Hope Squad Team

While it takes a village to raise a child, we believe it takes an entire community to save one.

Those shown below make up only a small part of that community: It includes a passionate Hope Squad team, dedicated mental health expert advisors, a top tier group of researchers, educators, master trainers and individuals like you, who are committed to saving our children and youth.

Hope Squad Team

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Dr. Greg Hudnall

Founder / CEO

Dr. Hudnall is a former high school principal, student service director, and associate superintendent with the Provo City School District. In 1999 he created the Hope Community Task Force, focusing on community wide suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. In 2004, Dr. Hudnall and his team created the K-12 school based “peer-to-peer” suicide prevention program now known as Hope Squad. Learn more about Dr. Hudnall at: GregHudnall.com.

Click here to listen to some of the podcasts on which Dr. Hudnall has appeared.

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Amber Seddon

Finance | Controller

Amber attended Utah Valley University studying Accounting, and played violin in the College Orchestra, and Utah Valley Symphony. Amber is proud to be be part of a rodeo family, with two bull riders and a daughter that rides steers. She enjoys traveling and going on spontaneous adventures with her family, including camping, fishing, and hiking. When it’s cold outside, Amber loves watching documentaries, reading & crocheting. She has served for many years as a volunteer in youth groups and addiction programs. Having lost close family and friends to suicide and addiction Amber is happy to be a part of Hope Squad.

Ashley Taeckens, MSW

Director of Research

Ashley is an experienced social science researcher passionate about shifting attitudes around public issues like ageism and eliminating mental health stigma. With eight years of academic and nonprofit research experience, Ashley was integral in establishing the foundation of a start-up research program and, most recently, completed a two-year research fellowship in which she expanded the institute’s portfolio to advance inclusion and equity efforts of older adult populations. She completed her master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver in 2018 and, in 2015, earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in gerontology and the other in psychology, from Missouri State University.

Christy Simms

Regional Support Specialist

Christy holds a bachelor’s degree in Specific Learning Disabilities education, and a dual master’s degree in Psychology and School Counseling. After 28 years as a teacher and high school counselor in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Christy retired and began her work with Hope Squad, a program in which she is fiercely passionate. In her free time, Christy enjoys doting on her husband and their three grandchildren, serving in church, and reading a good book.

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Dr. Diane Kelley

Southeast Regional & Curriculum Director

In addition to her work with Hope Squad, Diane is also a school board member in the Okaloosa County, Florida school district. She is a former school principal of a small Title 1 school as well as a huge, urban middle school in her district, and most recently she was a principal at a school in Destin, Florida. Her passion for Hope Squad stems from her experiences with students in all those schools who struggled with suicidal ideation, self-harm, depression, and anxiety.

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Evelin Gonzalez

Outreach & Support Specialist

Evelin graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors, receiving a Bachelor of Social Work. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. As a Hope Squad advisor she facilitated weekly virtual instruction for Hope Squad students and acted as liaison connecting students and households with school and community resources. She promoted the emotional well-being of all students by assisting in the planning and organization of monthly Hope Squad activities. Preparing to be a School Social Worker, Evelin attended regular training with school district social workers. Evelin enjoys being creative in her free time, especially embroidering and painting with watercolors.

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John McAtee

Marketing • Communications • Design

John has worked for the past four decades in various industries and companies including two Fortune 500 companies in California where he also spent years volunteering as a youth advisor. He has done volunteer work for Hope Squad for the past decade working with his wife, Ruth, an accomplished educator for 38 years, who started a Hope Squad at the high school where she taught English, Communications, and Psychology. He is honored to work with Hope Squad in bringing Hope to schools, military bases and communities of all types across the continent.

Julia Bush

Regional Support Specialist

Julia Bush is a native of Ohio, and graduate of Youngstown State University. She moved to Arizona with her husband, Tim, to teach in Douglas, Arizona and earned her Master’s Degree in School Counseling. They moved to Henderson, Nevada in 1996 where they raised two daughters, Korina and Elise. Recently retired from Clark County School District after 33 years in education. Julia was named the 2019 Nevada School Counselor of the Year. Julia believes strongly in the Hope Squad program, and served as a start up advisor for Burkholder Middle School and Foothill High School in Henderson, Nevada. Julia and Tim will be relocating to Illinois to play with their grandchildren, Owen and Ella.

Nic Bur

Regional Support Specialist

After earning his Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology, Nic spent his career in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. His positions included: District Lead Counselor, Coordinator for Families in Transition, District Hope Squad Coordinator, and Middle School Special Education Teacher. He is looking forward to beginning his position with Hope Squad and helping further its mission. Nic is passionate about forming relationships and empowering students who do not have a sense of belonging. He spends his free time mentoring residents at a transitional living facility, and is a tour guide at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI. Nic has 2 adult daughters and lives with his wife in Sheboygan Falls, WI.

