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Meet the Team

A National Network of Clinical and Therapeutic Expertise

The Newport Academy staff is comprised of the best mental health leaders and treatment teams in the country. Our growing roster of experts includes more than 600 psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists, eating disorder therapists, nurse practitioners, counselors, equine therapists, art and music therapists, adventure therapists, registered dietitians, teachers, private tutors, and more, with a wide range of degrees and experience. As part of the Newport Healthcare family, Newport Academy cultivates an inclusive and collaborative workplace environment in which diverse identities and voices are honored, as together we help teens and their families find hope and healing.

Executive Leadership

Joe Procopio

Chief Executive Officer

About 

Joe brings to Newport Healthcare a wealth of insight and knowledge gleaned over more than 30 years in the medical and treatment field. His successful history of executive leadership includes 16 years with Acadia Healthcare Company (NASDAQ: ACHC) and CRC Health Group. Prior to that, Joe served in management positions with Susquehanna Health and Geisinger Health System. In his role as CEO, Joe is expanding Newport’s services into new markets, to reach more communities and ultimately help more families in need. His fresh ideas and initiatives support our mission to provide the highest-quality care to teens, young adults, and families across the country.

Barbara Nosal, PhD, LMFT, LADC

Chief Clinical Officer

About

Dr. Nosal is the founding Chief Clinical Officer of Newport Healthcare and oversees the clinical and family programs for all of Newport’s residential and outpatient treatment locations. Dr. Nosal has worked with adolescents and families in the field of mental health, teenage depression, and addiction treatment for more than 30 years. She believes that family involvement is critical to successful outcomes during and post-treatment. Dr. Nosal’s work focuses on deepening family relationships and improving communication through healing early childhood attachment ruptures and relational trauma. As a result, family members build respect, trust, and accountability, and feel safe to be vulnerable and authentic with one another.

Clinical Expertise

Dr. Nosal has a doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, among other clinical credentials. She specializes in relational and family therapy, with training in Attachment-Based Family Therapy, Family Systems, Post-Induction Therapy, and various other therapeutic modalities. Dr. Nosal has held managerial positions in inpatient and outpatient treatment programs throughout California and nationally.

Jameson Norton, MBA, FACHE

Chief Operating Officer

About

Jameson has created, led, and served on trusted and high-performing teams in some of the most challenging and dynamic environments in the world. Prior to joining Newport, he served as CEO of Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, where he led behavioral health services for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network, and school-based mental health programs administered by the company. During his time there, he achieved unprecedented growth in outpatient, inpatient, emergency psychiatry, telehealth, and integrated behavioral health services across the company. Before that, Jameson was CEO of Acadia Healthcare’s North Tampa Behavioral Health facility, where he oversaw a large inpatient expansion and launched three new services, including a military program commended for its innovative approach to empowering post-traumatic growth and recovery.

Jay Campbell

Chief Growth Officer

About

Jay Campbell has more than 20 years of professional experience in business development, marketing, management, and operations for the behavioral health, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries. Before joining the Newport Healthcare team, Jay was the Vice President of Business Relations for Acadia Healthcare, and prior to that, the National Director of Business Development for CRC Health Group. Throughout his career, Jay has advocated for people with healthcare needs by working with providers in frontline positions and building teams of multidisciplinary professionals dedicated to offering clients the highest-quality care. Jay’s skill, experience, and passion inspire him to deliver results and develop future leaders.

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Blake Kinsey

Vice President of Admissions

About

Blake Kinsey brings to Newport Healthcare extensive experience in finance and admissions. In addition, he has strong skills in communication, interpersonal relationships, and creative conflict resolution. He works closely with incoming clients and families and serves as a liaison with insurance companies to guarantee coverage for clients’ treatment needs. Blake’s past experience includes managing companies’ insurance contracts, benefits, policies, and managed care. He worked with employer groups and state, local, and academic entities to fund treatment costs. In addition, he developed strategies for holding insurance companies accountable for providing coverage to their members.

