agencies across the Central Illinois area. Prior to coming to The Baby Fold, Mr. Brotheridge spent 15 years as a therapist, clinical manager, and site director at Family Service of Northwest Ohio, where he worked extensively with children and families impacted by the trauma of domestic violence. He was also a founding board member of The Cocoon, a battered women’s shelter in Wood County, Ohio. Mr. Brotheridge is a Trained Practitioner in Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a trauma educational model developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at Texas Christian University. He is also trained as a Master Trainer of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). He has delivered trauma trainings nationally for Cross Country Education focused on treatment and recovery of traumatized youth and using trauma informed approaches within schools. Throughout his career, Mr. Brotheridge has presented at local and regional community forums and workshops. He has also taught social work and psychology courses at two community colleges in Northwest Ohio. Mr. Brotheridge attained his master’s in clinical social work from The Ohio State University.
Langston Pates - Langston pates has spent time in a United States penitentiary and various county jails. Diagnosed with mild mental health illness he has battled substance abuse most of his adult life. Langston at one point even lost his kids to social services because of his actions. with a change in mindset, he was able to go from, being on parole, with an ankle monitor on his leg, living in his mother’s basement, to owning a 6 figure a year moving company and over 1 million dollars in real estate all while reestablishing his relationship with his children.
Laurie Bell is the past Survivor Membership Lead of McLean County Moms Demand Action.
Litzy Morales – My name is Litzy Morales and I am a senior at Illinois Wesleyan University. I study Psychology and am here to share my experience as a college student on mental health!
Marianela Diaz Venezuela Phycologist master’s in human resource. 20 year working with Adult Education (Venezuela). Parent Child Educator, Heartland Head Start. 8 years working as Bilingual Parent Liaison at Unit5. Bilingual Specialist, BN Parents.
Matt Burgess – Matt Burgess is the Chief Executive Officer of Home Sweet Home Ministries where he has worked for the past 14 years. Home Sweet Home Ministries is an independent Christian nonprofit serving people who are experiencing homelessness and/or living in poverty. They have served the Central Illinois community for over 100 years and currently operate a shelter, a low-income food co-op, the Junction community center, and several other services for people dealing with homelessness and poverty. Formally trained as a community mental health therapist, Matt incorporates his experience and knowledge of working with survivors of trauma into his approach to service delivery and leadership.
Meghan Moser – Meghan Moser has over 18 yrs. experience in the behavioral health field. She has experience with youth and adults and has work in several different roles including case management, residential treatment, therapy, and crisis assessment. She has been working as the crisis program manager at the Center for 9 years.
Michael Gardner - Sergeant Michael Gardner is a 16-year veteran with the Illinois State University Police Department. He currently commands the Community Engagement Unit, which focusses on promoting positive relationships between department members and the community, identifying, and solving public safety problems, and developing methods to educate community members on general law enforcement operations so they may understand the work that officers do to keep the community safe. Sergeant Gardner is an ISU alum and enjoys a robust professional and practical background in management and course instruction. His practical knowledge on this subject matter is rooted in training and experience, which include Crisis Intervention Team training, Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement (RITE), Verbal Judo – Verbal de-escalation training, Basic and Advanced Hostage Negotiation, Wicklander-Zulawski Basic and Advanced Interview Techniques, and 12 years on the joint Normal Police Department – ISU Police Department Crisis Negotiation Team.
Morgan Hartrich -Morgan has been in the peer support field since October of 2022. She started as an Engagement Specialist on Mclean County's 24/7 Mobile Crisis Team and was promoted into the position of Engagement Specialist Coordinator in October 2022. Morgan obtained my CRSS certificate in February of this year, and continue to work as an Engagement Specialist, as well as the Coordinator of our currently 4 member Engagement Specialist component of the Crisis Team. She has since been elected to the NAMI Illinois Peer Professional Board of Directors (NIAPP), in order to help advance the opportunities for peer support in Illinois.
