OurStaff

Mark Tripodi

  • CEO & Founder

Mark Tripodi, CEO & Founder

My wife, Christi, and I are the founders of Cornerstone of Hope. We experienced the sudden death of our three year old son, Bobby, in May of 2000. Our lives have been forever changed since that very day. Soon after, we felt God’s call to offer support to families who have experienced the death of a loved one. Cornerstone of Hope was founded in 2003. Since our inception we have served over 40,000 individuals of all ages through our core services: counseling, support groups, youth camps, retreats and education/training for professionals and lay leaders who serve the bereaved.  I am passionate about introducing Cornerstone of Hope to families in need, to volunteers who want to make an impact and to companies and individuals who feel called to generously support this crucial mission.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ”  John 11: 25 – 26

Fun Fact: Cornerstone has a beautiful Treehouse.  In 2014, we were blessed to gain national exposure during an episode of Animal Planet’s hit television series “Treehouse Masters”. Locally, the treehouse is known as Lisa’s Butterfly Treehouse in memory of Lisa Kurtz Luciano whose estate gift help construct this sacred space in the trees.  You can watch this episode on Amazon Prime or iTunes, Season 2 Episode 4, The Wild Butterfly Escape.

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.

Ryan Edlind, LISW-S

  • Clinical Director

Ryan Edlind, LISW-S        Clinical Director

I am the Clinical Director at Cornerstone of Hope and started May 13, 2021.  I also previously served a clinical supervisor at Cornerstone for 2 years, 2017-2018. My desire is to be fully present, available to listen, and to point people in healthy directions- especially as they grieve.  I have been counseling for over 22 years in a wide variety of settings and truly love what I do!  It has been a privilege and honor to serve hundreds of people through counseling agencies, NYC foster care and shelter systems, HIV/AIDS work through hospital based psychiatry, and through church ministry.  I appreciate the value of bringing current research based clinical skills and spirituality together when helping people who are really suffering.  I want to keep learning with people how to keep living after their life has been disrupted with a significant loss.

How I Move Forward in Hope: 

Fun Fact: Prior to moving to Cleveland, I was a pastor, adjunct professor, and had a private practice in Manhattan during and after 9/11.

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.

Susan Shumay Siley

  • Operations Director

Susan Shumay Siley, Operations Director

I joined the Cornerstone of Hope team as the Director of Operations in March 2021. I spent the last 8 years working in the private equity field and have extensive management experience in both, for-profit and non-profit institutions. Here at Cornerstone of Hope, I am responsible for human resource management, daily operations of the Cleveland facility, volunteer coordination and strategic initiatives to support the Clinical, Marketing and Development Staff. I am truly blessed to be able to serve in this ministry and see the Lord’s love shown to those grieving and in need of support.

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

Fun Fact: My husband Dean and I have 4 children and have served in ministry for over 20 years. I have a heart for prayer and volunteering!

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.

Pam Campisi

  • Clinical Receptionist PM

Pam Campisi, Clinical Receptionist PM

I am a newbie at Cornerstone of Hope. I have a servant heart and delight in having the opportunity to serve here at this organization. As a mom who tragically lost her precious son, I want to be a light and a testimony to the Living Hope we have in Christ to all those who come here to find hope as they walk thru their difficult valleys of grief. I have been married 50 years to my dear husband Tom, have two living sons and one living in heaven. Grandma to 8 and great grandma to 1.

How I Move Forward in Hope: “I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galations 2:20

Fun Fact: My passion is prayer and I love the Word of God.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sarah McNeill

  • Graphic Designer

Sarah McNeill, 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!

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

Cathy Palcisco, Internship Program Coordinator, Clinical Supervisor

My history with Cornerstone of Hope began when it first opened.  As a Hospice Social Worker, Cornerstone of Hope became a valued referral and educational resource for families grieving their losses. Since retiring from Cleveland Clinic Hospice/Palliative Care, I have been a Clinical Supervisor for SW Graduate Interns here at Cornerstone. In addition, I now coordinate the Internship Program and also provide grief counseling to Cornerstone of Hope clients.

I can honestly say that I have learned about life through death in my  career.  My faith in God has grown beyond anything I ever expected as a result of the people I have encountered and learned from in this journey.

Our clients are our teachers – I look forward to learning more.

Fun Fact: My husband and I are grateful for the gift of life’s journey that has led us in raising 3 sons and a daughter.  We are now enjoying the additional gift of an expanded family with 6 precious grandchildren that offer love, joy, and hope.

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.

Caroline Stanczak, MA

  • Bereavement Clinician

Caroline Stanczak, MA         Bereavement Clinician

I have been a counselor for 25 years and have been at Cornerstone of Hope for 10 years. My BA is from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My MA in Counseling and also post graduate studies were completed at Ashland Seminary. I see individual clients as well as lead many different types of groups at Cornerstone. It may sound strange, but I love the work I do!

My husband and I lost our only son many years ago. It is out of this suffering and loss and my own healing journey that I seek to walk the grieving path with others. Grief is not an illness but an expression of love and loss. I validate the struggle and pain and offer hope as well. I have experienced the goodness of God even when life is awful. The work I do is about the journey of an altered life, and I feel privileged and humbled to walk with others on their grief journey.

How I Move Forward in Hope: Grief is not an illness but an expression of love and loss.

Fun Fact: I take great pleasure in all beauty, and especially flowers, the ocean, mountains, all things green, and babies!

Hannah Suttles, LPCC

  • Support Group & Intake Program Coordinator

Hannah Suttles, LPCC         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.