Meet Our Team

Introducing our Five Star Team of Mental Health Clinicians, Psychologists, Psychiatric Providers, Nutritionists, and Life Coaches offering Psychological Evaluations, Medication Management, Therapeutic, and Dietary Counseling under one umbrella.

Doctors & Psychologists

Therapist
Dr. SUSAN GAYLORD, Ph.D.
Psychologist & Professor
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Dr. Susan Gaylord obtained her Ph.D. from Hofstra University with her Dissertation on Message Framing and Weight Loss. She holds a Master’s in Psychology from Adelphi University and a BA from Long Island University, CW Post. Dr. Gaylord is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the...

Dr. Susan Gaylord obtained her Ph.D. from Hofstra University with her Dissertation on Message Framing and Weight Loss. She holds a Master’s in Psychology from Adelphi University and a BA from Long Island University, CW Post. Dr. Gaylord is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the New York City Behavioral Therapy Association. She is an adjunct Professor at St. John’s University where she lectures on the following; Abnormal Psychology, Adolescent Psychology, Honors Child Psychology, and Psychopathology Across the Lifespan I & II. Prior to her position as Adjunct Professor, Dr. Gaylord was the Associate Director at the infancy Research Laboratory at St. John’s University. In this notable role she supervised doctoral fellows, oversaw recruitment, and collected and analyzed data.

Dr. Gaylord has extensive school Psychology experience and was a per diem School Psychologist in three public schools across Long Island. Presently, she performs cognitive assessments for Pre- school age children analyzing and interpreting test results in addition she evaluates exam scores to make general recommendations for middle school students who have been identified as “gifted”.

Dr. Gaylord’s has impressive credentials and notable research and clinical experience with emphasis in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Susan is Certified in Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for TICS (CBIT) by the Tourette Association of America and treats children and adults presenting with a range of psychological disorders including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, TICS, Tourette Syndrome, Borderline Personality Disorder, Autism and Mood Disorders. She will utilize various techniques such as assertiveness training, increase coping skills, examining automatic thoughts, activities planning, problem solving, and life skills among others.

Susan has dedicated her life to her family, friends, and the community for which she resides. Susan is a beloved daughter, sister, and a remarkable humanitarian who volunteers her valuable time at the Child Abuse Prevention Services in Roslyn New York. Previously, she volunteered at Little Village School encouraging greater eye contact and social interaction with a small group of autistic children. Susan is a woman of well-deserved distinction and it is an honor and a privilege to have Dr. Gaylord join our dedicated Team of professionals here at First Step.

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Directors

Therapist
Tara L. Petrozelli, Executive Director
Multidimensional Life Coach & Motivational Speaker
Basic understanding of Spanish
Burlington, Wisconsin
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Tara Petrozelli is a Multidimensional Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin and services clients on a local, national, and global platform. She is the Regional Director of First Step Therapy & Wellness Group where she oversees our Virtual Network Department. She is a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Coach, Life Purpose Coach...

Ms. Tara Petrozelli is a Multidimensional Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin and services clients on a local, national, and global platform. She is the Regional Director of First Step Therapy & Wellness Group where she oversees our Virtual Network Department. She is a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Coach, Life Purpose Coach, Mindfulness, Nutrition and Diet Coach, and is HIPAA Certified. Ms. Petrozelli is expected to obtain her BA in Psychology and Minor in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2022 with a goal in securing a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Tara is a graduate of the American Musical Dramatic Academy and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Instituted in Manhattan, New York. Ms. Petrozelli has additional training in linguistics, speech/voice, drama, acting, and stage combat.

Ms. Petrozelli provides individual, couple, and family coaching/counseling to clients dealing with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, PTSD, divorce, and grief. She will develop a comprehensive treatment plan that focuses on the examination of unconscious behaviors so that the client can move forward and experience a higher level of fulfillment in both their personal life and professional career. Ms. Petrozelli is a firm believer that therapy and nutrition are vital components in maximizing functioning with that, her goal is to support, encourage, and educate clients to effect healthier eating habits and life style choices. She will utilize various treatment modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness in conjunction with relaxation techniques, emotional control techniques to augment client self-sufficiency and confidence.

It should be noted, that early on in Ms. Petrozelli’s career she was the Executive Assistant at a world-class private membership club in New York. In this role she provided VIP treatment to celebrities, top CEO’s, and Corporate Executives. Tara has said that this position taught her the importance of privacy, discretion, and confidentiality which is an essential ingredient in building and maintaining trust between her and her clients. This work ethic, professionalism, and prudent value structure will be transferred into Ms. Petrozelli’s private practice along with respect and dignity for each client’s uniqueness.

Tara has expressed that the loss of her protective grandmother at the formidable age of 10 was devastating and life altering. Tara was the youngest of six grandchildren and she and her family lived with their grandmother. During that time she would develop an enduring bond and wherever her Nana went Tara was in tow like a little angel. Tara would experience a resilient grandmother who suffered through tremendous adversity and trauma with dignity, self-respect, and humility. Watching her family care for her Nana until her death would have a profound impact on her life choices and career path. Tara has said she developed a deeper awareness and understanding of those who suffered loss, trauma and grief along with immense compassion for the dedicated caregivers and the emotional toll it takes on the soul of the family.

Tara is a lover of the performing, creative, and visual arts. She embraces self-expression and individuality and believes this is the cornerstone to the evolutionary process of a healthy society and the bedrock that strengthens communities and families. Tara values the unassuming enjoyments that life has to offer i.e. after dinner family walks with their gentle dog, hiking, picnics at the lake, yoga, and engaging in educational and creative projects with her daughter.

