Board of Directors
Joanne Meyers, Alan Meyers, Nicole Smith, Jaclyn Meyers, Dr. Luke Stephens, Ellen Hirsch, Carol Felsenthal, Ken Meyers, Deede Wittenstein, Sarah Shaheen
MISSING: Joe Braido
Mindwise Innovations, a Service of Riverside Community Care: Leanora Karnath, MS, Signs of Suicide (SOS) Program Manager; Kara Neymeyr, MPA, Signs of Suicide Program Director
Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work: Jonathan B. Singer, Ph.D., LCSW
Jodie Segal, MSW
Director of Education
Jodie collaborates with schools, agencies and religious institutions in order to raise awareness and provoke dialogue about teenage suicide among teens, staff and parents. Her primary task is assisting area-wide middle and high schools to implement the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program, an evidence-based suicide prevention program that teaches students how to recognize the warning signs of suicide, and seek out needed help from a trusted adult. In addition to providing hands-on support to those staff members implementing SOS, Jodie further facilitates all-staff training sessions, as well as presentations for parents, in order to help these groups identify and support at-risk youth. Jodie is no stranger to preventative efforts, or to working with schools, families and community organizations. She began her career as a school social worker, where she implemented a range of programs designed to foster resiliency in students and strengthen their support systems.
Prior to joining Elyssa’s Mission, Jodie spent six years as an assistant principal at both the elementary and middle school level. She has a solid awareness of the issues and pressures affecting today’s youth, and, like Elyssa’s Mission, recognizes the need to work collaboratively in order to build a safer community: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”—Helen Keller. Jodie has a B.A. degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a Masters in Social Work from the University of WI-Madison. She completed her school administration degree at Loyola University.
Melissa Molitor, LSW
Grief Group Coordinator
Melissa and Elyssa were dear friends during junior high and high school. In 2008, Melissa joined the Elyssa’s Mission Board of Directors and is thrilled to have joined the team as Program Director in 2016. Melissa facilitates postvention grief groups in schools following a student suicide. She started a new chapter of Elyssa’s Mission called: Embrace Mental Health. EMH is a group of young professionals speaking out to eliminate the stigma of mental illness by educating college-aged students about depression and suicide.
Melissa has previous experience in several area high schools working with adolescents in both individual and group counseling, crisis counseling, as well as teaching the SOS Program in grades 6th-12th. Melissa attended New Trier High School and has a B.A. degree from Indiana University Bloomington and a Masters degree in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago.
Kelsey Hoeper, LPC, NCC, CT
Suicide Prevention Educator
Kelsey started devoting her time to Elyssa’s Mission as a volunteer in 2016 before taking on her role as Suicide Prevention Educator in 2017. She provides hands-on support to middle and high schools with the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program and further trains school staff and parents in suicide prevention. Kelsey also provides suicide prevention education in community settings: agencies, organizations, religious institutions, etc. She will keep the mission up-to-date on all Illinois policies and join relevant committees that pertain to mental health in Illinois.
Kelsey has experience providing individual and group counseling in community mental health settings and private practice. She received specialized training in clinical suicide bereavement, suicide triage, crisis counseling/intervention and management, and cognitive-behavioral therapies. She is a member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Illinois Chapter, the Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the National Alliance for Grieving Children. She also serves on the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance (ISPA), the Chicago Collaborative for Bullying and Suicide Prevention (CCBSP), and the Youth Suicide Prevention Committee with the American Association of Suicidology.
Kelsey received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Lake Forest College, and her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Roosevelt University. She is a certified thanatologist (CT) and completed the 40-hour domestic violence training, 60-hour sexual assault advocacy training, and earned her certification as a Grief Support Specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018.
President of the Board of Directors
Joanne and her husband Alan, along with family and friends, established Elyssa’s Mission in 2006. They started the organization to honor their oldest daughter, Elyssa, who was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and a predisposition to depression. Elyssa lost her battle with mental illness on February 11, 2004.
As President of the Board of Directors, Joanne oversees the entire operation of the organization. Through her passion and vision, Joanne has brought suicide prevention programming to over 500,000 students, school staff and parents. She has saved many young lives.