Choose Love Team
The Hearts Behind The Movement
Scarlett Lewis founded the nonprofit Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement after her son was murdered during the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in December 2012. After his death, Scarlett became part of the solution to the issues that we’re seeing in our society—and that also caused the tragedy. She created the Movement and became an advocate for social and emotional learning (SEL) and character development that teaches children how to manage their emotions, feel connected, and have healthy relationships. Speaking across the US and internationally to diverse audiences, Scarlett urges everyone to become part of the solution.
Scarlett created the Choose Love for Schools Program, a no-cost, comprehensive, lifespan, next generation SEL and character development program that teaches children and adults how to thoughtfully respond with love in any situation, handle adversity, and have courageous conversations by using the Choose Love Formula of: Courage + Gratitude + Forgiveness + Compassion-in-Action = Choosing Love. Choose Love has been extended into homes, communities, athletics, and the workplace. The programs have been accessed in all 50 states and 100 countries, reaching more than 1.9 million children. Learn more at ChooseLoveMovement.org and join the Movement to help make the world a more loving, and peaceful place.
Email:scarlett at jesselewischooselove.org
Claas Ehlers comes to Choose Love after serving as CEO of Family Promise, a national federated nonprofit addressing family homelessness. In his five years as CEO, following more than a decade in other roles at the organization, Family Promise had tripled the number of people receiving services, expanded strategic partnerships, significantly increased revenue, and established itself as a national leader in housing and homelessness.
Email:claas at jesselewischooselove.org
Shannon Desilets is the Governor-appointed Program Director of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement for the state of New Hampshire. Her role involves outreach and presentations across the state, increasing awareness and integration of the Choose Love Movement to schools, communities, parents, police departments, EMS, universities, youth groups, pediatric offices, hospitals, DHHS/DCYF, Dept. of Safety, Dept. of Corrections and various agencies and organizations across the state. The goal of her job is to improve the well-being and safety of NH’s students, families, citizens and communities, while uniting individuals and professions across the state. She is also an instructor integrating Choose Love into NH’s Foster Parent Training, working with the Child Welfare Education Partnership within Granite State College.
Shannon is a member of the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists and is a specialist in Post-Traumatic Growth. Further, her international work as an MNRI ® Core Specialist has served families world-wide with trauma, anxiety and special needs.
She is also an international instructor, teaching the MNRI ®PTSD course as well as the Maximizing Brain Potential/school-based course. Lastly, Shannon has provided and continues to provide post-trauma recovery treatment in Newtown, CT since the Sandy Hook School shooting. Her role in N.H. serves to help proactively prevent such tragedy. Shannon is part of the School Safety Preparedness Task Force and leads the SEL implementation recommendation. Shannon has served on the National Governor’s Association core team for NH to increase safety and social and emotional wellbeing for the citizens of NH. Shannon is also a member of NH’s Children’s System of Care, NH’s Early Childhood Integration Team, as well as the Smart Start Coalition for the city of Nashua, NH. In addition to the roles above, Shannon also is a licensed Physical Therapist and a certified Holistic Health Coach.
Email:shannon.m.desilets at nh.gov
Julia Richter has a BA in Elementary Education and Minor in Dance. She received her Masters Degree; “Integrating the Arts in Education” from Lesley University and taught arts based programming in inner city schools to help cultivate strong, authentic relationships and build levels of trust, integrity, respect, and confidence. She became a certified Growth Coach through Lifeforming Leadership Coaching and received her certification in Mindfulness & Social Emotional Learning and Positive Intelligence.
Julia took her experiences of teaching, coaching and social emotional learning to create the “C.A.R.E.S.” Coaching Program for Schools. In “Cultivating Authentic Relationships in Education System,” Julia coaches creative strategies and social emotional well-being practices to unite and empower educators and school leaders in becoming the best versions of themselves, and to cultivate strong, healthy connections that will help build morale and positive, successful school cultures. Julia is ecstatic to join forces with the amazing Choose Love Movement to help our schools flourish to become the absolute best, safest, loving, nurturing, learning environments they can possibly be.
Email:julia at jesselewischooselove.org
Email:leighton at jesselewischooselove.org
Email:betsy at jesselewischooselove.org
Email:erin at jesselewischooselove.org
Email:jan at jesselewischooselove.org
Jean Rossi Wergeles
Email:jean at jesselewischooselove.org
Email:alexis at jesselewischooselove.org
Kim Harrison is one of the curriculum writers for the Choose Love for Schools Program. Kim was a twenty year resident of Newtown, CT before moving to San Diego in 2015. Kim has a BA in Communication Studies, a MA in Elementary Education, and a MS in School Counseling, and has taught at the Elementary and Middle School levels.