Kristin Wilson, MA, LPC, CCTP

Chief Experience Officer

About

Kristin is passionate about the delivery of integrated care in the treatment milieu to address the myriad of stressors that today’s teens and young adults face. She believes that higher levels of emotional resilience allow young people to more easily adapt to stressful situations or crises, with fewer negative effects. Kristin has been working in the treatment field since 1997, in a variety of mental healthcare settings, including inpatient, residential, and outpatient levels of care; and with numerous types of addictions, including chemical dependence, process addictions, and eating disorders.

Clinical Expertise

Kristin holds a master’s degree in Psychology and Creative Arts Therapies and presents workshops nationally on using the creative arts to foster authentic connections with teens. Her dedication to an integrated model of care is further demonstrated by her certification as a yoga teacher. Kristin is a licensed clinician who formerly served as a clinical supervisor, executive director, trainer, interventionist, and clinical outreach representative. She previously held the title of Senior Regional Director of Marketing for a major behavioral health network, after spending seven years running an outpatient behavioral health department in Pennsylvania.

6,000+
families served

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Ed Speedling, MHA, MSW, FACHE

Vice President of Outpatient Services

About

A healthcare executive and consultant for more than 16 years, Ed Speedling has spent his career participating in, establishing, and leading successful, diverse teams to make a meaningful impact on public health issues. He consistently seeks to help build communities where all people can succeed and achieve their full potential, especially children, families, and those facing health disparities and social injustice. As president of ES Healthcare Consulting, LLC, Ed specializes in working with corporations and organizations to integrate behavioral healthcare services and find innovative solutions that improve outcomes, quality of care, and access to care. Before joining the Newport team, Ed served in leadership roles for BlueSprig Pediatrics, Inc., Corporation of America’s Capital Division, ProMedica Health System, and Arrowhead Behavioral Health, among others. In addition, Ed has worked in the not-for-profit Nemours pediatric health system as a forensic child abuse specialist, trauma and emergency department social worker, and State of Delaware medical subcommittee chair.

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Shelley Dodd, BA, LPC, LAC

Vice President, Operations, Residential Services

About

A visionary leader with 30 years of experience in the mental healthcare field, Shelley Dodd excels in building highly engaged, creative teams, and optimizing operations using a patient-first, results-oriented approach. A Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Addictions Counselor, and Certified Level II EMDR Therapist, she has worked with adolescent, adult, and inmate populations. Before joining Newport Academy in 2020, Shelley served as a consultant for behavioral health and healthcare organizations. Her prior positions include CEO for the Pavilion, UHS’s 106-bed psychiatric hospital in Amarillo, Texas; Director of Behavioral Health for the Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center in Missouri; and Program Director for Horizon Health’s Lutheran Medical Center.

Danielle Roeske, PsyD

Vice President, Operations, Residential Services

About

Dr. Roeske has worked in the mental health field since 2003, providing a wide range of clinical services, including acute psychiatric care, outpatient community therapy, and residential treatment for those dealing with the challenges of sobriety and mental health. Her experience as a CEO, clinical director, program developer, family program director, therapist, and supervisor have afforded her an intimate understanding of the key ingredients for providing quality treatment, and the essential components of a strong clinical and organizational team. She currently serves as the Executive Director for our boys’ campus in Connecticut.

Clinical Expertise

After obtaining her undergraduate degree in philosophy, Dr. Roeske discovered her passion for working with young people and their families. She went on to earn her Master’s in Counseling and Human Relations, and thereafter her doctorate in clinical psychology. She is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, family systems therapy, and relational psychoanalysis, and has a deep appreciation of the complex nature of substance use and mental health disorders. Inspired by her combined personal and professional experience, Dr. Roeske has committed her career to helping young people and families find hope and healing.

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Cassie Pastula

Associate Vice President of Admissions

 About 

Cassie joined the Newport Healthcare team in 2013. She works closely with our Executive and Clinical Directors to ensure appropriate placement for clients and a seamless admissions process for both clients and the internal team. Cassie’s previous work experience includes event planning and management for the M&M Group in Huntington, California, planning, producing, and managing billing for more than 10 events each month. She also managed marketing, crafted advertising strategies, and oversaw content dissemination for NJ Law, APC, in Newport, California. Cassie holds an undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Clinical Leadership

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Prakash Thomas, MD

Psychiatrist

About 

Dr. Thomas is an adult, adolescent, and child psychiatrist who values working with Newport Healthcare clients and observing their growth. In addition to his clinical experience, he taught English as a second language to college students for two years in China and, as a result, enhanced his perspective on adolescents and their developmental challenges. He also teaches psychiatrists and medical students and has written scholarly articles and books on psychiatry and children, including co-authoring Psychopharmacology and Child Psychiatry Review and Lewis’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review. It is one of the chief rewards of his work as a Newport psychiatrist to stitch together the different therapeutic perspectives on each client to create a unique and unified framework for growth, change, and healing.

