Meet The Team
Heather Kersten, Psy.D.
Psychologist & Co-Founder
Dr. Heather Kersten obtained her Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology and completed her residency at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Growing up the daughter of a Milwaukee police officer heavily influenced her decision to specialize with first responders. She began by establishing a contract with the Milwaukee Police Department in October 2016. Due to the overwhelming utilization of her services, she collaborated with Emily to develop First Responders Psychological Services, LLC. Prior to obtaining her doctorate, Heather worked in the emergency room for 10 years at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, where she provided crisis and trauma intervention in collaboration with local police and fire agencies. Heather is married to Tim, a Captain on the West Allis Fire Department, and has one son, Easton.
Emily Jirikowic, Psy.D.
Psychologist & Co-Founder
Dr. Emily Jirikowic obtained her Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology. She completed her residency with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections at different locations emphasizing trauma treatment. Being the spouse of a police officer, Emily chose to focus her career on law enforcement and providing services to first responder families. After starting her work with the Milwaukee Police Department in 2017, Emily worked with Heather to develop First Responders Psychological Services, LLC to provide mental health care to first responders and their families. Emily is married to Ben, a City of Waukesha Police Officer, and has one son, Henry and one daughter, Evelyn.
*Both Emily & Heather are Brainspotting Practitioners
Erin Quandt-Knapinski, LCSW
Erin obtained her Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, completed her clinical hours at the Milwaukee County Criminal Justice Facility and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the State of Wisconsin. Erin has been a practicing Social Worker since 2003 with many populations of people focusing on healthcare, housing and homelessness prior to becoming a Master’s level Clinician in 2014. Since becoming an LCSW, Erin's focus has been on mental health within the community and correctional settings, most recently as a Clinician on the Crisis Assessment Response Team, a collaboration between Law Enforcement and Mental Health with the Milwaukee Police Department and West Allis Police Department. Being a spouse of a police officer and working with police officers with the Crisis Assessment Response Team, Erin recognizes the nuances and importance of mental wellness with and for law enforcement and joined First Responders Psychological Services, LLC as a Psychotherapist to provide first responders and their families support through evidence based therapeutic models. Erin is married to James, a city of Milwaukee Police Officer and has one Daughter, Poppy and one Step-Son, Zachary.
Ramona is a California native who relocated to Pewaukee, WI in 2016 with her husband and their children. She was raised by a patrol officer and Sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in California. At the age of 13, Ramona’s father was shot in the line of duty. Although her father survived the shooting, he was sentenced to a life in a wheelchair as he was paralyzed from the chest down. Ramona, her siblings, and her parents were faced with daunting challenges resulting from her father’s paralysis, that tested their fortitude and their faith. Ramona believes that these painful experiences strengthened her character, bolstered her determination, and taught her patience, perseverance, and a positive attitude. Ramona and her brothers all became O.C. Sheriff’s Deputies to honour their father. Ramona married her academy sweetheart, Joel, and is still married after 33 years. She proudly served the Sheriff’s Department for 13 years, gaining varied experience from Corrections, Classification, Sensitive Crimes/Training Division, Patrol, and as a Community Resource Officer. She retired to raise children and her husband continued his dedication to Law Enforcement for a total of 28 years. Ramona went on to finish her BS in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in the Law and Legal Process, and is currently working on her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Cardinal Stritch University. It is Ramona’s love for law enforcement, her background and experience, as well as her ongoing Clinical Psychology training that motivates her desire to be instrumental in assisting officers as they attempt to balance the ongoing physical, emotional, and psychological challenges faced throughout their career.
Ashlee Gethner, LCSW
Ashlee has worked in mental health for over seven years at various settings and treatment levels, such as schools, out-patient, in-patient, and residential. She works with clients from all ages, as well as with couples and families. Her areas of focus are with clients having trouble with anxiety, depression, trauma, behavioral concerns, substance abuse concerns, and more. She is knowledgeable and certified on an array of interventions, including EMDR, ensuring treatment meets the client where they are at. Ashlee has dedicated her career to giving back to our first responders. Growing up in a first responder family, Ashlee quickly recognized the need to aid our first responders through the everyday tragedies they see. Ashlee specializes in therapy for first responders and hopes to continue paving the way for programs and education in first responder mental health and well-being. Ashlee earned a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois and continues to work on her education as she pursues her Doctorate of Social Work from George Williams College of Aurora University in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.
