the
Team Roster

Westport House is led by an experienced team of professionals who are passionate about improving the lives of young men struggling with a history of relapse…or trying to avoid it. WE LOVE WHAT WE DO.

MANAGEMENT & RESIDENTIAL SERVICES


Al Samaras

Executive Director & Founder

Al Samaras

Executive Director & Founder

Al Samaras: Al has close to 25 years of experience building and growing organizations with a focus on healthcare services. He excels at managing complex environments and is a recognized leader in developing innovative and effective addiction recovery programs.

Under his stewardship, Westport House has grown from one location to three and recognized as the standard for structured sober living in the northeast United States. Prior to founding Westport House, he served for five years as Vice President of Turnbridge (formerly Turning Point) in New Haven, CT where he was instrumental in its transition from a non-profit sober living organization to a long-term addiction treatment program.

Before his own experience with addiction and recovery, Al spent over 15 years in executive leadership and business development positions at HealthSouth Corporation and SourceMed, Inc. He studied Marketing at the University of Maine and majored in Management Information Systems at Central Connecticut State University.

203.293.1589 x101; 203.293.3348 (cell)

Greg Gillam, MA

Director, Operations

Greg Gillam, MA

Director, Operations

Greg joined the Westport House team in 2014 from Caron Treatment Centers in Wernersville, PA where, in the role of Graduate Student Intern, he worked closely with patients in the adolescent and young adult male program. His work included intakes, assessments, individual and group sessions, treatment planning, and research.

His time at Caron, coupled with his own experience with loved ones suffering from addiction, has culminated in a passion for working with young men in early recovery from substance abuse.

Greg graduated Cum Laude from Bloomsburg University with a BA in Psychology in 2011. While at Bloomsburg, he was elected President of the Psychological Association, and was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society. In 2014, he graduated from Immaculata University with an MA in Counseling Psychology.

Molly Ashcroft, CAC

Director, Business Development

Molly Ashcroft, CAC

Director, Business Development

Molly’s passion for her work stems from a desire to offer hope for families and clients who are struggling with addiction. She excels at developing relationships with prospective clients, families, and other addiction professionals, with the goal of finding the right placement for everyone and ensuring the best care for each.

Molly’s journey of recovery began in 2008 after many family interventions and treatment experiences. She attributes her success to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the amazing people she has met along the way. It’s hard to overstate her impact in the local recovery community, where she is an extraordinary force for good; sponsoring numerous young women, chairing meetings, accepting commitments, and never turning down a request to tell her story.

Prior to joining Westport House in 2014, Molly served as Program Director for a non-profit sober living organization in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is working on her Bachelors degree in Social Work, and has recently completed the Drug & Alcohol Recovery Counselor (DARC) program leading to licensure as a Certified Addictions Counselor (CAC).

Robert Deffendall

Director, Residential Services

Robert Deffendall

Director, Residential Services

Rob oversees all aspects of the day-to-day operations of our sober living facilities, including staff management and client programming. He continually seeks opportunities to develop residential services and programming to ensure that all clients receive the highest quality experience during their time at Westport House.

Rob is a dynamic leader, both in the recovery community and at Westport House. His incredible passion stems from his own recovery experience and his work with young men suffering from addiction and co-occurring disorders. Prior to joining Westport House, he spent five years in various management and direct care roles at Turnbridge, where he was regularly recognized for excellence and community involvement.

Before his own recovery and his later career in addiction treatment, Rob, a native of the Midwest, was a popular on-air radio personality in Chicago and St. Louis.

Marty Gaudrault

Director of Admissions

Marty Gaudrault

Director of Admissions

As Director of Admissions, Marty supports Westport House clients at the beginning of their journey with us. Before his current role, he served as a Case Manager, where he was responsible for coordinating services for clients and acting as the primary point of contact for their families. Thru positive coaching, role modeling, and mentorship, he enjoys helping clients find the joy in a clean and sober way of life.

Passionate and energetic, Marty has been in recovery for many years and is particularly passionate about the 12-Step philosophy for treatment. A regular speaker, he is committed to contributing to service work in the community. He sponsors several young men at a time, is a sober coach, and involved in many recovery-based activities throughout New England. He prides himself on nurturing relationships to mutual benefit for everyone involved and spends his free time developing personal and professional relationships within the community and our organization.

Marty currently resides in Norwalk, CT with his new bride, Jeanmarie.