 Clinical Expertise

Dr. Thomas earned his doctorate at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and is board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry. He has held various professional appointments, including supervising physicians in training nurses, psychologists, and social workers. Dr. Thomas’ clinical experience encompasses both private practice in New Haven, Connecticut, and staff positions at Yale New Haven Hospital, Clifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic, Inc., and Yale’s Developmental Disability Clinic. He was also a recipient of the Bloomberg Award for Distinction in Psychiatry.

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Michel Mennesson, MD

Psychiatrist

About 

Dr. Mennesson thrives on finding new and creative solutions by drawing from a variety of therapeutic approaches. A longtime practitioner of yoga and meditation, he is a strong proponent for integrating mindfulness principles into clinical treatment. Dr. Mennesson is dedicated to providing the highest-quality evidence-based care in a safe, secure environment. He firmly believes in the power of a strong social support network, and he uses Attachment-Based Family Therapy to restore and reinforce healthy relational dynamics for young people and their families.

Clinical Expertise

Dr. Michel is board-certified in general psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, with an added qualification in Addiction Psychiatry. Originally from France, he trained as a pediatrician and internist before entering the field of psychiatry. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Yale University Department of Psychiatry. At Newport Healthcare, Dr. Mennesson specializes in treating young people struggling with issues such as substance use, depression, grief and loss, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Mirela Loftus MD, PhD

Medical Director

About 

Dr. Loftus began her career in a lab, researching a small area of the brain (the hippocampus), specifically its connection to abnormalities seen in schizophrenia. Her desire to make an impact on young people during this critical stage of development led her into direct care, working with children, teens, and families. Dr. Loftus also became an advocate for children’s mental health, testifying at the Capitol on numerous occasions and lobbying in Washington DC in her role as the president of the Connecticut Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists.

Clinical Expertise

Dr. Loftus earned her medical degree at one of the oldest and most acclaimed medical schools in Romania, and received her PhD from the University of California, Davis. Before joining the Newport Healthcare team, she spent 15 years as an attending and consulting psychiatrist at Hartford HealthCare’s Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, coordinating and delivering care for children and teens. From 2017 to 2019, she was Medical Director of the Institute’s Clinical Trials Unit, researching the efficacy of experimental depression and suicidal ideation treatments. Dr. Loftus also served as an assistant professor in the University of Connecticut School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.

Ian Parker, LCSW

Clinical Director

About

Ian has experience working with adolescent populations in a variety of settings. At Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Connecticut, he served as a psychiatric clinician, facilitating intensive outpatient groups for ages 13 to 18 and providing outpatient therapy for adults. Prior to this position, he was clinical care coordinator for Connecticut Junior Republic’s Winchester Therapeutic Group Home, providing individual, family, and group counseling in a residential setting for adolescent boys ages 14 to 21.

Clinical Expertise

In addition to his Master’s in Social Work from the University of Connecticut, Ian is trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and the Risking Connections therapeutic model. He previously worked as a clinician in the Child Guidance Clinic of Family and Children’s Aid in Waterbury, Connecticut, and in Catholic Charities’ Court Support Services Division, Torrington, Connecticut.

Leigh McInnis, LPC

Executive Director

About

As Executive Director at Newport Healthcare’s Virginia location, Leigh McInnis, LPC, supports team cohesion and the management and training of all staff, oversees the clinical team, and supports collaboration among departments. Before finding her professional home at Newport Healthcare, Leigh worked in many public mental health arenas, including nonprofit crisis prevention and response for adults, intensive in-home care for children and adolescents, and residential treatment facilities. Leigh is passionate about partnering with families and communities, and sees them as the foundation that supports teens as they develop and succeed.

