Choose Love Team

The Hearts Behind The Movement

Jesse Lewis, Hero

our team

Scarlett Lewis

Founder & Chief Movement Officer
About Me

Alexis Koukos

Chief Operating Officer
About Me

Shannon Desilets

Director of Advocacy
About Me

Shreya Yedave

Chief of Staff & Content
About Me

Julia Richter

Implementation Coach
About Me

Nicole Lyons

Director of Engagement
About Me

Betsy Carlson

Director of Data & Support

Jan Pierret

Director of Marketing & PR

Pam Brown

Editorial & Marketing Specialist
About Me

Lisa MacKenzie

Curriculum Writer, Certified Trainer
About Me

Michelle Greenwell

Curriculum Resources Coordinator

Marlene Kurban

Grant Writer
About Me

Erin Masotta

Operations Assistant

Julianne Lewis

Program Advisor

Kim Harrison

Curriculum Writer, Certified Trainer
About Me

Jerry Alena

Co-Director, Workplace Program

Allegra Jordan

Co-Director, Workplace Program

Lauren Sloan

Marketing Intern

Board of Directors

Doug Harrison

Chairman
About Me

Ty Bongiovanni

Treasurer
About Me

Robert Haines

Board Member
About Me

Colleen Haines

Board Member

Dr. Chris Kukk

Board Member
About Me

Dr. Maria Ortner

Board Member
About Me

Nick Ortner

Board Member
About Me

Michael Lawrence

Board Member
About Me

Christine Tappan

Board Member

Marie Olesen

Board Member

Paul Barkan

Board Member

Chin Rodger

Board Member

Chin Rodger

Board Member

Advisory Committee

Ric Calvillo
Laura Emerson
Ingrid Gerrits
Carol Gormin

Brooke Grau
Sarah Obuchowski
Maya Soetoro-Ng

David Romanelli
Jacqueline Simpson-Dunne, APRN
Danielle Rathey, Ph.D.

Consultants & Volunteers

Diane Alena,
Copy Editing

Erin Birden,
Writer, Elementary Morning Meeting Infusion Activities

Barbara Boller,
Psychologist, Elementary and Middle School Editing

Jennifer Bondaldo,
High School Consultant

Lynn Bowers,
Middle School Forgiveness Unit Contributor

Mary Ellen Cummings,
Middle School Forgiveness Unit Contributor

Jennifer Dauphinais,
Program Research

Laura Emerson,
Lead Educator Elementary (3rd-5th Grades)

Lindsay Fruehauf,
Citations – Positive Psychology

Brooke Gau,
Middle School Program Contributor/Support

Barbara Georges,
Graphic Design

Dan Giella,
Video Animation and Design

Peri Giella,
First and Second Grade Program Writer

Christopher Harris,
Website Hosting & Development

Savannah Jay,
Graphic Design

David & Beth Lewis,
Video and Editing

Kate MacKinnon,
Compassionate Touch

Chris Parrott,
BPS Chartered Counseling Psychologist – Co-founder – Your Self Series

Krislyn Petti,
Middle School Program
Contributor/Support/Piloting Educator

Paula Prentis,
LMSW, CWP, Licensed social worker, Co-founder – Your Self Series

Allison Querro,
Fundraising Coordinator – LinkedIn

Coley Ricci,
Middle School Forgiveness Unit Contributor

Peej Ricci,
Middle School Forgiveness Unit Contributor

Allison Morgan,
Zensational Kids

Liz Shaw,
WCSU, Evaluations

Marcia Delcourt,
WCSU, Evaluations

Fish Stark,
Fellow-in-Residence, Peace First Organization-provided resources for 8th Grade/HS Compassion lessons

Lisa Swain,
Ed.S. Pre-K Program Writer

Chris Vary,
Website Development

Alex Wile,
Citations, Neuroscience

Carin Winter,
Mindfulness Contributor

Recruited by jesse lewis to spread

Nurturing healing love

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.

As Chief Operating Officer for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, Alexis oversees all financial matters and operations to ensure sustainability and growth of the organization, developing short-term and long-term strategic goals and managing progress, overcoming challenges and offering solutions.  Combining her passions of educational equity and bettering society through compassion-based learning, Alexis aspires to extend the Choose Love Movement into higher education, reaching the next generation of leaders, inspiring them to lead with love and compassion. Alexis graduated with a BBA in Financial Accounting from Western CT State University and currently attends the University of Pennsylvania in pursuit of a Master’s in Education Entrepreneurship.

Shannon 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 of the Choose Love Program to schools, parents, communities, police departments, EMS, universities, youth groups, pediatric medical offices, hospitals, various organizations, DHHS/DCYF, Department of Safety, the Attorney General’s office, Department of Corrections and other state agencies. Shannon is part of NH’s School Safety Preparedness Task Force and leads the SEL implementation recommendation. She is responsible for growing the outreach of the Choose Love Program even further for the safety and well-being of NH’s citizens, measuring the implementation of the program, and serving to increase connections between people and agencies across the state. 

