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Learn more about how Saratoga Center for the Family is working to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, clients, and the community

Staff

Administrative

Rebecca Baldwin, Executive Director

RebeccaBaldwin.jpgRebecca Baldwin is the Executive Director of Saratoga Center for the Family. Rebecca has spent her career focusing on children and families who’s lives have been impacted by trauma. She has worked across the Capital District creating and expanding community programming and facilitating community partnerships. Her experience ranges from Domestic Violence to Substance Abuse; Prevention and Mental Health to Foster Care.

Rebecca obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. After working in the field for a number of years, she returned to graduate school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Social Work Administration from the University at Albany.

Rebecca has spent the majority of her life in Saratoga County, where she is happy to remain living, working, and raising her two children.

Jennifer Wormley, Associate executive director

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Jennifer Wormley is the Associate Executive Director of Saratoga Center for the Family.  Jennifer’s career began working in the mental health field in several positions before joining the agency as the Director of the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center for 11 years.  She has always known that no matter what role she is in, her ultimate goal is to help others.

Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Rochester and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Canisius College before relocating with her husband and three sons from western New York to the Saratoga area. 

She believes it takes an educated and involved community to protect children and that child abuse prevention is everyone’s responsibility. She is a firm believer in the healing properties of humor and one of her favorite quotes, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” 

Michelle Ducrot, administrative director

photo.jpgMichelle Ducrot is the Administrative Director for Saratoga Center for the Family.  With almost 20 years working in varying office administration roles, Michelle transitioned into the non-profit world and joined the administrative team at SCFF in 2018.  

Michelle attended UMass Dartmouth where she majored in Business Management.  An avid community volunteer, Michelle served on the Saratoga Independent School Board of Trustees where she chaired the Marketing Committee and served on the Development, Strategic Planning, and Executive Committees.  She was also a member of the school's Campus Planning and Advisory Board and has worked with several community groups such as LLL International and Sling Babies, a local baby-wearing instruction and support group.

After bouncing from Massachusetts to D.C. to California to Virginia to New York, Michelle is happy to have (finally!) put down roots in Saratoga.  When not working, Michelle enjoys the outdoors (snowshoeing, hiking, kayaking, camping, and letterboxing), spending time with her daughters, and wrangling a menagerie of pets (one dog, three cats, several fish, gerbils, hermit crabs... and a partridge in a pear tree).

KAYLEIGH FISHER, INTAKE COORDINATOR

Kayleigh.jpgKayleigh Fisher is an Administrative Associate/Intake Coordinator at Saratoga Center for the Family.  She has over 10 years of experience working in the customer service field.  Always willing to help anyone with administrative questions or tasks, Kayleigh has become a true asset as the frontline face of the Center.

Kayleigh, who grew up in a small town in Upstate New York, now resides in Saratoga Springs. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her young daughter.  Whether it be walking to feed their mini ponies or going to the beach, Kayleigh and her daughter are always exploring the area for new and fun things to do.

 

Amy Radik, Development Coordinator

Amy R.jpgAmy Radik is the Development Coordinator at Saratoga Center for the Family.  She has over 25 years of experience in public relations, fundraising, marketing and development.  Amy has worked in the healthcare and educational industries and utilizes her background at a non-profit organization that believes in the importance of both a healthy and educated community.  With the Center’s mission being to reduce the effects of abuse, trauma and family dysfunction through advocacy, education, and mental health therapy, Amy has found that the Saratoga community and surrounding areas have been a huge support system in helping the Center see its mission through.

Amy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Public Communications from The College of Saint Rose and her Master of Arts: Liberal Studies/Urban Youth from SUNY Empire State College.

 

Diane Parrish, Administrative Associate

diane.jpgDiane Parrish has been part of the Administrative team at Saratoga Center for the Family since the fall of 2011.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree a long time ago but has always worked in client and customer service related fields. Diane enjoys assisting the clients and therapists on a daily basis.

She says she is blessed to be able to work and live in Saratoga.

 

 

 

 

 

Child Advocacy Staff

Nicole Iwaniec, Child Advocacy Center & Victim Services Coordinator

Nicole resized.jpgNicole earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Siena College where she majored in Marketing and Communications and minored in Psychology. After graduating, Nicole went to work as a Case Manager/Case Manager Supervisor in an Intensive Management Needs program within a residential treatment center. The facility serves children who have experienced multiple traumas, were victims of abuse, struggled with mental health issues and exhibited severe behavioral issues.  Nicole has almost 30 years of experience working collaboratively with adolescents, guardians, extended family members, clinical staff, school personnel, social services agencies and legal personnel. Nicole has extensive knowledge of the legal system as well as the mental health system.

Nicole has held the position of Victim Services Coordinator since 2015 and currently serves as the Child Advocacy Center & Victim Services Coordinator here at the Saratoga Center for the Family’s Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center.  She is responsible for the oversight of day-to-day operations of the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center and works with people who have been victims of a crime in a supportive role so that they can begin to heal from traumatic events. She is passionate about her work and works hard to bring a voice to those who may have had theirs silenced.   