Clinical Expertise

Leigh holds a master’s degree in Community Counseling, along with certifications in LPC-Supervision, Family Centered Treatment, and Recognizing and Responding to Suicide Risk training. She also completed a degree in psychology. In 2016, Leigh developed the clinical milieu for a non-suicidal self-injury unit in a Virginia residential treatment facility. Leigh’s approach to treatment is based on the belief that we each have the power to change our current circumstances—and that the impetus for change is within us.

Michael Roeske, PsyD

Senior Director, Center for Research and Innovation

About

Dr. Roeske is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked and trained in a variety of settings since 2003, including community mental health clinics, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, and residential and outpatient substance use disorder treatment programs. He has experience as a supervisor, clinical director, and assessor of children, adolescents, and adults. In addition, he has served as a chief operating officer and chief executive officer. His work with the Center aims to establish Newport as a thought leader in the field and an innovator in bridging science and clinical practice.

Clinical Expertise

Dr. Roeske recognizes the importance of exceptional, ethical, and collaborative clinical care; staff and therapist development; community outreach; and open, transparent communications. As an educator, he has been a national presenter, adjunct professor, and trainer of psychotherapy graduate students, as well as developing curriculum for psychotherapy groups in acute care settings. In these ways, he has devoted his life to the science and art of serving those facing substance abuse and acute and/or chronic mental health concerns.

600+
mental health professionals

Joe Vaccaro, PsyD

Executive Director

About

Dr. Vaccaro first joined Newport Academy as a family therapist, working with teens, young adults, and families. In the Executive Director role for Southern California, he supports the Newport Healthcare clinical team and all departments in providing exceptional care and compassion to the families we serve. He is dedicated to bringing patience, connection, progression, and authenticity into his work with young people.

Clinical Expertise 

Dr. Vaccaro holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has extensive experience in the field. Before joining the Newport Healthcare team, he was clinical supervisor at Pathways Community Services, Garden Grove, California, supervising and training psychological assistants and interns. He was a clinical psychologist for four years at Pathways prior to that position, and also worked as a psychologist for Sunny Hills Behavioral Health Incorporated in Fullerton, California. He completed his postdoctoral residency at Long Beach Job Corps in California, administering individual and group clinical supervision to doctoral candidates and practicum interns.

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Beth Hanline, LCSW-C

Director of Outpatient Services

About

Beth has more than 10 years of experience in the field as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She excels at treating behavioral issues, depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, school anxiety, and school avoidance. Prior to joining the Newport team, Beth worked as a therapist and program director at the Board of Child Care, in multiple capacities as a contractor for the Armed Forces Services Corporation, and as a child psychiatric consultant at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

 Clinical Expertise 

Beth Hanline has participated in specialized trainings in Attachment-Based Family Therapy, play therapy, Trauma-Focused CBT, Trauma-Informed Care, and Solution-Focused Therapy. She holds a BBA in management, a bachelor’s in psychology, and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland.

Rachel Fortune, MD, FAAP

Consulting Physician and Eating Disorder Specialist

About 

Dr. Fortune is an expert in the treatment of eating disorders, mental health disorders, and adolescent medicine. In her many years of treating teens, she has learned that most eating-disordered adolescent patients recover best with a family-based treatment approach. Dr. Fortune concurrently serves as Medical Director of Eating Disorders at Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Clinical Expertise

After completion of her fellowship at the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, Dr. Fortune spent two years caring for adolescent patients at Yale University School of Medicine/Yale New Haven Hospital, where 90 percent of patients in her subspecialty practice were being treated for eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. She is board-certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine by the American Board of Pediatrics and is dedicated to helping young people transform their lives for the better.

Jennifer Dragonette, PsyD

Clinical Services Instructor

About

Dr. Dragonette is dedicated to helping teams come together to support clients in creating more authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling lives. She was the founding Executive Director of Newport’s Northern California location and now serves in an important clinical training and supervisory capacity. As a specialist in her field, Dr. Dragonette understands the need to take into account every aspect of an individual—their physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health, not just psychological. She believes that true healing begins when a teen shifts from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control, and she carries this philosophy into her treatment practices.   

