Since its founding in 1973, Presby Psych has been governed by a volunteer Board of Directors whose members share a commitment to each of the constituencies Presby Psych serves.
Board members support accessible and inclusive counseling and psychotherapy for individuals, children, couples, and families of all races, ethnicities, faiths or no faith, genders, and sexual orientations.
Board members actively support Presby Psych’s outreach to the wider community through pro bono and financially assisted therapy and psychoeducation. They also support events that raise awareness of the importance of mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Legal and Regulatory Agencies
Board members honor their fiduciary duty to ensure Presby Psych’s compliance with all legal, regulatory, and ethical requirements of a non-profit mental health organization.
Clinical and Support Staff
Our Board is dedicated to the continuing professional growth of our clinicians and to sustaining a positive work environment for our support staff.
Presby Psych Board members are committed to being good stewards of the funds that donors provide and on which the organization relies to sustain outreach efforts.
Presby Psych’s Board of Directors meets nine times a year, with the Executive Committee meeting an additional three times each year. They provide financial support, time, and expertise to support Presby Psych’s growth and the quality of its role in the community.
Dreema Clarke Brunnemer joined the board in 2017 and has been board President since 2020.
Dreema is a native of North Carolina and graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Communications/Broadcasting. She worked almost 30 years in the commercial insurance industry in both Charlotte and Pawleys Island, ending her insurance career as a vice president with BB&T (now Truist).
She is currently a broker with Helen Adams Realty in Charlotte.
She and her husband, Keith Brunnemer Jr., share a passion and deep commitment to mental health treatment and access to care.
They currently live in Charlotte and Pawleys Island, SC.
Mike Smith has 41 years of accounting, auditing and management experience, including 34 years in the nonprofit sector. He served as CFO/Director of Administration of the Mint Museum of Art for 17 years.
Mike joined the board in 2017 and has served as Secretary/Treasurer since 2018. He was attracted to Presby Psych because of its nonprofit mission components of pro-bono sessions, defrayed co-payments and sliding fee scale as well as its work with other nonprofit agencies to make mental health services more readily available to those who cannot afford it.
Among his other volunteer experience, Mike is past President of Mecklenburg Kiwanis Club, past President and Treasurer of The Brothers Foundation and Taylor Home, Treasurer of Celebrate Charlotte and Arbor Way II Home Owner Association and a member of the Finance Committee of Time Out Youth.
He has served as a presenter on museum administration at UNC Charlotte, planned giving for Duke University’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management, and living through and after a cancer diagnosis to the Novant Foundation Board of Trustees.
Sam Thompson has helped guide Presby Psych’s evolution from a Presbyterian family pastoral counselling service into a full-service, community-wide mental health counseling center that continues to treat the mind, body and spirt of our clients. First joining the board in 1981, Sam has served multiple tenures over the last 40 years, including serving as board President three times.
A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Sam started as an insurance underwriter and was Senior Vice President and Manager of the Charlotte branch of First Union Insurance Agency until 1989, when he joined insurance agency ECM Solutions. He retired from ECM as a Managing Partner in 2020. Sam is past President of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Independent Insurance Agents Association.
Sam is an Elder at Sardis Presbyterian Church and has served as Clerk of the Session. He and his wife Glenda have two children and three grandchildren.
Thomas H. Ainsworth III has been a personal injury trial attorney in Charlotte for nearly 40 years.
Tom joined the board in 2020 to help promote Presby Psych’s incredible work since it has offices in his church, St. Luke’s Lutheran.
A graduate of Davidson College and Wake Forest University School of Law, Tom has his own firm and previously was associated with other personal injury firms, including Downer, Walters & Mitchener, Crumley Roberts, and W. Daniel Grist. He is a member of the legal profession’s Million Dollar Roundtable, having settled cases for badly injured clients in excess of a million dollars on several occasions.
Tom served on the advisory council to the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte for many years
His daughter Rachel just received her PhD degree in history from The University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Tom’s hobbies include playing team pub trivia and Revolutionary War re-enactment.
Tenille Banner is Director of Corporate and Community Engagement at Safe Alliance, which offers hope and healing for those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. She has a passion for helping others, especially those struggling with economic mobility and survivors of domestic violence.
Understanding the importance of mental health and the barriers to accessing help, Tenille was thrilled to learn about Presby Psych a few years ago. She joined the board in 2019 and serves on the Development Committee.
