Sara Correll is a wife and mother of four sons who holds a Bachelor of Science degree from San Diego State University as well as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor Certification from UCSD Extension. Over the years, she has shared her time and talents with a number of non-profit organizations including Young Life and the San Diego Rescue Mission.
Through her experience as a drug and alcohol counselor to homeless men and convicted felons, Sara saw firsthand the effector of trauma and the outcomes when it is not treated. During this time, she became a strong advocate for veterans through her professional relationship with a Green Beret Special Forces Operator/Delta Force Medic veteran. Eventually, she co-founded “The Power of the Story” which provides a way for veterans to share their story to find healing and hope. Sara shares how she became a compassionate and effective advocate for veterans.
“I learned that many veterans are suffering once they separate from the military, and are dying by suicide at an alarming rate. We lose 20-22 veterans a day to suicide. I am passionate about helping veterans know they can have purpose and meaning again in their lives after transition. Through hearing other veterans tell their stories, education and resources, veterans experiencing trauma will understand that their reactions are common and ‘normal” due to the abnormal conditions they have experienced. Veterans can also understand that isolation is the enemy, and connecting with others is the way to new opportunities, finding the healing modalities that are a good fit, and finding hope on their journey to finding freedom from trauma.”
"As a survivor of suicide loss myself, I am strongly compelled to help others through the healing process in order to share hope, relieve unnecessary guilt and just be there. What I love about SOSL, is the passion and integrity as well as their openness to trying new ideas that have been helpful in different arenas to support those who are traumatized. Being on the Board of Directors gives me a way to give back."
Bryan Bear, Treasurer
Bryan Bear is the Vice President of Finance at Taylor Guitars, an industry-leading acoustic and electric guitar manufacturer founded in 1974. In his role, Mr. Bear oversees day-to-day financial operations for the three locations of Taylor Guitars located in El Cajon, California; Tecate, Mexico; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
He also serves on the board of his local youth soccer organization. He counts the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, California Society of Certified Public Accountants and Financial Executives International among his professional affiliations.
Mr. Bear holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from San Diego State University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University. He became a Certified Public Accountant in 1991.
“I lost my father to suicide in 2002. My father had a passion to serve others and I want to honor that legacy by helping others. SOSL is an organization that helps those who are in great need of encouragement and strength and I am blessed to be able to serve on the board of SOSL.”
Kim Bozart is a Licensed Clinician Social Worker who has been working as a mental health provider in San Diego County for the last 17 years. She is a Field Operations Supervisor with PERT, the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, which provides psychiatric evaluations in the field to individuals in crisis that come into the 911 system. Kim supervises the field-based clinicians that collaborate directly with Law Enforcement to support the person in need by building rapport and gaining an understanding of the crisis. The goal is to connect the person immediately to the most appropriate level of services with the intent of preserving life and increasing their level of functioning
For the past 5 years, Kim has been an adjunct professor at Miramar College, teaching the Persons with Disabilities and Mental Illness course for the San Diego Regional Police Academy. This course is designed to train new Law Enforcement officers on recognizing some signs and symptoms of mental illness and developmental disabilities while learning some basic effective communication skills when interacting with individuals.
Kim became a Board Member in 2016. At that time, she also sat on the planning committee for the Meeting of the Minds annual conference. This conference is specific to San Diego, with the goal of bridging the gap between the Mental Health community, substance abuse treatment community, individuals with lived experiences and support staff. Although Kim has recently stepped down from this committee, she continues to participate in the conference as a breakout presenter when her proposal is selected. During her free time, you will find Kim volunteering with her daughter at the Tierrasanta Community Garden that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to TACO (Third Avenue Charitable Organization.)
“I look forward to serving the community through the SOSL organization. This supports my goal of helping others move forward from tragic situation: To find their peace and happiness within while honoring and celebrating who the individual truly was prior to their illness consuming their life.”
Blaire Ehret has worked in the field of suicide prevention for over 10 years. She started as a suicide hotline volunteer and supervisor at Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center in Los Angeles, CA, the nation’s first suicide hotline. In 2017, she earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from The Catholic University of America under the mentorship of an internationally revered Suicidologist.
