President of the Board of Directors
In 2006, Joanne, her husband Alan and her brother-in-law Ken along with close family friends, established Elyssa’s Mission. 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 one million students, school staff, parents and community members. She has saved many young lives.
Jodie Segal, MSW
Director of SOS Programming
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.
Program Manager for SOS Signs of Suicide and Hope Squad
Palma started volunteering for Elyssa’s Mission while she was in college. Palma was passionate about mental health awareness prior to volunteering but she became interested in the non-profit world and wanted to dedicate her time to supporting the Elyssa’s Mission team and their efforts to bring suicide prevention programs to Illinois schools. She currently works as Program Manager for SOS, supporting the Director of Education, Jodie Segal. In addition, as Hope Squad Program Manager, Palma leads the efforts in bringing Hope Squad to Chicagoland schools. Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer based program that aims to educe self-destructive behavior and youth suicide by training, building and creating change in schools and communities.
Palma attended Lincoln Park High School and has a B.A. degree from the University of Iowa.
Program Assistant for SOS Signs of Suicide and Hope Squad
Kerry started volunteering at Elyssa’s Mission in 2019 and now works as a Program Assistant for both the SOS and Hope Squad programs. Having been impacted in her personal life by the loss of a loved one to suicide, Kerry is passionate about educating young students about the signs of depression and suicide.
Kerry has a Learning and Behavioral Specialist Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and a Curriculum and Instruction Master’s degree from Olivet Nazarene 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.
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.
Board of Directors
Joanne Meyers, Alan Meyers, Ken Meyers, Carol Felsenthal, Deede Wittenstein, Ellen Hirsch, Nicole Smith, Sarah Shaheen
Mindwise Innovations, a Service of Riverside Community Care: Meritt Kelsey, Director of Operations, Meghan Diamon, Director of Suicide Prevention Programs
Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work: Jonathan B. Singer, Ph.D., LCSW