Staff & Consultants

Dr. Jennifer Stuber co-founded Forefront Suicide Prevention in 2013, a center of excellence at the University of Washington based at the School of Social Work, focused on reducing suicide by empowering individuals and communities to take sustainable action, championing systemic change and restoring hope. Forefront is a major catalyst for suicide prevention in Washington and the nation. Stuber’s policy acumen has contributed to the passage of 9 state suicide prevention laws including those that require all behavioral health and health care professionals in Washington State to have basic training in suicide assessment, management and treatment (the first in the nation). She has worked with many partners to develop customized, sustainable suicide prevention training that to date has reached over 50,000 professionals and community members.

An Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, Jennifer’s research interests focus on forms of oppression including stigma and discrimination, health disparities, mental health and policy-making processes. She has studied different forms of oppression for families, using means-tested government programs for tobacco users and people living with mental illnesses.

Stuber completed her bachelor’s degree in biology and society at Cornell University, served as a research assistant at the Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank, and received her doctorate from the Yale University School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy. She joined the School of Social Work because she is committed to research that brings social change and social justice to vulnerable populations. Since moving to Washington state, she has been heavily engaged in research and partnership with public mental health organizations. She has assisted these agencies with the development and evaluation of interventions designed to foster recovery, to address tobacco dependence and to improve media engagement strategies.

With over 20 years of social justice, non-profit management, public policy, program development, and direct service delivery experience, Melissa was previously the Director of Programming at the IF Project – implementing reentry programming at the Washington State Women’s Prison. A vocal advocate for people with HIV/AIDS since the 1990’s, she led an innovative LGBTIQ youth program at Boulder County Public Health. She earned Boulder County PFLAG’s activist of the year award in 2011.

Brett Bass is the Safer Homes, Suicide Aware Program Coordinator.  He joins Forefront after years of volunteering on the Firearms Subcommittee of the Safer Homes task force.  Brett enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2006, completing Military Police School in 2007 as the Honor Graduate of his class.  He reported to MWSS-473, Det. A in Fresno, CA shortly thereafter and was mobilized to active duty.  Upon moving to Washington, Brett transferred to H&S Co. 4th LSB out of Ft. Lewis.  He deployed to Latvia with his battalion in 2010, Kuwait (from 2011-2012) and Afghanistan (from 2012-2013) as an individual augment with MARCENT.

After returning to the United States, Brett began his career in the firearms industry after many years of civilian work in private security.  He currently holds Range Safety Officer, Chief Range Safety Officer, pistol instructor, and rifle instructor certifications from the National Rifle Association as well as CPR, AED, & basic first aid instructor certifications from the Health & Safety Institute.  Brett has trained under some of the world’s most respected defensive shooting instructors, including Ken Hackathorn, Larry Vickers, Daryl Holland, John Holschen, Zach Harrison, and David Sanders.  He has trained thousands of students in the safe, responsible, and effective use of firearms.

Additionally, Brett is a volunteer with the Washington Firearms Tragedy Prevention Network.  He lives in southern Snohomish County with his cat, Louisiana (LouLou).

Harry is Licensed Marriage and Family therapist with over 20 years of experience in working with youth and families. As a school-based clinician, he utilizes mental health prevention programming including: WEB, Sources of Strength, Second Step, Teen Depression Awareness and DBT Skills: Steps-A. Harry views school based mental health services as an essential early intervention tool. He is committed to reducing the stigma of mental health treatment, increasing access to support services and providing opportunities to build resiliency.

Marny is the Program Coordinator for the S.B. 6514 Higher Education Behavioral Health and Suicide Prevention initiative and other higher education efforts. Since losing her college-age son to suicide in 2013, Marny has worked for suicide prevention and depression awareness. She received Forefront’s 2015 Tina Orwall Public Service Award for her service to Forefront, the 2015 & 2016 Inland Northwest Suicide Prevention conferences in Spokane, and related efforts.

Donn is a trainer for the American Association of Suicidology and for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, leading continuing education seminars about suicide assessment and management for mental health professionals nationally. He is engaged in research examining the effectiveness of a specific suicide intervention protocol. Donn taught sections of Introduction to Counseling and developed the Suicide Prevention, Assessment and Risk Management course.

Jim has been in the field of suicidology for 20 years, examining the risk and protective factors of youth engaged in suicidal behavior. Dr. Mazza was a past president of the American Association of Suicidology and currently is developing training programs and curriculum to assist educators and mental health professionals in working with at-risk or suicidal youth.

Kristen is a nonprofit professional who has been working in the Greater Seattle Area over the past decade in program management, development, marketing and communications, grant writing, direct social service, and volunteer management. In her various roles, Kristen has engaged in direct social service with individuals from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, including incarcerated men and women, adults living with mental illness and addiction, and youth experiencing homelessness.

Sam Powers is the Director of Student Veteran Life at the University of Washington. She provides oversight and management of hiring, development of new programs, and centralization of existing services and resources available to UW student veterans. She provides outreach and collaborates with internal and external constituents. She is also a Program Coordinator for Safer Homes, Suicide Aware campaign.