Clinical Expertise

Prior to joining our team, Dr. Dragonette was the Director of Behavioral Health for Petaluma Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Petaluma, California. In that position, she oversaw the Behavioral Health department and coordinated all aspects of operations. Moreover, during the wildfires that ravaged the Petaluma community in 2017, she spearheaded and developed curriculum for a program to support parents and children in the aftermath of that traumatic event. Dr. Dragonette also served in both clinical and leadership roles at Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa’s Chemical Dependency Services.

Don Grant, MA, MFA, DAC, SUDCC IV, PhD

Director of Outpatient Services

About

Dr. Don Grant is an internationally award-winning media psychologist, published researcher, Doctoral Addictions Counselor, and educator with specific expertise in technology’s impact on mental health. He is the current President-Elect of APA Division 46 (The Society for Media Psychology & Technology), and Chair of both the American Psychological Association’s Device Management & Intelligence and Strategic Planning Committees. Dr. Grant designs, presents, and facilitates treatment strategy and educational training workshops for clinicians, educators, parents, and school communities, focused on healthy device management and good digital citizenship.

Clinical Expertise

Before joining the Newport team, Dr. Don Grant was the executive director of Resolutions Teen Center in Santa Monica, which he cofounded in 2017. He is also the founder of (un)Boot Camp, a treatment program for online dependency issues, and spent 13 years as a dual diagnosis/chemical dependency counselor and case manager for Of One Mind in Brentwood, California. Dr. Grant is also a professional media development consultant for healthcare professionals, organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and treatment providers. His background in media includes serving as editor-in-chief for Start Again Media in Los Angeles, where he was responsible for restructuring, rebranding, and all content and marketing.

Program Leadership

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Morgan Link, MA, LMFT

Associate Clinical Director

About 

Morgan specializes in treating adolescent trauma, anxiety, depression, sexual issues, and substance abuse. Her favorite part of the recovery process is watching the light come back into a client’s eyes after a long and challenging journey. Before joining Newport Healthcare in 2019, Morgan worked as a primary therapist and group facilitator throughout Southern California, at Phoenix House, Luminance Recovery, and The House of the Rising Son Recovery.

Clinical Expertise

Morgan is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and has led group DBT training sessions. A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, she holds a master’s from Alliant International University. Morgan believes that every young person and family is capable of change and can rebuild trust and connection.

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Annie Gendaszek, MA, LAADC

Director of Compliance

About 

Annie brings to the Newport Healthcare team in-depth experience in quantitative and qualitative research. Additionally, she brings professional communication skills across a wide range of platforms. Annie continues to be fascinated by the interface of psychology and law, and has acquired degrees in both psychology and communication studies, along with a master’s in forensic psychology. With a background in the litigation field, Annie has provided trial support for the Denver District Attorney’s Office and has assisted deputy district attorneys in drug court with trial preparation and courtroom coverage.

Clinical Expertise 

Annie Gendaszek has vast experience in the field of psychology. This includes positions as a program director, case manager, and senior resident manager for Safe Harbor Treatment Center in Costa Mesa, California. She has performed research at Bates College on the illicit use of psychostimulants in college students, which was published in the journal Psychology, Health, and Medicine. She also co-authored an article published in the Journal of the American Corporate Counsel Association, which included findings from a national study she designed on juror perceptions of corporations in the post-Enron era.

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Erica Opromollo, LCSW

Family Program Director

About

Erica has more than 10 years of experience providing therapeutic treatment to youth and families in treatment settings and private practice. She began her career as an in-home family therapist and was recognized at the statewide level for her calming engagement style and strengths-based clinical approach. Before joining the Newport Healthcare team, Erica was a program director with a community-based program providing services to youth in the juvenile justice system, and oversaw a Department of Children and Families therapeutic group home for youth with acute mental health needs.

Clinical Expertise 

Erica is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy, and trained in multiple evidence-based modalities. She specializes in the assessment and treatment of PTSD and traumatic stress, primarily with victims of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; substance abuse; conduct disorder; ADHD; Oppositional Defiant Disorder; mood disorders; and adjustment disorders due to changes in life situations. Erica uses a strengths-based approach to help clients and families view behaviors as adaptations, and use their relationships to motivate positive change.

