KIM BOZART, PRESIDENT
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 is 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.”
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.”
Speakers Bureau; Facilitator
Bonnie became involved with Survivors of Suicide Loss in 2004 following the death of her husband Gordon to suicide in 2002, the day after their 37th wedding anniversary. Bonnie has a passion for suicide prevention and is invested in the suicide prevention efforts in San Diego County. She served as Executive Director of SOSL from Sept. 2004 until Oct. 2015. She remains active with SOSL as a Support Group Facilitator and Board member. Bonnie teaches QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) Gatekeeper Training for suicide prevention throughout San Diego County and has frequent speaking engagements focusing on suicide awareness and postvention.
Bonnie earned her BSN at the University of Minnesota, completed her Health Services Credential for school nursing at San Diego State University and later received her Master’s Degree in Human Behavior from National University. She is a retired school nurse and co- author of the Manual of School Health (2009, 3rd Edition). Most of her school nursing career was with San Diego Unified School District in early intervention with children ages birth to 3 years of age with special needs. Bonnie is the mother of three adult children and 5 grandchildren all living in San Diego.
“The death of my dear husband in 2002 changed my life forever, but living through the experience has also expanded my life. Experiencing the stigma of suicide fed my determination to break the silence that often surrounds death by suicide. Silence that can leave survivors with a sense of abandonment and prevent them from seeking help. SOSL offers a listening, supportive community to those bereaved by suicide.”
Camille joined the SOSL Board of Directors four months after she lost her son in 2004, (Brett, age 22). She also lost a brother in 1977, (Joseph, age 24) to suicide. As part of the SOSL Speakers Bureau, she has delivered Suicide Awareness & Prevention presentations to hundreds of high school and college students. She is a graduate of SDSU with a degree in Educational Technology and is a curriculum developer, instructional designer, and training facilitator.
“My involvement with SOSL has allowed me a safe place to put my energy to remove the stigma of mental illness which still exists since my brother died in the 70’s. The Board and all our volunteers have a very special place to provide support to others who have also tragically lost loved ones.”
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.
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.”
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.
Speakers Bureau; Facilitator
Joyce stepped into the newly created role of Director of Education in January 2021 after serving as the Executive Director of SOSL for five years.
In her new position, she will build upon the success of SOSL’s first Suicide Prevention Continuing Education Course for mental health professionals. In addition, she will take the lead in developing the curriculum for a new program geared towards the long-term survivor. “Rebuilding a Life of Flourishing” will be based on the service learning project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Masters of Applied Psychology Program.
Joyce began in the role of Executive Director of SOSL in October of 2015. Like many who dedicate their time and energy in this organization, she is a survivor of suicide loss. Experiencing the devastating aftermath of suicide created a deep passion for helping others living in similar situations. Joyce speaks throughout Southern California to educate, enlighten, and reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues and suicide. In addition she teaches QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) Gatekeeper Training for suicide prevention throughout San Diego, facilitates mental health support groups, and is a Certified Mental Health Coach.
Joyce earned a BA in Spanish from UC Irvine. Her professional experience includes years in both the private and public sectors. She was employed at California State University San Marcos for eleven years in the Division of Student Affairs and lastly as the Executive Assistant to the President. Losing her husband to suicide in 2008 set her life on a new course. Within a few years of his death, she left the university to pursue more opportunities to work towards suicide prevention and mental health awareness in San Diego County. Those efforts included gaining valuable mental health training, pioneering and facilitating support groups, and working with various boards and organizations that are dedicated to this same vision.
“Where I find myself today was not a part of my plans. Mental illness and suicide have impacted my life and changed me in ways I could never have anticipated. Experiencing firsthand the stigma that still surrounds these topics makes me even more determined to talk openly and break the silence. Break the silence so survivors can seek help and find healing. It is also important to me that those left behind find the strength to move beyond just surviving and live “the new normal”, and they find a life that is good once again. SOSL exists to provide a safe, listening and supportive community where the healing can take place.”
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.