The individuals who make up Turning Point, from management to case managers, resident coordinators, program managers, academic advisors, and volunteers are dedicated to providing a safe, secure, substance–free and loving environment for all of our residents. Our dedicated treatment team at Center for Change include psychologists, licensed clincial social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors, all of whom specialize in the treatment of young adults with chemical dependency and co-occurring disorders.
President & C.E.O.
David’s extensive business background combined with his personal story of recovery led to the founding of Turning Point in 2003. Under his direction, Turning Point has evolved into a nationally recognized program for young men. He has pioneered innovative approaches and developed programs specifically for young men that have changed the way the industry approaches transitional living.
His educational background includes a Liberal Arts education from Harvard University. In addition to spending most of his career in the non-profit world, his professional experience also includes a variety of leadership roles with start-up organizations and educational institutions.
He enjoys spending time with his five year old daughter Alexis, is an aspiring musician, and an avid golfer.
Al is responsible for coordinating the business strategy and marketing direction for Turning Point. Additionally, he oversees admissions, outreach, information technology and is involved in long-term organizational planning. With his own recovery experience, he brings a dedication to helping men rebuild their lives and succeed as contributing members of society.
Over his career, Al has held a variety of business development, management and marketing positions for leading providers of technology solutions for the healthcare industry. He holds a bachelors degree in Management Information Systems from Central Connecticut State University.
He enjoys spending time with his wife, Cecelia and children, Erica and Joshua. His favorite activities include golf, skiing, and fishing along the coast of Maine. In addition, he is involved with a number of charitable and volunteer organizations.
As Executive Director, John makes sure every resident at Turning Point is getting the support and direction they need to grow and become a productive, caring young man that is not only an asset to society, but to the family that cares about him. He believes in a resident–centered approach in helping both the individual and family members understand how to build a strong foundation in recovery. He facilitates a practical path to rebuilding lives using the tools that the resident and his family already possess.
Throughout his 30 year career, John has held a variety of leadership positions with national and international organizations. His own personal experience with recovery, along with a strong desire to help young men achieve their goals, brought him to Turning Point in 2009. He graduated with a degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University in 1979.
Executive Director of Business Development
Joel brings over 15 years of experience in business development as well as an incredible passion and drive to spread recovery and professional care to those who are in need. Prior to joining Turning Point, Joel served as Director of Business Development for Talbott Recovery located in Atlanta, GA. Prior to Talbott, he was with Hazelden Foundation for six years in various positions including National Outreach Manager.
Joel enjoys spending time with his son Jacob. His favorite activities include boating, softball, and skiing. He is an active member of the recovery community in Fairfield County. Joel has a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern Illinois University.
Executive Director, Center for Change
Andy holds a Master’s of Social Work Degree and Licensure in Drug and Alcohol Counseling. Most recently, he was the Director and Founder of Project Courage, an organization located in Old Saybrook Connecticut that specializes in mental health and substance abuse prevention and intervention services for adolescents.
Prior to founding Project Courage, Andy was a clinician at Yale University’s Forensic Psychology Department performing research that compared Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Twelve Step Facilitation models for treating alcoholism and addiction. During this time he also provided clinical services for Yale’s adolescent substance abuse prevention program for students re-entering New Haven Public Schools.
With credentials in both the mental health and substance abuse fields, combined with over a decade of experience, Andy provides leadership and clinical services that include thoughtful, compassionate and confidential interventions.
Assistant Executive Director, Center for Change
Ryan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned his Masters in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University. He began his career at the Rushford Center where he provided services to adolescents with mental health and addiction issues. His work included biopsychosocial assessments and individual, family, and group therapy.
From Rushford, he continued his career at the APT Foundation as a clinician and then advanced to clinical supervisor where he offered individual and group therapy to patients receiving medical assisted treatment. During his time at APT, he was involved in the development and implementation of a treatment team focused on engagement and retention.
