Meet the Central New York Board Members & Volunteers

Maxine Block – President

Maxine is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice with over thirty years of clinical experience providing psychotherapy to adolescents and adults. She retired from the position of Chief Psychologist at Hutchings Psychiatric Center.  She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Central New York Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Block is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and has clinical and professional expertise in effective and compassionate treatment strategies for individuals who consider self-harm or suicide. In 2011 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Central New York Psychological Association.

 Debra Graham – Area Director & Survivor Outreach Coordinator

Debra lost her 17 year-old son, Josh to suicide on April 16, 2003. Debra became involved as an advocate of Timothy’s Law in the fall of 2003 and attended her first AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk inLong Island onOctober 3, 2004, (Josh’s 19th birthday). In August 2006, Debra chaired her first Out of the Darkness walk in Syracuse,NY and along with a small but dedicated group of survivors; they began working diligently toward forming an AFSP CNY Chapter, which they accomplished in November of 2007. Debra graduated from Columbia College in May 2008 with her BA in Psychology, her inspiration to return to school came from her son…who she says “Continues to inspire me each and every day”.

Debra is a member of the CNY Suicide Coalition and in May 2008 she recently became a trained AFSP Survivor Outreach volunteer. Debra has worked tirelessly to help reduce the stigma toward suicide and mental health disorders, and to bring suicide awareness and educational prevention programs to Central New York communities.

Stacy Ayres – Board Chair

Stacy lost her dad, Rick to suicide on November 28, 2005, and 2 cousins prior to her dad. She became affiliated with the AFSP CNY chapter after attending several walks in local communities. While at dinner one night with another survivor; they talked about the lack of suicide awareness in their community. In September 2012 Stacy chaired her first Out of the Darkness walk in Ithaca, NY; with a devoted committee of survivors and volunteers, the walk was well attended. Today Stacy co-chairs the Ithaca  OOTD walk with her friend Crystal Howser. She has become a field advocate, hosts an International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day conference and is a Survivor Outreach Program volunteer. Stacy has presented the More Than Sad: Teen Depression film to local high schools, has staffed an AFSP informational table at numerous health and wellness fairs. Stacy is passionate about AFSP and is dedicated to educating, raising awareness, and erasing the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness.

 Marcia Brown – Secretary

Marcia became involved in AFSP after the first Out of the Darkness walk in Syracuse – in August 2006.  She lost her oldest son Stephen to suicide in July 2000 at age 29 – and her cousin Rick in June of 1990.  She helped get the CNY Chapter “off the ground” by helping with the Open House in April 2007 – then was unanimously voted in as Secretary of the board. She also worked on the 2007 Out of the Darkness Walk Committee.  Marcia has found after working in AFSP that she is not alone anymore – everyone understands “this grief” – and she has made life-long friendships.  She hopes now to help other survivors by reaching out and listening and also to promote AFSP’s devotion to Education and Prevention – and going public with the effects of depression and mood disorders – thus reducing the stigma. Marcia is a tremendous asset to the CNY Chapter and when asked to take on a task, “no” is just not in her vocabulary.

 Peg Corkran – Treasurer

Peg’s interest in suicide prevention stems from her 30-year friendship with Debra, our chapter’s chair. After Debra’s son Josh died, Peg was supportive, caring and compassionate and was always there for Debra when she needed a shoulder to cry on. Peg and Debra and their sons Robert and Josh often did family activities together when the boys were young.  Peg was one of the original members of our small walk team of volunteers and worked hard to help organize our first CNY Out of the Darkness walk in 2006. She has been an active member of our executive board since its inception. Her wonderful sense of humor and wit ensures our board meetings are never dull. Peg’s has a critical eye for detail, which makes her a great treasurer as she reviews our monthly chapter expense statements and accounts for our budget right down to the penny..

 Jeanette Dippo – Quilt Coordinator

Jeanette joined a small group of dedicated volunteers working to form the AFSP CNYChapter and was elected to and continues to serve on its first Board of Directors.  She has served on the Survivors of SuicideLifekeeper Memory Quilt Committee. When she attended the National Survivor Day held by the Capital Region Chapter of AFSP in November 2006, eight months after the loss of her daughter, Dr. Kim Dippo, she was connected with another woman, Debra Graham, the current chair of our CNY chapter, and several others who also wanted to start a chapter in the Central New York Region.  Since then, she has authored articles, not only to help in her own healing, but to help reduce the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness and to  reach out to others affected by suicide by being open and making it okay to talk about suicide in the community.  As a result of her efforts in the chapter’s work, she hopes to improve the level of public awareness of suicide prevention and depression.  As an Adjunct Instructor of Health at SUNY Cortland, she hopes to continue to take the chapter’s work to the college community. She also wishes to become more involved in the awareness and prevention of suicide in physicians and the LGBT community, two groups with disproportionately high rates of suicide. In 2008, Jeanette became a member of the Central New York Suicide Coalition.

