During the seminar, you will have the opportunity to hear from national experts in grief, trauma, health and wellness and more. Below is a list of the speakers and presenters who will be in attendance.
Make sure to also download the TAPS seminar mobile app. Recommended session schedules for different grief programming and speaker information are all built into the easy-to-navigate app.
Dr. Frank Campbell is the Executive Director Emeritus of the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center, where he is developing the first National Training Center for Suicidology. He is also Senior Consultant for Campbell and Associates Consulting where he consults with communities on Active Postvention efforts and Forensic Suicidology cases. During his more than thirty years of working with those bereaved by suicide he introduced his Active Postvention Model (APM) in 1997 it is most commonly known as the LOSS Team (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors). His work with survivors and victims of trauma has been featured in three discovery channel documentaries professional journals and book chapters. Frank has been a consultant to TAPS for the past ten years beginning with the first NMSS conference. To find out more about his work in the field of Suicidology you can visit www.lossteam.com
Rev. Laura Biddle is a minister and grief counselor in Newburyport, Massachusetts. She works with families as an officiant for suicide funerals and for healing during their grief. She also offers grief counseling after all kinds of loss such as divorce, empty nest, unemployment, death of children, and other sudden deaths. For the last ten years, alongside Kim Ruocco, she has worked with TAPS as the Spiritual Advisor for military families grieving suicide. As an interim minister with the United Church of Christ, Laura leads churches in transition. She is also the Chaplain at Salem State University. In 2016, her newspaper columns from the local Daily News titled "Grief and Comeback" were published as a book with the same title. Each article looks at the ways spirituality can help heal the painful and complicated journey of grief. Each chapter ends with a brief meditation or blessing for healing and hope. (available at her workshops)
Sarah Vollmann, MPS, ATR-BC, LICSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and a board-certified art therapist. Her 20 + years of experience have spanned a variety of settings, including a pediatric medical hospital, a residential treatment facility, and a mental health clinic. Sarah currently works with adolescents at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge Massachusetts, and with bereaved patients in her private practice. She earned her master's in art therapy from Pratt Institute and her master's in social work from Columbia University. Sarah worked with 9/11 families, has published on the topic of grief and loss, and has presented both nationally and internationally on art therapy, grief, and bereavement.
Captain Aaron Werbel is the Director for Behavioral Health at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital where he leads approximately 250 staff members in 11 clinics providing the broadest array of behavioral health services available in the Department of Defense.
Captain Werbel completed a BS from the University of Michigan, a MA and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Michigan State University and his internship at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Previous assignments in the Navy included: Chief of Staff for Navy Healthcare Operations, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; Director, Midshipmen Development Center, US Naval Academy; Ship’s Psychologist, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower; Head, Behavioral Healthcare and Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program, Naval Hospital, Naples, Italy; Suicide Prevention Program Manager, Headquarters, US Marine Corps, Quantico, VA; Staff Psychologist, Internal Medicine Department HIV/AIDS clinic, Bethesda, Maryland.
Captain Werbel is a member of the American Association of Suicidology, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and the founder and chair of the International Task Force on Defense and Police Force Suicide Prevention. He was appointed by the Secretary of Defense as a member of the 2007 Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health and the 2010 Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces. He was Co-Chair of the Federal Executive Partners Working Group on Suicide Prevention which led to the creation of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Karen Anderson, MA, ATR-BC, GC-C is a board certified art therapist and grief counselor. Since 2010, she has co-facilitated the Artful Grief: Open Art Studio at the TAPS National Conferences and National Suicide Survivors Conferences. She has been a flight attendant for American Airlines for nearly three decades, where she provided support to co-workers following 9/11 and flight 587 in 2001. At home in Connecticut, she offers workshops using art and meditation for healing life’s transitions, losses and grief. Karen’s father and two brothers served in the Navy, which cultivated her understanding of military culture. Karen’s personal experience of grief is shaped by the loss of her 48 year old brother. She has two grown children and two cats that are still growing and continue to inspire her own healing.
Kimball Gardner is the Director of the NAMI Utah Prevention Department. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a peer lead and focused nationwide nonprofit organization whose mission is to help ensure the dignity and improve the lives of those impacted by mental illness and their families through support, education and advocacy. NAMI is Utah's voice on mental illness.
