Jeff Pier, MPA
At the Healing Connection, Jeff leads a vital healthcare non-profit that treats adolescents and adults recovering from eating disorders. It is a critical time for the organization, which has embarked on a major expansion to reach a wider audience.
Jeff employs a trauma-informed and solution-focused approach in the work he does every day. He is passionate about program development and collaboration to help meet the needs of our community.
Jeff is a true collaborator and team builder. He has spent years working with people who have suffered through trauma and the effects it has had on their lives. He has seen firsthand how these experiences have impacted a person's feelings of self-worth, and the impact it has on their health.
Previously, Jeff served as the director of programs and services at Willow Domestic Violence Center, regional director for the Rape Crisis Program at Planned Parenthood of Western New York – RESTORE, and program manager at St. Joseph’s Villa. He worked his way through college and graduate school, earning his bachelor’s degree in human services from Empire State College and his M.P.A. from Walden University all the while working full-time to support those most in need.
Alexandra Wilkosz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a specialty in eating disorders and training in wellness and relational issues. She was originally exposed to eating disorders while working towards her B.A. in Psychology at Siena College where she received formal training and gained preliminary experience working with those affected by the illness. Since then she actively sought out opportunities to be involved in prevention and education related to eating disorders and went on to receive a Masters Degree in Social Work from the Greater Rochester Collaborative Masters of Social Work Program with a concentration in Interdisciplinary Health. Prior to her position as Clinical Director, Alexandra's professional experience includes outpatient care as well as partial hospitalization and acute inpatient work. She is a board member on the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders Community Advisory Board and currently runs a small private practice specializing in eating disorder treatment. She is passionate in her provision of outreach, education, and evidence-based treatments to patients and families.
Tammie Hills comes to The Healing Connection with over 20 years of experience in office management, intake coordination, registration, medical records, and billing. She has strong organizational and interpersonal skills and is a passionate patient and family advocate. Before coming to The Healing Connection she worked in several administrative positions in Behavioral Health at Unity Health System, including work in outpatient settings and in the SAMHSA-funded primary care program.
Molly Farrell earned her Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the State University of New York, College at Fredonia. She then went on to earn her Master of Science in Human Development and Family Science in the Couple and Family Therapy Program at North Dakota State University. The CFT program is committed to center all aspects of training in feminist and social justice principles to help students develop the skills and competence necessary to work with diverse and marginalized communities and to use those skills to create meaningful social change at the national, international, and local levels. During her Masters program, Molly provided therapy services to individuals, couples, and families at the Couple and Family Therapy Center at NDSU and at Southeast Human Services, both located in Fargo, ND. Following her Master’s program, Molly worked in the Youth Shelter/Runaway Program at Youthworks in Fargo, ND. There, Molly provided family therapy services and also served as the Assistant Program Coordinator for the Attendant Care and Short Term Assessment Center providing housing to runaway and homeless youth. Most recently, Molly served as a Monroe County Child Protective Caseworker where she gained additional skills in collaboration and knowledge of community resources. Molly is an active member of Metro Justice, a progressive organization working for economic and social justice. Molly became interested in working with patients with eating disorders through her volunteer work at The Healing Connection, Inc.
Rachel Fisher began serving those affected by eating disorders and their families while pursuing her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Rochester. Under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Kreipe, Rachel gained clinical and research experience in the field. She co-facilitated the Western NY Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders Parent Support Group and has been a member the Community Advisory Board. Rachel was involved in FMRI research investigating the neural correlates of Anorexia Nervosa. Together with Drs. Kreipe and Starr, Rachel co-authored a chapter on Eating Disorders in The Behavioral Health Sciences. Rachel received training in prevention and piloted the program, Body Positive, at the University of Rochester’s Counseling Center. She has also been involved in legislative advocacy around funding for eating disorder treatment. While working toward her Masters Degree in Social Work from Roberts Wesleyan College, Rachel received training and experience in rural and urban community mental health through internships at the Child & Adolescent Outpatient Clinic at Strong and Genesee County Mental Health Clinic. Rachel currently serves as a Christian counselor at churches in Genesee, Monroe, and Wyoming counties.
Mia is a Mental Health Counselor with experience in trauma and relationships. She obtained her Bachelor of Sciences degree from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania in Psychology and Women’s Studies. She went on to receive her Master of Sciences degree in Mental Health Counseling at The Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester. Her previous counseling experience includes the time she spent with Willow Domestic Violence Center in Rochester, NY where she provided individual and group therapy. Additionally, she spent time at a women’s shelter in Pennsylvania where she earned a state certification for counseling survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Mia is thrilled to be a part of the team here at The Healing Connection and is excited to be using her integrative, strengths-based approach to help patients.
