Skip to content

Meet the Georgia Board of Directors!

30 Mar 2021 — 8 min read

Tagged

Meet the Georgia Board of Directors!

Our board is comprised of passionate volunteer leaders from across the state. 

We asked our board why they chose to volunteer with us, what it means to them to serve with us, what AFSP events they look forward to every year, their favorite AFSP memories, and more. Read on to meet our incredible board!

Maryel Tomter, Board Chair (Pictured left with Georgia Area Director, Stuart Winborne)
(She/Her)

Atlanta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2016

What is your heart connection to the cause?
My father attempted suicide. I've lost a friend to suicide.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Community Outreach & Fundraising Chair, Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walk Chair

What is your favorite AFSP memory?
The best memory of every year, is at the Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walk during the opening ceremonies and seeing thousands of people who have come together to honor those that they have lost, to support our chapter and come to be a part of a community who has one mission, to stop suicide. It leaves me speechless every year.

What's something about you we may not know?
I own a dog walking company that caters to dog owners who live in independent and assisted living communities.

Jason Gilbreth
(He/Him)

Atlanta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2018

Why is volunteering important to you?
I would love to live in a world where suicide is not an option for people struggling. Unfortunately, right now that is not the case. I hope my contributions as a volunteer can help to reduce the number of suicide deaths across the state and bring hope to those struggling with mental health issues and those impacted by suicide.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Public Relations Liaison, Fundraising & Community Outreach Committee, Peachtree Road Race planning team

What AFSP events are you looking forward to this year?
I look forward to the Out of the Darkness Walk and the Spring Fundraiser each year. This year I am most looking forward to AFSP's participation in the Peachtree Road Race.

What's something about you we may not know?
I have a 2 year old English Bulldog named Tootsie, I love the Atlanta Braves and being at the Lake Oconee on the weekends with my family.

Deb Kushnick
(She/Her)

Marietta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2019

Why do you volunteer?
I lost my son Joe to suicide in 2011. After AFSP set their goal of "reducing suicide 20% by 2025" I felt that was a goal I wanted to help them achieve.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
I am Co-Chair of the Loss and Healing Committee (along with Jim Ford). I am the Georgia Coordinator for the Healing Conversations Program through which we bring comfort to those who have experienced a loss.

What is one of your favorite AFSP memories?
One of my favorite AFSP memories is the 2020 Chapter Leadership Conference, where we won many awards. I was very proud to belong to the Georgia Chapter of AFSP, and to be a part of AFSP as a whole.

What's something about you we may not know?
My background is in Advertising and marketing, but my passion is wine. I hold a level 3 certificate in wine from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust which is a global organization for wine and spirits education based in London, England.

Jim Ford
(He/Him)

Marietta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2020

What is your heart connection to the cause?
Lost my Dad and 2 cousins to suicide.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Co-Chair of the Loss and Healing Committee. Treasurer. Healing Conversations Volunteer.

What is the AFSP event you look forward to every year?
Love the Out of the Darkness Walk Experience as it raises awareness by bringing people together for healing and remembrance. 

What's something about you we may not know?
Volunteer Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line since July of 2016.

Sally Dorn
(She/Her)

Atlanta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2021

What is your heart connection to the cause?
My eldest daughter died by suicide in 2001.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Georgia Circle of Hope Chair, Fundraising Committee member, Co-Captain of Team Michelle Ferguson Priestly.

What is one of your favorite AFSP memories?
I love the Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walk. Our team, Team Michelle Ferguson Priestly, first walked in 2013. Every year since then Team Michelle Ferguson Priestly has walked in Atlanta and has been one of the top three teams for fundraising and for team membership. I love being with friends and family remembering my daughter, raising money to support AFSP, and raising awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.

What's something about you we may not know?
I am a retired attorney and a real estate investor. I have 5 grandchildren ranging in age from 3 months to 22. I spend a lot of time and energy with them.

Amanda Thomas
(She/Her)

Marietta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2020

Why do you volunteer?
With over 10 years experience in the Mental Health and Addiction field, I have seen first hand how suicide impacts families and the community. I am passionate about breaking the stigma of mental illness through education and community connection.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Education Committee & Chair the Subcommittee for virtual TSL presenters.

What AFSP event do you look forward to every year?
Out of the Darkness Walks

What's something about you we may not know?
A relaxing hobby is jigsaw puzzles, exploring antique malls and listening to music. I also enjoy spending time with my husband watching college football and Atlanta United matches.

Diane Gillen
(She/Her)

Woodstock, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2017

Why do you volunteer?
My why is my son, Brendan, who died by suicide in 2010. Suicide prevention has become my passion and I will do whatever I can to help make a difference and honor Brendan’s memory.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Chair of AFSP Georgia’s Education Committee. Member of AFSP National’s Loss and Healing Council. Chair of AFSP’s Long-term Survivor of Suicide Loss Summit.

