Process

An expert review panel will assess submissions according to Phase 1 evaluation criteria and advance leading concepts to a multidisciplinary judging panel. Judges will recommend 30 finalists to receive $250,000 each and an invitation to advance to the Phase 2 accelerator. An additional 10 teams will receive a Promise Award of $100,000 each. 

Reviewers and judges are experts with a diversity of perspectives and experiences — from Veterans and clinicians to federal employees and technical experts. 

Judges will recuse themselves from evaluating any submissions deemed to present a conflict of interest.

Judges

Anne L. Bailey, Ph.D.

Anne L. Bailey, Ph.D.

PharmaD, BCPS, Director, Clinical Tech Innovation
VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Anne Lord Bailey, PharmD, BCPS, is the Director of Clinical Tech Innovation for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem.  After completing residency at Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, NC, Dr. Bailey spent 2 years treating Veterans with Hepatitis C. During that time she led a team of clinicians and piloted a mobile Hepatitis C Clinic for rural Veterans, an experience that greatly expanded Dr. Bailey’s passion for healthcare innovation. She continues to grow her knowledge and experience through mentoring, collaborating, and networking in both healthcare innovation and direct patient care. Since joining the VHAIE team within Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning, Dr. Bailey has worked diligently to expand the use of emerging technology across VHA, particularly immersive technology. Under her guidance, Immersive Technology has grown from presence at 1 VA facility to over 140, with more than 950 VA employees engaged. In addition, she is also a Board-Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist.

Lillie Mells

Lillie Mells

Education & Training Program Coordinator
VA Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention

Lillie Mells is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Board-Certified Diplomate in Social Work with over 20 years of experience. She has worked in various capacities including child abuse, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Lillie is an Air Force Veteran and has served as Director of Psychological Health for Virginia Air National Guard. Lillie has been with the Department of Veteran Affairs since 2013 working in Suicide Prevention.  Currently she is the Education & Training Program Coordinator at the Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention at Veteran’s Affairs Central Office. Lillie is currently working on projects that include lethal means safety, caregiver support toolkit and S.A.V.E Training Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 

Kel Maisenbacher

Kel Maisenbacher

Clinical Care Coordinator
Veterans Crisis Line

Kel Maisenbacher (they/them) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and graduate from the State University at Albany. They have worked in crisis settings for eight years including community mobile crisis teams, as a Suicide Prevention Coordinator and now serving as a Clinical Care Coordinator for the Veteran Crisis Line. As a Clinical Care Coordinator, Kel works with responders and suicide prevention coordinators to enhance the clinical care provided to Veterans during and after the call to the VCL.

Clairmont J. Barnes

Clairmont J. Barnes

Associate Director
VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Clairmont has worked for the federal government for over 26 years. He joined the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (OMHSP) in 2019 after completing a four-year Active Duty military tour at the Air National Guard Headquarters where he served as Superintendent and later Acting Chief of the Air National Guard’s Suicide Prevention Program. Within OMHSP, Clairmont is the Associate Director of the Suicide Prevention Program Partnerships Team. His group pursues collaborative relationships with non-profit, for-profit, and other government agencies in support of the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide. Clairmont has over 23 years of military service and is still serving in the District of Columbia National Guard as an Education and Training Manager with the rank of Master Sergeant.

Amanda Lienau Purnell, Ph.D.

Amanda Lienau Purnell, Ph.D.

Director of Data and Analytics
VHA Innovation Ecosystem

Amanda Purnell is the Director of Data and Analytics Innovation with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem, within the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning (VACO). She has led dozens of small scale and large scale innovation initiatives with a primary focus of increasing meaningful use of information to increase access to care, improve equitable outcomes, and improve quality of life. Prior to that time, she was the Senior Innovation Fellow working on a project to democratize data and the Innovation Specialist at the VA St Louis Health Care System. 

She has also held leadership roles in implementing programs for prevention, integrative and complimentary care, and health behavior change at VA. She has extensive experience and training in facilitation and advancing learning in adults. Dr. Purnell has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from The Ohio State University.

Lisa A. Brenner, Ph.D.

Lisa A. Brenner, Ph.D.

Director, Department of Veterans Affairs
Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC)

Lisa A. Brenner, Ph.D., is a Board-Certified Rehabilitation Psychologist, a Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Psychiatry, and Neurology at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, and the Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC). She is also Vice Chair of Research for the Department of PM&R. Dr. Brenner is a Past President of Division 22 (Rehabilitation Psychology) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and an APA Fellow. She serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. Her primary area of research interest is traumatic brain injury, co-morbid psychiatric disorders, and negative psychiatric outcomes, including suicide. Dr. Brenner has numerous peer-reviewed publications, participates on national advisory boards, and has recently co-authored a book titled: Suicide Prevention After Neurodisability: An Evidence-Informed Approach.