Kim had regional and statewide responsibilities for exploring new educational approaches to advance curriculum and was the recipient of several awards and grants including “Outstanding Prospective Teacher” from a pool of over 200 applicants.
Kim is also a volunteer and Board Member of Words Alive, a local literacy based organization helping students to become lifelong learners through literature.
Email:kim at jesselewischooselove.org
Lisa MacKenzie is one of the curriculum writers for the Choose Love for School Program. While piloting the original Choose Love Enrichment Program several years ago, Lisa developed a Social Emotional Learning/Trauma Sensitive program to serve students with extreme social-emotional and behavioral needs, which earned the Distinguished Schools Award for her school.
Lisa has spent her entire career, of over 30 years, helping struggling students become successful in school and life. She is a special education teacher, author, speaker, and nationally recognized educator. Lisa has her Master’s Degree in Special Education. She holds her Mild/Moderate and Multiple Subject credentials, a supplementary autism credential and single-subject science credential. In addition, she is a certified behavior specialist & mindfulness instructor.
Email:lisa at jesselewischooselove.org
Board of Directors
Ty is an owner and partner is his family’s insurance / financial firm in Meriden, CT. He holds a license in several states for health, accident and life insurance as well as securities licenses Series 7 and Series 65. He has also been certified as an Investment Advisor Representative and Chartered Tax Professional.
Ty is also very active in his community having been the President of the Meriden Rotary club as well as serving on the boards of the local United Way, Rotary club, chamber of commerce and several other organizations. He currently lives in Rocky Hill with his wife Andrea, daughter Mia and son Jack.
Craig Della Penna
Robert is responsible for cultivating strategic relationships that allows Mastercard and partners bring data products and capabilities to market. Partnerships span many verticals beyond Financial Services including Retail, Telecom, Media, Sports and Entertainment.
Robert’s specific areas of expertise include but not limited to, Sales Leadership, Big Data & Data Analytics, Partnership Development, Consultative Selling/Presentations, and Go-to-Market Strategies.
Doug Harrison is the Chairman of the Board for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement and the founder of multiple businesses with successful exits.
Doug built and sold a top global market research and consulting company working with 100’s of the greatest brands in the world. His company built the leading source of insights of wealth and affluence globally and guided the go-to-market strategies for many firms in and outside of that space. Harrison Group was Vendor of the Year at Coca-Cola, and was a finalist at Microsoft.
Dr. Chris Kuuk
Dr. Kukk is the HarperCollins author of The Compassionate Achiever, co-host of The Compassionate Achiever Podcast, member of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement’s Board of Directors, founding Director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation, and previous Professor of Political Science/Social Science at Western Connecticut State University. He currently serves as the Dean of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars at Longwood University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Boston College and his B.A. in political science from Boston University. He was also an international security fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His research and publications combine neuroscience with the social sciences and focus on education issues, the political economy of natural resources, and the creation and sustainability of civil society.
Dr. Kukk was also a counter-intelligence agent for the United States Army, a research associate for Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and has provided the Associated Press, National Public Radio, The Economist magazine, NBC-TV, CBS-TV, and other media outlets with analysis on a wide range of topics and issues. His forthcoming books are based on the idea of weaving values such as compassion into our learning, civic, and business communities.
Dr. Maria Ortner served as a school psychologist in Danbury, CT for 27 years prior to beginning her work with The Tapping Solution Foundation. Dr. Ortner is committed to promoting Tapping as an effective technique for teachers and students to deal with anxiety, stress and trauma in the school setting and beyond.
Dr. Ortner holds degrees in Clinical and School Psychology, as well as a Doctorate of Education. She has extensive experience in education in the United States and abroad. Dr. Ortner is the Director of the Tapping Solution Foundation and travels the world to bring EFT/Tapping to people of all ages.
Chin has been working as a personal assistant to a Portland philanthropist and her family for the last 15 years. Chin and Scarlett connected after both experienced the most profound loss from opposite ends of their tragedies – both working to bring character and social emotional development to children and adults in schools, workplace, and communities – to choose love and kindness over fear, anger, and hate. Chin has also collaborated and supported organizations and individuals working on threat assessment and prevention. She is continuing to focus her effort on understanding the pathway to targeted violence and the path forward for assessment, prevention, and intervention.
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