GLEN VIDNANSKY, MDT COORDINATOR

Glen-Vidnansky-2.jpg Glen graduated from SUNY Oswego with a B.A. in Public Justice and a minor in Forensic Science.  He served 20 years with the Saratoga Springs Police Department with 16 ½ of those years as an Investigator. 

While at the Police Department, Glen was assigned to the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force for 7 years and New York State Police Internet Crimes Against Children for 8 years.

 

 

 

John Kelly, safe harbour Coordinator

j_kelly.jpgJohn worked for the Saratoga Springs Police Department for 25 years.  During his time there he worked as a D.A.R.E. Officer and Saratoga Springs School Resource Officer.

As the Safe Harbour Coordinator, John works in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team to identify and assist victims of human trafficking. John also provides community outreach and education in order to decrease the instances of human trafficking in our communities. 

 

 

 

DEREK TEFFT, OUTREACH COORDINATOR

TEFFT.jpgDerek Tefft is the Outreach Coordinator of Saratoga Center for the Family.  Derek returned to the Saratoga Springs region after spending 14 years living and working in Central New York.  He received his Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University and went on to receive his Master of Science in Child and Family Global Health from the same institution. 

With more than six years of experience working in child abuse prevention, education, and community outreach and mobilization, Derek is thrilled to bring his energy and passion to educate and serve children, families, and community members in his hometown area.

In his free time, Derek enjoys volunteering, traveling, attending live music events, and rooting for the Syracuse Orange.

 

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Clinical Staff - Center & Community Based

Wende W. Tedesco, LCSW-R, Clinical Director of Center and community based programming

Ms. Tedesco graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelors of Social Work and Minors in Sociology and Psychology, and earned her Masters of Social Work from the State University of Albany. Ms. Tedesco’s early clinical experience was strongly influenced by many of the pioneers of child and family therapy including: Albert Ellis, Carl Rogers, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Salvatore Minuchin, Michael White, the solution-focused work of Insoo Kim Berg, Ricky Greenwald and the groundbreaking work of Ross Greene and Stuart Ablon with children in the Collaborative Problem Solving approach.  

Among a myriad of other training and 40 years’ experience, Ms. Tedesco is trained in EMDR- (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Progressive Counting, and TF-CBT (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) all trauma processing techniques.  She has devoted her career to working with adolescents and their families.  Ms. Tedesco has been both a clinician and an administrator in clinical services and focused on program development, outcome and efficacy of clinical service provision; supervision, and oversaw implementation of an evidence-based education and treatment model within a residential program. She has worked on assessment and treatment of youth experiencing suicidal ideation or those who engaged in non-suicidal self- injury and those experiencing overwhelming anxiety.

Ms. Tedesco believes in a positive emphasis on psychoeducation, collaboration, brain-based research, mindfulness and healing tools for trauma.

Sheri Fortin, LMHC, Mental Health therapist

Sheri Fortin's background includes working with persons as young as preschool to elementary age to adults of various ages with mental health diagnoses, trauma, and other personal and environmental challenges.  For the past three years, Sheri worked with adolescent girls at a residential facility.  These diverse experiences have given Sheri a holistic perspective into the developmental needs of clients across the lifespan and how they intersect with available mental health services, schools, and other community agencies.

Sheri earned her A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education from Hudson Valley Community College; her B.A. in Human Behavior from Skidmore College, and her M.S. in Education: Mental Health Counseling from The College of Saint Rose.  She has received training in Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Level I and II; Safe TALK-Tell Ask Listen KeepSafe; Assist-Applied Suicide Intervention Skills; Mental Health First Aid USA; Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Youth and their Non-Offending Caregivers; and Core Essential Skills for Experienced Caseworkers.

In her free time, Sheri enjoys spending time with her adopted dog and cat, family and friends, kayaking, being in nature, and knitting.

Cait McNamee, MHC-LP, Community Based Therapist

Cait McNamee is a mental health therapist with Saratoga Center for the Family.  She is currently working with individuals impacted by COVID-19. 

Cait earned her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at The College of Saint Rose and her BA in Public Justice and Psychology at SUNY Oswego.  While at SUNY Oswego, Cait worked with individuals impacted by addiction by providing emotional support as they completed a drug treatment program. Cait also volunteered her time in a local Correctional Facility tutoring inmates working toward their GED. While Cait was working on her Master’s degree, she worked inpatient mental health and focused on providing support groups to improve coping skills for her patients. During this time, Cait also interned with the American Cancer Society providing therapy to those individuals and their families impacted by a life-threatening illness. Cait later joined Saratoga Hospital working with individuals going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment along with providing emotional support and resources to their family members.

Cait joined Saratoga Center for the Family because she wanted to provide 1:1 support to those individuals who have emotionally been impacted by the life stressors and changes COVID-19 has brought forth. Cait works from a Person-Centered approach and incorporates Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with her clients. She believes in meeting individuals where they are at and providing a supportive environment for clients to express their wants and needs.