Sam is a combat veteran of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations where she served as an Aircraft Maintenance officer on the C-130 Gunship Spectres. Sam served in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom. She began her post-military career in the field of higher education working in Facilities/Physical Plant Operations as an administrative manager. She has additional experience in Continuing Education and Customized Training. Most recently, she was the Director of the Washington State Veterans Training Support Center where she provided and delivered trainings on veteran-related topics in higher education, veteran best practices, and invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder to Washington State agencies. She volunteers for a number of veterans organizations in Washington State as a member and officer and is an adjunct professor at various higher education institutions across the state and nation.

Sam holds a B.A. in Military History from Virginia Tech, an M.A. in International Relations from University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Old Dominion University.

Chris’ research centers on the study and prevention of suicide among under-served and under-studied populations, and the association between experiences of trauma and suicidality. He is currently a senior fellow in injury prevention at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, and is involved in several projects focused on cultivating novel approaches to suicide screening, treatment, and prevention in high-risk prehospital, emergency department, and medical inpatient populations. Prior to completing his graduate training in Clinical Psychology at Idaho State University, Chris was employed as a full-time police officer, and was also certified as a firefighter/EMT. His experiences as a first responder continue to inform his research and clinical activities, and motivate his interest in addressing the intersection of violence victimization, psychopathology, and access to resources as predictors of suicidal behavior.

Debbie is the Volunteer Coordinator for Forefront Suicide Prevention. Since losing her teenage grandson to suicide, Debbie has advocated for suicide prevention in Olympia, serving on the Washington State Suicide Prevention Plan Task Force. At the time of Forefront’s founding, Debbie became an active volunteer, including receiving Forefront’s 2016 Tina Orwall Public Service Award for her service to Forefront. In 2018, Debbie joined the Forefront staff.

Ali Rowhani-Rahbar is the Bartley Dobb Professor for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Washington. He is the Violence Prevention Section Leader at the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. His epidemiologic studies have spanned across multiple forms of violence including firearm violence, youth violence, bullying, child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and suicide. Dr. Rowhani-Rahbar investigates violent victimization and perpetration with an integrated public health and public safety approach. His research on inter-personal violence is specifically focused on the nexus of trauma and crime to inform interventions that prevent violence from occurring in the first place, promote healing following violence, and reduce recidivism. His research on self-directed violence is specifically focused on means safety. Dr. Rowhani-Rahbar has served on the American College of Emergency Physicians Technical Advisory Group on Firearm Violence Research, Firearms Subcommittee of Washington State Safer Homes Task Force for Suicide Prevention, and editorial board of the journal Injury Prevention. He has also served as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research.

Phoebe has been working in the behavioral health field for 35 over years. Her background as a Chemical Dependency Professional brings a depth of professional experience that includes working with some of our highest risk youth population as well as a broad spectrum of school and community stakeholders. Her career path has taken her into both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health settings with the majority of her time directly serving the K‐12 school system. Her vast work experience draws from many years of working with diverse groups including youth and their families, school staff, specialists, administrators, and superintendents. Her work includes thousands of hours of direct service to youth in addition to supervising other Prevention/Intervention Specialists in 3 school districts. Phoebe’s knowledge, organization and team‐oriented approach have enabled her to assist schools with a vast array of tasks and other deliverables. These include brokering mental health staff from the community to provide direct service in the high school, policy enhancement, supporting administrative teams at the district level, coordinating the administration of the Healthy Youth Survey in her High School, leading highly successful parent education workshops, contributing to community coalition work, acting as advisor to her high school peer to peer leadership club, coordinating school‐based suicide prevention efforts that included creating protocols and guidelines and most recently, joining Forefront Suicide Prevention ‐ a center of excellence at the University of Washington where she is the School Coordinator for Forefront in the Schools.

Elaine Walsh is an ANCC Certified Clinical Specialist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. She has a Master of Nursing from UCLA and a PhD in Nursing from the University of Washington. Dr. Walsh’s research interests include prevention of suicide and co-occurring behaviors, program evaluation, and translation of research interventions to community settings. She is a member of the King County Suicide Prevention Coalition and an affiliate faculty member of Forefront Suicide Prevention, based at the UW’s School of Social Work.

Thomas is a Ph.D. student in Social Welfare at the University of Washington. For the past eight years he has been working to develop and test motivational enhancement interventions for active-duty military personnel with untreated behavioral health disorders. As part of his doctoral training, he has been working with Jennifer Stuber and the Forefront Safer Homes Taskforce to conduct a survey of firearm retailers designed to better understand the role they may play in suicide prevention.

Sarah is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Health Services at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on evaluating team-based, transdisciplinary approaches to solving complex public health problems, with a focus on community engagement and vulnerable populations. Sarah joined the Forefront team in April 2018 to apply her skills in mixed-method evaluation to projects that aim to address the burden of suicide in Washington state.