Jim Gabal

Career/Volunteer Counselor

Jim Gabal

Career/Volunteer Counselor

A long-time resident of Westport, Jim’s journey of recovery began after the successful completion of the the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Program at the Betty Ford Center. Since then, he has amassed over 25 years of sobriety – one day at a time. He is very active in Alcoholics Anonymous, attending several AA meetings a week and working with others in the program to help them stay sober and lead productive lives.

Prior to joining Westport House, Jim had a long and successful career working in some of the world’s largest media companies, launched numerous businesses and was a marketing consultant. In those capacities his management responsibilities included personnel search and acquisition, employee development, mentoring and performance evaluation.

Jim’s experience makes him a perfect fit for his responsibilities as Career/Volunteer Counselor. His duties here include securing paid and volunteer employment opportunities in the local community. In this capacity he capitalizes on his relationships with area companies and identifies appropriate opportunities for our residents. He assists residents in resume development, interview preparation, counsels them on post-interview follow-up and assist them through the successful hiring process.

He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma.

David Pagano, CAC

Case Manager

David Pagano, CAC

Case Manager

David joined Westport House in 2016. In his role as Case Manager, he works closely with clients, family members, employers, schools, referents and colleagues to offer each client the greatest opportunity at successful integration back into society and long-term sobriety.

From his personal experience in 12-Step recovery and his professional training (he is a Certified Addiction Counselor), he believes a mix of empathy and consideration is critical to promote and protect the self-worth and integrity of the young men he serves at Westport House and in the greater recovery community.

David brings close to a decade of experience working in addiction treatment programs, including Turnbridge and Grant Street Partnership in New Haven, CT, to Westport House. He is a loving single dad to a 15-year-old son and enjoys spending as much with him as he can.

203.293.1589 x106

Tim Holt

Case Manager

Tim Holt

Case Manager

A native of nearby Wilton, CT, Tim Holt graduated from St. Michael’s College with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is currently working towards a Master’s in Social Work. His professional career includes corporate advertising and sales in New York City. After his personal experience with addiction and recovery, Tim joined Serenity House NYC as a sober coach and companion. In this role, he supported clients in early recovery and helped facilitate their integration into long-term sobriety.

Tim is very active in the recovery community and is a strong advocate for mental health services. His experience working in treatment settings combined with his leadership abilities, ability to connect with clients, and attention to detail, make him a valuable addition to the Westport House team.

203.293.1589 x107

Brian McManus, JD

Residential Coordinator

Brian McManus, JD

Residential Coordinator

Brian attended Providence College and received his law degree from Quinnipiac University in 1993. Post graduation, he was a practicing attorney for close to 20 years. As a Program Coordinator for Westport House, he coordinates client schedules, provides transportation services, oversees health and recreational activities, and ensures client safety.

Brian’s wide range of business and life experiences, combined with a warm personality are a perfect fit for our clients. With several years of solid recovery, he has sponsored a number of men in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, chaired meetings, and performed service work throughout Connecticut. Brian lives in Fairfield and enjoys spending his leisure time with his wife and children.

Sam Smyth

Admissions Coordinator

Sam Smyth

Admissions Coordinator

In his role as Admissions Coordinator, Sam ensures that each new client experiences a smooth transition into Westport House. His responsibilities include maintaining communication between Westport House and the client's referrals and family. He is also responsible for maintaining all the documentation involved with the admission process and leading tours of our facilities.

Sam has previously served as Executive Administrator for Sam Allen Interiors, LLC and as a Production Intern for Ouidad Hair Salon in New York City. As a recovering young adult, and a graduate of Westport House, Sam finds fulfilment in his interactions with clients and by offering them guidance through his on unique experiences in treatment and recovery

Sam studied Business Administration and English at American University.

James Abercrombie

Residential Coordinator

James Abercrombie

Residential Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

Drew Venditti

Residential Coordinator

Drew Venditti

Residential Coordinator

Andrew excels at building trusting relationships with clients, drawing on his own experience as young man in recovery and a graduate of the Westport House program.
As a native of nearby Wilton, CT, with a high level of attention to detail, Andrew is uniquely suited to coordinate activities in all phases of our program.

