Who We Are…

The Barb Smith Suicide Resource & Response Network is a grassroots organization that has been serving Michigan and beyond since 1989.  The founder and Executive Director, Barb Smith, used her personal experience of losing her 20-year old brother, John, to suicide to build the organization hoping to find purpose for her pain.

Our team of expert trainers deliver evidence-based prevention trainings to people where they live, work, play, and learn with the hope of destigmatizing suicide, increasing help-seeking behaviors, and caring for those impacted by suicide.

Meet Our Staff

Barb Smith

Barb Smith

Executive Director

Anne Kennelly

Anne Kennelly

Program Coordinator

Merry Jo Brandimore

Merry Jo Brandimore

Business Manager

Jamie Wark-King

Jamie Wark-King

Director of Public Relations & Program Development

Board of Directors

Craig Voorheis - President

Craig began his involvement with the Suicide Resource and Response Network in 2006 after his Dad died by suicide. At first the involvement was for his own healing by attending the support group. As the healing increased he helped organize the board, did public speaking, and occasionally facilitated the support group. He has a background in small business ownership, a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State’s Eli Broad School of Business, and is a commercial/agricultural insurance specialist for the Emil Rummel Agency.

Greg Dorrien – Vice President
Greg has been with West Midland Family Center for 31 years and has served as its Executive Director for the last 26 years. A native of Midland, he received his bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Park Management from Central Michigan University in 1984. He dedicates his volunteer time to the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network in memory of his younger brother Andrew, who left us all way too soon.
Larry Jacobs – Treasurer
A year after the loss of his son to suicide, Larry started attending the survivor group meetings with his wife and started getting more involved. He retired after 49 years working at Dow Chemical and Johnson Controls, working a variety of information technology and management roles. He was also involved in numerous volunteer efforts such as the church board, Boys and Girl Scouts, school organizations, and a Municipal Water Board member. While continuing his volunteer efforts after retiring, he found it easy to offer his assistance and joined our Board of Directors in 2016.
Joan Ford, CHCP – Secretary
Joan is the Administrator of Continuing Medical Education at Central Michigan University College of Medicine in Saginaw. She is a Certified Healthcare CPD Professional with many years’ experience in continuing medical education, from instructional design, accreditation, grant writing, conference development and CME process management. Under Ms. Ford’s administration, CMU College of Medicine was awarded accreditation with Commendation by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, placing CMU College of Medicine among the top tier of accredited institutions nationally.
Dr. Donald Steele – Board Member
Dr. Steele earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from Central Michigan University and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Ohio State University. He started his career as a teacher and coach and quickly moved up to school Superinetendent. In 1985 he founded Preformance Learning, Inc; a business dedicated to educating, motivating and empowering athletes, entertainers, leaders and teams across the spectrum of business, industry and education. He has authored 7 books, and is also a professional entertainer (singer and guitarist).
Linda Dorr – Board Member
Linda became involved with the Network after the loss of her 28 year old son when she started attending the support group. She spends her time volunteering around their small family business and helping support the organizations several annual events.
Joan Cramer - Board Member

Joan has worked for the Saginaw County Medical Society (SCMS) for 31 years, serving as Executive Director for the past 11.  She became involved in the Network after three suicides in the medical community and the death of her son’s best friend, all in 2017.  Because of the drastic increase in suicides and the lack of services for those who may be having suicidal ideation, Joan believed all physicians, starting in medical school, should be trained in suicide awareness.

In 2018, Joan proposed a resolution through the SCMS on suicide awareness training for health care professionals which was researched and written by CMU College of Medicine students.  The resolution was unanimously approved by the Michigan State Medical Society House of Delegates in April 2018.  Six weeks later, it was presented at the American Medical Association’s Annual Meeting, where the AMA unanimously adopted a new policy to increase awareness and physician training on suicide in medical schools.  Joan has hosted several safeTALK trainings and presentations through the SCMS in an effort to train local physicians and the community in suicide awareness.  She also includes a monthly column on the Network in the SCMS journal, The Bulletin.  www.SaginawCountyMS.com.

