Executive Staff of High Watch
President & Chief Executive Officer
“I believe in The High Watch Way and our Core Set of Values and I see first-hand every day how we save lives and families here at High Watch. I am proud to ensure that our guests are treated respectfully and with integrity by our team of compassionate, talented staff.”
Jerry has over twenty years of experience as an executive with non-profit healthcare organizations. Prior to joining High Watch, Jerry was the Executive Director of a Connecticut-based emergency medical service provider. Jerry is a licensed paramedic and served for many years as the President and Chairman of a large non-profit paramedic service in Southern Connecticut. He also serves on the State of Connecticut Alcohol & Drug Policy Council.
Outside of his work with High Watch, Jerry is very active in charitable social service organizations. Domestically, Jerry has served as a municipal Ethics Commissioner, as a Board member of the Pomperaug Health District, and as a member of the Connecticut Department of Public Health EMS Advisory Board. Internationally, he is the Co-founder of Empowering Communities Worldwide, which sponsors and organizes free medical aid missions to traditionally under-served, sub-Saharan African nations.
Vice President of Admissions
“My role is to break down barriers to recovery. When someone battling addiction comes to us seeking help, the admissions staff and I do whatever it takes to get that person into High Watch. I know this is the best place with the best people and we in admissions are the gateway to the help guests need.”
Rob has been with High Watch since 2007 and ensures that individuals in need of assistance can be placed with us immediately.
He works directly with guests, their families and caregivers to navigate the insurance approval process and to make arrangements for self-paying individuals. Rob believes that it is essential that individuals seeking help with their addiction not be turned away. The fact that they have come to High Watch seeking help is so important and there may not be another opportunity to get that person on the road to recovery.
Vice President of Finance
“None of our truly talented clinicians can do their work if we do not have the financial resources to facilitate it. Central to our effort here is our ability to pay for the treatment we provide to our guests. We take that responsibility very seriously.”
Derek has an extensive background in non-profit, medical research and healthcare finance and administration having served as a Chief Financial Officer exhibiting strong organizational and leadership performance.
His role at High Watch is to ensure that we have the financial capacity to deliver the care and services our guests need day in and day out. His work and the work of his team is critical to our mission of seeing the disease of addiction go into remission for each individual who passes through our door.
He is directly responsible for overseeing our core mission of Fiscal Stewardship: “We shall manage responsibly the resources of the Farm and commit ourselves to be good and faithful stewards of all donations.”
“I believe in High Watch because I am a product of this amazing place. I can relate directly to what our guests face every day and I love watching them grow in their recovery. The clinicians and staff here do amazing things for our guests and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it.”
After twenty years managing some of New York’s top restaurants, Brendan came to High Watch as a guest and never looked back. He began working with High Watch in 2011 as a member of our Admissions team and has accelerated to his current position of Program Director. Brendan works directly with our clinicians and our program staff to ensure that the needs of each and every one of our guests are met uniquely in the way that best leads them down the path to recovery.
Highly Credentialed Clinical Staff
Dr. David Hendricks
A Board Certified Emergency Physician, Dr. Hendricks has an extensive record of leadership in healthcare organizations.
He served most recently as the Associate Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Griffin Hospital in Derby, CT where he has had the honor of being named Physician of the Year. He served formerly as the President of the medical staff at Griffin Hospital.
Dr. Hendricks believes that substance abuse is a multi-factorial disease requiring treatment by a comprehensive team from multiple disciplines. By bringing together a strong team of medical professionals, social workers and staff, Dr. Hendricks and High Watch ensure that all guests receive the treatment and support they need to recover.
Dr. Hendricks received his degree in medicine from Ross Medical School. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, CT and his Emergency Medicine residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Dr. Gregory Boris
Assistant Medical Director
Board certified in Emergency Medicine, Dr. Boris is an award-winning physician with over twenty-two years of clinical experience.
He has served most recently as the Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Griffin Hospital in Derby, CT since 2002. He is also an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Quinnipiac University School of Medicine where he lectures to medical students and teaches clinical medicine in the Emergency Department.
Dr. Boris believes that guests of High Watch should receive holistic care for more than just their mental health and addiction needs. He believes that their physical health is equally important in ensuring that guests are able to manage their addiction successfully.
Dr. Boris received his degree in medicine from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health center in Bronx, NY.
Alessandra Buonopane, MD
Director of Psychiatric Medicine
Alessandra Buonopane, M.D. is the Director of Psychiatric Services at High Watch Recovery Center. She strongly believes that every person with an addiction disorder is unique and deserves highly specialized and individual care. She uses both medical and holistic approaches to treat a variety of addiction disorders. She attends not only to the psychiatric and medical needs of her clients but also their psychosocial and spiritual concerns. Dr. Buonopane also believes that Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are powerful engines of recovery which continue to inspire, support and save millions of lives around the world.
