Ms. Neysa Acosta, MA, MFT, joined RWJBarnabas Institute for Prevention in the Spring of 2016 as
a Prevention Specialist, where she will lead an evidenced-based comprehensive
prevention program, TALK, in the Essex County school community. The program
provides universal weekly classroom lessons and selective small psycho-educational
groups to decrease the risk of drug use/abuse via the development of improved
decision making skills. TALK provides families with a 7-week parenting
program where Neysa will utilize the Strengthening Families evidence based
curriculum to build family skills known to develop protective factors
associated with reduced substance abuse that increases parenting skills,
child social skills and improves family functioning overall. Staff development
and community partnerships and referral services are an additional component
to the program that Neysa will be facilitating in the community.
Neysa is an experienced and compassionate mental health professional dedicated
to providing exceptional treatment while delivering results to individuals
and families in need. She is trained on human development, behavior and
therapeutic treatment and holds a Masters in Behavioral Sciences/Psychological
Services, as well as a Professional Diploma in Marriage and Family Therapy
from Kean University. Ms. Acosta is Bilingual in English and Spanish and
has a track record of success in working with very diverse client populations
of youth and families, and within different systems and settings including
schools, homes and in/out-patient clinical programs. With over 13 years
of experience in the mental health field, Neysa initially provided counseling
services at adult partial care programs, working with clients diagnosed
with a developmental delay and/or moderate to severe mental illness, as
well as dually diagnosed clients with substance abuse addiction. She later
worked as a Special Services and Mental Health Manager at a Head Start
Preschool where she developed a deep passion for advocacy and parent training,
and became experienced in navigating the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA), and all procedures related to special education
and related services. Neysa moved on to working with the Early Intervention
System of Passaic County, and for many years continued to service youth
with developmental and social emotional disabilities and their families.
She also practices as a lead Bilingual Clinician at a Counseling Center,
providing one-on-one individual therapy, and marital or family counseling.
Her counseling work includes treatment for Anxiety/Depression, Trauma,
ADHD, family or marriage conflict and parenting issues.
Neysa’s systemic approach to therapy drives her ability to integrate
families when working with youth and what will drive her work with RWJBarnabas
and the school communities she serves.
ShaRonda Amon is a Prevention Specialist for the Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.
She facilitates the TALK program at Hope Academy Charter School in Asbury
Park, NJ, working with children, parents and school staff. She has developed
and conducted several workshops and trainings on topics, including substance
use prevention, bullying and team building. She also facilitates the Strengthening
Families program with children and families in Essex and Monmouth counties.
She began in the prevention field running an after school peer leadership
program for high school students in Asbury Park and Long Branch. Under
her direction, the students won several awards, including a Proclamation
from the City of Asbury Park. ShaRonda received her B.A. in Sociology
and Women’s Studies from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
Edward Bisceglie is a Recovery Specialist for Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.
He has twenty-five years in the recovery community counseling families,
individuals and adolescents. He assists those involved with the criminal
justice system on a daily basis assisting families and their loved ones
work toward a productive life.
Chris Brennan is a Recovery Specialist for Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention
and a former Securities Broker from Philadelphia and currently resides
in Riverton, New Jersey. He is a recovered heroin addict since March 1994,
during which time he has personally mentored many others through the recovery
process. He is uniquely qualified in this area and looks forward to joining
the Barnabas team.
Michele Buldo, DART Colaition Coordinator, has more than ten years of experience in the
field finance and has been with IFP since 2002. She received a bachelor’s
of science degree in Business from Montclair State University and a master’s
degree in Administrative Science from Farleigh Dickinson University. In
2013, Michele became the Coordinator of the DART coalition.
Michael Capko is currently the DART Coalition Manager. In this role, he works to collaborate
with community-based organizations and local community members to implement
environmental prevention strategies aimed at reducing substance abuse
in Ocean County. Michael has more than 7 years of experience in the field
of substance abuse prevention. He previously worked as the Regional Coalition
Coordinator in Union County. Michael holds his Bachelors of Science Degree
in Business Management from Kean University.