“I wanted to work for Saratoga Center for the family because I strongly believe in the power of positive 1:1 therapeutic relationships. I love working with individuals of all ages because it allows me to tap into my creativity by meeting new clients of all different backgrounds, strengths, and perspectives. It allows me to constantly find new ways to empower individuals and I truly love that,” says Cait.

Cait is married with four children and loves being outdoors with her family. In her free time, Cait enjoys running, cooking, traveling, and Crossfit. Cait’s family keeps her busy and motivates her to live life in the moment!

Hannah Rawlings, LCSW, Mental Health Therapist

Hannah Rawlings is a mental health therapist at Saratoga Center for the Family. Hannah earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York. Hannah worked at a not-for-profit education facility for eight years. There she co-directed an adolescent parenting and mentorship program in the community. Hannah enjoys working with children and adolescents and decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work during that time.

Following graduation, Hannah spent six years co-managing a cottage at a treatment facility. There she engaged adolescents in individual and family therapy through the use of individualized, clinical interventions and milieu treatment.

Hannah believes people do the best they can with what they have. Therapy can be helpful to support families and individuals giving them tools for increased, positive communication and ways of coping differently with successful outcomes. Hannah believes people heal through supportive relationships and family therapy can provide a way to improve family functioning long term. We all could use more awareness and less guilt.

When not at work Hannah reads, cooks, enjoys farming and time spent with friends.

Lindsey Santangelo, LMSW, Mental Health therapist

Lindsey has an Associate’s Degree in Human Services with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She is a licensed clinical associate in the state of North Carolina (LCSWA).  Currently, Lindsey is working on becoming licensed in the state of New York where she intends on performing clinical therapy both individually and with families at Saratoga Center for the Family.

Lindsey is adept in clinical diagnosing assessments and has practiced intensive in home family therapy (Family Centered Treatment or FCT). She has experience in educational advocacy which she gained working through health homes for children earlier in her career. She has worked in foster care for a period of time as well.

Due to her experience working with families, she is comfortable and able to work with all age groups. “Working with children is my favorite age group because they remind us things don’t always have to be so serious,” says Lindsey.  “I also really enjoy the elder population due to their great story telling.”

Lindsey works part-time at a local restaurant and enjoys making and selling jewelry online. Her other interests include any kind of art, rock mining, hiking, yoga, cooking, and spending times with family and friends.

ANDRA LEIGH SCHUETTINGER, LMHC, Mental Health Therapist 

Andra Leigh Schuettinger earned both her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Counseling and Community Psychology from the Sage Colleges.

Since graduating with her Master’s degree, Andra Leigh has primarily worked with children and adolescents. She began her career at St. Catherine’s Center for Children working with families in Berne, NY.

Andra Leigh then worked at the YWCA Northeastern NY, providing trauma therapy to children who experienced trauma as well as their non-offending caregiver. She also facilitated a group for non-offending caregivers on co-parenting with their former partners. After leaving YWCA Northeastern NY, Andra Leigh began working as a Youth Therapist at Unity House of Troy. There, she provided one-on-one therapy to children who experienced trauma and facilitated groups in local schools regarding teen dating violence.

Andra Leigh believes that in helping families, we can heal a community, and the world. In talk therapy, Andra Leigh incorporates Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

In her free time, Andra Leigh loves to cuddle her cats, spend time with her husband, and explore museums.

Samantha Steckowski, LMSW, Mental Health Therapist

Samantha attended Adelphi University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work with a minor in art and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She has worked in the mental health field for over 7 years in a variety of settings. Some of her previous positions include Intake Coordinator of a dual-diagnosis adult day program, Children’s Single Point of Access Coordinator for Suffolk County, and Child/Adolescent Trauma Therapist. Samantha has received training in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Although she enjoys working with individuals of all ages and backgrounds, Samantha has a passion for working with children, teens and their families. Her objective for each therapeutic partnership is to meet the person where they are and build upon existing strengths to support them in meeting their goals.  

In her free time, Samantha enjoys music, practicing yoga, being in nature, and spending time with family, friends, and her cats.

Paula Zimmerman, LMHC, Mental Health therapist 

Paula earned her Master’s Degree in School Counseling at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York and her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She is licensed in New York State as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and she has worked in the field for over 21 years. Paula is a certified LGBT-Affirmative Therapy Provider.

Paula provided therapy and case management to adolescents and their families in a Residential Foster Care Facility for over 10 years. She provided individual, family, and group therapy. These adolescents presented with various struggles, including anger management, depression, anxiety, impulse control, history of having been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused, chronically running away, self-injurious behaviors, grief and loss, and developmental delays. Prior to that, Paula worked in schools with grades Kindergarten through 12th, while based out of a non-profit agency, providing therapy to children, teenagers, and their families. She also worked with adults and teens in a supportive housing program, counseling them in their homes to build skills in overcoming the mental health struggles they experienced.

