NCSP Board Members

M. Amaris Knight, MEd, Chair & Public Relations Committee Chair

Amaris currently works as an Assistant Research Analyst at the Nevada Institute for Children's Research & Policy at UNLV where she is pursuing a PhD in Public Health. As an attempt survivor, she focuses her research on universal upstream strategies for youth suicide prevention with a mission to promote mental health awareness, end stigma, and encourage opportunities for all youth to learn resilience, courage, and strength in the face of adversity. Amaris has been a member of the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention since 2015, was chosen to be the first chairperson of the Public Relations Committee in November 2016 and voted in as the Coalition Chair in July 2017. As a member of the evaluation team for this project at the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research & Policy, Amaris will not provide oversight of project implementation activities. All project supervisory roles and decisions will be deferred to a quorum vote of the remaining NCSP Board members.CONTACT

Bea Aikens – Vice-Chair

Bea is the Founder of Lanie's Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to "humanizing and illuminating the disease of compulsive gambling." Named after Bea's sister, Lanie, who took her own life due to a gambling addiction in 2008, Bea’s work focuses extensively on the impact of gambling addiction on individuals, families and the community. After individuals began posting suicide notes on her website Bea knew she needed to get involved and learn about prevention. She became involved with the NCSP in 2014 by first taking the SafeTALK and ASIST Training and later served as the Keynote Speaker for the "Walk in Memory/Walk in Hope" in conjunction with the release of an NCSP/NV Council on Problem Gambling publication on Problem Gambling and Suicide.  Bea joined the Board as a community representative in 2016 and, in addiction to reaching the addiction and recovery community, hopes to help the coalition meet its long-term goals to expand initiatives serving the faith-based community. - CONTACT

Heather Shoop, Immediate Past Chair

Heather is an administrator and certified drug and alcohol counselor at WestCare Nevada. She has more than 10 years of experience in behavioral healthcare with children, adolescent and adult clients suffering from substance dependence, mental illness, homelessness and trauma. Heather has been a member of the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention and an ASIST trainer since June 2012 and served as the coalition chair from November 2012 until July 2017. - CONTACT

Pamela Olsen, Treasurer

Pamela is currently working as a staff member at the Crisis Call Center, where she does volunteer work on the crisis lines as well. She is a survivor of suicide after her son Abel completed suicide in 2004 at the age of 28. She has been involved in many suicide prevention programs since that time, including three overnight “Out of the Darkness” 20 mile walks to raise suicide awareness, and multiple community walks in several states. She spends time with her children and grandchildren in Washington, California and Utah. Pamela feels that the Northern Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention is the most strong and stable suicide prevention program she has found, and she is proud to be part of this caring and compassionate group. Even though being a member of a suicide survivor’s group was never anything she could have imagined she would be part of, she has made some lifelong friends through working for a common cause of suicide awareness alongside other survivors. - CONTACT

Michael Bernstein, M.Ed., Clark County Representative

Mike worked for the Southern Nevada Health District Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion from 1989 - 2016 , As a Health Educator, Mike coordinated the District’s Injury Prevention programs. He branched into other injury prevention areas and worked with several organizations such as Clark County SAFE KIDS and the SNHD Emergency Medical Services staff. Since retiring in 2016 Mike has started doing private consulting and remains an active member of the NCSP Board. His work’s focus is to reduce the high number of suicides in Nevada and Clark County, and the comprehensive Senior Fall Prevention Program in Clark County.  - CONTACT

Jacqueline Ragin, PhD, Clark County Representative

Jacqueline Ragin works for the Clark County School District (CCSD) as a program evaluator. Prior to working at CCSD she worked at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in the Interdisciplinary Center for Aging Research and Education (ICARE). Jacqueline has been very involved with the Las Vegas community since moving here in 2006. She is a current board member of the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention (NCSP) and has also been a volunteer with the Rape Crisis Center and the Alzheimer's Association for a number of years. She has worked with the Nevada Lifespan Respite Care Coalition and the Nevada Mental Health Coalition. She continues to work part time on weekends conducting mental health evaluations. She holds two masters degrees in Public Health (MPH) and Mental Health Counseling (M.S.) and also has a PhD in Sociology. Jacqueline has always had an interest in mental health issues, especially suicide. Jacqui has been an active NCSP member for eleven years and hopes to assist the coalition in reducing suicide rates of youth and older adults in Nevada. - CONTACT

