Dr. Leslie Cunningham is the Clinical Director of the Center for Chronic Medical Conditions (CCMC) and Co-Director of the Pediatric Assessment Center (PAC) at CFI-Westchester and Manhattan. Dr. Cunningham received her B.A. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Clinical & School Psychology from the University of Virginia and her pre-doctoral internship at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children at the MCV/VCU Health System. She completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston, where she worked with the pediatric brain tumor population providing individual, group, and family therapy, behavioral interventions around medical procedures, and anticipatory grief and bereavement support. Dr. Cunningham was then appointed as faculty at Harvard Medical School, working as a staff psychologist at Dana-Farber as part of the School Liaison Program, where she worked to ensure that patients who have completed treatment for childhood cancer were receiving the most appropriate school-based accommodations and services. During this time, Dr. Cunningham also maintained a private practice conducting neuropsychological evaluations with children and adults.
Dr. Cunningham was on the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine for several years, where she worked as the psychologist within the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology, and Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Her clinical work focused on the adjustment of children and adults to achronic or life-threatening illness, adherence to medical treatment, cognitive-behavioral interventions to address chronic pain, and anticipatory grief and bereavement. She also conducted neuropsychological evaluations with patients who were at risk for learning and processing deficits secondary to the neurotoxicity from cancer-directed treatment or prolonged severe anemia. Dr. Cunningham works closely with children's’ schools to ensure that each child receives specific classroom interventions and accommodations needed due to physical and/or neurocognitive sequelae from disease or disease-related treatment.
Moody K., Siegel L., Scharbach K., Cunningham, L., Cantor R. (2011). Pediatric Palliative Care. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, 38(2), 327-361.
Pecker LH, Roth M, Landman S, Cunningham L, Silver EJ, et al. (2015) Communicating Prognosis in Sickle Cell Disease: A Qualitative Study of Adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease, Their Parents and Providers. Annals Pediatric Child Health, 3(1): 1031.
Dr. Michele Barton is the Director of CFI-Greenwich, and Clinical Director of the Biofeedback and Virtual Reality Therapy programs at CFI. Dr. Barton is also a primary externship program supervisor, a senior clinician in our Center for Chronic Medical Conditions, and a member of the “Brave Voices” Selective Mutism training team at CFI. Dr. Barton has a warm yet directive approach and has extensive experience using a variety of evidence-based treatments across diverse populations and clinical settings. Dr. Barton is highly specialized in CBT combined with the use of Biofeedback and Virtual Reality Therapies. Dr. Barton focuses on providing functional lifelong tools to children, teens, adults, and families, while working closely with all sources of support to ensure productive, sustainable treatment outcomes.
Dr. Barton graduated with honors from Purchase College with a B.A. in Psychology and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Biological Science. Dr. Barton began her graduate career at Columbia University-Teachers College Masters in Psychology Program, followed by a Clinical Heath Psychology PhD Program at Yeshiva University, where she earned degrees in Clinical Psychology and Clinical Health Psychology. Dr. Barton conducted her doctoral research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University’s Department of Medical Genetics, where she completed her Doctoral Dissertation studying the genetic contributions associated with children at risk for psychological disorders based on parental diagnosis.
Dr. Barton’s clinical training sites have included Yeshiva University’s Parnes Clinic and Eating Disorder and Weight Loss Center, Lincoln Hospital’s Child/Adolescent Outpatient and Adult Inpatient and Outpatient Units, the Hudson Valley VA System working with Veterans, and the Northside Center for Child Development working with foster children, adoptees, and troubled youth. Dr. Barton completed her post-doctoral fellowship at a private CBT practice on the Upper East Side working with children, teens, adults, couples and families, and was later promoted to Director of Clinical Health, Intern Training Supervisor, and Head of Clinical Outreach. During her post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Barton specialized in applications of CBT coupled with intensive training in the utilization of non-invasive medical procedures including Biofeedback, Virtual Reality, Entrainment, and Neurofeedback prescribed to successfully replace or supplement medication in a number of psychological disorders including ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, Depression, Addiction, and Specific Phobias (fear of flying, public speaking, heights, animals, performance and social anxiety), among others. Dr. Barton was trained by leaders in the field, using cutting edge state-of-the-art equipment to establish ground-breaking treatment protocols and applications using psychophysiological technology.
Currently, in addition to her many roles here at CFI, Dr. Barton is the Director of Psychology Life Well, a small collaborative private practice, where she works with physicians and other health care professionals to treat clients of all ages suffering from the psychological sequelae of chronic medical conditions.