Tara Petrozelli is an extraordinary human being with a disarming presence who processes a solid and unyielding moral compass. She is a cherished wife, mother, daughter, niece, and deeply beloved cousin. It is an honor and privilege to have Ms. Petrozelli as part of our cerebral and compassionate team here at First Step.

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Therapist
James M. Howe, Director of Operations
Life Coach & HIPAA Certified
Burlington, Wisconsin

Mr. James Howe graduated Magna Cum Laude and obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. James has expanded his knowledge base by taking classes in Computer Programming, 3-D Modeling, Quantum Physics, Thermodynamics, and Astrophysics. Mr. Howe is a Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin...

Mr. James Howe graduated Magna Cum Laude and obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. James has expanded his knowledge base by taking classes in Computer Programming, 3-D Modeling, Quantum Physics, Thermodynamics, and Astrophysics. Mr. Howe is a Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin and services clients on a local, national, and global platform. He is the Director of Operations at First Step where he oversees the multiplatform Global Virtual Network Department.

Mr. Howe brings to the table a wealth of knowledge, creativity, and education to his clients and his colleagues alike. Here at First Step, James is a strategic director where he manages the daily operations from the conceptual stages of development to launching. He is in charge of designing, creating, and managing a variety of multimedia platforms including, but not limited to, social media, video, radio ads, posters, and brochures. Mr. Howe oversees personnel to insure web based services and full optimization of the Global Virtual Network while developing platform-based content strategies to maximize referrals and client assignation.

James purposefully restructures the internal operations of the Global Virtual Network by utilizing current avant-garde technologies to augment fiscal efficiency, maximize online exposure, audience growth, and retention. He manages web-based services and functionality and communicates with all levels of the Executive Branch to keep the team current on new developments and the progress of the Virtual Network.

In addition, Mr. Howe is a Life Coach who provides individual, couple, and family coaching to clients dealing with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, PTSD, divorce, and addiction. He will develop a comprehensive treatment plan that focuses on self-sabotaging behaviors so that the client can move forward and experience a higher level of fulfillment in both their personal life and professional career. Mr. Howe is a firm believer that therapy, nutrition, and exercise are vital components in maximizing functioning.

James is an extraordinary human being who does not just talk the talk but walks the walk. He thoroughly enjoys and idolizes his daughter who he describes as a wise and gentle soul who cares deeply for the planet and all living creatures. He is a lover of the performing, creative, and visual arts as well as the great outdoors where you can find him jogging, biking, hiking, practicing pranayama, doing yoga, and fishing by the lake with his family. James is a cherished husband, father, son, nephew, and deeply beloved cousin. It is an honor and privilege to have Mr. Howe as part of our world-class team here at First Step.

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PSYCHIATRIC CLINICIANS

Therapist
Opeyemi Adunni Bello, MSN, BSN, BS, PHN, PMHNP-BC
Medication Prescriber &emps; Fluency in English, Yoruba & Hausa (Nigerian Languages)
Licensed in California
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Opeyemi Bello obtained her Master’s of Science in Nursing and her BS in nursing from California State University, Fullerton and her Post Master’s Certificate as a Family Mental Health Nurse Practitioner from California State University, Los Angeles. Ms. Bello was on the Deans list and graduated with honors from...

Ms. Opeyemi Bello obtained her Master’s of Science in Nursing and her BS in nursing from California State University, Fullerton and her Post Master’s Certificate as a Family Mental Health Nurse Practitioner from California State University, Los Angeles. Ms. Bello was on the Deans list and graduated with honors from California State University, San Bernardino with a BS in Healthcare Management. She is a longstanding member of the Nursing Services Organization and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.

Opeyemi provides treatment and medication management to clients dealing with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar depression, psychosis, and addiction. She will develop a comprehensive treatment plan with a focus on disease management in concurrence with the applied mental health diagnosis of each patient. Ms. Bello will analyze the patients co-morbid conditions i.e. inflammation, malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, hypertension, and diabetes to determine the impact these medical conditions have on an individuals mental capacity and subsequent diagnosis.

Ms. Bello is a firm believer that the examination of an individual’s mental health, medical history, and nutritional philosophy are vital elements to further research and study when determining the course of treatment. With that, her goal is to educate, support, and encourage clients to effect healthier life style choices to maximize functioning.

It should be noteworthy to state that Ms. Bello left her country of origin to immigrate to the United States to give herself and her family a life of opportunity that is rich in education. Through discipline, determination, and devastating setbacks she managed to edify herself and garner two Master’s and two BS degrees. Opeyemi embodies the epitome of the American Dream and is a true inspiration to all of those who have the privilege to be in her presence.

Opeyemi is an extraordinary humanitarian and her charitable focus is on the homeless and disenfranchised living in third world countries. In her spare time she enjoys listening to music, playing badminton, and spending time with her children. She is a deeply cherished and respected mother, daughter, sister, and friend. It is an honor and privilege to have Ms. Bello as part of our cerebral and compassionate team here at First Step.

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Therapist
JENNIFER DESETTO, PMHNP-BC
Psychiatric Clinician
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Life is so busy and stressful sometimes that we often put our mental health on the back burner. It is so important to make sure we are well mentally so that we can function physically. I am a Psychiatric Nurse practitioner, focused on treating each person individually. Each client is an individual with different needs...

Life is so busy and stressful sometimes that we often put our mental health on the back burner. It is so important to make sure we are well mentally so that we can function physically. I am a Psychiatric Nurse practitioner, focused on treating each person individually. Each client is an individual with different needs and treatment plans. I take every aspect of your life into consideration before making a decision about treatment. I believe each person is deserving of feeling their best and functioning at their optimum abilities and I will work with you to meet this goal.