As the Director of the Prevention by Design program, Kim works with, supports, and provides grant funding to local coalitions throughout Utah to implement and evaluate suicide and mental illness prevention and mental health promotion strategies. Kim spearheaded the highly successful “Preventing and Responding to Suicide in Faith Communities; A Summit for Utah Faith Leaders” in May. Kim has a deep and abiding faith that he tries to use to govern his life and relationships.
Kim has a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law and is a retired trial lawyer. He is the Co-Chair of the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition and is recognized as a Utah leader in suicide prevention. Kim and NAMI bring to table the voice of lived experience and peer advocacy.
Glen Bloomstrom is currently the Military Representative and Faith Community Liaison for LivingWorks Education, an international suicide intervention training company. He is also an adjunct professor at Bethlehem Seminary, Minneapolis, Minnesota where he teaches pastoral counseling. Glen served on active duty as a US Army chaplain for 30 years, retiring in 2011. His operational assignments included the 82nd Airborne Division, 10th Special Forces Group, 75th Ranger Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, XVIII Airborne Corps, and Joint Special Operations Command. His combat deployments include tours in Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Glen's Army staff expertise was focused on suicide prevention, pastoral counseling and deployment ministry. He is a Clinical Fellow with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, serving on the Faith Communities Task Force.
Louis Chow, Ph.D. is the Director of Education at Home Base and oversees the Training Institute. The Training Institute provides online and in person education to mental health professionals, first responders, military connected family members, and health professionals that work with service members and their families. Dr. Chow is also a clinical psychologist and provides evidence based treatments for Service Members with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other invisible wounds of war. He is trained in several evidence based treatments, including Prolonged Exposure for PTSD and is a certified trainer and consultant for Cognitive Processing Therapy for PTSD.
Dr. Chow has been privileged to co-facilitate skills groups using principles of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in a 2-week intensive program for TAPS members.
Dr. Lauren Richards is the Associate Director of Education and a clinical psychologist at the Home Base Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Richards provides treatment for PTSD and related disorders to veterans and their families at Home Base’s outpatient program as well as the Intensive Clinical Program (ICP), a two-week treatment program that serves Veterans and their Families across the country. She has received training in both Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD, and is a certified CPT Trainer and consultant. Dr. Richards has had the privilege of co-facilitating skills groups using the principles of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in a 2 week intensive program for TAPS members.
Noah Hass-Cohen, Psy.D., is a faculty member at the Couple and Family Therapy program at Alliant International University in Los Angeles, California. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and clinical psychologist who has been teaching graduate students and providing clinical services since 1999. Dr. Hass-Cohen is an internationally recognized expert on relational neuroscience art therapy approaches. In her peer-reviewed publications, national and international keynotes, and presentations and trainings, she focuses on art therapy theory and trauma treatment. Dr. Hass-Cohen and her colleagues have received the prestigious Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 2014 article of the year research award. She is the author of two books, Art Therapy and Clinical Neuroscience; and Art Therapy and the Neuroscience of Relationships, Creativity & Resiliency. Dr. Hass-Cohen is an ad hoc journal reviewer and a program development consultant for Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her other service activities have included providing earthquake crisis counseling in Mexico City, the development of a diversity focused conference, supervision, and mindfulness-based stress reduction and self-compassion community training. In her clinical practice she works with people and families affected by trauma and loss.
Linda Langford, Sc.D. has been an Evaluation and Communications Scientist at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) since 2006. In recent years, she has worked on several efforts designed to promote safe and effective messaging in suicide prevention. She supported the development of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Framework for Successful Messaging (SuicidePreventionMessaging.org), which aims to increase the effectiveness of public communications and help shift the focus to include hope, help, resiliency, resources, and taking positive action. She also served as an expert on Make the Connection, an online resource for Veterans and their supporters to find information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives and her real stories of Veterans who have dealt with tough times. She has conducted numerous trainings and workshops on creating effective communications, including co-facilitating dialogue sessions with suicide loss survivors who are interested in working in prevention. Linda and Kim Ruocco have been collaborating for several years on trainings and materials to help military loss survivors tell their stories in a way that is helpful and safe. Linda holds a doctorate in social and behavioral sciences from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The Rev. Robin Craig is a pastor ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), presently serving Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Westlake, Ohio. She has been a volunteer advocate with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for several years, has recently joined the Faith Communities Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and has written several articles about suicide loss and prevention in connection with ministry. Robin and her husband David Williams live in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and are the parents of three children, one of whom died by suicide ten years ago. She is grateful to join the TAPS community for this event and is sure that she will learn more than she will give.