Jeanette is a staunch supporter of suicide advocacy and is active in promoting suicide prevention and awareness in Central New York. Jeanette is very passionate toward helping other survivors heal and graciously offers her support.

 Angela Marotta – ISOSL Day Organizer

Angela lost her 22 year old daughter, Ashley to suicide on December 8, 2007.  She became involved in our AFSP CNY Chapter after learning about our local Out of the Darkness Walk. Angela is an amazing person, she joined our walk committee as a volunteer and her dedication and many hours spent hanging posters, stuffing envelopes and helping to spread the word, were just a few of the contributions she made which helped to make our walk this year a huge success. Angela also volunteered to be on our local CNY Survivors of Suicide Day Conference committee. She worked tirelessly, devoting many hours creating collages put together from pictures taken at our walk and helping with the entire day of events. Our board is very fortunate to have Angela as a member of our board.

Beth Kazel

I first heard about AFSP in 2006 when a relative visited NY and talked about the effect AFSP had on her family after the loss of their son a couple of years earlier.  Our family signed up for the 2006 Out of the Darkness walk in Liverpool, NY.  It was an amazing event and one that stuck with me.  After participating in the Out of the Darkness walk for 5 years, I became a volunteer with the Central NY chapter in 2012.  Immediately I felt this is where I should be spending my time.  I had several volunteer interests and couldn’t decide, that is until my first meeting with AFSP.

I continue to volunteer with AFSP but now as a board member.  I feel the education and information that we are able to provide to families, schools and other organizations make a difference.  And that is why I spend my time with American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

 Crystal Howser

Crystal lost her father, Jerry to suicide on August 20, 1998.  She became involved with AFSP in April 2012 when her friend Stacy reached out to her about bringing and co-chairing the Out of the Darkness Community Walk to Ithaca, NY.  Since this time Stacy and Crystal have co-chaired the Tompkins County Walk each year.  They have also hosted International Survivor of Suicide Day in Tompkins County each year since 2012.  In June 2014 Crystal became a volunteer for AFSP’s Survivor Outreach Program.

November 2014 Crystal joined CNY as a Board Member and a field advocate.  Stacy and Crystal also attend many health and wellness events and go into local schools to present the More Than Sad: Teen Depression to High School Students.  Education is the key to breaking the stigma that comes along with Suicide.  Crystal says, “We believe in helping others, letting them know they are not alone”.

Janelle Powell

Janelle Powell is a wife and mother of a blended family with 6 children. As well as being a survivor of loss by suicide, Janelle, herself struggles with depression & anxiety and has for many years. She is a strong support for her family members who also battle depression and other forms of mental illness.

In October of 1993, when Janelle was 15, her father died by suicide. In 2011, Janelle and her husband Aaron attended their first AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk, in memory of her father. Only weeks after attending their second OOTD Walk in October o 2012, Janelle’s youngest brother Daniel completed suicide.

After experiencing the aftermath of suicide for the second time, Janelle was determined to change her grief into something positive: to become involved in suicide prevention.

In the early months of 2013, she became a member of the Madison County Suicide Prevention Coalition. At that time, the Coalition was just beginning to plan Madison County’s first AFSP OOTD Suicide Prevention Walk. As a Walk Committee member and Team Captain, Janelle helped raise funds and awareness to make the County’s first Walk a successful one, and repeated her efforts the following year for the 2014 OOTD Walk. In 2015, Janelle became Walk Chairperson for Madison County’s 3rd OOTD Walk. She hopes to retain the position as Chair for many years to come.

Janelle has been trained in safeTALK and Youth Mental Health First Aid and became a welcome addition to our CNY Chapter as a board member in 2014.

Ann Walter-Wright

Ann lost her brother to suicide in 2011.   She became involved with AFSP early the following year, reaching out to her friend Debra Graham, who had also suffered a loss and had become an active volunteer/supporter of AFSP.  Ann was interested in community education regarding suicide awareness and intervention.  She currently facilitates ASIST, SafeTALK and QPR within Onondaga and surrounding counties.  Ann works as a crisis line worker at Contact Community services, connecting with those having thoughts of dying by suicide, working to keep them safe.  Ann has volunteered countless hours to our AFSP CNY Chapter, by attending board meetings, working registration at walks within the CNY area, and supporting our many fund raising and educational events.  She is also an active member of the Oswego Suicide Prevention Coalition