I am ANCC board certified and I am able to treat a variety of illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, OCD, and Postpartum depression. I am Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner board certified, which means I am able to treat children, adolescents and adults.

I am always available to you if need be by phone, email or text. For quicker response time feel free to email me at jdesettonp@gmail.com.

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Life Coaches / Nutritionists

Therapist
Tara L. Petrozelli, Executive Director
Multidimensional Life Coach & Motivational Speaker
Basic understanding of Spanish
Burlington, Wisconsin
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Tara Petrozelli is a Multidimensional Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin and services clients on a local, national, and global platform. She is the Regional Director of First Step Therapy & Wellness Group where she oversees our Virtual Network Department. She is a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Coach, Life Purpose Coach...

Ms. Tara Petrozelli is a Multidimensional Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin and services clients on a local, national, and global platform. She is the Regional Director of First Step Therapy & Wellness Group where she oversees our Virtual Network Department. She is a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Coach, Life Purpose Coach, Mindfulness, Nutrition and Diet Coach, and is HIPAA Certified. Ms. Petrozelli is expected to obtain her BA in Psychology and Minor in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2022 with a goal in securing a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Tara is a graduate of the American Musical Dramatic Academy and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Instituted in Manhattan, New York. Ms. Petrozelli has additional training in linguistics, speech/voice, drama, acting, and stage combat.

Ms. Petrozelli provides individual, couple, and family coaching/counseling to clients dealing with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, PTSD, divorce, and grief. She will develop a comprehensive treatment plan that focuses on the examination of unconscious behaviors so that the client can move forward and experience a higher level of fulfillment in both their personal life and professional career. Ms. Petrozelli is a firm believer that therapy and nutrition are vital components in maximizing functioning with that, her goal is to support, encourage, and educate clients to effect healthier eating habits and life style choices. She will utilize various treatment modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness in conjunction with relaxation techniques, emotional control techniques to augment client self-sufficiency and confidence.

It should be noted, that early on in Ms. Petrozelli’s career she was the Executive Assistant at a world-class private membership club in New York. In this role she provided VIP treatment to celebrities, top CEO’s, and Corporate Executives. Tara has said that this position taught her the importance of privacy, discretion, and confidentiality which is an essential ingredient in building and maintaining trust between her and her clients. This work ethic, professionalism, and prudent value structure will be transferred into Ms. Petrozelli’s private practice along with respect and dignity for each client’s uniqueness.

Tara has expressed that the loss of her protective grandmother at the formidable age of 10 was devastating and life altering. Tara was the youngest of six grandchildren and she and her family lived with their grandmother. During that time she would develop an enduring bond and wherever her Nana went Tara was in tow like a little angel. Tara would experience a resilient grandmother who suffered through tremendous adversity and trauma with dignity, self-respect, and humility. Watching her family care for her Nana until her death would have a profound impact on her life choices and career path. Tara has said she developed a deeper awareness and understanding of those who suffered loss, trauma and grief along with immense compassion for the dedicated caregivers and the emotional toll it takes on the soul of the family.

Tara is a lover of the performing, creative, and visual arts. She embraces self-expression and individuality and believes this is the cornerstone to the evolutionary process of a healthy society and the bedrock that strengthens communities and families. Tara values the unassuming enjoyments that life has to offer i.e. after dinner family walks with their gentle dog, hiking, picnics at the lake, yoga, and engaging in educational and creative projects with her daughter.

Tara Petrozelli is an extraordinary human being with a disarming presence who processes a solid and unyielding moral compass. She is a cherished wife, mother, daughter, niece, and deeply beloved cousin. It is an honor and privilege to have Ms. Petrozelli as part of our cerebral and compassionate team here at First Step.

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Therapist
Joan Bowla, MSW
Life & Wellness Coach
Divorced woman and single mother’s advocate
Sunrise, Florida
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Bowla’s private practice is based in Sunrise, Florida and she services clients on a local, national, and global platform. Ms. Bowla obtained her Master’s of Social Work from Florida Atlantic University where she graduated with Honors and was a member of the PHI Alpha Honor Society. She holds a BS in Health Administration from...

Ms. Bowla’s private practice is based in Sunrise, Florida and she services clients on a local, national, and global platform. Ms. Bowla obtained her Master’s of Social Work from Florida Atlantic University where she graduated with Honors and was a member of the PHI Alpha Honor Society. She holds a BS in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix. Ms. Bowla has Certification in Grief & Loss, Addiction Interventionist, SMART Recovery Facilitator, Assessing Mental Health & Substance Abuse, Trauma Treatment Professional, and a Certified Telehealth Provider.

Joan is a highly skilled Clinician and Life Coach who treats children, adolescence, adults, elderly, families, and couples with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, stress, and anger management. She facilitates Parenting, Divorce, and Grief support groups. Joan will utilize various treatment modalities tailored to the client’s individual needs by incorporating a combination of holistic, supportive, CBT, and emotional regulation techniques. In addition, Joan has specific training in Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders, Cognitive Behavior Theory and Principles, Dialectical Behavior and Theory Principles, Solution-Focused Theory Principles, Gestalt Theory and Principles, and Motivational Interviewing.

For over two decades Ms. Bowla was an Administrator and after careful consideration she made the courageous step to leave this notable position to become a counselor to service people in need. Joan has said that her adversities and personal struggles prepared her for her new career as a community leader and advocate for people who have been systemically marginalized and disenfranchised. Joan is completely invested in her clients’ health and well-being. She will work jointly with her clients to increase self-esteem and implement healthier lifestyle choices.