He attended the Culinary Arts program at Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island and prepares healthy delicious meals for Phase I clients and enjoys teaches them to cook for themselves

Nabeel Khandwala

Director, Finance & Human Resources

Nabeel Khandwala

Director, Finance & Human Resources

As Director of Finance & Human Resources, Nabeel oversees the organization’s financial functions, human resources, and various other administrative operations. He also draws on his experience developing client relations and financial operations at American Rags, Inc. in Houston, Texas. Nabeel studied Economics and minored in Business Administration at the

John Garvey

Residential Coordinator

John Garvey

Residential Coordinator

John is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University and has spent several years working in both inpatient and outpatient treatment settings. Prior to joining Westport House, John spent six years working with recovering adolescents and young adults at Insight Counseling in Ridgefield, CT.

John is a certified personal trainer and uses mindfulness and meditation, as well as physical exercise, to support his own recovery. He’s an active member of the local AA community and enjoys working with young people in early recovery.

Ean Szalan

Residential Coordinator

Ean Szalan

Residential Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

James Hughto

Residential Coordinator

James Hughto

Residential Coordinator

Jim is a graduate of Fairfield University with degrees in Economics and Marketing. His professional experience includes Resident Manager and Continuing Care Case Manager at Mountainside Treatment Center. In addition to his Program Coordinator duties for Westport House, he is the Collegiate Recovery Program House Manager for Fairfield University’s Recovery House.

Through his training, education, and personal experience, Jim is tremendous resource for our clients, particularly those participating in our College Bound program. Jim believes building a strong sober network, being honest, open minded and willing are the keys to success in early recovery.

He is currently working on his Masters degree in Applied Psychology at Fairfield University.

PJ Reinemann

Administrative Assistant

PJ Reinemann

Administrative Assistant

Prior to his role as Administrative Assistant, PJ held positions at multiple technology and healthcare startups in New York, primarily working in sales & business development. Most recently, he served as a Business Development Associate at Wellth, a Brooklyn based healthcare startup focused on providing financial incentives for patients to better adhere to care plans and enhance their long-term health.

PJ studied Philosophy, Marketing and Digital Media at New York University. He enjoys meeting new clients and assisting them with getting the help they need. In his free time, PJ stays active by playing racket sports, working out, and indoor rock-climbing.

CLINICAL SERVICES


Michel Mennesson, MD

Psychiatrist

Michel Mennesson, MD

Psychiatrist

Dr. Mennesson is board certified in general psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and pediatrics, with an added qualification in addiction psychiatry. He received his psychiatric training at Yale University where he also served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry for three years. Prior to his work at Yale, he trained as a pediatrician at University of Connecticut.

Dr. Mennesson blends his knowledge of psychology, family systems and psychopharmacology to meet the client’s individual needs. He is an expert in co-morbidity, and has a talent for assessing what medications will be most helpful as our clients continue on their journey of recovery. Dr. Mennesson believes that through a proper balance of medication, when appropriate, and therapeutic intervention, one can truly achieve sustained sobriety, a reduction in impulsive behaviors, and improved relationships.

He is longtime practitioner of yoga and meditation and is a strong proponent for integrating mindfulness principles into clinical treatment.

Ava Diamond, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Ava Diamond, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Ava holds a Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Columbia University and has completed intensive trainings in addiction and trauma recovery, emotional intelligence, emerging adulthood, family systems, and motivation. She has over 20 years of experience both in private practice and with non-profit and private mental health organizations serving young adults and their families. Ava uses several clinical models — including EMDR, CBT, DBT, Relational Theory, and Family Systems Theory — to provide the best clinical practice for each client.

An accomplished athlete, Ava combines her professional athletic experience with her clinical background to empower clients and their families to optimize their mental, physical, and professional selves.

Liz Modugno, LCSW, LADC

Primary Therapist

Liz Modugno, LCSW, LADC

Primary Therapist

Liz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker; she received her Master’s from the University of Connecticut, with a concentration in substance abuse and mental health. Prior to joining the Westport House team, she was a primary therapist at Turnbridge. She also directs her own private practice in Westport. Liz specializes in emotional trauma and its relationship to addiction.

She incorporates several therapeutic methods, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness, and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR).

Warren Lancaster, LPC, MBA

Primary Therapist

Warren Lancaster, LPC, MBA

Primary Therapist

Warren is a licensed professional counselor with a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling; his approach emphasizes cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. Warren enriches his counseling with his personal history: he is a former executive and a recovering alcoholic with over 25 years of sobriety. He is active in the local recovery community and firmly believes the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has been critical to his long-term success.

A native of Australia, Warren earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics & Mathematics from the University of Melbourne, an MBA from the University of New South Wales, and his MA in Counseling from Fairfield University.

