Crisis Center Accreditation Examiners | American Association of Suicidology
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Crisis Center Accreditation Examiners

BattleJennifer Battle, LMS

Jennifer is the Director of the HelpLine at The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD Services in Houston, Texas.  The Harris Center HelpLine serves as the main contact center for The Harris Center which is the largest provider of behavioral health services in the State of Texas, and as the crisis line for 39 Texas counties. The Harris Center HelpLine partners with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide coverage for previously under-served Texas area codes.  Jennifer is a Mental Health First Aid, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, ASK about Suicide to Save a Life, and SafeTalk Trainer and supervises the Community Training Department for The Harris Center.   In collaboration with the Houston Police Department and Houston Emergency Communications Center, Jennifer works to provide a Crisis Call Diversion Program to route people attempting to access mental health services via law enforcement to a more appropriate level of care through local behavioral health options. 

Jennifer is a proud Social Worker and teaches as adjunct faculty at her alma mater the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.  She also enjoys teaching Bachelor level social work classes at the University of Houston - Clear Lake and University of Houston – Downtown.  Jennifer served as a member of the Lifeline Standards, Training, and Practice Committee for seven years.

BlackwellPamela Blackwell, LMFT

Pamela Blackwell, LMFT, is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who resides in Bishop, California.  Pam got her start as a part time hotline counselor on the CRISIS Team Suicide Hotline in San Diego, California, progressing up to the director position in 1986.  She was part of several A.A.S. Accreditations for her program and really got involved when she helped A.A.S. host the Annual Conference in San Diego in 1987.   Pam served on the A.A.S. Board of Directors from 1992 to 1998, remembering when Lanny Berman was voted in as the new Director and A.A.S. headquarters was moved from Denver to D.C.!  Pam has served on the Accreditation Committee since its inception, helping to write (and re-write) the Accreditation standards.

Pam Blackwell is currently the Program Chief for Child and Family Services for Inyo County Behavioral Health in Bishop, CA.  In addition to being an active outpatient clinician, she provides emergency mental health assessments in the local hospital emergency room, the county jail and juvenile facilities, and provides suicide prevention training for the County.  

EastgardSusan H. Eastgard, MSW

Sue Eastgard is a nationally recognized expert in the field of suicide prevention.  She has worked on mental health issues for 30+ years as a clinician, manager and director of crisis services and suicide prevention efforts.  She is currently working as the Director of Training for Forefront, a suicide prevention education and research program based at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work.  Sue is also the Chair of the King County Suicide Prevention Coalition.   Ms. Eastgard founded the Youth Suicide Prevention Program of Washington State in 1999 and served as its director until June 2011. Prior to that, she served as the executive director for the Seattle-King County Crisis Clinic for 3½ years.  She was the President of the American Association of Suicidology in 2002.  Sue holds a masters degree in social work from the University of Washington. She is a Master Trainer of ASIST and SafeTALK, suicide first aid training programs.   

Alfonso J. (Al) Fressola, MA

Currently CEO for AccredAssist, a consulting firm offering assistance to organizations seeking a variety of national accreditations. Al has served as an AAS Surveyor since the first SAMHSA-supported national hotline was established.  He has administered about five site surveys each year for over fifteen years.  During his forty-year career in behavioral health he held leadership and executive positions in an EAP, a prominent managed behavioral health management organization and at BHR, an AAS and CARF-accredited crisis response organization.  Al served as BHR’s VP, Quality with overall responsibility for BHR’s successful CQI programs.

HarwoodJanie Harwood

Janie Harwood is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avail Solutions in Corpus Christi, Texas. Avail Solutions provides crisis line services to both mental health authorities and managed care organizations.

Janie is a native Texan who received her Masters in psychiatric nursing from Texas Woman's University. She has worked in the mental health field for 38 years performing duties such as a Director of Nursing, Clinical Director, Assistant Administrator, Associate Administrator, and Administrator for various psychiatric hospitals located in West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Texas.  

Janie has been a surveyor for The American Association of Suicidology since 2010.

Janie currently resides in both Corpus Christi and Tyler, Texas overseeing both office locations of Avail Solutions. 

