Kelsey Alexander has worked in the violence prevention field since 2013. Kelsey is the Prevention and Training Manager for the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Connecticut’s coalition of sexual assault crisis prevention and response agencies. Kelsey believes all people have a responsibility to recognize and claim power to prevent all forms of sexual violence.
Lisa Murphy-Cipolla, LMFT, CFP-B has been working at the Greater Hartford Family Advocacy Center at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center since 1998. She is currently the Clinical Services Coordinator and Supervisor. Lisa is also a trained Forensic Interviewer and has conducted over 2,100 child forensic interviews. In 2007 she received an award from the Hartford Multidisciplinary Team for “Exemplary Commitment and Service to Child Victims of Crime.” Lisa currently provides child forensic interviews at Waterbury Youth Services, The Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut and Trinity Health Of New England. Lisa also provides forensic interviews for adults at Trinity Health Of New England and is certified in the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) methodology (CFP-B).
Lisa has received extensive training in the area of child sexual abuse and testifies in court as an expert and fact witness related to child sexual abuse cases. Additionally, Lisa has conducted several educational presentations around the state related to child abuse. Those presentations include those to student interns, colleges and high schools, school staff, clinicians, medical residents, child and adolescent psychiatry fellows, DCF workers, law enforcement, and the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. Lisa is one of the four small group facilitators for the Finding Words course who view and provide input to the students’ interviews
Cori Capuano, LPC is a clinician at Waterbury Youth Services, LLC treating children with trauma and problematic sexual behavior.
Dr. Jaya Daptardar is an Ayurvedic Doctor and internationally renowned Ayurveda expert, writer, entrepreneur, healthcare executive, speaker, and licensed Esthetician. She has a Master’s in Healthcare Administration & Management and has been highlighted by magazines, newspapers, and television in the USA. Dr. Daptardar is the author of three books, “Aging Gracefully”, “Ayurveda’s Wisdom for Management of Pain and Addiction” and “Be Beautiful Inside Out”. She is a recipient of multiple awards for her work in Ayurveda, prevention, and wellness and has been practicing and teaching Ayurveda, prevention, and wellness in the USA for 25 years. Dr. Daptardar received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the healthcare service field from the Physician’s Association in CT and strongly believes in prevention and lifestyle management as a better tool for wellness and longevity. She is a faculty at AAPNA and Counsel Academy and works as a Chief Strategy and Compliance officer of Bridges Healthcare in CT.
Juno Dina serves as an Employment and Education Specialist for Love146, providing direct service care to the youth in service. Prior to joining Love146, Juno worked for Fellowship Place with the mental health population as a Career Specialist for almost a decade. While working at Fellowship Place Juno contributed to her department’s 90% success rate in education and employment, yearly “Exemplary” scores on the Fidelity Review, and outstanding engagement numbers. As a result, Juno was selected by the city of New Haven to pilot a collaboration with the homeless prevention “Street Psychiatry Team”. During her time working on this project, Juno assisted nearly all the individuals in obtaining identification, employment, and housing. Successful completion of the project motivated Juno to continue to challenge herself. After briefly working with the criminal justice system, Juno joined Love146 where she has been successfully working for 3 years and looks forward to many more with the agency.
Tony DeVincenzo is a Training Specialist with the Northeast Regional Children’s Advocacy Center having previously served as the Director of Programs/MDT Coordinator for Deirdre’s House, the Child Advocacy Center for Morris County, NJ. Prior to his employment at the CAC, Tony served 25 years in law enforcement, a majority of which involved investigating crimes against children. Tony retired as a Lieutenant from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office after supervising the Sex Crimes/Child Endangerment Unit. In addition to his law enforcement and CAC roles, Tony has been an adjunct faculty member at several colleges and has trained on a variety of topics including child abuse investigations, forensic interviewing of children, and the CAC/MDT model.
Doug Edwards is a family services consultant who has designed and facilitated programs for thousands of family workers and men and women in hundreds of groups for over 25 years. He has consulted with Connecticut State agencies, schools, non-profit human services agencies, and family development centers across New England. He is a Certified Family Development Credential Trainer and facilitator of Circle of Security, the Parent Leadership Training Institute, and Positive Parenting programs. He has been trained and holds certificates as a Pastoral Counseling and Care Specialist, high-conflict Family Mediation, and Men’s Trauma and Recovery. Doug is the founder and Director of Real Dads Forever, a Fatherhood Strategies Development organization. He is on the advisory boards of Prevent Child Abuse America CT, ECHN Family Development Center, and the Maternal Child Health Coalition. He is also a board member of Integrated Health Services and the CT Association for Infant Mental Health.
