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About Us

Beyond the Badge NJ is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization that was created by two New York law enforcement officers, to raise suicide and mental health awareness, as they felt the need to address the growing mental health crisis that the first responder community is currently facing.

Enlisting the help of other fellow officers, friends, and family, they set out on their mission to BREAK THE STIGMA.

As first responders you are a part of the largest family there is, and they wanted officers to know IT'S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY

Our services and support are for those individuals who serve as first responders (Law Enforcement officers on the federal, state and local levels, Firefighters and volunteer fire, EMS including EMTs and Police Medics, Corrections, Sheriff’s, Deputies, Court officers, Probation/Parole officers and 911 operators and dispatchers).

Our Mission

• To reduce the growing epidemic of first responder suicides by breaking the stigma surrounding first responders coming forward for mental health treatment. We want to spotlight a positive image for those who see strength in coming forward and seeking the help they need and deserve.

• Additionally, to provide support and resources for the families whose first responder died by suicide.

• The statistics are rising at alarming rates for first responders who die by suicide due to PTSD, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression, which are often caused by day-to-day stress and trauma from the job. We want to spotlight a positive image for those who see strength in seeking the help they deserve.



Chris Panetta


Chris Panetta retired from the NYPD in April of 2021 as a Second Grade Detective. Over his 21+ years of service, he worked in multiple assignments throughout NYC including Borough Crime and the Organized Crime Control Bureau where he worked in Vice and Narcotics. After suffering a tragic and devastating loss in 2019, Chris joined the NYPD’s Peer Support Program and was also certified in Mental Health First Aid. Not realizing it initially and what it would lead to, he quickly learned that accepting this role would be the most important assignment of his career.

Growing up with an inherent drive and resilience instilled by his parents, Chris had the motivation and desire to further his educational prowess. While working for the Department early in his career and having to postpone his education twice due to attending the Police Academy and then the tragic events of 9/11, he obtained his B.S. in Business Management. Later, he decided he wasn’t quite finished and obtained his M.S. in Criminal Justice.

When Chris and his wife, Michelle, suffered the loss of his childhood friend and co-worker on January 25th, 2019, only three weeks after their wedding where his friend attended, he wondered why… why this happened and could he have done anything differently. Then the unimaginable happened later in the year when ten more brothers and sisters in blue also died by suicide. Chris and Michelle had seen enough. They took action and co-founded Beyond the Badge NY and had an event to raise awareness not knowing what would happen next. The event was successful but not because they raised money, but rather because they took the first step to bring a dire situation to the forefront of the conversation. Three years ago, Chris and Michelle just wanted to tell those struggling a few things:

1. It is not how one died, but rather how they lived.
2. It’s okay to not be okay.

But most importantly….

3. In this family, no one fights alone!

In the beginning Chris said “I don’t care if anyone remembers my name. I only care that our organization goes on long after I’m gone.” It seems to be well on its way!

Michelle Panetta


Michelle Panetta is a Senior Anti-Money Laundering/Financial Crimes Investigator, where she investigates individuals who launder money for the purpose of drug and human trafficking, terrorism, white collar crimes and local street crimes. Before this, Michelle was a Nassau County Probation Officer. She spent the first three and a half years of her career in the DWI Unit and assisted with Electronic Monitoring. She also spent time assisting with the Opioid Overdose programs as well as assisted numerous individuals in obtaining their GED’s. After suffering a Line of Duty incident, Michelle began working in the Restitution Unit. She retired in 2021 after five years of service to the residents of Nassau County.

Additionally, Michelle became an adjunct professor in 2017 at Nassau Community College where she currently teaches criminal justice. She also holds a B.S. and M.S. in Criminal Justice from Long Island University.

In 2019, Michelle and her husband Chris suffered a devastating loss when Chris’ co-worker and childhood friend died by suicide. Later that year, Michelle and Chris co-founded Beyond the Badge NY because they were distraught and angry about losing their fellow brothers and sisters in blue to suicide and felt something had to be done. Additionally, after her LODI she began having her own struggles with anxiety and PTSD and felt she could make an impact with others. She made a decision to let others know… “In this family, no one fights alone!”

