Advisory Panel

We are fortunate to have an advisory panel composed of dedicated people who are passionate about our mission. It is the insight, perspective, and ideas each board member brings that enable us to provide our communities with high-quality services. 

Click + to View an Advisory Panel Member’s Biography

Valerie L. Sisson


Mrs. Sisson has lived in Columbia for five years.  She is a native Cleveland who choose to move here due to her son’s chronic health issues.  It is because of the guidance, support, and patience of the first responders and the rest of his medical team that she is motivated to give back by joining the First Responder Support Advisory Panel.

Mrs. Sisson holds two Masters Degrees.  She has a Masters of Social Science Administration (Social Work) and a Masters of Nonprofit Organizations.  She is an independently licensed social worker in Missouri and Ohio.  The majority of her career was spent in senior leadership and direct mental health services at non-profit mental health organizations in Cleveland Ohio.  Currently, she is the Director for the Columbia Vet Center (federal agency) overseeing daily operations and providing clinical support to veterans with PTSD, SUD, and other mental health challenges.

Mrs. Sisson describes herself as a change agent.  Per Mrs. Sisson, “I have over 25 years of specialized experience with program marketing, evaluating, and strategic planning.  Previous executive leadership utilized those skills to start, manage, and provide daily oversite to new innovative programs and/or programs that were in danger of losing funding.  I have worked on projects both broad in scope with agency wide impact and smaller ad hoc project teams.  I am familiar with daily huddles, action plans, tracking, monitoring assignments, and ensuring the buy-in of critical staff.”

Darryl Smith

Darryl Smith has served the Columbia and Boone County community in numerous roles including as the Chair of the City of Columbia Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB), Vice-Chair of the Boone County Extension Council, and Local Coordinator for Mid-MO Mensa. Darryl is a member of the Missouri Bar. He holds an LLM in Dispute Resolution and a JD from the MU School of Law, a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Organization Management from the MU Truman School of Public Affairs, and an MA in Journalism/Media Management from the MU School of Journalism. Darryl recognizes that First responders often interact with people at the worst points in their lives; and that this cumulative stress and trauma can have a profound effect on the lives of responders and their families. He is looking forward to working with FRS to help support the people behind the uniforms.

Chris Kelley

Chris Kelley has a passion for serving his community through his roles in public service and he has spent most of his career in service to the citizens of Columbia and Boone County. He is currently the Deputy Director for the Boone County Office of Emergency Management. In this role, Chris works with Boone County residents, and first responders, to make our community more resilient and prepared for disaster. Chris spent approximately two decades in law enforcement having served as an officer, sergeant, and lieutenant with the Columbia Police Department (CPD). Chris has personally endured the difficulties and challenges from the constant stress and emotional trauma of law enforcement–and Chris is eager to help improve conditions for first responders in Boone County. 

Rachael Wittenberger

Rachael Wittenberger is a physical therapist and owner of Mindful Movement Wellness Center in Columbia. She practices functional physical therapy and takes a hands-on approach to finding the root causes of pain. Rachael has pursued continuing education in functional medicine, functional nutrition and trauma. She believes that everything is connected, that wellness includes identifying and addressing multiple inputs and that it can take a village to lead a person back to health. Taking care of those that take care of our community is very important to Rachael and she is honored to be a part of making our first responders’ health a priority.

Randy Minchew

Randy Minchew has dedicated his life to the service of others; and he is committed to his family and to the community. Randy has spent more than 40 years in business–starting, managing, and growing businesses. He currently works as the Vice President of Business Development for Deline Holdings. Randy overcame years of physical abuse and addiction as a youth, which contributes to his passion for serving others–especially those struggling with substance abuse. Randy and his wife Cindy made Columbia their home after experiencing its unique greatness. Together they raised seven children (four of their own and three from a family member) and now, after 42 years of marriage, they are enjoying their seven grandchildren. During previous campaigns for public office, Randy’s clear and unwavering support for first responders was evident. As a result, many police officers and firefighters supported him and his candidacy. Randy has served with other nonprofit organizations, including Phoenix Programs, Grade A Plus, and Love Columbia, Salvation Army; and Randy was instrumental in helping to launch First Responder Support. Randy is passionate about helping first responders and making sure that first responders know that the Columbia and Boone community supports them too.  

Turner Schuster

Turner Schuster is committed to Columbia and Boone County and equally committed to first responders and their families. He spent more than 8 years as an law enforcement officer with the Columbia Police Department (CPD) and, before that, Turner was a civilian CPD employee. Turner served as a Field Training Officer, a member of the Peer Support Team, and a Sergeant. In mid-2022, Turner left law enforcement to pursue a career with Schuster Financial Services where he now helps people meet their financial goals. But Turner remains connected to law enforcement more than most since his wife, Kim, is a CPD sergeant. Having experienced several critical incidents himself, Turner has seen the stressful impacts that being a first responder can have on police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency telecommunicators. Turner believes strongly in supporting the health and well-being of those who protect our community, and also supporting their families.