Kristina Filomena, LMSW, serves as a Survivor Care Social Worker for Love 146, providing direct service to the youth in our program. Prior to joining the Love146 team, Kristina worked in direct services with families experiencing intimate partner violence in the greater New Haven area. Kristina earned her MSW degree from Fordham University, and her BSW from Southern Connecticut State University, where she also minored in psychology. During her time at Southern Connecticut State University Kristina was a Peer Educator on campus and provided educational training on topics such as: bystander intervention, “what is abuse?”, red flags in relationships, “what is sexual misconduct?”, and consent to both staff and students. Kristina also co-founded Peer Educators Advocating for Campus Empowerment, P.E.A.C.E., a club that advocated for awareness and education to create a safer campus and community. When Kristina is not at work, she enjoys traveling and being outdoors. Kristina is also competitive and enjoys game nights with friends and family.
Anna Gasinski Public Health Analyst –New England HIDTA/ORS. Anna Gasinski is the CT Public Health Analyst for the CDC Foundation and NEHIDTA Overdose Response Strategy (ORS). She previously worked as a Prevention Coordinator for the Town of Stratford and a Prevention Specialist for Alliance for Prevention and Wellness, region 2 RBHAO. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Southern CT State University and is a Certified Prevention Specialist.
Taylor deGraffenried has five years of experience working in Anti-Human Trafficking and currently works as the Advocate for the Regionalized Human Trafficking Recovery Taskforce (RHTRT). Prior to her work with the RHTRT, she worked at the Bloom Initiative, providing case management services to survivors of human trafficking in Greater Hartford and Windham County. She was also responsible for the development of an outreach program to connect with individuals engaging in street level commercial sex. She is the Co-Chair for the HART Community Education and Awareness Subcommittee and is extremely passionate about curriculum development and community awareness. Taylor has a BA from Earlham College, an MA from the University of Hartford, and an MAS from the University of Basel.
Jamal Jimerson, M.S., M.A.B.C., is a racial equity consultant specializing in the nonprofit services sector with over 20 years of experience. He is the owner and CEO of Thought Partner Solutions. He is also the founder & Executive Director of Minority Inclusion Project, a 501©3 nonprofit organization devoted to helping the nonprofit sector close the racial leadership and governance gap.
Patrick Keenan, NCC, LPC is a clinician at Waterbury Youth Services, LLC treating children with trauma and problematic sexual behavior.
Robert Lawlor Jr, Drug Intelligence Officer – New England HIDTA/ORSBobby Lawlor Jr is the CT Drug Intelligence Officer for the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NEHIDTA) Overdose Response Strategy (ORS). Robert previously worked for the New Haven Police Department. Bobby was a member of the CT State Police Statewide Narcotics (HIDTA) Task Force. Bobby completed his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Post University, Master of Science in Investigations from the University of New Haven and Masters of Science in Addiction Policy and Practice from Georgetown University.
Jennifer’s current duties includes oversight of an intensive in-home program for male and female adolescents, and a residential subacute program for children ages 6-12 years. Jennifer has extensive experience providing clinical and administrative leadership, and support to staff using evidence-based approaches. She is also very knowledgeable and skilled in the areas of trauma informed clinical interventions, program design and implementation, policy creations, staff development and training and regulatory and accreditation processes. Jennifer is licensed as a social worker in the state of Connecticut. She is a certified EMDR clinician and EMDRIA approved consultant, and leader in behavioral health
Chris Marino is the Assistant Vice President of Child Programs at Community Mental Health Affiliates (CMHA), where he oversees outpatient and intensive treatment programs and school-based services. For the past 10 years, Chris has been trained in and provided over 5 trauma-focused evidence-based practices to children and families affected by traumatic events. He has given numerous trainings and workshops to other community partners and school districts on topics such as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Behavior Management, Compassion Fatigue and Self Care, and Social-Emotional Learning. Chris also works part-time as an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of New Haven and Post University, where he is passionate about sharing his knowledge with our future colleagues.
