BE A FRIEND, MAKE A FRIEND STAFF
Elon Cohen, Founder, Executive Director
Elon holds a Master's degree in Educational Counseling and Guidance, and a Master's degree in Health Education. He is the creator of the unique Take 24, Inc., a Family Stress Center that provides an eclectic counseling approach for individuals, families, and couples. Elon grew up outside of the US, entering the Denver area as a non-English speaker at the age of 15, when he encountered bullying in school. After working in the school system, Elon observed considerable behavioral issues much of which centered around disrespect for one another. He decided something beyond what the school system can do was needed to create a more humane environment for youth. During the summer of 2010, Mr. Cohen introduced his unique bullying prevention program "Be a Friend Make a Friend" to the Summer Scholars Enrichment Curriculum, an after school program in Denver.
Mr. Cohen is a member of the Colorado Association of Psychotherapists. As a committed lifelong child advocate, he consults in high-conflict divorce cases as a certified Colorado Child and Family Investigator and Parenting Coordinator. Mr. Cohen has more than 35 years of experience counseling, coaching, educating, consulting, and marketing health and wellness programs for all age groups. He is an accomplished athlete who has worked with collegiate and professional athletes associated with the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, as well as Olympic athletes and high school student-athletes to improve their mental toughness and strengthen their emotional skills game prior to their upcoming competition. Elon has been recognized by DPS and received the Living and Embodying DPS Shared Core Values Award: Students First, Collaboration, Accountability, Fun.
Elon is an active Nationally Certified US Soccer Referee. As soccer coach and co-coach for Place Bridge Academy middle school boys soccer team, Elon helped lead the team to citywide DPS championship. He is a regional record holder as a discus thrower. He has 2 college age children, loves a variety of sports, multicultural cuisine and travel.
Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, Editorial Consultant
Lisa McClain-Vanderpool is a longstanding environmental professional with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She has a passion for working with youth and taught theatrical dance and French at the American School in Switzerland summer program. She's an avid ukulele player and loves music. She is an aunt, great aunt and soon to be grandmother! Lisa's work in public affairs provides Be a Friend Make a Friend (BAFMAF) with an excellent writer/editor including in the publication of The Grumpy Bear, written by Elon Cohen, Founder of BAFMAF.
"I am a strong believer in the message and the work of Be A Friend, Make A Friend. There is an ever growing need for bully-free school environments to promote learning and overall mental health. "
Lawrence R. Alexander, Media Specialist
Lawrence is a Denverite who graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. He graduated from Clark College with his B.A. in Journalism and Broadcasting.
He has worked in the Radio/Television/Broadcasting/Cable industry for over 45 years. He owns he owns Reflections In Video Productions, Inc., a local video production company, and has worked with non-profit organizations, schools, social groups, and many others to help educate administration, teachers, parents, and students.
He is a member, since 1966 of Park Hill United Methodist Church. He has currently worked 25 years on the church media team as well as producing children's videos for services, special events and documentation.
When called upon, he also delivers the children's message at Sunday services.
Lawrence is married to Judith T. Alexander, a retired Denver Public Schools administrator employed for over 30 years. She is an integral advisor for many of his productions impacting children.
The social media internet highway allows for new ways to expose problems such as bullying. Be A Friend Make A Friend is a much needed organization which has prevention education programs that have had the potential to reach out across the United States.
I would like to be a part of helping educate people through utilizing videos and social media as an instrument of education. I would like to help bring to the surface the problems of bullying and provide solutions to the problems.
This information then needs to be transmitted to our community, homes, schools, non profits, businesses and other helpful resources of education in our community.
James Wilkerson, IT & Technology Consultant, Podcast Host/Director/Editor
James was born in Tulsa, OK. He attended Oklahoma State University and studied mathematics, computer science, and Chinese. He then went on to receive his master's degree in Technology in Education from Lesley University. He has been teaching in Denver Public Schools for 30 years. Before college, James was an apprentice electrician.
Mr. Wilkerson has been married for 30 years and has 6 children and 3 grandchildren. He has only recently retired from raising buffalo, llamas, goats, cattle, and chickens.
Mr. Wilkerson is proud of his Native American heritage, being a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He studied the Cherokee language with his grandmother, Juanita. Her father was full-blood Cherokee and registered on the Dawes Roll.
"Bullying is one of the big issues in school culture. Be A Friend, Make A Friend is the sensible, strong, and powerful program to help with this problem. BAFMAF is a great advocate for our bullied population."
