Carol Ackley

Carol Ackley, BSW, CPRS

Peer and Volunteer Specialist

Carol Ackley is the Peer and Volunteer Specialist at Mental Health America of the MidSouth.  She attended Penn State University and received her bachelor of social work degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. In addition to working with populations in the mental health field, she has worked in probation, aging and Alzheimer’s, inpatient alcohol treatment, and with persons with special needs. Carol is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist in Tennessee and previously in New York State.  She has been a Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor since July 2016, a Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor since September 2018, a WRAP Facilitator since April 2018, and a National Certified Peer Specialist since May 2019.

Mike Anderson

Michael Anderson

Upper Cumberland Regional Director

Michael is a native of the Upper Cumberland region. He studied mechanical engineering at Tennessee Technological University before finding his passion for the field of human services working as a volunteer with the Children’s Miracle Network, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and later, serving persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the roles of program compliance director and executive director for Pacesetters Incorporated. He has stayed active in the community through civic outreach programs like Leadership Putnam and the Citizen’s Fire Academy of Cookeville. He is also accredited through the Crisis Prevention Institute, the American Safety & Health Institute, the Tennessee Safety and Health Council, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, LivingWorks, and the Jason Foundation. He has experienced loss from suicide twice in his lifetime and is resolved to be a resource to the Upper Cumberland by raising public awareness of the issue and working to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts.

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Camille Carter, M.Ed.

Case Manager

Camille Carter is a case manager for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum or other refuge in the United States. She visits the home of the minor and his or her family after the minor has been reunified with a sponsor. Camille ensures that the minor is safe, and the family has what it needs to be successful. Camille also conducts home studies prior to the minor’s release from a shelter to make sure the home is safe for the minor. Some examples of things she does while she is working with families include helping enroll the child in school, finding free or low-cost medical and mental health services, and completing forms to send to immigration court if needed. Camille has her master’s degree in education and TESL certification from the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute. She has worked with immigrants since 2010 by helping with literacy and teaching ESL. Camille enjoys traveling whenever possible, especially to Latin America, spending time with loved ones and taking hikes.  

Jackie Cavnar

Jackie Cavnar, MBA

Chief Operating Officer

Jackie Cavnar joined Mental Health America of the MidSouth in 2017. Jackie’s background in public relations coupled with her MBA in healthcare management and nonprofit management equips her to lead the day to day operations while keeping a strategic eye on the future. Previously, Jackie has worked in community development and physician recruitment for a nonprofit entity and a national hospital organization. She has also worked as a healthcare market analyst for an international corporation. Jackie holds a bachelor’s in communications from The University of Tennessee, where she serves on the College of Communication and Information Board of Visitors, and an MBA from Lipscomb University, where she serves on the Dean’s Board for the College of Business. In 2017, the Public Relations Society of America’s Nashville Chapter honored Jackie with its Hercules Award for her dedication to the profession and the community. Jackie currently represents MHA on the Rural Health Association of Tennessee board of directors, and she serves as the executive director of the Tennessee Psychiatric Association.

Diana Cisneros

Diana Cisneros, BSW

Case Manager

Diana Cisneros joined Mental Health America of the MidSouth in 2018. Diana is a Salvadoran-American case manager in the Multicultural Outreach Program. A Spanish native speaker, Diana, provides case management to unaccompanied minors and their sponsors. Diana assists non-English speaking clients to access mental health providers and services. Furthermore, Diana works closely with children and provides a significant amount of follow-up services to ensure their wellbeing and successful integration into their community. The services include: home studies, home visits, referral to local providers, crisis interventions, and advocacy.

Diana holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Middle Tennessee State University. Diana was crowned Miss Tennessee Latina 2015 and used her title as a platform to provide a voice for the Hispanic Community in Davidson County and surrounding areas. A dedicated volunteer, she was presented with a certificate of appreciation for community involvement and supporting of the NAZA afterschool programming in Nashville, Tennessee. Diana loves dedicating her time to her family and two furry rabbits.

Tosha Gurley

Tosha Gurley, BS

West Tennessee Regional Director

Before joining Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, Tosha was the independent support coordinator program supervisor at the Tennessee Community Services Agency (TNCSA), a public agency created by the General Assembly of Tennessee with a broad mission of serving Tennesseans in need. Tosha’s responsibilities included managing independent support plans for people served by HCBS Medicaid Waivers and ensuring compliance with Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services. She also developed and monitored a program delivery system to help maintain TNCSA’s 4 Star Agency rating.