Bart Sumner is the founder of Healing Improv, a 501(c)(3) providing no-cost comedy improv grief workshops. Bart is a professional actor, screenwriter, and improv performer/teacher/guru for 30 years. He has appeared on stage, in comedy clubs, on television, and in movies, as well as written for the stage, TV, and film. In 2009, he lost his 10-year-old son David to a traumatic brain injury. Healing Improv uses group improv games to open lines of communication, relieve stress, and allow participants to give themselves “permission” to laugh again. Bart works with The Compassionate Friends, Bereaved Parents of the USA, as well as Hospice of Michigan, Gilda’s Club, and DeVos Children’s Hospital, traveling the country presenting workshops. Bart is the author of Healing Improv: A Journey Through Grief to Laughter, and he writes for Open to Hope, The Grief Toolbox, PlanB, and other grief resources. He serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Commission of The Compassionate Friends.
Dr. Melinda Moore is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. She is in private practice in Lexington, Kentucky, and routinely trains clinicians in suicide-focused treatment. Dr. Moore serves on the board of the American Association of Suicidology as the chair of the Clinical Division and is the co-lead of the National Action Alliance’s Faith Communities Task Force. She recently published The Suicide Funeral: Honoring their Memory, Comforting their Survivors (Wipf & Stock) with her co-author Rabbi Dan Robert. She conducts suicide bereavement research at Eastern Kentucky University with an emphasis on Posttraumatic Growth (www.posttraumaticgrowth.com). She received her Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.
Dr. Jerry Palmer is an Associate Professor with the Industrial and Organizational Psychology program at Eastern Kentucky University. He has frequently taught Tests and Measurements, Consulting, Statistics, and Training and Development. His research on the use of credit reports in employee selection has been covered by dozens of media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and CNBC. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Georgia Tech in 1999.
Franklin Cook is a private consultant and owner of Unified Community Solutions in Boston, Massachusetts. A major focus of his work is peer-led approaches for supporting people affected by a death from suicide or substance use (e.g., from an accidental overdose). He serves as a consultant to TAPS at all of its family seminars.
Franklin is a survivor of his father's suicide in 1978, and he has been involved in peer support for addiction recovery since 1981. He has been a grassroots advocate for system change in mental health and substance use services since 1999, with a focus on suicide prevention and recovery from addiction. Over the past 20 years, he has implemented numerous community education and training programs, and has worked extensively in project development, management, and leadership.
He is a consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where he began in 2012 focusing on men's suicide prevention and now also supports DPH in responding to the opioid epidemic. Franklin's national advocacy is currently focused on integrating best practices into peer grief support programs; and through his private practice, Personal Grief Coaching, he delivers peer support one-on-one via telephone to people bereaved by sudden death.
Chaplain Anthony Beazley is the chief chaplain at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention and is board certified by the Association of Professional Chaplains and the National Association of Veterans Affairs Chaplains. He is a US Air Force Veteran and life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans. He has 18 years of VA experience ministering to Veterans, servicemembers and their families. His focus is counseling those with PTSD and/or moral injury, end-of-life and crisis ministry. He served as chaplain for a US Marine Corps Reserve unit where he was part of the Casualty Assistance Call team. He graduated with a Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an adjunct instructor at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach. Originally from Mississippi, Chaplain Beazley has been married to his wife Kim for 29 years and they have two adult children.
Jill Harrington-LaMorie, DSW, LCSW currently has a private practice in Northern Virginia, where she works as an anxiety, trauma, and grief therapist serving primarily active-duty, retired, surviving military families, and federal employees. She is the former Senior Director of Field Research for the National Military Family Bereavement Study at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS), and TAPS Director of Professional Education. "Dr. Jill" served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Death Education and Counseling and focused her doctoral studies on military suicide loss and postvention peer support. She has been a workshop facilitator since the inception of the NMSSS and TAPS volunteer for many years. Dr. Jill has facilitated several workshops on "Dating and Relationships After Loss". She is also a surviving spouse, peer mentor, Harley rider/enthusiast and proud mother of two children.