Shreya is the Chief of Staff & Content for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. She started off working on the Movement’s social media and has slowly grown her position to include, graphic design, website updates, managing content, and more. One of the best parts of her job is getting to work with Shannon Desilets, our Director of Advocacy, to support the growing team of Choose Love Ambassadors around the world and seeing the impact of their hard work. 

Shreya attended Western Connecticut State University and graduated from the Kathwari Honors Program with a BBA in MIS and a minor in Accounting, Finance, and Philosophy. She loves being able to bring creativity to the table and work with the most incredible team of inspiring, caring, and loving people she’s ever known. She looks forward to seeing Choose Love in every school. home, and community around the world.

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.

As Director of Engagement for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, Nicole brings more than 20 years of sales, marketing and market research experience to the task of measuring and optimizing all points of customer engagement with the Choose Love brand, with the goal of increasing adoption of the Choose Love For Schools program – and extension programs, including Choose Love For Home, Choose Love For Communities, and Choose Love For Athletes – across the United States and abroad.

Prior to her role here, Nicole’s career included sales and marketing leadership positions at web-based CRM solutions and customer insights companies Informative, Inc. and CRM Metrix, and market research companies FIND SVP and the Dialog Corporation where she provided online consumer engagement solutions to global CPG brands including Coca-Cola, Huggies, and Tide. She was recognized as a “40 Under 40” business leader in Fairfield County and awarded “2010 Volunteer of the Year” by the Darien, CT Chamber of Commerce in recognition of her support of local businesses and residents through the creation of a community website and interactive strategy workshops for small businesses. Nicole received her BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Pamela graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a BS in Justice & Law Administration and a minor in Political Science, and a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in American Literature. She’s a former adjunct professor of English at Western and author of Faithful Love, a romance-adventure novel. A journalist with Hearst Connecticut Media Group for 20 years, Pamela writes a monthly food column, Chef’s Special, in Connecticut Magazine; writes features for Arts & Leisure and Arts & Style; and writes about a wide spectrum of subjects for Hearst’s weekly newspapers and special supplements, as well as contributing to other publications.

Pamela is the Editorial & Marketing Strategist for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement. She manages and creates content for social media, the website, and various marketing campaigns; proactively fosters and maintains key media relationships; collaborates with the Marketing team to develop and create PR content; works with the Director of Engagement, the Content and Web Manager, and the Chief Movement Officer to further the Movement’s mission; oversees blog posts; and enacts numerous initiatives to increase the Movement’s visibility and raise awareness of its vast programming.

In addition, Pamela is Regional Sales Director for Choose High Performance (CHP), introducing a vast selection of educational and coaching products and services, establishing business relationships to help individuals and teams flourish through high business performance. 

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 and mindfulness instructor.

Marlene Kurban is a freelance grant writer who joined the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement in 2019. She assists with researching and applying for grants to support the Movement’s programs.

Previously Marlene worked in nonprofit management roles for over 25 years. She lives in Sarasota, Florida.

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 a volunteer and Board Member of Words Alive, a local literacy based organization helping students to become lifelong learners through literature.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nicolas Ortner is CEO of The Tapping Solution, LLC, a company with a mission to bring into the mainstream a simple, effective, natural healing method known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or “Tapping.” Tapping is a healing modality that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Nick’s goal is to empower people to create healthy, abundant and stress-free lives through his books, films, CDs, online events and speaking engagements attended by participants from all over the world.

He is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living,” and “The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief: A Step-by-Step Guide to Reducing and Eliminating Chronic Pain.” Prior to that, Nick created and produced the breakthrough documentary film “The Tapping Solution,” which follows ten people who used tapping to overcome significant challenges, including chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia, devastating grief and more. Nick’s books and film document real and extraordinary results that have inspired tens of thousands to follow suit by successfully applying tapping to their lives.

Michael Lawrence works in Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. Michael works for one of Morgan Stanley’s Global Sports and Entertainment Directors and Alternative Directors.. Michael assists in delivering the full resources of Morgan Stanley to our clients that include aspirational goals such as philanthropy, business development, and monetizing revenue streams from their work. Michael started with Morgan Stanley private bank as an associate where he worked directly with the head of Morgan Stanley private bank in San Diego and had the opportunity to address complex lending, liquidity and commercial needs to solutions that complemented an overall wealth strategy. On the alternatives side Michael assists entrepreneurs and startups with securing growth or expansion capital by leveraging Morgan Stanley’s large network and vast resources.

Outside of Morgan Stanley, Michael, serves on the board of Traveling Stories where they help transform reluctant readers into confident ones by create engaging, social reading experiences that help kids fall in love with reading by the fourth grade. He also serves on the board of the San Diego Girl Scouts and San Diego Sports Innovators. Michael has 20 years of Sales and Marketing experience. Michael is a Veteran of the U.S. Army serving as an Infantry Soldier. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the first American unit under NATO command since WWII. He lives in San Diego with his Wife, Christie, and their 2 kids and lives a very active lifestyle fully enjoying Americas Finest City!