The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention.

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How We Accomplish These
Financial Information
About Us

AAS Mission Statement

To promote the understanding and prevention of suicide and support those who have been affected by it.

AAS Vision Statement

We are an inclusive community that envisions a world where people know how to prevent suicide and find hope and healing.

Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business

We accomplish this mission by directing efforts to:

  • Advance Suicidology as a science; encouraging, developing and disseminating scholarly work in suicidology.
  • Encourage the development and application of strategies that reduce the incidence and prevalence of suicidal behaviors.
  • Compile, develop, evaluate and disseminate accurate information about suicidal behaviors to the public.
  • Foster the highest possible quality of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention to the public.
  • Publicize official AAS positions on issues of public policy relating to suicide.
  • Promote research and training in suicidology.

Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes research, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. In addition, AAS serves as a national clearinghouse for information on suicide. 

AAS, a not-for-profit organization, encourages and welcomes both individual and organizational members.

AAS is an Equitable Organization

AAS believes in equity for our members and in our services. From the leadership team, the Board of Directors, to our staff and committees, equity is a priority from the top down.


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Leeann Sherman, MPS, CAE

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Leeann Sherman, MPS, CAE, is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). Sherman brings extensive non-profit experience with over 20 years in professional associations and community-driven, mission-based organizations to her tenure with AAS, a national organization that provides training, education, research and awareness programs to promote the understanding and prevention of suicide.

Sherman has been a founding member of various industry coalitions to drive mission and advocacy forward, working with stakeholders and volunteers throughout her diverse career. She has worked with federal, state, and local government agencies including Centers for Disease Control, PA Department of Health, PA Department of Human Services, PA Department of Transportation, PA Department of Environmental Protection, Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania’s Governor’s Office and federal legislators while also working closely on advocacy with the Pennsylvania Legislature.

She has a baccalaureate (Hospitality Management & Nutrition) and master’s degree (Community & Economic Development) both from the Pennsylvania State University. She is an active alum at her alma mater in various activities for the next generation. She has been awarded the Scott Jackson award for leadership from PASAE which is the highest honor for an association executive in Pennsylvania and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential which is the marker of a committed association professional who has demonstrated the wide range of knowledge essential to manage an association in today’s challenging environment with less than 4,500 people worldwide holding this certification.

December 12, 2022 Press Release CEO Announcement

Bonnie Benetti, CPA

Director of Finance

Bonnie was welcomed as the Director of Finance of AAS in December of 2022. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with over 11 years of professional experience in accounting, audit, taxes, and regulatory compliance. Prior to joining AAS, she served as a Section Chief in the Bureau of Fiscal Management, under the Office of Medical Assistance Programs, within the PA Department of Human Services. She used her accounting knowledge and leadership skills there to help further the mission to protect Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens. Bonnie also spent 5 years in public accounting, where she gained valuable experience with many non-profit accounting clients.

She earned her baccalaureate degree in Accounting from the Pennsylvania State University in 2011. She became a licensed CPA in 2015. In 2016, she established her own successful tax practice which she continues to enjoy on a limited part-time basis. Bonnie enjoys spending her free time cooking or going out for dinner, watching movies, taking nature walks, and most importantly spending time with her family, her friends, and her house full of pets.

Amelia Lehto

Chief of Staff and Director of the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide (NCPYS)

Amelia has worked in crisis services and suicide prevention for the past 15 years. She is a past Chair of the Crisis Centers Division of AAS’s Board of Directors, where she spent time transforming the division, establishing the Crisis Services Committee, and welcoming new membership into the organization. She specializes in crisis service quality improvement, suicide prevention initiatives, postvention support group development, and facilitation skills. Additionally, she consults on social media strategy and policy, development, management, and customer engagement. Amelia is recognized as a leader in suicide prevention and postvention on the local, state, and national levels.