Ryan brings his dedication and professionalism as a LCSW to Center for Change and is passionate about helping individuals and families achieve their treatment goals.
Medical Director, Center for Change
Dr. Elsamra completed his psychiatric medical training and residency at the University of Connecticut. He spent four years as a staff supervisor at the APT Foundation and at the Yale Substance Abuse Fellowship program in New Haven, CT. Currently, he is the Medical Director of the detoxification unit at MCCA in Danbury, CT and is the Medical Director at Center for Change in New Haven, CT. With extensive knowledge of substance abuse, Dr. Elsamra sees Turning Point residents for evaluations, follow-up appointments and medication management.
Dr. Bower has had a wide range of experience in counseling and education with 35 years of experience as a psychologist, high school principal, and university instructor.
Most recently, he was Director of the Yale Psychiatric Educational Outreach Project which coordinates psychiatry residents teaching emotional literacy topics to middle school students. He also has a successful private practice located in Guilford, CT which focuses exclusively on the unique needs of adolescent males and young men.
Mike is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and holds degrees from Tufts, Boston and Harvard Universities.
Dr. Bono is licensed Clinical Psychologist and was awarded a Doctorate in Psychology with an emphasis in Addictions Counseling from United States International University in San Diego, CA. He has been specializing in addiction treatment for over 15 years and has a broad base of experience with the dually diagnosed population.
Formerly with The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, CA, he has also worked as a Clinical Psychologist and a Drug and Alcohol Program Director for The Federal Bureau of Prisons. Dr. Bono was the Coordinator of The Dual Diagnosis Demonstration Project for Contra Costa County, CA. where he also served as the County’s Coordinator for Co-Occurring Disorders system wide.
Dr. Bono is the founder and director of The Office for Dual Recovery, a private practice and training organization specializing in the treatment of co-occurring disorders. In this capacity, he served s as the Lead Trainer and Consultant on a state wide IDDT Implementation Project for California. He has been an Associate Professor at two community colleges and served as the Director of Mental Health Services for Rushford Inc. in Meriden, CT. He is a frequent lecturer and trainer on co-occurring disorders.
Vanessa is a licensed Marital and Family Therapist in the states of Connecticut and California. She earned her Master’s degree from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego, CA. While in California, she worked as a therapist at Phoenix House, primarily working with adolescent high-risk males with addiction using an evidenced-based model, as well as providing family therapy at Phoenix House Academy, a dually diagnosed residential substance treatment program in Descanso, CA. From there she went on to work for the APT Foundation’s Residential Services Division, as a Clinician and Clinical Team Leader providing individual, group and family therapy for dually diagnosed adolescents and adults in a residential substance abuse and behavioral modification program.
She has worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport and has appeared as an expert therapist on NBC Non-Stop.
As a primary therapist with Turning Point’s Center for Change, Vanessa employs an eclectic approach which is client-centered and strength-based. She utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy and incorporates mind-body principles in order to create a holistic recovery process.
With over 20 years of experience in addiction therapy, Luke has overseen programs ranging from psychiatric hospitals to inpatient and outpatient chemical dependency treatment programs for both adults and adolescents. He is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC), a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and was one of first therapists in Connecticut to earn the states Co–Occurring Disorder Professional (COD) certification, which is granted to therapists uniquely qualified to treat clients with co–occurring disorders.
Over his career, he has served as Director of the Mid–Fairfield County Regional Action Council, has treated patients at a 40–bed dual diagnosis, inner–city residential treatment program, and been lead clinician at the detoxification unit at Greenwich Hospital. He is also actively involved in giving back to the community, serving on the board of directors for a number of youth programs and committing his time and expertise to a broad range of charitable organizations.
His work in addiction was the subject of an article in Counseling Today Magazine, and he is a published author, having written a chapter on treating addiction in the 2005 edition of the book, Critical Incidents in Counseling, published by the American Counseling Association.