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Samantha Quigneaux, LMFT

Associate Family Program Director

About

Samantha has extensive experience working with adolescents and adults who have experienced trauma, including sexual and physical abuse. She also has expertise working with the LGBTQ community and issues related to gender and sexuality. Samantha believes that a necessary step in the healing and recovery process is a strong and genuine therapeutic connection that creates safety and allows for growth.

Clinical Expertise 

Before joining the Newport Healthcare team, Samantha was the managing moderator for Big White Wall, a 24/7 online community platform helping members to successfully self-manage their emotional health. She also served as a therapeutic mentor and parent coach for Vive Family Support Program in New York City, providing therapeutic support for young people and their families navigating difficult transitions. Prior to that, Samantha was a child and family therapist for the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse, New York, working with child and adolescent survivors of sexual abuse. She holds a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist.

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Meredith Hettler, LMFT

Associate Family Program Director

About

Meredith Hettler is passionate about helping young people and their families move towards their greatest potential. With more than 10 years of experience in the healthcare field, Meredith treats teens struggling with depression, anxiety, and co-occurring disorders, guiding them toward reconnection within their family system. She holds a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling from Central Connecticut State University, and an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Rhode Island.

Clinical Expertise

Meredith previously worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist at Milford Youth and Family Services and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge & Associates. She also worked at the Kennedy Center as a behaviorist, where she wrote and implemented behavior support plans for adults with intellectual disabilities. Meredith is trained in Attachment-Based Family Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and has participated in Level III training in Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT Tapping Therapy. She is also a certified yoga instructor.

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Jennifer Broadlick, LMFT

Associate Clinical Director

About

Jennifer Broadlick has been working in the field of mental health treatment since 2009. She is passionate about helping others attain a healthier sense of self, heal their emotional wounds, and develop more positive relationships with others. Jennifer has worked with clients struggling with anxiety disorders, social anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, and psychotic disorders. Her approach involves helping the client and their family to understand the disorder and develop tools to manage symptoms.

Clinical Expertise

Prior to joining the Newport Healthcare team in early 2018, Jennifer was a case manager at Project RENEW in Orange County, California, assisting at-risk youth with mental health disorders and their families. At Providence Community Services in Santa Ana, California, she provided therapy to children individually and with their families. In addition, Jennifer worked with ChildNet Youth and Family Services in Long Beach, California, developing treatment plans and providing therapy to children and their families.

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Jessica Banik, LMFT

Associate Family Program Director

About 

With nine years in the treatment field, Jessica Banik excels in treating families and strengthening family relationships. A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, she has served as a case management and primary therapist for individual clients, couples, and families in residential treatment. In addition, Jessica has worked with military service members and their families.

Clinical Expertise

Jessica cites Murray Bowen and his family systems theory among her influences, in particular his view of families, how they grow, and the multigenerational transmission process. Her work is also influenced by John and Julie Gottman’s evidence-based approaches to couples and family therapy, and she has completed Gottman Training Levels 1 and 2. Jessica holds a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida, Orlando.

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Alex Merlo, LMFT

Clinical Supervisor

About

Alex specializes in treating substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and family conflict, in both residential and outpatient settings. She is passionate about working with young people and helping them to establish positive habits that will support them throughout their lives. The family struggles she experienced in her own childhood and adolescence inspired her career path.

Clinical Expertise

Alex Merlo specializes in Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT), a family-based approach to preventing depression and suicide in young people. Before joining Newport Healthcare, she worked as a primary therapist at the Center for Discovery, as a unit therapist at Vista del Mar, and at the Jewish Family Center. Alex holds a master’s in clinical psychology from Antioch University.

Ryan Fedoroff, M.Ed

VICE PRESIDENT, LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

About 

Ryan brings over a decade of academic leadership and classroom experience to her role at Newport Healthcare. As an educator, she is passionate about working with high-risk adolescents and is trained in restorative practices. Ryan works with the Marin County (California) Youth Court and is a member of various community organizations working to combat youth substance abuse. She develops educational and intervention programs to prevent teen and young adult mental health struggles and drug use.