Elizabeth is a primary therapist with experience in trauma work, addictions, and mental illness. Elizabeth earned her Masters Degree in Social Work from Roberts Wesleyan College and during her training, she received experience as a group therapist at the Rochester Regional Health PROS Program and spent a year at the VA as a PTSD therapist. Prior to earning her Masters Degree in Social Work, Elizabeth earned her Masters of Education Degree from Nazareth College. Elizabeth taught as an elementary school educator for three years and it was during those years when she realized her desire to provide more individualized support to those struggling with an eating disorder. Elizabeth is excited to take the training and skills she has gained as an educator and apply that knowledge with the skills she has learned while being a therapist. Elizabeth hopes to join together and walk beside patients and families as they walk this journey towards recovery and healing.
Victoria has a B.S. in Criminal Justice with minor in Psychology from Rochester Institute of Technology and obtained her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the George Washington University. Victoria completed her undergraduate internship at Monroe County Hall of Justice, where she developed further interest in alternative to incarceration approaches and policies. Victoria's graduate internships included on-site individual therapy at the George Washington University Community Counseling Center, and off-site individual and group Therapy at Kolmac Clinic, Intensive Outpatient Program for Drug and Alcohol Treatment. Most recently, Victoria was a primary therapist for Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic, Inpatient Addictions Recovery, working with dual-diagnosis patients. Her therapeutic approach is integrative and person-centered. This approach uses evidence-based practices to identify and treat unhelpful relational patterns and outdated coping strategies that are causing distress. The hope is for a genuine, empathic and collaborative session. Victoria is licensed to practice mental health counseling by New York State, is certified as a national counselor by NBCC, and as a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor by OASAS.
Diane holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mental Health Counseling from St. John Fisher College and a Masters Degree in Counselor Education from SUNY Brockport. She has worked extensively with adolescents, young adults and families in the public school system and now brings this expertise to her work in community mental health. She is skilled at applying a biopsychosocial framework to assess and treat a range of mental health needs in patients and families. Diane did her clinical internship at The Healing Connection starting in January 2017 and joined our team as a Primary Therapist in our outpatient clinic in July of that same year.
Ashley Pinkeney, LMFT
Group Therapist and Intern Coordinator
Ashley Pinkeney received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from St John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. Ashley then pursed her Master of Arts degree in Marital and Family Therapy at University of San Diego, with specialty training in Medical Family Therapy. Ashley gained clinical experience as a Bereavement Counselor at San Diego Hospice & Institute for Palliative Medicine and at Golisano Children’s Hospital in her role as Pediatric Bereavement Coordinator. Additionally, she gained clinical experience as a psychotherapist while working as a Primary Therapist at Unity Health System and as a Marriage and Family Therapy intern at Agape Counseling Associates. These positions have allowed her to work with individuals across the life span in individual, family and group counseling. In 2010, Ashley served in AmeriCorps, dedicating 1700 hours to national service and addressing critical community needs in a nonprofit environment. Ashley is a member of The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, The American Association of Christian Counselors, and is an active participant in the Genesee Valley Chapter of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Jennifer Everdyke, RD
Jennifer Everdyke has a BA in French, Anthropology, and Communication Media Production from the State University of New York at New Paltz and a BS from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Nutrition Management. She completed her dietetic internship through the University at Buffalo and is in the process of completing her Masters in Exercise Science there as well. She has a strong background in both nutrition and physical fitness, having had experience in both at St. Ann’s, the YMCA of Greater Rochester, and RIT. Jen is very passionate about the connection between mental health, physical health, and the role that nutrition plays in both.
Marie Bieber, BA, RD
Marie Bieber has a BA in Psychology from State University of New York College at Cortland and a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Nutrition from The Sage Colleges. She completed her dietetic practice hours with West Virginia University Healthcare and has worked as a Nutrition Assistant at Albany Medical Center. Marie has a strong focus in Medical Nutrition Therapy and takes a holistic approach to nutrition incorporating physical activity and stress management.