Paula is certified in LGBT-Affirmative Therapy, and she continues her training in LGBTQIA+ studies on an ongoing basis. Providing support and affirmation to people of the LGBTQIA+ community is a passion for Paula.  She has been trained in the Collaborative Problem Solving model by Massachusetts General Hospital, in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Intensive Training workshops. This model emphasizes parents and their children, and counselors/teachers/other professionals and children to develop solutions to problems together so that all parties are invested in the agreed upon plan. In addition, she has been trained in Distance Counseling.

Paula’s overall view of people’s experiences in life and therapy is an Existential one, as each individual experiences the world in a unique manner, and that his, her, their, or zir belief of reality, is indeed reality. She utilizes skills from the Cognitive-Behavioral and Person-Centered frameworks. Paula has a good sense of timing with clients, knowing when to encourage or gently challenge them to consider making changes, and when to allow clients to simply tell their stories. For Paula, the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client is an equal, collaborative one.

CLINICAL STAFF - SCHOOL BASED 

Megan Heeder, LMHC, Clinical director OF school based programming

Megan Heeder is Saratoga Center for the Family’s Clinical Director of School Based Programming.  

Megan earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ithaca College.  She has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor since 2011 and says her approach to therapy is “holistic and psychodynamic,” helping people alleviate traumatic stress through a variety of techniques including Cognitive and Dialectical Behavioral Therapies, as well as narrative, self-regulatory and mindfulness-based strategies.  Megan has extensive experience working with children in school-based settings where play therapy helps children communicate and express their feelings. Megan is currently being trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT) to add to her repertoire of trauma treatment tools.

Prior to coming to Saratoga Center for the Family, Megan worked at Northwestern Counseling and Support Services in Vermont where she started and supervised a hospital diversion program to help adults in crisis.  She then spent three years running a private practice consulting within a rural elementary school.  In 2016, after relocating back to the area, Megan obtained her New York State license and joined the Neighborhood Center in Old Forge, NY, running an outpatient community mental health office.n.

Megan is married with two children and a dog.  In her free time, she loves to spend time in nature hiking, camping, skiing, biking, swimming and boating in the Adirondacks and the 1000 Islands. Megan loves to travel and hopes to instill a sense of curiosity, adventure and non-judgmentalism in her children.

JANNAH UMAR, LCSW, CLINICAL COORDINATOR AND SCHOOL BASED THERAPIST AT BETHLEHEM CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

Jannah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who provides supervision for multiple clinicians, as well as clinical services for K-5 students and their families. Additionally, she is a New York State Certified School Social Worker. In 2012, Jannah earned her BA in Creative Arts Therapy, with a concentration in Dance/Movement from Russell Sage College. She earned her MSW, with a concentration in Community, Administration and Policy, from the Howard University School of Social Work in 2014. 

Jannah has several years of experience working in schools and with families as a mental health professional. Prior to her time at SCFF, Jannah served as a School Social Worker in the Albany City School District and the South Colonie Central School District. She has additionally provided group and individual therapy for a private practice, focusing on improving social skills amongst adolescents and teens. Throughout her time as a school social worker, Jannah was trained in Restorative Justice Practices, TCIS de-escalation techniques, and Trauma Informed Care. Additionally, Jannah was trained as a Culturally Responsive Education facilitator through the NYU Steinhardt Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality (NYU TAC-D). Jannah has experience providing individual and group supervision to Licensed Social Workers and Licensed Mental Health Counselors in school and private practice settings.

Jannah utilizes music, movement, and art in her groups, and believes strongly that children can learn and grow a great deal through reciprocal play. She uses Play Based Therapy, Behavioral Analysis techniques, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as tools in her sessions. The use of movement, visual arts, expressive therapies, and strengthening one’s body-mind awareness have all assisted Jannah’s clients in achieving a greater sense of fulfillment.

Vicki braunstein, LCSW, School Based therapist at shenendehowa school district

Vicki Leigh Braunstein is a mother, wife and a clinical social worker. She currently works as a therapist in both the Community and School Based Program at Saratoga Center for the Family. 

Vicki has a BA in Fine and Applied Art from Curry College and The Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; MFA in Dance from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA and MSW from SUNY Albany School of Social Welfare, Albany, New York.  In 1992, Vicki completed a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School, University of Utah) program that sparked a passion and love for nature, hiking and all outdoor activities. Vicki learned how to meditation as a young child and began practicing Hatha yoga in her early 20’s. From 2001-2005, she taught yoga and meditation as an adjunct faculty member at Temple University through the Dance Department.  In 2010 and 2012, she co-taught an Alternative Therapy graduate social work course using her knowledge and skills of meditation, yoga for mindfulness and self-regulation. Vicki is a certified EMDR therapist and is earning her certification in TF-CBT.

As a clinician, she is focused on treating the whole person and tapping into their inherent strength and resiliency. She draws from art, story-telling, nature, self-care rituals, trauma processing (EMDR/TF-CBT), somatic, mindfulness, yoga and meditation, and relational psychotherapies to support people in achieving their therapeutic goals.