Board of Directors

Brad Waudby


Brad Waudby was born and raised in New Jersey and attended the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) located in Fort Monmouth, NJ. After prep school, Brad entered the United States Military Academy as a member of the class of 2004. While at USMA, Brad was a member of the school’s football team, earning two varsity letters. His course of studies included the American Legal System and Systems Engineering. In December of 2004, Brad graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from USMA. In August of 2007, Brad entered the Police Academy and upon graduating in February 2008, was assigned to investigate Organized Crime and narcotics activities in and around the Port of NY and NJ. In October of 2011, Brad was hired at his current Department. Brad’s previous assignments include the Special Victims Unit, where he investigated sex crimes, child abuse and child abductions, the Bergen County Narcotic Task Force and the Major Crimes Unit. He was also an operator on the County Regional SWAT Team.

Brad is currently assigned to the Bergen County Police Academy where he teaches in-service training and officer health and wellness. Brad is a certified Master Resiliency Trainer for the State of New Jersey. Part of his duties as a Master Resiliency Trainer are to teach resiliency to Police Officers around the State of New Jersey and help officers when they are experiencing a crisis in their lives. Brad has also earned a Master’s in Administrative Science and a Graduate Certificate in Global Security and Terrorism Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Brad is currently enrolled at Ramapo College, where he is working towards a master’s degree in social work, with aspirations of becoming a trauma and addiction therapist. In his free time, Brad likes to enjoy fly fishing with his two sons JJ and Tommy.

Danielle Lo Russo

Vice President

Danielle Lo Russo began her career in law enforcement with the Wildwood Police Department as a Class II officer in 1993. In January 1994, she was recruited by the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and assigned to the Narcotics Strike Force as a detective, and was detailed to the DEA’s Atlantic City Resident Office from 1994 to 1997. In July 1997, Lo Russo accepted a detective position with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, and was assigned to the Narcotics Strike Force (now the Guns, Gangs and Drugs Task Force). Lo Russo has specialized in narcotics enforcement, remaining in this assignment until August 2016. In 2009 Lo Russo was promoted to Sergeant / Commander of the Gangs, Guns and Narcotics Task Force. From 1997 to 2009, Lo Russo was assigned to the DEA’s, Camden Resident Office, for case specific cases, then as a Task Force Officer.

Lo Russo was a member of Gloucester County’s Prosecutor’s Office Entry Team. As an operational team member, she planned and participated in the safe, successful service of over one hundred diverse search and arrest warrants. In 2007, Lo Russo joined the Gloucester County Special Weapons and Tactics team as a negotiator. In this role, her responsibilities are to analyze information and intelligence relating to dynamic, developing incidents, as well as to directly interact with individuals to ensure a non-violent, safe resolution. She was a SWAT team squad leader.

In January 2019, Danielle retired and starting volunteering with the City Of Angels and attending a recovery coach class and has dedicated herself to helping others within her law enforcement / first responders families and communities throughout our state. In May 2019, she was hired by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General to work for the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES) as a county coordinator for Operation Helping Hand to provide individualized assistance to counties with their OHH programs.

In October 2022, Danielle was hired as the statewide “Chief Resiliency Officer”, who is responsible for overseeing the statewide program, this program is for state, county, and local law enforcement officers who need help with handling the daily stress of police work. We are responsible for providing training and resources for all officers, and for also serving as a confidential resource for any officer who wishes to discuss professional or personal challenges.

In October of 2023 Danielle had to practice Resiliency for her family as she has to take care of her father and assist her mother with his care and return to part time employment and returning to her role with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General to work for the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES) as a county coordinator for Operation Helping Hand, where she is currently employed.

Danielle learned about Beyond the Badge NJ, while working with Brad Waudby (BTB NJ) and fell in love with all they do and stand for.

Brittney Kotteles


Brittney is a Sr Manager for corporate crisis management & risk mitigation and has been in her field for over 15 years, currently using her expertise and experience with Arc’teryx.

Currently Brittney serves on the Board of Directors of the Legacy Youth Empowerment Organization, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to serving the community to bring mental health awareness, physical activity, and empowerment to our youth through boxing. Brittney is surrounded by friends and family in blue and is passionate in breaking the stigma. Brittney provides her people expertise, devout support & unconditional enthusiasm in providing mental health to our first responders and their families.