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Karen Robertus

Regional Support Specialist

Karen desires to make a difference in children’s lives. That desire led her to become a part of Hope Squad. During her 28-year career teaching physical education and health in Las Vegas, Nevada, Karen coached track, volleyball, and cross country, and is passionate about helping her students realize they are a part of something bigger than themselves. In her role with Hope Squad, Karen supports and trains advisors, presents Hope Squad and suicide prevention information to organizations, and provides regional support for local schools.

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Stephanie Stewart

Support Specialist

Stephanie is a mother of four and grandmother of ten. She has been an educator for over 25 years, working in both Arizona and Nevada. She was an English teacher for many years, but then earned her M.Ed. in school counseling from American Public University in 2011. She has worked as a counselor at various high schools in the Clark County School District; most recently, she has been a counselor at Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada, where she served as department chair. She organized a Hope Squad at Coronado HS in 2019 and has served as the lead advisor for the past 3 years. She is currently retired from school counseling, but will be serving Hope Squad as a support specialist. In addition to these responsibilities, Stephanie has served as a Key Club Advisor, Student Council Advisor, and Class Advisor. Stephanie is enthusiastic about the mission of Hope Squad stating, “Hope Squad has made a huge difference at our school. All kids deserve to be seen and heard. Hope Squad has helped to provide that connection for our students.”

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Tam Larnerd

Director of Education & Training

For 27 years, Mr. Tam Larnerd served as a Health Educator, varsity coach, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, and finally, Principal of Spring Valley High School with the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada.  In 2020, Mr. Larnerd was appointed by Governor Sisolak to serve on his Statewide School Safety Committee.  Additionally, in 2020, Mr. Larnerd was named the Professional Language Association of Nevada’s Administrator of the Year. In August 2021, Mr. Larnerd accepted the position of Hope Squad’s Training Facilitator and is now Director of Education & Training.  In this capacity, he serves as a Master Trainer, onboards new schools, presents at state and national conferences, and supports Hope Squads throughout the country.

Mental Health Advisors

Hope Squad Mental Health Advisors are volunteers from the mental health community.
They advise on how to expand and improve the Hope Squad program and curriculum.

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Dr. Douglas D. Gray, MD

University of Utah • Child Psychologist

As a suicidologist, Dr. Gray studies suicide completers in an attempt to better understand suicide risk factors, and to help develop future suicide prevention programs across the age span. He uses psychological autopsies, genetics and toxicology methods to make inroads to get a better understanding of suicide risk factors. His clinical focus is primarily outpatient and consult-liaison for bipolar disorders.

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Elizabeth Feil, LCSW

Therapist Supervisor • Wasatch Mental Health

Elizabeth Feil, LCSW, is the Therapist Supervisor at the Provo Family Clinic She has been working as a therapist at Wasatch Mental Health since 2002. She is trained in EMDR, Trust-Based Relational Intervention, Crisis Intervention, Motivational Interviewing, Trauma-focused CBT, and the Strengthening Families Program. Elizabeth is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner. Elizabeth works primarily with youth ages 11-17 and their families but also has a lot of experience with elementary school aged children, PLUS she speaks Spanish. Elizabeth was very involved in implementing a grant-funded interdisciplinary approach involving Provo School District, Intermountain Health Clinics, and Wasatch Mental Health.

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Dr. Juergen Korbanka, PhD

CEO • Wasatch Mental Health

Dr. Korbanka is a Licensed Psychologist who is an Approved Clinical Supervisor, National Certified Counselor, Designated Examiner, and is a member of the Utah State Crisis Team. He enjoys working with adults with a range of issues, such as: depression and mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and more severe psychopathologies. He has worked with domestic violence perpetrators and individuals with personality disorders. His research interests include: evidence-based and outcome oriented, time-limited treatment programs, program effectiveness, and treatment efficiency. He has presented at numerous local, state, and national conferences.


Hope Squad Researchers are volunteers from University of Cincinnati, Brigham Young University, and the University of Utah.
They collect and analyze data to inform decisions to expand and improve the Hope Squad program and curriculum.

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National Educational Advisory Board

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Dr. Holly Ferguson

Superintendent • Prosper ISD • Texas

Dr. Holly Ferguson began her teaching career with Prosper ISD in 1998 as an elementary school teacher. She has since served as a campus principal, executive director of curriculum and instruction, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, and, associate superintendent. • After receiving a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s in educational administration from the University of North Texas, Ferguson completed her doctorate in educational leadership at Texas A&M Commerce. • She also worked for Frisco ISD as a teacher, ESL cluster teacher, reading interventionist, and assistant principal. • 
Dr. Ferguson serves proudly on the Hope Squad National Educational Advisory Board. She is a firm believer that opening the conversation and knowledge about the mental health of students, staff, parents, and the community is key in creating a culture of acceptance, understanding within a community. If true change is to occur we must acknowledge that our schools are a microcosm of our community so it is our responsibility as leaders to wrap our arms around all of the need for support and understanding. 