JansenTim Jansen, LGSW

Tim Jansen, LGSW, is the Executive Director of Community Crisis Services, Inc (CCSI) “Home of the Prince George’s County Hotline” where he began his social work career as a hotline volunteer in 1998.  Tim was recently named, 2013 Alumni of the Year by the University of Maryland, School of Social Work.  Tim served as the Crisis Center Division Chair for the American Association of Suicidology from 2006-2008, currently serves on the board of CONTACT USA and as a Senior Training Coach for Livingworks.  Dedicated to making services in the nonprofit world work together for the benefit of the community is Tim’s guiding philosophy. 

JonesLaNeice Jones

LaNeice Jones is the President and CEO of Christ Child House, a residential facility for abused and neglected boys, and is responsible for the oversight of all program operations of the organization.  This involves directing the practices, procedures and operations of Christ Child House, providing leadership, support, guidance and direction to the Vice Presidents and Program Directors, being knowledgeable regarding the program scopes of service, guidelines, compliance expectation and developing and monitoring the agency’s budget.  Ms. Jones is a Licensed Master Level Social Worker with over 24 years of experience working in social and human service settings and 21 years of experience specializing in call center management, crisis intervention, suicide prevention, information and referral, and services for children, youth and families.  She also provides critical incident stress management and debriefing. She received both her Bachelor of Sociology and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Michigan.  Ms. Jones is a member of the National Association of Crisis Organizations Directors Board.  She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  She enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends.  She also makes it her mission to provide public and community service through a variety of worthy programs and projects.

KnudsonMarshall Knudson, PhD

Dr. Knudson, a licensed psychologist, has been recognized at the national level as an expert on suicide and has worked in the field of crisis and suicide intervention for over 35 years and was director of the Alachua County Crisis Center (Gainesville, Florida) for the last 30. Over the last 25 years, Marshall has been adjunct faculty and has taught in the University of Florida’s departments of Psychology and Counselor Education.  He has been active on the local, state, and national level as a speaker, consultant, trainer, and interventionist in the areas of suicide, crisis, and community trauma response. Marshall has been a senior certification examiner/surveyor with the American Association of Suicidology for over 30 years as well as a member of their Certification committee. He has also been a member of the Standards and Training subcommittee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a Board member of the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition and has served as a Governor’s appointment to the Florida Suicide Prevention Council. Marshall is now in private practice in Gainesville, Florida.

LevinLesley Levin

Lesley Levin is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and served as the founder and President/CEO of Behavioral Health Response, the Eastern Region of Missouri Crisis System from 1995-2012.

Lesley was born in Cleveland Ohio and has lived in The Bronx, Indianapolis and Chicago..  She received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University and her MSSA from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.  She has worked in the field of mental health and substance abuse for over 45 years.

Lesley has over 30 years of experience in both for profit and non-profit management. She  was a Vice President of what is now Magellan Behavioral Health and was the Director of Social Services at a Chicago area hospital.  Ms. Levin has been a surveyor for The American Association of Suicidology for 16 years.

Lesley has been married to Mark Levin for 44 years and is the mother of two adult children, Sara Levin and Josh Levin.  

MerrickGladys Barrett-Merrick

An Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Southern University at New Orleans.  She obtained a Bachelor of Social Work and a Masters of Social Work from Southern University at New Orleans.  She currently serves as the Director of the BSW Program. Ms. Merrick served as Project Coordinator and P.I. from a previous grant.  Her professional and career experience included: Adjunct Professor of Social Work; Family Violence Prevention Coordinator, Field Practicum Supervisor; Crisis Intervention Director; Associate Director of Volunteers; Re-Accreditation Surveyor with American Association of Suicidology since 1996. Ms. Merrick’s professional memberships includes: The American Association of Suicidology; National Association of Social Workers (NASW); Baccalaureate of Social Work Program Directors (BPD); and the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).  She is a presenter and trainer in several areas, i.e., domestic violence, compulsive gambling, crisis intervention, and anger management.  Her community service activities includes serving on community boards of directors and committees. Ms. Merrick has received several honors, i.e., Certificate for Funded Proposal, Certificate for Submitted Proposal, and  Recognition Certificate for “Championing the Cause of Women and Children”. 

