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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Steering Committee Members

The role of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Steering Committee is to provide the network's primary investigators/administrators with expert guidance on the issues that affect the SAMHSA-funded National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, its administration, the crisis center community, and its consumers.

Michael Hogan, Ph.D.


Dr. Michael Hogan serves as an advisor and consultant to behavioral health and health programs and systems. He served as Commissioner/Director of three state mental health agencies (in Connecticut, Ohio, and New York) in a distinguished career spanning 1987-2012. Dr. Hogan chaired the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in 2002-2003, and was appointed as the first behavioral health representative on the board of The Joint Commission in 2007. He serves on the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the National Integration Advisory Council, and served on NIMH’s National Advisory Mental Health Council (1994-1998), as President of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (2003-2005) and as Board President of NASMHPD’s Research Institute (1989-2000). He has received leadership awards from the National Governor’s Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, the Suicide Prevention Action Network, the American College of Mental Health Administrators and the American Psychiatric Association. He is a graduate of Cornell University, and earned a MS degree from the State University College in Brockport NY, and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University. Dr. Hogan has authored over 50 articles/book chapters.

David Covington, LPC, MBA. 

Vice Chair

As Vice‐President for Clinical and Program Outcomes for Magellan Health Services, David is responsible for the administrative, financial, programmatic and clinical oversight of the system of care which serves more than 80,000 actively enrolled individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues in Central Arizona. His team is also leading the implementation of an Integrated Health Home Network (IHHN) with a scope including the lifespan, disability and the whole person (behavioral health, physical health and specialty medical care).

David is a founding member of the National Action Alliance on Suicide Prevention, and co-lead along with Mike Hogan for the task force that produced the “Suicide Care in Systems Framework.” He is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Council for Behavioral Health and served as its special editor for the September 2012 “Not Another Life to Lose” National Council Magazine.

David is also a Partner for Behavioral Health Link where he was previously CEO. BHL’s groundbreaking Georgia Crisis & Access Line and Mobile Crisis Response Services partnerships with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) have been recognized for innovation and excellence from SAMHSA, National Council, CARF’s Promising Practices, Council of State Governments, State News magazine, Business Week, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Business. David is a licensed professional counselor and resides in Chandler, Arizona with his wife and two sons.

Michael Allen, M.D. 

Dr. Allen is best known for his work in agitation, suicide and emergency services.  While at New York University School of Medicine, he was the architect of the model Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program at Bellevue Hospital, mentioned in New York Magazine’s “Best Hospitals in New York”.  Currently he is director of research at the Colorado Depression Center, part of the National Network of Depression Centers, and a senior investigator at the VISN 19 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center. Dr. Allen was a principal investigator in the NIMH Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder and a part of the STEP-BD Suicide Work Group.  He developed and validated the Clinical Global Impression Scale for Schizoaffective Disorder.  He has been a principal investigator for many clinical trials and led investigator training in more than a dozen languages on five continents.  He received a NARSAD Independent Investigator award for the study of nicotine and agitation and was a principal investigator in the testing of inhaled loxapine for agitation.  He was a co-chair of the NIH Emergency Medicine Roundtable and an author of their recommendations for emergency services research on suicide, agitation and delirium.  He is now a co-investigator for the NIH Emergency Department Safety and Follow-up Evaluation (ED SAFE) and principal investigator for the Military Suicide Research Consortium Psychophysiology of Suicidal States.   

He has served as president of the American Association and vice president of the International Association for Emergency Psychiatry, chair of the Am Psychiatric Assoc Task Force on Psychiatric Emergency Services, lead expert for the Expert Consensus Guideline for the Management of Behavioral Emergencies, and member of the American College of Emergency Physicians clinical policy committee, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration pharmacotherapy expert panel, the Expert Consensus Guideline for Bipolar Disorder, the Colorado Clinical Guidelines Collaborative Depression Program, the Colorado Governor’s Advisory Panel on Suicide and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado.  He is currently working with an Am Association of Suicidology task force on improving the competency of mental health professionals in suicide risk assessment, is a charter member of the Military Suicide Research Consortium and is president of the Carson J Spencer Foundation.  He has served as a consultant to the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.  He is the author or editor of three books, former editor of Emergency Psychiatry, a reviewer for the Cochrane Collaborative and is currently associate editor of General Hospital Psychiatry. 

