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2022 First Responder Mental Health Symposium Speakers

Meet Your 2022 Symposium Speakers


Amy Justice

Amy Justice

Amy Justice is a licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with Responder Support Services inAsheville, NC. She is an embedded clinician with Haywood County EMS and Sheriff’s Office and serves predominantly first responders.

Amy is trained in utilizing Cognitive BehaviorTherapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Equine/Experiential Therapy, and Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE). Amy spent her early career in higher education providing academic and career counseling before moving into clinical counseling. She also worked as a facilitator in outdoor education, leading staff and personal development retreats.

Prior to starting work with RSS, Amy’s primary clientele included soldiers, veterans and their families in Fayetteville, NC. Amy is experienced working with trauma recovery and PTSD, among other mental health conditions. Amy is part of the Peer Support Network of Western NC and trained in CISM.


Lt. Brett Snow

Lt. Brett Snow

Brett Snow is a retired Lieutenant from the Chicago Fire Department serving over 32 years in the fire service. He committed his efforts in learning the job and was fortunate to have spent the majority of his career in busy battalions including a five-year assignment on a heavy rescue squad, Squad 2, on the City’s WestSide.

Over the course of his career, Brett battled many dark times, one being the loss of a close friend and coworker to a line-of-duty death sending him into a tailspin of survivor’s-guilt. He later decided to take a short stent from the streets to recalibrate his way of thinking and joined the research and development team where he studied cancer and wellness relating to the fire service.

He now devotes his time helping first responders and their families by way of, what he refers to as, “SpiritualLife Training”


Caitlyn Brennan

Caitlyn Brennan

Caitlyn Brennan has served with the 100 Club of Illinois for the past eight years, currently in the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Previous to Caitlyn’s leadership of the 100 Club, she held the role of Assistant Director for DePaul University’s School of Public Service where she still continues to work as an Adjunct Faculty Member in the MPA track.

Caitlyn has consulted in the Emergency Management and Community Development space both nationally and internationally. Her educational background includes a BS in Sociology and MS in Public Service Management. She is the Vice President of The Difference Engine, a nonprofit which aligns non-traditional tech developers with nonprofit organizations through apprenticeship programs. Caitlyn is a member of the International Chiefs of Police Association (IACP); International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); InfraGard, an FBI Infrastructure Alliance; The Chicago Cyber Fraud Task Force, an USSS Group.


Chris Moore

Cpt. Chris Moore

Chris Moore started his fire career 30 years ago in Virginia Beach as a volunteer while working full time with the Navy Exchange until getting hired full time as a Paramedic/Firefighter with theChesapeake Fire Department.

In his 20-year career with CFD, he has been one of the Coordinators for MDA in helping every year to raise funds during Fill the Boot, he is an active member of their PeerSupport team, was promoted to Lieutenant in 2013 and then to Captain in 2018.

Once promoted to Captain, he became a state asset as a member of the regional Hazmat Team. Chris has been on numerous podcasts talking about his PTSD journey and has been featured in an article published in Fire Engineering. He has also spoken at conferences with his service dog, Lewis, to share his story.


Danielle Brengel

Danielle Brengel

Danielle Brengel has worked in the fields of prevention education and health and wellness for 10 years.

She earned her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Marquette University and her Masters in Counseling from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Using her knowledge from these experiences, has previously led statewide program implementation of health and wellness programming. She is excited to be leading efforts in wellness programming for the first responder community though the 100 Club of Illinois.

Danielle is a member of the International Chiefs of Police Association (IACP); International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC);International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF); the International Public Safety Association(IPSA)


Dr. Guriqbal Nandra

Dr. Gurigbal Nandra

Dr. Guriqbal Nandra, also known as “Dr. Bal,”is the Founder and Medical Director at IV Solution and Ketamine Centers of Chicago. He opened the first clinic in Chicago to offer intravenous ketamine treatments in early 2017 and has performed over 10,000 ketamine infusions to provide life changing relief to many suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain and more. Trained as an anesthesiologist, Dr. Bal has over 20 years of clinical experience.

He completed his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Chicago, his internship in general surgery at Spectrum Health-Butterworth Campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of North Dakota School ofMedicine and Health Sciences.

