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Grassroots Empowerment Project
PO Box 8683
Madison, WI 53708-8683
Phone: (800)770-0588


*** To send a fax to any GEP staff members dial 1-800-770-0588 and during the greeting dial
"1" and then hit the send button on your fax machine.  This extension
is also a voicemail box but it will sense that a fax is sending and go
into receive fax mode.

Meet the Grassroots Empowerment Project Staff
In the past year there have been some changes of faces here at GEP. Some of you know us and some of you don’t. In an effort to make sure you all have names and faces to go with the agency, below is an interview that will help you get to know us a little better.

Click here for information about our Board of Directors.

Click here to fill out our comments form.






                     William Parke-Sutherland          


Office location
Phone Number
Executive Director
Madison, WI

(800) 770-0588 Ext. 3

(608) 345-0067 (C)


My name is William Parke-Sutherland and I'm the Executive Director for Grassroots Empowerment Project. I'm responsible for assuring that the organization has a long-term strategy to achieve its mission and organizational goals. I work with the staff, board of directors, and others to develoop programs and opportunities that allow us to create more opportunites for people living with mental health challenges to exercise power in their lives. I also promote active and broad participation by consumers in all areas of our agency's work.

I also work to increase the knowledge of the needs of the mental health consumer/recovery/peer movement on a local, state, and national level, and provide systems advocacy on issues releated to the needs of the consumer/recovery/peer movement. We, as peers, need to understand our personal and collective power. We need to learn to use it to make the changes we now will work for us. We need to show policy-makers that the only way forward is with us at the table as partners. As someone who lives with mental health challenges and is deeply committed to our increasing our voice and agency, I'm thrilled to join the GEP team and do this important work.



Lora Ott and her 2 children                                                    Lora Ott           


Office location
Phone Number
Financial Manager
Madison, WI

(800) 770-0588 Ext. 1

(608) 206-2442 (C)

I am the Financial Manager for Grassroots Empowerment Project.  I serve on the Board and the Finance Committee of Community Shares of Wisconsin.  I love all of my co-workers, the team attitude of GEP staff and the people at the sites, and the energy and excitement of Empowerment Days and the annual conference. I have been working in the accounting field for almost 25 years, mostly in nonprofit agencies. I took a year-long break from working in accounting and drove a semi-truck all over the U.S. some years ago. Now I'm with GEP and also have a part-time business doing bookkeeping & financial consulting with other nonprofit agencies in the Madison area.  I am also the very proud mother of two fantastic children.



Sam Ahrens                                                   Sam Ahrens


Office location
Phone Number
Technical Assistance Coordinator
Eau Claire, WI

(800) 770-0588 Ext. 8

(715) 529-4679 (C)

My name is Sam Ahrens, and I am a Technical Assistance Coordinator for Grassroots Empowerment Project. I provide training and technical assistance to peer-run mental health recovery centers in the northern part of the state. Each of these organizations is run by an amazing group of talented, caring and committed people. I have immense appreciation and respect for the work they do, and for the wonderful diversity of recovery programs and services they offer.

My training and experience includes teaching, social work and advocacy in the areas of poverty, homelessness and mental health. I am a certified peer specialist and have co-facilitated GEP peer specialist trainings. Currently I serve on the board of Disability Rights Wisconsin and on their mental health advisory committee. My personal recovery experience and my work as an advocate have taught me that when people are deeply respected, listened to and supported they can transform their lives, and will go on to empower others. That’s what Grassroots Empowerment Project is about and why I am so happy to be a part of it.