Polly Marston, PhD is an Intimate Partner Violence Consultant at Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families. With a focus on gender role conflict among school shooters, Dr. Marston’s research delves into the damaging effects of patriarchy on all gender expressions and how this knowledge can be used as a tool for assessing and engaging those at risk for violent behavior. In her current practice, Dr. Marston incorporates an anti-violence framework that takes into account anti-sexist and anti-racist ideology. She is dedicated to raising awareness of the harmful impacts of patriarchy and working towards a more equitable and peaceful society. Dr. Marston’s extensive experience and expertise make her a valuable resource for those seeking to understand and address the root causes of violence. She is a sought-after speaker and consultant, and her work is making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and communities.
Robin P. McHaelen, MSW is the Founder and former Executive Director of True Colors, Inc. She helped create one of the first LGBTQ+ mentoring programs in the country in 2005. She has co-authored two books, a book chapter and several articles on LGBTQ+ youth and is a nationally recognized thought leader. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2019 GLAD Award for Leadership; 2016 CCSU Women of Influence Award, the 2014 HRC Upstander Award, the 2011 UCONN Award for Excellence in Public Engagement; 2008 National Education Association’s Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights and the 2008 Social Worker of the Year (NASW, CT Chapter). She is an adjunct professor at Central Connecticut State University, teaching intergroup communications and human sexuality. In 2021, Robin was appointed by Connecticut’s Governor Lamont to the Hate Crimes Commission.
Monica Vidro Madigan, LCSW is a seasoned professional in the field of child abuse. Monica holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work with a specialization in children and families. She began her career in 2001 at the Yale Child Abuse Clinic where she is still employed. Monica is currently the Lead Social Worker and Forensic Interviewer in the Yale Child Abuse Clinic. She has conducted more than 1,000 forensic interviews. In addition to her direct clinical work Monica also provides trainings to professionals across the state and is a CT Finding Words Faculty member
Amanda Mendoza has dedicated the past 6+ years to the anti-sexual violence movement through research, education, and advocacy. She was awarded for her undergraduate research by the Eastern Psychological Association and the Association of Psychological Science. Since then, she has devoted her career to educating communities about the importance of anti-sexual violence work, by presenting research and best practices for supporting victims/survivors to victim advocates, health professionals, law enforcement, educators, caregivers and more. The solutions to ending sexual violence is supported by the data and driven by the people.
Chris Newlin, MS LPC, is the Executive Director of the National Children’s Advocacy Center where he is responsible for providing leadership and management of the NCAC and participating in national and international training and leadership activities regarding the protection of children. The NCAC was the first Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in the world and provides child abuse prevention and intervention services in Huntsville/Madison County; and also houses the NCAC Training Center, the Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the NCAC Virtual Training Center, and the Child Abuse Library Online (CALiO™). Chris has more than 22 years of experience working in CACs as a Forensic Interviewer, Victim Advocate, Therapist, Clinical Director, and Executive Director. Chris has provided diverse training related to the Children’s Advocacy Center Model, the multidisciplinary response to child abuse, the international development of Children’s Advocacy Centers, forensic interviewing, best practices in child abuse intervention and response, and additional child maltreatment and exploitation topics in more than 30 countries throughout the world.
Kathleen Nolan is a Senior Attorney with Zero Abuse Project. She joined the team in May of 2021. She brings over 15 years of experience as a Prosecutor in the area of Child Protection.
Kathleen previously served as the Chief of the Children’s Justice Division in the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office in Madison County, Illinois. She was appointed to that role in 2015 after joining the office in 2013. The Children’s Justice Division handled the charging and prosecution of all child victim cases in the county including physical abuse, sexual assault and child deaths. Her role as Chief of the Division also involved mentoring and training the attorneys she supervised. She also created and presented specialized trainings for members of the Madison County Multi-Disciplinary Team including police, forensic interviewers and Department of Children and Family Services workers.
Kathleen began her prosecution career in the Tazewell County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2006. Her role as a prosecutor in that office began with the handling of Juvenile Abuse and Neglect cases as well as the Juvenile Delinquency docket. From there, she moved into the full time prosecution of all the child abuse cases in the county and managed a docket of felony and misdemeanor cases.
In 2009, Kathleen accepted a position with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. She traveled throughout the state of Illinois handling the commitment of violent predators under Illinois’ Sexually Violent Person’s Commitment statute. She also prosecuted cases through the Trial Assistance and Statewide Grand Jury divisions.