Ryan Seely is a Guidance Counselor at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus located within the Cherry Creek School District. He is a counselor who leads with a foundation of encouragement, empowerment, strive and structure offering all his students the learning experience they deserve. His passion lies in working with families from diverse backgrounds to help pave the way for a more equitable education experience. As a child growing up, Ryan experienced bullying first hand during his middle school years. The experience sharped him and now serves as fuel to help address bullying within our public schools.
In addition to serving his community as a School Counselor, Ryan recently finished his second masters through the University of Colorado at Denver in School Leadership and Administration. It is his ultimate goal to be the leader of his own school where he can apply his skills to impacting more students. In his off time, Ryan is passionate about training and currently has competed in six different physique competitions. When Ryan is not training, he can be found with his loving wife and two amazing step children.
“The common mistake that bullies make is assuming that because someone is nice that he or she is weak. Those traits have nothing to do with each other. In fact, it takes considerable strength and character to be a good person.”
Mary Elizabeth William
Talia Cohen - Instagram Services
Talia Cohen is a current student at Depaul University in Chicago, Illinois and will oversee Instagram services. Talia has a great desire to make a change in the world. She is passionate about interpersonal connections and the great affects meaningful relationships impose on maturing youth. As a young woman who grew up in the age of cyberbullying and social media presence she understands that the relationships of today’s youth need to be more interconnected and present outside of the large media aspect of our lives.
"Be a Friend, Make a Friend is important for our youth because it is never too early to learn compassion and be emotionally intelligent. As a rising sophomore, Be a Friend, Make a Friend is equally important for college students because you are put into a new environment where you become vulnerable and everyone can find comfort in a friendly face. Bullying has not only affected my personal life and has hurt me in prior years, but its made me hypersensitive to those who are not as strong as I am. It has opened my eyes to the hurt people suffer and how I am able to support and console them."
Margaret Rohan, Ph.D
Margaret Rohan is an educator of K – 12 grade English language learners (ELL), refugees and under-represented students, and has earned a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership (www.ellcontent.com). She has taught TESOL courses to pre and post graduate students/teachers at Indian River State College, Florida Atlantic and Nova Southeastern Universities. Dr. Rohan is the author of Adapting Content to Empower ELL Students (2011,) a resource for 6 – 12 grade math, science and social studies teachers and students.
Margaret is a board member of P.E.A.C.E. Project Africa (Morogoro, Tanzania), a non-profit organization providing free and rigorous education to students in a sustainable, eco-responsible learning environment (www.peaceprojectafrica.org). She works with at-risk youths conducting Inner City Outings through the Sierra Club in Colorado. Dr. Rohan is a retired ELA Resource Instructor with Denver Public School District, and worked with predominantly refugee, ELL students from many parts of the world.
Scott Liddell is a special education paraprofessional at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver. He previously worked for the National Conference of State Legislatures and in the office of U.S. Representative Lane Evans. He has a B.A. in political science from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in Western European Political Systems from The American University in Washington, D.C. His favorite pastimes include bicycling and hiking in Colorado’s Front Range.
"I am a strong believer in the message of Be A Friend, Make A Friend and the need for a bully-free school environment to make possible safe and effective learning."
Lyn Dam, Illustrator
Lyn Dam is Vietnamese American, born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She has always loved art in its many forms and believes in the power of image. She currently works for the Archdiocese of Denver as a Graphic Digital Services Specialist for the Strategy Integration department, providing web and graphic design services for parishes in Denver.
Michal Peer is a New York native who moved to Denver with her family before starting high school. Michal recently completed her BA in Anthropology at the University of Colorado in Denver, graduating with honors
She has been singing and dancing since she could walk and talk and hopes to always continue doing so. Michal was in her first play when she was in fourth grade, playing the Empress in "The Emperor's New Clothes," and she hasn't stopped doing theater since. Michal participated in the school's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" as a speed tapper. While studying for her Bachelor’s degree, Michal made sure to continue her arts involvement, singing in an auditioned a Capella for two and a half years as well as participating in two school musicals, in one of which she starred (Diana in "Next to Normal").
Michal attending the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England, and studying to receive her M.Sc. in Forensic Anthropology. Michal is also an avid writer and currently pursuing her PhD in Anatomy and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. She was instrumental in writing 3 short story plays for “The Grumpy Bull” which a local DPS Middle School presented to their classmates- on recognizing bullying and standing up for your classmates and friends.