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The Ryan Bartel Foundation (RBF) Mental Health Advisory Council is a group of experts in the field of youth mental health and suicide prevention. They advise on the strategy and evaluation of RBF’s programs and provide insight into current research and innovative approaches that inform RBF’s work.

Mental Health Advisory Council 


Denisha Hamilton, LCSW, CCATP


I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional, and an excellent therapist that can work with many issues and am particularly skilled in working with teens and young adults. In 2016, I won Loudoun’s Best Counselor for Kids. In addition to providing individual and family counseling, I also provide group counseling services for high school teens in the Ashburn area. I entered the world of entrepreneurship and opened a mental health private practice in 2017. Prior to that, I was the clinical director for Wellness Connection in Ashburn, VA. The 10 years before that, I worked with Loudoun County Mental Health in a variety of positions. Starting as a residential counselor, I obtained my Master's in Social Work and my LCSW and transitioned to become an Outpatient Clinician specializing in adolescent treatment. In that role, I provided individual, group, and family therapy, as well as crisis intervention to children, adolescents, and adults. I am well-versed in dealing with issues of trauma, attachment disorder, anxiety, and depression, as well as a variety of other issues that impact children, teenagers, and adults. I also worked as a Student Assistance Liaison for several middle and high schools in Loudoun County, where I completed assessments and evaluations of children who came to the attention of their guidance counselor for assorted reasons. As an Outpatient Clinician, I worked closely with school officials, probation officers, the Department of Family Services, and numerous other agencies to coordinate services. I have worked with a variety of populations, including the homeless population in Loudoun County providing homeless outreach services, the intellectually disabled population in Washington, DC to ensure they were receiving appropriate and humane treatment, and children from the ages of 7-12 who had behavioral and mental health issues and were residing in a residential treatment center in Norfolk, VA. I have attended numerous trainings regarding transgender and LGBTQ issues in teenagers and the impact those issues have on their education, families, and support system, as well as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to guide survivors of trauma towards recovery and empowerment. I go out of my way to create a comfortable and safe environment where children, adolescents, and adults feel supported in implementing change in their lives. I consider myself to be a solution-focused therapist but also utilize acceptance and commitment therapy techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, and most importantly, provide client-focused treatment. My philosophy to therapy: “Life is a journey and any impact I can have on helping a person through that journey is an honor and privilege. I aim to help people understand and accept themselves, and move towards the life they deserve.”

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Lauren Boyle, LCSW


I have worked in the Northern Virginia Region as a social worker for over 20 years. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Virginia and New Jersey. Adolescent mental health has been a focal point of my education and career as a social worker. While pursuing my Bachelor of Social Work degree from James Madison University with a minor in family issues, I focused on adolescent mental health and completed my four-month practicum at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents (CCCA) in 2002. During my Master in Social Work Advanced Standing degree program at Virginia Commonwealth University, I completed my yearlong practicum at Graydon Manor in Leesburg providing in-home and outpatient therapy to client’s ages 4 to 18. Upon completion of my master’s degree, I began my career at Loudoun Citizens for Social Justice where was I the Director of the Youth and Children’s program focusing on sexual assault and domestic violence work with children and adolescents. I transitioned into private practice in 2005. In 2021, I founded NOVA LiveWellBeing, an outpatient mental health practice serving Viginia, Maryland, and New Jersey. In addition to being on the Mental Health Advisory Council for the Ryan Bartel Foundation, I am a board member for Backpack Buddies Foundation of Loudoun, a non-profit organization that works to ensure that no school-aged child goes hungry. I am certified by the Virginia Board of Social Work as a clinical supervisor. Throughout my career as a social worker, suicide prevention and working with adolescents with suicidal ideation has been present in all work settings. Talking about suicide ideation, prevention and education is a part of each therapeutic relationship that I have with middle and highschool students in outpatient therapy. Suicide awareness and prevention is one of the most important parts in addressing adolescent mental health. I feel very strongly about helping children and adolescents enhance their overall wellbeing by building trusting relationships with people who can be resources in times of need. I have found that there is a direct correlation between feeling connected to people and overall wellbeing and resiliency. I am excited to be a part of the Ryan Bartel Foundation Mental Health Advisory Board and support the amazing work that the Foundation provides for the community.


Lee Duffy-Ledbetter, MS


I am delighted to join the Ryan Bartel Foundation Mental Health Advisory Council. As a passionate advocate for youth mental health awareness and programming in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I look forward to contributing to the development of systems of support for an at-risk population and supporting RBF’s mission to prevent youth suicide. I have dedicated my career to working across community systems and collaborating with multilevel stakeholders to develop and implement meaningful and impactful programming aimed at suicide prevention for youth and young adults. My passion for mental health promotion and supporting upstream suicide prevention efforts extends beyond my professional role, as I have also personally been impacted by suicide, losing my brother, Chris, over 10 years ago. Since then, I have spent the better part of the last decade working in various positions for prominent mental health advocacy and suicide prevention-oriented organizations. Currently, I am a Project Manager at the Campus Suicide Prevention Center of Virginia at James Madison University, where I am leading the development of a program designed to help prepare high school seniors for the transition to their next phase of life. Before this role, I managed programs for a local affiliate of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) and coordinated the nationally acclaimed Send Silence Packing program for Active Minds. I earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychological Science from the University of Maryland in 2021 and in my free time, I enjoy exploring the outdoors with friends and family, not least of all my best bud (dog), Max.

