"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller
Jennifer Marshall, Co-Founder & Executive Director
Jenn was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder in 2006 at the age of 26. She's had four hospitalizations within five years – two before any diagnosis was reached, and two more because she was trying to protect her newborn son (postpartum psychosis) and her unborn daughter – and all were because she was unmedicated at the time. Writing her way through life with a mental illness became her way of healing, and her award-winning blog BipolarMomLife has become an inspiration to many.
Jenn created This Is My Brave because she learned first hand how powerful and therapeutic it was to live openly and not hide her diagnosis. She wanted to give brave individuals from the community a platform through which to creatively share their stories of living with mental illness to educate and inspire others. She lives outside Washington, DC with her husband and two children.
Anne Marie Ames, Co-Founder
Anne Marie held a variety of PR and strategic communications positions throughout her career, but her favorite job was creating and producing This Is My Brave. She found her passion and her mission – to help others share their stories - and made tremendous contributions to the organization from launching the initial concept to strategizing on growth and expansion over the four years of her tenure. Anne Marie's sudden passing on August 23rd, 2017 was a shock to the many who loved her and she is deeply missed.
Hillary Marotta, Grantwriting & Program Management
Hillary, a mother of two young girls and a professional development specialist for adult English as a Second Language teachers, has also worked in the nonprofit and community health fields. It seemed like the perfect fit for Hillary to assist in finding funding for This Is My Brave given her experience with depression and anxiety. Through counseling and medication, Hillary has successfully navigated a life with mental health issues that surface from time to time. She is open about her struggles and hopes to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness by sharing her story, sharing the mission of This Is My Brave, and helping to grow the organization.
Ryan Eppehimer, Strategic Financial Planning
Ryan Eppehimer is Vice President, Finance with The Glover Park Group (GPG), a leading strategic communications and government affairs firm. In this role, he leads financial planning and analysis, including all budgeting and financial projections. Ryan joined GPG after three years at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, a multi-national hotel management company. As a Senior Manager of Financial Reporting at Interstate, he managed both the external (SEC) and internal financial reporting processes. Ryan started his career at Ernst & Young, as a Senior Auditor in their assurance practice. He graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Accounting and earned his MBA from The George Washington University in 2012. Ryan is also a CPA. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife and daughter.
Ryan strongly believes in the mission of This Is My Brave as he has experienced the power of its storytelling to build up and inspire others. He hopes his business expertise can help the organization to expand and continue to reach people in order to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Alicia Henry, Program Development
Alicia Henry is a dedicated public servant and change agent. With over 15 years of experience, Alicia has created numerous leadership and mentorship opportunities that inspire young women to tap into their own potential and thrive. She has a special passion for women of color and recognizes the importance of creating seats at the table to amplify the voices of women. This passion has created numerous volunteer opportunities for Alicia to leverage her skills as a leader with community organizations such as the Women’s Information Network, H.E.R. Story, Brown Girls Lead, College Summit, and the NAACP's ACT-SO Program.
Early in her career Alicia worked at a residential treatment facility for clients in the foster and probation system. She transitioned into politics and worked on Capitol Hill for five years in the office of retired Senator Barbara Boxer of California. She currently serves as the Scheduler and Executive Assistant for the Chairman of DC Council, Phil Mendelson. A native of Southern California, Alicia attended the University of California, Davis where she studied African-American studies and Spanish.
Alicia is a proud alum of the DC cast of This is My Brave. This experience gave her the opportunity to share her personal story of watching her grandmother live with schizophrenia. Alicia is excited to support the work, mission and charge of This is My Brave.
Amy McDowell Marlow, Community Engagement
Amy McDowell Marlow is a passionate and engaged advocate mental health advocate. She is a survivor of suicide loss and lives with Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and PTSD. Amy is the author of bluelightblue, a blog about her journey through mental illness.She was recently highlighted by the Washington Post as one of the 11 most inspirational people they met in 2016, and her blog was recognized by Healthline.com as one of the 2016 and 2017 Best Blogs on Depression. Amy's story has been featured in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and Woman's Day Magazine. She was awarded the 2016 Anti-Stigma Advocacy Award by the Maryland Foundation for Psychiatry. Amy is a trained peer facilitator and public speaker with NAMI, and shares her story with a variety of audiences across the Washington. D.C.- metropolitan area. She is a proud alum of the This Is My Brave 2016 Washington D.C. cast.
Amy is a graduate of the College of Wooster, Ohio, and is a member of the Leadership Fairfax class of 2013. She has a vibrant professional background in nonprofit communications, fundraising and strategic planning. A native of Northern Virginia, Amy lives in Falls Church with her husband, Will, and her dog, Winston. You can visit her online at www.bluelightblue.com.