Nakota Olsson - Nakota Olsson is an emergency department nurse, and works with JOLT Harm Reduction in community outreach. The primary focus of Nakota’s work is for people who use drugs and sex workers that are living unhoused in McClean County. Along with her work with JOLT and in the ER, she is currently in training to work as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
Natalie Alfeo is a Recovery Support Specialist at the Center for Human Services’ Behavioral Health Urgent Care in Bloomington, Illinois. She regularly uses her lived experience to build rapport and support clients. Natalie is currently completing her hours for her Certified Recovery Support Specialist credential. She is also working towards her Bachelor of Social Work at Aurora University.
Raylene Gomez - Raylene Gomez is an educator and linguist by profession from Illinois State University with studies in three different languages including Spanish, French and Japanese. As a scholar and as a professional she has dedicated most of her career to helping break the barriers of disadvantage and bias for students from underrepresented and historically excluded sectors of the population. She devotes her work to the betterment of the educational field, and to make students' academic experiences positive and nurturing, with the hope that one day education will be an equally accessible and welcoming field for all students without reservations.
Ronald Lewis – McLean County Public Defender Office, Bloomington, IL. Chief Public Defender, 2021-present. First Assistant, Felony Chief, and Assistant Public Defender 1996 - 2021. 1991 to 1996 - private practice with emphasis in criminal, traffic, appellate, family, and personal injury law. J.D., The John Marshall Law School (now UIC), 1991, B.A., Eastern Illinois University, 1988. Licensed to practice in Illinois with prior Capital Litigation Trial Bar lead-counsel certification; United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and the United States District Court, Central District of Illinois. Service and memberships include Illinois Public Defender Association (past 2nd Vice President, current board member, speaker; 2018 Bruce Robert Jacob Award recipient); Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) (Criminal Justice Section Council, past Assembly member); National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL); McLean County Bar Association; Faculty-Jamie Kunz Trial Advocacy Program; past-Illinois Integrated Justice Information System (IIJIS) Implementation Board.
Sally Gambacorta is the Community Health Director at Carle BroMenn Medical Center and Carle Eureka Hospital. She has worked for Carle BroMenn Medical Center for 29 years in Wellness and Community Health. Sally holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Augustana College, a Master of Science degree in Industrial/Organizational Science from Illinois State University and a Master of Arts degree in Leisure Studies with a concentration in Corporate Fitness and Health Promotion from the University of Iowa. In her community health role, Ms. Gambacorta is responsible for the community health needs assessment, community health improvement plan and community benefits at both hospitals. She has extensive experience in collaborating with community partners to improve the health of the community. Ms. Gambacorta is a member of the McLean County Community Health Council Executive Steering Committee and facilitates the McLean County Behavioral Health Priority Action Team. She is also a member of the McLean County Mental Health First Aid Collaborative and is the Vice President/Chair for the Partnership for a Healthy Community Board for Woodford, Tazewell and Peoria Counties.
Samantha Williams is the outreach manager at Home Sweet Home Ministries. She has worked within the organization for six years in various capacities and currently over sees The Junction Community Center and The Bread For Life Co-op. She's passionate about walking alongside our neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity, and unhoused while creating a safe environment where knowledge and resources can be shared. Samantha works within the core values of HSHM to create an atmosphere of restoration and innovative ways to serve our community.
Sarah Stalter – Sarah is the Assistant Director of Behavioral Health Coordination for McLean County and a Certified Recovery Support Specialist. She has worked with employment support and intensive case management programs in the past and is currently scheduled to complete with her Masters in Social Work from Boston University in December of this year. When not working, Sarah is usually reading, in her garden, or hanging out with her Alaskan Malamute, Ned.
Shelia Harris – is a member of the Bloomington/Normal branch of the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Shelia serves as their Branch’s membership chairperson as well as the Survivor’s Lead of the Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence group. She has a commitment to justice and equality for all along with her genuine love for helping others. Shelia has her own testimony as a survivor mom of gun violence against a family member, her son Dakota, who was murdered in Detroit, Michigan and is what is called an “unsolved murder”. She travels every year to Detroit to speak to law enforcement heads and does Crime Stoppers interviews to bring more attention there.