Amber James is a Texas native and mother to three amazing children. She became a widow and suicide loss survivor in 2014, after the death of her husband, U.S. Marine SGT John James. After years of personal struggles with depression and anxiety, she honestly thought she may never laugh again. Wanting to find holistic approaches to help aide her on her grief journey and with her mental health struggles, she discovered a new experimental form of exercise called Laughter Yoga. She challenged herself to try something different and to test the aged old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” In April 2016, she became a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader. She is a volunteer advocate for mental health issues and suicide awareness. She volunteers with AFSP Southeast Texas Chapter where she co-facilitates a local suicide survivor support group and walks annually in their community event fundraiser. She is a Peer Mentor for TAPS and led a Laughter Yoga session in 2016 for the other peer mentors. She has also led Laughter Yoga sessions for teenage girls at The Krause Children’s Center in Katy, Texas. She has worked with school teachers after school and one-on-one with clients for stress management. Amber has collaborated with the Houston’s Transition to Wellness and Counseling, where she introduced laughter yoga in self-esteem classes and with young adults in a therapy group setting. She has learned that it’s okay to laugh and grieve at the same time and hopes to inspire others to find their laughs again.
Dr. Adam Walsh is a licensed clinical social worker. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Walsh completed a three year Predoctoral internship at Wake Forest University in Dr. David Goldston’s treatment of adolescent suicide laboratory. He also completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at George Mason University in Dr. Christianne Esposito’s development of suicide prevention intervention laboratory. Dr. Walsh then worked for the United States Marine Corps as the section head for suicide prevention and community counseling. Dr. Walsh currently serves as the Director of Research and Program Evaluation and as a subject matter expert for the Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO).
Dr. Walsh has 15 years of experience in studying and developing suicide prevention interventions. He has published numerous articles on suicide and has conducted many trainings and presentations on suicide prevention. In addition, Dr. Walsh has 15 years of direct clinical practice working with individuals and families who have been affected by thoughts and behaviors related to suicide.
Megan McCarthy, Ph.D. is the Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Suicide Prevention. Dr. McCarthy’s work focuses on the development of VA’s comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention and on oversight of the office’s day-to-day operations. Dr. McCarthy is also an Assistant Health Sciences Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. She received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, where she studied philosophy and international relations, and a doctorate in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed her doctoral internship at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and a postdoctoral clinical fellowship specializing in psychotherapy for underserved communities at Harvard Medical School.
Pete Mask is a Major in the Air Force Reserves and currently the Director of Support for the 24th Training Squadron at Officer Training School in Montgomery, Alabama. Pete began his TAPS journey in 2007 as a USAF Honor Guard Ceremonial Guardsman. Like many volunteers, he fell in love with the TAPS mission and its people. Since then, Pete has had the privilege of participating in Snowball Express (2007-2008, 2010-2017), several Regional Good Grief Camps (Atlanta, Louisiana, South Carolina), Campouts (Georgia, Tennessee), Special Youth Program Outings (Georgia Aquarium, Space Camp) and the National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar (Colorado Springs and Tampa) and Good Grief Camps (2007-2009, 2011-2017). Pete uses music and humor to partner with and guide pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults as they embark on their grief journeys and develop life skills. He looks forward to the laughs, hugs, and love to be shared with TAPS family at this year’s NMSSS.
Kevin Hines is a global speaker, best-selling author, and mental health advocate who reaches audiences with his story of an unlikely survival and his strong will to live. Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (at 19 years of age), he attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of only thirty-four (less than 1%) to survive the fall and he is the only Golden Gate Bridge jump survivor who is actively spreading the message of living mentally healthy around the globe. Kevin believes in the power of the human spirit and in the fact that you can find the ability to live mentally well, maybe not every day, but certainly most days. His mantra: “Life is a gift, that is why they call it the present. Cherish it always.”
Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis is a Republican representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District. He is currently serving his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Gus serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is Vice-Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He is Co-Chairman of the Military Veterans Caucus and a member of the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus. Working in a bipartisan manner, his main priorities include controlling government spending, creating jobs for middle class Americans, finding ways for government to operate smaller and smarter, and lowering taxes. Gus is also committed to strengthening homeland security, improving education, increasing access to quality health care, protecting veterans’ benefits, and ensuring the long-term viability of Social Security and Medicare.
Gus specifically requested a seat on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs because of his commitment to advocate on behalf of veterans and their families in the U.S. Congress. In his role as Vice-Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and member of the Health Subcommittee, Gus continues to ensure our nation’s heroes remain a top priority. He has worked throughout his tenure to see that veterans receive quality and timely services while promoting transparency throughout the VA.