Our Staff

The people who work at Prevention Action Alliance share in our mission of leading healthy communities in the prevention of substance misuse and the promotion of mental health wellness. We’re dedicated professionals who are passionate about prevention, and we’re excited to get to know you.

PAA Staff

Executive Director Fran Gerbig

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Fran (she/her) joined Prevention Action Alliance as assistant executive director in 2017 after enjoying a long-standing relationship with our agency, which included serving on committees and participating in our learning collaborative. In July 2020, the Board of Directors appointed her executive director.

At Prevention Action Alliance, Fran supervises staff, assists in program and grant development, and represents our agency on various state and local committees, boards, and coalitions. She is an active member of ADAPAO, and the Ohio Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Steering Committee, as well as a member of the Coalition for Healthy Communities and the Ohio Prevention Advocacy Network. Additionally, Fran serves on RecoveryOhio’s Head Start Workgroup, the Governor’s School Safety Working Group, and the OhioMHAS Prevention and Wellness Roundtable and Youth-Led Prevention Leadership team.

Previously, Fran worked as the health and wellness manager for Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery in Canton, where she coordinated Drug-Free Stark County, a Drug-Free Communities-funded substance misuse prevention coalition. Fran is an Ohio Certified Prevention Consultant and earned a bachelor’s degree in child and family ecology from the University of Akron and a Master of Public Health degree in health planning and administration from the University of Tennessee.

Fran enjoys gardening, attending live concerts, spending time with family and traveling throughout the United States.

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Accountant and Human Resources Officer Sondra Mellott

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Sondra (she/her) joined Prevention Action Alliance in 2019 and serves as the agency’s accountant and human resources coordinator. In her role, Sondra manages all aspects of accounting including, financials, accounts receivable and payable, internal audit, and she provides general budget oversight to all agency networks, programs, and events. Additionally, Sondra leads the agency’s human resource management efforts including new staff orientation, insurance, payroll, and information technology.

Sondra has over 20 years of administrative experience having held positions in higher education, corporate America, the service industry. Before joining PAA, Sondra was the accountant for a multi-site car dealership.

Sondra has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in accounting from the Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry University.
In her spare time, Sondra enjoys spending time with her family in Kentucky, listening to music, traveling, and her two cats, Solomon, and Ozzy.

Resource Development Manager Alyce Jennings

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Alyce (she/her) joined Prevention Action Alliance as Resource Development Manager in 2021. With more than 10 years in prevention, Alyce has had the opportunity to develop and supervise after-school prevention programs as well as implement environmental prevention initiatives at the local and state level.

Prior to joining PAA, she worked as the Director of Development at Summit County Community Partnership and served on the SPCA Advisory Council. She is also an active member of the Portage County Substance Abuse Community Coalition’s Prevention Committee.

Alyce is an Ohio Certified Prevention Consultant with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Malone University and a Master of Nonprofit Organizations from Case Western Reserve University.

In her spare time, Alyce enjoys playing piano, reading books and spending time with her husband and four children.

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Community Prevention Manager James Syphax

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James (he/him) serves Prevention Action Alliance as the community prevention manager for our Community-Based Services team. In his role, James manages the Statewide Prevention Coalition Association (SPCA), the Ohio Center for Coalition Excellence (OCCE), Know! prevention tips, problem gambling prevention initiatives, and the G.A.P. Network where impacted families learn to turn grief into advocacy for prevention.

In addition to his programmatic roles, James also serves as the lead trainer for the Matthew B. Schoonover Education Center at PAA where he trains on everything from basic prevention to the ins and outs of coalition development. He has also presented across the country on cryptocurrency and the impact it has as an emerging issue in the problem gambling field.

Prior to joining PAA, James spent several years serving as both a school-based prevention service provider and community coalition coordinator. He also held a county commissioner appointment as a member of the Brown County Mental Health and Addiction Services Board.

James is an Ohio-certified prevention specialist and certified QPR instructor and currently serves as a member of the National Council on Problem Gambling’s (NCPG) prevention committee and their emerging trends sub-committee, Additionally, he is a member of the Ohio Problem Gambling Advisory Board and serves as co-chair of their prevention committee.