Prior to her work with TNCSA, Tosha was a family advocate for the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Tosha’s work included preparing children testifying in abuse cases for court proceedings, and she also facilitated parenting education and child sexual abuse prevention courses.

Tosha holds a bachelor’s in human services from Bethel University, where she received the Human Services Honor Award and completed a field placement with Volunteer Home Care Medical Social Work.

Amber Hampton

Amber Hampton, LMSW

Program Manager

Program Manager, Amber Hampton, graduated summa cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in global studies from the honors college at Middle Tennessee State University. During her time in college, she spent her summers in El Salvador working with children in high-risk areas for gang violence. While planning to move to El Salvador full-time, she began building friendships with those experiencing homelessness in her community. It was here that she began to meet and work with survivors of trafficking. She noticed the work to be done in her own community and began working directly on the ground level with those who had experienced trauma. 

She worked as the missions and community service coordinator for a non-denominational church in Murfreesboro, where she built partnerships with local nonprofits, built volunteer teams, developed training materials, and led trips to Central and South America. Upon finishing her master’s degree, she transitioned into crisis counseling for youth and worked as a medical social worker for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

She graduated in 2015 from The University of Tennessee College of Social Work with her master’s degree in evidence based interpersonal practice and a graduate certificate in the treatment of trauma. She is certified in EMDR and TF-CBT. She currently co-leads Murfreesboro Cold Patrol, a community organization dedicated to working directly to find solutions and build relationships with those experiencing homelessness. 

In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling to visit her friends across the globe, and hanging out in the woods and under bridges with her street family.

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Sundra Harris, BA

Erasing the Stigma Coordinator

Sundra Harris has been an educator for the Erasing the Stigma program in West Tennessee for nearly a decade. She works with elementary to high school students with social skill topics such as bullying, suicide prevention, and anger management. Sundra’s mantra is that it is easier to build a child than to repair an adult. Sundra is also certified in Mental Health First Aid, and she leads community outreach for law enforcement officers and first responders.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Memphis and is the mother of two beautiful children.

Courtney Hatfield

Courtney Hatfield, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Courtney Hatfield comes to Mental Health America of the MidSouth with a diverse background that ranges from auditing for a public accounting firm to serving as the director of finance for one of Nashville’s leading transportation companies. Courtney’s attention to detail keeps MHA of the MidSouth on budget and hitting goals. Her greatest accounting strengths include refining internal controls and streamlining processes to improve efficiency and accuracy related to financial reporting. Courtney has a bachelor’s in accounting and human resources from Lindsey Wilson College, and she has a master of accountancy from Lipscomb University. Courtney serves on the statewide career accounting education committee and the Nashville Chapter young CPAs committee for the Tennessee Society of CPAs. She is a graduate of the Williamson County Young Leaders Council and now serves on the board of GraceWorks Ministries. Outside of the office, Courtney volunteers at the Williamson County Animal Center, coaches youth basketball with South Williamson Athletics, and enjoys running.

Desiree Kelly

Desireé Kelly, DrPH

Public Health and Education Manager

Desireé Kelly is the Public Health and Education Manager at Mental Health America of the MidSouth.  Desireé provides workplace wellness education for Middle Tennessee employers and oversees MHA’s Erasing the Stigma program. Desiree’s approach to education for children and adults is to deliver presentations that are interactive, engaging and age-appropriate. These topics address concerns such as: Stress and Anxiety, Body Image and Self-Image, Bullying, Suicide Prevention, Risky Behaviors and Substance Abuse and other mental health and wellness-related topics. Desireé’s main objective is to educate people about mental health care and change the conversation about mental health stigmas in the state of Tennessee.

Desireé has a doctorate degree in public health with a specialization in health advocacy and leadership from Capella University. She specializes in public speaking, designing health resources, creating presentations and curricula for specific generational cohorts in diverse topics.  She earned her master of science in kinesiology and physical education from the University of Central Arkansas and her bachelor of science in exercise and sports science from the University of Memphis. Desireé is also trained in ACEs, ASIST and Youth Mental Health First Aid.

Desireé is an adjunct professor at Columbia State College; she sits on many committees designed to advocate for children and adolescents in Tennessee. Desireé has spoken at various educational and professional conferences highlighting different public/mental health and wellness-related topics. Desireé is an active member of the Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, since being initiated into the distinguished sorority in Spring 1999 at the University of Memphis. Desireé has worked with adolescents and young adults in various capacities such as volunteering, mentoring and teaching for more than twenty-five years. She discovered her love for public speaking and presentations in ninth grade when she presented a risky decision skit in front of an assembly of elementary students. That day, her love for prevention education was formed; she knew she had discovered her passion for her life, prevention.  One of Desireé’s favorite quotes is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” by Dr. Maya Angelou. Her goal is to help people seek the help they need through providing mental health resources that will provide them with the help they need to manage all seven dimensions of wellness, specifically emotional and mental health care, this is her Passion Project. 