Barton, M (2012) An Exploration of Child Behavior Checklist Scores in a Population at High Risk. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Yeshiva University NY, NY.
Regular contributor to online publications regarding mainstream psychological health
Dr. Elana Dumont is the Clinical Director of the Group Therapy and Maternal Mental Health programs at CFI-Westchester. Dr. Dumont has extensive experience using cognitive behavioral interventions while working with children, adolescents, and families with a wide range of diagnoses in both individual and group formats. As part of the Maternal Mental Health Program, Dr. Dumont provides evidence-based therapy to women and families throughout pregnancy and post-partum, exploring feelings related to childbirth, managing personal and societal expectations, and developing coping skills when adjusting to the new role of motherhood, in both individual and group settings. As the Director of the Group CBT Program, Dr. Dumont provides CBT and DBT skills training for individuals experiencing anxiety and depression. In particular, she runs the SAMSS (Social Anxiety Mastery and Skills for Success) Program, where she works with individuals of all ages with social anxiety in the group context.
Dr. Dumont completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Queens College with a major in Psychology, and her doctorate in School-Clinical Child Psychology at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Dumont completed an APA-Accredited Pre-Doctoral Internship at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx where she treated adults with severe mental illness on psychiatric inpatient units, worked as part of the Consultation Liaison service providing psychiatric evaluations to patients with medical illness, and in the Family Advocacy Program, an outpatient clinic for children and families with a sexual abuse history. Dr. Dumont comepleted a post-doctoral fellowship at The Child & Family Institute-Westchester specializing in group CBT for social anxiety and social skills training, and currently works as the Middle School Psychologist and Health Educator at the Chapin School on the Upper East Side. Dr. Dumont has a wide range of experience working with children and adolescents with anxiety and mood disorders, and specifically with children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety symptoms as a result of trauma.
Dr. Dumont’s other training experiences include clinical externships at the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Kings County Hospital Center’s inpatient adolescent unit, and a one year placement at the Munsey Park Elementary School as a school psychology extern. She was also part of an intensive CBT practicum where she was trained in MATCH-ADTC, a new modular cognitive-behavioral therapy approach designed to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or conduct problems as they co-occur in children (MATCH-ADTC; Chorpita & Weisz, 2009), and worked with children with anxiety disorders and parents with children with behavioral disorders using flexible CBT interventions. Dr. Dumont enjoys consulting and collaborating with parents and teachers to best meet the needs of the children with whom she works. In addition, Dr. Dumont has experience in neuropsychological testing as well.
Dr. Dumont’s research interests include studying the relationship between parental stress in the context of having a child with Type 1 Diabetes and the implementation of different parenting styles and interventions. She also has experience and training in Mindfulness, particularly in an inpatient setting, and is currently collaborating on an article looking at the benefits of mindfulness on young adults with severe mental illness.
Publications and Professional Presentations:
Dumont, E., Hidary. S., & Forbes, K. (2014). Adapting mindfulness groups for a first-break psychosis inpatient population. Manuscript submitted.
2013 NYASP Conference. “Expanding the Role of the School Psychologist” Presentation: Chronic Illness and its Impact on School Children and Their Families.
Jenna Horowitz, LCSW, is the Associate Director of the CFI-Brooklyn and Manhattan offices. Jenna has provided cognitive-behavioral therapy, evidence-based play therapies, and family therapy to children, pre-teens, teenagers and their families for the past seven years across a variety of settings.
Jenna Horowitz received her Bachelors in Science from Syracuse University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Social Work Program. Jenna earned her graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of Social Work. While in graduate school, she interned in the Pediatric Oncology Unit of Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center. It was during her time at Columbia that Jenna realized her desire to specialize with--and her passion for working with--anxious and depressed youth.
Throughout her career, Jenna has had a unique understanding of the challenges elementary and middle school aged children face. Jenna has extensive experience with cognitive behavioral therapies, and she integrates play with children in order to foster a child’s natural language and make their environment more comfortable. Jenna has previously provided counseling in the Scarsdale Middle School and at an elementary school in Yonkers. She has facilitated parent support groups for parents of teenagers and has given workshops on the impact social media has on teens. Jenna has also studied issues of the LGBTQ community, specifically as it relates to children and teenagers. Jenna has completed a certification program at Western Connecticut State University in play therapy and has also completed her certification in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Emma Romey, MA, LMSW is the Director of Group Therapy and Associate Director of the LGBTQ+ Program at the CFI-Westchester and Brooklyn locations. She has extensive experience using cognitive behavioral interventions while working with children, adolescents and adults in individual, family and group therapy. She also practices from a psychodynamic/analytic perspective, focusing on collaboration and utilizing the relationship between therapist and client to move toward change. She has a wide range of experience treating depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, ADHD and issues around identity, sexual orientation and gender identification.