Joan has dedicated her life to her family, friends, and the community for which she resides. Joan is a beloved mother, daughter, friend and a remarkable humanitarian and it is an honor to have Joan as part of our World Class Team of professionals here at First Step.

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Therapist
James M. Howe, Director of Operations
Life Coach & HIPAA Certified
Burlington, Wisconsin

Mr. James Howe graduated Magna Cum Laude and obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. James has expanded his knowledge base by taking classes in Computer Programming, 3-D Modeling, Quantum Physics, Thermodynamics, and Astrophysics. Mr. Howe is a Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin...

Mr. James Howe graduated Magna Cum Laude and obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. James has expanded his knowledge base by taking classes in Computer Programming, 3-D Modeling, Quantum Physics, Thermodynamics, and Astrophysics. Mr. Howe is a Life Coach who is based in Burlington, Wisconsin and services clients on a local, national, and global platform. He is the Director of Operations at First Step where he oversees the multiplatform Global Virtual Network Department.

Mr. Howe brings to the table a wealth of knowledge, creativity, and education to his clients and his colleagues alike. Here at First Step, James is a strategic director where he manages the daily operations from the conceptual stages of development to launching. He is in charge of designing, creating, and managing a variety of multimedia platforms including, but not limited to, social media, video, radio ads, posters, and brochures. Mr. Howe oversees personnel to insure web based services and full optimization of the Global Virtual Network while developing platform-based content strategies to maximize referrals and client assignation.

James purposefully restructures the internal operations of the Global Virtual Network by utilizing current avant-garde technologies to augment fiscal efficiency, maximize online exposure, audience growth, and retention. He manages web-based services and functionality and communicates with all levels of the Executive Branch to keep the team current on new developments and the progress of the Virtual Network.

In addition, Mr. Howe is a Life Coach who provides individual, couple, and family coaching to clients dealing with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, PTSD, divorce, and addiction. He will develop a comprehensive treatment plan that focuses on self-sabotaging behaviors so that the client can move forward and experience a higher level of fulfillment in both their personal life and professional career. Mr. Howe is a firm believer that therapy, nutrition, and exercise are vital components in maximizing functioning.

James is an extraordinary human being who does not just talk the talk but walks the walk. He thoroughly enjoys and idolizes his daughter who he describes as a wise and gentle soul who cares deeply for the planet and all living creatures. He is a lover of the performing, creative, and visual arts as well as the great outdoors where you can find him jogging, biking, hiking, practicing pranayama, doing yoga, and fishing by the lake with his family. James is a cherished husband, father, son, nephew, and deeply beloved cousin. It is an honor and privilege to have Mr. Howe as part of our world-class team here at First Step.

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Therapist

MENTAL HEALTH CLINICIANS

Therapist

Kara Holisher obtained her Masters of Social Work from NYU, and a BA from Tulane University.  She is an active member of NASW, is ACSW accredited, a verified participant on Psychology Today and Healthgrades. Ms. Holisher has been with First Step Therapy Group since it was founded 10 years ago.  She has been providing adults, children...

Kara Holisher obtained her Masters of Social Work from NYU, and a BA from Tulane University. She is an active member of NASW, is ACSW accredited, a verified participant on Psychology Today and Healthgrades.

Ms. Holisher has been with First Step Therapy Group since it was founded 10 years ago. She has been providing adults, children and adolescents with individual, family and couple’s psychotherapy, utilizing cognitive behavioral, solution focused and psychodynamic treatment approaches. Ms. Holisher patiently works with, and advocates for, children diagnosed with autism spectrum and Asperger’s disorders.

Ms. Holisher rightfully earned the deepest respect of her colleagues and clients by way of her loyalty and devotion. Her longstanding commitment to the community is unprecedented and her unwavering dedication to her clients is unparalleled. Kara Holisher’s solid sense of stability creates a safe and secure environment, which is an essential ingredient of treatment, especially when working with children.

Ms. Holisher collaborates with Psychiatrists, Neurologists, school officials and Attorneys to coordinate care and to ensure that each client receives the most effective and appropriate treatment. Her philosophy is to treat the whole person and tailor therapy to meet the individual’s needs and desired goals. Her focus is to assist clients in developing the tools and strategies to help them live more fulfilling and productive lives.

Kara Holisher enjoys giving back to the community where she is a supporter of the North Shore Animal League and facilitates/coordinates support group and serves as a liaison for neurodegenerative diseases/movement disorders for the NY Metro area.

Please contact Ms. Holisher directly to schedule an appointment/consultation at 516-884-2601.

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Therapist
Marcia P. Chichester, LCSW-R, ABD, Ed.D
Psychotherapist/Educational & Behavioral Consultant & Professor
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Marcia Chichester has a Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College where she maintained a 4.0 GPA and graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Social Work from CUNY Lehman College. Marcia holds NYS certifications as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Clinical...

Ms. Marcia Chichester has a Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College where she maintained a 4.0 GPA and graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Social Work from CUNY Lehman College. Marcia holds NYS certifications as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Marcia is Certified by NYS Office of Mental Health to facilitate training on Creating Suicide Safety in Schools, and is a NYC Department of Education Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher. Ms. Chichester is currently ABD for her Doctorate in Education Administration (Ed.D.) at Concordia University Chicago.

Ms. Chichester is a highly skilled professional experienced in working with individuals, families, couples, adolescence, and children of all ages. She has experience treating a multitude of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, behavioral issues, grief, trauma, school related matters, and relationship discord. Ms. Chichester will employ various therapeutic techniques which are geared toward the client’s individual needs.