Sierra Hobson served as One Hope Projects first counseling intern and has since graduated with Master’s degree in Social Work and was hired as One Hope's first official counselor. Sierra is particularly passionate about minimizing the stigma surrounding mental health. In fact, she is a certified adult and youth Mental Health First Aid instructor who has certified nearly 100 individuals in McLean County. Sierra is currently working toward gaining her clinical license. She also aspires to become a certified yoga teacher where she would have the privilege of guiding others in intuitive mind and body connection. She firmly believes this will not only help clients at One Hope Project, but others she may work with in the future.
Sophia Gawron is a Licensed Social Worker in Illinois who has been practicing since 2022. She graduated from Western Illinois University with her bachelor’s in psychology, and from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with her Master’s in Social Work, with an emphasis on Advanced Clinical Practice of Mental Health. Sophia works with clients to take accountability and ownership of themselves while also “taking their power back.” Sophia takes a laid-back approach to therapy, listening to her clients and their needs to create an individualized treatment approach. She is extremely passionate about the ever-evolving growth and healing that comes with participating in therapy and helping clients navigate their own paths. Sophia loves walking with clients through their breakthroughs and watching them recognize the value of their hard work. When working with Sophia, clients can expect someone who will be caring, compassionate, and open with them. She likes to have clients be the driver in the scenario and will help guide clients when they need it. Sophia likes to create a very comfortable environment for each client while also working to be direct and to the point. For personal hobbies and passions, Sophia enjoys working out, reading, playing with her cats, spending time with friends, thrifting, roller-skating, and exploring local shops and areas! During the warmer months you can find her a frequent flyer at the farmers markets and walking around Downtown Bloomington.
Spencer White - Spenser "Tempos" White is a former professional esports athlete and currently competes for Redbird Esports on the Varsity League of Legends team. He is a graduate of Utah State University and is currently a student at ISU within the Criminal Justice Science masters program. He also plans to attend law school in the future.
Susan Schafer - Susan was elected to the County Board in 2010, is Chair of the Health Committee and is a member of the Board of Health, Behavioral Health Coordinating Council and Criminal justice Coordinating Council. She was a co-author of the 2015 Mental Health Action Plan and led the 2022 Update to the plan. In June of 2022, Susan was profiled by the National Association of Counties (NACo) highlighting individuals who are championing cross systems collaboration and data sharing within their jurisdictions to improve outcomes for familiar faces of justice, health and human services systems and was selected for the inaugural cohort of NACo’s Familiar Faces Initiative Leadership Network for their commitment to improving life outcomes for high-needs residents with complex behavioral health conditions.
Tara Leytham-Powell - Dr. Tara Powell is a researcher and advocate for behavioral health interventions in disaster-affected communities. With a dual masters in social work and public health from Tulane University and a PhD from the University of Texas, she explores the impact of behavioral health interventions in the US and abroad. Drawing from her experience living in and working with disaster-affected communities, Dr. Powell has actively collaborated with local communities and global humanitarian organizations to develop, research, and distribute behavioral health interventions for individuals, families, and communities affected by collective traumas. Her experience spans a range of contexts, from communities impacted by conflicts like the Syrian Crisis to those who have experienced pandemics and climate-induced disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes.
Dr. Powell's work has received funding from renowned organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Save the Children, USAID, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
Timothy Mollet is a Recovery Support Specialist at A New Horizon, a Recovery Community Center at MCCHS. He is a person with lived experience in active substance misuse and recovery from such. Tim also has lived experience in recovery from a Mental Health diagnosis. Tim graduated from the Heartland Community College recovery support specialist certificate program and is an alumnus from Recovery Corps/Americorp. He is currently studying for his state exam to become a Certified Recovery Support Specialist. He is certified to co-facilitate both WRAP and WHAM groups and is looking forward to more trainings.
TJ Bjorklund - Tj started off as a high-level soccer player that moved over to esports to fulfill competitive drive during college. He studied psychology at Champaign-Urbana while competing in professional League of Legends as a player, and then coach. After graduating, Tj started working in the Illinois Wesleyan esports program and has since moved over to Illinois State.
