Aevidum’s goal is to create a positive mental health environment, a culture of “I Got Your Back” in schools and communities across the nation by forming Aevidum chapters and by empowering youth. The Aevidum message is delivered creatively through a series of student-generated materials, interactive displays, high-energy assemblies, community events, music, artwork, stories, and PSAs, etc.

Aevidum, which started in 2004 after a student died by suicide, earned SADD’s National Activity of the Year award in 2009, selected from more than 10,000 schools from across the nation. The organization has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Senate, Pennsylvania House, the nation’s top mental health experts, the mental health directors of New York and Ohio, and professors at the Penn State University, Florida State University, and the University of Maryland. In addition to appearing on TV, radio and in newspapers across Pa, Aevidum has appeared on Good Morning America.

At the core of Aevidum is an educational philosophy that empowers students to take responsibility to make a difference. Aevidum students are encouraged to use their gifts and talents to succeed and to recognize the gifts and talents of their peers.

Our goal for the 2013/2014 year is to transform schools by creating an “I’ve got your back” atmosphere, providing a universal sense of security and a chance for students to realize their full potential. The Aevidum Experience will raise awareness of the main issues facing young people and develop a culture of “I’ve got your back!” through a series of actions, large and small. Advisors empower students to take the information from the experts and to use their gifts and talents to get the facts across to their friends, giving young people the opportunity to educate, empower, and inspire their peers. This year, we have created a comprehensive template that will allow advisors to guide and support their clubs throughout the year. The template will keep clubs on the same page, allowing further collaboration between Aevidum schools. As always, there is flexibility in the model, if a school desires it. The result is a powerful, unified effort to create change.

Our Board

Joe Vulopas

Joe Vulopas believes in empowering students and educators. Joe is the Executive Director of Aevidum. He is on a leave of absence from teaching English at Cocalico High School in Lancaster PA, where he taught for 15 years. In 2003, following the suicide of a sophomore at his school, Joe rallied students to raise awareness about depression and suicide. Under his guidance, the students formed Aevidum, an award-winning education initiative that empowers students to be advocates for themselves and for their peers. In addition to his work in education, Joe is a member of the Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee. A former education reporter, Joe also wrote a popular newspaper column about relationships and parenthood for almost 20 years in the Lancaster New Era. He and his wife, Melissa, an elementary school principal, live in Lititz, PA, with their two school-aged children.

Dr. Michael Hogan

Dr. Michael Hogan is the past Commissioner of Mental Health in New York, which operates 25, accredited psychiatric hospitals and oversees New York’s $5 billion public mental health system that serves 650,000 individuals annually. A member of the National Action Alliance, Dr. Hogan also served as Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health (1991-2007) and Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health (1987-1991). He chaired the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in 2002-2003 and was appointed as the first behavioral health representative on the board of The Joint Commission in 2007. He served (1994-1998) on NIMH’s National Advisory Mental Health Council, as President of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) (2003-2005) and as Board President of NASMHPD’s Research Institute (1989-2000). He has received leadership awards from the National Governor’s Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Campaign for Mental Health Reform, American College of Mental Health Administration, and American Psychiatric Association.

Dr. Phyllis C. Panzano

Dr. Phyllis C. Panzano, Ph.D., is the founder and president of Decision Support Services, Inc. (DSS), an Ohio-based firm specializing in applying industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology knowledge to the opportunities and challenges facing individuals, groups and organizations. In addition, Phyllis is also a Visiting Professor in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. She also works for the Florida Mental Health Institute at USF. Prior to joining USF, Dr. Panzano taught general psychology, I/O psychology, and graduate-level seminars in psychology at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. In addition, Phyllis has a career worth of experience carrying out research studies that deal with mental health and substance abuse issues, and also with injury and violence prevention. She collaborates on these studies with faculty from universities around the United States, experts from state and local mental health systems, leaders affiliated with the national institutes of health, and community leaders. She is currently working on two studies that deal with depression and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Center For Disease Control (CDC) fund these projects.