Tenille also serves as President of MAVA (Metrolina Association of Volunteer Administrators) and is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Charlotte Chapter.
Tenille and her husband Rapfael have a beautiful 2-year-old daughter who brings much joy to their lives.
Brien Blakely is anchor and self-described “news junkie” for Queen City News (channel 46). He is passionate about mental health and has acted as master of ceremonies for Presby Psych fundraising events.
Known for his community involvement and tireless work ethic, Brien has won several Murrow and Emmy Awards for his work and always can be found at the center of Queen City News coverage of major events across the Carolinas. Brien helps lead Queen City News’ annual CMPD Toy Drive and runs ‘Find A Fugitive,’ a public safety franchise with local area Crime Stoppers.
Previously he worked at TV stations in Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, CA, and Bristol, VA. Brien spent a portion of his career in Hollywood where he hosted numerous TV shows including HGTV’s Weekend Warriors and he appeared on network TV shows such as The Practice, Roswell, and the X-Files. Brien went to Western Kentucky University. He’s a former baseball player who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and worked in the front office of the Atlanta Braves.
He and his wife Ava have one son, Wes, and dog, Kobe, a little Shih Tzu.
Gretchen Burud Bottrill is a Managing Director and Senior Credit Officer with Regions Securities. She spent the first 24 years of her career with Bank of America in a variety of client-facing roles, moving into the risk function in 2004. She now oversees the oil and gas portfolio for Regions Bank and works with teams in Charlotte and Houston to extend credit to energy customers throughout the country.
Gretchen has a special interest in increasing the accessibility of mental health services in Charlotte, as she was widowed in 2008 and could not find local grief counseling or related services. She is a member of First Presbyterian Church and joined the board of Presby Psych in 2021. First Pres is working with Presby Psych to establish a counseling center in Uptown Charlotte that will make mental health services available to underserved populations. She also serves on the board of directors of Veritas Community School in Charlotte.
Gretchen and her husband Mark have four children and are looking forward to grandchildren someday. Gretchen is currently working to support her four horses who enjoy a much better lifestyle than she does.
Patricia E. Brannon retired from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after 33 years of federal service. At the time of retirement, she was the State and Local Program Manager, approving contract investigative work completed by four fair employment practices agencies in the Carolinas.
She has been on the board since 2016, and is a member of the Human Resources Committee. Patricia joined Presby Psych to be a part of the mental health solutions in the communities we serve.
She also serves on the boards of nonprofits Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County (Executive Secretary and Homeowner Services Team), West Side Community Land Trust (Finance Team), Belmont Housing Authority and the Fellowship Community Foundation, whose motto is helping neighbors help themselves.
Faith, family and community are important anchors in Patricia’s life.
Rev. Dr. John Cleghorn is Pastor of Caldwell Presbyterian Church in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, a diverse, missional and justice-focused congregation that dates to 1912.
He earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Union Presbyterian Seminary-Charlotte, whose campus is adjacent to Presby Psych. He later earned a Doctorate in Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
A lifelong Presbyterian, John first joined the Presby Psych board in 2009 because of its vital role in the mental health community in Charlotte and its role in partnering with churches across the city as a trusted referral agency. He returned to the board in 2017 in part because of its commitment to expanding mental health services to underserved communities.
Before entering ministry in 2008, he held executive roles at Bank of America, including head of Corporate Affairs for Consumer, Commercial and Small Business Banking, Director of Issues Management and Chief Speechwriter.
Dr. Mary Susan Esther (Banks) is a physician who is board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine.
She joined the Presby Psych board in 2018 and is passionate about the importance of quality mental health services in the community.
Dr. Esther trained in psychiatry and sleep medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and was a faculty member at Mayo Clinic and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio before moving to Charlotte.
She has served as Medical Director of Carolina Sleep Services (Atrium Health) and founded the sleep medicine program at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose and Throat Associates. Dr. Esther has served as President of the N.C. Academy of Sleep Medicine and was President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine from 2008-2009.
Her other volunteer interests include participation in outreach programs through Sharon Presbyterian Church in SouthPark.
Ken Gepfert is a communications professional with more than 35 years of experience in journalism and public relations. He joined the board in 2018 to help raise the community’s awareness of Presby Psych’s commitment to accessible and inclusive mental health counseling.