Emma graduated from the University of Oregon with her B.S. in Psychology and Sociology. She then participated in an Americorps Teaching Program in which she taught middle school math in the Bronx and Bedford-Stuyvesant, while simultaneously earning a Master’s Degree in Teaching. Emma then went on to earn a graduate degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work. While at Columbia, Emma completed an intensive training fellowship in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) while interning at the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Child and Family Institute. After graduation, she also completed additional training in psychoanalytic theory at the William Alanson White Institute’s Intensive Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program in Manhattan. While completing this training, Emma continued treating children, adolescents and families at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center where she was part of the DBT consultation team.
Emma works part-time at the CFI, while also working full-time for the ThriveNYC Mental Health Service Corps, a citywide initiative run by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She was recently promoted into the role of a Practice Engagement Specialist in which she manages clinicians and oversees the integration of mental health services in a wide range of diverse practices across New York City.
Melissa Braunstein, PsyD, is a Clinical Psychologist at CFI-Scarsdale and Brooklyn. Dr. Braunstein has extensive experience providing individual and group therapy for children and adolescents across a variety of settings, including outpatient, hospital, and day treatment settings. She uses a combination of cognitive behavioral and play therapy in her clinical work with children. Her approach emphasizes the relationship she builds with children as she helps them identify their needs and find better ways to express them. Dr. Braunstein currently works as a School Psychologist in a center-based special needs preschool.
Dr. Braunstein received her Bachelor of Arts from Pace University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Her interest in psychology and passion for working with children led her to attend Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology’s School-Clinical Child Psychology Program at Yeshiva University. Her clinical training includes a postdoctoral fellowship with the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services at Pride of Judea, a community-based mental health clinic. During her time there, Dr. Braunstein treated children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of disorders and presenting problems and led groups applying dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for adults facing emotional difficulties and social skills training for boys with behavioral problems. She also received training in trauma focused-cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) for the treatment of PTSD and trauma-related symptoms in children and adolescents. Dr. Braunstein completed a clinical externship at Queens Hospital Center, where she provided individual and group psychotherapy to children presenting with anxiety, mood disorders, learning issues, selective mutism, and behavioral disorders. Additionally, she conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations for school-aged children.
Dr. Braunstein’s other training experiences include school settings at elementary schools on Long Island where she performed individual and group counseling for students and conducted Committee on Special Education (CSE) evaluations. She completed her internship at Joan Fenichel Therapeutic Nursery at the League Treatment Center where worked with preschool-age children with a range of psychiatric and developmental disabilities.
Sarah K. Hatcher, Ph.D., is a Post-Doctoral Fellow and the Associate Director of Pediatric Assessment for CFI’s Pediatric Assessment Center. Dr. Hatcher graduated with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from The University of Memphis in August 2018, where she specialized in clinical psychotherapy and assessment for children, adolescents, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her graduate school clinical and research experience also focused on international and multicultural social justice issues in psychological practice. Prior to graduation, Dr. Hatcher completed a year-long American Psychological Association accredited pre-doctoral internship at AHRC New York City’s Article 16 Clinic providing individual and group psychotherapy as well as psychological assessment for individuals of all ages with disabilities. She has experience using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Positive Psychology, and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities including Learning Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and co-occurring conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, mood, and conduct disorders, as well as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Additionally, Dr. Hatcher has previous experience working with typically developing adolescents and adults with eating disorders and adults with trauma-related anxiety and depressive disorders. Her background also includes individual and group psychotherapy with college students with Learning Disorders and other mental health conditions in a university setting. Dr. Hatcher’s previous assessment experience includes a year-long practicum placement in the neuropsychology department at Semmes Murphey Clinic in Memphis, TN. In addition to her clinical work at CFI, Dr. Hatcher currently works as a Supervising Psychologist for Adult Day Services at AHRC New York City, where she trains and helps behavior therapists to implement ABA interventions for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Dr. Hatcher uses a holistic approach to psychological treatment for children and adolescents that includes evidence-based approaches that are designed to meet the individual needs of each young person. She works in coordination with families, school officials, and other mental health professionals to understand the social, emotional, and physiological needs of her clients. Dr. Hatcher encourages families to take an active part in their child’s therapeutic treatment including family therapy sessions, discussions of treatment progress, and training to help parents use in-home interventions that reinforce the strategies their children learn during psychotherapy sessions.