Heather Sajeski, Research Strategy
Heather Sajeski is a Vice President with Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), a market research and communications consulting firm based in Washington, DC. She’s been with the company since 2001 and has supervised hundreds of international and domestic research studies. She has consulted for clients from a range of industries including Microsoft, McDonald’s, Fannie Mae, Citibank, and P&G. In addition to her corporate work, Heather has consulted on communications and research strategy for a variety of non-profits such as the Special Olympics, the World Wildlife Fund and the Capital Area Food Bank. Heather graduated from The George Washington University, with a BA in International Affairs and Economics. She’s excited to bring her consulting experience to help This is My Brave continue to grow and spread its important message.
Andrew Shafer, Fundraising
Andrew Shafer originally hails from Greenville, SC but has since spent time in Knoxville, TN, West Lafayette, IN, and now Nashville. Starting his career with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Shafer then moved into work in higher education. His positions have been at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Purdue University, and most recently as Vice President for Advancement at Aquinas College in Nashville. In January 2016 he transitioned into the role of Chief Advancement Officer for the Paulist Fathers. Shafer also serves as Adjunct Faculty with Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis, New York University and North Park University, Chicago. In addition, he serves as a consultant to a variety of nonprofit organizations around the country with a predominant focus on sustainable fundraising. He earned both his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He and his wife, Jessica, have four beautiful children, Barnes and Frances, 4, Shepherd, 2, and Ellis, 1.
Rae Pickett, Communications & PR
RaeAnn serves as the Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs in the DC office of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. RaeAnn brings expertise in both corporate and non-profit strategic communications, most recently as a Senior Associate at SKDKnickerbocker, one of the preeminent public affairs firms in the country. Prior to that, Rae served as Senior National Communications Manager for Young Invincibles, where she created and implemented all communications strategies and tactics. She lives with her husband, step-daughter and 2 sons in Northern Virginia.
Traci Medlock, Graphic Designer
Traci J. Medlock graduated from American University Summa Cum Laude in December 2009 with her Bachelor’s in Journalism and a minor in Theater. While at AU, she explored her growing interest design, and continued taking courses at NVCC in communication design after graduation. She is the primary photography and designer of Traci J. Brooks Studios, an award-winning company specializing in weddings, portraits and live theatre and music photography.
Doreen Gentzler, News4 Evening Anchor
Doreen Gentzler anchors News4 at 6 and News4 at 11. She also serves as the station’s medical reporter, filing cutting-edge health reports for all of the station’s newscasts. For more than 25 years, Gentzler has anchored with Jim Vance, making them one of the longest-tenured anchor teams in the country. Gentzler is the spokesperson for the station's health-related community outreach activities such as the annual NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo, and NBC4's continuing initiative to shine a light on mental health issues. Gentzler has won three local Emmy awards for reporting and anchoring as well as three other Emmy awards for news writing and reporting while in Cleveland. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. She and her family live in Chevy Chase, MD.
Robert M. Post, M.D., Head of the Bipolar Collaborative Network
Dr. Post worked at the NIMH for 35 years studying and treating patients with refractory unipolar and bipolar mood disorders. He formed an international Bipolar Collaborative Network with 4 sites in the US and 3 in Europe. Dr. Post pioneered the use of the anticonvulsant carbamazepine for lithium-resistant bipolar patients, and studied repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for treatment of depression. He and his group have won multiple national and international awards, and published more than 1,000 scientific manuscripts and a book entitled “Treatment of Bipolar Illness: A Casebook for Clinicians and Patients”. He publishes a free newsletter for physicians and patients available at www.bipolarnews.org. At this address, one can click on “Child Network” for parents of children 2 -12 to rate their child’s mood and behavior on a weekly basis on a secure website. The goal of the study is to foster collective knowledge about childhood bipolar and other disorders by acquiring data about children who have or may be vulnerable to childhood-onset mood and bipolar disorders and associated conditions.
Mark S. Komrad, MD, Sheppard Pratt Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital
Recipient of NAMI National’s “Exemplary Psychiatrist” award, and named by NAMI Baltimore as “Mental Health Professional of the Year,” Dr. Komrad is a psychiatrist on the teaching faculty of Sheppard Pratt Hospital, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland. For 25 years he has treated patients and advised people in the community on how to convince an emotionally or behaviorally troubled loved-one to accept psychiatric evaluation and treatment. He has worked in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Formerly the host of a national radio talkshow about psychiatry, Dr. Komrad continues to appear widely on TV and radio to discuss psychiatry. He is currently the regular mental-health contributor to “Mid-Day with Dan Rodricks,” a daily talkshow on NPR affilate 88.1FM Baltimore (WYPR). Dr. Komrad has also consulted on major Hollywood films to help develop more accurate portrayls of people with mental illness, and those who treat them. He maintains a private practice in psychiatry in Towson, MD. He’s the author of the best-selling book “You Need Help! A Step-by-Step Plan to Convince a Loved One to Get Counseling” which is available on Amazon.