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AFSP’s 2024 Chapter Leadership Conference: Fostering Leadership

March 5, 2024 – 4 min read

By Mike Lamma, AFSP Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Mike Lamma, AFSP Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 19th annual Chapter Leadership Conference took place January 25-28 in Orlando, Florida. Each year, CLC brings together volunteers from our local chapters across the country to share thoughts and ideas, consider our accomplishments, and inspire each other to move our mission forward.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Leadership: Shared, Inclusive and Impactful.” This theme reflects our priorities for chapters. A priority is to develop leadership skills with our chapter volunteers. We also know that for leadership to be effective at the chapter level, it must be shared between chapter staff and volunteers. Inclusivity is an organization-wide priority and we need to create impact in order to accomplish our mission of saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. All 74 local AFSP chapters were represented with 363 in-person attendees and another 144 participating remotely.

The conference kicked off on Thursday with Chapter Chair meetings followed by an Orientation session and then the welcome reception. To make sure attendees experienced the flavor of Florida, Gatorland provided us with an array of exotic animals including an alligator, a snake, a scorpion and lizard as special guests.

The conference officially kicked off on Friday morning with welcoming comments and the Chapter Roll Call video followed by AFSP CEO Bob Gebbia’s Leadership Message. In keeping with our theme, there were plenary sessions on Diversity in Chapters, Shared Leadership and our Keynote Speaker Clair Joy Farley, who talked about her journey as a trans person and how she overcame her mental health challenges. After a round of breakout sessions on topics such as working with volunteers, using social media, PR, Loss and Healing, fundraising and much more, attendees enjoyed an evening on their own, in many cases sharing stories and experiences involving the personal nature of our work, and how AFSP’s local chapters are making a meaningful impact in their communities.

Saturday kicked off with an address from AFSP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christine Yu-Moutier: “Why I Remain Hopeful: A Decade of Progress.” This was followed by a research presentation featuring AFSP Senior Vice President of Research, Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman and Dr. Marisa Marraccini from the University of North Carolina. Next, AFSP Chief Policy Officer Laurel Stine and AFSP Public Policy Chair Dr. David Jobes led a discussion on the Updated National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, featuring Greta Massetti from the CDC and Terry Tanielian, Special Assistant to President Biden, followed by a panel discussion of AFSP programs directed to diverse communities.

It's so important given the nature of our work that we all stay attuned to our own mental health. This year’s conference featured something new: a self-care activity/session each day of the conference. On Friday we participated in some Salsa Dancing; Saturday Yoga; and on Saturday volunteer Amy Grosso from the Central Texas Chapter led a session on “The Role of Boundaries in Self-Care.”

After two more sets of breakout sessions, the culmination of Saturday was the Awards Banquet where Chapters were recognized for outstanding performance. Highlights of the evening included volunteer Lisa Riley receiving the Peggy Farrell Leadership Award for her years of chapter leadership service, and the New Jersey Chapter being named the Overall Outstanding Chapter of the Year for its outstanding efforts to recruit new board members and volunteers, expand educational programming, and raise more awareness and funding than ever through Community and Campus Walks.

The Conference wrapped up on Sunday morning with the self-care session and a session on growing AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Community Walks, followed by a look ahead to key dates and activities for fiscal year 2024 and the announcement that the 2025 Chapter Leadership Conference will be held in Houston, Texas.

AFSP wishes to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s conference such a success, and a special thank you to chapter leaders for making the time to attend and for all the wonderful work they do each and every day to carry out AFSP’s mission in their communities. Those reading this who are not yet involved with AFSP, we encourage you to connect with your local AFSP chapter, and join this special movement that connects so many people across the country in making a difference.

2024 Chapter Awards

Outstanding Chapter Support of Research     

  • Louisiana & Mississippi
  • South Carolina

Outstanding Chapter Public Relations

  • West Texas
  • National Capital Area

Outstanding Chapter Social Media    

  • Nebraska
  • Tennessee

Outstanding Chapter in Strategic Partnerships and Innovative Strategies     

  • Texas Chapters – North Texas, Central Texas, Southeast Texas, South Texas & West Texas
  • South Carolina

Outstanding Chapter Support of DEI

  • Oklahoma
  • Capital Region NY

Outstanding Chapter Survivor of Loss Program        

  • Western PA
  • Michigan

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day Event

  • Massachusetts
  • Capital Region NY

Outstanding Chapter Education & Prevention Program

  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana

Outstanding Chapter Advocacy Program

  • Indiana
  • Tennessee

Chapter Event Fundraising    

  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • New York City
  • Central Florida
  • Florida Chapters – Florida Panhandle, North Florida, Central Florida, Tampa Bay Area, Southeast Florida & Southwest Florida

Chapter Non-Event Fundraising        

  • Montana
  • Connecticut

Chapter Perseverance Award

  • San Diego
  • Maryland
  • Greater Philadelphia

Chapter Pacesetter Award      

  • Illinois
  • New Hampshire
  • Virginia

Most Improved Chapter         

  • Maine
  • Greater San Francisco Bay Area
  • Oklahoma

Chapter of the Year - Small Market   

  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont

Chapter of the Year – Midsize Market

  • North Carolina
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana

Chapter of the Year – Large Market   

  • Greater Los Angeles/Central Coast
  • Massachusetts
  • National Capital Area

Overall Chapter of the Year   

  • New Jersey

Peggy Farrell Leadership Award

  • Lisa Riley, Volunteer