Denise Brown, LMHC, School Based THERAPIST AT South Glens Falls School District

Denise earned a Master’s degree in Counseling and Community Psychology from Sage Colleges and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with minors in Women’s Studies and Psychology from SUNY Plattsburgh. Denise’s education background, internships, and externships focused on interpersonal and familial trauma. Denise completed her internship at Equinox providing individual and group counseling to domestic violence survivors. She also has 15 years of experience working with families and children as a prevention clinician. In that role Denise provided home-based counseling to families whose lives were impacted by trauma, mental health, domestic violence, parenting struggles, truancy, child behavioral challenges among other child welfare issues.

She has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor since 2015; her approach is “person-centered and strength-based,” helping empower individuals to overcome their trauma, redefine their experiences, selves, and lives, and build resiliency. Denise uses techniques and strategies from solution-focused, cognitive behavioral, existential, family systems, and narrative therapies. She has extensive experience working with families and complex trauma and is trained in treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents using the foundations of Attachment, Regulation, and Competency (ARC). Currently, Denise is being trained in Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) as a way to continue to build her toolkit for empowerment.

Denise is a proud single mother to her amazing son. She also has a fur baby who does not leave her side. She is close to her large family and her friends. In her free time, Denise loves to either spend time at home or spend time with family and friends. You will often see her reading, shopping, walking her dog, or watching her son play sports.

Nicole Hawthorne, LMFT, ATR-BC, School based mental health therapist AT WATERFORD-HALFMOON SCHOOL DISTRICT

Nicole is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Art Therapist with Saratoga Center for the Family. She is currently working with students at Waterford-Halfmoon school district. Nicole earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy at Notre Dame De Namur University in Belmont, California and her BS in Human Ecology at SUNY Oneonta. 

Nicole has worked at public, charter, and nonpublic schools with students and families from diverse backgrounds and needs, as well as in the foster care system supporting kinship families. Over the past 10 years Nicole has worked with children and their families to provide emotional support, build coping skills, and use art and play to deeply explore relationships, emotions, and family dynamics in order to inspire and create change. 

Nicole uses a relational approach to therapy incorporating CBT concepts and DBT skills to create change and improve functioning. Nicole uses art therapy and play therapy interventions with children and their families. Nicole believes people have the ability to do the best they can with what they have. Individual and Family therapy can provide deeper insight and useful tools for improved positive communication and coping strategies. Supportive relationships and family therapy can provide a way to improve functioning long term.

When Nicole is not working, she likes to travel, paint, knit, craft and exercise. Nicole spends most of her free time with her family, friends, two cats and French Bulldog. 

Stephanie Harman, LMSW, School Based Therapist at Shenendehowa School District

Stephanie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Penn State University. During her undergraduate studies, she worked with Centre Helps and National Suicide Hotline for Centre County, PA, where she provided crisis intervention over the phone. With degree in hand, Stephanie began working as a Residence Counselor at Mohawk Opportunities, Inc. Here, she provided restorative services including medication management, daily living skills and symptom management for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. Stephanie was then promoted to the role of Service Coordinator where she accompanied individuals to medical appointments and coordinated treatment with their mental and physical health providers.

In these roles, Stephanie realized her passion for supporting and working with others and sparked the desire to earn her Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University. Through this, she interned at Hope House Outpatient Clinic, facilitating individual and group therapy to adults recovering from addiction.

After graduating with her Master’s degree, Stephanie continued her work at Hope House in both the Men and Women’s Rehabilitation Programs to provide individual therapy to those residing in the programs.

Beginning in September 2023, Stephanie now provides individual and family therapy as a school-based therapist in the Shenendehowa Middle Schools. She supports children and their families in navigating mental health difficulties by helping them illuminate their strengths, empowering them in developing emotional wellness and heal from traumatic life experiences. Stephanie firmly believes the foundation to the therapy process includes a person-centered, trauma-informed approach and collaboration involving authenticity, trust, compassion and respect.

In her free time, Stephanie enjoys countless outdoor activities including hiking with her dogs, kayaking, swimming, skiing and traveling – always eager and ready to embark on new adventures as they arise!

Valerie Keefer, LMHC, School Based Therapist at Shenendehowa School District

Valerie Keefer is a school based therapist for Saratoga Center for the Family working in the Shenendehowa School District. She earned her BA in psychology and MS in mental health counseling from SUNY Albany. She is a licensed mental health counselor who has been providing mental health services in the Capital Region for several years. Prior to working at Saratoga Center for the Family, she spent several years working at Northern Rivers in the home based prevention program in Schenectady, NY.

Valerie incorporates a trauma informed approach in her work and utilizes cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as well as person-centered approaches. She also likes to incorporate creative activities including games, play and art into her work.

In her free time, Valerie likes to spend time with her husband, family and friends and three cats.  