Reverend Bryan Ostaszewski

Reverend Bryan Ostaszewski, is an Ordained Nondenominational Christian Minister and Ordained Chaplain. He has been involved in religious-theology practices and studies for over 28 years and has additional education and experience with many different religions. He provides Chaplain services to many local major hospitals, Hospice and Rehabilitation facilities in Southern Nevada. He is a Certified Pastoral trained Counselor providing: Marriage, Family, Spiritual, Grief and General Life Guidance. He is a Motivational Speaker, a Certified Christian Life Coach, a Certified and trained Wedding Planner, a Consultant and Special Events Coordinator, and is also a Nevada State Licensed Wedding Officiant and Notary Public. Rev. Bryan also has a Suicide Support Group "Arms of Support" and meets every 2nd and 4th Friday of each month. He is also on the Executive Board of the HOPE Chaplaincy and Ethics Committee for: UMC and six of The Valley Health System Hospitals. He is a YHMFA, SafeTalk and ASIST instructor and also provides services as a Disaster Response Chaplain with FEMA, The American Red Cross and the Medical Reserve Corps. He has also had training with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s “RECAP” division and completed an abundance of study with many FEMA ICS Command courses. - CONTACT

Pam Bruehl – Rural/Frontier Representative (South)

Pam currently works at Mesquite Behavioral Health Center as a Mental Health Technician. Pam has been a member of the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention since 2011 and is the Mesquite Walk Coordinator. Pam has been a board member since 2017.  - CONTACT

Christian Everett – Clark County Rep

Christian Everett moved to Nevada in 2017 from New York via Pennsylvania. His father is retired Air Force and his older brother is a U. S. Marine.  His mother has a Masters in Criminal Justice.  His younger brother has travelled in the Middle East.  He has been involved in motor sports for eleven years and attended school in Phoenix as a motor cycle mechanic where he received his certification in 2010.  He teaches driving skills.  Christian is a suicide survivor.  Christian has been involved with the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention since 2018.  He started Gears for Life Project in Las Vegas in 2017.  Gears for Life Project’s mission statement is “to combat suicide via awareness and knowledge from personal experience. - CONTACT

Gene Dobrzynski – Washoe County Representative

Gene works for the Crisis Call Center as the Assistant Call Center Director. He has been a resident of Nevada since 2011. Prior to Nevada and before retiring, he was the Operations Director with the Alaska Office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has a Bachelor of Science from Metropolitan State University and Masters Work from the University of Colorado in Denver, school of Environment Design and Architecture. He has always been involved in community issues. After retirement and when moving to Nevada, he was a volunteer on the suicide hotline with the Crisis Call Center where he became heavily involved in suicide prevention. Having served in the military and being a parent of two daughters, he has a real concern about the high number of military and youth suicides. He has been a member of the coalition since 2014, a board member since 2017 and has recently completed training to become an ASIST trainer. - CONTACT

Hal Woomer – Washoe County Representative

Chaplain Hal Woomer is the Director of Military and Family Support (MFSS) and 17th Sustainment Brigade chaplain for the Nevada National Guard. As the MFSS Director, he and his staff are responsible for the care of 4500 Nevada National Guard Service Members and their Families. Chaplain Hal Woomer’s first parish was a church in Moreno Valley, California in 1991. As a United Methodist, he received his first appointment in 1995 in Huntley, Montana. Since then, he has served a range of pastoral positions. Chaplain Woomer was ordained to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church in 2015. April of 2003, Chaplain Hal Woomer entered military service when he enlisted as a Specialist in the 63rd RSC United States Army Reserve. He served from 2007 to 2019 as the State Chaplain for the Nevada National Guard. In 2009 and 2010, Chaplain Woomer deployed as a Squadron Chaplain providing religious support for the 1-221st Armored Reconnaissance Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. A resident of Carson City, Nevada and father of four, Chaplain Woomer is married to CW4 (Ret) Christine Woomer, an Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran. Hal is an ASIST and safeTALK trainer and presents these trainings in both military and community based trainings. - CONTACT

Misty Allen – Office of Suicide Prevention Coordination – OSP North Rep

Misty Vaughan Allen became the Suicide Prevention Coordinator of Nevada in December 2005. She works together with local advisory groups and community coalitions, providing oversight and leadership to launch this newly established program. As the Suicide Prevention Coordinator, she facilitated the development of Nevada’s first Suicide Prevention Plan consistent with the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Misty graduated with her Master’s Degree in counseling from the University of Nevada, Reno. She began her journey to prevent suicide as the coordinator for the Suicide Prevention Hotline of Nevada, a program of the Crisis Call Center in Reno. Misty advocates for suicide prevention to help create change for Nevadans. She was born in Reno, NV, and is the proud mother of Luke and Madelynne who assist her with suicide prevention events across the state. - CONTACT