About The Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois
Founding Director & Clinical Advisor
Sarah Allen, L.C.P.C., D. Clin. Psych. founded the PPD IL Alliance in 2001 and has been a member of Postpartum Support International since 1998, 17 years of which she was the PSI IL coordinator. She is a psychologist in private practice specializing in treating mood disorders across the lifespan. She has worked with Illinois Governors for the past 15 years to get May proclaimed as Perinatal Mood Awareness month in Illinois and is a dedicated advocate for women experiencing pregnancy/postpartum mood disorders. She moved to the USA from the UK in 1997 and has 3 wonderful children.
Dr. Sarah Allen is a member of the American Psychological Association and British Psychological Society, a volunteer trainer and a consultant to medical practices wanting to have more effective screening/treatment for PPMDs. She has presented at both national and international conferences and has published research on Traumatic Childbirth and Postpartum Depression.
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.
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.
Lara Vazquez is a proud mama of three, who experienced depression while pregnant with her third child. She was fortunate that her children’s pediatrician was well-read in perinatal depression, and this support was critical during pregnancy and nursing. After recovery, Lara’s goal became to eliminate the stigma of PPMDs. She has attended workshops and conferences to expand her knowledge on how best to support women going through PPMDs so they can know they are not alone. When not carpooling, Lara loves to play tennis, read, and binge on Netflix.
Nicole Giancaterino is a mother of two. She earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in 2014 and has been an OB Nurse for 20 years. She struggled with PP Depression and Anxiety after both of her deliveries, but with the help of support groups and counseling she found hope and happiness. She has been educating her patients and nursing students about Perinatal Mood Disorders for many years, and wanted to volunteer for PPDIL to help even more. When Nicole is not working she and her husband are watching their children in sporting and theater events, along with watching the White Sox and Blackhawks!
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