OurStaff

Mark Tripodi

  • CEO & Founder

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Julia Ellifritt, LISW-S

  • Executive Director

Julia Ellifritt, LISW-S       Executive Director

Hello, I am Cornerstone of Hope’s Executive Director, where I oversee our Clinical Team, Development Team, and Marketing Team.  I have been at Cornerstone of Hope for over 16 years. I have served as a Clinician as well as the Director of Programs and Community Outreach.  My whole career has been devoted to working with the grieving. Over the years, I have provided bereavement training to thousands of professionals at funeral homes, hospitals, and other organizations, as well as developed the continuing educational programs that happen here at Cornerstone. I have also built a network of local community professionals and organizations in order to reach and serve more people. I have two grown children who were adopted internationally.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Pure religion that God the Father accepts as pure is this: to love orphans and widows, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27 

Fun Fact: I have travelled internationally 17 times, to mostly Africa and Asia, caring for the poor and powerless.

Debbie Galland

  • Development Director

Debbie Galland, Development Director

Hello!  I am the Cornerstone of Hope’s Development Director.  In this role, I identify and steward prospective donors, cultivate major donors, and manage the organization’s budget and fundraising income programs.  I also serve as a community outreach liaison on behalf of Cornerstone of Hope to raise greater awareness of our mission and to connect those in need of our programs and services with our Clinical Team and Education Director.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible.” – Luke 1:37

Fun Fact: I enjoy traveling and have hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru.

Maryann Mackey

  • Executive Assistant

Maryann Mackey, Executive Assistant

I joined Cornerstone of Hope as an Executive Assistant in 2019.  Previously, I worked for AT&T in a variety of roles, most recently as Director, Regulatory Affairs, managing numerous public policy and business initiatives and ensuring corporate compliance with state statutes and regulatory agency mandates.  My husband and I have two adult children, both of whom live in New York.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14

Fun Fact: I am a fitness enthusiast who loves to hike, bike and exercise.  I also enjoy various culinary and crafting pursuits.

Jennifer Knechtel

  • Event & Program Coordinator


Jennifer Knechtel, Event & Program Coordinator

I joined the Cornerstone team in March of 2021 as the Event and Program Coordinator. Within this role, I oversee the planning of Cornerstone of Hope’s fundraising events, third-party fundraising and client-oriented programs. I am a graduate of Penn State and have been blessed with the opportunity to work within nonprofits throughout my career, with a focus on special events and development, and I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the Cornerstone team in fulfilling its mission.  My husband Dan and I have two children, Mason and Riley, and two chocolate labs, Olive and Reese.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Phil. 4:13

Fun Fact: My family and I are very involved in our church, where I teach and serve on our children’s ministry team.

Miriam Bilskiy, LISW-S

  • Bereavement Clinician

Miriam Bilskiy, LISW-S         Bereavement Clinician

Hello, I am a Bereavement Clinician at Cornerstone of Hope, where I work with clients and I specialize in traumatic loss.  I did my undergrad program at Moody Bible Institute where I studied Bible and counseling, and I did my Master’s program at University of Akron in Social Work. During that time I interned at Cornerstone of Hope, and so I have been a part of the Cornerstone community for a long time!  I have a lot of experience in trauma, and am glad to have the opportunity to be Christ’s presence in people’s most profound pain.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” Psalm 84:10

Fun Fact: Outside of work you will find me exploring the city with my kids and hosting friends for dinner.

Pete Bliss

  • Community Outreach

Pete Bliss, Community Outreach

I joined the Cornerstone team in November 2020. As the new Community Engagement contact point, my role is to educate the Cleveland community about COH services, network with relevant community service providers and stakeholders, and represent COH at meetings, events and activities. I also serve as a group facilitator and trainer here. Professionally, I have been in the crisis intervention field for 30 years, and personally, I am a survivor of multiple suicide losses. Companioning those who have experienced traumatic loss and training responders is my passion.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18

Fun Fact: Cleveland has been my lifelong home, and I currently reside in Old Brooklyn with my lovely wife, Ramona. We have five grown children, four grandchildren and a dog named Molly.