Jack Tsai, Ph.D.

Jack Tsai, Ph.D.

Research Director
National Center on Homelessness among Veterans (NCHAV)

Dr. Jack Tsai serves as Research Director for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans. He also serves as Campus Dean and Professor of Public Health at UT Health. He previously was on faculty at Yale School of Medicine for a decade where he served as Director of the Division of Mental Health Services Research. Dr. Tsai has received federally funded grants and published nearly 300 peer-reviewed articles on topics related to homelessness, severe mental illness, trauma, and health disparities. He has held elected leadership positions in the American Psychological Association and the American Public Health Association. He is Editor-in-Chief for two journals: Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness, and npj Mental Health Research. He is actively involved in teaching and community service.

Angela Gant-Curtis

Angela Gant-Curtis

Program Director
VA Innovation Unit

Angela Gant-Curtis is currently leading the effort to stand up the new VA Office of Information and Technology (OT) Innovation Unit in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. Through using her extensive leadership and program management experience, gained from over 35 years in the federal government, she is accelerating the implementation of innovations across VA that include breakthrough emerging technologies to improve the lives of Veterans.

Prior to this role, Ms. Gant-Curtis was the information technology program manager with the Department of Defense (DoD) Transition Assistance Program. She represented the DoD and VA IT sub-working group chairs on the White House DoD-VA Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force.

Michael Nobles

Michael Nobles

Assistant Deputy Director
Veterans Crisis Line

Michael Nobles is a Veterans Crisis Line Assistant Deputy Director. He has been with the Veterans Crisis Line for almost 9 years, serving in the capacities of Crisis Responder, Crisis Supervisory Specialist, and Team Operations Coordinator. Prior to his service to the Veterans Crisis Line, he worked extensively with at-risk youth and spent a great deal of his professional career as a Middle/High school teacher and School Counselor in the city of Rochester, NY.

Jason A. Zimmerman

Jason A. Zimmerman

CPSC, CRE, CPRP

Jay is a native of Appalachia, a US Army Combat Veteran, serving as a Combat Medic with the 1st /505th Parachute Infantry Brigade. He has served for the last decade plus as a Peer in the VA Healthcare System. Jay is a nationally respected speaker regarding improving understanding of Veteran’s experiences and care needs. He is a nationally published subject matter expert in the delivery of peer services, and currently serves as a Supervisory Peer Specialist with the Peer Support Outreach Center – Veterans Crisis Line. He has served several details to VA Central Office – Suicide Prevention Office, filling the role of the Lethal Means Reduction Veteran SME.  Most recently Jay served as a member of the Presidential workgroup PREVENTS as a SME on both Lethal Means as well as community engagement and partnerships.

Eddie Pool

Eddie Pool

Executive Director, Office of Information and Technology
Department of Veterans Affairs

Eddie Pool serves as the Executive Director of Solution Delivery (SD) where he oversees the VA’s Endpoint Engineering (EE), Infrastructure Engineering (IE), Security Engineering (SE), and Unified Communications Infrastructure (UCI). Prior to his appointment, Eddie served as the Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Service Delivery and Engineering (SD&E) and Senior Advisor to the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Information & Technology (OI&T). 

He is an Army Veteran and served with 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, 3-15 Infantry 24th Infantry Division where he completed 2 combat deployments to Somalia and Haiti, and finished out his military service with 1/9 Infantry in South Korea. Eddie is an active volunteer with Team Rubicon and supports a number of Veterans organizations.

April C. Foreman, Ph.D.

April C. Foreman, Ph.D.

Program Director
Veterans Crisis Line’s Innovation Hub

April C. Foreman, Ph.D., is a Licensed Psychologist serving Veterans as the Program Manager for the Veterans Crisis Line’s Innovation Hub. She is a member of the team that launched OurDataHelps.org, a recognized innovation in data donation for ground-breaking suicide research. She is passionate about helping people with severe (sometimes lethal) emotional pain, and in particular advocates for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, which has one of the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses. She is known for her work at the intersection of technology, social media, and mental health, with nationally recognized implementations of innovations in the use of technology and mood tracking. She is the 2015 recipient of the Roger J. Tierney Award for her work as a founder and moderator of the first sponsored regular mental health chat on Twitter, the weekly Suicide Prevention Social Media chat (#SPSM, sponsored by the American Association of Suicidology, AAS).

Lisa Kearney, Ph.D.

Lisa Kearney, Ph.D.

Executive Director
Veterans Crisis Line

Dr. Lisa Kearney is the Executive Director of the Veterans Crisis Line.

Are you a Veteran having thoughts of suicide or concerned about one?
Contact the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential 24/7 support: Dial 988 then press 1, text to 838255, or chat online.