Dr. Allen hails from the Carolina Low Country and was raised on the Marine bases at Parris Island, SC and Quantico, VA.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and trained in psychiatry at the Institute of Living in Hartford, CT, where he served as chief resident.  He has served on the faculty at Cornell Medical School, NYU and is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  He is board certified in psychiatry with added qualifications in addictions and is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. 

Alan Berman, Ph.D., A.B.P.P. 

Dr. Berman is currently the Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology and former director of the National Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide at the Washington School of Psychiatry. He taught for 22 years at American University in Washington, D.C., attaining the rank of tenured full professor. At American, he initiated development of only the second university-based, student-operated crisis service in the U.S. in 1970. Thirty-one years later, he served as principal investigator of SAMHSA's predecessor 3-year grant from 2001-2004 to network and certify crisis centers. Dr. Berman is author/editor of 8 books in suicidology and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Since 2009, he has served as the elected President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention. His term ends in 2013. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Suicide Research and is on the editorial boards of three journals in suicidology.

Judy Cushing 

Judy Cushing, CEO and President of Oregon Partnership / Lines for Life, has devoted 33 years to community, state and national efforts to combat drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, mental illness, and to shape public policy around those issues.

Under Cushing’s guidance, Lines for Life has developed into a nationally recognized leader in alcohol and drug prevention, mental health advocacy, and alcohol, drug and suicide intervention services. Lines for Life operates a regional Crisis Call Center with seven lines, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a Military Helpline. Lines for Life also does significant work in media and public policy, parent and youth training and peer to peer services.

Cushing has held numerous national leadership positions. In 2010, she was appointed by Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. In 2003, President Bush appointed Cushing to the President’s Advisory Commission on Drug-Free Communities. Cushing also served on the National Research Council / Institute of Medicine’s 2002 panel that produced the landmark report, “Reducing Underage Drinking - A Collective Responsibility.” She has received numerous awards, most recently Oregon NAMI’s, Gordon and Sharon Smith New Freedom Award for her advocacy for the mentally ill. Cushing studied at Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University and the Faculty Development Institute at Boston University. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband of 47 years; they have three children and nine grandchildren.

Mary Drexler, MSW 

Mary is currently the part-time Executive Director for CONTACT USA.  She has served in this position for the past 5 years.  She has an extensive background in crisis intervention and suicide prevention. She worked eleven years as an Information/Referral and Crisis Center Director in Connecticut that served residents statewide.  She has been in the social services field since 1979. She served three years as Crisis Division Chair on the Council of Delegates for the American Association of Suicidology. Mary is also an ASIST trainer.  She has also established Drexler Consulting, LLC as an entity for providing training to organizations and community groups, in areas such as suicide prevention and intervention, effective listening, stress management, and more.

Mary also serves as the full-time Executive Director of the CT Council on Problem Gambling.  She serves on the National Council on Problem Gambling’s Board of Directors.  She hopes to pursue further research in the area of problem gambling and suicide in the future.  She holds a Masters of Social Work from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work.  

Brian Hepburn, M.D. 

Dr. Hepburn is the Executive Director of the Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration (MHA). He has been the Executive Director for MHA since 2002. Prior to his current position, he was the Clinical Director for MHA from 1996 to 2004. He was also the Director of Psychiatric Education and Training for MHA from 1987 to 1997. He also maintained a private practice until 2004. Dr. Hepburn received his M.D. degree in 1979 from the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He received Residency Training in Psychiatry at the University of Maryland from 1979 to 1983. He was a Full-Time Faculty Member at the University of Maryland from 1983 to 1988 and has been on the Volunteer faculty at the University of Maryland since 1988. Dr. Hepburn is the Executive Director of the Public Mental Health System (PMHS) in Maryland. The PMHS provides community mental health services to over 150,000 individuals who have Medicaid or are uninsured. In addition, the PMHS has oversight responsibility for 7 state facilities. Dr. Hepburn is a member of NASMHPD, NASMHPD Medical Directors, NRI, and SPRC. He is committed to the goal of zero suicides and values his role as a member of the Lifeline Steering Committee.

Caitlin Thompson, Ph.D.

Caitlin Thompson is the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Deputy Director in Suicide Prevention.  Prior to this role, she spent five years as the Clinical Care Coordinator for the National Veterans Crisis Line and Veterans Chat service.  A licensed clinical psychologist, she is Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry where she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in suicide research.  Dr. Thompson completed her pre-doctoral internship and some post-doctoral work at the Denver VA Medical Center.  In 2012, she spent five months detailed as the VA Liaison for the DoD’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office.  Dr. Thompson completed her Bachelor’s degree in music at Brown University and her Master’s degree and Doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia.

