Meet the ESP Team

Patti YerkePatti Yerke, LMSW, ACSW
Program Manager

Patti manages the ESP team and provides oversight for the employee assistance services provided to state employees and their family members. She also provides direct consultation to Managers and Human Resource personnel on employee and work unit issues, provides TISM services and develops and presents Wellness Sessions. Patti has prior experience administering a large outpatient mental health/substance abuse clinic, and working for 20 years as a clinical therapist and direct provider of EAP services in a variety of settings. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Michigan State University. Patti is certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) to provide critical incident stress management services, and is a Field Instructor for MSW students from Michigan State University. Her areas of expertise include workplace leadership, crisis intervention/response, traumatic loss and grief, and suicide assessment and prevention.


Kristin GieringKristin Giering, LMSW
Clinical Social Work Manager, Lansing

Kristin provides assessment, short-term problem resolution, and referral and follow-up services for state employees and their family members. She also provides Wellness Sessions, TISM services, consultation to managers on employee issues, and is the lead counselor for Work Unit Consultations. Kristin has prior experience as a mental health/substance abuse clinical therapist in both private practice and correctional facility settings. Kristin has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Ferris State University. Kristin is certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) to provide critical incident stress management services. Her areas of expertise include substance abuse, domestic violence, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and suicide assessment and prevention.


Joel EversJoel Evers, LLMSW
ESP Counselor, Lansing

Joel provides assessment, short-term problem resolution, referral, and follow-up services for state employees and family members. He also provides Wellness Sessions and TISM services. Joel has prior experience working with adolescents at an inpatient residential facility and interned at the Ann Arbor VA Substance Use program. Joel has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University and obtained his Master of Social Work Degree at Michigan State University. Joel is certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) to provide critical incident stress management services and has certification in working with Combat Veterans and in Addiction studies. His areas of interest include working with veterans, suicide prevention, PTS, trauma, and mindfulness.


Tapiwa KahariTapiwa Kahari, LMSW
ESP Counselor, Lansing

Tapiwa provides assessment, short-term problem resolution, referral, and follow-up services for state employees and family members. She also presents Wellness Sessions, TISM services and provides consultation to managers on employee issues. Tapiwa has prior experience working as a clinical therapist providing mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults in nonprofit outpatient agencies, and a correctional facility. Tapiwa has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Michigan State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Central Michigan University. Tapiwa is certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) to provide critical incident stress management services and is certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Her areas of expertise include trauma, crisis intervention/response, traumatic loss and grief, and suicide assessment and prevention.


Lyndsay KramerLyndsay Kramer, LMSW
ESP Counselor, Lansing

Lyndsay provides assessment, short-term problem resolution, referral and follow-up services for state employees and their family members. She also provides Wellness Sessions, TISM services, and consultation to managers on employee issues. Lyndsay is the lead counselor for the Traumatic Incident Stress Management program (TISM), and Interactive Screening Program. Lyndsay has prior supervisory experience at Michigan State University and has held several positions within the Employee Service Program. She holds a Masters of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Michigan State University. Lyndsay is certified by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) to provide critical incident stress management services. Her areas of expertise include crisis intervention/response, grief and loss, caregiver/compassion fatigue, LGBTQ, and locating resources and referral information.


Peter MasonPeter Mason, LMSW, ACSW
ESP Counselor, Detroit

Peter provides assessment, short-term problem resolution, and referral and follow-up services for state employees and their family members. He also provides Wellness Sessions, TISM services, consultation to managers on employee issues, and is the lead counselor for the Detroit office. Peter has extensive prior experience working with dual diagnosis clients, criminal justice offenders, minorities, and those who are reluctant to engage in treatment. He has served as the Clinical Director of a chemical dependency program, and was an adjunct instructor for Marygrove College in Detroit. Peter holds a Master’s of Social Work Degree from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Studies from Mercy College. He trained with Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation to provide critical incident stress management services. Peter has expertise in short-term problem resolution, mental health conditions, critical incident assistance, alcohol and drug abuse, and conflict management.


Kirsten Pennington

Kirsten Pennington, LMSW
ESP Counselor, Lansing

Kirsten provides assessment, short-term problem resolution, referral and follow-up services for state employees and family members. She also presents Wellness Sessions and provides consultation to managers on employee issues. Kirsten has prior experience working as a senior clinical therapist providing mental health services to children, adolescents, adults and families in a nonprofit agency. Kirsten has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from Michigan State University. Her areas of expertise include trauma, crisis intervention/response, mental health conditions, parenting, and suicide assessment and prevention.


Esther AcunaEsther Acuna, BA
Departmental Technician, Detroit

Esther performs a variety of technician assignments that support the Employee Service Program and its staff. Her primary areas of focus include working with the EAP software, ESP website, TISM Team Room, webinar assistance and program evaluation. Esther has many years of experience working at ESP assisting the program and clients in various roles. She also has prior experience working as the Executive Assistant for the President of a Detroit based Union. Esther has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Davenport University and is bi-lingual in Spanish. Esther is innovative and empathic with special expertise in customizing EAP software, creating reports, using Excel, and technical problem solving.


Cassandra WrightCassandra Wright
ESP Secretary, Lansing

Cassandra is the Employee Service Program Secretary and the first point of contact for most who call ESP. She gathers the initial information from the caller and then connects them to an ESP Counselor. Cassandra also prepares material packets for Wellness Sessions and sends out ESP promotional literature at request. Cassandra has been with the Employee Service Program for 22 years and with the State of Michigan for 28 years. Cassandra is compassionate, friendly, and skilled at getting callers quickly connected to ESP Counselors, or other departments as needed.