Dan Carroll is a Recovery Specialist with Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention,
originally from Southwest Florida and now an Ocean County resident working
in addiction recovery for seven years. He has prior levels of treatment
working in various levels of care including IOP, Residential Inpatient,
and Sober Living Placement. He is a CADC, CCAR, Recovery Coach, First
Aid/CPR/AED Certified, and currently enrolled in KEAN University. He as
seven years of experience in the recovery process and is dedicated to
his clients and helping them find their path on this journey to recovery.
Angela Cicchino from Ocean County is a Recovery Specialist for Barnabas Health Institute
for Prevention. She has been in recovery for over four years and knows
what it is like to have addiction change her life. She brings this experience
to her job and the ability to understand and empathize with others. She
takes great pleasure in helping to guide and empower those dealing with
Substance Use Disorders so that they can make healthy changes in their
lives that are necessary for the recovery process.
Neil Ciccone is a Recovery Specialist with the Opioid Overdose Recovery Program In
Ocean County. Neil has 25 years in 12 step recovery and is a certified
Prior to that, in his early recovery, he worked with Royal Caribbean Cruise
Lines and served a greeter for “Friends of Bill W.” a 12 Step
recovery group at sea.
His professional career prior to 12 Step recovery, consisted of Sales
and Marketing Manager for a number of large food distribution companies.
He has consistently held speaking commitments to bring the message of
recovery in Prisons, Rehabs, Youth centers, and various other meetings
since he began in the program. His solid foundation and ability to meet
individuals where they are at in their path will be an integral part of
the work as a Recovery Specialist and connecting people to treatment and recovery.
Krista DeFilipo As a Prevention Specialist with Barnabas Health, Institute for Prevention,
Krista DeFilipo currently coordinates and facilitates a comprehensive
school-wide prevention program for the staff, students and families of
the Walnut Street Elementary School in Toms River, NJ. Krista has spent
most of her career providing programming to children and families who
are at risk- for delinquency and/or substance use disorders in several
schools and communities throughout both Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
In addition, Krista is trained and facilitates the evidenced-based Strengthening
Families program, is a trained Lead and Seed Facilitator, and is certified
to work with trauma impacted children by providing, Skills for Psychological
Recovery (SPR) and Classroom Based-Interventions (CBI). Krista has extensive
experience working with and engaging children and families with a history
of substance use disorders, divorce, involvement with New Jersey’s
system of care, Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P),
probation and/or other social service agencies. Krista has developed and
conducted trainings on topics relating to parenting, classroom interventions,
bullying-prevention and working with children impacted by substance use
disorders, as well as relaxation and meditation.
Krista’s passion is raising awareness among children and adults
around building and enhancing the skills required for positive and healthy
life long decision-making. She collaborates with several Ocean County
youth and family serving organizations to support her passion. Krista
graduated with a B.S. in Public Health from Rutgers University and holds
her Certification as a Prevention Specialist (C.P.S.) from the Addictions
Certification Board of New Jersey.
Aida E. Hernandez, M.A., LAC is a Prevention Specialist with Barnabas Health, Institute for Prevention,
where she works implementing Evidence-Based programming with youth through
the TALK Program in Monmouth County. With 10 years of experience working
in the field of child development, behavioral health, and evidence-based
instruction, Aida has experience working with individuals of all ages,
in a variety of capacities, ranging from community outreach, to school
and outpatient-based treatment and programming support. As a bilingual
counselor, Aida has adapted interventions and sought collaborative support
to address the diverse needs of Spanish-speaking communities. Aida earned
her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University, New Brunswick and earned
her M.A. in Community Counseling from Montclair State University.
Jennifer Marziale is the DART Coalition Director for Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.