Lauren Larabee, LMHC, School Based Therapist at Waterford-Halfmoon School District

Lauren Larrabee earned her Master’s degree in Counseling and Community Psychology with a certificate in Forensic Mental Health from The Sage Colleges in 2018.  During this program, she completed an extensive internship with St. Peters Crime Victims Services.   Successful completion of these programs has led her to become licensed in New York state as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

A native of the Capital Region, Lauren has remained in the community treating clients through non-profit agencies and organizations.  Prior to joining Saratoga Center for the Family in 2022, Lauren was working as a trauma treatment clinician for St. Peters Crime Victim Services.  In this role, she worked as a therapist, advocate, and certified sexual assault hotline provider to provide support in whatever way possible for her clients.  Working with a few adolescent clients in this role sparked her passion for providing services to the younger population.  This led to her pursuing a role with SCFF as a school-based clinician in the Waterford-Halfmoon school district where she is able to work with students from PreK-12th grade. 

With a client-centered and strengths-based approach, Lauren appreciates the importance of a judgement free environment to progress the therapeutic journey.  She utilizes pieces of different therapy modalities to tailor treatment to each client. 

In her free time Lauren enjoys spending time with her family, dogs, playing and watching sports, embroidery and baking.

Allison Marinucci, LMSW, school based therapist at scotia Glenville school district

Allison is a Licensed Master Social Worker with over a decade of experience working with youth; previously working at Girl Scouts of Northeastern NY, and the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Rensselaer County. Most recent to Saratoga Center for the Family, Allison worked as crisis evaluator and a medical social worker at St. Peter's Hospital. Allison is certified in TF-CBT and incorporates, CBT, DBT, Motivational Interviewing, mindfulness and art therapy in her practice. Allison believes in meeting the client where they are at, and overall wellness, both physical and mental. Allison incorporates yoga, meditation, and breath work in her practice, and encourages physical activity. 

Allison lives in Niskayuna with her husband, her son and beloved retriever, Penny. Allison loves to hike and bike and opts outside whenever she gets a chance. 

STACEY MCWHINNIE, LMHC, SCHOOL BASED THERAPIST AT SHENENDEHOWA SCHOOL DISTRICT

Stacey is a School Based Therapist at Saratoga Center for the Family. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Siena College and Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from SUNY Albany. She is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

Stacey has primarily treated children and adolescents who have experienced trauma. She began her career at START Children’s Center providing Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to young children up to age 18 and also provided support to non-offending caregivers as they navigated their child’s treatment and the criminal justice system. She also completed trauma assessments for children in foster care through Rensselaer County DSS.

Stacey then worked for St. Peter’s Crime Victim Services providing trauma therapy, advocacy and support to high school students directly in Rensselaer County schools as well as adults at Samaritan Hospital. She ran a Women’s Support Group and provided crisis services to survivors throughout the Capital Region while in this role. In addition, she facilitated prevention education programs in a variety of settings focused on preventing child sexual abuse and bystander intervention trainings for the prevention of sexual assault in our communities.

Starting in August 2021, Stacey is now providing Individual and Family Therapy at a satellite office located at Shenendehowa High School East and West. She supports adolescents as well as their families in navigating mental health difficulties, promoting emotional wellness and healing from traumatic life experiences. Stacey’s approach is client-centered and focuses on treating the whole person and meeting them where they are. She fully believes that individuals know themselves best and possess many strengths and resiliency strategies of which they are often unaware. She believes that a therapeutic relationship built on trust, compassion, respect and genuineness is foundational for the therapy process. Stacey uses a variety of treatment modalities including Person-Centered, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Strength-Based therapies.

Shelbi Messick-Miller, LMHC, School based therapist at Schuylerville school district

Shelbi is a School-Based Therapist at Saratoga Center for the Family.  She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling both from The College of Saint Rose.  She is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

Throughout her career, Shelbi has worked with children and adolescents who have experienced trauma.  She began her work in the mental health field working at Ellis Medicine on the Inpatient Adolescent Unit for several years.  During this time, she worked in crisis intervention work and stabilization of at-risk adolescents between the ages of 8 and 18 years old.

Shelbi then worked at START Children’s Center providing Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to youth up to age 18 and providing support to non-offending caregivers.  She ran a group for children expressing problematic sexualized behaviors as well as support to their caregivers.  Shelbi conducted forensic interviews with children and adolescents within the CAC, working alongside Child Protective Services and local and state Law Enforcement Officials.  She also completed trauma assessments and provided support to children and adolescents in the local foster care system.

Starting in October 2020, Shelbi is now providing Individual and Family Therapy at Schuylerville Central School District.  Shelbi uses a wide variety of treatment approaches including Person Centered, Strength Based, Solution Focused, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  Shelbi has experience working with various mental health issues including anxiety, depression, loss and grief, substance abuse, and sexual and physical abuse.  She views the client and their caregivers as an expert in their own story, and sees great value in forming a genuine and collaborative therapeutic relationship, as well as meeting the family’s needs where they are.