Ms. Merrick has been married to O’Neal Merrick for 25 years and has one son, Troy T. Williams and three step-children, O’Neal, Jr., Trudy and Kelly Merrick


Toni Paul, M.Ed.

Toni is a Licensed Registered Nurse, with a Master degree in Psychology and is Certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse. She has 40 years of experience in the field and is currently based in southern New Hampshire. Toni specialized in emergency service, crisis intervention, acute psychiatric inpatient care and mobile crisis team, and the former Director of Emergency Service for NH's largest mental health center. During the time with Community Mental Health she also worked with substance abuse clients following the Stages of Change model.  At present Toni is the Co-director of Accreditation, Consultant, and Master trainer for the American Association of Suicidology offering program evaluation and professional trainings. Toni is a former contract nurse for NH Dept. of Health and Human Services, and active member of the Youth Suicide Prevention Assembly. Other professional affiliations: National Alliance on Mental Illness, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, State of New Hampshire Suicide Prevention Council.

PeddycoartDeb Peddycoart

Deb has worked in the field of crisis intervention since 1975, first as a volunteer counselor for Foundation 2 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She began working there as a Counseling Supervisor, then spent 25 years as the Crisis Services Director, working toward AAS accreditation, Foundation 2 was the first center in the state of Iowa to be certified.  She spearheaded the effort to create a mobile crisis program that started in 2002, first serving one county. In the past two years, the Mobile Crisis Program has expanded to 9 additional counties in the state and the crisis line is now the covering most regions in Iowa. She has been a site examiner/surveyor for AAS since 2000. She has worked to help stem gun violence, especially as it relates to suicide, through her position on the board of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence. Deb has been on the steering committee tasked with creating and updating the suicide plan for the state of Iowa.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Mt Mercy University.


Liz Robbins

Liz has her Masters in Clinical Counselling from the University of Southern Maine.  She was a Licensed Clinical Professional Counsellor (LCPC) in the State of Maine before she and her family jumped the border in 2006 (legally) and headed to Vancouver, BC, Canada.  She has over twenty years of crisis intervention and suicide prevention experience with a focus on assessment of mental health emergencies, suicide prevention and clinical supervision. She was a former Clinical Supervisor for Cumberland County Crisis Response and is currently Co-Director for Distress Services at the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC. Liz believes that any of us can encounter crises in our lives that can make it difficult to function and live life fully.  She believes the services crisis lines provide are essential, ensure that none of us need ever feel alone in crisis, and that there are options for making change.  She is Vice President for the Crisis Line Association of BC (CLABC) and is a site examiner for the American Association of Suicidology.

Laura J. Weber, MA, LMFT

Laura received her Masters’ of Arts in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Laura is a state approved supervisor for Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counselor, and Professional Clinical Counselor licensees. She has been at Canvas Health, a large non-profit community mental health center, for 16 years, serving in many capacities including direct services and program management.  As Manager of Crisis Connection, Laura is responsible for the day to day operations of HSI-Crisis Connection, LLC which includes the oversight and delivery of telephonic and SMS (short code text) mental health crisis services in compliance with the organizations overall mission and values. She is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance and has served on numerous national, state, and local committees and workgroups focused on suicide prevention. 

WrightJoan Wright, B.Ed.

Joan Wright was the Executive Director of The Support Network, a multi-service crisis and information centre in Edmonton, Alberta. She was involved with the agency as a volunteer on the Distress Line, as Coordinator of Volunteers, and as Director of the Suicide Prevention Program, and has facilitated numerous workshops and presentations related to crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and suicide bereavement. As Executive Director, Joan expanded the agency over the years to include a Walk-in Counselling Service, an online chat program and “211” a community service information & referral line. 

Joan has been an active member of the American Association for Suicidology for over 20 years. During that period she has been Coordinator for the Crisis Center Division, a member of the AAS Board, a surveyor for the Crisis Center Accreditation process and is currently in her 15th year as the Director of Crisis Services, Accreditation & Certification programs. Joan has contributed many hours and put great effort into the enhancement of standards for crisis workers and crisis centres throughout North America.

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