Tom Troe – Thomas E. Troe, CRSS, CPRS. Tom serves as the IDHS/Division of Mental Health as a Recovery Support Specialist II for the last 15 years After his disability, he became an author, motivational speaker, and consumer advocate. Tom is a Certified Recovery Support Specialist (CRSS), Certified Peer Recovery Specialist and a Certified (WRAP) Wellness Recovery Action Plan Advanced Level Facilitator. He is also a certified as a facilitator for QPR (Question persuade and refer Suicide prevention) NEW-R(Nutrition Exercise and work for Recovery, and WHAM (Whole Health Action
Tony Jones – Tony Jones a native of Richmond, Va and graduate of Virgina Commonwealth University has served as a key organizer for several community events, including Bloomington-Normal's Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Banquet, the annual Juneteenth Celebration and the Bloomington-Normal Cultural Fest. He is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. He has created many public forums featuring minority-owned businesses and community events in Central Illinois. He co-founded the Mentoring and Providing Scholarship program, or MAPS, which provides high school seniors with information they need to be successful in college, as well as scholarships to help them pursue a college education. Jones had a 36-year career in the computer science industry. Upon retirement he jumped back into the workforce retirement to work as a manager at Heartland Community College's Workforce Equity Initiative. But recently left that role to work with the Mclean County Behavioral Health team as a grant coordinator.
Tonya Bassett – Tonya received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Social Work with a focus in child welfare from Illinois State University. She is a licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC) and Certified Trauma Therapist (CTT). Tonya’s area of concentration for the last 12 years has been in the work of trauma healing. She was among the first group of individuals internationally to hold the certification in trauma therapy (CTT). Tonya’s research and training in the field of trauma has become an essential facet of her work as a therapist. She is the founder and Director of the area’s first trauma intensive, Healing Within – A Trauma Healing Program. Tonya is the owner of Breathe Counseling and Breathe – A Center for Healing & Wellness in rural Heyworth, Illinois. For more information on Tonya and her trauma healing intensives please visit journeytobreathe.com.
Trisha Malott - Trisha Malott is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience in non-profits, large multi-state group practices, medical schools, education, and the public sector. As a clinician, Trisha’s specialization largely centered around children, adolescents and adults impacted by sexual abuse, assault, and other traumas, as well as anxiety and mood-related disorders. Trisha’s roles in various organizations results in experience with understanding health insurance nuances for coverage of mental health services, dynamics of Employee Assistance Programs, the range of options within McLean County for seeking help, and how to begin the process.
Wendi Ashford - Wendi Ashford, MSW, LCSW, CADC, CODP1, CCTP, Manager of Therapist Services and Program Development, has worked in the Behavioral Health Field for over 30 years. As Manager of the Therapist Services and Program development for the Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Units at Carle BroMenn Medical Center, Wendi understands the numerous tactics that keeps individuals that are experiencing mental health issues and the bondage of addiction from living up to their full potential and walking in their true purpose. Her passion to see individuals learn the true “VALUE” on the inside of themselves, is what drives her to never stop reaching. Her desire is to educate, nurture and equip people of all diverse backgrounds and cultures to work towards achieving the goal of becoming WHOLE. Although she serves in management; Wendi continuously leads by example and can often be found leading those she supervises through “hands on experiences.” Outside of Carle BroMenn, Wendi provides respite care as a Foster Parent through Project Oz. She provides emergency shelter or just to give parents a much-needed rest. She opens her home, especially to at risk teens. Wendi is an actively involved Minister in her church; Judah International Ministries located in Mackinaw, IL. There she also serves as a Youth Leader to teens, Hospitality Committee team, and the Worship Team. In her spare time, she enjoys quite time alone and when she is not furthering her own education, she is actively involved and engaged in her grandsons’ extra-curricular activities.
Zachary Dell While completing a PhD in Mathematics at Ohio State, Zach began getting involved in the esports world. Involved in both the (mostly) online Rocket League Community and various local offline fighting game communities, he has experienced both online gaming culture and how it manifests itself in offline competitions.