In this role, she is responsible for managing all grants that support
the Coalition and implementing sustainable prevention programs and strategies
to reduce substance abuse in Ocean County. She has more than five years
of experience in the field of substance abuse prevention in both local
government and non-profit agencies. Most recently, Jennifer served as
the Regional Coalition Project Director in Monmouth County. Prior to that,
she was an Alliance Coordinator and spent more than eight years as a Research
Assistant for the Freehold Area Health Department. Jennifer earned a bachelor’s
of science degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Ithaca College.
Eric McIntire is a Recovery Specialist for Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.
He has over 12 years in the recovery field from starting a nonprofit organization
to providing a 24-hour help hotline as well as providing interventions
for families of loved ones who suffer from addiction. He is a volunteer
for the EAP of his union of over 10,000 members. He has been continuing
his education in the addiction field with the Union by attending Labor
Assistance Professionals training and continues to bring the message of
hope to the still sick and suffering addicts in prisons jails and institutions.
Lee Platt is a Recovery Specialist with Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention
and a retired NJ Police Officer. He is also an Interventionist and Outreach
Coordinator. Lee has been in recovery for six years and continues to give
back what was so freely given to him, a message of hope and a different
way of life. He specializes in helping the substance abuse disorder sufferer
start their spiritual journey and has aided in the placement for all stages
of treatment along with a commitment to be involved with the continuum of care.
Joel Pomales is a Recovery Specialist with Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.
In long-term recovery himself, he is a dedicated recovery-advocate with
the mission of helping others with substance use disorder, while raising
awareness and eliminating stigma that surrounds addiction and recovery.
He is a CCAR-Certified Recovery Coach and assisted in developing the Mentorship
Program at the Raymond Lesniak Experience Strength and Hope Recovery High
School, New Jersey’s first and only recovery high school. Joel is
a member of the Coalition for Healthy Communities, and a member of the
East Brunswick Municipal Alliance, while also being an Advocacy Leader
with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-NJ. Joel is
the Clinical Outreach Coordinator for College Recovery and a full time
student pursuing a doctorate in psychology.
Abigail Priece is a Prevention Specialist for the TALK program at Aldrich School in Howell,
NJ. She previously facilitated the TALK Program inNewark, NJ. Previously
Abigail has also worked as an adoption/permanency worker for a child welfare
agency in Phildelphia, PA and as a Crisis Counselor with the Institute
for Prevention working with Hurricane Sandy survivors.
Abigail earned an MS in Counseling and Human Relations and a BA in Human
Services, both from Villanova University. She is a certified school counselor
and currently volunteers as an NJ Disasters Response Crisis Counselor
and a children's grief group facilitator.
Roberta Rapisardi is the Community Programs Coordinator for RWJBarnabas
Health Institute for Prevention. She started working for the Institute
for Prevention in 2013 under the New Jersey Hope and Healing grant where
she provided support services to members of the community throughout Ocean
County who were impacted by Super Storm Sandy. She then transitioned to
the Turning the Tides grant where she facilitated groups mostly in the
school systems in Ocean and Monmouth County providing psycho-social interventions
to children impacted by trauma.
She currently coordinates multiple programs at the Institute for Prevention,
managing the Strengthening Families programs, facilitates the trainings
for the DART Youth Prevention Coalition (YPC) and provides TIPS training
to liquor establishments in Ocean County. Roberta is the liaison to the
DART YPC and serves as the advisor to DART’s Prescription Drug Misuse
Roberta received her Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Child Studies
and is in the processing of completing her Master’s Degree in Educational
Instruction. Roberta is certified to provide Skills for Psychological
Recovery (SPR) and Classroom Based-Interventions (CBI) along with being
a trained facilitator for Strengthening Families Program. She is also
a certified TIPS Trainer.