IV Solution is partners with the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) Chicago chapter. Additionally, Dr. Bal founded the Serenity Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that offers financial assistance to patients otherwise unable to afford ketamine treatments for their mental illness. Dr. Bal, his clinic, and team are committed to providing innovative and rapidly effective treatments for depression, anxiety, and PTSD for our first responders and veterans.


Ret. Chief James P. Moore

Ret. Chief, James P. Moore

Chief James P. Moore, a 35-year veteran of the fire service. Chief Moore currently serves as the Assistant Director for Leadership Development and Command Programs for the University ofIllinois Fire Service Institute. He oversees the IFSI First Responder Resiliency Project, Leadership Development and Decision-Making Program, Fire Officer Certification Program, Fireground Simulations and the National Incident Management System Program.

Chief Moore serves as the Co-Chairman of the Office of the State FireMarshal–Fire Officer State Certification Advisory Committee and Vice President ofIllinois Fire Chiefs Association Education and Research Foundation. Prior to his regular involvement at IFSI, Chief Moore served as the Fire Rescue Chief /Emergency Manager of the Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department (IL) for 9 + years.

Previous to Chief Moore’s service in Crystal Lake he served the Naperville FireDepartment (IL) for 21+ years, where he rose in the ranks from firefighter/paramedic to District Chief.

He is known as an energetic leader who is focused on professionalism, training and education. Chief Moore has also served as a member of the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District.


Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, LCMHCS, LCAS

Jessica is the Embedded Behavioral Health clinician with Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. In this role, Jessica delivers brief interventions and individual therapy to LEOs and provides consultation to that department at various levels. Jessica is a clinician on the Western North Carolina Peer Support Network, participating in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)to support and deliver specialized post-critical incident services to emergency personnel in Western North Carolina.

Jessica is fully credentialed with the 911 World Trade Center Health Program. Jessica focuses on providing quality therapy using empirically-based treatments including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), Prolonged Exposure (PE for PTSD)and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Jessica has worked with individuals struggling with anxiety, mood and substance abuse disorders.

Jessica lives and works in Western North Carolina where she enjoys the outdoors. Jessica has been a professional aerialist for 12 years and teaches trapeze, lyra and rope at a local aerial arts studio in Asheville, North Carolina


Joel Brier

Joel Brier

Joel began his career as a first responder in 1983 at Military Park Fire District in Palm Beach County Florida which was included in the consolidation of fire districts that are now known as Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. In 1985 he was elected to the position of District Vice President and later Executive Vice President of the Professional Firefighters Paramedics of Palm Beach County.

While at PBCFR he began to realize that there was a need to assist co workers in areas of mental health, substance and alcohol and other wellness related issues.

Teaming up with His then department EAP Coordinator they formed a relationship in the management of these issues. Joel continued successfully to function as both a member advocate roll and a behavioral health roll achieving multiple credentials in addiction, peer support, and behavioral heath and in 2018 became the organizations first behavioral health officer. Joel now serves assisting members with treatment options, recommendations, insurance problems, and educational opportunities for the International association of firefighters in the Florida region. His office is located in West Palm Beach.


Dr. Kristy McKinness

Dr. Kristy McKiness Ed.D, LCPC, ACS

Dr. Kristy McKiness Ed.D, LCPC, ACS is the founder of KM Institute LLC, and has been in the helping profession since 2001. She completed her doctorate degree in Counseling and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University. Dr. McKiness has rendered services in settings including jail, emergency room, outpatient, residential, and schools.  

Dr. McKiness is dedicated to serving first responders, and completed her doctoral dissertation on police officers perspectives of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. Dr. McKiness has worked with first responders since 2001 through collaboration with CACI and forensic interviewing, providing professional trainings, rendering mental health and substance abuse services to responders and their families, and training other clinicians to work with first responders. She serves as the Clinical Director for the Illinois Firefighter Peer Support Team, and serves as the Board Secretary. She is also a NEMRT certified trainer for CIT trainings. She holds certifications the areas of sexual assault and domestic violence, is a certified divorce mediator and forensic interviewer, and has a certification as an Approved Clinical Supervisor. 

With regard to her clinical style, Dr. McKiness enjoys working with her clients to reach their personal goals while enhancing their emotional wellness. She recognizes change to be a positive part of growth, progress, and opportunities.  Dr. McKiness highly enjoys working with adolescents, adults, couples, and families. 