Beverlee Wenzel - Board Member

Beverlee Wenzel is Executive Director of The ROCK Center for Youth Development and Discover You™. Wenzel led the creation of Discover You™, a unique social emotional learning and positive psychology solution providing programs over 10 years to over 20,000 middle and high students. Wenzel has 35 years of intentional business and non-profit leadership. Her qualifications include being a Certified Public Manager through Saginaw Valley State University, Certified Fundraising Manager through Lily Fundraising School, and an Applied Positive Psychology Practitioner. Wenzel is an active speaker and presenter in areas including positive psychology, social and emotional skills, fund development, and non-profit leadership. Recent presentations include state and national afterschool conferences, 5th World Congress on Positive Psychology, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In partnership with the Michelle McQuaid group, Wenzel co-created the Certificate in Creating Wellbeing and the Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology.

Lisa Sullivan

Lisa Sullivan has been a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at Covenant Healthcare for the past 21 years. Prior to that, she worked as a CRNA for 3 years in Chicago and as a staff RN for 4 years. Nursing and caring for people has always been her passion. Her education includes a Bachelor of Nursing degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters of Nursing from DePaul University.

When she moved to Saginaw in 1999, she became involved with the Saginaw County Medical Society Alliance. The Alliance worked closely
with the American Medical Society to support the medical family, fundraise, and provide nursing scholarships to local residents.

Lisa has been very active with Nouvel Catholic Schools participating in many fundraising activities as well as serving as the President of the Home and School Association at both the elementary and high school. She is also very involved in her church, St. Thomas Aquinas as a lector and eucharistic minister.

Lisa is married and lives in Saginaw with her husband Michael and dog Shamrock. She has 2 adult children, Matthew and Katie, whom are her greatest achievements. In her free time she enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling.

Julie Hart

Julie Hart is the Performance Improvement Manager at MidMichigan Health. In this role, she is responsible for managing projects with a goal of improving workflows and processes in order to achieve the Institute of Healthcare Improvements quadruple aim of improving quality, patient, and clinician experience while decreasing cost and improving access to care.  Prior to her current role, Julie worked as the Policy and Governance Supervisor and in Continuing Medical Education with MidMichigan.  

During her career at MidMichigan, she has been involved in a number of projects and initiatives including helping to establish an Interdisciplinary Bioethics Committee, implementing a new policy infrastructure and platform, and starting the physician wellness committee, modeled after the Stanford model for physician wellness.  She has served on the Schwartz Rounds for Compassionate Care Committee, the Spiritual Care Conference planning committee, Health Sciences Library Committee and the Opioid Taskforce.  Additionally, she was the founding chair of the Inclusion and Diversity Council.  

Her education history includes a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Northwood University and a Master of Science in Administration with a concentration in Health Care Administration from Central Michigan University.  She also has a Provisional Teaching Certificate grades 7-12 (major: social studies; minor: psychology).

Julie lives in Midland with her husband Steve and two Australian Cattle Dogs Nova and Copper.  She has two adult sons Dan and Conner, two wonderful daughter-in-laws Michele and Taylor and a five year old granddaughter Aurora.  In her free time Julie enjoys the outdoors, crafting and shopping.

How We Can Help

Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network offers prevention education in any setting.  Trainers can be brought into your business, school, recreation, church, or home to provide awareness or evidence based suicide prevention trainings.  Additionally, aftercare services are available in the form of a support group, Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors team and Aftercare training for both professionals who care for the bereaved and those who have been impacted by suicide.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testimonials…

The day I lost my son VJ, life as I knew it changed forever. No hope, peace nor strength. The Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network and the Walk for Hope has given me the strength to live, peace to survive and hope for the future.

Heidi

After many years of losing my father it was easier to sleep than to find a way to live without him…Barb Smith simply sat and talked about my dads life in a way i hadn’t been able to in years. She helped me find a way out of my dark hole…Barb gave me permission to live in his honor and to focus on who he was in his life and not let his death define me or him.

Beth

Last year’s Walk for Hope was so inspiring for me. To be able to speak openly about mental illness and see people find connection and hope in each other–that was a beautiful thing to watch. There was a lot of love being shared that day.

Will Heininger

Former U of M Football player/National Speaker

Our community is greatly enriched to have Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network here. As funeral directors, we have seen survivors make it through the first terrible days thanks to the caring and wise council of Barb Smith and the team. Beyond the immediate days following suicide, The Suicide Resource and Response Network continues to help family survivors cope with their loss. The Network has addintionally been a great resource to all of us in helping us serve families of suicide loss.

Mary Lou Case

Case Funeral Home