Clinical Expertise 

Prior to joining Newport Academy in 2014, Ryan was a student activities director, leadership teacher, and mathematics teacher at Tamalpais Union High School District in Mill Valley, California. She holds a master’s degree in Education Administration, and has also served as secondary summer school principal, mathematics teacher, and student activities director for the Novato (California) Unified School District. Ryan works alongside clinicians to create interventions to assist students dealing with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. She also collaborates with special education teams to create protocols for managing classroom challenges for students dealing with auditory processing and executive functioning deficits.

Jeffrey Zurofsky

Culinary Program Director

About

Jeffrey Zurofsky leads Newport Academy’s innovative culinary program, based on the belief that learning how we grow and make our food can have a powerful healing effect and create a lasting positive impact on our lives. Combining nutritional knowledge with culinary expertise, Jeffrey ensures that Newport Academy offers the finest, freshest, most wholesome meals, as well as the shared experience of enjoying them as a community. He is the founder and CEO of No Small Plans, LLC, and the co-founder and former president and CEO of ’wichcraft, Riverpark, and Riverpark Farm. In 2009, Jeffrey was involved in the opening of the innovative Riverpark Farm, New York’s most urban farm.

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Gary Fedoroff, MC, CADC II

Director of Experiential Learning

About 

Gary has been working with high-risk teens for nearly 15 years, in settings ranging from community centers to juvenile drug court. He excels in treating adolescents who have lost a sense of connection to self and others, and who are open to new experiences and activities that help them build self-esteem and perspective. Prior to moving into his current role, in which he develops and implements curriculum for Newport’s Adventure Therapy program, Gary served as our Program Coordinator of Intensive Outpatient Services.

 Clinical Expertise

Gary holds a master’s in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University of California, and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Level II (CADC II). He is dedicated to engaging adolescents in recovery through multiple approaches, in particular the physical and emotional challenges and rewards of Adventure Therapy. Before joining the Newport team, Gary worked as an Alcohol and Drug Intervention Specialist for the Novato (California) Unified School District, and as a counselor and case manager for Bay Area Community Resources.

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Caydin Sanders

National Director of Experience

About 

Caydin joined the Newport Healthcare team in 2014, and established Newport’s Alumni Program as Director of Alumni Services, before becoming our National Director of Experience. Today, her contributions positively impact young people, families, and our team on a national level. Caydin continues to oversee Newport Healthcare’s Alumni Network while working to ensure that every aspect of Newport’s programming exceeds clients’ expectations. She has a degree in sociology, with an emphasis on social work, from California State University. Caydin is also a community volunteer for Mercy Without Limits, a nonprofit providing humanitarian relief around the world.

Nicole Renée Matthews

Director of Yoga

About 

Nicole Renée Matthews has been practicing yoga for over a decade and is the director of Charym Yoga Studio in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her personal journey with anxiety, depression, and pharmaceutical use as a teen inspired her to find accessible, everyday solutions for healing and wholeness. When she found yoga, she found guiding principles for navigating difficult times. Today, Nicole strives to inspire in her students curiosity, compassion, and lifelong self-study. She is certified in Ashtanga Vinyasa, trauma-informed yoga, and Somatic Experiencing, and also holds an Institute of Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Certification and a bachelor’s degree in holistic health and addiction studies from Western Michigan University.

 

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Robyn Le Ann

Director of Equine Services

About 

Robyn brings a unique blend of education, training, and experience to Newport Healthcare’s Equine-Assisted Therapy program. Her background in yoga therapy, combined with her equine skills and her desire to be of service to others, inspired her to train as a Certified Equine Specialist. Robyn has worked with horses for more than three decades, in various capacities. As a member of the Mounted Patrol Unit in Southern California for seven years, she fine-tuned her ability to observe and interpret the nonverbal communication of horses and humans. This intuitive nature and rich life experience inform her capacity to connect with adolescents in a therapeutic setting.

Therapists and Counselors

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Amber Perez, LCSW

Family Therapist

About

Amber excels at working with adolescents and families to improve relationships and communication skills. Her own childhood struggles with social anxiety, ADHD, and depression were the motivation for her career path. Amber believes that family relationships play a pivotal role in a teen’s self-confidence, and she is passionate about helping adolescents gain the tools to build supportive, authentic connections throughout their life.

