TSPN Staff

Scott Ridgway, MS, Executive Director

Scott Ridgway has served as Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network’s Executive Director since 2001. He works closely with TSPN’s gubernatorially-appointed Advisory Council to implement suicide prevention strategies within the state of Tennessee. He served six years on the Steering Committee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and he was a member of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention Task Force that created the revised National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

Scott has been recognized for his community service, most recently as NAMI Tennessee’s 2016 Professional of the Year. Other honors include NAMI-Davidson County’s 2014 Community Services Award, the 2011 Community Leadership Award for Tennessee from the Human Rights Campaign, recognition for co-chairing the CASA Red Shoe Party in 2010 and 2011, the 2006 Eli Lilly Inc., “Heroes in the Fight” Individual Community Supporter Award, the 2005 I.C. Hope Award, inclusion in the Tennessean’s “Top 40 under 40 Young Leaders in Middle Tennessee”, and TCCY Mid-Cumberland Regional Child Advocate of the Year (twice).

Scott has been involved numerous community agencies and organizations over the past several years. He is past chair of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s Brooks Fund Advisory Council (having been a member since 2008). A dedicated volunteer, he frequently advocates for children and families through the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the Foster Care Review Board, the Nashville Citizen’s Police Alumni Association, Leadership Donelson-Hermitage group and by serving as a surrogate parent for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
He has served as Past President of the Board of Directors for the Middle Tennessee Association for Child Care; Temporary Residents of Adolescents in Crisis, Inc. (TRAC); First Steps, Inc., and the Crisis Intervention Center (now a division of Family and Children’s Services). He was also a founding member of Renewal House. He served three terms as president of the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare’s Board of Directors and two terms on the Board of Directors for OutCentral. He served on the Metro Nashville Human Relations Commission for six years under two different mayoral administrations, including a two-year term as the Commission’s Chair.

He was employed at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute from 1989-1995 in various positions, such as Psychiatric Teacher Counselor, Liaison Teacher Counselor, and finally the Admissions Director for the Children and Youth programs. From 1995 to 2001 he was employed with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY,) where he ultimately served as a Children’s Plan Outcome Reviewer for the 1994 Governor’s Children’s Plan. He later became the Coordinator of the Mid-Cumberland Council on Children and Youth, which had over 1,200 advocates involved in different projects across Middle Tennessee. His last position at TCCY was Director of Field Operations.

Scott holds a Master’s of Science in Public Service Management from Cumberland University and a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. However, Scott is most proud to be the father of Matthew, age 21.

Scott may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (615) 312-3120.

Tosha Gurley, BS, West Tennessee Regional Director

Before joining TSPN, Gurley was the Independent Support Coordinator Program Supervisor at the Tennessee Community Services Agency (TNCSA), a public agency created by the General Assembly of Tennessee with a broad mission of serving Tennesseans in need. Gurley’s responsibilities included the management of Independent Support Plans for people served by HCBS Medicaid Waivers and ensuring compliance with Centers for Medicare/Medicare Services. She also developed and monitored a program delivery system to help maintain TNCSA’s 4 Star Agency rating.

Prior to her work with TNCSA, Gurley was a Family Advocate for the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Part of her work included preparing children testifying in abuse cases for court cases, and she also facilitated parenting education and child sexual abuse prevention courses.

Gurley holds a B.S. in Human Services from Bethel University, where she received the Human Services Honor Award and completed a field placement with Volunteer Home Care Medical Social Work.

Tosha may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (731) 415-3812.

Misty Leitsch, BBA, BSW, Zero Suicide Director

Misty Leitsch is in charge of overseeing statewide implementation of the Zero Suicide Initiative by TSPN and community partners. Before joining TSPN’s staff, she served for five years on the TSPN Advisory Council, having been appointed to this post by the Office of the Governor of Tennessee. As chair of TSPN’s Mid-Cumberland Region, Misty organized the region’s first Annual Memorial Walk and conducted numerous suicide prevention training sessions for crisis centers, behavioral health facilities, schools, businesses, and civic groups.

These duties were carried out strictly on a volunteer basis, outside of her professional involvement in the mental health field. This included her work as the Statewide Education Coordinator at the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee (now Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee), where she coordinated depression screenings and mental health education sessions for people across Middle Tennessee, including K-12 school staff. She also created and produced several public outreach workshops and curricula while in this position. Misty has also worked with other TSPN partners and allies, including New Transitions, Inc., Rolling Hills Hospital, and the Mental Health Cooperative.

Misty double-majored in Social Work and Business Administration while working on her bachelor’s degree at Belmont University in Nashville, graduating in 2007.

Misty may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (615) 312-3121.

Joanne Perley, MPH, Director of Statewide Initiatives and Development

A Tennessee native, the suicide death of Perley’s father in 2011 motivated her involvement with suicide prevention. She is an alumna of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she obtained a Master’s in Public Health with a primary focus on the public health approach to suicide prevention. While at UAB, she was a graduate student volunteer with the Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resources Center (ASPARC), which is funded by the Garrett Lee Smith grant through the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).  She also interned with ADPH, where she worked closely with the Department, ASPARC, and UAB to coordinate the implementation of the state’s Garrett Lee Smith grant, and was responsible for reporting and evaluating outcomes. Additionally, Perley’s studies at UAB included coursework on suicide prevention and injury prevention strategy, as well as a term as President of the School of Public Health Student Association. 

Preceding her Master’s degree, Perley studied at Emory University. She is a certified Master QPR trainer, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, safeTalk, Adverse Childhood Experiences trainer, and Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor.

Joanne may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (615) 312-3116.

Michael Anderson, Upper Cumberland Regional Director

Michael is a native of the Upper Cumberland region. He studied Mechanical Engineering at TTU before finding his passion for the field of human services working as a volunteer with the Children’s Miracle Network, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and later, serving persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the roles of Program Compliance Director and Executive Director for Pacesetters Incorporated. He has stayed active in the community through civic outreach programs like Leadership Putnam and the Citizen’s Fire Academy of Cookeville. He is also accredited through the Crisis Prevention Institute, the American Safety & Health Institute, the TN Safety and Health Council, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, LivingWorks and the Jason Foundation. He has experienced loss from suicide twice in his lifetime and is resolved to be a resource to the Upper Cumberland by raising public awareness of the issue and working to reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts.

Michael may be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

TSPN Locations

Nashville (Main Office):

446 Metroplex Drive, Suite A-224

Nashville, TN 37211

West Tennessee Office:

15 Executive Drive

Jackson, TN 38305

East Tennessee Office:

9050 Executive Park Dr. NW, Suite 104-A

 Knoxville, TN 37923

Upper Cumberland Office:

1200 S Willow Avenue

Cookeville, TN 38506

Southeast Regional Office:

1635 Chestnut St

Chattanooga 37408