Our Staff

Alice M. Forrester

Chief Executive Officer

I came to Clifford Beers as an intern nearly two decades ago.  I realized pretty quickly that the Clinic was a special place filled with folks who served children and their families with respect, integrity and compassion. I am honored to be the Executive Director of this very special institution, to guard our Centennial legacy, and to help grow and strengthen it for our next 100 years of leadership and service to the Greater New Haven Community.

Pieter Joost van Wattum

Vice President of Medical Affairs/Chief Medical Officer

I came to Clifford Beers in 2003 as a consultant child psychiatrist and became medical director in 2005. With my background in clinical work and research at the interface of medicine and psychiatry as well as intellectual and other developmental disabilities, Clifford Beers has been a great place to form connections with other healthcare providers in the community, train the next generation of healthcare providers, and create and participate in new programs fitting my interests. Most recently, Clifford Beers has created a new multidisciplinary resource addressing the biological, psychological and social aspects of health — a place where we are providing truly comprehensive and all-inclusive treatment and support — for children and adults with developmental disabilities.  The care provided extends to family members and into the home environment; it is a welcoming place without barriers to care that can alleviate the psychological, social, and financial burdens of the families served.  We hope what we have designed will become a model of care for all.     

Christine Montgomery

Vice President of Clinical and Community Based Services

I am at Clifford Beers because I knew when I first came here in 1995 it would be my professional home, and it has been. I have stayed at Clifford Beers for as long as I have because the work here is very much in line with my own personal beliefs: if given the chance, all children can succeed, and it’s the responsibility of all of us to make sure that children have that chance. I am now in a leadership position, and we have a large staff; their work continues to inspire me. I feel a deep commitment to support the staff in their important work, and when I ask someone how they’re doing I’m not just asking to be polite–I really want to know: how are you doing?! A big part of my job is to make and sustain connections–connections to the work, connections to the families, and connections to the community. It is my privilege to do so.

Michael Riso

Chief Financial Officer

I began my career in the private sector, but about 12 years ago I saw the value in working in nonprofit — in a place where my work can really impact people. I’m particularly drawn to the innovative nature of Clifford Beers Clinic, and the reward in my role as CFO is finding the most financially streamlined ways to help the Clinic meet its objectives of health and wellness in the community.

Rita Paradis

Vice President Business Development

I’ve been in the healthcare industry for a long time in different capacities. Wherever I have been in my career, if a conversation turned to “innovative providers” the name “Clifford Beers Clinic” would come up. So, when I learned of an opportunity with CBC’s integrated care effort, I was certainly interested. CBC’s innovation posture fits nicely with a healthcare philosophy I developed as a nurse practitioner in that I believe we need to look more closely behind symptoms and think holistically. If a child is asthmatic, what’s behind it? Can the patient afford the prescription? What else is going on? That’s where Clifford Beers is going with mental health and integrated care, and I’m excited to be a part of that. I believe my years of practice, the time I spent developing medical education programs, and my 20+ years leading large health plans (both Medicaid and nonprofit) will contribute to the strides the Clinic can make.

Cynthia Rojas

Vice President of Strategic Advancement

If you asked me at the age of 12 what I wanted to do I would have said change the world. Today if you ask me what I do I would say change the world. At Clifford Beers Clinic I have developed a research/outcomes/evaluation infrastructure that helps the Clinic articulate its impact, helps families understand their children’s underlying issues, and helps staff understand the impact they are having on the children and families they serve. The Clinic is a leader in children’s mental health, and it is a privilege to work with such compassionate professionals. I also play a part in telling the stories of our children – many of which are heartwarming success stories. In the end, my work helps support the therapists who do phenomenal work, and being a part of that is a privilege.

Tisa Adkinson

Associate Medical Director, Wraparound New Haven

I learned a lot about CBC and its community approach to mental health issues and to families while at Yale, and I was thrilled to hear of an opportunity to become involved with the Clinic’s newest venture, integrated care. It’s at the forefront of medicine, and it means that we can intimately intertwine physical and behavioral health. I’m very interested in exploring all the ways we can do that, for instance, looking at getting into school-based health clinics where the kids are already receiving mental health services. It’s great to be with kids in environments where they’re most comfortable. That includes homes, too. It’s a real gift to be invited into someone’s home to do this work, and we’re able to glean so much more in these types of environments as opposed to offices. All in all, working at CBC will allow me to be part of delivering the kind of care that will be benefit children and families.