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Community Prevention Manager Julianna Fellows

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Julianna (she/her) serves as the community prevention manager overseeing the agency’s youth and young adult services which include the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network, the Ohio College Initiative, and all school-based services. Her professional background spans 20 years working in Ohio’s behavioral health field in a variety of capacities including working with families in the Head Start program, supporting youth leadership development and youth-led programming, serving as a mental health ombudsman, and leading youth mentoring programs. Before coming to PAA, Julianna served as a community outreach coordinator for an addiction services agency in northeast Ohio.

Working with youth and young adults has been Julianna’s greatest passion professionally. She has been involved with the Ohio Adult Ally’s network since 2014 and has collaborated with other adult allies in the development of resources that inform and elevate youth-led prevention science throughout the state of Ohio. She is a published author on topics pertaining to youth and youth-led prevention and is the founder of the Ohio Adult Ally Northeast Region Learning Collaborative.

Julianna currently serves as co-chair for The HEALing Communities sub-committee for Cuyahoga County and is a member of the northeast Ohio hub for the Mental Health and Addiction Advocacy Coalition.

Julianna is a certified prevention specialist (OCPS) and a trainer for both the Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training (SAPST) and DEA 60 Community Drug Prevention process.

Outside of her professional role, Julianna spends time with her large, blended family of eight kids and two dogs. She also enjoys traveling and volunteering with a community outreach agency serving the homeless in Cuyahoga County.

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Prevention Coordinator Melissa Cole

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Melissa (she/her) joined Prevention Action Alliance in 2021 to serve as the prevention coordinator for school-based services, where she will help expand the utilization of evidence-based prevention curricula within school systems across the state. Additionally, she will help facilitate the expansion of youth empowerment efforts and the Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network (OLYPN).

Prior to joining PAA, Melissa worked in substance use disorder treatment and prevention as well as community mental health. She spent over 15 years serving as a school-based prevention service provider, community-based prevention coordinator, and prevention team supervisor in southwest Ohio.

Melissa had the privilege to mentor over a dozen student interns during her time as a prevention team leader, many of whom continued in the field. Melissa served as the president of the Brown County Mental Health and Addiction Services Board and as a member of the Ohio Problem Gambling Advisory Board. She is an Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist, a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist, and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor II.

Melissa lives in Cincinnati where she enjoys spending time with her family, singing, baking, and making arts and crafts. Her absolute favorite past time, however, is making people laugh.

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Prevention Coordinator Max Doll

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Max Doll (He/Him) joined Prevention Action Alliance in 2022 as a Prevention Coordinator for the agency’s youth and young adult services. Max has worked with Prevention Action Alliance in the past as a member of the OYLPN youth council from 2013-2016. Being a member of the council inspired Max to continue his work with prevention into the professional field.

Max received his Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Kent State University in 2020. Prior to PAA Max was the Young Adult Coordinator for Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery in Canton Ohio, where he coordinated his local youth led group Stark County Youth Led Prevention.

In his free time, he loves to go to his local movie theater to watch the latest blockbuster or indie film. Max also enjoys taking trips with is dog to the park and making an ice cream stop on the way.

Prevention Coordinator Burk Steinman

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Burk (she/her) serves Prevention Action Alliance as our Prevention Coordinator for our Community-Based Services team. In her role, she is responsible for managing and coordinating projects related to the G.A.P Network, the Statewide Prevention Coalition Association, and statewide gambling initiatives.

Burk received her Master of Public Health from the University of New England in 2021. While pursuing her MPH, she worked as a case manager for North Central Mental Health Services and focused on treatment plans and connecting clients with community-based housing and healthcare resources. In addition, Burk enjoyed interning with Licking County Health Department, where she worked with Health Educators on Project DAWN and COVID-19 vaccination site coordination. Before pursuing her MPH, Burk graduated from Miami University with her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health. While finishing her undergraduate degree, she planned and implemented nutrition programs at a local elementary school and worked as an Emergency Medical Technician at the local fire department. After seeing the importance of preventative healthcare as an EMT, Burk decided to pursue a career in public health and prevention, with a specific interest in drug abuse prevention.

