Over the past few years, I have been a Mental Health Advocate, now serving as the Executive Director of NAMI Greater Wheeling. I have read countless articles on what other people are doing around the country to combat stigma, raise awareness for mental illness and make a difference in the lives of those who live with mental illness and their loved ones. I came across the founder of This is My Brave, Jennifer Marshall's first show in Washington, D.C. I was deeply impacted by the strength and courage of the cast members who were willing to share their stories. After watching the show, I began to follow This is My Brave. I read the article in the Oprah magazine, and from that point on I knew I had to find a way to bring This is My Brave to Wheeling. I'm excited I found a partner in John Moses from Youth Services System, who was eager to help make an idea a reality. I believe the show will help shed light on mental illness, empower those who participate and encourage those who are in the audience. We have our team assembled and are ready to get the show on the road!
Amy Gamble is a former Olympian who worked in sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies for almost 20 years. Her career and life was interrupted by bipolar disorder, but she was driven to recover. She recently authored a book called, “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor: An Olympian Journey with Mental Illness.” Amy believes bringing a This is My Brave show to Wheeling will help others feel empowered to share their stories of struggle and triumph. She also has been working at a grassroots level to help eliminate stigma.
In my six decades on earth a number of experiences have shaped what I believe important about life. I’ve been privileged to grow up with eight brothers and sisters and learned a thing or two about sharing, to be educated in my teens at a minor seminary and learned a thing or two about a spiritual life, to then attend Wheeling College and learn a thing or two about radicalism in its true meaning and greatly privileged to meet a Marist Brother from the Bronx, Ron Mulholland who taught me a thing or two about taking risks, avoiding complacency and loving with action the "least favored". I've been privileged to be in the life of thousands of children at Youth Services System for 38 years and have learned more than a thing or two from these children about real courage, real risk taking, real hope. I've learned it was not by sheer coincidence that our Lord came from the lowly, the humbled, the poor, the homeless to invite us to meet our neighbor or perhaps find him for the first time. I look forward to learning a thing or two as my journey proceeds. - John Moses, Chief Executive Officer of Youth Services System
Julie Gomez has worked in the healthcare industry for nearly 15 years. Beginning her career as a manager at a small family health center in Trenton, New Jersey, moving on to a larger healthcare facility outside of Oakland, California as a director, and finally ending up in San Diego, California as a Senior Director of Operations at a large community-based health care organization. Julie has had the opportunity to spend much of her career working directly with and supporting individuals regarding their physical health issues and concerns and through that work learning how the individual as a whole is impacted by mental health challenges and illness along with his/her family and loved ones. Julie moved to West Virginia a year ago to be closer to family after the birth of her youngest son and at that time intentionally shifted the focus of her worked and passion and is now the Program Coordinator with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Wheeling. In her current role, Julie is responsible for supporting the mission and work of NAMI Greater Wheeling to improve the quality of life for mental health consumers and their families through community outreach, public education, advocacy and family support. Julie lives in Moundsville, West Virginia with her husband Rob, and their two children, Nathan and Hudson.
Lori Garrett-Bumba currently serves as the Program Director for the Community Impact Coalition and leads the prevention services department through Youth Services System. She currently serves on the WV SADD State Advisory Board and is a member of the West Virginia Certification Board for Addiction and Prevention Professionals. She is a West Virginia Licensed Social Worker and a Certified Prevention Specialist II. She has been working in the field of substance abuse prevention for 10 years and serves on the Governor’s Regional Substance Abuse Taskforce. Lori has had extensive experience in grant writing, public relations, event planning and community collaborations.
Lauren Kleckner graduated from Franciscan University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Theology. She is currently working on her Master of Social Work through West Virginia University. She joins the production team as an intern for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Wheeling. Lauren chose to do her internship with NAMI because she recognizes the importance of advocacy. She hopes to work with homeless veterans upon completing her graduate studies. Lauren lives in Steubenville, Ohio with her husband Matthew.
Valery Staskey is currently a Project Coordinator in Substance Abuse Prevention through Youth Services System in Wheeling. A passionate advocate for people in recovery from both substance use disorders and mental illness, she brings with her extensive experience in the theatre.
She has performed and/or served as music director for many community theatre performances, and is currently a chorister with the Pittsburgh Opera.
She has lived experience with a co-occurring disorder and is delighted to be able to bring her passion for the arts and wellness together in this production.
Auditions are open! Be brave and share your story!