Clinical Expertise 

Amber Perez is certified in Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), as a therapist and a supervisor. She is also trained in Attachment-Based Family Therapy (advanced level), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the Normative Approach, and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. While completing her Master of Social Work degree at Fordham University, Amber specialized in working with children and families. Her past roles include clinical supervisor and case manager for the North American Family Institute (NAFI)’s MDFT Program.

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Atim Bassey, LMSW

Individual and Family Therapist

About

Atim’s favorite part of the recovery process is watching the tremendous positive change that takes place when a family begins to work together to change their future for the better. Her previous positions have included Functional Family Therapist at the Center for Children in Annapolis, Maryland, and Clinical Social Work Intern for Innovative Therapeutic Services and Synergy Family Services, both in Laurel, Maryland.

Clinical Expertise 

Atim Bassey has participated in specialized trainings in functional family therapy sessions and Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT), which she uses to heal ruptures that have prevented a family from connecting in the past. She holds a degree in psychology from Old Dominion University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland, with a clinical concentration on children and families. Atim has volunteered for more than a decade as a crisis counselor for the DC Rape Crisis Center.

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Rebecca Vattuone, MS, LPC

Individual & Family Therapist

About 

Rebecca brings to Newport Healthcare more than 12 years of clinical experience in the mental healthcare field, working in a variety of treatment settings, including emergency mobile psychiatric services for children and adolescents, adolescent group homes, outpatient clinics, and in-home intensive family therapy. A Connecticut native, she served as State Clinical Director and Clinical Program Director for the MENTOR Network and as Clinical Supervisor for Multidimensional Family Therapy at the Wheeler Clinic.

Clinical Expertise

Rebecca is a graduate of Pratt Institute and Central Connecticut State University, where she earned her master’s degree in Professional Counseling, completing her thesis on the use of art therapy in a residential setting. Rebecca’s primary focus has been in forensics and helping young adults transition into adult services. She believes in a personal, hands-on approach with each client and family. Her special skills include fluency in Spanish.

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Whitney Balliett, LPC, LADC

Family Therapist

About 

Whitney has nearly 30 years of experience working with youth populations suffering from substance use disorder, process addictions, and other mental health conditions. During the course of his career, he has held positions as an addictions counselor, therapist, clinical educator, clinical supervisor, case manager, and drug and alcohol interventionist. Moreover, he has worked in numerous settings, including hospitals, acute assessment programs, day and outpatient addiction treatment programs, and residential and day schools. Before joining the Newport team, he held clinician roles at Mountainside treatment center in Canaan, Connecticut; Cumberland Heights Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center in Nashville; and Academy at Swift River in Cummington, Massachusetts.

Clinical Expertise

Whitney holds certifications in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Microcurrent Electrical Therapy (MET), Motivational Interviewing, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He has also attended specialized trainings for Attachment-Based Family Therapy, Cultural Competence, and numerous other modalities. He holds a master’s degree in counseling from the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kenyon College.

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Michelle Ehrler, LMFT

Family Therapist

About 

Michelle Ehrler’s reason to work in the healthcare field is simple: She believes everyone deserves to receive unconditional love, even when they deem themselves unworthy. Prior to joining Newport Healthcare, Michelle was a Residential Instructor with the Devereux Advanced Behavior Health’s therapeutic boarding school, the Glenholme School in Washington, Connecticut. She also served as Clinical Social Work Intern at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Connecticut.

Clinical Expertise

Michelle has participated in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy training and excels at treating behavioral mental health issues. While completing her Master of Social Work degree at Fordham University, she was a master’s level intern clinician in the Bridges Extended Day Treatment Program. Michelle also holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Southern Connecticut State University.

 

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Johanna Marco, LMFT

Family Therapist

About 

Supporting clients to improve their well-being is Johanna’s primary motivation for her work in the mental healthcare field. Prior to joining Newport Healthcare in 2019, Johanna worked for five years at the Wheeler Clinic in Plainville, Connecticut, where she rose from intern to program manager, training staff in various models and techniques as well as treating clients and facilitating family sessions and clinical groups.

Clinical Expertise 

Johanna holds a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Saint Joseph, and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Manhattanville College. She particularly excels at working with LGBTQ teens, and adolescents struggling with trauma, depression, and anxiety, and has completed additional training in these areas.