The Center for Suicide Awareness is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit headquartered in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. In 2010 Barb Bigalke founded the Center and serves as the Executive Director. The Center for Suicide Awareness is dedicated to preventing suicide through proactive education, training, emotional support, collaboration, and intervention. The vision of the Center is compassionate, readily accessible, barrier free and sustained support for any individual or entity in need, while free of any mental health stigma.
Staff and Volunteers
Barb Bigalke – Executive Director
Barb Bigalke founded and is the Executive Director of The Center for Suicide Awareness, a 501 c 3 nonprofit, located in Kaukauna, WI. She is certified in the Mitchell Model for Suicide Prevention, Intervention, Postvention, De-Briefing and Group and Individual Crisis Intervention. She completed CIT training and is part of the Manitowoc County CISM team. She is certified by the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) in Crisis Response Team Training. She is a certified QPR instructor. She is certified by the Wisconsin Brain Institute in Brain spotting. She holds certifications in Trauma Informed Care and Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality. She is a certified facilitator by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She chairs the Calumet County Prevent Suicide Coalition. Barb holds degrees in Psychology, Human Development and Mental Health Counseling. Barb founded the Walk for Suicide Awareness and the Ride for Suicide Awareness. Barb has brought the first Text Based Support Line to our State called the HOPELINE. Prior, Barb worked for the Department of Justice Menasha Police Department and directed the Victim Crisis Response Team for Law Enforcement. She currently is on the Board of The Victim Crisis Response Team and Genesis 360 Autism Work.
Lynn Stinski – Community Outreach Director
Lynn Stinski is the Community Outreach Director and Lived Experience Advocate with the Center for Suicide Awareness headquartered in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. Lynn began as a volunteer with the Center for Suicide after her brother died by suicide. She has also served as Advocate for many others struggling with suicidal ideation and mental health concerns. Bringing a unique combination of both professional leadership skills and valuable lived experiences, Lynn joined the Center for Suicide staff where she serves to come alongside anyone touched by the tragedy of suicide by bringing understanding and hope. Lynn also serves a QPR Trainer, Lived Experience Speaker, and assumes numerous other responsibilities.
Erin Kokke – Volunteer
Erin started with The Center in January 2017 as an intern through UW-Oshkosh, and has continued to volunteer with us after graduation. Mental health and suicide awareness has always been something that Erin has been passionate about, so The Center has proven to be a great fit for her. With a strong interest in writing, Erin helped us develop our first ever Johnson and Johnson Global Public Health Caring Crowd Campaign, raising money for our ‘I Challenge You to 22’ Veteran Challenge Coin project.
Erin enjoys doing community outreach events, so you can find her volunteering at our Walk for Suicide Awareness or running informational booths at the Bazaar After Dark events in the Fox Cities.
Mike Crum – Volunteer
Mike came to us in 2015 as an intern from UW-Green Bay, where he earned his Master’s degree in Social Work. As a Marine Corps Veteran, Mike holds a passion for working with the Veteran and Service Member population and continues to bring so many great ideas to The Center. Mike helped us create our Challenge Coins and develop events such as Lip Sync Battle and Bash for the Brave.
Mike has a 14-year-old son, and currently works as a Master Resiliency Trainer for the Army National Guard. His specialty is talking about military trauma, suicide prevention, and understanding military culture. If your organization would like a training to discuss military trauma and suicide in the military.
Deanna Culver – Volunteer
Deanna has spent approximately 4 years volunteering with The Center for Suicide Awareness where she is eager to step up and help in any area that is needed. She is a very active member in our community, and also volunteers with C.A.S.A (Court Appointed Specialist Advocate for Abused and Neglected Children), NAMI Fox Cities, The American Red Cross (Disaster Services), and the Appleton School District.
Deanna is a proud mother and grandmother, and holds an Associate degree in Applied Science in Individualized Technical Studies. She can be seen at various Center events, such as Bash for the Brave, Walk for Suicide Awareness, and the annual Ride to End Suicide Poker Run.