Burk is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, but currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband. She enjoys backpacking, drinking coffee, running, reading, and spending time with her family. Burk is excited about her new role at Prevention Action Alliance and looks forward to making a difference in her community.

Francesca Varga

Prevention Coordinator Francesca Varga

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Fran Varga (she/her) joined Prevention Action Alliance in 2022 as a Prevention Coordinator for the Community Based Services team. Fran is primarily responsible for the Know! Prevention Tips as well as coordinating the Statewide Prevention Coalition Association (SPCA.)

Fran received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health from the Ohio State University in 2022. Prior to graduation, Fran enjoyed interning at PreventionFIRST! in Cincinnati, Ohio and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Washington, DC. Outside of prevention, she served as an undergraduate research assistant on a project analyzing the perceptions and understandings of HIV/AIDS between three generations of LGBTQ+ individuals. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Fran developed a passion for promoting mental health wellness and advocating for improved mental health legislation.

Fran currently lives in Columbus, Ohio and in her free time enjoys making art, playing guitar, and visiting local coffee shops.

Education and Event Coordinator Ashley Donaldson

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Ashley (she/hers) joined Prevention Action Alliance in 2021 and serves as the education and events coordinator, where she manages agency events, meetings, and trainings, and supports the development of the Matthew B. Schoonover Educational Center.

After entering college as a sports management major, Ashley switched gears and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wright State University. Her event planning skills began to take shape during her years in college as a volunteer Young Life leader. She furthered her professional development through her time in the promotional events department with the Cincinnati Reds, as well as the Cincinnati-based mental health non-profit, 1N5.

Thanks to her dad, Ashley is an avid baseball fan and has the dream of visiting every major league stadium. She enjoys reading, being outside in the sun, and visiting her family in New Carlisle. Coming from the Springfield/Dayton area, Ashley is excited to be in Columbus and play a role in the work of Prevention Action Alliance.

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Jacob Marenberg

Ohio National Guard Counterdrug Drug Demand Reduction Civil Operator Jacob Marenberg

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Jacob (he/him) joined Prevention Action Alliance in 2021 as the prevention project assistant through the Ohio National Guard Counterdrug Task Force. In his role as a drug demand reduction civil operator, Jacob administers and practices drug prevention science to help create healthy communities in Ohio.

At PAA, Jacob helps support programming across the agency including leading our efforts to support active and veteran military personnel and their families as they work to address substance use and mental health concerns.

Prior to joining PAA, Jacob was deployed with the Ohio Air National Guard and was employed with the Ohio National Guard Counterdrug Task Force Headquarters team serving as the Assistant Operations Officer. Jacob completed his bachelor’s degree in 2017 at The Ohio State University in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences with a focus in medical dietetics and he is currently pursuing his Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist certification through the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board.

Jacob lives in Johnstown, Ohio where he enjoys spending as much time as he can with his wife, Andi, and daughter, Stella. He also enjoys playing golf, reading, and getting together with his family and friends.

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Prevention Assistant Brittany Wolf-Delawder

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Brittany (she/her) joined Prevention Action Alliance in 2021 in hopes of widening her knowledge and experience in prevention. As a prevention assistant, Brittany supports all programming, development, and administrative functions.

From a young age, Brittany has known that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of those around her. That passion which started in high school followed her to the University of Dayton where she was involved in campus service groups supporting communities in need and volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Optimist Club, and TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms) as well as Active Minds, a national organization that promotes mental health wellness on college campuses.

After graduating from Southern New Hampshire University with a bachelor’s degree in human services and a concentration in child and family studies, Brittany is ready to embark on a professional path to helping our statewide community.

Her family and friends have played a big role in supporting her journey. With a desire to create and inspire, she typically spends her time away from work browsing thrift stores, antique markets, or searching for inspiration in nature.