EILEEN M. RUSSO, M.A., is a licensed addiction counselor, a certified clinical supervisor, and an advanced certified alcohol and drug counselor (substance use and co-occurring disorders) who has worked in the addiction and mental health field for the past 37 years. Ms. Russo also holds credentials as a relapse prevention specialist and a compassion fatigue educator. She has recently retired as Program Coordinator and Professor Emeritus for the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counselor program with Gateway Community College in New Haven, CT. For the past 18 years, she has served as a trainer/consultant with the CT Women’s Consortium, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, private agencies, and several states beyond Connecticut. Ms. Russo has assisted over 40 agencies/programs with developing trauma-informed programs including those who provide services for mental health and substance use disorders, employment, and criminal justice programs. Her training experience is extensive, including but not limited to, the staff of private- nonprofits, corrections, domestic violence programs and presentations at national conferences.
Ms. Russo has co-authored articles on the integration of trauma-specific services into treatment for substance use disorders and is a co-author of the curriculum Healing Trauma+: A Brief Intervention for Women and Gender-Diverse People, Third Edition, by Stephanie Covington. She has been a Certified Training Associate for Dr. Covington for the past 10 years.
Heidi Schwab has been a pediatric nurse practitioner for 13 years. She started her career as a PNP at a federally qualified health center practicing pediatric primary care. This experience was important for her eventual move to the field of child maltreatment in 2014. Since that time she has evaluated over 1,000 patients with concerns of child maltreatment. She has testified as an expert witness many times. Training local community partners is another important aspect of her work. She has presented nationally in the field of child sexual abuse and is committed to staying up to date on the most current research in this field. In her free time she enjoys exploring the outdoors, music and spending time with friends and family.
Detective Leonardo J. Soto has been a member of the New Haven Police Department since 2008. At first, he was assigned to the patrol division in the Fair Haven District of New Haven. In 2014, he was promoted to Detective and started out in the Shooting Task Force and Major Crimes Division. Detective Soto was transferred to the Special Victims Unit upon request and was assigned to the Human Trafficking Task Force with Homeland Security Investigations as a Task Force Officer (TFO). Detective Soto specializes in investigating incidents of child exploitation, human trafficking, and child physical assault. In 2022, Detective Soto was assigned to the Connecticut State Police ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force. On the ICAC Task Force, investigators work closely with NECMEC to investigate the production and distribution of child pornographic material. Detective Soto is also a Hostage/Crisis negotiator with the NHPD Emergency Services Unit and is a state licensed Paramedic.
Dermot Whelan is a Senior Consultant for Modell Consulting Group, LLC. Mr. Whelan was instrumental in the development of an advanced Forensic Interviewing Protocol for interviewing individuals with disabilities (Project FIND) and for older adults (SAFE). Prior to joining MCG, Mr. Whelan served as a Criminal Investigator with the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Mr. Whelan was primarily responsible for conducting and supervising criminal investigations stemming from allegations of abuse and neglect against vulnerable people who receive services through New York State operated, licensed, or certified agencies. Before specializing in investigating crimes against individuals with disabilities, Mr. Whelan started his police career in 1991 as a member of the New York City Housing Police and attended the NYC Police Department’s Police Academy. After several years of policing housing projects in the Bronx, Mr. Whelan took a position with the City of Albany Police Department where he served as a Patrolman, Detective, and Sergeant.
Danielle Williams, PhD has been working in the field of child abuse for over 25 years. Danielle holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and master’s degree in counseling psychology, PhD in Leadership and is all but dissertation for her second doctorate in clinical psychology. Danielle has been conducting interviews since 2006 and sits on multiple MDTs in the state. In addition to conducting forensic interviews, she is also faculty at several universities and for CT Finding Words.
Yvette is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology, from Trinity College and her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Cambridge College. Yvette has twenty – four years of experience working for non-profit organizations as a leader, director, trainer, advocate, and clinician. She is currently working as the Associate Vice President of Programs and Advocacy at the Village for Families & Children. Yvette worked as the Human Anti-trafficking Response Team (HART) Coordinator for five years and is currently one of the co-Chairs for HART. Yvette has expertise related to racial justice, mental health, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Yvette is a TEDX speaker on the topic of human trafficking. She is a published Forbes author on the topics of Human Trafficking and Anxiety.