Dr. Laura Tucker is the Assistant Director of CFI - Park Slope. She has a PhD in clinical psychology and a NY State license as a special educator. She was trained at the Yale Child Study Center in neuropsychological/educational assessment, academic remediation and child/family therapy.
Her work has largely centered around working with schools, families and children in need of academic support— within such entities as NYU Langone Medical Center and the NYC Department of Education—as well as the many private schools in the metro area.
She uses neuropsychological evaluations to help parents explore their child’s academic, emotional, and neurological functioning and uses the results to design specific individualized goals. Educational goals are monitored through periodic reassessment. Students, parents and teachers are treated as co-collaborators in choosing, monitoring and refining long and short-term goals. Caregivers are always assisted in interpreting neuro/psycho-educational reports so findings are applicable in the classroom and at home.
She works closely with parents and schools — teaching manageable strategies to help alleviate learning weaknesses—while simultaneously honing a child’s strengths. A child’s specific school curricula is often used to facilitate learning. Innovations in technology are used to support educational objectives. Dr. Tucker is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—with specific applications to help children manage cognitive, emotional and behavioral difficulties that are impacting school functioning. Motivation is carefully cultivated, so students can sustain the enthusiasm needed to achieve in school and with further challenges in life.
Dr. Emily Becker-Weidman is the Director of The Adoption and Attachment Treatment Center in Westchester County and Manhattan. Dr. Becker-Weidman received her B.A. in
Psychology and Health and Societies from the University of Pennsylvania, and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University, Fienberg School of Medicine. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the NYU Child Study Center/Bellevue Hospital and a 2-year post-doctoral clinical research fellowship in Anxiety and Mood Disorders and Autism at the NYU Child Study Center.
Dr. Becker-Weidman is a child and adolescent psychologist with expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for children, adolescents, and young adults and attachment-focused family therapy. She has certifications in CBT from the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT), intensively trained in DBT, and is certified by the Attachment Treatment-Focused Institute as an Attachment-Focused Family Therapist and is certified in the practice of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. She is on the faculty at New York University, where she teaches an undergraduate course on Attachment and Loss. She is also clinical director of the New York City Division of the Center for Family Development.
Dr. Becker-Weidman is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), the American Psychological Association (APA), the New York City Adoption/Foster Care Therapist Network, the New York City Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Association (NYC-CBT), and the New Jersey Psychological Association. She has presented research at several national conferences, co-authored three book chapters on child and adolescent psychopathology, and published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals.
Christina Athineos, M.S., is a senior doctoral fellow at CFI and a rising 5th-year doctoral student in Suffolk University’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. Christina earned her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University in 2016 and graduated summa cum laude from the honors program at The College of New Jersey in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Communication Disorders. Christina specializes in the treatment of anxiety, mood, attentional, and behavior problems at CFI and is also a member of the “Brave Voices” Selective Mutism training team at CFI.
Prior to joining The Child Family Institute, Christina completed practicum trainings at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Mclean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and the May Institute. During this time, she received extensive training in providing CBT for emotional and behavioral disorders, as well as other evidence-based treatments in both individual and group settings.
As a member of Suffolk University’s Community Action-Based Research Lab, Christina is involved in social justice-based research that aims to have actionable implications for creating change. Christina’s master’s thesis examined ways through which non-profit organizations can best increase their impact using social media. This investigation into the use of social media has continued into Christina’s dissertation, where she seeks to understand the ways in which cyber harassment affects women at individual, relational, and systemic levels.
Aside from her research and clinical work with CFI, Christina currently works as a behavior therapist with Hybridge Learning Group, providing Applied Behavior Analysis for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Christina also serves as a public policy intern with the National Alliance for Mental Illness - NJ Chapter, where she supports research efforts for program efficacy studies. Additionally, Christina interns with the National Prevention Science Coalition, focusing on the Research to Policy Collaboration (RPC). As an RPC Intern, Christina researches strategies for connecting government offices with research-based expertise to advance the implementation of evidence-based prevention practices into public policies.
For an up-to-date look at Christina’s publications and research projects, see her profile on research gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christina_Athineos
Rachel Liebman, M.A., LMHC, is a part-time psychotherapist at CFI-Scarsdale. Rachel graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a double major in Psychology and International Relations, receiving high thesis honors for her research on college adjustment, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Rachel went on to earn her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling at Boston College in 2003, and completed her training toward licensure while working with adults, adolescents, and children at HELP USA's domestic violence shelter in New York City.