Ms. Chichester is an educational and behavioral consultant and can assist students and families in clarifying educational goals and career aspirations. Marcia is NYS certified as a School Social Worker, School Building Leader, and School District Leader. Marica is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Child Study Infant and Toddler Special Education program at St. Joseph’s College. The concentration of her lectures is on parent/family engagement and pedagogical learning teams; and the importance and use of play in learning experiences to support the infant, toddler, and preschooler – with and without special needs – to reach developmental milestones.

Ms. Chichester has an impressive dossier with a wealth of experience in areas of mental health, substance use, wellness, and behavioral health. Currently, she is a School Mental Health Supervisor at NYC Department of Health. In this role, Marcia Supervises School Mental Health Consultants working with various School Districts to implement an “act-early” approach in identifying and supporting at-risk students who may benefit from mental health services and intervention. She collaborates with the Student Services team at the Department of Education to build cohesive relationships and to support the mental health and wellbeing of students and families.

Marcia has a warm and inviting presence with a remarkable disposition and temperament. She is passionate about raising awareness with regard to existing racial and economic inequality. Marcia supports organizations that provide low-income housing and those that support environmental awareness. She loves children, embraces diversity, and has respect for all living creatures. Marcia enjoys reading and traveling. Her career path and conscious choices are a clear indication of her commitment to the community and her deep desire to leave her palm print on the hearts and minds of the next generation.

It is an honor and privilege to have Marcia as part of our cerebral and cohesive team here at First Step.

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Therapist
Amy Curcio, LCSW
Psychotherapist
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Amy Curcio obtained her Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Adelphi University. She is Certified by (APNA) the American Psychiatric Nurse Association in Suicide Prevention. Ms. Curcio is a Sifi (Seminar Training in Field Instruction) Certified Social...

Ms. Amy Curcio obtained her Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Adelphi University. She is Certified by (APNA) the American Psychiatric Nurse Association in Suicide Prevention. Ms. Curcio is a Sifi (Seminar Training in Field Instruction) Certified Social Worker Credentialed to provide field instruction to students from any school of Social Work. Previously, she taught graduate level courses on Death, Dying, and Bereavement.

Ms. Curcio has been a Psychiatric Social Worker for over two decades and is a member of Incident Review and Behavioral Health Steering Committee at a local teaching hospital. This Committee consists of a team of Clinicians that review policy, procedures, and implement vicissitudes that can improve inpatient and outpatient services. In addition, Amy actively participates in the development of protocols for Crisis Team Development in her local community.

Amy is a seasoned professional who has an eclectic Dossier rich with a diverse range of resources that is rooted in Scientific Evidence and grounded in knowledge. She provides therapeutic services to adolescence, adults, and families with a variety of issues including, but not limited to, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Mood Disorders, Grief, Invisible Disabilities, and Chronic Mental Illness.

Ms. Curcio will provide personalized care and start where the client is. She will work with her clients and utilize strategies/modalities that are appropriate for your set of circumstances. Amy will follow the client’s agenda and focus on your strengths to help create a better sense of well being. Her approach respects the history and unique life experiences of the individual. Amy’s work is client-centered and based on a psychosocial support and trauma informed model.

Amy is a civic-minded woman with a deep respect for the basic and fundamental human rights of each individual and all living creatures. She enjoys communing with nature and the beauty of Upstate NY in the fall. Amy is proud of her lineage and is a devoted wife, mother, and daughter.

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Therapist
Rysa L. Gagliano-Kemp, M.S., M.Ed., BCBA, LBS
National & Internationally Licensed   Published Author
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania & Nationwide

Ms. Rysa Kemp received a Master of Education in Applied Behavioral Analysis and a Master of Science in Psychology in Education with specialization in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. The concentration of her thesis: examining teacher...

Ms. Rysa Kemp received a Master of Education in Applied Behavioral Analysis and a Master of Science in Psychology in Education with specialization in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. The concentration of her thesis: examining teacher and parent perceptions using an adapted PATI scale in the “include me” initiative. Ms. Kemp graduated Magna Cum Laude form Chestnut Hill College with a BA in Psychology with a thesis focus on the relation between college students’ #selfies and perceptions of social functioning. Rysa’s goal is to continue her education and obtain a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

Rysa is a Licensed Behavioral Specialist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who holds a national and international license allowing her to provide behavior analytic services to clients along with the ability to provide supervision to Masters and/or Doctoral level students and BCBA candidates on a global platform. Ms. Kemp is qualified to supervise BCBA and Psy.D candidates and the tuition costs for her services include, but not limited to, requirements for supervision, practice exams, course related support/consultation, lifetime professional contact, and written recommendations as needed (for tuition costs contact Rysa directly). Rysa is a member in good standing with the American Psychological Association and the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts.

Ms. Kemp is a presenter and published author whose publications include; Cameron, J.L, Miragaia, A.S, Healy, P., Sostorecz, S., Garcia-Cordero, J., Gagliano, R.L., Bialota, A., Pyle, K., Brasch, K., Panchal, N., Jose, S., & Trauth, J. (2018). Co-developer, First Pathways game, Working For Kids: Building Skills, www.firstpathwaysgame.com. Gagliano, R.L (2018). A teacher’s guide to oppositional defiant disorder in middle school and high school students. http://www.sbbh.pitt.edu

Ms. Kemp provides therapy to clients dealing with a wide range of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, PTSD, divorce, and individuals with developmental disabilities and who are on the Autism Spectrum. She will develop a comprehensive treatment plan that focuses on the examination of unconscious behaviors so that the client can move forward and experience a higher level of fulfillment in both their personal life and professional career. Rysa will utilize behavioral analytic principles infused with conventional and alternative visual stimuli to evoke latent thoughts, behavioral patterns, and provide individuals with psycho-education and behavior skills training specific to their needs with emphasis on data-based decision making and visual analysis.