A Licensed Family Therapist with over 12 yrs of experience in the mental health field, Meaghan specializes in the treatment of dual-diagnosed, substance-abusing young adults with a particular focus on helping families and clients recover in tandem. As a system’s specialist, Meaghan has brought her expertise in integrative mental health approaches to a diversity of community and clinical settings. She has been recognized nationally for developing and implementing comprehensive, state-of-the-art clinical orientations as Director of Liberation Program’s Youth Satellite. Meaghan received her Master’s Degree from the Family Institute at Chicago’s Northwestern University.
As a therapist with Center for Change, Meaghan utilizes best-practice interventions including cognitive-behavioral, mind-body and solution-focused modalities to encourage wellness. Uniting families and communities in order to prevent high-risk behaviors and to derail cycles of addiction, throughout her career Meaghan has endeavored to empower clients and their families to challenge the dynamics that maintain and perpetuate chemical dependency.
Jay is a Board Certified Addiction Counselor who has been working in the field of addiction treatment for over 23 years in multi dimensional treatment modalities. He joins us after working as an Addiction Therapist at Connecticut Veterans Administration Medical Center. Prior to this he was the Primary Men’s Therapist at Forensic Drug Diversion Yale University Department of Psychiatry. Jay is also a DMHAS approved DUI educator, MTREM trained facilitator. In addition, he is experienced in the field of young adult services and brings an extensive knowledge base of community resources.
Jay is the current President, Board of Directors of the Connecticut Certification Board and has been active in the credentialing process for behavioral health professionals for many years. In addition he is a Youth Advisor to the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship high school youth group at 1st UCC in Milford, CT. He lives with his wife, three children and his grandson in West Haven, CT.
Diana collaborates with Turning Point to aid and educate the family members of our residents. Recognizing that family members often live in a constant state of stress and anxiety, Ms. Clark authored and facilitates the workshop: Family Healing Strategies, which provides participants with tools they need to become or remain healthy. As both a specialist in addiction and family systems, she is a recognized force of clear speech, logic and loving acceptance – moving families to engage in behaviors which aid in the recovery process.
With a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Antioch New England Graduate School in 1997, Diana has been employed as a therapist, interventionist and consultant addressing issues of addiction and chemical dependence. Prior to her work in the field of psychology, she was a practicing Labor and Employment Attorney advising employers about the need for clear, compassionate and enforceable policies.
We know that addiction is a disease which affects the entire family. As the Family Liaison for Turning Point families, Lauren offers support, caring guidance and education to parents and families as they negotiate the pathway to their own recovery. She believes that parents having their own recovery program is not only essential to their own health and well-being, but in turn aids in their sons’ recovery.
Lauren earned a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, with a concentration in adolescent health care. She has worked with adolescents and their families throughout her career in hospital setting, child protection, judicial system, special education and social service development in NJ. Lauren currently facilitates a Caron Foundation support group for parents of addicted children in Northern NJ.
Much of the insight Lauren brings to the position of Family Liaison is from her personal experience as the mother of a son who has the disease of addiction. Lauren believes that much of her strength comes from involvement in recovery programs as well as in helping other parents build a program of recovery to find peace and serenity in their own lives.
Academic Consultant & Tutor
With a wealth of experience in academic planning and the college admissions process, Michael provides Turning Point residents with thorough guidance while they work toward their goals in education and recovery.
Michael earned a degree in mathematics from Fairfield University, and his work in tutoring led to a position as a high school math teacher at Fairﬁeld College Preparatory School. Here, strong academic goals, civic responsibility, and character development were paramount in the educational foundation of the school and became a part of Michael’s own philosophy.
While teaching at Fairﬁeld Prep, Michael pursued his Master’s Degree in Secondary Education at Fairﬁeld University. During this time he took on a wide range of clientele; many who were preparing for the GMATS, and later accepted to graduate schools at UCONN, Fairﬁeld University, and Yale University.