Ken was a Wall Street Journal reporter and editor for 13 years in Charlotte, Atlanta, Brussels and New York. In the 1980s, he was Executive Business Editor and Assistant Managing Editor of The Charlotte Observer. Previously he was a reporter and editor at the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press in Florida and Rocky Mountain News in Denver.
In public relations, he was a Senior Vice President for the Luquire George Andrews agency in Charlotte, Editorial Services Manager and Chief Speechwriter for the former First Union (now Wells Fargo), and now helps companies and nonprofits tell their stories.
He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism from the University of Missouri and University of Texas and was a Professional Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan.
Ken and his wife Nancy are the proud parents and grandparents of three daughters and four grandchildren.
Jeff Matthews is a 30 year veteran of the fire service and currently serves the Charlotte Fire Department as a Battalion Chief supervising the Health and Safety Division. Jeff has served many roles in his fire service career including hazardous materials and technical rescue response. In his spare time, Jeff participates in technical product development and technical writing having published a textbook and numerous articles. Jeff and his team at Charlotte Fire have worked to improve mental health awareness and advocacy by expanding our network of mental health partners and the creation of a behavioral health office at the public safety occupational health clinic.
Away from work, Jeff enjoys spending time with his family. He is a husband of 30 years to Suzanne, father to Emily and Claire, and a grandfather to Emmett.
“Presby Psych is a long-standing community partner having provided services to many Charlotte Firefighters; the success stories are many and I look forward to taking an active role in that continued success.”
Daniel Redford is a Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Officer and is a community coordinator in the Steele Creek Division. He served in the United States Army as a military police officer in this country and in Iraq. After completing his military service, Dan joined CMPD in 2006. He also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Management at ECPI University. In addition to his police responsibilities, Dan is President of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police where he also sits on the Lodge’s Wellness Committee.
Mental health historically has not been openly discussed among law enforcement officers and support employees. That barrier is beginning to break down. Presby Psych’s partnership with CMPD has provided much-needed psychological services to members of Charlotte’s law enforcement community and their families and has earned the trust of many officers.
Dan considers it an honor to join Presby Psych’s Board of Directors. The organization’s integrity, skill, and commitment to first responder mental health is a gift to Charlotte’s law enforcement community. He says, “I am proud to be a liaison between Presby Psych and our officers, retirees, support personnel, and families.”
William (Bill) M. Starr practices in the litigation fields of aviation, premises liability, toxic torts, and product liability, with aviation law occupying a large share of his practice. Bill earned his J.D. at the University of North Carolina Law School and, as an attorney, served in the Resource Center of N.C. Pro Bono Honor Society. In 2022, he also was recognized by The Legal 500 for Dispute Resolution: Product liability, mass tort, and class action – defense: toxic tort. He is honored to serve on the Presby Psych Board.
Eric Strauss is a psychologist in private practice, specializing in couples therapy. He began his career in the Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, where he directed the family therapy training program and co-authored the book Family Evaluation. He then practiced privately in West Springfield, MA, for 30 years before moving to North Carolina in 2012.
He joined the board in 2016, bringing a clinician’s perspective to discussions. He values Presby Psych’s commitment to providing high-quality treatment to a diverse population and in-service training for its staff, as well as their expertise and focus on trauma treatment that is unique in the Charlotte area.
Eric recently published his first novel, The Right Road Lost. He and his wife Marjorie live in Matthews
Dorinell Alcantara is a recent MSW graduate of Winthrop University and is currently employed at Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center as a Child and Family Therapist. She has worked with children for over 10 years with a growing passion for helping and advocating for minority children and families, primarily in the LatinX community.
After completing her year-long internship with Presby Psych, Dorinell is a volunteer Junior Board Member. Her portfolio is to serve as a liaison between Presby Psych and Charlotte’s vibrant community of younger adults. In addition, Dorinell is a member of Presby Psych’s Development Committee and will assist in creating friend-raising and fundraising events that are attractive to this population. Honored to be a member of the Presby Psych Board, Dorinell will connect with these younger people who are already accepting of the value of mental health services.
In her spare time, Dorinell enjoys hiking, fishing, camping, and traveling with her partner and dog. Dorinell is also part of a national dance team advocating for women’s empowerment across the nation