Shye L. Louis, M.Ed, CIRS, CRS 

Shye Louis has worked for crisis intervention and information & referral hotlines since 1989, most recently joining the 2-1-1/LIFE LINE program of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes in 2003.  2-1-1/LIFE LINE is a blended suicide/crisis line and information & referral program that responds to over 100,000 contacts each year (calls and chats) from people seeking help with mental health, family crisis, emergency food, shelter, transportation and other needs.  Shye has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Development from St. Lawrence University.  She is also certified through Living Works as an ASIST Master Trainer (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and through the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) as an Information & Referral Specialist (CIRS) and Resource Specialist (CRS).  Shye has served on the Board of Directors for the NYS Alliance of Information & Referral Systems (AIRS) since 1998.  She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Crisis Center Directors (NASCOD).

Shye provides training and consultation services to hotline staff, human service agency staff and community groups and on a regular basis at the local, state and national level on issues relating to crisis intervention, suicide intervention and information & referral skills.  Shye is often sought out for her knowledge about providing crisis and information services via Live Chat and has provided consulting/training services to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and several Contact USA centers on the subject.  She has assisted with the revision of the national AIRS training manual, "The ABCs of I&R", particularly contributing input to the sections on crisis intervention and mental health and as the author of the chapter on utilizing Live Chat.  She remains an active member of the AIRS Training Committee.  

Shye’s crisis center, through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, has developed a close relationship with the National Veterans Crisis Line located nearby, with 2-1-1/LIFE LINE providing a variety of training services, contingency space, response to overflow calls from the hotline and back-up services for their chat service.  Shye implemented a training program for new hotline responders and delivered that training to all staff at the National Veterans Crisis Line for their first 4 years of operation.  She now provides ASIST Training to incoming hires on the Veterans Hotline staff.

Patricia Morris, M.Ed MAC 

Pat Morris has been Program Director of Care Crisis Response Services at Volunteers of America Western Washington since 2006. She is responsible for administration of an AAS and CONTACT USA  accredited 24 hour Regional Crisis and Triage line, a Regional Utilization Management program and a centralized intake and referral call center for mental health services and a Chat online emotional support program.  The Crisis Line is a Lifeline affiliate, and Ms. Morris has been a member of the Lifeline Steering Committee since 2009. She serves on the NASCOD Board of Directors and has recently been named as AAS’s Crisis Centers Division Chair.  She is a member of a Washington State Regional Integrated Crisis Response System and sits on numerous regional committees and task forces. She provides regional and statewide trainings on Suicide Prevention/Intervention; Substance Abuse, Co-occurring Disorders and related Mental Health topics. She is a certified ASIST and safeTALK training through Livingworks. She also provides regional Crisis Intervention training to law enforcement personnel. Prior to her work at Volunteers of America Western Washington, Ms. Morris was the Program Director for a Hospital-based Chemical Dependency Program in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, with special emphasis on Co-occurring Disorders and Addictive Family systems.

Ms. Morris is a licensed professional counselor, a nationally certified mental health and Master Addiction counselor with a Masters of Education Degree from the University of Idaho.  During her thirty year career in the Mental Health and Chemical Dependency field, she has experience providing mental health case management, involuntary treatment evaluations, psychosocial and Clubhouse rehabilitation and outpatient therapy. She has worked in Mental Health emergency services and crisis lines in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. She has developed and administered inpatient and outpatient chemical dependency programs, specializing in co-occurring disorders. She has also served as an Adjunct professor in Northwest Universities teaching graduate level coursework, and is currently an instructor at Western Washington University.

Kenneth Norton, L.I.C.S.W. 

Mr. Norton is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI NH).  Mr. Norton led the development of NAMI NH’s Connect Suicide Prevention Program which is designated as a National Best Practice Program in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. He has served on numerous local and national workgroups and committees related to suicide prevention efforts and has presented nationally and internationally. Ken participated in the planning for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and serves on several Action Alliance task forces.  Ken also serves on NAMI’s national Military and Veterans Council.   Ken has a great deal of experience dealing with mental illness from the family perspective and has also worked extensively in community mental health as well as on advocacy issues related to mental health care and suicide prevention. 