Dr. Buonopane completed Medical School with a summa cum laude in 1988 at the University of Rome, La Sapienza in Rome, Italy. She then completed her first residency in Neurology (also summa cum laude) at the University of Rome, La Sapienza in 1992. She moved to the United States in 1994, and she pursued her interest in addiction medicine in earnest as a volunteer at the Navaho Indian Reservation in Tohatchi, New Mexico. There, she was exposed firsthand to the widespread devastation caused by alcohol and substance use disorders. She has been fighting against the stigma of addiction in the medical field ever since that time.
Dr. Buonopane completed her Residency training in Psychiatry in 2000 and her Fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry in 2001 at Yale University School of Medicine. During her Fellowship, she worked in the Alcohol Research Unit of the Veteran Administration Medical Center in West Haven, CT. Since 2001, Dr. Buonopane has worked in a variety of clinical, administrative and supervisory roles in both Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry. She became Assistant Professor and Team Supervisor of the Dual Diagnosis Unit for the Psychiatric Inpatient Service at the University of Connecticut Medical Center in Farmington. She then served as Medical Director at the Apt Foundation (New Haven) and was appointed Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale. Then, she was employed as Director of Addiction Services at Silver Hill Hospital (New Canaan), and finally, she was appointed Principal Psychiatrist at the Forensic Department of the Connecticut Valley Hospital (Middletown). At both UConn and Yale, she supervised medical students, psychiatric residents and fellows in both psychiatry and addiction. She received the Award in Excellence as tutor for the Yale medical students. Dr. Buonopane also served as Medical Director at MCCA in Waterbury, an outpatient substance abuse treatment facility. During the past decade, she has worked tirelessly in both private practice and institutional settings treating and advocating for patients with addiction and other mental health diagnoses. Her areas of expertise span general psychiatry, psychopharmacology, alcohol and opiate dependence disorders. She applies medication management as well as psychotherapy judiciously in her treatment plans.
Dana Pollack, MSW, LCSW
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Dana Pollack is recognized for her ability to develop individualized treatment for residents based upon their strengths using an eclectic approach. Ms. Pollack is a specialist in relapse prevention using cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. She is also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
Helping someone to better understand themselves or move through a difficult situation in their life, is what Dana finds the most rewarding part of her work.
Ms. Pollack received her MSW in Social Work with a specialization in addictions from Fordham University and her BS from Dominican College.
Ramneesh Trehan, MD
Ramneesh Trehan, M.D. is a Psychiatrist and Addictionologist at High Watch Recovery Center. Immediately prior to joining High Watch, he served as Medical Director at Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine. He is a fellowship-trained, addiction psychiatrist who completed formal addiction training at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Trehan has served as the Medical Director at behavioral health and addiction recovery centers in three states and in all healthcare settings. His area of clinical interest includes dual diagnosis and helping others get sober through engagement in Twelve Step Programs.
Dr. Trehan has an extensive background in Psychiatry, Addiction Medicine and Primary Care encompassing training and experience gained in hospital, outpatient clinic, nursing homes and private practice settings. He has provided training to medical students, pharmacists, nurses and other professionals throughout his career and has worked as Medical Officer treating nationally renowned scholars at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. In addition, he has served as the sole Medical Doctor for tribal villagers deep in the Himalayan mountains. His previous work at Liberty Bay Recovery Center in Portland, ME is highly regarded.
Dr. Trehan is a member of the American Psychiatric Association and is board certified in General Psychiatry. He completed his undergraduate training at DAV College and medical school at Government Medical College, both in India. He completed his General Psychiatry residency in India in 1989 and in the United States in 2001. He completed his Fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Donna Hoskins, APRN
Adult Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
A Board Certified Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Specialist. Donna brings extensive management and nursing experience to the High Watch clinical team.
As a clinician, Donna’s approach is holistic. Her education in psychotherapy was Interpersonal, but as her style has developed, it has become more eclectic, including more CBT and mindfulness techniques.
She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing, and is a member of the American College of Nurse Practitioners, AANP, and the American Nursing Association, ANA. She is Board Certified in Adult Psychiatric Nursing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Ms. Hoskins is credited with being one of the founders of Women’s Support Services in Sharon, CT, as well as, one of the developers of the Cornwall Child Center in Cornwall, CT.
Ms. Hoskins holds a BA from George Washington University and a Masters degree in Psychiatric Nursing from St. Joseph’s College, in West Hartford.
Patricia Pellino, APRN
Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Patricia Pellino is our Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, who has brought more than 30 years of experience in nursing and mental health to High Watch Recovery Center. She joined our team in 2011.
Prior to joining High Watch Patricia was an APRN at Danbury Hospital, where she was independently responsible for managing a case load of approximately 150 patients. Also functioning as a clinician, she evaluated patients at the hospital’s Crisis Intervention Service.
Dedicated to educating and helping foster the next generation of Nurses, Ms. Pellino has been an adjunct faculty member of Mount Saint Mary College and currently an adjunct faculty member at Western Connecticut State University where she teaches the student nurses during their Mental Health Clinical rotation. She has also been the Clinical Nurse Manager of Silver Hill Hospital’s Acute Care Unit.
