As a licensed clinical social worker and certified school administrator, Rachel has been providing quality mental health and education services in New York City for the past 18 years. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, a master’s degree in clinical social work from Columbia University, and second master’s degree in school building leadership from Mercy College. Rachel began her career as a social worker in the New York City foster care system. She has worked in both inpatient and outpatient mental health and hospital settings before assisting with the start-up of The New LIFE School a non-public special education setting, part of Lutheran Social Services of New York. Rachel has functioned as the Director of Clinical Services, Principal, and Executive Director.
Rachel has years of post-masters training in various therapeutic modalities and vast experience in the field of mental health and education services. Her goal at all levels remains the same, to provide a safe and nurturing environment for people of all ages to receive the care and compassion they need to change the trajectory of their lives.
A resident of Stamford and mother of two, Rachel is excited to bring her passion and years of non-profit experience to those in the lower Fairfield County area. The opportunity to further support people in need of quality mental health care and support services in her community aligns with Rachel’s overarching goal of improving the lives of all those she encounters.
Melissa comes to JFS with 18 years of experience as an accountant, private business owner and human resources manager. With a bachelor’s degree in accounting from SUNY Binghamton and an MBA from Pace University, Melissa takes multitasking to the next level.
After being a devoted stay at home mom to her two children, Melissa was drawn to JFS of Greenwich as a new challenge. Different from her work in the for profit world, she was looking for an opportunity which would bring depth of service to her community. Melissa enjoys being an advocate for those in need.
Her bubbly personality and ability to connect with those she encounters has brought great energy to the JFS office. Melissa is a phone call away to assist with almost anything that comes to mind!
Larry was born and raised in Stamford, CT. After graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in International Relations and Mediation, he worked in Washington D.C., Colorado and New York City. In 1998 Larry returned to his hometown of Stamford where he managed a staffing agency for 13 years. In 2010 Larry stopped working for several years to care for his son Harrison who had serious health issues in his early years.
Larry currently works part-time as the Director of Congregational Engagement at Temple Sinai in Stamford. In his role as DCE he has created programs that have fostered inclusivity, acceptance and engagement for the congregation. He has been instrumental in establishing meaningful connections amongst the congregants and a sense of belonging for the Temple Sinai community.
Larry’s time at home caring for Harrison sharpened his understanding of the importance of relationships. That, combined with his professional experience as a recruiter, connecting employees and employers, and as DCE at Temple Sinai makes him a natural fit to create “kehillah kedoshah – sacred community” at JFS.
Michael’s career spans over 30 years in the non-profit world, primarily serving youth and families in the New York foster care system. During his career he has developed and managed the full spectrum of therapeutic residential services for at risk youth, as well as provided oversight of community recreation centers and home based waiver services in New York City. Dedication to the mission of the organization and clients, program and staff development as well fiscal responsibility are among his most notable professional traits. He has had the good fortune to collaborate with New York State and City stakeholders to improve and develop program and services. A lifelong resident of Westchester County, Michael is a graduate of Fordham University with a Masters in Social Work Administration. His passion for food and cooking along with his new found love of fostering rescue dogs allows him to live life with a low level of stress.
Elyse has BA degree in Philosophy from Emory University; she moved to Greenwich in 1980. Her zest for all things written led her to assist with the start-up of two business ventures in high tech consulting, where she enjoyed the editing and production of reports and business collateral. Elyse was introduced to JFS of Greenwich in the 1990s and became a devoted board member for many years. She volunteered for Supermarketing for Seniors as a shopper and found deep satisfaction assisting seniors in her community. Elyse became a caregiver and patient advocate when her husband developed ALS. Her expertise grew exponentially as she helped to navigate her husband’s care until his passing. It was a natural progression for Elyse to move into the lead role for Supermarketing for Seniors. Her commitment to improving the lives of others is evident in every aspect of her work. Elyse treats each client and their family with the utmost respect and care. She has become an advocate for all those in need in the Greenwich community and continues to make a positive impact daily.
Angela Hay, LCSW
Angela “Angie” Hay comes to JFS of Greenwich with a BS in Social Work and an MSW from the University of Pittsburg. Angie began her career working with children and families in NYC. She enjoyed her time at Spence Chapin assisting with adoptions, counseling birth mothers to plan for a positive adoptive experience. Angie continued her work in NYC with the Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Division, working as part of a legal team on behalf of abused and neglected children.