Robin Pesci, MSW, L.I.C.S.W. 

Ms. Pesci is the Director of Howard Center’s First Call for Children and Families, a 24/7 mobile crisis and intake team serving children and families in Vermont.  Since 2002 Ms. Pesci has worked providing leadership to the community regarding mental health crisis services, disaster response, and suicide prevention. Howard Center is the largest private, non-profit community mental health center in Vermont.  Ms. Pesci is a member of many regional committees as well as the Vermont Threat Assessment Task Force, Vermont Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition and was on the subgroup that wrote the Vermont Youth Suicide Prevention Platform.  She has provided training on suicide pre and postvention, crisis response and assessing risk, as well as the system of care in Vermont. Ms. Pesci has worked with communities impacted by a tragedy to implement a postvention response. Ms. Pesci is a field instructor for graduate students in the University of Vermont, Department of Social Work. 

Over the last 15 years Ms. Pesci has provided case management, clinical assessment, treatment planning, individual, group and family therapy, and crisis intervention including assessment for involuntary treatment to clients and families in community, outpatient and residential settings.    

Cheryl Peterson 

Commander (CDR) Peterson, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe, serves as the Public Health Advisor for the Indian Health Service (IHS) Division of Behavioral Health (DBH). She is the program lead for Behavioral Health and Community Suicide Prevention.  Cheryl is the DBH Liaison working with the Indian Health Service National Tribal Advisory Committee on Behavioral Health and the Indian Health Service National Behavioral Health Work Group which offer guidance and recommendations on programmatic issues that affect the delivery of behavioral health care for American Indians/Alaska Natives. Cheryl also co-leads the Veterans Affairs (VA)-IHS Suicide Prevention Work Group to improve the delivery of care to American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans as it relates to suicide.

Cheryl’s career has been entirely with the Indian Health Service. Cheryl earned a BSN degree from the University of Mary, Bismarck, North Dakota and a MN degree in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. She served as an Advanced Practice Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse at various locations within the Indian Health Service and is a Commissioned Officer in the US Public Health Service.

Jerry Reed, Ph.D., MSW 

Dr. Reed is the Director of the federally funded Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), where he and his staff provide state and local officials, grantees, policymakers, interested stakeholders, and the general public with assistance in developing, implementing, and evaluating programs and strategies to prevent suicide. Dr. Reed is also a Vice President of the Education Development Center, Inc.  (EDC) and serves as the Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Injury, Violence and Suicide where he co-directs the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention (ICRC-S) with partners at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Dr. Reed served on the Board of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) from September 2007 – September 2013 as Chair of the Council of Organizational Representatives and is a member of the Violence Prevention Alliance Steering Committee operated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and international partners. He is also an inaugural member of the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (NAASP) where he co-chaired the Task Force responsible for revising the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (NSSP).

Prior to joining EDC as SPRC’s Director in 2008, Dr. Reed served for five years as Executive Director of the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA), a national non-profit created to raise awareness, build political will, and call for action with regard to advancing, implementing and evaluating a national strategy to address suicide. Additionally, he served in the Office of Senator Harry Reid (NV) addressing health issues, served as a career civil servant with the Department of the Army for fifteen years as a Community Services Program Manager both in U.S. and Europe, and served  in the U.S. Navy before being honorably discharged in 1978.

Dan Reidenberg, Psy.D., FAPA, DAPA, FACFEI, CRS, BCPC, CMT 

Dr. Reidenberg is the Executive Director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), the Managing Director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention and US Representative to the International Association for Suicide Prevention. He is a Diplomate, Fellow, Certified Master Therapist, Certified Relationship Specialist and is Chair of the Advisory Board of the American Psychotherapy Association, Chair of the Certified Relationship Specialists program, and serves on the Advisory Boards for and YRB Council in Canada.