Rachel's clinical experience includes extensive work with adults, adolescents, and children who have extensive histories of trauma, mood disorders, and behavioral disorders. She worked at My Sisters' Place in Westchester County for several years, providing cognitive-behavioral therapy and evidence-based play therapies, as well as running parent support groups. Prior to joining The Child Family Institute, Rachel worked for New York Therapy Placement Services, providing mental health counseling to children and adolescents in the New York City public schools. During this time, she worked with students with emotional and behavioral disorders using cognitive-behavioral therapy in both individual and group settings. Through this work, she also discovered an interest in mindfulness and teaching mindfulness as a self-regulation tool. Throughout her career, Rachel has enjoyed working with clients of all ages, using evidence-based therapies to her clients feel empowered and resilient.
Annie M. W. Denenberg, MPH is the Clinical Director of the Holistic Health & Nutritional Counseling (HHNC) program at CFI-Westchester, Manhattan, and new Brooklyn location. Annie graduated Summa Cum Laude from Emerson College with her B.S. in Marketing Communications and a minor in Psychology, and subsequently completed her certification to become a Whole Health and Nutrition Coach with the National Institute of Whole Health. Annie then received her Master's in Public Health from the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, with a specialization in Community Health Education. She completed fieldwork at both the New York City Department of Health and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she created a program evaluation toolkit for a diabetes prevention mobile app. For her master’s “capstone” research, Annie evaluated whether mHealth apps are appropriate tools to prevent diabetes in East Harlem, NY, a region with one of the highest prevalence rates of diabetes nationwide.
Annie began her holistic health journey as a health coordinator for Dr. Oz’s childhood obesity prevention foundation - HealthCorps, and subsequently as a health coordinator for Harlem Children’s Zone “Healthy Harlem” program. In both programs, she taught at-risk youth how to lead healthier lifestyles by incorporating small changes into their daily routines. She taught healthy cooking clubs, ran meditation clubs and young women’s groups, and organized after-school fitness workouts and classes on a wide range of physical- and mental health-related topics. Throughout her work at HealthCorps and HCZ, Annie developed the valuable insight and appreciation that, when presented in a fun, delicious, easy, and sustainable way, indeed many children, adolescents, and young adults – even at-risk youth - enjoy eating healthy food and engaging in healthy patterns of wellness, activity, and behavior.
Currently, as a certified Whole Health and Nutrition Coach, Annie helps children, adolescents, and young adults adopt lifestyle changes to enhance their overall quality of life, energy, engagement, health and well-being. She specializes in nutrition, fitness and mental resilience and works with clients to create personalized health goals and specific action plans to accomplish them. Annie believes that everyone can be healthy, but most people just need to learn some basic strategies to experiment with, practice, and maintain healthy patterns of behavior in a fun, realistic and sustainable way. Whether it’s tweaking ingredients in a favorite recipe, or adding simple exercises to a daily routine, Annie teaches easy ways to improve one’s health in small and manageable steps. Annie doesn’t believe in dieting or drastic exercise plans, but instead practices a holistic health approach teaching simple, but powerful, behavioral health concepts to create lasting, meaningful changes in one’s life.
In her spare time, Annie loves traveling, cooking healthy recipes, running, biking, doing Bikram yoga, and, as a treat, eating chocolate ice cream. Most of all, she loves spending time with her husband, Dr. Adam Weissman.
Katie Little is the intake coordinator for CFI and the executive assistant to Dr. Adam Weissman. She graduated cum laude from Davidson College in 2018 where studied both psychology and neuroscience. She was a member of the Moods, Attitudes, and Parenting Lab, where she conducted her senior honors thesis on parental divorce, adult attachment, and relationship satisfaction in first-time parents. She also worked in the behavioral neuroscience lab, where she created her own course curriculum for an independent research project on the neurobiological basis for co-occuring epilepsy and ADHD in children. Katie’s clinical experience prior to joining CFI was limited to observing cases in hospital settings, but she now co-leads the SAMSS group with Emma Romey and assists with clinical interventions, such as exposure therapy.
Jess Fox, M.A., ATR-BC, LCAT is the Clinical Director of the Creative Arts Therapy program at CFI. Jess is a Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist and she has been providing art therapy to children, adults, families, and couples for over eighteen years across a variety of settings.
