Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare Welcomes Three New Members to the Nonprofit’s Volunteer Board of Directors

Dr. Lori Brodie, Dr. Stephen Gessner, Wesley Poole

Pictured above from left to right: Dr. Lori Brodie, Dr. Stephen Gessner, Wesley Poole

This article appeared in the Fernandina Observer on November 2, 2021. See the article here.

Yulee, Fla: Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare today announced that it has welcomed three new members to the nonprofit’s Board of Directors. Wesley Poole, Dr. Stephen Gessner, and Dr. Lori Brodie will serve an initial term of three years and help drive the strategic vision of the organization. This brings Starting Point’s slate of members to seventeen – the largest the nonprofit has had since its founding in 1992.

“We are honored and grateful to have these three Mental Health champions join our Board of Directors,” says Laureen Pagel, CEO at Starting Point. Their experience and commitment to improve the lives of those who suffer from behavioral health disorders will only strengthen our organizational governance and continued success.”

– Luareen Pagel, CEO, Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare

Wesley Poole is a native and life-long resident of Fernandina Beach, FL and retired Nassau County Court Judge. He graduated from Fernandina Beach High School in 1967, received his B.S. in Finance from Florida State University in 1971, and Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Florida in 1973. During his appointment as County Judge, Poole presided over civil and criminal cases in County Court, as well as the Nassau County Veterans Treatment Court, which later became his namesake, “Wesley R. Poole Veterans Treatment Court”. Wesley brings his well tenured legal counsel, a host of leadership and civic involvement, as well as a keen interest in making Nassau County a happier and healthier place to live to the Starting Point Board.

Dr. Stephen Gessner joins the Starting Point Board with a long and distinguished career in K-12 and higher education, working as an administrator, teacher, clinician, consultant, and researcher. Dr. Gessner holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago and has worked as a clinical psychologist in clinics, hospitals, schools, and private practice. He joins Starting Point with experience in nonprofit governance and having served on a number of boards, including, but not limited to, the Friends Council on Education, the American Institute for Foreign Study Foundation, and the Board of Education of Shelter Island, NY School District.

Dr. Lori Brodie is a well decorated and lifelong learner having earned a B.A. in Psychology from George Mason University, a B.S. in Nursing from the University of North Florida, a M.S. in Psychology from Capella University, a M.S. in Nursing Education from Aspen University, a Doctor of Nursing practice from Aspen University, and is near completion of her Ph.D. (estimated March 2022) in Psychology from Capella University. Among many other outstanding qualifications, Dr. Brodie is board-certified in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing and is a National League for Nursing Certified Nurse Educator. Dr. Brodie has practical mental health experience caring for pediatric and adult patients in inpatient and outpatient settings as a registered nurse. She also serves as faculty teaching pre and post licensure nursing students.

About Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare

Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare provides mental health and substance abuse treatment services to children, teens and adults in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The non-profit agency serves more than 3,000 individuals each year and has been serving the region for more than 29 years. Starting Point is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). For more information, please visit


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