About us

The Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois

The PPD IL Alliance (PPD IL) is run entirely by volunteers who donate their time each week to provide informed support and information to women and their families who are experiencing pregnancy and/or postpartum mood disorders either by phone or email.

We are also advocates for increased awareness about Maternal Mental Health (MMH) issues among the helping professionals and for legislation, both national and statewide, to recognize MMH issues and the devastating effects they can have.

If you would like to have telephone support from one of our volunteers, please leave a voicemail on our warmline 1-847 205-4455. We aim to return calls within 24 hours.

If you prefer to contact us by email, please email our volunteers using  this form. We aim to return emails within 24 hours. This is for mom-to-mom support and non-urgent issues. If you need to hear back within 24 hours or you are experiencing an emergency see the telephone numbers below.

If you are experiencing an emergency please call 911 or your doctor.

If you or a family member need to speak to someone in person quickly, the NorthShore University HealthSystem Moms hotline 1-866-364-MOMS (1-866-364-6667) is answered live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our Email & Phone Volunteers

Lita Simanis

Lita Simanis, LCSW, has been a helpline volunteer with the PPD IL Alliance since 2008. Lita was elected to the Board of Directors of Postpartum Support International in 2014. She has helped to support and guide women and families through pregnancy and postpartum at the Alexian Brothers PMAD program since 2004, and is now the Program Coordinator. Lita is very proud of her two wonderful sons.

Lara Vazquez

Lara Vazquez is a proud mom of three, who experienced severe depression while pregnant with her third child. With screening and support from her OBGYN and her children’s pediatrician, along with medication and therapy, she went on to have a successful pregnancy and nursing experience. After recovery, Lara’s goal became to squash the stigma of perinatal mood disorders and to assure other mamas that they CAN recover. She began volunteering at PPDIL in 2009, and received training at several workshops and conferences to learn best practices to support women experiencing perinatal mood disorders. Since 2014, she has coordinated annual ‘Climb Out of the Darkness’ walks and in 2016, she and a fellow survivor started a peer support group in Downers Grove called Mom2MomDG. Lara works in Accounts Receivable at an investment valuations firm, and enjoys reading, tennis, scouring antique shops, visiting her daughters at college, and feeding her teenage son!

Marcia Cotler

Marcia Cotler’s greatest joy has been raising and being a mother to her two beautiful (now adult) children. However, the perinatal and postpartum depression she suffered during her pregnancies was one of her life’s greatest challenges. A desire to support other women suffering from this debilitating but treatable condition led Marcia to become a volunteer for PPDIL. Marcia’s volunteer work includes formerly leading a support group for women suffering from PPD at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Washington.

Venessa Nickel

Venessa Nickel is the mother of 2 beautiful children. She experienced Postpartum Depression with the birth of her second child 10 years ago. She writes, “I am living proof that with proper treatment and support you can recover from this illness.” Venessa was also an administrator for ppdsupportpage.com which provided online support and assistance to those dealing with postpartum mood disorders.

Nicole Giancaterino

Nicole Giancaterino is a mother of two. She struggled with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety after both of her deliveries, but with the help of support groups and counseling she found hope and happiness. As a nurse and faculty member, Nicole has been educating her patients and students about Perinatal Mood Disorders for many years and wanted to volunteer for PPDIL to help even more people. When Nicole is not working she is watching her children in sporting and theater events, along with watching the White Sox and Blackhawks!

Michelle Shaker

Michelle Shaker, LSW, is a mother of two children and a social worker. She relied heavily on her four sisters when her babies were born and sees peer-to-peer counseling as invaluable to the mental health of women going through postpartum depression and anxiety. By volunteering at the PPD IL, she hopes to continue to guide women through this process and to show them there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Ellen Cohen

Ellen Cohen is a recent new mom who was caught off guard when she experienced postpartum depression and anxiety with her first child. Disappointed and frustrated by the lack of support she felt from the medical community, Ellen set out to help normalize discussions around the jarring transition into motherhood and all that comes with it.

Ellen strives to relate to fellow new moms through her work with PPDIL and in her personal life; offering support through loving kindness and good listening. Ellen currently works in advertising and enjoys yoga, cooking, and spending time with her family.

FOUNDING DIRECTOR & CLINICAL ADVISOR

Sarah Allen, L.C.P.C., D. Clin. Psych. Is a mother of three boys and feels passionate about helping women feel supported as they journey through motherhood. She made it her mission for the past 20+ years to raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding maternal mental health issues.

Originally from England, Sarah completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in the UK, and she worked with many new moms in both the maternity wards of a large city hospital and in the community. Upon moving to the USA in 1997 she wanted to connect with others who share her passion for supporting new moms and joined Postpartum Support International (PSI). She has been volunteering her time ever since, as the PSI IL coordinator for 17 years and as the Director of the PPD Alliance of IL (PPD IL) since founding it in 2001.   

Dr. Sarah Allen is in private practice specializing in treating mood disorders across the lifespan.  She has presented at both national and international conferences and has published research on Traumatic Childbirth and Postpartum Depression.  She is a member of the American Psychological Association and British Psychological Society.

Sarah is a dedicated advocate and has worked with Illinois Governors every year for the past 17 years to get May proclaimed as Maternal Mental Health Awareness month in Illinois and with hospitals to provide screening and education about perinatal mood disorders. She believes that the more awareness within the general public there is about how common pregnancy & postpartum mood disorders are, the more women feel comfortable asking for help. 

Dr. Sarah Allen is active on social media and has been interviewed for many articles relating to Maternal and Paternal mental health. If you are a media representative or a perinatal professional or hospital system with questions please directly call our Executive Director Dr. Sarah Allen at 847 791-7722 or email her using this form.

Who We Are

The Postpartum Depression
Alliance of Illinois

The PPD IL Alliance (PPD IL) is run entirely by volunteers who donate their time each week to provide informed support and information to women and their families who are experiencing pregnancy and/or postpartum mood disorders either by phone or email.

We are also advocates for increased awareness about Maternal Mental Health (MMH) issues among the helping professionals and for legislation, both national and statewide, to recognize MMH issues and the devastating effects they can have

FOUNDING DIRECTOR & CLINICAL ADVISOR

Sarah Allen, L.C.P.C., D. Clin. Psych. Is a mother of three boys and feels passionate about helping women feel supported when they journey through motherhood. She made it her mission for the past 20+ years to raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding maternal mental health issues.

Originally from England, Sarah completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in the UK, and she worked with many new moms in both the maternity wards of a large city hospital and in the community. Upon moving to the USA in 1997 she wanted to connect with others that shared her passion for supporting new moms and joined Postpartum Support International (PSI). She has been volunteering her time ever since, as the PSI IL coordinator for 17 years and as the Director of the PPD Alliance of IL (PPD IL) since founding it in 2001.   

Dr. Sarah Allen is a psychologist in private practice specializing in treating mood disorders across the lifespan.  She has presented at both national and international conferences and has published research on Traumatic Childbirth and Postpartum Depression.  She is a member of the American Psychological Association and British Psychological Society, as well as a volunteer trainer and a consultant to medical practices wanting to have more effective screening and treatment for Perinatal Mood Disorders. 

Sarah is a dedicated advocate and has worked with Illinois Governors every year for the past 17 years to get May proclaimed as Maternal Mental Health Awareness month in Illinois and with hospitals to provide screening and education about perinatal mood disorders.

She believes that the more awareness within the general public there is about how common pregnancy & postpartum mood disorders are, the more women feel comfortable asking for help.  Dr. Sarah Allen is active on social media and has been interviewed for many articles relating to Maternal and Paternal mental health.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This