Lisa Miller, lmhc, school based therapist at shenendehowa school district 

Lisa earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Oneonta.  After graduating from SUNY Oneonta, Lisa went on to work as a Residential Counselor in the Residential Treatment Facility at Parsons Child and Family Center.  At Parsons, Lisa provided therapeutic support to youth living in residential placement.  While working for Parsons Lisa was also enrolled at Sage Graduate School working toward her Master’s Degree in Counseling and Community Psychology.  She interned at the College of St. Rose Counseling Center providing individual therapy to students and co-facilitating a Wellness Group.

After graduating with her Master’s Degree, Lisa began her career as a Clinician at Berkshire Farm Center working with youth who were living in residential placement.  Lisa provided individual and group counseling to youth on campus.  She also accompanied them on home visits, providing family therapy in the home as they worked toward reunification.  After leaving Berkshire Farm Center Lisa began working as a Behavior Intervention Specialist at Schenectady ARC.  In addition to conducting Functional Behavioral Assessments, writing Behavior Support Plans and Medication Monitoring Plans, Lisa provided one-on-one counseling to individuals regarding maladaptive behaviors, and provided support and in-services to the residential and day program staff.     

In her free time, Lisa enjoys hiking, swimming, reading, and spending time with her family.

Courtney Nash, LMSW, School Based Therapist, School Based therapist at shenendehowa school district

Courtney has an A.A.S. in criminal justice from HVCC and a B.A in sociology with a minor in criminal justice from SUNY Albany. Her Master’s degree is in social work from SUNY Albany as well. Both undergraduate and graduate studies were focused on addiction, mass incarceration and mental health. During her graduate studies she interned at Albany Medical Center Behavior Health Unit where she gained the experience of acute care and coordination of services post discharge.

In 2016 Courtney earned her LMSW and began her career working for Northeast Parent and Child Society in the Residential treatment facility.  She worked with boys living in the dorms long term as a result of juvenile behaviors providing them with 1:1 psychotherapy and conducted family sessions, as well as treatment team meetings to assist in carrying out treatment plan goals. Here, she was able to use her experience in treatment in a facility and community and collateral coordination.

After this, Courtney worked for 6 years at Rehabilitation Support Services, an outpatient mental health clinic for adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses. She utilized CBT and DBT interventions with a population of high risk and high needs clients, working primarily with clients who had just been released from incarceration or were otherwise on supervision (probation) to address mental health symptoms contributing to maladaptive behaviors. She also worked with clients who had co-occuring addictions. Outside of psychotherapy , her role was working closely with prescribing physicians to assist in collaborative medication management, provide crisis intervention services, referrals to outside providers and collaboration with important collateral contacts.

"I was very excited for the opportunity at Saratoga Center for the Family, working with adolescents," says Courtney.  Working with adults showed her the importance of early interventions for clients and their parents and caregivers. She is motivated to strengthen family bonds and provide interventions that will give adolescents skills to continue to be successful. In addition to her role as a school based therapist, she is also excited to use her clinical skills to assist in the piloting of the Restorative Education Program, offering short term interventions for students who have been suspended.

Courtney loves spending time with her family, her husband, 2 year old daughter, 2 dogs and 2 cats. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, writing, painting and traveling.

MORGAN PRZEKOP, LMHC, SCHOOL BASED THERAPIST AT Mechanicville SCHOOL DISTRICT 

Morgan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SUNY Brockport. After graduating from Brockport, Morgan earned her Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Medaille Graduate School.  She completed her internship through Seneca/Cayuga ARC, now called MOZAIC, where she counseled individuals with developmental disabilities.

After graduating with her Master’s degree, Morgan worked as a counselor on a brain injury unit at St. Camillus in Syracuse, NY.  Following that path, she moved to the Capital Region to work out of Gloversville and Johnstown, NY through the Family Counseling Center and contracted into Johnstown High. After being at The Family Counseling Center for several years, Morgan began her clinical career at New Choices Recovery Center in Schenectady, NY. Morgan started by providing outreach on bullying and drug and alcohol prevention in Schenectady Schools. Following the prevention work, Morgan moved from school based prevention into the agency as a substance abuse clinician, providing individual and group counseling to adults with substance use disorder(s).

In her free time, Morgan enjoys yoga, boating, and spending time with her family. 

AMY SANTELL, LMHC, CASAC-T, school based therapist at south glens falls school district

Amy Santell, LMHC, CASAC-T, is a clinician located in the South Glens Falls School District.  Prior to coming to Saratoga Center for the Family, Amy served in a variety of roles for Youth Villages, a national organization, out of Springfield, MA.  She worked her way up to becoming Clinical Supervisor, helping children that faced a wide range of emotional, mental and behavioral problems. After that, she joined St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center providing substance abuse counseling on an outpatient basis.  However, Amy missed working with children and found Saratoga Center for the Family to be a good fit.

As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, Amy looks forward to helping children understand their thoughts and feelings that influence their behaviors. “I’m very excited to be a part of Saratoga Center for the Family’s School-Based program,” says Amy. “Strengthening families in Saratoga County and beyond is a mission that speaks to me.  I feel it is important to blend mental health services with our educational institutions.  Children should feel comfortable discussing issues they are having in school or at home and this type of program makes them feel at-ease; I think the Center and the schools are creating wonderful partnerships.”