Currently, Blaire is a licensed clinical psychologist and supervisor at the San Diego VA. Here, she provides mental healthcare to Veterans with severe mental illness and conducts original suicide prevention research. Her research has been published in domestic and international journals, as well as covered in the popular press, such as NPR.
In addition to her clinical and research expertise, she developed strong leadership skills when she was elected into a national position within the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. In her role, she represented and advocated for psychology students’ education and training, as well as worked with national leaders to make significant contributions to the field of psychology.
Blaire was inspired to become a Board Member so she can utilize her professional experiences and personal connection to suicide to help SOSL thrive as a leader in the survivor community, reach new audiences, refine and evaluate programming, and secure ample funding to ensure SOSL remains a strong community staple.
In her spare time, Blaire enjoys being outdoors, baking, and exploring all of the wonders San Diego has to offer with her husband, friends, and family.
“As a survivor of suicide loss, I am extremely grateful for SOSL and other survivor organizations. SOSL is a pillar in the San Diego community, fostering unity among survivors and helping them grow after their loss.”
Scott joined the SOSL Board of Directors in 2008, bringing with him a long-held interest in helping to reduce suffering related to suicide. Scott has been affected by suicide in many ways, by the loss of his family doctor, the loss of several friends to suicide, a colleague, and a client, and Scott’s father made many serious attempts to die by suicide.
Scott envisions reducing suffering related to suicide in many ways. First and foremost by supporting survivors directly by helping to facilitate groups, supporting other SOSL facilitators. Scott comes to us with a background in training, experience in the group support process, and setting up and running support groups, which were mostly bereavement in nature. These skills are of great value in enriching the SOSL support groups and enhancing the capabilities of our facilitators.
Second, Scott as Webmaster for SOSL strives to “see how many ways we can connect and support each other through our website: www.SOSLsd.org.” He also aids fundraising efforts by maintaining the Walk in Remembrance with Hope Website at WalkInHopeSD, which serves as SOSL’s biggest annual fundraiser. Lastly, Scott enjoys the camaraderie of being on a well‐run team, lending itself to Scott’s desire to support the Board in carrying out the SOSL Mission.
Bertha Loaiza, of San Diego, is a married mother of two. She is an advocate for change. When she was three years old, her mother tragically died by suicide by jumping from the Coronado Bay Bridge, with her young daughter in her arms. Bertha’s life was miraculously spared, which has created within her a determination to work towards mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Her goal is that others may live.
Bertha is a frequent guest speaker on radio, podcasts, local TV news and other online groups. She actively works with various community partners to raise awareness, share resources and promote mental wellness. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Coronado San Diego Bridge Collaborative for Suicide Prevention. Her efforts have been instrumental in working towards the goal of securing a safety barrier on the bridge – to prevent suicides.
Bertha graduated from Marian Catholic High School and holds an Associate of Science degree in Advanced Respiratory Science from California College for Health Sciences. She currently uses her bilingual skills in her position with a local healthcare provider.
“SOSL provided an infinite amount of support to me when I needed it the most throughout the grieving process of my mother’s suicide. I proudly now serve on the SOSL board to continue with their mission or reaching out to those affected by suicide, raising awareness and helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health.”
Will Deutschendorf is a lifelong martial artist who started his own school at nineteen years old with his twin brother. Unfortunately he lost his twin brother in 2017 to suicide loss and since then has dedicated himself to helping anyone affected by suicide and mental illness.
Will started facilitating groups in 2019 out of a need for more meetings in the North County area. He has since helped raise funds for SOSL with different events like benefit concerts and comedy shows. He also runs suicide loss meetings for twins. He is passionate about reducing the stigma around mental illness.
Monica Sanchez is a retired Sergeant who worked in Law Enforcement for over 24 years. In retirement. She remains a dedicated Public Safety Advocate for First Responders Wellness and volunteers in her spare time for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and COPLINE. She became involved with SOSL after the loss of her best friend in 2016. She joined the board with a commitment to the safety and well-being of all.