Stephanie Biren received her B.A. in Studio Art from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She later obtained her M.S. in Creative Arts Therapy at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. Before working on her master’s degree, Stephanie enjoyed her time serving as a Western New York AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) member, where she helped to eradicate poverty in Buffalo, NY. She interned with arts organizations for youth such as Free Arts NYC, which provides underserved children with arts and mentoring programs. She volunteered as a teaching artist for The Children’s Museum of the Arts NYC and the Memories in the Making program through Alzheimer’s Association, Colorado Chapter. During graduate school, she interned with dual-diagnoses youth at Creekside Day Treatment program, affiliated with Hillside Family of Agencies. Her work with eating disorders began in graduate school as an intern at The Healing Connection. She often integrates mindfulness, metaphor and strength-based approaches in art therapy.
Mike Gauthier has a degree in Culinary Arts from Monroe Community College and he has worked in a variety of food service establishments. He worked as a cook at St. John's Nursing Home and at the Episcopal Church Home in Rochester. He also cooked for the Rochester Red Wings during their 2009 season. He was the original chef at The Healing Connection when they first opened in 2010 and worked there for three years before leaving to go to St. John's. He missed working with the people and patients at The Healing Connection though so when the job opened up again in 2015 he was very happy to return.
Kimberly joins The Healing Connection with over 20 years of experience in the medical field offering clinical, administrative, and supervisory skills. She holds a certificate as a Medical Assistant and Associate's degree in Occupational Studies where her career started clinically in Internal Medicine at Genesee Hospital. She then pursued her career at the University of Rochester as an Administrative Supervisor in the Surgical Oncology Department where her experience, compassion, and empathy made her a valuable asset.
Mary Tantillo PhD PMHCNS-BC FAED
Dr. Mary Tantillo founded The Healing Connection (THC) with the help of many devoted individuals in recovery, family members, colleagues and the Monroe County Office of Mental Health in 2010. She previously served as THC CEO and Clinical Director. She continues to help facilitate Multifamily and Relational Therapy Groups at THC and is a permanent founding board member. Dr. Tantillo is also the Director of the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders (WNYCCCED), one of three NY State Department of Health-funded CCCED’s. She is a Professor of Clinical Nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She also is a fellow of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED), receiving the Meehan-Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy from the AED in 2010. She received a grant from Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation to conduct a study piloting a new and innovative Multifamily Therapy Group approach (Reconnecting for Recovery) for young adults with Anorexia Nervosa.
Dr. Gift is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and a member of the Strong Memorial Hospital Quality Council. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago School of Medicine, he completed the general psychiatry residency and a residency in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Rochester. He served as the Vice President of Mental Health for the Park Ridge Health System and the Chief of Psychiatry at Park Ridge hospital. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a past president of the Genesee Valley Psychiatric Association. He has often presented at national professional meetings and is the author of numerous scientific papers.
Dr. Joseph Chruscicki graduated from the University of Rochester with Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors. He completed medical school at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine. He performed his residency training in general psychiatry at the University of Virginia. He was recognized for outstanding medical student teaching in the University of Virginia’s Mulholland Report. He completed his child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the Maine Medical Center, where he was the chief resident. During that time he was awarded the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Outstanding Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Resident Award. He has experience working in multiple treatment settings, including a hospital affiliated outpatient program, community mental health clinics, and over a decade in private practice. He and his wife enjoy going to local events and activities in the area with their four young children.
Susan Blaakman, PhD, RN, NPP-BC
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Dr. Susan Blaakman is an Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing and Director of the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. She is a nationally certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with many years of clinical, education and research experience, mainly specializing in health behavior change, crisis intervention and disaster mental health care across the lifespan. In addition to her work at the Healing Connection, Susan is a project nurse and motivational interviewing interventionist in General Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Susan has co-authored many publications and serves as co-chair for the American Psychiatric Nurses Tobacco Dependence Council. She is the 2013 Rochester Academy of Medicine Nursing Award recipient for her recent clinical research.
Eileen Hayes, MSW, RYT
Eileen Hayes began studying yoga while in graduate school completing her Masters of Social Work degree, with the intention of discovering a method to empower herself and others to embrace their ability to foster healing in their lives. Discovering this power in yoga, she went on to complete her 200 hour training in the Anusara tradition with Blue Lotus Yoga. She has also spent extensive time living and working at an ashram in the Catskill Mountains studying Yoga asana and philosophy, being immersed in the Vedic culture out of which yoga was born. She respects yoga as a catalyst to transform the individual from the inside out by reconnecting them to their innate sense of wholeness - to return to the experience of the body as good and trustworthy, as an ally rather than adversary. She works with populations ranging from children and families, Deaf and hard of hearing, people in recovery, to athletes. She currently teaches private classes, Office Yoga, workshops for children, group classes at Rochester Wellbeing, as well as classes at The Healing Connection.