Misty Leitsch

Misty Leitsch, BBA, BSW

Zero Suicide Director and Deputy Director

Misty Leitsch oversees the statewide implementation of the Zero Suicide Initiative by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network in partnership with community mental health centers, emergency departments in small and rural hospitals, alcohol and drug treatment facilities, and select private business partners. Misty also serves as the Deputy Director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

Misty works on the Clarksville mayor’s challenge to prevent veteran suicides, the statewide veterans suicide prevention task force, several intra-state departmental initiatives, and the Montgomery, Houston, Humphreys, Robertson, and Stewart Counties task force. Misty is a certified trainer for QPR, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, safeTalk, Youth Mental Health First Aid, safety planning and CSSRS. Misty is also a Psychological Autopsy Investigator.

Before joining TSPN’s staff, she served for five years on the TSPN Advisory Council, having been appointed to this post by the Office of the Governor of Tennessee. As chair of TSPN’s Mid-Cumberland Region, Misty organized the region’s first Annual Memorial Walk and conducted numerous suicide prevention training sessions for crisis centers, behavioral health facilities, schools, businesses, and civic groups. Misty double-majored in social work and business administration while working on her bachelor’s degree at Belmont University in Nashville, graduating in 2007. Outside of work, Misty likes spending time with her family, being outdoors, and having food adventures.

Scott Ridgway

Scott Ridgway, MS

TSPN Executive Director

Scott Ridgway has served as Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network’s Executive Director since 2001. He works closely with TSPN’s gubernatorially appointed Advisory Council to implement suicide prevention strategies within the state of Tennessee. He served six years on the steering committee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Scott was a member of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention Task Force that created the revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

Scott has been involved in numerous community agencies and organizations over the past several years. A dedicated volunteer, he frequently advocates for others through the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the Foster Care Review Board, the Nashville Citizen’s Police Alumni Association, Leadership Donelson-Hermitage group and by serving as a surrogate parent for Metro Nashville Public Schools. Scott holds a master’s in public service management from Cumberland University and a bachelor’s in human services from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Tom Starling

Tom Starling, EdD

Chief Executive Officer

Tom Starling, EdD, has served as the CEO of Mental Health America of the MidSouth since 2009. Tom holds degrees in psychology, theology, ethics, and educational administration. He has previously served as CEO of the Middle Tennessee Alzheimer’s Association, as CEO of United Way of Rutherford County, and as a university administrator and hospital chaplain for institutions in Texas and Tennessee.  Under his leadership, MHA of the MidSouth has been recognized as a Health Care Hero, Best in Business, finalist in Collaboration College, and finalist for the Marvin Runyon Award. Tom currently serves on numerous state and national boards and committees to promote mental health and wellness.

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Robin Turner, MLS

Development Associate

Robin has more than ten years of nonprofit experience that have focused on coordinating events, donor relations, and data management. Currently, she coordinates the agency’s fundraising activities including signature events, such as Jammin’ to Beat the Blues and the Jack C. Massey Leadership Award Dinner. Robin oversees all Mental Health America of the MidSouth social media. Having seen people close to her struggle with PTSD, dementia and depression, Robin values our mission to help the community get connected with mental health and wellness resources. Robin has a bachelor’s in history from Nazareth College and an MLS from SUNY Buffalo.

Lynn Wood

Lynn Wood

Aging Services Coordinator

Lynn Wood has spent the last 10 years working with senior citizens and their families who are dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Her interest in this disease and the effects it has on the whole family unit has become a passion for her. During her study on this topic she found that many families developed the need for counseling or substances to help with the sense of loss that this disease has. She also reflected on the many losses and challenges she has faced over the course of her life involving mental health. Approximately 2 years ago she became a Mental Health First Aid instructor. During that time, she has conducted several trainings involving Vanderbilt University Security, the nursing staff with the Department of Health for Nashville, and officers with Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Her goal is to continue to help break the stigma that mental health has and teach as many people as possible on how to recognize the many facets of mental health and how to seek help. Lynn is currently the aging services coordinator and is completing her dementia specialist certification.  She continues to work with families and make Caring for the Caregiver her main focus.