Brian Treece

For more than 20 years, Brian Treece has been a tireless advocate for police officers, firefighters, and first responders. Brian worked with legislators to strengthen protections for police officers who experienced disabling hearing loss, heart- and lung-related injuries, and PTSD. Brian also worked to improve line-of-duty death benefits, and to extend health benefits for spouses of fallen police officers. In 2016, Brian was elected Mayor of Columbia on a platform of improving public safety, investing in reliable infrastructure, and making Columbia’s economy work for everyone. As Mayor, Brian added police officers to better protect our neighborhoods, without raising taxes, and improved funding to help retain experienced officers. Brian sponsored the new Officer Molly Thomas Bowden Neighborhood Policing Center and he initiated a new collaborative policing strategy with the University of Missouri Police Department. Brian looks forward to the positive impact that FRS will have on first responders and their families–and on the broader Boone County community. 

Jared Torbet

Jared Torbet believes that a healthy world is a better world. He has dedicated his professional life to helping people make lasting changes through improved mental health and quality of relationships. Jared is the founder and operator of Anxiety & Depression Clinic of Columbia. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Coach. Jared leads a team of skilled therapists and psychiatrists focused on treating anxiety, depression, trauma, ADHD, OCD, and relationship issues. Jared served as a Telehealth Pioneer, and has presented at behavioral health conferences across the US. Jared appreciates the opportunity to help our first responders improve and maintain mental wellness for their own stability, and for the betterment of the people and communities of Boone County.

Jason Gruender

Jason Gruender is committed to bettering the Columbia and Boone County community. He is a Columbia native, a Hickman High School graduate, and an MU alumni. Jason is a licensed Professional Engineer currently working as a Vice President at Meyer Electric Company. Jason founded Liberty Insurance Solutions which works hand-in-hand with Liberty Family Medicine, a direct primary care clinic started by Jason’s wife, Dr. Bridget Gruender. Jason serves on the board of Welcome Home, an organization aimed at ending veteran homelessness; and he is an active member of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. Jason recognizes that our first responders are on the front lines working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Boone County. Jason believes that providing first responders with necessary tools and support will improve our community overall–and will help ensure Columbia remains one of the best places in the country to live.

Caleb Wright

Caleb Wright is a Columbia native and an active member of the community. He is the lead instructor at (and the owner of) T&S Solutions, a violent crime and trauma mitigation company. Several members of Caleb’s family serve (or have served) in law enforcement and corrections. He previously worked a non-commissioned position at the University of Missouri Police Department. Caleb believes it is important to support the good people who take risks for a living but also to support their families.

Ken Gregory

Ken Gregory has dedicated his entire professional life to his community. He currently serves as the Deputy Director of Safety & Security for Columbia Public Schools, and he is an instructor in active shooter response and mitigation. Previously, Ken spent more than 20 years working as a law enforcement officer for the Columbia Police Department (CPD). Ken was a member of both the Hostage Negotiation Team and the Crisis Intervention Team, and he was an instructor in both disciplines. Ken retired from CPD as a Lieutenant and, at the time of his retirement, he was the Investigative Commander. Ken has both witnessed and experienced the impacts that stress and trauma has on first responders and their families. Ken is passionate about assisting and supporting the first responders who serve Boone County.

Amaris Worstell

Amaris Worstell is currently working her dream job of a hard working homemaker with her husband and three daughters. She uses her voice on social media to share openly about her own life struggles in an effort to spread light and hope in dark times. Amaris recognized that our first responders show up and help in times of crisis and chaos. Amaris is excited to be a part of the FRS Advisory Panel and she looks forward to the important mission of helping the helpers.

Tommy Goran

Tommy Goran has a passion for helping others. After graduating from Missouri State University in 2013, he started as a firefighter for the Columbia Fire Department (CFD). Tommy is currently a Fire Captain and a member of CFD’s Technical Rescue Team and Honor Guard. Tommy, an Eagle Scout himself, remains involved in Scouts BSA as an adult leader (Cubmaster). For several years, Tommy led the Columbia Memorial Stair Climb–an event honoring first responders who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The stair climb also raised money for an organization which helped the families of these fallen heroes and another organization which helped support firefighters who have cancer. Throughout his career, Tommy has seen firsthand the affects the job can have mentally and physically on himself and his colleagues. Tommy looks forward to assisting to promote goodwill between first responders and the community.

“I’ve always seen first responders as unsung heroes and very special people because, when everyone else is running away from danger, they run into it.” – Dwayne Johnson

Providing Support

We provide support to those who serve the community as first responders by developing and implementing comprehensive plans to address the needs of first responders who experience crises and critical incidents.

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