Warren’s counseling experience includes several years at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT, where he served as a senior residential counselor in the transitional living program. Warren has also worked at Fairfield Counseling Service and in private practice.

Ashley Watson, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Ashley Watson, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Ashley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s from New York University. Prior to opening her private practice in Greenwich, CT, Ashley worked at Silver Hill Hospital on the inpatient detox unit as well as at an outpatient mental health clinic working with young adults and people with co-occurring disorders.

Ashley has experience conducting substance abuse interventions and is certified in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). She believes that change can happen through mindfulness and compassionate understanding.

Lori Pelosi, APRN

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Lori Pelosi, APRN

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Lori Pelosi, APRN is an advanced practice registered nurse and has spent many years treating individuals with mental health and addiction disorders. Her career includes experience at various nonprofit organizations and most recently, as a Nurse Practitioner at Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, Connecticut.

Lori received her Master of Science in Nursing at Sacred Heart University, and among her many interests outside of work, Lori truly enjoys teaching others the practice of nursing. She currently works part-time as an adjunct professor at Western Connecticut State University and Wilkes University.

Margo Friedman, LPC, LADC, CCDP-D

Primary Therapist

Margo Friedman, LPC, LADC, CCDP-D

Primary Therapist

Margo specializes in treating individuals struggling with addiction, trauma, anxiety and mood disorders, eating disorders, exercise addiction and body image issues in men and women. She utilizes therapy as a vehicle to help people create the reality they want for themselves, especially when they are feeling stuck or disconnected from the life they would like to have.

Margo is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) with a national and international certification as a Co-Occurring Disorders Professional Diplomat (CCDP-D). In addition, she is certified in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBTC) through the DBT National Certification Accreditation Association.

She graduated Cum Laude from Fairfield University with BA in Sociology and later with a Masters degree in Counseling. Prior to joining Westport House, she was a primary therapist at Turnbridge in New Haven, CT. Margo has worked in outpatient, intensive outpatient and residential settings throughout her career. In addition, she has a private therapy practice in Westport, CT.

Greg Koufacos, LCADC

Family Therapist

Greg Koufacos, LCADC

Family Therapist

Gregory Koufacos, MA, LCADC, NCRC is the Director of Family Services at Westport House. In this role, he works closely with the families of our clients, teaching them to support their loved one’s recovery in a healthy manner. He is a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Nationally Certified Recovery Coach, specializing in family dynamics in the addiction and recovery process. He is a Masters Level counselor, trained at The New School for Social Research in Manhattan.

Having worked with families and individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse diagnoses for over a decade, he brings a wealth of energy and experience to Westport House’s structured and systemic approach to recovery. Gregory is the founder of Eternal Principles Counseling and the LINKT model of clinical coaching.

Brittany Scinto

Massage Therapist

Brittany Scinto

Massage Therapist

Brittany is an experienced licensed Massage Therapist who specializes in Relaxation and Deep Tissue therapeutic massage techniques. She is a 2008 graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in Newington, CT and has successfully operated her own practice for Massage Therapy since 2009.

Brittany is furthering her education as a nursing student at St. Vincent’s College. When not at work, Brittany enjoys the outdoors, photography, refinishing furniture, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Jim Fitzpatrick, L.Ac.

Acupuncturist

Jim Fitzpatrick, L.Ac.

Acupuncturist

Jim is a highly regarded and experienced practitioner of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). He draws his experience from time spent in private practice and from serving over the last decade as the Clinic Director at the University of Bridgeport Acupuncture Institute, where he oversaw 3,000 acupuncture treatments annually.

Jim’s strengths as an Acupuncturist and TCM practitioner include his commitment to safe and effective care, patient comfort and satisfaction, as well as a commitment to understanding the facets of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine from a western, biomedical perspective.

Jim received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Georgetown University and a Master, Traditional Oriental Medicine degree from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan.

Denise Lamoureux

Spiritual Healer

Denise Lamoureux

Spiritual Healer

Denise specializes in healing, spiritual balancing and personal growth. Her goal is to help individuals release old negative patterns and beliefs that are holding them back from a life of abundance, joy, happiness and peace. She has helped hundreds of people recover from childhood trauma, grief, anxiety, depression and addiction by combining energy healing, Reiki, Theta Healing, and Ignite Your Spirit therapy.

Having studied with some of the most talented healers, she is a powerful presence who brings her own healing experiences and compassion to our clients.


Get started, call today: 888.302.6790