Jodie Segal, MSW
Director of Education
As 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 SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention 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. Jodie resides in Deerfield with her husband Gary and their two young daughters.
Melissa Molitor, LSW
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. She assists in the expansion of the SOS Signs of Suicide Prevention® Program to religious institutions and community centers. Melissa also facilitates postvention grief groups in schools following a student suicide. Melissa started a brand new chapter of Elyssa’s Mission called: Embrace Mental Health. Embrace 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 Signs of Suicide® Prevention 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. Melissa resides in Chicago with her husband Tom.
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 PTSD and with a predisposition to depression. Elyssa lost her battle with mental illness and post traumatic stress disorder on February 11, 2004.
Joanne serves as the President of the Board of Elyssa’s Mission. As President of the Board, she is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic plan that allows the organization to meet its mission. Through her passion and vision, Joanne has helped Elyssa’s Mission implement the SOS Signs of Suicide® Prevention Program in over 130 schools throughout the Chicagoland area. She oversees the entire operation of the organization.