Jenna Reidy is a Recovery Specialist with the Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention
and is in long term recovery since 2008. She is an active member of Young
People in Recovery, a national advocacy organization and is the New Brunswick
New Jersey Chapter secretary. In addition, she participates as a volunteer
advocate for the NCADD Monmouth County advocacy team and is also involved
with the student mentoring program at the Raymond J. Lesniak Recovery
High School and is pursuing an Arts & Humanities degree at Brookdale
Melissa J. Straub, Private Investigator and social justice advocate, Melissa J Straub is a
highly experienced and credentialed professional within the investigative
and consulting arena since 1993 and is a licensed Private Detective in
the State of New Jersey. In addition, Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts
in Political Science/Pre Law and Master’s Degree in Counseling and
state certifications as a School Counselor in both NY and NJ. Thus enabling
a deeper understanding of current social justice and child advocacy issues.
Armed with advanced technical certifications, she is able to provide a
technical “spin” to a vast array of investigative scenarios.
She is in high demand as a professional speaker regarding internet safety,
social media awareness and cyberbullying.
Melissa’s professional experience is diverse and includes leadership
roles within the public, private and education sectors. Recently, Melissa
joined RWJ Barnabas Health, Institute for Preventions School Based “Talk”
program where she delivers prevention services to youth identified as
in need for alcohol and drug prevention through the New Jersey Department
of Mental Health and Human Services. Those services include one- on- one
counseling, group sessions and providing universal presentations on the
evidence based curriculum “Second Step”. She will also assist
with the nationally known Strengthening Families Program which she is
a certified Group Facilitator. She is a is a former law enforcement officer
and detective with specialized training as a school resource officer,
child advocacy, sex crimes, cybercrime, white-collar crime & fraud
issues. Her experience within corporations includes investigations relevant
to background checks, asset allocation, computer forensics, data analysis
and audits, as well as insurance fraud related surveillance. Recently
she was employed within a public school district where she provided school
counseling and NJ School Based Youth Services, which encompassed direct
counseling with students and development of social media oriented programs
within the community.
Melissa has received many awards and letters of commendation as a testament
to her dedication, achievement and professional prowess. Notably, she
has been honored by Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of
Investigation, and many others from School Principals and Guidance professionals.
Debbie Tallia is the Executive Assistant/Office Manager for Barnabas Health Institute
for Prevention, and in her role supports all departments and employees
at the Institute for Prevention. Debbie started her career with Barnabas
Health as the Administrative Assistant for the Turning The Tides program
and has transitioned into her current role as of June 2014. She brings
with her 20+ years of experience in the corporate and human resources
Megan Tucker is a Prevention Specialist for the Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention.
She facilitates the TALK Program at Mill Pond Elementary School in Lacey
Township. Megan has been working with children and families since graduating
from Rowan University in 2005 with a Bachelor of the Arts. Megan joined
the Barnabas Health Institute for Prevention Turning the Tides team in
2014 in order to work with children who had been impacted by Super Storm
Sandy. It was this experience that introduced Megan to the concept of
using the Arts as a method to help heal trauma. Megan held the position
as a Youth Development Counselor for Preferred Children's Services'
School Based Youth Services Program at Brick Township High School as well
as Veterans Memorial Middle School. Megan has worked with the Center for
Family, Community, and Social Justice as a Community Resource Specialist.
She also has earned her Certificate of Eligibility to teach Social Studies
K-12. Megan utilizes her creativity and knowledge of schools to engage
children in a positive learning experience.
Kathi Viola is a Prevention Specialist who coordinates and facilitates the TALK Program
at Lillian M. Dunfee Elementary School in Barnegat, NJ. She has more than
five years experience in the prevention field plus twenty years in youth
serving organizations with evidence-based social emotional learning curriculums
and community development. She is a certified facilitator of Strengthening
Families Program, Children in Between, First Aid for Mental Health and
Skills for Psychological Recovery Training. Her passion is working with
youth to help them develop life skills for success with family, friends
and their future. She has a Masters of Applied Science from Fairleigh