Meet The Speakers

Image of top rated youth speakers on bullying prevention and mental health Tom Thelen

Tom Thelen

Tom Thelen is one of America’s top motivational speakers on the topics of mental health and bullying prevention. He has spoken at over 800 schools and conferences and has been interviewed on NBC, CBS, FOX, and PBS. Tom is a Certified Instructor in Youth Mental Health First Aid, a training program by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

As the founder of the nonprofit,, Tom and his team created the award-winning Mental Health 101 Book and Curriculum, a program that teaches students positive skills like respect, responsibility, and resiliency, as well as coping skills for stress and anxiety. 

Tom is also the founder of, an evidence-based bullying prevention program with a smartphone app and video lessons on the topics of bullying, mental health, social skills, and resiliency.

Tom graduated from Grace University with a bachelor’s of science degree and went on to write three books for students including Teen Leadership Revolution, Victimproof, and Mental Health 101 for Teens. He and his wife, Casie, have four school-aged children and live in Cocoa, Florida.

Dr. Kirleen Neely holds a PhD in Counselor Education from St. Mary’s University. She is a licensed Professional Counselor and an approved Counselor Supervisor. Dr. Kirleen has worked in the mental health field for over twenty years and has been the chief executive officer of Neely Counseling Center since 2001. She currently manages the day-to-day operations of her counseling center and serves as an adjunct professor for St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Kirleen spends a large portion of her time writing, teaching, and speaking to audiences of all ages on issues related to self-esteem and anxiety. She is supported by her husband and two beautiful daughters.

Image of America’s top counselor on education and mental health for teens - Kirleen Neely

Dr. Kirleen Neely

Image of America’s top psychologist on neuroscience and mental health for teens - Kimberley Hooge

Dr. Kimberley Orsten Hooge

Dr. Kimberley Orsten Hooge, aka Dr. OH, received her PhD in Psychology, specializing in Cognitive Neuroscience, from Rice University. She loves research, teaching, and all things brain-related, and works as an independent research consultant. She has co-authored numerous publications on topics such as pediatric brain injury, resilience in at-risk youth, and visual perception. She is an adjunct lecturer for The University of Texas at Dallas, and is passionate about educating others about how the brain works. Dr. OH lives in Houston, Texas, with her IT ninja husband, rambunctious toddler daughter, dog Henry, and cats Gandalf and Koxka.

Dr. Elliot Kagan earned his PhD from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University in New York. As a School Psychologist and a New York State Licensed Psychologist, He specializes in clinical treatment and school-based services. Dr. Kagan worked for many years at Suffern Middle School in New York, where he served as a school psychologist and coordinator for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Since retiring from the school system, he has continued his private practice in counseling and has worked as an independent consultant in the education industry. Dr. Kagan is passionate about finding solutions that support kids, teens, families, educators, and entire school systems.

Image of America’s top psychologist on education and mental health for teens - Elliott Kagan

Dr. Elliott Kagan

Dr. Ashley Johnson

Dr. Ashley Johnson is the founding Executive Director of the Detroit College Access Network (DCAN). DCAN is a network of cross-sector leaders and organizations working together to ensure all Detroit students have the opportunity to attend and complete college. Dr. Johnson also serves as the Director of the Detroit Promise, a scholarship program that ensures all eligible Detroit residents have a tuition-free path to an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or technical certificate at participating academic institutions. Dr. Johnson holds a PhD from Michigan State University in K-12 Education Administration with a specialization in Urban Education and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction.

Caleb S. Boswell, MA, LLPC, has a passion for mental wellness and education! He has extensive experience working with programming that promotes college access and personal development. He is committed to helping students succeed, and strives to assist them with a holistic approach. He has done presentations on mental wellness, and often uses his social media outlets to promote mental wellness and the benefits of therapy with the hashtag #TherapyIsNormal. He is a proud Central Michigan University alum where he double majored in psychology and communications. , and also earned his master’s degree in college counseling from Eastern Michigan University.

Caleb Boswell

Norma Canals

Norma Canals obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University and has been working as a Licensed Social Worker for over 16 years. She has provided drug prevention and grief counseling for middle and high school students, and has led student groups focusing on anxiety and depression. In her current position at Pearl River School District, Mrs. Canals provides critical advocacy and support to students and families from diverse backgrounds who require assistance navigating the education system. She is a Certified Trainer in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA), and she runs diversity training for both staff and students. Mrs. Canals is passionate about ensuring all students and families have access to education and wellness resources. As a bilingual educator, she is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Kiesha Jackson is an award-winning mental health expert and advocate. As a suicide loss survivor, she turned her personal tragedy into triumph, and created Caleb’s Kids. Founded in 2016, Caleb’s Kids’ mission is to create a transformative educational experience for families focused on mental wellness and preventing suicide completion through innovative and evidence-based program delivery. Kiesha is a proud graduate of The University of Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and Central Michigan University where she earned a Master of Science in Health Administration. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Bellevue University, where, upon graduation she plans on opening a mental health clinic in the inner city that provides therapy free of charge.

Keisha Jackson

Image of top rated youth speakers on bullying prevention and mental health Tom Thelen

A Message From Tom Thelen

Hi, I’m Tom Thelen, lead author of Mental Health 101 for Teens. When I was a teen, I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. It was coming from everywhere: at school, online, even at home. I felt trapped, so I never talked about my struggles. Thankfully, I connected with my high school English Teacher, Mrs. Burdick. She quickly became my trusted adult – the person I could talk to without feeling judged. She helped me get into counseling, and it was a huge help! The wisdom I learned back then became the seeds of hope that grew in my heart for many years. It wasn’t an overnight change, but choice after choice…

I became a new person.

And that’s what we’re trying to do with Mental Health 101. We’re giving teens the basics, so they will begin opening up to the trusted adults in their lives: their parents, teachers, and mentors.

As a writing team of four authors, we come from different backgrounds and upbringings, but we all have one mission with the book: we’re here to give teens absolutely everything we have… every insight, every piece of advice, and every skill we wish we had back when we were young. We hope you’ll buy multiple copies of this book, and even better, use our curriculum as a core class in your school!

Stay in touch for a free preview of the book​

Today’s teens need a clear roadmap to navigate the difficult challenges of life, relationships, and social media. Mental Health 101 is that roadmap.