Monica holds a B.S degree in Criminal Justice and an M.A. degree in Emergency Planning from Cal State University Long Beach. She lives with her husband, Greg, and rescue animals in San Diego. In her spare time, she loves spending time with family and friends and travels often.
“I lost my best friend, Captain Christine Harvel, to suicide in 2016. Her tragic death prompted my passion to honor her memory and advocate for first responders in their mental health journey.”
Julie Witte-Landau is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working full time as a Suicide Prevention Coordinator at VA San Diego Healthcare System. It was clear to her that many suicidal Veterans are survivors of suicide loss. She sought out suicide postvention support models and created a team of skilled and passionate mental health/social work and chaplains to support the VA staff who are affected by Veteran suicide and to help the families of Veterans who died by suicide. When creating this support model, she looked for the already existing frameworks and local San Diego resources. This is where her story begins with SOSL. She found that SOSL is the gold standard non profit in San Diego providing free suicide postvention support. She began partnering as a VA employee and tabling at the annual Walk for Life as well as referring Veterans and their family members.
“I am a survivor of suicide loss both personally and professionally. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on this board and help enhance their impact and mission.”
OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
Lauren Cook joined SOSL as the Executive Director in January 2021. She brings over 25 years of non-profit management experience in the San Diego region. Lauren was inspired by the opportunity to work for SOSL and promote its mission to provide hope, comfort, and healing to those in grief from suicide loss and promote suicide awareness and prevention. During the onboarding process she realized she was a survivor of suicide loss through her past work with underserved populations and the “ripple effect” of suicide which further cemented her commitment to SOSL.
“A suicide is like a pebble in a pond. The waves ripple outward. Visually, when you see a pebble drop into a pond, it’s something small that makes a big impact. The first “waves,” close by, are big, and as they move outward, they get smaller and smaller. The reach of the pebble’s waves is much greater than the size of the pebble itself.
Ultimately, in the way that a pond is changed because of a pebble, an entire community can be changed by a suicide. It is estimated that 150 people are exposed to a single suicide, with one in five reporting that this experience had a devastating impact or caused a major-life disruption.”
(Information from the National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Lauren will work passionately for SOSL to strengthen the organization and ensure it has abundant resources with which to respond to the community’s need.
Ms. Cook holds a B.A. degree in Applied Communications from Point Loma Nazarene University. She lives with her family and dogs in Chula Vista and serves on the local AYSO Board of Directors. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, walking, and spending time with friends.
Michele has devoted 25 years to a career in education in San Diego County. In 2014, she lost her brother Jamie to suicide and shortly thereafter, lost her cousin Chip. Immediately, she started attending a SOSL group, and within 2 years began facilitating that group. Michele led the Chula Vista/South Bay SOSL group for 10 years. Simultaneously, she started a faith-based suicide loss group, which she continues to facilitate.
Michele’s passion to work in the area of Suicide Prevention and Loss Support led her to receive extensive training to develop valuable insight and skills. She is a trained Chaplain for Suicide Prevention and Support, as well as a QPR (Question, Persuade & Refer) Gatekeeper trainer. She has taught QPR to schools, churches, women’s and men’s support groups, and foster youth. For four years, she served as a Board Member for UMTR2ME, a local Suicide Prevention non-profit that offers hope, support, encouragement, and education for individuals who struggle with mental illness, depression or thoughts of suicide.
Sat has been in the nonprofit space for the last ten years with a focus on startups, program management, marketing, and fundraising. Sat holds a B.S. in Business Administration from San Diego State University. She is also an Army Reserve Veteran (Broadcast Journalism). She recently became state certified as a Peer Support Specialist through CalMHSA's 80-hour program, and she is excited for a future healthcare system that brings more empathy and compassion to those who are suffering with their mental health.
Sat learned about SOSL after losing her younger sister, Kiela, to suicide on 2/12/19. She has come to recognize and appreciate firsthand the immense value of SOSL's peer-led support groups. She hopes to help SOSL grow to support and bring a safe space to even more people who are going through the complex grief of suicide loss.