Ellen Dalton - Founder & CEO
Ellen Dalton has more than 30 years of experience in the human services and mental health fields as a senior administrator for Eliot Community Human Services (a large, Massachusetts based, non-profit). Ellen has a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a master’s degree in Social Education from Boston University.
Most importantly, Ellen has gained experience and expertise in the area of youth suicide through the tragic and untimely death of her daughter, Nan. Ellen had nowhere to turn and she and her family were confronted with the stigma surrounding depression and suicide. She is working to transform her pain into finding answers and addressing gaps in the mental health system, gaps that had allowed Nan to slip through.
Realizing that most people are unwilling or unable to talk about suicide, she launched a campaign to open up the conversation and advocate for those whose voices rarely rise above a whisper. Telling the story of her family and Nan on WBUR and Chronicle, Ellen realized how prevalent depression and suicide were throughout families and communities. Using the unrelenting “what ifs” that consumed her daily quest to understand, Ellen established The NAN Project to bring awareness to schools, and hope to young people struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. She has become a well-respected advocate for those grappling with the darkness of suicide.
Ellen is the proud mother of four children, and currently resides on the North Shore of Massachusetts.
Jake Cavanaugh - Founder & Director
Jake Cavanaugh is Nan's older brother and the co-founder of The NAN Project. Jake and Ellen started brainstorming ideas about how to promote mental health awareness way back in mid-2015, and officially launched The NAN Project at the start of 2016. Nowadays, Jake is the Director of the The NAN Project, heading up most of the outreach and training, with the help of an amazing team. His daily activities revolve around connecting with schools around Massachusetts, tracking down Peer Mentors, planning future events, and everything in between.
Jake went to Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School in 2000, where Nan also attended. Upon graduating from the University of Miami, with a double major in Political Science and International Studies in 2004, Jake went to work on a presidential political campaign in Florida. Jake moved to China in 2005, where he soon met his wife and adopted a mangy street dog named Marley. he spent nearly 10 years living in the tiny metropolis of Suzhou just outside of Shanghai, working at a boutique market research firm. Jake returned to Massachusetts in 2015 and now resides in Beverly with his wife and Marley.
Lizzie MacLellan - Peer Coordinator
Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder during her most turbulent year of high school, Lizzie MacLellan sees a lot of herself in many of the young adults she meets while working for The Nan Project. Whether she is presenting her own story or helping others to do the same, Lizzie strives to destigmatize mental health and empower those like her to use their lived experience to make a difference in their own lives and in their communities.
She recently graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a bachelors of science in Psychology, with a minor in Human Rights. The combination of these two fields has led to an understanding of mental health that is person focused, evidence based, and considerate of intersectional identities. At UMass Boston, Lizzie was hired as a peer mentor for a freshman seminar, and completed her senior thesis project with a literature review on social and environmental factors impacting externalizing mental health problems in adolescence.
Lizzie is also involved in the Gathering and Inspiring Future Talent Peer Mentor Training, where she works for Dr. Kim Bisset, teaching communication and professional skills to aspiring peer mentors.
In her free time, you can probably find Lizzie visiting her family in Wareham, Massachusetts, or at home in Dorchester spoiling her pet hamsters.
Kelley Campbell - Project Coordinator
Kelley joined The NAN Project team in 2015 after first presenting with her son about their lived experience, both as attempt survivors and the their battles with the effects of mental illness. From there she split her time volunteering and training with Dr. Kim Bisset founder of the GIFT program and with Ellen Dalton and Jake Cavanaugh at The NAN Project. After a year of volunteering she became the Project Coordinator and currently works closely training Peer Mentors and helping to develop programing for the schools systems and young people with which The NAN Project works.
Kelley’s passion for her work came after a lifetime of struggling with her own mental illness and several suicide attempts. She was living in the shadows as most people with these struggles do. She reached out for treatment after years of suffering with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and a host of other challenges which began to negatively affect her children. Kelley’s drive as a passionate advocate was rekindled when her youngest son was bullied in school leading to years of hospitalizations and treatment facilities. The lack of appropriate and available treatment has been the driving force giving her the courage to advocate for herself, her family and all the people she comes in contact with that need a voice.
If you need help and want to talk to someone, call:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
For the Crisis Text Line, text "Listen" to 741-741
For the Samaritans, Call or Text (877)870-4673
For immediate crisis evaluation call the Emergency Services Program / Mobile Crisis Intervention at 1-877-382-1609 & enter your zip code; you will get the phone number of the closest ESP/MCI that serves you.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911