CCAR Board of Directors

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Karen Ablondi

Karen Ablondi is a founding board member and Vice President of the Connecticut Alliance of Recovery Residences. She is also the founder and owner of Shoreline Recovery Sober Living. Founded in 2014, Shoreline Recovery is CTARR Certified and offers four level II recovery residences in Branford, East Haven, and Wallingford, Connecticut. As well as a small business owner, Karen is also a research associate and social worker at the Connecticut Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, where she is responsible for coordinating and managing diverse research projects and a money management program.

As a person in long-term recovery, Karen resided in a halfway house for four months after completing residential treatment. This experience formed a deep belief that sober living is often vital to one’s recovery, and gave her a strong, inspirational foundation to build her career and passion over the years. She opened Shoreline Recovery to offer safe, structured, and affordable sober living to those in need, with a deep dedication to increasing the number of women’s houses in Connecticut.

Karen has two children and she enjoys baking, gardening, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

Zach dendas BOD

Zach Dendas

Having worked for a United States Senator since 2013, most recently as the Director of Outreach for U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy, Zach Dendas has established himself as having the problem-solving skills and the strong relationships required to be a highly effective legislative lobbyist.

Zach began his career as a hard-working staffer on U.S. Rep. Jim Himes’ first bid for re-election. He then served as the Fourth Congressional District representative for then-Congressman Christopher Murphy’s contentious race for the United States Senate, communicating and advocating for his boss’ initiatives in the campaign. Following Murphy’s election to the Senate, Zach moved to Washington in 2013 to serve as Senator Murphy’s Special Assistant before moving up in the office as a Legislative Correspondent.

Zach graduated from Quinnipiac University with a double major in Political Science and History. While there he was a Schweitzer Institute Award Winner & Member of Pi Sigma Alpha, Political Science National Honor Society, as well as a member of the Quinnipiac D-1 Men’s Lacrosse Team.

Photos from a UConn Foundation employee meeting and service recognition event taken Tuesday, January 21, 2019 in Storrs. (G.J. McCarthy / UConn Foundation)

Colleen Godino

Colleen Godino is a person in long-term recovery, since 2005. Colleen is the senior director of external and board engagement, at the UConn Foundation, the independent non-profit organization that operates exclusively to promote educational, scientific, cultural, research, and recreational objectives of the University of Connecticut and UConn Health. The organization’s mission is “Strengthening UConn, One Relationship At A Time.” Colleen has served the University of Connecticut since April 1996. Prior to joining the UConn Foundation in July of 2000, Colleen worked as a program manager in the School of Engineering Dean’s Office, where she coordinated all fundraising activity. Colleen serves as a member of the UConn Recovery Community (URC) Advisory Council. She and her husband, Michael, are members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Chapel in Storrs and have five grown children.

Ted Heiser BOD

Ted Heiser

Attorney Theodore (Ted) Heiser is a partner at Suisman, Shapiro, Wool, Brennan, Gray & Greenberg, P.C. in New London.  He practices primarily in the areas of personal injury and employment law.  Prior to joining Suisman Shapiro, Ted was a founding member of Sullivan Heiser in Clinton, CT.

Ted has tried numerous matters to verdict in the state and federal courts of Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey. Ted’s extensive trial experience includes cases of wrongful death, personal injury, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, trade secrets and non-competes, partnership disputes, and many other matters.

Ted’s employment litigation background includes lawsuits involving discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender and gender status, age, disability, and religious affiliation. Ted represents employees and employers with respect to wrongful termination, wage and hour claims, free speech, and other civil rights claims arising out of the employment relationship, as well as civil rights violation by municipal and state agencies, including the police.  He also handles litigation involving restrictive covenants including non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements.

Ted has been named as a top rated Employment & Labor attorney by Connecticut and New England Super Lawyers since 2013.  He is AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review ratings, its highest designation.  He is a 1991 graduate of Gettysburg College and a 1995 graduate of the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America where he was a member of the Law Review. Ted lives in Chester, Connecticut with his wife and three kids.

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Carolyn Maltz

Caro is a clinical researcher at YSM working to support pregnant people with substance use disorders, particularly regarding increasing access to medical care and recovery support services and awareness of DCF policies. Having been in recovery since they were a teen, Caro is a peer advocate and supporter of youth in recovery and has been a volunteer at CCAR for over a year helping to extend recovery resources to young adults.

Born and raised in NYC, Caro graduated from NYU in 2021 with a dual major before moving to New Haven. They enjoy cooking for friends and hiking with their cat, Lou.

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Ariel Maria, PhD, LMHC, LPC

Ariel has over 15 years of experience in the behavioral health field. Over the course of his career, he has developed expertise in the provision of high-quality, evidenced based, multicultural services across a variety of treatment settings. Trained as a professional counselor, Ariel leverages his clinical expertise in the skillful management of behavioral health and substance use treatment programs. Currently, Ariel is the Department Head of Outpatient Services for Recovery Network of Programs in Shelton, CT. Ariel is a Licensed Professional Counselor in CT and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of NY. He holds a Master’s degree and PhD in mental health counseling.