Rysa is a woman of vision who is ahead of her time and keeps her finger on the pulse of her chosen profession. She has a deep respect for diversity, humanity, and all living creatures. Rysa embraces creativity and finds pleasure giving back and providing support to people who have been marginalized by a fractured system.

Rysa is a devoted wife, daughter, and sister. She enjoys spending time with her husband and finds comfort cuddling with her precious felines’, communing with nature, reading, and studying theology and science to maintain balance and perspective.

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Therapist
Anna Gray, LCSW
Psychotherapist
Licensed in Georgia & New York (pending)
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Anna Gray obtained both her Master’s of Social Work and her BA in Psychology from the University of Georgia where she was on the Dean’s List. Ms. Gray is licensed in Georgia and her New York license is currently pending. Ms. Gray is a longstanding member of the Georgia Society for Clinical...

Ms. Anna Gray obtained both her Master’s of Social Work and her BA in Psychology from the University of Georgia where she was on the Dean’s List. Ms. Gray is licensed in Georgia and her New York license is currently pending. Ms. Gray is a longstanding member of the Georgia Society for Clinical Social Workers, a recipient of the Citizenship Award of Riverwood High School, and she is a proud contributor to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Anna brings to the table a diversified Curriculum Vitae with a wealth of experience which includes, but is not limited to, working with families, adolescents, and adults struggling with depression, anxiety, grief, life transitions, and mood dysregulation. Ms. Gray’s approach infuses various modalities such as mindfulness, DBT, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Anna’s goal is to guide her clients towards a healthier self-perception, strengthen interrelationships, and assist in achieving their fullest potential.

Ms. Gray has a particular interest and deep affinity for the elderly and chose to spend six years, post grad, as a hospice counselor where she provided tenderness, love, and dignity to those transitioning through their end of life journey. Anna enjoys working with seniors and listening to their life stories and experiences, while exploring ways to meet the challenges that they find themselves facing. She has had the opportunity to engage with this vulnerable population in need and this experience provided her with a unique glimpse into their orbit and their deep desire for loving connection to the outside world.

Anna has said that living with her grandfather, while she was growing up, contributed to the affection she holds for the elderly. In spite of her grandfather having suffered a major stroke in his early 50s, he continued to live a full life due to his resilience and the support of his family. Ms. Gray’s solid work ethic and commitment to education came from her devoted parents who were both teachers. Her parents valued and cherished their children and instilled a love and respect for all living creatures, the environment, and the unassuming pleasures that bring about peace and tranquility in one's life.

Anna is a devoted and cherished wife, mother, daughter, sister and a trusted confidant to her dear friends. In her free time she enjoys crafting, cooking, reading, yoga, and perusing thrift stores for those hidden gems.

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Therapist
ELLEN BOYIAKIS, LCAT, ATR-BC, MSED
Psychotherapist   Fluent in Greek and English
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Mrs. Ellen Boyiakis graduated with Distinction from Hofstra University where she obtained both a Master’s in Creative Art Therapy and a Master’s in School Counseling. She received her Baccalaureate of Fine Arts (BFA) from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

Mrs. Ellen Boyiakis graduated with Distinction from Hofstra University where she obtained both a Master’s in Creative Art Therapy and a Master’s in School Counseling. She received her Baccalaureate of Fine Arts (BFA) from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

Ellen brings to the table a diversified Curriculum Vitae which includes, but is not limited to, working with Couples, Families, Children, Adolescence, and Adults experiencing Depression, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, Addiction, and PTSD. Mrs. Boyiakis employs a collaborative approach to treatment coupled by creating a warm, empathetic, and secure environment for her clients to safely explore their feelings.

For over a decade Mrs. Boyiakis was employed at the Bellevue Hospital Center as an Art Therapist. During this time she planned and organized groups and individual therapy for patients’ that included Art Therapy, life skills, recovery, and coping with trauma and mood disorders with the use and implementation of Art Therapy. She also took on the leadership role as supervisor/mentor to the department interns.

In her private practice Ellen employs various treatment modalities/strategies that are tailored to your particular set of circumstances and experiences. Mrs. Boyiakis’ goal, as an Art Therapist and Educational Counselor, is to help you manage/change unhealthy behavioral patterns, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and restoring a sense of personal well-being through creativity, education, and various forms of psychodynamic techniques.

Ellen adores children and enjoys giving back to the community where she is a proud supporter of St Jude’s Research Hospital. She is a devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and trusted confidant to her friends and family. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, doing art with her children, and communing with nature.

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Therapist
KAREN KIESER, LMHC
Psychotherapist
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Karen Kieser obtained her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University CW Post where she maintained a 4.0 GPA, graduated with Honors, and was a member of the Counseling Academic and Professional Honors Society International. She graduated Cum Laude from Queens College with...

Ms. Karen Kieser obtained her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University CW Post where she maintained a 4.0 GPA, graduated with Honors, and was a member of the Counseling Academic and Professional Honors Society International. She graduated Cum Laude from Queens College with a BA in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Ms. Kieser is a National Board Certified Counselor (NCC) and holds memberships both with the Mental Health Association and American Counseling Association. She is Certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), Mindfulness Instruction, and Yoga.