Amy earned both her M.S. in Mental Health Counseling and her B.A. in Psychology from SUNY Albany.  In her free time, she enjoys riding her Honda Shadow 750 motorcycle with her fiancé. She also enjoys photography, nature walks, and swimming. 

Tiffany St. Louis, LCSW-R, school based therapist at south glens falls school district

Tiffany has a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and a Master’s degree is Social Welfare from SUNY Albany. She is a New York Tate Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Tiffany has worked for 6 years as a child and family therapist. Her experience includes working at Parsons Child & Family Center in the Healthy Families Enhanced Services/Prevention programs and at Glens Falls Hospital Center for Children & Families.  She has worked with children, adolescents, and families in both home-based and outpatient settings in rural and urban areas.

Tiffany has worked as a part of a multi-disciplinary team and collaborated with parents, schools, family members and social service departments.  She has also worked in Glens Falls Hospital Emergency Room doing psychiatric evaluations for patients that present with behavioral issues, self-harm and suicidal/homicidal ideation.

While completing her Master’s degree she worked under the umbrella of the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in residential, day programming, community habilitation and after-school programming. This provides her with significant experience working with the autistic and developmentally disabled populations.

She has a passion for assisting in disaster relief and has helped natural disaster victims in Haiti and New Orleans.  Tiffany is also dedicated to assisting those impacted by trauma, attachment disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and all aspects of victimization. Her core belief is to approach people from a person-centered and holistic approach.  Tiffany uses a variety of treatment modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused, Play Therapy, Sand Tray and strength-based therapies.

Joan (Joanie) Thalheimer, LMHC, SCHOOL BASED THERAPIST AT Scotia-glenville school district 

Joanie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Russell Sage College in Troy, NY. After graduating from Russell Sage, Joanie remained in the Capital Region to earn her Master's degree in Counseling and Community Psychology from Sage Graduate School. Joanie completed her internship at the Sage College of Albany Wellness and Counseling Center, providing individual therapy to students on campus.

After graduating with her Master’s degree, Joanie taught psychology to undergraduate students at SUNY Cobleskill as a Visiting Assistant Professor. She taught courses pertaining to Child Development and Adolescent Development, as well as General Psychology. After being at Cobleskill for several years, Joanie then began her clinical career as a substance abuse clinician at New Choices Recovery Center in Schenectady, NY. Joanie spent several years working for both the day rehabilitation and outpatient services programs, providing individual and group counseling to adults with substance use disorder. Joanie also connected clients with other community resources in the area, such as housing, employment, education, and family supports, and was a task supervisor to several Bachelor's and Master's level intern students throughout her time at New Choices. Joanie actively took part in agency-sponsored events with clients and other New Choices team members, such as Overdose Awareness Day and Recovery Day.

In her free time, Joanie enjoys running, baking, doing jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with her family. 

Sarah Vanderwerker, LMSW, School Based Therapist at Shenendehowa School District 

Sarah is a School-Based Therapist working at the Saratoga Center for the Family.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from Binghamton University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the State University at Albany. Sarah is a New York State Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW).  

Through her experience, Sarah has worked with a variety of people of all ages but overall prefers to work with children and adolescents. Sarah believes in aiding and improving the mental health of young people to provide a better future for all. She aims to provide a safe, comfortable and nonjudgmental space for everyone to be successful in their journeys of mental health and well-being.  

Sarah strives to utilize diverse therapy modalities that can be adapted to fit the needs of any individual with whom she is working. She hopes to be a resource, a support and a guide for those who are working towards meeting their mental health goals and finds great joy when she can help those individuals achieve their goals.  

In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her loved ones, reading, writing poetry and traveling.  

Christoffel Van Rensburg, LCSW, School based therapist at bethlehem school district

 

Rachel Wolfield, LCSW-R, School Based Therapist at Schuylerville School DISTRICT

Rachel is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field for over 25 years.  She graduated from SUNY Albany with her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and went on to earn her Master's degree in Social Work from Fordham University.  She is currently based in Schuylerville Elementary School working with students in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

Prior to joining SCFF in the Fall of 2022, Rachel was running a private practice at True North, in Glens Falls, which she continues to do on a part time basis.  Rachel's professional experience includes working with victims of domestic violence, children affected by substance use in their families, preschool children with disabilities, and adolescents at high risk of residential placement.  She also ran community and school-based programming for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Rachel was employed at Glens Falls Hospital-Center For Recovery in Hudson Falls.  She started as an Adventure Based Counselor for the Challenge Program prior to moving into the role as Program Director for the Washington County Clinic.

Rachel is dedicated to building a solid therapeutic partnership with clients using a holistic approach to improve their overall well-being.  A variety of techniques including play therapy, trauma informed care, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are used to empower clients to determine their own goals and work towards reaching those goals.