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Meet the Dedicated Board of Directors Who Have Shaped the Alliance of Hope
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Meet the Dedicated Board of Directors Who Have Shaped the Alliance of Hope

2023 is a big year for The Alliance of Hope. It marks the 15th anniversary of our founding, with a mission to provide healing support to survivors of suicide loss. 

Our ability to help survivors directly stems from the people who champion our mission. This month, I want to recognize and acknowledge our board of directors, who play an integral role in governing our organization. All of these people have been deeply touched by suicide and have chosen to advocate for survivors. We are blessed by their dedication, and passion for helping other survivors. 

In sharing a bit about each of them with you, we are expressing our gratitude for their service. Our outgoing Board Chair, Melanie Kenderdine has served for six years, and we now welcome our new Chair, John L. McIntosh, PhD.

Melanie Kenderine (Chair Emeritus, 2016-2022), was one of our first community forum members who found support to sustain her through the loss of her brother, Russell, to suicide in 2009. As former director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Policy and Analysis and one of the top five women in Washington shaping energy policy, having Melanie join our board was a true gift. Her dedication and commitment to the Alliance of Hope inspired all of us. She remains a dear friend as she globe-trots around the world making a difference on an international level for our people, economy, and planet. We are so grateful for her years of service. 

Into Melanie’s shoes steps a gentle giant, John L. McIntosh, Ph.D., our new Chairman. Helping survivors of suicide loss has been a life-long passion. John is a well-known author and researcher in the field of suicidology (the scientific study of suicidal behavior), and a pioneer in the field of suicide postvention. He has contributed to eight books on suicide, including the seminal book: “Grief After Suicide: Understanding the Consequences and Caring for the Survivors.” He is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Indiana University – South Bend, and Past-President of the American Association of Suicidology. We appreciate his knowledge and guidance. 

Vanessa McGann

Dr. Vanessa McGann, our Secretary, is a practicing psychologist in New York City, specializing in traumatic loss. Her sister Nadine died by suicide in 2004. Vanessa’s been active in numerous national suicide prevention organizations, initiatives and task forces for postvention, and trainings on postvention and clinical work with survivors. As the co-chair of the Coalition for Clinician Survivors, she advocates for professional caretakers who have experienced loss to suicide.

Ellen Karp, our Treasurer, is a development professional with extensive experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, stakeholder relations, event planning, marketing, and business development. She has a degree in psychology and an MBA in marketing. Ellen trains and develops leaders to make a difference. She has supported the vision of the Alliance of Hope from its earliest conception.

Donald P. Belau, Ph.D. promotes suicide postvention efforts in Nebraska, where he leads the development of LOSS Teams (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors). A member of Campbell & Associates LOSS team training group and a trainer for AFSP’s Suicide Bereavement Clinician Training Program, Don was instrumental in developing the Nebraska K-12 Suicide Postvention Online Training and has provided workshops for the American Association of Suicidology.

Denise Meine-Graham

Denise Meine-Graham founded LOSS Community Services in Columbus, Ohio after her son, Drey, died by suicide. She is a certified Thanatologist with a certificate in Death and Grief Studies from Dr. Alan Wolfelt. She is a former corporate executive who consults and trains communities across the nation to implement suicide postvention programs, including Dr. Frank Campbell’s L.O.S.S. Team model.

Steve Shannon is a Senior Manufacturing Engineer and dedicated family man. In 2012, he lost his son Patrick to suicide and became an active participant on the Alliance of Hope forum, serving as a moderator, and providing support to other survivors. He now leads the Alliance of Hope’s support groups for grieving fathers. Steve is also a child advocate who facilitates trainings about child sexual abuse, awareness, and prevention.

Donna Soule lost her son Jonathan to suicide in 2009. She was one of the first members of the Alliance of Hope forum. With a degree in psychology, and training in psychiatric research from Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences, Donna has worked with children with neuropsychological disabilities and in school health. After Jonathan died, she and her beautiful Golden Retriever, Yuki, provided dog therapy sessions at psychiatric hospitals. 

We are also grateful to our Board Members Emeritus, including: 

Susan Andersen teaches Yoga for Grief and helps many loss survivors through this healing practice. Susan joined the Alliance of Hope community forum after losing her son and only child, Ian, to suicide. She later served as a moderator on our forum, donating hundreds of hours each year to support other survivors. A retired marketing professional, Susan helped guide our early fundraising efforts.

Franklin Cook MA, CPC, a well-known leader in the suicide postvention movement, now co-directs SADOD which provides peer support in Massachusetts for grief after an overdose death. The suicide death of his father inspired him to help others cope with grief after a loved one’s traumatic death. He co-led the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s “Survivor of Suicide Loss Task Force,” which created the first-ever national guidelines on suicide aftercare. The American Association of Suicidology honored him for his commitment to help those bereaved by suicide. 

Paul McMickle understands the profound impact of military suicide. A Vietnam veteran who served in the Special Forces, he experienced the loss of 10 of his 12 teammates who ended their lives by suicide. He specializes in organizational development and project management, and was one of the founding members of our board.

Heather Shadur is a founding member of the Alliance of Hope. She has played a pivotal role in helping us grow our impact and become a sustainable platform for survivors. A seasoned public affairs and strategic communications professional who has worked on leading issues of the day, she understands increasing awareness about the suicide loss experience is key to helping survivors find support. Heather currently oversees the organization’s strategic communications, organizational development, and fundraising. Her tireless dedication to helping survivors stems from her own loss to suicide. 

Jennifer Shadur’s passion for helping survivors was born out of her own loss of her stepbrother. She got involved with the Alliance of Hope in the early stages and her extraordinary strategic thinking and problem-solving ability has touched the organization in many ways. As an interactive marketing expert specializing in search engine marketing (SEM) and analytics, she helped ensure more people could discover the Alliance of Hope’s healing services on the Internet. 

And a special note of gratitude to Phyllis and Sam Bowen who, as the first board members of the Alliance of Hope, helped pave the way for us to support so many other survivors. The Bowens lost their 16-year-old son Joshua to suicide. Phyllis was our first board chairman and acted as a guide in developing a strong and successful organization. She was a research scientist who taught at University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). Her husband, Sam, a physicist, worked at Argonne National Laboratories. Together, their support empowered services for thousands of other loss survivors. 


About the Author

Ronnie Walker MS, LCPC

Ronnie Walker MS, LCPC is the Founder and Executive Director of the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors. She is a survivor of suicide loss.Read More »