What AFSP event do you look forward to every year?
I always look forward to the Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walk as it is a time when family and friends come together to remember and honor Brendan’s memory. It is also a special time to gather with other loss survivors and individuals who support AFSP’s mission of saving lives and supporting those who have been affected by suicide.

What's something about you we may not know?
As a retired educator, I miss being in a school environment but I have recreated myself as a small business owner and “professional” volunteer. My guilty pleasure involves chips, salsa and margaritas at my local Mexican restaurant, Cancun Mexican Grill.

Rita Futrell
(She/Her)

Savannah, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2021

Why is volunteering important to you?
It's important for me to be a voice so lives can be saved.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Education Committee member, Loss & Healing Committee member, Healing Conversations volunteer.

What are you most looking forward to this year?
The walks and sharing time with other loss survivors.

What's something about you we may not know?
I'm an ordained minister and associate minister at a local church.

Cheryl Cloar
(She/Her)

Winder, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2020

Why do you volunteer?
I have lost a friend, clergy colleagues and church members to suicide and I want to be a part of making a difference for any who struggle and fighting to end suicide.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Barrow Walk Chair, Fundraising & Community Outreach Committee member and Education Committee member

What is the AFSP event you look forward to every year?
Barrow County Out of the Darkness Walk

What's something about you we may not know?
We recently were told that our Boxador pound puppy, Georgia, will be a 50 pound toddler for her lifetime. We love her!

Elisa Gambino
(She/Her)

Atlanta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2019

Why do you volunteer?
I volunteer because I believe in a world where all people with mental illness can get appropriate and effective help.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Project 2025 Champion and Education Committee member.

What are you most looking forward to this year?
I look forward to gathering again at Piedmont Park for the Out of the Darkness Walk.

What's something about you we may not know?
I made ravioli for Bono and Paul McCartney.

Roland Behm
(He/Him)

Atlanta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2014

Why do you volunteer?
Loss of loved ones to suicide and friends and loved ones who experience suicidal thoughts.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Co-chair of the Advocacy Committee.

What is your favorite AFSP memory?
Favorite memory is the 2017 Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walk.

What's something about you we may not know?
Once issued a deportation order from the Czech Republic.

Carla L Carter, APC, NCC
(She/Her)

Stone Mountain, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2021

Why do you volunteer?
I volunteer because I believe in the cause and two of my children suffered from suicidal ideations.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Education Committee member.

What is the AFSP event you look forward to every year?
Out of Darkness Walk because I get to help and meet so many brave and courageous people.

What's something about you we may not know?
I love kayaking.

Lydia S. Russo
(She/Her)

Petaluma, CA

What year did you start on the Board?
2018

Why do you volunteer?
After my own experience with suicidal depression, I got involved with AFSP’s Georgia Chapter and now serve on its Board. I never thought I would live to see the other side of depression. It was terrifying to feel so far removed from the high-functioning woman I knew I was. One in five Americans suffers from mental illness each year. We should all be talking about suicide prevention.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Co-chair of Advocacy Committee

What is your favorite AFSP memory?
I LOVE the Advocacy Forum in DC! Some of my favorite AFSP memories include racing across Capitol Hill with fellow advocates to get to our next legislative meeting.

What's something about you we may not know?
I'm a huge backyard birder, and I usually have a pair of binoculars within two feet of me at all times LOL!

Lynn Prothero
(She/Her)

Roswell, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2018

Why is volunteering important to you?
Suicide is so preventable. It just requires awareness and understanding of how to detect someone that might need help and then helping. If we can all do this we will reduce suicide!

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Project 2025 Champion and Education Committee Member

What is the AFSP event you look forward to every year?
Campus Walk and Out of the Darkness! Having done 3 marathons and soon to be 4 for AFSP I am looking forward to completing that in Chicago in the Fall of 2021.

What's something about you we may not know?
Love to cook and try to recipes in addition to spending time with my 4 children, husband and our fur friends (cat and dog).

Katie O'Connor
(She/Her)

Atlanta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2020

Why is volunteering important to you?
Volunteering with AFSP is important to me because it's a way to help those in my community who are struggling with their mental health.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Junior Board Chair and Fundraising Committee Member

What are you most looking forward to this year?
Taste of Georgia. I am looking forward to hosting the Junior Board's first entirely virtual spring fundraiser!

What's something about you we may not know?
I run marathons for fun!

Peter Nunn
(He/Him)

Atlanta, GA

What year did you start on the Board?
2020

What is your heart connection to the cause?
Lived Experience and a loss survivor.

What AFSP leadership roles do you have?
Co-Chair of the Advocacy and Public Policy Committee and Volunteer Coordinator

What is the AFSP event you look forward to every year?
The Capitol Day

What's something about you we may not know?
I’m a hairstylist and salon owner.

Connection makes a difference

Find a chapter