Jess Fox received her Masters of Art Degree from Hofstra University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Creative Arts Therapy Program. Her thesis was on self-esteem and the exhibition of clients’ artwork. Over the years, Jess has facilitated more than ten art exhibits, one of which, “Hope for the Homeless”, was filmed and aired on local news. Jess was interviewed personally about her involvement in curating the show and her role as an art therapist with the homeless population.
Jess has provided bereavement counseling and art therapy to 9/11 victims’ families at the Healing and Remembrance on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, art therapy workshops to empower and mentor teens in the school setting, as well as numerous in-services in both school and hospital settings. She has conducted lectures and public speaking engagements at local, state and national conferences on the benefits of art therapy with the homeless population. In 2009, Jess spoke to NYC Council members at City Hall to advocate the need to keep Recreation Departments in the homeless shelters. The fight was won and the programming and jobs remain in place.
Jess is a member of the AATA (American Art Therapy Association), ATCB (Art Therapy Credentials Board), and NYATA (New York Art Therapy Association). She is the Vice President of NYC Regional Arts in Healthcare, a group of professionals that work in the healthcare profession providing creative arts. In addition to her role as a creative arts therapist, Jess is also a visual artist and is a member of the BWAC (Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition), an artist collective. Jess’s artwork via mixed media, oil, watercolor and acrylic painting are on display throughout the NY Metro area.
Daniel Riseman is a New York State certified teacher (grades 7-12) in Math, English Language Arts, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, and Social Studies and has an Advanced Certificate in Special Education. For the past 18 years, Daniel has provided in-home, subject-based tutoring. He also customizes lessons to prepare students for the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, ISEE, SSAT, and TACHS. Riseman Educational Consulting, LLC has been awarded “Best of Westchester” for College Prep the past five consecutive years.
As a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, Daniel assists students with every step of the college admissions process. He has helped students get admitted into MIT, Harvard, Princeton, University of Chicago, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Duke, Brown, Cornell, Washington University in St. Louis, Amherst, Wesleyan, Haverford, Swarthmore, Pomona, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, University of Virginia, Berkeley, Rice, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Tufts, Emory, Carnegie Mellon, Wake Forest, Michigan, UCLA, University of North Carolina, among others. He also helps college students with the transfer process and graduate school admissions.
Daniel has served as a featured education writer and contributor for Psychology Today, The Fiscal Times, Yahoo Finance, Foxnews, The Week, Education News, MSN Money, Institute of Sport, STEM Education Digest, The Awakened Wire, Conservative News, Special Needs Digest, Entertainment News, and LifeZette. He has also served as an on-air educational expert for EWTN.
Debra Vitagliano, MS, OTR/L
Debra Vitagliano has 26 years experience as an occupational therapist in pediatrics. She is the Clinical Director of the Occupational Therapy program at CFI-Scarsdale and she is the Founder and Director of Rye Therapies of OT, PT, and Speech in Rye, NY www.RyeTherapies.com. She has worked in early intervention, private clinics, home health care and schools. She completed her Bachelors of Science degree from Utica College of Syracuse University and her Masters of Science degree from New York Medical College. She continued her education becoming certified in Sensory Integration and Praxis Testing (SIPT), Interactive Metronome, therapeutic listening and The Listening Program. She is passionate in working with a variety of clients including children with sensory processing disorder, sensory integration dysfunction, hypotonia, motor coordination disorder, developmental delays, Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and attention difficulties. Her ultimate goal is assisting children to attain their maximum functional potential in their sensory-motor development.
Debra currently lives in Port Chester, New York with her husband and three sons. She enjoys hiking, exercising, Pilates, reading and traveling in her leisure time.
Kristy Castaldo, M.A., CCC-SLP, TSHH
Speech and Language Pathologist
Kristy Castaldo is a licensed and certified Speech and Language Pathologist and Clinical Director of the Speech-Language Therapy program at CFI-Scarsdale. Kristy has nearly 15 years of clinical experience working with children in various settings. She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in speech and language pathology from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. She is currently a part-time speech and language pathologist for a public school in Westchester County servicing elementary school students. She has also worked as an evaluator, a CPSE/CSE committee member and conducts private therapy in homes and schools. She is an Early Intervention provider and preschool age provider in New York for children ranging in age from birth to five years of age. She is experienced in working with children with childhood apraxia of speech, articulation/phonological disorders, social and pragmatic language issues, receptive and expressive language delays/disorders, auditory/language processing difficulties, higher level language skills, and reading/auditory comprehension. Kristy currently lives in Rye Brook, New York with her husband and two young children.
Adam S. Weissman, Ph.D.
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