Ms. Pellino received a BS in Nursing from Mercy College and a MS in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing from Adelphi University, with extensive post-Masters work as well. She is also a member of the Zeta Omega Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.
Victoria Wendland, LMSW
Victoria has worked with mental health and addiction clients in both residential and outpatient settings.
She believes that meeting High Watch guests where they are at and providing a safe space for them to express themselves is tremendously beneficial to help them embark on their journey to recovery.
Victoria received her BA from the University of New Haven where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received a Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University.
Colleen Albertson, LMSW
Colleen has extensive experience working with individuals struggling with addiction and mental health. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient detox, outpatient, intensive outpatient programs, and residential settings.
Colleen has a strengths-based approach to treatment and utilizes evidenced-based therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. Colleen is intensively-trained and holds a certification in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Colleen received her BA in Sociology from the University of Bridgeport where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her MSW from Southern Connecticut State University.
Alison Rosa, LMSW
Alison has an extensive history working with adults and adolescents who struggle with substance abuse, eating disorders, and co-occurring disorders, including: bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Trained in cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivational interviewing, solution focused therapy, and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Alison employs the most effective therapeutic modalities for her client’s specific needs.
Alison has also developed a skill for creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment. She helps individuals explore and navigate discomfort through both traditional and holistic therapies. Alison teaches skill-building while facilitating self-discovery, helping clients find meaning and purpose. Alison received her BA from Pace University in Applied Psychology and Human Relations, and she graduated Magna cum laude from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, with a Masters in Social Work.
Tami-Jo Lind, LMSW
Tami-Jo has worked in the behavioral health field and with individuals in crisis in residential and outpatient settings.
At High Watch she utilizes Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help guests work through their addiction. She believes in the importance of evidence-based practice in preventing relapse, which is a central focus of her work.
She is very active as a volunteer and leader in the non-profit behavioral health community and serves on the Board of Directors of the McCall Center for Behavioral Health in Torrington, CT.
Tami-Jo received her BA in Social Work from Central Connecticut State University. She received a Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University. She is certified in Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Suicide Prevention, Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, and as a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocate.
Janet Prindle, LCSW
Janet is a seasoned social work professional with over 30 years’ experience working with clients spanning all age groups. She has held both clinical and administrative roles and has received four awards for outstanding performance in the social work field in the past six years.
Janet has expertise in treating individuals with co-occurring disorders. She has a strength-based approach to treatment and believes strongly in empowering individuals to take charge of their recovery. She utilizes evidence-based treatment including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.
Janet believes that the greatest calling in life is to be of service to others.
Janet received her BA in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University and her MSW from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Steve Douglass, LCSW
Steven is a skilled social work professional who has practiced in a variety of clinical settings, including outpatient, detox, and in residential rehabs. Steve specializes in mental health and substance abuse and has made endeavoring to reduce the human cost of addiction a life focus since receiving his MSW from the UCONN School of Social Work.
Steven has a strong, present-centered approach to clinical interventions, rooted in evidence-based practices drawn from a number of clinically proven therapeutic modalities such as CBT, DBT, ACT, and Mindfulness-based relapse prevention.
Steven has a special interest in identifying the ways in which the principles of modern psychology and the latest research in that field often reveal pathways to healing that are closely aligned with directional guidance available through active engagement in 12-step recovery through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Connie Merriman, LPC
Connie has extensive experience in assisting and counseling individuals as they work through their substance abuse struggles on their way to recovery.
She has worked in both residential and outpatient settings as well as the correctional system. This experience gives Connie the ability to understand and appreciate just how different the needs of our guests can be and she focuses her work on tailoring treatment plans that meet their individual needs.
Connie is very focused on educating her peers and has presented her work on multiple occasions to the Connecticut Counseling Association conferences.
Connie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Forensic Psychology as well as her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of St. Joseph, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Melissa Jacobs, LPC
Melissa has extensive experience working closely with individuals struggling with addiction and mental health challenges. She has worked in residential settings as well as with individuals in intensive outpatient programs.
Melissa combines traditional counseling methodologies with alternative therapies such as yoga to help guests work through their addiction. She employs evidence-based therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy in her treatment approach.
Melissa received her B.S. and her M.S. in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling from Western Connecticut State University.
Kimberly Cognato, LPC, LADC
Kimberly has been working with individuals struggling with addiction and mental health for over a decade. She has worked in both private and non-profit settings and has helped individuals through residential and detox recovery.
Working directly with High Watch guests and seeing them progress is the most rewarding part of Kimberly’s work and she works directly with our guests do develop individualized treatment based on their unique needs and strengths.
Kimberly holds a certification in Co-occurring Disorders and Addiction. She is a Medication Assisted Treatment Specialist and is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
Kimberly received her MS in Community Counseling from Western Connecticut State University.