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., J.D., is a nationally recognized expert on family dynamics and addictions. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; he is a former attorney, judicial law clerk and Law Review Editor. Currently, Dr. Hokemeyer maintains a private practice in midtown Manhattan and is the Clinical Consultant to The Caron Treatment Centers’ New York City office. His practice focuses on addiction treatment in individuals, adolescents and families. Dr. Hokemeyer is part of the Dr. Oz Show Panel of Experts and appears regularly on Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN’s Prime Newsand Oprah Radio, among others. He serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Division of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and Aevidum, a student run suicide prevention organization. Dr. Hokemeyer is a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Brenda J. Becker

Brenda J. Becker, Ed.D. is the superintendent of Hempfield School District. She was a founder and past president of the PA Association of Student Assistance Professionals and served on the PA Department of Education’s Statewide Student Assistance Committee. Becker previously served on the Lancaster and corporate boards of Junior Achievement of Central PA and currently serves on the General Advisory Committee for Lancaster County Career and Technology Center and the Lancaster Campus Advisory Committee for HACC. She has been a member of the Financial Stability Solutions Council and Resource Development Cabinet for United Way of Lancaster. She is transitioning from those roles in the organization to the Education Solutions Council and Board of Directors.

Karen Scheffey

Karen Scheffey is a Legislative Assistant and the Constituent Relations Coordinator for Senator Michael Brubaker. Previously, Karen was an elementary school teacher and served as the Warwick Township Tax Collector and as committee chair for the Warwick Township Recreation Committee.

Katy Clair

Katy Clair has lived in Lititz, Pennsylvania for 29 years, raised three children and in between has served the community in many different capacities, starting with AAUW, the Junior League, then helped exclusively with her children’s interests; school, sports, Boy Scouts and is currently working with Art Goes To School in the Warwick School District. “I knew I wanted to work with Mental Health when I had time to do what I wanted to do – it affects everyone in one way or another.”

Lori Burkholder

Lori Burkholder is the co-anchor of “News 8 Today” every weekday morning from 4:30 to 7 a.m. Lori started at WGAL in 1989 and has won several Emmy’s and AP awards on a variety of issues. When not covering the news, Lori spends time speaking at many events, enjoys running and serving on the PTO Board at her children’s school. Lori grew up in Dauphin County and graduated from Millersville University with a journalism degree. Lori is married to Jeff with whom she has two school-aged children.

Daniel T. Desmond

Daniel T. Desmond is an attorney at Barley Snyder. He is in the firm’s Business Services, Real Estate and Finance and Creditors Rights Groups. In Dan’s work with business law, he focuses on all facets of business transactions ranging from entity selection and formation and structuring to mergers, acquisitions, succession planning for closely held businesses and securities work for publicly traded companies. Dan has experience with sales contract and lease reviews and preparing easements. Dan earned his law degree from the Temple University Beasley School of Law, where he was a Staff Editor of the Temple Journal of Science, Technology and Environmental Law. While attending law school, Dan served as an intern for the Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He also interned during law school for the Honorable Eric L. Frank of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Lauren A. Baxter

Lauren A. Baxter is an Aevidum Co-Founder and a graduate of West Chester University with a BS in Secondary English Education. She currently teaches English at Cocalico Middle School and is dedicated to taking the Aevidum initiative to school districts across the nation. Lauren is a suicide survivor and uses the loss of her loved one as her inspiration to continue on the mission to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Mary Beth Cardin

Mary Beth Cardin has been a supporter of Aevidum from the start. Mary Beth is the Varsity Head Girl’s Lacrosse Coach at Cocalico High School and has over 30 years of experience in the recreation field working previously for Ridley Park Recreation Association, the Philadelphia Recreation Department, and more recently as the Director of Recreation for Marple Newtown Leisure Services. Currently, she is an active member of the Adamstown Recreation Board and has volunteered many hours coaching youth sports for the Cocalico Youth Soccer Association, Mother of Divine Providence CYO Basketball, and Cocalico Middle School Lacrosse. Mary Beth and her husband Scott are the parents to two children, Philip (lost to suicide in 2003) and Maggie who is currently a junior at Penn State and the founder and President of Penn State’s Aevidum club.