Kristen Cook

  • Clinical Receptionist

Kristen Cook, Clinical Receptionist

Hello!  I am Kristen, and I am often the first person you see when you come to Cornerstone of Hope. As someone who has been touched by loss and grief throughout most of my life, I feel that I am able to bring a level of comfort and stability as I welcome clients into our building while also providing important office support to my fellow administrative colleagues. I have professional certificates in both Business Administration and Guest Services in Hospitality. I have been married to my husband Sean for 19 years and we really enjoy traveling together and trying new restaurants.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.” – Psalm 143:8

Fun Fact: I am a voracious reader, enjoy writing, baking, and shopping.

Sarah Fetsko

  • Graphic Designer

Sarah Fetsko, Graphic Designer

Hi! I’m the graphic designer here at Cornerstone of Hope. As a team member, my role is to create visuals that promote and express our ministry’s beauty and professionalism. It has been a blessing to share my talents and build up our presence within our surrounding communities, whether in person or on social media. Already, we have reached 30,000+ viewers with our content on the web.

Seeing how many seek hope in their grief, I am all the more passionate to serve and help Cornerstone of Hope be that ray of hope. My goal in this life is to ignite the flame of purpose in others so that they may realize their incredible potential in our Heavenly Father’s Glory.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Be moved by Love beyond your fear.”

Fun Fact: I’m too scared to ride a rollercoaster but I’ll jump out of a plane again!

Nichole Geibel, LSW

  • Bereavement Clinician

Nichole Geibel, LSW     Bereavement Clinician

I joined the Cornerstone team in October of 2020. My role here is Bereavement Clinician. I am a graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a Master’s degree in Social Work. I was here at Cornerstone during my time at CWRU as an intern.  I learned so much while at COH and have carried that knowledge into my practice. I am honored to be a part of my client’s grief journeys and being part of the Cornerstone family!

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” – Desmond Tutu

Fun Fact: I owned a cookie company with a friend when my children were small; it was so much fun and enabled me to be home with my kids when they were small.

Judi Horvath

  • Accounting

Judi Horvath, Accounting

I joined the Cornerstone team in June of 2016.  My roles include all things financial – from accounts payable and accounts receivable to budgeting and accounting reports.  I am also part of the team that uses and upkeeps our donor database.  There are many other hats we all wear as part of this Cornerstone family to provide the community with a wide array of programs and services.  I am a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College with a degree in management and the arts and I was able to use my love of music as an elementary parochial school music teacher for 15 years. My three brothers and I have a family steel fabricating business for which I also provide payroll and benefits administration as well as bookkeeping duties.  I am married with two grown children and love to travel. I am honored to be a part of the Cornerstone family!

How I Move Forward in Hope: “If we could spread love as quickly as we spread hate and negativity, what an amazing world we would live in.”

Fun Fact: My first language was Hungarian, as my parents were immigrants from Hungary after the revolution of 1956.

Gabrielle Leon, LSW

  • Bereavement Clinician

Gabrielle Leon, LSW      Bereavement Clinician

I rejoined the Cornerstone team as part of the PRN staff in November 2020. Beginning my social work career as an intern at Cornerstone of Hope, I am grateful and honored for the opportunity to be back at Cornerstone to companion those who have lost a loved one. As a Bereavement Clinician, I am able to walk alongside children, adolescents, and young adults during their grief journey. By bringing warmth, kindness, and a bit of humor to Cornerstone, I am passionate about helping clients as if they are my own family. Obtaining my undergraduate degree from John Carroll University and my graduate degree from Cleveland State University, Cleveland has always been my home.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

Fun Fact: I cherish time spent with my family and friends, especially if it involves Mitchell’s Ice Cream.

Maria Miravalle

  • Spiritual Care Coordinator

Maria Miravalle, Spiritual Care Coordinator

I came on board with Cornerstone of Hope as the Spiritual Care Coordinator in 2020. Previously having studied Theology and the Spiritual life, and ministered in prisons, hospice, rehab facilities, outreaches to the homeless and schools, I have seen many facets of suffering, and feel drawn to work that involves compassion and healing. I provide Spiritual Direction to clients, and lead the Cornerstone Bible Study, and enjoy walking with and attending to the spiritual part of every person who has been impacted by tragedy and tries to find God in the midst of turmoil.  I am so glad to be at a place that utilizes art, faith, beauty, expertise and most of all love to bring healing to the whole person and infuse them with hope!