Dr. Reidenberg began his career working on crisis lines at Crisis Connection in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he handled calls and spoke publicly for the agency on crisis management. He went on to work at the Bill Kelly House (one of the first dual programs for adults in the country), maintained a private practice and worked on in-patient psychiatry adolescent and adult units in St. Paul, Minnesota. At Family & Children's Service he oversaw ten mental health and community programs that included crisis lines and intervention programs for youth and adults. He has extensive experience in psychotherapy, forensic work, consulting and training of both attorneys and healthcare professionals. Dr. Reidenberg speaks nationally and internationally on suicide prevention issues, assisted with groundbreaking research on billboards and media related to suicide prevention and serves on various national and state suicide prevention task forces and committees. Under his direction, SAVE operates a national multimedia campaign, professional and community education and training programs, as well as develops resources and support for those in crisis and survivors. He was responsible for the development of Linking Education and Awareness of Depression and Suicide (LEADS) an evidence-based best practices program curriculum in suicide prevention for use in high schools, as well as several other best practice materials.  He also led the task force that created the Recommendations for Media Reporting on Suicide and the development of the Online Technology tool for social media.

Linda Rosenberg, MSW 

Linda Rosenberg is a certified social worker, family therapist, and psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner with more than 30 years of experience in the development, design and delivery of mental health policy and services.

Under Rosenberg’s leadership, the National Council for Behavioral Health has more than doubled its membership growing to over 2000 organizations strong; helped to secure the passage of the federal mental health and addiction parity law; played a critical role in ensuring the Affordable Care Act addresses the needs of individuals with behavioral health disorders; expanded financing for integrated behavioral health and primary care services; and built an expansive array of organizational, clinical and workforce development initiatives. Rosenberg introduced Mental Health First Aid in the U.S. and to date has led the National Council in training nearly 100,000 citizens in this groundbreaking public education program.

Prior to joining the National Council, Rosenberg served as Senior Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health and ran New York’s adult and child psychiatric hospitals; tripled New York’s assertive community treatment capacity; expanded children’s community based services; developed an extensive array of housing options for people with mental illnesses and addictions; implemented a network of jail diversion programs including New York’s first mental health court; and promoted the adoption of evidence-based practices and consumer and family programs.  

Eduardo Vega, M.A. 

Mr. Vega is the Executive Director for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHA-SF). In this role he serves as Director and Principal Investigator Center for Dignity, Recovery and Stigma Elimination, the nation's first consumer-run technical assistance, research and training center (TARTC) focused on best practices for recovery, social change and stigma reduction including stigma around suicide.

Mr. Vega has served on the Lifeline Steering Committee since 2005. In 2009 he was appointed to the Executive Committee of the National Action Alliance on Suicide Prevention, a joint public-private project of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense, in 2010 through which he chairs the Task Force on Suicide-Attempt Survivors and helped develop the revised National Strategy on Suicide Prevention. He was founding chair of the Lifeline's Consumer-Survivor Subcommittee. Mr. Vega served as California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) in May 2007 until 2012 and was the first Chief of the Office of Empowerment and Advocacy for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Previously, as program manager with the National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse and dissemination Director of the UPenn Collaborative on Community Integration, he developed content and resources for related programs nationally. 

As a thought leader in recovery and system transformation and previous community provider, Mr. Vega has worked to advance mental health systems and policies locally, nationally and internationally for over 20 years. For his work to promote cultural competence and challenge the legacy of racial disparities in mental health he was honored by the U.S. Senate and the National Resource Center on Hispanic Mental Health in 2009. Mr. Vega has taught and trained on mental health advocacy, consumer empowerment, recovery programs, suicide prevention and policy at conferences across the United States and in Tokyo, Kobe, China and Canada. He holds an M.A. in Psychology from New School for Social Research and serves on the SAMHSA Recovery-to-Practice Initiative, Social Justice Advisory Committee of the California Mental Health Directors Association. He is President and co-founder of the California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations (CAMPHRO).

Leslie S. Zun, M.D., M.B.A. 

Leslie is the Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and Chairman and Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/Chicago Medical School in North Chicago, Illinois.  His background includes a medical degree (M.D.) from Rush Medical College and a business degree (M.B.A.) from Northwestern University's JL Kellogg School of Management. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Zun was a chief operating officer and acting chief executive officer for a 200 bed hospital in Chicago.  Dr. Zun’s research interests include healthcare administration, violence prevention and behavioral emergencies. His publications have addressed the administration of the hospitals and emergency departments, physicians’ bonus and incentive plans and quality improvement topics. He has presented his research and lectured on these topics both nationally and internationally. He is a board member of American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry. He is the chief editor of the Behavioral Emergencies for Emergency Physicians textbook and course director for the past four years for the National Update on Behavioral Emergencies conference.


For questions about committee member contact information or further background on committee activities, please contact Andrea Weston, Lifeline Administrative Coordinator, at [email protected]