Kitty Champlin

Development Director

I am at Clifford Beers because the work done at the Clinic really speaks to my heart. I have always been interested in kids and the things that can make life better for them, and the work done at the Clinic is just that. The clinicians here really get to the bottom of whatever is affecting the child and set the stage for making each child a success. Clifford Beers Clinic is truly a great place to be.

Yohanna Cifuentes

Director of Outpatient Services

CBC is recognized as a groundbreaking agency committed to constantly improving how care is provided so that quality of life can improve for families and community. I joined Clifford Beers because I wanted to be part of this innovative organization that looks at the various factors affecting children and their families. It is also a leader in the search for alternative practices that can improve the entire system. I am impressed by agency’s holistic approach, the number of programs offered, and the use of so many evidence-based models that reach various populations. The role I have allows me to contribute to work that started so many years ago — I’m part of something innovative, but it’s innovation in action.  There has been talk of whole-family care for years, but Clifford Beers is actually doing it and understanding people in the context of physical health, mental health, home environment, barriers to care, and whatever else impacts a life.  The drive and passion for the work at CBC are unique, and the people served are fantastic. 

Ilaria Filippi

Director of Practice Innovation

I am at Clifford Beers because, quite simply, I love the work. I love the families. I love the colleagues. The people who I work with make it worthwhile. In my job, I have the chance to help children and families overcome very difficult challenges; I work with these families to restore a sense of normalcy and develop hope for a better future that was eradicated by whatever trauma they experienced. It is very challenging, but it is also very rewarding. On a daily basis I have opportunities for growth both professionally and personally.

Mikaela Honhongva

Director, Quality Management and Research and Evaluation Departments

I came to Clifford Beers after a volunteer experience with adults with chronic mental illnesses. I felt that while there were wonderful and necessary programs treating adults, we as a community needed to do more to care for children at an earlier point.  The Clinic’s mission to serve children and families using integrated services and its commitment to recognize the impact of social determinants on health fit perfectly with my personal mission. Here, I have found my niche in using data to help improve quality of care. I truly wish that one day I wouldn’t have a job because we’ve ended all trauma, but until that day I feel very fortunate to work with such a wonderful team to provide exceptional care to our community.

Tammy Freeberg

Director of Program Development

I joined Clifford Beers because of its relentless pursuit of forward progress in the fields of behavioral health and human services.  The role I have now lets me contribute to that progress in a way where I work with so many talented and committed people at the Clinic; the more I contribute, the more I learn!  I am also thrilled to work in the Greater New Haven area.  I live and play here, so it’s wonderful to work here and deepen my connection to the community. 

Christine Geraci

Controller

Before working at CBC I was at a publicly traded telecomm company, and it just wasn’t the right place for me.  I have a daughter with a rare genetic disorder that causes developmental and intellectual disabilities, so I know what it’s like to be part of a family facing unique needs and challenges.  I can’t imagine what so many families would do without Clifford Beers!  It’s a real privilege to support an organization that invests in children and families and community.

Kim Jewers-Dailley

Director, Trauma-Informed Schools/New Haven Trauma Coalition

Sheryl S. McNamee

Director of Public Affairs

What Clifford Beers Clinic does is inspiring. With all the Clinic sets out to do — big and not so big — it strives to help others, to promote kindness, and to foster wellness. Just about everything I do is designed to complement those efforts; truthfully, the role is a privilege.

Mark Scapellati

Director of Integrated Care and Business Operations

Growing up in inner city New Britain I saw enough kids go in the wrong direction because they didn’t have anyone to guide their lives.  I was fortunate that I had terrific folks in those critical years.  So, after decades of working in roles where I was heavily involved in Medicaid programs for children, working at Clifford Beers Clinic makes a lot of sense to me.  I’m at a stage in my career where I can give something back and impact real lives.  Working at CBC means I can do something to help prevent young people from making bad decisions with which they might struggle for a long time.  Or, better still, what I do can help prevent a child from making a bad choice in the first place, and that’s a truly fantastic possibility.

Lauren Weibrecht

Director of Clinical Operations

I am at Clifford Beers Clinic because of the exceptional, high-quality work that our staff does with our children and families. I have been here for over 15 years in various positions and programs, and I have stayed because of the commitment the agency has to its families but also because the Clinic is constantly looking for ways to adapt and improve our services. As we start our next 100 years of service to the community, I’m looking forward to being a part of the journey the Clinic is taking to re-examine how we can treat children and their families who have endured trauma.