Rhudy Snelling


Bio Coming Soon

Bio Coming Soon

Committee Directors

Kristina Colletti

Director Of Clinical Advisement

As a clinician and former first responder, Kristina’s mission is to help others heal from post-traumatic stress injuries so they can go on to live their best lives. Kristina is currently a Board-Certified Licensed Counselor with an M.A., with distinction in mental health counseling from Hofstra University. Kristina is licensed in both NY as an LMHC and in NJ as an LPC. Kristina is an EMDR Certified Trauma Therapist and is certified as a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner, as well as a Clinical Trauma Professional. Kristina specializes in trauma and believes in supporting the whole person, heavily focusing on multiple areas of wellness. She draws on her own lived experiences combined with her clinical background to encourage hope. Kristina believes that trauma is an injury and with appropriate peer and mental health support, the injury can heal.

Kristina is currently Deputy Director for a statewide behavioral health not for profit organization in NJ. As part of the executive team, Kristina oversees and supports the operations and success of the programs within the assigned region of the state, inclusive of wellness centers, forensic, community support services, and supportive housing programs. Kristina is a clinician for New York Law Enforcement Assistance Program (NYLEAP) and took an active role in helping to bring Post Critical Incident Seminars (PCIS) to the state of NY. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Warrior Wellness Counseling, LLC, a private practice that primarily provides trauma therapy to first responders, military, and survivors of suicide loss. As the Director of Clinical Advisement for Beyond the Badge, Kristina provides clinical guidance as needed to Beyond the Badge NY and affiliated chapters. Kristina takes an active role in mental health education and awareness with peers and other affiliates.

After learning that her childhood best friend’s husband died by suicide after 12 years on the job in law enforcement, Kristina set out to break the stigma when it comes to first responders and mental health. Kristina is also personally a survivor of multiple losses to suicide. She has close relationships with many first responders, military, and is well versed in family dynamics involving first responders through her own lived experiences. As a former first responder with emergency medical services, Kristina uses her own journey with critical incidents and trauma to further motivate her mission of providing hope and healing to others. Kristina continues to collaborate with various organizations who share in her mission.

“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it, is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.” -Rachel Remen

Marissa Caiola

Director of Event And Initiative Logistics

Marissa Caiola is a 4th grade English and Social Studies teacher in Belleville, New Jersey. She has struggled with anxiety and depression over the course of her lifetime, leading her experiences to afford her a unique understanding of how debilitating mental health challenges can be. She is proud to be an advocate for mental health awareness, especially with her students.

Marissa is a longtime supporter of law enforcement and has a strong presence surrounding her. Her family has a history of employment in the NYPD and her boyfriend was a police officer in the NYPD and transitioned into a different branch of law enforcement as a federal agent. In addition to her friends in the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Department, she is surrounded by colleagues who have close attachments to law enforcement and who share her commitment to officers everywhere. Marissa’s background allows her to incorporate much of her knowledge and past experiences into her classroom with her students. She initially planned to become a teacher when she learned of a growing need to support students struggling academically. After graduating from SUNY Cortland in 2018 and accepting her first position as a full-time 6th grade teacher, she quickly realized that academics are only half of what a student is. The second half is the social and emotional piece that makes each individual unique. She stresses the importance of not being afraid to talk openly, as well as the need to always keep light of this important issue at the forefront. Marissa’s strong leadership and interpersonal skills have given her the opportunity to join Beyond the Badge, where she will establish new relationships while working to make a difference through her role as the Director of events and initiative logistics.

Stacey Kelly

Director of Fundraising & Marketing

Bio Coming Soon

Bio Coming Soon

Professional Advisement

Thomas Purpi


Tom Purpi has been practicing law in the state and federal courts of New York since 2010. His top-rated firm handles a wide variety of legal matters from general civil and commercial litigation to corporate, real estate, employment, and matrimonial law. As a native New Yorker, he is a graduate of New York University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Tom is currently outside counsel to Beyond the Badge, Inc. His commitment to Beyond the Badge’s mission is inspired by his appreciation of the heroism and sacrifice of his family and friends in law enforcement, and of all those in the first responder community. He has, as too many others have also, been personally affected by the tragedy of loss due to mental illness. Tom plays an intricate part of bringing Beyond the Badge’s mission to new chapters across the country in hopes of once and for all smashing the stigma of mental illness and protecting those who serve and protect us.