Steve Sweatt, LPC/LMFT – Clinical Director

Steve is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with more than 35 years of experience. He directs CGS programs and services; provides individual, couples, and group counseling; and supervises the agency’s contract counselors and volunteers.

Steve is an experienced bereavement counselor and family therapist, among other specializations, who earned his Masters of Education degree in Community and Agency Counseling from The University of Montevallo and trained with nationally known bereavement specialist Dr. Alan Wolfelt at the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, CO.

Steve earned his Master of Divinity Degree in Psychology of Religion and Pastoral Counseling from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, and completed three-year residencies in healthcare chaplaincy and marriage and family therapy with Atlanta, GA’s Emory Healthcare, and Birmingham’s United Counseling, respectively.

Steve serves on the Professional Advisory Committee for the Department of Counseling and Leadership, University of Montevallo. He was Founding Director and Clinical Staff Chaplain, Pastoral Services, at St. Vincent’s East (formerly Medical Center East), a post he held for 17 years. He is an ordained Baptist minister.

A family man who has experienced the loss of his father and grandparents, Steve is married to the lovely Teresa Strickland and is father of two accomplished adult children, Stephanie and Christopher, and the grandfather of an adorable granddaughter, Joanna. He enjoys 1950’s and ‘60s rock ‘n roll and is a physical fitness enthusiast.


Lisa Sims Harrison, Administrative Director

Lisa joined CGS in January 2014 after a 17-year career as Director of Alumni Affairs at Birmingham-Southern College. She brings more than thirty years of experience in public relations, marketing, fund raising, and volunteer management to the job.

Lisa has a heart for the work of CGS. She was caregiver for her mother, who died of ovarian cancer. Her father died several years later after a series of debilitating strokes left him almost completely paralyzed. His caregiver, her stepmother, came to a CGS support group, joined a friendship group and later became a volunteer.

Using her considerable experience in fund raising, Lisa works to develop the support needed to bring help to more of the thousands of bereaved adults in our community. She also works with staff and the Board of Directors in developing long-term strategies for helping those we serve.

Lisa, her husband, Steve and cat, Maddie live down the street from the CGS office. She likes to paint and is writing a screenplay for a romantic comedy.


Elise Foster, Administrative Assistant/Junior Board Coordinator

Elise joined CGS after working at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, her alma mater. With a degree in psychology and experience in various coordinator roles, she oversees general administrative duties, coordinates the Junior Board, and plans events.

Having volunteered with nonprofits for years, Elise was drawn to finding a career in which she was able to go above and beyond to help people. With the outreach that CGS provides to Birmingham and surrounding communities, she is able to do just that.

When she’s not in the office, Elise enjoys gardening, volunteering at The Red Barn, and hiking with her very enthusiastic dog, Lola.


Jan Owen, Counselor-in-Training

Jan is a Counselor-in-Training studying for her Masters of Education in Clinical Medical Health Counseling at the University of Alabama. Jan brings almost twenty years of experience in pastoral care, leadership development, team building, volunteer management, and teaching to her work as a counselor. As a counseling intern at Community Grief Support, Jan helps provide counseling for clients and helps lead support groups for loss survivors.

Jan has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alabama, earning a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Leadership Studies. She has also received training in bereavement counseling with Dr. Alan Wolfelt at the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, CO. Jan is an ordained Baptist minister.

A loss survivor herself, Jan lost her first husband and her mother in recent years. Jan feels a calling to walk with and care for bereaved individuals and has worked with loss survivors both in the United States and abroad in several countries. She is now remarried and is the mother to three adult children. She also has her dog, Ruby, who helped her survive after her loss. Jan enjoys traveling, reading, stand-up paddle boarding, walking on the beach, and Alabama football.


Support Group Facilitators

Jacques Austin, LPC/NCC

Jacques is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Nationally Certified Counselor. He completed his graduate work at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, receiving honors as Most Outstanding Student in Rehabilitation. He has trained and worked with addiction, domestic violence and felony drug offenders.

Jacques is a counselor for Alabama Psychiatric Services. He formerly counseled at The D.A.Y. Program in Alabaster, where he developed the Anger Management program. He also facilitated groups for the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center.

He is Past-President of the Alabama Association for Specialists in Group Work, and Treasurer for the Alabama Counseling Association. Jacques also maintains a private practice, is a volunteer with the American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health, and a Board member of the Shelby County Branch American Red Cross.

Sara Hoover, M.A., L.M.F.T.

Sara is in private practice in Homewood, Alabama with Continum Counseling & Consulting, LLC. Her specialty area involve working with couples and families, but she also sees individuals (late adolescence and beyond) for a wide range of therapeutic concerns.

Sara holds her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Master’s in Community Counseling from the University of North Alabama. She also did a two-year Clinical Residency in Pastoral Marriage and Family Therapy and post graduate education at the University of Montevallo. Sara has facilitated the Loss of Parent, Grandparent and Sibling support group with CGS.

Dr. Larry Michael

Dr. Larry Michael currently serves as the Pastor for Adult Ministries and Parish Associate at South Highland Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to this, he served as Executive Director of Alabama Grief Support Services, Inc. Before that, Larry served over thirty years in pastoral ministry, leading congregations in five different states and in England.

He taught as an adjunct professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, has written educational curricula, sermonic series and articles for various periodicals, and authored a book on leadership (Spurgeon on Leadership, Kregel Publications, 2003, 2010). He has just completed a book titled A Necessary Grief: Essential Tools for Leaders in Bereavement Ministry, to be released by Kregel Publications in February, 2015. Dr. Michael is a leader with a wide berth of grief-related experience, having walked alongside many individuals and families who journeyed that path in his various ministries. He is a recognized public speaker and educator in many areas, and noted for his inspirational presentations. He is an ordained minister, holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland (College Park, MD), Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky).

Kristan L. Walker, LCSW

Kristan is currently group facilitator for the Loss of Parent, Grandparent and Sibling Group at CGS. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama and is a licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker.

Since 2015, Kristan has worked full-time as the director of Outreach and Social Worker at Trinity United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Prior to working Trinity, she practiced social work in both inpatient and outpatient medical settings. She has been a group facilitator at CGS since 2017.