Karen Kieser’s Expansive Dossier has equipped her with the tools necessary to assist individuals who are struggling with Anxiety and Phobias that could adversely impact a person’s ability to function. Karen will work with her Clients to develop specific strategies to manage Behavioral Issues resulting from a host of Disorders including, but not limited to Depression, Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Grief, and Life Transitions. Karen is passionate about teaching and utilizing skills/tools that one can apply in order to maintain a sense of clarity which will aid in managing Stress more effectively.

Studies indicate that CBT, Mindfulness Training, and Biofeedback can lower Stress and Anxiety while increasing one’s ability to function optimally. These Evidence-Based Therapeutic approaches along with Karen’s extensive Training as a Yoga/Mindfulness Practitioner and Teacher, supports her Holistic view of Health and Well-being.

Ms. Kieser is a well-established Clinician who maintains a Private Practice in both Nassau and Suffolk County (Hicksville and Huntington New York). She is respected by her colleagues’ for her humanitarianism on behalf of North Shore University Hospital After Care Unit, Literacy Nassau, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society First Connection Program, and Moonjumpers Charitable Foundation Inc., where she was a Founding Member and served on the Board of Directors.

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Therapist
DANIELLE C. LOVECE, MS, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Danielle Lovece obtained her MS in Mental Health Counseling from Manhattan College and her BA in Psychology from Marist College. She is a verified provider on Psychology today and Healthgrades. At Manhattan College, Ms. Lovece was a graduate assistant to the Director of Assessment for the College’s academic...

Ms. Danielle Lovece obtained her MS in Mental Health Counseling from Manhattan College and her BA in Psychology from Marist College. She is a verified provider on Psychology today and Healthgrades.

At Manhattan College, Ms. Lovece was a graduate assistant to the Director of Assessment for the College’s academic standards. While under the director, Danielle collected and organized research that was used to study the College’s academic strengths and weaknesses. This role inspired an interest in what motivates students in the academic setting, and more importantly, what causes stress and anxiety.

Ms. Lovece went on to intern at Queens College Counseling Center where she counseled a caseload of students with both personal and academic concerns. Having done academic counseling alongside psychotherapy, the link between personal stress and how it is exhibited in academic performance (and vice versa) was more apparent. This inspired her thesis which focused on learning disorders and its relationship to anxiety disorders.

In her Private Practice, Danielle Lovece works with individuals ages 12 and up with a primary focus on stress and anxiety reduction, utilizing CBT, mindfulness and existential elements in therapy. She has continued her education in the biological sciences to better understand the somatic element of the psychological symptoms. In practice, Ms. Lovece introduced the management of symptoms through biofeedback as she trained with supervisors via Biofeedback and Counseling in Lynbrook NY. Being able to utilize the treatment modalities of counseling and body awareness together is her main goal for the psychological well being of her clients.

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Therapist
TERESA A. MILANO, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Teresa Milano obtained her Master’s Degree from Hofstra University and her BA in Psychology from Molloy College where she received a scholarship and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She completed her internships at Hillside Hospital and Family and Children’s Association. Ms. Milano is a Clinical Fellow for the...

Ms. Teresa Milano obtained her Master’s Degree from Hofstra University and her BA in Psychology from Molloy College where she received a scholarship and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She completed her internships at Hillside Hospital and Family and Children’s Association. Ms. Milano is a Clinical Fellow for the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy (AAMFT) and a verified provider on Psychology Today.

Teresa has been a long-standing staple in the community where she was a dedicated Therapist and Clinical Director at On Course Psychological Counseling, P.C. In addition, Ms. Milano worked at Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Center where she planned and coordinated services which supported the rendering of treatment to patients, functioned as an administrator of the clinical team, coordinated discharge planning, referrals, and public health educational programs.

Ms. Milano brings to the table a wealth of experience and treats individuals, couples, and families by incorporating a holistic, solution-focused approach to treating various psychological issues. Her background and training in family systems affords her a unique perspective into understanding how individuals come to develop and maintain certain patterns, behaviors, and thought processes. These factors can often impact ones daily functioning with regards to their personal and professional relationships. Upon meeting with Teresa, clients’ will work to gain awareness of these patterns and develop goals to assist them in problem solving the various issues presented during session. Clients are discharged with effective skills that allow them to lead more productive lives and enjoy healthier relationships.

Teresa is a civic minded and compassionate therapist who is held in high regard by her peers and deeply respected within the mental health community. Ms. Milano is a proud supporter of the Lupus foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Veterans organizations.

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Therapist
SUE TEICH, LCSW-R
Psychotherapist
Hicksville, New York
Psychology Today Profile

Ms. Sue Teich obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College where she graduated with honors and received her BS in Sociology with a concentration in Human Services from SUNY Binghamton. She is a verified participant on Psychology Today and Healthgrades. Ms. Teich is a well-respected knowledgeable clinician...

Ms. Sue Teich obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College where she graduated with honors and received her BS in Sociology with a concentration in Human Services from SUNY Binghamton. She is a verified participant on Psychology Today and Healthgrades.

Ms. Teich is a well-respected knowledgeable clinician who brings to the table a wealth of experience working with adolescents, young adults, families, and couples. She has a wide range of Specialties including substance abuse, use, and dependence. Ms. Teich is a Solution Based Therapist who employs various modalities depending on the needs of her Client. For over 11 years, Sue Teich has been a School Social Worker at the Valley Stream Central High School District. There, and in her Private Practice, she interacts with students of various grade levels addressing issues which include, but are not limited to, bullying/victim issues, social skills, interpersonal relationships, and decisions pertaining to career and college.