Dr. Ferguson and her husband of 23 years, Frisco Fire Department Captain David Ferguson, are the parents of two children: Cade, a 2020 Prosper High School graduate who now attends the University of Arkansas Sam Walton School of Business, and Ty, who is a sophomore at Prosper High School.

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Jonathan Cooper

Superintendent • Mason City Schools • Mason Ohio

Jonathan Cooper is the superintendent of Mason City School district, which is known as one of the top ten high performing, high profile schools in Ohio. His journey to improve students’ mental wellness began after listening to students ask district and school leaders to do more to prevent student suicides. Since then, the district started a Hope Squad at its middle school and high school, invested in a 6-member prevention and wellness team, contracted with a local hospital to provide therapy to students during the school day, and brought therapy dogs to every school in the district. Before being named superintendent, Mr. Cooper was Mason’s Chief Innovation Officer where he led the development of the Mason Experiential Learning Program allowing hundreds of students to participate in a diverse array of authentic learning experiences throughout the greater Cincinnati region. Jonathan and his wife, Michelle, talk to their four kids often about the joy of learning but also the responsibility and privilege to serve the community together as a family. As a leader, Jonathan understands the value of building meaningful relationships through listening, collaborating, and connecting with students, staff, and community. He has adopted a community-sourced leadership and communication style aligning the district direction with community values. This has led us to focus on three key areas which are referred to as the three big rocks: 1) An intentional focus on culture; 2) A deep commitment to inclusive excellence; and 3) personalized learning.

Marcus Chambers

Superintendent • Okaloosa County Schools • Florida

Mr. Marcus Chambers, Superintendent of Schools, Okaloosa County (FL) Schools, has passionately served students, parents, his community, and fellow public educators for more than 21 years. Before assuming the role of Superintendent, Mr. Chambers served in multiple school-based leadership positions in Okaloosa County, as Okaloosa County’s Safe School’s Specialist, Assistant Principal at Niceville High School, Principal at Longwood Elementary School, and Principal at Niceville High School, as well as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.
Mr. Chambers’ professional organizational involvements include the Chambers of Commerce in Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, and Niceville-Valparaiso, ASCD, and The Okaloosa County Association of School Administrators. He is passionate about helping his community and was awarded the Southern Hero Award for Outstanding Community Service and Leadership. Mr. Chambers coaches children’s teams in basketball and baseball and is a Mentor in Okaloosa County Schools. Mr. Chambers has been happily married to Krissinda, an English and Leadership Teacher at Niceville High School, for 24 years. Together, they have two wonderful children, Peyton, 20, and Camden, 18.

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Dr. Tanya Fredrich

Assistant Superintendent • Elmbrook Schools • Brookfield Wisconsion

Dr. Fredrich is an Assistant Superintendent in Wisconsin.  She is a graduate of UW Madison School of Education and holds a Masters degrees in Special Education and Administrative Leadership and a Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service.  Dr. Fredrich has worked as a special educator with expertise in Emotional/ Behavioral Disorders and Educational Autism as well as a building principal prior to her current director role. She is the creator of iSummitWisco, an annual conference of over 600 educators, that features national experts in inclusive practices to create systems change in communities across the nation.  She is an adjunct professor at Carroll University, Cardinal Stritch University and University of Wisconsin Eau Claire to promote the next generation of leaders in education.  Dr. Fredrich lives in Oconomowoc, WI with her husband Tom and two children, Zachary (18)  and William (15). 

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Tobin Novasio

Superintendent • Lockwood School District • Montana

Tobin Novasio serves as the Superintendent of Lockwood Schools. Mr. Novasio is the Montana Rural Education  Association Vice-President and sits on the AASA Executive Committee. He is the former Montana Association of School Superintendents President. He has been honored by his peers as the Montana Superintendent of the Year in 2016 and as the School Administrators of
Montana 2020 G.V. Erickson Award recipient; the most honored award a school administrator in Montana can receive. Mr. Novasio represents Montana’s K-12 schools on the Montana Early Childhood Advisory Council. Mr. Novasio is supported in his endeavors by his wife Tandi and their children Kane, Kyson and Addi.

The Board of Directors

The Hope Squad Board is made up of the Hudnall Family.
As the founder, Dr. Hudnall has worked hard to involve the family in a variety of opportunities to serve others.

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