Angie enjoyed some years home with her three children now young adults before returning to a social work position with Greenwich Department of Social Services. Angie thrived in that role working with a diverse group of individuals in the Greenwich Community. Angie moved on to work as an independent contractor with various senior residences and nursing homes in the Greenwich area. She has found individual and group therapy to be most rewarding. Angie is a warm and down to earth therapist who takes great pride in using a person-centered approach to help her clients work through their challenges and feel empowered. She has years of post-masters training in various therapeutic modalities including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Angie enjoys working with adults of all ages providing a comfortable space with which to communicate and learn new coping strategies and life skills.
Florence M. Griffin, LCSW
Florence is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience serving the Greenwich community. She comes to JFS of Greenwich with a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and a second master’s degree in business administration. Florence has years of post-graduate training with adults and aging populations. Florence draws on her diverse professional experiences in the business and non-profit world where she has served in multiple capacities as a direct service provider and non-profit director.
Florence exudes genuine warmth and understanding of the challenges adults often face when needing to ask for help. She always creates a trusting and comfortable environment for her clients. Florence always seeks to help the client identify and explore the problem which they wish to work on, no matter how complex it may seem. Florence is solution focused and assists her clients through exploration and an integrative approach using multiple therapeutic modalities.
Ruthanne Jaffe Birnbaum, LCSW
Ruthanne Jaffe Birnbaum has over 30 years’ experience as a psychotherapist. She holds a Master of Social Science degree from Bryn Mawr University, and previously earned both a master and bachelor degree in Education from Lesley University. She is certified in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, and in Psychotherapy as well, by the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, as well as in the Program on Aging at Hunter College. She is a Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work. She is licensed in both New York and Connecticut. Ruthanne is the proud mother of two adult children, and lives in Greenwich with her husband and cat.
Jennifer Coassin, LCSW
Jennifer Coassin is a licensed clinical social worker and practitioner of modern wellness. She assists clients in managing their stress, anxiety, and depression. This supports clients in living healthy and happy lives. She works with clients to develop a custom toolkit of strategies to utilize going forward. She couples traditional therapy approaches with modern wellness techniques to help clients establish goals and overcome obstacles to achieve them.
Jennifer earned her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and received her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. She became a licensed clinical social worker while working in the inpatient units at Yale Psychiatric Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, where she specialized in work with young adults dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Additionally, she is a registered yoga teacher and have had focused training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Debra Turkat, LCSW
After a corporate business career, Debra switched gears and went back to school for an MSW. Beginning this new career, Debra’s experiences included work with Multiple Sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and short-term and long-term physical rehabilitation. Then Debra founded The Geriatric Therapy and Support Center, providing counseling to seniors, their family members, and their caregivers. That included some lecturing for the National Association of Retirement Counselors, sharing with the community the issues and effects of caregiving within families.
Another challenge presented itself and Debra became a psychotherapist at Fort Belvoir’s Traumatic Brain Injury Center where she started a Caregiver Group for the spouses of active duty service members with brain injuries. The next project was at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where Debra was a psychotherapist for the Older Adult Behavioral Health Program.
Debra recently returned home to the NYC Metropolitan area and connected with JFS Greenwich. Debra’s passions are recognizing and supporting caregivers, promoting self-care, and utilizing a holistic approach to therapy. When not working Debra enjoys boxing and spin class, and she is a subscriber to the NYCBallet and the Joyce Theatre. Debra is a graduate of Barnard College (BA Economics,) New York University (MBA Marketing,) and University of Houston (MSW.)
Dr. Holly Schiff, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Holly Schiff is a clinical psychologist licensed in both CT and NY. She was awarded a Doctorate of Psychology in School and Community Psychology from Hofstra University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Fordham University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sociology and Pre-Law advisory. While completing her undergraduate education, Dr. Schiff was accepted as a member of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. She went on to complete a Master of Arts in Psychology in Education degree from Columbia University, as well as a Master of Science in School-Community Psychology, and an Advanced Certificate in School-Community Psychology from Hofstra University.
