Team Clearpoint

Our team is specially trained in the Clearpoint treatment model to address the complex needs of individuals with co-occurring disorders and to treat the whole person in a comprehensive way. We support patients with an integrated, multi-disciplinary team. Primary therapists, physicians, case managers, nurses, and others are all part of a patient’s treatment team.

– Click on an image to learn about our training, education, and backgrounds –


Albert Samaras

Executive Director

Albert Samaras

Executive Director

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. Before founding Clearpoint, he spent 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 an industry-leading long-term treatment program.

In 2014, Al founded Westport House, a nationally-recognized structured sober living program for young men. Under his leadership, Westport House has grown from one location to three and is considered the standard for structured sober living in the northeast. Before his experience with addiction and recovery, Al spent over 15 years in business development and executive leadership 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.

Michel Mennesson, MD

Medical Director

Michel Mennesson, MD

Medical Director

Dr. Michel 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, Dr. Mennesson 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. He 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.

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

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

Liz Modugno, LCSW, LADC

Clinical Director

Liz Modugno, LCSW, LADC

Clinical Director

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.

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.

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 Clearpoint, 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 to her position at Clearpoint, she has a private therapy practice in Westport, CT.

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.

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.

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.

203.293.1723

Laura Hart, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Laura Hart, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Laura is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with an undergraduate degree in Social Work from Saint Joseph University in West Hartford, CT, and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University.

Before starting her private practice in Norwalk, CT, Laura worked at Silver Hill Hospital as part of their inpatient transitional living addiction program. She also has worked at Waterbury Hospital’s outpatient services, facilitating the Intensive Outpatient Programs in co-occurring and geriatric populations.

Laura specializes in treating depressive and anxiety disorders, as well as substance abuse in adult and young adult populations. She utilizes strengths-based and mindfulness approaches, as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Cheryl Vanase, MA, CAGS

Primary Therapist

Cheryl Vanase, MA, CAGS

Primary Therapist

Cheryl holds both a Master’s Degree in Holistic Counseling, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Mental Health Counseling from Salve Regina University. She has worked in various settings including private practice, inpatient detox, and in a trauma-treatment mental health clinic.

Cheryl is experienced in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and possesses a Certificate in Grief Therapy. With twelve years of experience working with young adults, adults, and families in crisis, Cheryl brings a variety of resilience-building tools to the Clearpoint team.

Francis Giannini, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Francis Giannini, LCSW

Primary Therapist

Francis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over twenty-five years’ experience in treating severe and persistent mental illness and co-occurring disorders. He worked for four years performing Addiction Psychotherapy Research at the Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

Francis has also served those struggling with addiction in outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment settings within the state of CT. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Southern Connecticut State University.

Deborah Malatesta, LCSW, LADC

Primary Therapist

Deborah Malatesta, LCSW, LADC

Primary Therapist

Deborah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, graduating with honors from Southern Connecticut State University and later from Fordham University with her Master’s Degree in Social Work. Deb has been working directly with persons struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders for the last 18 years.

Her specialties include addiction, mood and adjustment disorders. Her training includes cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and mindful-based strategies aimed at treating the whole person. Deborah has worked in outpatient, in-home and residential settings throughout her career. Prior to joining Clearpoint, she served as the Clinical Program Director at the Apt Foundation in New Haven, CT in addition to running her own private practice.

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.

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 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 our team, 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 assists them through the successful hiring process.

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

Nabeel Khandwala

Director, Finance & Human Resources

Nabeel Khandwala

Director, Finance & Human Resources

As the 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 University of Texas at Austin.

Marty Gaudrault

Director, Admissions

Marty Gaudrault

Director, Admissions

As Director of Admissions, Marty supports Clearpoint patients at the beginning of their journey with us. Prior his current role, he served as a Case Manager for Westport House, 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 wife, Jeanmarie.