Dr. Alex Karydi, LMFT, LAC, CSAC, is a licensed therapist that has focused her research on the impact of minority stress on LGBTQI populations. She has a Masters in Clinical Psychology, Ph.D. in Clinical Sexology, and a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has served for Richland 2 School District as a therapist and with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) as an evaluating psychologist with the designation of the state Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) youth coordinator. Currently, she is the Program Director for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Office, a community movement to end suicide in South Carolina. She has been working with kids and their families throughout her travels since 2000.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
– Harriet Tubman
With a formal education in Marketing and work experience in human services, particularly working as a Youth Care Advocate and a Family Liason for the YMCA of greater Brockton in Massachusetts, Tinotenda has a background in both the private and public sector. For close to 10 years, she brings a wealth of knowledge in empowering youth on how to advocate for themselves and administrative skills that ensure the proficient running of the program.
“Defy the elements.”
“Bloom wherever you are planted.”
- Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales
Public Information Coordinator
Brandon Parker graduated from the University of South Carolina College of Social Work with a bachelor’s degree in May of 2017. He started as a social work intern with the State Coalition for Youth Empowerment and Access (SCYEA) and the South Carolina Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative (SCYSPI) in February of 2016, and has been a leading member of the SCYSPI Youth Advisory Board since December of 2016. In September of 2017, Brandon became a full team member at SCYSPI and currently operates their social media platforms, performs website upkeep and development, and serves as the Liason for the SCYSPI Youth Advisory Board.
“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined”
- Dr. Seuss
School Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator
Taylor Davis, NCC, LPC-I, is an experiential systemic therapist who received her Ed.S in Counselor Education, Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapy from the University of South Carolina. During her early work she focused her youth advocacy endeavors on at-risk youth and drop-out prevention within the school system. Prior to transitioning to her current position, she served Richland School District 2 in dual roles as the Alternative School Transition Coordinator and as a family therapist with Family Intervention Services (FIS). In her current position, she works to end suicide and promote recovery and growth by collaborating with all systems of care via provision of best practice training, policy and protocol development, and implementation of effective suicide care pathways. Taylor is a skilled trainer in a variety of topics related to mental health, suicide prevention, and multi-systemic integration.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps, hurdles, leaps fences, and penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
- Maya Angelou
Suicide Prevention Trainer/Coordinator
Originally from Sumter, S.C., Rob Cottingham graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2009 with a bachelor’s in Mass Communication. After working with disabled adults for several years, he worked as a journalist for two family owned S.C. newspapers from 2011-2017. Rob joined the SCYSPI team as a training coordinator and facilitator in December 2017.
“Slow down. Close your eyes. Breathe deep. Sing yourself a song. You’re strong enough to get through this. Take it from someone who knows.”
Originally from Sumter, S.C., Tonya Ahtonen graduated from Vanderbilt University with a bachelor’s in Sociology. She has worked in law enforcement for the bulk of her career, serving as a patrol officer, patrol Sergeant, Probation and Parole Agent, Parole Examiner, Chief Hearing Officer, Training Coordinator and Training Manager in various agencies. In November 2017 Tonya joined SCYSPI as a Training Coordinator. She is a certified instructor for safeTALK and suicide to Hope.
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
- Ronald Dahl