Jennifer Dins – Volunteer
Jennifer started at The Center in 2015, photographing our annual Walk for Suicide Awareness, and Ride to End Suicide. Suicide awareness is a cause that Jennifer holds close to her heart, as she lost her mother to suicide at the age of 5.
Jennifer received an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Advertising, and a Master’s degree in Training and Development. In 2009, she retired from a more than 25-year management career, after receiving a cancer diagnosis in 2006.
In addition to photographing our annual Walk and Ride, Jennifer’s talents can be seen in some of our posters, marketing projects, and t-shirt designs! Jennifer founded “Project Rest”, which is a project that helps people learn positive coping skills and ways to manage the stresses of everyday life. “Project Rest” is growing to incorporate empowerment, resilience, and overall mental wellness.
Richard Thibert – Volunteer
Richard Thibert is the Director of IT for The Center for Suicide Awareness. Richard has followed The Center for Suicide Awareness from the beginning, where he started volunteering with The Walk for Suicide Awareness. After helping with some of the walks, Richard began to volunteer at other fundraising events, and felt a great honor when he was asked to help with some of the technical needs for The Center. The Center for Suicide Awareness is an organization that Richard connects to, as he has lost several acquaintances, a co-worker, and a friend to suicide.
Faith Thiel – Volunteer
Faith has been a volunteer with The Center for years, where she volunteers in classrooms talking about suicide prevention, and at health fairs and community events where she helps to educate and reach as many people as possible. Having a career in the health care field for more than 30 years, Faith spent a lot of time in the Emergency Room working with the aftermath of suicide attempts. Being a parent herself and seeing the despair on parents/families faces really broke her heart. This led to a strong desire to have a positive impact on those who need support & resources. Faith also has a passion for nutrition and the use of essential oils, and is looking forward to working with others who want to reap the benefits.
Tony Sonnleitner – Volunteer
Tony has been with The Center since 2013 and works closely with The Ride to End Suicide and other Veteran suicide prevention events. In 2009, Tony started Nick’s Ride, which was in memory friend’s son killed in Afghanistan. With his experience with Nick’s Ride, he met with Barb and began to help with the annual Ride to End Suicide. In addition to The Ride to End Suicide, Tony has helped with The Bash for the Brave Car show, The Empty Shoes Memorial at the state capitol, asking for sponsorships for various events, and helping out wherever he is needed.
Tony also volunteers for the Patriot Guard Rider, escorting and attending funerals, some of which have been Veteran Suicides. Although Tony did not serve in the military himself, he feels that working with The Center is an excellent way to give back to Veterans by listening and offering what The Center provides.
Lizzy Mui – Volunteer
Lizzy Mui started in June 2016 as a creative marketing intern through UW Oshkosh. Lizzy continues to use her talents with The Center by creating marketing materials such as brochures, posters, artwork, and the HOPE kit. In addition to her artwork, Lizzy’s talents and efforts can can be found when she is volunteering at events, as she has helped with our booth at EAA and the Bazaar After Dark!
Michele Hannemann has been a dedicated volunteer for many years! In 2009, Michele received a phone call that forever changed her life. Her sons father had died by suicide. While Michele was looking on Google for support, she stumbled upon The Center for Suicide Awareness, where she connected with Barb. Michele is grateful for the compassionate people she has met through The Center, and has been a volunteer ever since. Michele enjoys spreading awareness and helping in any area that she can!
Lisa became a proud member of the board of directors in January of 2018, where she says it is an honor to work with so many individuals who make a positive impact on so many lives. Lisa grew up in the military and settled between Appleton WI and Palm Bay FL. She has a strong passion for helping animals, and loves to get involved with rescues. Lisa continues to help The Center make a positive impact on the community by volunteering at events and assisting with the continued education that The Center provides.