Dr. McKiness is also passionate about teaching counselors-in-training, and is an adjunct faculty member in the Northen Illinois University graduate counseling program. She also enjoys providing professional presentations, and has presented at state and national level conferences on a variety of topics including adolescent risk and threat assessment, trauma, and firefighter mental health wellness. 


Dr. Marc Kruse

Marc Kruse, Ph.D

Dr. Marc Kruse, is the Vice President of Research and Development for Front Line Behavioral Health, a company dedicated to providing state of the art behavioral health assessments, education, and feedback for firefighters and other trauma-exposed populations.

He is a licensed clinical psychologist who earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and completed his clinical internship at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown Medical School and the Providence, Rhode Island Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Since 2011, Marc has served as the Staff Psychologist for the Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County EMS. Dr. Kruse has more than a decade of direct clinical and research experience working with firefighters, EMS providers, and military veterans focused on the assessment and treatment of the behavioral health difficulties most commonly experienced by first responders including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, sleep, and substance use disorders. 


Michael Sugrue

Michael Sugrue

Michael Sugrue began his law enforcement career in the United States Air Force as a Security Forces Officer in 1998. As a Security Forces Officer, Michael specialized in Law Enforcement, Global Force Protection, Anti-Terrorism, Nuclear Security, Foreign Air Field Assessments and Air Base Ground Defense.

Michael served in a variety of assignments including: Flight Leader, Flight Commander, Senior Watch Officer, Chief of Command Post and Chief of Security Forces. Michael served all over the United States, Europe, the Middle East and South America. He was also a Security Forces Phoenix Raven with the unique identifier of #1173.

Michael honorably separated from the Air Force as a Captain in 2004. Immediately after the Air Force, Michael was hired by the Walnut Creek Police Department where he served in a variety of assignments including: Patrol Officer, Driver Training Instructor (EVOC) Field Training Officer (FTO), SIU Detective, Undercover CADOJ Narcotic Task Force Agent (Contra Costa County), Public Information Officer (PIO) and Patrol Sergeant.

Michael was awarded the Walnut Creek PD Distinguished Service Medal in 2014 for his heroic and life saving actions during a Fatal Officer Involved Shooting in 2012. Michael ultimately medically retired in 2018. He is now a Peer Volunteer at the West Coast Post Trauma Retreat (WCPR) and an Ambassador for Save A Warrior (SAW). Michael is a dedicated advocate for awareness, prevention, education, training on Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) and First Responder Suicide Prevention.

Michael continues to speak at law enforcement agencies all over the United States. Michael is currently working on his first book“RELENTLESS COURAGE: Winning The Battle Against Frontline Trauma”with co-author Dr. Shauna “Doc” Springer PhD (Psychologist and Author).


Molly Jones

Molly Jones

Molly Jones, LSW, is the Clinical Coordinator for the IAFF Center of Excellence.

In this role, Molly is responsible for collaborating with community clinical partners across North America to design continuing care plans for clients returning to their local areas after treatment at the Center of Excellence.

She travels the country providing continuing education to first responders on behavioral health topics and clinicians on cultural competency in the fire service. Molly earned a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma and has experience in case management, behavioral health treatment and human services. In addition to case management oversight and continuing education,Molly works with local and state IAFF leadership to connect fire fighters to quality clinicians, prescribers, and programs in communities across the U.S.


Scott Moran

Scott Moran

Scott Moran began his career in the fire service starting with the Justice Fire Department as a paid-on-call firefighter in May 1986. He also served with the Willow Springs Fire Department.

In February 1991 he was hired as a firefighter/paramedic for the Homewood Fire Department. Scott served the Homewood Fire Department until May 2017 when he retired as a Captain.

During his 26+ years of service to Homewood, Scott also served as the Secretary /Treasurer to Local 3656 and the Pension Board, both for more than 20 years. In October 2014 he was hired by the Law Offices of Thomas W. Duda where he began as a paralegal and now is an Associate Attorney. Scott’s practice is concentrated on firefighter and police officers representing them in pension disability claims, workers compensation claims as well as various other employment actions. In addition, Scott has been an ILFFPS Peer Supporter since its first class in 2014 and is also the attorney for ILFFPS.


Karyn Hurley

Karyn Hurley, BHS, CHAP, CLL, NCIT


Scott Jones

Scott Jones, BSW CNC CHAP NLP


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"Illinois Firefighter Peer Support seeks to contribute and provide ongoing emotional wellness resources that are readily needed in the fire service and for emergency responders." Learn More...