Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas: As a clinical psychologist, inspirational international speaker, impact entrepreneur, and survivor of suicide loss, Dr. Spencer-Thomas sees the issues of suicide prevention and mental health promotion from many perspectives. Dr. Spencer-Thomas was moved to work in suicide prevention after her younger brother, a Denver entrepreneur, died of suicide after a difficult battle with bipolar condition. Known nationally and internationally as an innovator in social change, Spencer-Thomas has helped start up multiple large-scale, gap filling efforts in mental health including the award-winning campaign Man Therapy (a program using humor to engage men in mental health) and the nation’s first comprehensive workplace program designed to help employers with the successful prevention, intervention, and crisis management of suicide. A recent invited speaker at the White House, Spencer-Thomas’ goal is to elevate the conversation and make suicide prevention a health and safety priority in our schools, workplaces and communities. Spencer-Thomas has also held leadership positions for the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, the American Association for Suicidology, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. She has won multiple awards for her advocacy including the 2014 Survivor of the Year from the American Association of Suicidology, the 2014 Invisible Disabilities Association Impact Honors Award, and the 2012 Alumni Master Scholar from the University of Denver, the 2015 Farbarow Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the 2016 Career Achievement Alumni Award from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology.
She has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver, Masters in Non-profit Management from Regis University, a Bachelors in Psychology and Studio Art with a Minor in Economics from Bowdoin College. She has written four books on mental health and violence prevention. She lives with her partner and three sons in Conifer, Colorado.
Dr. Caitlin Ryan is the Director of the Family Acceptance Project®. Dr. Ryan is a clinical social worker who has worked on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health and mental health for nearly 40 years. She received her clinical training with children and adolescents at Smith College School for Social Work. Dr. Ryan pioneered community-based acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) services at the beginning of the epidemic; initiated the first major study to identify lesbian health needs in the early 1980s; and has worked to implement quality care for LGBT youth since the early 1990s. She started the Family Acceptance Project with Dr. Rafael Diaz in 2002 to help diverse families to decrease rejection and prevent related health risks for their LGBT children - including suicide, homelessness and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - and to promote family acceptance and positive outcomes including permanency.
Dr. Ryan and her team have been developing a wide range of research-based materials and assessment tools to help families and caregivers to support their LGBT children, including a series of short documentary films that show the journey from struggle to support of ethnically and religiously diverse families with LGBT children. Her work has been acknowledged by many groups, including the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, Division 44 that gave her the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award for groundbreaking research on LGBT youth and families, and many other groups. She has served on many national advisory groups including the Committee on LGBT Health for the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences and the LGBT Suicide Prevention Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Ryan is collaborating with institutions, agencies, faith communities and advocates to develop an international movement of family acceptance to promote wellness and healthy futures for LGBT children, youth and young adults.
Dr. Mohatt is an Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) School of Medicine; a Research Psychologist within the Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (RMIRECC) at the Denver Veterans Administration Medical Center; and a Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, Division of Prevention and Community Research. He completed his doctoral degree in community psychology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2011, where his training focused on rural Alaska Native suicide and substance abuse prevention. Following his doctoral studies, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in substance abuse prevention research at Yale.
Since 2004, Dr. Mohatt has worked in rural community healthcare and research to address needs including suicide, substance abuse, housing, cardiovascular disease, and mental illness. In 2000, 2001, and 2005 he served as a legislative aide in Alaska, followed by working as the Health Promotion Manager at the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corporation’s Juneau Medical Center, a large ambulatory care clinic serving the Alaska Native population in and around Juneau, Alaska. During his graduate studies he worked as a research assistant for the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health, and from 2008-2011 he served as COO and Policy Research Director for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. Following his postdoctoral fellowship, he worked as a research scientist with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Mental Health Program. In 2016 he joined the faculty at the UCD and the VA the RMIRECC. His work has spanned research, policy development, and health services management with American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities, state governments, low income inner-city neighborhoods, and Military and Veteran populations.
Misty Vaughan Allen, MA became the Suicide Prevention Coordinator of Nevada in December 2005. She works together with local advisory groups and community coalitions, providing oversight and leadership to launch new suicide prevention programs in communities across Nevada. Ms. Allen is currently part of the Safe Schools Healthy Students Commission with the Washoe County School District. As the Suicide Prevention Coordinator, she facilitates the development of Nevada’s Suicide Prevention plan consistent with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Ms. Allen graduated with her Master’s Degree in Counseling and Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. She began her journey to prevent suicide as the coordinator for the Suicide Prevention Hotline of Nevada, a program of the Crisis Call Center in Reno. Ms. Allen advocates for suicide prevention resources to help create change for Nevadans. She is the proud mother of Luke and Madelynne who assist her with suicide prevention events across the state.
Emma Arnold is America's fiercest sweetheart. Equal parts outrageous and thoughtful, her standup comedy is engaging, honest, and comes from the heart. In addition to being a successful touring comedian, Emma is the cofounder and artistic director of the 208 Comedyfest, the codirector of Comedyfort (part of the Treefort Festival), as well as a mother of three and third generation beekeeper. When not touring, Emma lives in Idaho, where she keeps kids and bees with varying degrees of success. Emma shared her story locally at Story Story Night (listen to recording here).