Ms. Sue Teich is a staple within the community and she is committed to giving back and raising awareness for breast cancer. She is affiliated with Stacy’s Warriors and partakes in fundraisers to raise money for breast cancer research, children with autism, and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

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Therapist

Ms. Kelley Spada obtained her MS in Mental Health Counseling from Adelphi University and her BA from SUNY Oswego with a double major in Psychology & Criminal Justice . She is NY OASAS approved to administer DWI Assessments and she performs Licensure Prep Workshops for the NY Mental Health Counseling Association...

Ms. Kelley Spada obtained her MS in Mental Health Counseling from Adelphi University and her BA from SUNY Oswego with a double major in Psychology & Criminal Justice . She is NY OASAS approved to administer DWI Assessments and she performs Licensure Prep Workshops for the NY Mental Health Counseling Association.

Ms. Spada is a successful independent woman in her own right who has an established Private Practice in Hicksville N.Y. and another office in Long Beach. She provides individual, couples, group counseling, and is trained to treat behaviors associated with OCD and hoarding. Her specialties include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, grief, PTSD, addiction, families of addicts/alcoholics, veterans, and law enforcement clients. She does not treat children. Prior to making her mark in Private Practice, Ms. Spada worked in a community setting servicing private and mandated clients.

Ms. Kelley Spada is a trusted confidant who is highly respected by her Clients and Colleagues. She is committed to the community and has dedicated her work, servicing our loyal veterans, by making it her mission to treat those who cannot access Tricare for free.

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Therapist

Ms. Hillary Lagnado obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College and with a BA in Psychology from SUNY Albany. Ms. Lagnado is a member of NASW; ACSW accredited, and is Certified by NYS Board Of Education. In addition, she is a field liaison for the graduate program at Adelphi University School of Social Work...

Ms. Hillary Lagnado obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College and with a BA in Psychology from SUNY Albany. Ms. Lagnado is a member of NASW; ACSW accredited, and is Certified by NYS Board Of Education. In addition, she is a field liaison for the graduate program at Adelphi University School of Social Work. Ms. Lagnado is a verified provider on Psychology Today and Healthgrades.

Ms. Lagnado has an established Private Practice in Hicksville, Long Island were she provides therapeutic services to children, adolescence, adults, and couples dealing with a broad spectrum of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, marital discord, divorce, parenting concerns, and bereavement.

It should be noted, that for 11 years Hillary Lagnado was committed to serving her local community as Coordinator of support groups at the Mid Island Y JCC. During that time, she facilitated and supervised support groups for bereavement, separation/divorce and parenting. When the tragedy of September 11th occurred, Ms. Lagnado made it a point to actively organize and partake in support groups that were primarily focused on families coping with the loss of their loved one.

Ms. Lagnado is highly regarded by her clients, colleagues, and within the community. She is a proud supporter of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, ASPCA, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Associations.

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Therapist

Ms. Kathleen Kane- Coletta obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Adelphi University with a 4.0 GPA and her BS in Marketing Management from Baruch College, where she was on the Deans list and was a member National Business Honor Society. Ms. Coletta is a Board Member and Program Chairperson for the New York State Society of...

Ms. Kathleen Kane-Coletta obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Adelphi University with a 4.0 GPA and her BS in Marketing Management from Baruch College, where she was on the Deans list and was a member National Business Honor Society. Ms. Coletta is a Board Member and Program Chairperson for the New York State Society of Clinical Social Workers and is a verified provider on Psychology Today.

Ms. Coletta maintains a well established Private Practice In Hicksville, New York where she provides therapeutic services to children, adolescence, adults, and couples dealing with a broad spectrum of issues including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, marital discord, divorce, parenting concerns, and bereavement. Kathleen Coletta is Certified to perform Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Cognitive Processing Therapy. Kathleen is also a trained facilitator for Active Parenting Programs for parents with children in elementary school and parents of teens.

She currently works at a Community Counseling Center and has worked with families and individuals for over 10 years in various settings including, schools and community based organizations providing both counseling and case management services.

Kathleen Coletta is a civic focused therapist who is highly regarded within the community and holds the respect of her colleagues and clients. Ms. Coletta is on the Board of the SIDS Association of New York and finds solace supporting families who have been impacted by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

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Therapist

Ms. Tracey Gecewicz obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University with a BS in Social Work from Long Island University's C.W. Post Campus, where she was on the Dean's List at both Universities. Ms. Gecewicz is a verified provider on Psychology Today. Tracey maintains a well established Private Practice where she provides...

Ms. Tracey Gecewicz obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University with a BS in Social Work from Long Island University's C.W. Post Campus, where she was on the Dean's List at both Universities. Ms. Gecewicz is a verified provider on Psychology Today.

Tracey maintains a well established Private Practice where she provides therapeutic services to individuals (18 years and up), couples, and families dealing with a wide ranges of issues including, but not limited to anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, divorce and marital discord. Ms. Gecewicz is EMDR trained and employs psychotherapy, CBT, and Behavioral Modification when indicated. In addition, Tracey provides Adoptive Home-Study Analysis in order for the prospective parent(s) to meet the pre-adoption requirements for New York State and the Interstate Compact.

Tracey Gecewicz has 15 years experience in child welfare throughout Long Island, New York City and Westchester County. She was the Director for both an innovative foster care program for Hard to Place Teens and a prominent Mental Health Clinic in NYC.

Tracey is a civic-minded therapist who is highly regarded within the community and maintains the utmost respect of her colleagues and clients. Ms. Gecewicz supports charitable organizations such as Bide-A-Wee, Wounded Warriors, Marty Lyons Foundation, and the National Down Syndrome Society.

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