Morgan Carter, MA, MS
Morgan is currently working on her Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology, from the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Forensic Science, with a Minor in Psychology, and Master’s Degrees in both Forensic Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Morgan did her internship for her bachelor’s degree with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, working on the Domestic Security Task Force, the Violent Crimes Unit, and the Economic Crimes Unit. She also worked as a 911 Dispatcher for Anoka County, MN and as a Death Investigator for Burnett County, WI. It was her experience in and with law enforcement that drove her to focus her psychological education and future career on law enforcement and working with first responders and their families.
Damon Camarata, LCSW, CSAC
Damon is a dedicated and compassionate Social Worker with almost 30 years of broad-based experience in support of at-risk populations. Damon obtained his Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. He went on to receive both a Licensed Clinical Social Worker certification and a Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor certification through the State of Wisconsin. Since then, Damon has supported individuals struggling with mental health and/or addictions issues in a wide range of treatment settings, including inpatient, outpatient, residential, and correctional facilities. Over the past 6 years, Damon’s specific focus has been within the criminal justice system. Damon worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker at the Milwaukee County Justice Facility and went on to become the Supervisor of the Mental Health Team at the Milwaukee County House of Corrections. Damon has continued this commitment by joining First Responders Psychological Services as a Psychotherapist, providing support to first responders and their families. As a result, Damon has gained expertise in multiple clinical areas like addictions counseling, group therapy, instruction/training, crisis intervention, individual/couples counseling, and trauma-informed care.
Payal Chawda, MS
Payal worked in the higher education field for 13 years, working with at-risk populations and first year students before transitioning into the mental health services world. She grew up in a war-torn country and has experienced the effects of constant stress and trauma firsthand. She earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Higher Education Student Affairs. After working in that field, she went back to school to pursue her original passion and earned a Masters in Clinical Psychology. She has experience working with clients getting treatment for substance use in a residential setting as well as refugees, who have gone through stressful and traumatic situations.
Payal is excited to work with First Responders because while they are helping others, she would like to help them and their families.
George graduated from Marquette University with degrees in Criminal Justice and Theology and then began a career in law enforcement as a Special Deputy for the Waukesha County Sheriff Department. He then served as a police officer for the Village of Menomonee Falls and then the City of Milwaukee. As an ordained minister, George is active in the Men’s Ministry and Chaplaincy Program at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield.
In addition to serving as Chaplain for the Milwaukee Police Department, George serves as Chaplain for the Wisconsin DOJ, the Wisconsin State Patrol and the United States Secret Service. He also serves on the Executive Board of Milwaukee’s “Police Officer Support Team” and the Wisconsin chapter of “Concerns of Police Survivors.” George is a certified instructor with the International Conference of Police Chaplains. George is married to Karen and has three grown children and four grandchildren.
Karen is the FRPS Peer Coordinator. She worked for 26 years as a Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff, spending the last decade of her career as an EOD K-9 handler. After retirement she joined the FRPS team with the goal of assisting those First Responders who are still serving their communities. As a Peer Coordinator she is available to answer any questions about the services offered by FRPS, assist in scheduling appointments or training, or simply help arrange a "meet and greet" at any department to allow members to meet and get to know our staff.
Sue Anne Marciniak
Director of Administration
As the Director of Administration since 2020, Sue oversees the organizational aspects of the practice. She assists the team in all scheduling, billing, and administrative tasks. Sue is married with two grown children and two grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys making memories with her grandchildren.
Sue is happy to answer any questions she can, or to connect you with any member(s) of the FRPS team.
Interested in Joining the Team?
Reach out to us to learn more about possible opportunities.