Her broad range of clinical experience encompasses psychotherapy in schools, outpatient clinics, and inpatient psychiatric hospitals. Dr. Schiff had the pleasure of learning in several prestigious settings in the Northeast including Silver Hill Hospital, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and Rockland Psychiatric Center. Dr. Schiff conducts individual therapy, family therapy, parent guidance, and group therapy using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Trauma-Focused CBT. Her expertise also includes administering and analyzing neuropsychological evaluations and psychoeducational assessments. Dr. Schiff collaborates with various treatment providers and schools as appropriate to offer the most comprehensive treatment approach.
Dr. Schiff strives to put her clients at ease and make them comfortable, laying the groundwork for a positive therapeutic relationship. She finds it particularly rewarding to help adolescents and young adults overcome life’s challenges to achieve their full potential.
Jillian comes to JFS as a licensed clinical social worker with an MSW from NYU. Jillian is an empathic practitioner who fosters a warm and trusting relationship with her clients. Jillian has had the benefit of working with children, adolescents, and adults in many mental health settings: a community mental health clinic, a substance abuse treatment facility, a Continuing Day Treatment Program, an inpatient psychiatric hospital, and a high school. Jillian employs a variety of therapeutic modalities including psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mindfulness practices. Jillian’s mission is to help people feel better, navigate their personal relationships with more ease, and live more fully, engaged lives.
Jillian lives in New York with her husband, two wild children, and a rambunctious dog and enjoys practicing yoga and watching funny things on tv in her spare time.
Kathleen is a licensed clinical social worker, who graduated from Columbia University School of Social Work with over 20 years of experience as a mental health counselor. Kathleen is committed to helping people manage depression, anxiety, trauma, anger, and the stressors of everyday life in healthy, effective ways.
Kathleen’s professional experience has provided her with the opportunity to treat clients facing a broad range of issues. She has supported adults with intellectual disabilities, hospital based programs in psychiatry and addiction, and intensive outreach programs.
Kathleen draws from a variety of methods to create a tailored approach for each individual and situation. Kathleen endorses several therapeutic paradigms to correspond to the needs of the individual client. She is experienced in psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and family systems theory. A holistic, strength based, person centered approach guides her practice.
Kathleen believes in working in partnership with clients, utilizing their strengths to help them sort out life’s challenges and achieve their goals. Kathleen provides an environment of compassion to help clients adapt to life’s challenges and experience personal fulfillment while moving forward toward their goals. As a therapist, Kathleen is warm, open, compassionate, encouraging, and direct. Kathleen is an active therapist combining experience, education, creativity, and a sense of humor with a down to earth approach to counseling.
Jocelyn W. Walls is a licensed clinical social worker who graduated from NYU Silver School of Social Work with an MSW and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Palliative and End-of-Life Care. She has over 15-years of experience in the field of oncology counseling and supporting patients and families through the trajectory of illness.
Jocelyn has worked as an inpatient and outpatient social worker for the cancer centers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where she was recognized as an advanced clinician and most recently at Yale New Haven Health – Greenwich Hospital Campus. She has run support groups for Gilda’s Club Westchester and currently serves as a training specialist for the Zelda Foster Studies Program at NYU Silver School of Social Work, an academic training program for oncology and palliative care social workers.
Jocelyn’s research has focused on clinical interventions for chronic cancer patients and self-care for oncology clinicians and she has presented on these topics both locally and nationally.
Jocelyn works collaboratively with her clients and tailors her interventions to help them achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. She draws on strength-based interventions, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and is consistently focused on offering guidance in a non-judgmental and supportive manner.
Michele is a licensed clinical social worker, who graduated from Sacred Heart University in 2008. She received her Masters in Social Work from Fordham University in 2015.
She started working at Pathways, a community mental health agency in Greenwich in 2008 as the Director of the Fellowship Program (day program) for many years for adults with chronic mental illness. Her goal was to link clients with outside community connections, therapeutic and educational groups to promote recovery and self-advocacy.
Additionally, Michelle worked in the Community Support program assisting clients with access to benefits, securing safe and affordable housing, supportive counseling, crisis intervention etc.,
Board of Directors
Lauren Gilbert Wels
Chairperson of the Board
Barbara D. Salop
Ariel S. Manacher
Leslie G. Perry