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Jashan Grewal, LPC, LSATP


I have chosen to be a part of the Mental Health Advisory Council as a way of informing best practices that impact service delivery to the adolescent population. I have a master’s degree in counseling. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Substance Use Treatment Professional in Virginia. I have over 15 years of clinical experience, including individual and group therapy. I have worked in inpatient settings, as well as outpatient settings with individuals and families exhibiting a range of mental health concerns and Substance Use Disorders. I incorporate aspects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness, and solution focused techniques in my sessions. I work to meet the individual’s needs in a non-judgmental manner. My goal is to help clients be the best version of themselves and help them find the strength to empower their lives. I specialize in working with clients who are struggling with life stressors, self-esteem issues, depression, anxiety, interpersonal issues, and substance use disorder.

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Lora Henderson Smith, M.Ed., PhD


I am honored to promote positive mental health outcomes for youth as a member of the Mental Health Advisory Council. I hope to use my skills as a researcher and clinician to positively impact the important programming that the Ryan Bartel Foundation is doing to provide upstream suicide prevention programming. My most important titles include mother, partner, daughter, sister, and relative more broadly contribute as these relationships contribute to who I am both personally and professionally. Outside of my 24/7 job as “Mommy,” I am a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical and School Psychology at the University of Virginia. My clinical experience spans the full continuum of care including schools, community mental health, and inpatient hospital settings. I am certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. My research has focused on promoting youth wellbeing and positive educational outcomes through culturally responsive school-based prevention programming. I have a particular interest in supporting youth in schools after mental health crises. I am excited about the opportunities available through the Ryan Bartel Foundation to provide upstream supports to prevent mental health crises instead of respond to them. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Clark Atlanta University and then taught second grade before returning to graduate school. I attended the University of Pennsylvania where I obtained a Master’s in Counseling and Mental Health Services and I then earned a Ph.D. in Clinical & School Psychology from the University of Virginia. I completed a predoctoral internship in child psychology at Hartford Hospital/Institute of Living and then culminated my clinical training with a child trauma fellowship at Johns Hopkins/Kennedy Krieger. I am active in my professional community as a member of the National Association of School Psychology, the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research on Child Development, and the Society for Research on Adolescence. I also engage in my state/local community as a member of the Virginia Association of School Psychologists, the Virginia Mental Health Access Program Equity Committee, and the Charlottesville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated.


Dr. Faith James PhD, LPC, LMFT


I have chosen to be part of the MHAB because I have a passion for mental wellness and community service. I have served as a member of the Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselor Association since 2014 and wanted to lend my service to the Ryan Bartel Foundation in the same capacity. It is my hope that I may act as an agent of change and support against the stigma of Suicide in our community. It is my hope that the work I do as a psychologist can be a support to the families that the foundation works with. I am both a Psychologist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years of counseling, psychotherapy, and teaching experience. I am committed to the overall well-being of families and work with families in transition, such as divorce, grief and loss, and becoming new parents. During my career, I have provided counseling and psychotherapy services to a wide variety of populations in both public and private sectors. I have considerable experience working with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, suicidal ideation and individuals and families dealing with substance abuse/addiction issues. I have also worked extensively with adolescents assisting in college preparation and career planning. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and received my master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Marymount University. At Capella University I completed my Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) in Psychology with a specialization in Work-Family Conflict and Women’s studies. My approach to counseling is simple: Everyone faces challenges in life from time to time for which they may feel that they do not have all the tools to deal with alone. I see myself as a ‘coach’. I work with you to help you move from where you are now to where you want to be. I help you identify what you want and develop a plan to get there. In addition to clinical work, I have extensive experience as a college professor and as a Clinical Supervisor. I am affiliated with the following organizations: American Counselors Association, Psychology Today and Northern Virginia LPC group. I am the founder and clinical director for Battlefield Counseling Centers which serves Prince William, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties. I have served as a board member for the Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors association since 2014 and was president for the past 2 years. At present, I am the immediate past president. I am married and have three children and like to spend time outdoors and with my family. When I am not teaching, counseling, or volunteering, I enjoy traveling with my husband and spending time with my children, nieces and nephews.

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Ronnie D. Ransome Jr, M.Ed., LPC


Hi, My name is Ronnie Ransome Jr. I am a graduate of THE Virginia State University with my Bachelor in Sociology and my Masters in Counselor Education. I obtained my LPC license in May 2023. I currently serve as an Outpatient Therapist in the Central Virginia region, but my clientele spans across the commonwealth. I have had the privilege of working with individuals across all age groups, from children to adolescents and adults through my 8 years of counseling. My therapeutic journey has encompassed children, adolescents, and adults, providing them with a supportive space to explore their emotions and experiences. My specialized focus areas include trauma and PTSD, where I guide clients through the process of healing and empowerment. Substance use and addiction are areas where I've helped many find their path to recovery and lasting change. I have also supported clients addressing the challenges of depression, anxiety, grief, and loss, providing a lifeline of support and healing. I work with people to disarm emotions with stress management techniques and self care, assisting clients in regaining control over their lives. Moreover, I'm here to help individuals adjust to major life changes and master anger management strategies. I am excited to join the Ryan Bartel Foundation and deal a little bit of hope and compassion to the teens and families of teens who want to believe in the change they so much deserve to see in themselves.

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