She is an advisor and past President of Michigan-based nonprofit, Six Feet Over, which provides financial and supportive services to families and loved ones following the suicide loss of their person. Amelia is also an advisory council member, conference committee member, and Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Group co-founder to Kevin’s Song, a nonprofit providing educational opportunities to stakeholders and supportive resources to suicide loss survivors and people with lived experience. She has consulted with several organizations, including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Live Through This Project; Google; TikTok; and The S Word documentary. She has also served as a Certified American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor and a LivingWorks Education ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and suicideTALK Master Trainer. After experiencing loss at a young age, she discovered that one is not defined by how they died, but how they lived.

Michele Martin

Training Manager

Michele has spent the past 15 years working in health and wellness with the collegiate population. She started as a Fitness Director and worked her way to an Associate Director with campus recreation prior to being tasked with creating a new Student Wellness & Health Promotion department. She has played integral roles in helping to design and open two campus recreation centers, which have received national recognition within the field of campus recreation. Additionally, she has served as chair of university staff council, in multiple volunteer capacities in the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), and as a Clinical Advisory Board Member for the Jordan Porco Foundation (a suicide prevention organization in CT). 

She has certifications in Public Health, Mental Health First Aid, Wellness Coaching, American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor, Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace, Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory facilitator, Screening Brief Intervention & Referral to Treatment facilitator, Peer Body Project facilitator & supervisor, and is working towards being a QPR Instructor. 

She specializes in building infrastructure, process improvement, training and development, and building partnerships. Her passion for mental health was realized through her own lived experience, volunteering with the National Alliance of Mental Illness, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Postpartum Support International. 

Her free time is spent with her witty husband Luke and her two brilliant sons. She volunteers in the community and even received a “Key to the City” for organizing a group to distribute over 90K reusable face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her favorite television shows are Schitts Creek, This is Us, Golden Girls, Friends, The Office, and reality tv. She enjoys exercising, reading, board games, and traveling. 

Rachael Ng, MBA

Director of Membership

Rachael is a member relations and membership development executive with a decade of successful experience in membership growth, member success management, and community development. She specializes in relationship building and regularly learning about how to help associations to build a member-centric culture. Being of service to others is the epicenter of Rachael’s life – it is the main reason she feels joy and inspired working with AAS. Rachael has a magnetic presence and uses her positive attitude and energy to empower others to reach out for support and find the community they feel belong to. Outside of work, Rachael enjoys hiking, reading, writing, cooking, listening to music, practicing yoga and taking adventure trips with her lovely family.

Chris Sandwell, MS, LPC, NCC, CCTP, CSC

Director of Accreditation, Training, and Certification

Chris Sandwell is the Director of Accreditation, Training and Certification for AAS, has over 20 years in training, as well as Non-Profit experience, 22 years in crisis center experience, as well as over 25 years as a clinician. Prior to her joining the team, she served as a site examiner for AAS, as well as providing surveys for other accrediting bodies.

Chris Sandwell has conducted Sentinel Event Reviews (psychological autopsy/death reviews) and led Accreditation efforts for over 15 years, as well as being a trainer and coach for new trainers for LivingWorks Education ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) for almost 15 years. She has led efforts for strategic planning, organizational policy development, IT projects, risk management, corporate compliance, and standardizing operating procedures. She served as a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) privacy officer. She is active in DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging committees). As well as participating in many organizations/groups, with efforts to improve the mental health of individuals in her community.

Chris continues to provide training throughout the US and appreciates the learning opportunities this provides. She facilities trainings such as ASIST, MHFA (Mental Health First Aid, Compliance, Ethical Decision Making and HIPAA as well as serving as a consultant for trainers as needed.

She has a Bachelor of Science (Child and Family Development) and a Master’s degree (Counseling), both from Missouri State University. Because one of her passions is developing new clinicians and continues to provide licensure supervision to clinicians, as well as belong to HCCA (Health Care Compliance Association)

Ariya Sonethavy

Communications Coordinator

Ariya joined AAS in 2021 as the Communications Coordinator. They previously interned for National Skills Coalition, a Washington D.C. nonprofit organization focused on workplace development. Their experience includes social media management, graphic design, communications, and public relations. Ariya attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and received a BFA in Communications in 2020.