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Barbara McClane

Barbara McClane is a passionate Connecticut based photographer who connects, captures, and creates meaningful memories of families, friends, pets, and loved ones. Barbara believes that the perfect photography captures the energy that is felt through the camera viewfinder and connects her to the subject. Barbara has worked as a Mental Health Assistant with the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for over 16 years. In that capacity, she has dedicated herself to caring for, training, and assisting folks with daily life skills. A mostly self-taught photographer, Barbara has channeled her commitment to social justice and humanity into creating art that showcases the complexities and beauty of the human experience. Her recent projects have focused on highlighting members of her local LGBTQ+ community, and people of color. Her more recent photography projects include:

  • “LGBTQ Pride Stories of 2021” (2021)
  • “History Makers Now” (2021)
  • “Dope Dads” (2021)
  • “I am Woman” (2019, 2021,2022 )
  • “HIS Project: History Impactful Story” (2019, anticipated 2022)
  • CREC Academy of The Art High School Black History Month Motivational Speaker 2022
  • 2022 Nomination for MLK Award at Connecticut Valley Hospital

Barbara is working on a memoir titled “Blessed, Not Bitter”. The book details her personal journey from surviving addiction, prison, physical and sexual abuse to reconnecting with her biological family and inspiring others to find the joy and hope in life. Barbara is the recipient of several awards, including the “2021 100 Women of Color” and the “2021 Working Women in Networking Business”. Barbara resides in Cromwell, CT with her wife and their two cats.

Daryl McGraw BOD

Daryl McGraw MS, CAC, CCIP

On June 10th, 2010, Daryl McGraw walked out of a Connecticut prison equipped with nothing more than his GED and six composition notebooks filled with what he called his 5-year plan to successful community reentry. Mr. McGraw hit the ground running; in a short period of time, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management and Leadership, both from Springfield College. Mr. McGraw has already accomplished more in his life than many have done in a lifetime. Today, Daryl is a Certified Addictions Counselor, Recovery Support Specialist, and Criminal Justice Professional. Mr. McGraw has over 10 years of lived experience and expertise in urban trauma, addiction recovery, and community reintegration. Daryl’s personal journey through addiction and incarceration has prepared him to be a voice and advocate for those who still find themselves caught in the vicious cycles of addiction and recidivism. He is considered an expert in the field of Criminal Justice Reform. Daryl presents at conferences nationally and internationally and provides technical assistance to universities, law enforcement agencies, legislators, and behavioral health and addiction treatment facilities. As a leadership consultant, he works in policy development, contract management, and project coordination, as well as collaborates with grassroots peer-advocacy agencies and Departments of Corrections.

In 2014, he was hired as a Program Director for the Yale University Department of Psychiatry, where he was contracted to serve as Director of the Office of Recovery Community Affairs for the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. In 2018, Mr. McGraw went on to form his own organization called Formerly Inc, Connecticut's first criminal justice consultant agency, predominantly staffed by formerly incarcerated individuals. In 2019, Daryl was appointed the Co-Chair of Connecticut’s Police Transparency and Accountability Taskforce. In this role, he connects communities and law enforcement and encourages the hard conversations that lead to legislative change in police transparency and accountability in his State. Mr. McGraw also works part-time for the Institute for Municipal Policy and Research at Central Connecticut State University as a Senior Reentry Consultant, working to better the Reentry process for Returning Citizens in Connecticut. In 2020, Mr. McGraw was inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Change for his tireless advocacy for criminal justice reform and his commitment to restorative justice and the welfare of formerly incarcerated people. In 2021, Mr. McGraw joined forces with C4 Innovations as the Senior Manager of Racial Justice and Equity. He inspires cultural competency and challenges organizations to move away from the status quo. He also sits on several boards involving re-entry and criminal justice reform in Connecticut.

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Joanne Montgomery

Joanne Montgomery re-joined Liberation Programs in 2019. Miss Montgomery worked for the agency from 1995-2007. Joanne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed Addiction counselor. Joanne has over 25 years of experience working with diverse populations including persons with substance abuse, mental health, HIV/AIDS, homelessness and trauma.

Joanne has extensive experience with program development and building community partnerships throughout Fairfield County. Joanne is the Board President of MFAP, Co-Chair of the Strategic planning and assessment committee of the Ryan White Planning Council and is also a founding member who sits on the board of Connecticut Alliance of Recovery Residences (CTAR).

In her current role as Chief Clinical Officer, Joanne is responsible for the clinical oversight of all agency programs throughout Liberation Programs.

Jerome Roberts
Keith Sawyer

Keith Sawyer was born in 1964 and grew up in Atlantic City, NJ the youngest of 4 children. He was a varsity high school basketball player and hoped to play at the next level, but an ankle injury derailed that career.

He moved to Norwich, CT in 1995 and then to Willimantic in December 2004 looking for some purpose in life.He came to CCAR’s Windham recovery community center in January of 2005. Through engagement in the CCAR volunteer corps, Keith became the first CCAR Presidential award winner and has received many volunteer awards in his 17 years of service.

Keith graduated from Manchester Community College in 2016 from the DARC Program and has recently been elected to the CCAR Board of Directors. Keith supports CCAR’s mission and vision on an ongoing basis, while working to support others in recovery at a transitional treatment program. He is currently working as a residential aide for CHR and as a courier for Hartford Health Care. His goals are to be a better person today than he was yesterday and to live life and love it.

Cini Shaw
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