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Fun Fact: Outside of work, my other passions include music, stone art, driftwood décor, and seeing my very adorable nephews and nieces on Facetime.

Amy Mitchell, LSW

  • Bereavement Clinician

Amy Mitchell, LSW          Bereavement Clinician

I am a licensed social worker certified in Child and Adolescent Trauma, whose career has primarily focused on developing and revitalizing programs that reach children and families, and training and empowering individuals to lead those programs.  I have done extensive work with families in poverty and the refugee community.  I received both my undergraduate degree in social work and my clinical master’s degree from Cleveland State University.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Fun Fact: I work full-time with my husband in leading Joshua and Caleb Leadership Center, a faith-based nonprofit organization focused on discipleship and leadership development of unfathered and at-risk youth in Northeast Ohio.

Cathy Palcisco, LISW-S

  • Internship Program Coordinator, Clinical Supervisor
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Robert Pickard, LPCC-S

  • Bereavement & Trauma Informed Clinician

Robert Pickard, LPCC-S   Bereavement & Trauma Informed Clinician

This is my 2nd stay with Cornerstone of Hope!  Since 2014, I have worked at Frontline Services, The City Mission and J Berk & Associates. At J Berk & Associates, I served as the Director of Perspectives Academy, a school for Autism and Behavior Issues. I continue to seek the healing of those struggling with emotional and psychological challenges.  However, COH and its ministry has always been where I have seen myself at my most helpful. I am glad to be back.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Fun Fact: 

Angela Polter

  • Bookkeeper

Angela Polter, Accounting & Data Entry Coordinator

I am Cornerstone of Hope’s Accounting and Data Entry Coordinator.  In this role, I maintain our electronic databases, reconcile invoices, perform data entry, and ensure proper handling of financial data. I am a graduate of Bowling Green State University.  Prior to Cornerstone, I worked as a Consumer Loan Coordinator and a Volunteer Coordinator.  My husband and I have 3 children

How I Move Forward in Hope: ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” – Jeremiah 29:11

Fun Fact: Me and my family love the outdoors and make frequent trips to Cedar Point.

Hannah Suttles, LPC

  • School & Group Coordinator

Hannah Suttles, LPC     Support Group & Intake Program Coordinator

Returning to COH recently as a full-time staff, I am bringing my experience in working with children and adolescents as a former school-based counselor, as well as my respect for and commitment to helping anyone needing support through their grief.  I first came to Cornerstone of Hope as an intern in 2018 while attending John Carroll University as a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  That year was so fulfilling as I felt I was where I could best serve others, putting my passion for counseling and empathy for others to the best use.  I am graced to be able to continue serving others at the place where my heart has always been, Cornerstone of Hope.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security.”  – Job 11:18

Fun Fact: I enjoy anything where I can use my creativity, so I dabble in art, especially painting, changing my interior decorating with every season, and journaling.

Brianne Tolley, LISW

  • Clinician & Trauma Specialist

Brianne Tolley, LISW   Clinician & Trauma Specialist

I joined the Cornerstone of Hope team to help serve as one of our clinicians; prior to joining Cornerstone of Hope, I worked in Hospice for several years.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “But I will trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.” – Psalm 13:5-6

Fun Fact: I interned at Cornerstone of Hope 12 years ago.  I enjoy hiking, gardening, and knitting.

Katherine Zucca, JD

  • Grant Coordinator, Client Rights Officer

Katherine Zucca, J.D.       Grant Coordinator

As Grant Coordinator, I apply for grant funding on behalf of Cornerstone of Hope from community, corporate, and family foundations.  Within this role, I work closely with the Clinical Team to coordinate program initiatives, gather data, and analyze metrics.  I enjoy the opportunity to connect Cornerstone of Hope’s critical bereavement work with the philanthropic goals of the grant funders and tell the story of our clients’ positive outcomes. Before joining Cornerstone of Hope, I worked as a government lawyer.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Fun Fact: I am an avid distance runner and have competed in several marathons, including the Boston Marathon.