Andy Buccaro LCSW, LADC – Executive Director

Andy is the Executive Director and founder of Project Courage. Before launching Project Courage, he was the Director of School-Based Programming for New Hope Manor Inc. In this role, Andy worked with public and private schools arranging contracts to allow schools to supplement their support staff with substance abuse counseling. Additionally, Andy worked as a clinician for Yale University’s Forensic Psychology Department in their research project comparing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Twelve Step Facilitation models for treating alcoholism and addiction. During this time, he also provided clinical services for Yale’s adolescent substance abuse prevention program for students re-entering New Haven Public Schools. Most recently he served as the Executive Director of Center for Change an intensive outpatient dual diagnosis clinic that delivered services to Turning Point a nationally recognized treatment program for young adult males. At Center for Change he developed, implemented, and produced clinical programming that received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). With credentials in both the mental health and substance abuse fields, combined with almost two decades of experience, Andy provides clinical services that include thoughtful, compassionate and confidential interventions. Andy’s specialties include substance abuse and anxiety disorders.

Ryan Hocking LCSW – Assistant Executive Director

Ryan earned his BA in Sociology from the University of New Hampshire and his Masters in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University. Ryan started his career working at the Rushford Center, Inc. where he provided services to adolescents with mental health and addiction issues. His work there included biopsychosocial assessments, individual, family and group therapy. From Rushford, Ryan continued his social work career as a supervisor at the APT Foundation where he offered individual and group therapy to patients receiving opioid replacement treatment. Ryan most recently worked as the Assistant Executive Director at Center for Change, an intensive outpatient dual diagnosis clinic that delivered services to Turning Point a nationally recognized treatment program for young adult males. Ryan brings his dedicated work in the social work field to Project Courage and feels passionate about helping individuals and families achieve their treatment goals.

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KC Hespeler – Director of Family Services

KC Hespeler is the Director of Family Services at Project Courage. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker, KC received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut. KC’s extensive treatment experience includes children, adolescents, and adults as well as individual, group, and family therapy. Focusing on individuals with multiple diagnoses, especially co-occurring substance abuse disorders, KC has a special interest in providing support to clients and their families as the navigate the processes of finding and receiving treatment. She believes family involvement in the treatment of substance use and mental health issues is essential, influencing more positive outcomes.

Ben Backes LMSW, LADC – School Based Counselor

Ben is a school-based, substance use counselor at Project Courage, providing middle and high school students with individual substance use counseling within their learning environment. Ben brings experience with Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT), individual, group, and family counseling. He has worked with a variety of individuals suffering from substance abuse and other mental health disorders. Ben received his Associates Degree and DARC Certificate from Gateway Community College in Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling, his Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University, and his Masters Degree in Social Work from Fordham University.

Tim Harmon CAC – Head of Admissions

As the Head of Admissions, Tim is at the frontline of all admissions inquiries beginning from the first call, to scheduling an initial clinical evaluation. Tim has received his Bachelors Degree in Social work from Southern Connecticut State university and is currently enrolled in Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service where he looks to obtain his master’s degree in social work.

Michelle Bailey – Operations Manager

Michelle has a dual role at Project Courage, Office Manager and Fitness Coordinator. Michelle has her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in health care and a Master’s degree In Business Administration from Quinnipiac University.

Michelle is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and yoga instructor with a passion for life that is unstoppable. Michelle believes how you work out, is how you live your life and motivates people to reach their fullest potential.

Courtney Bushnell LCSW – Clinical Supervisor

Courtney is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Clinical Supervisor at Project Courage.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in social work from Providence College and then went on to receive a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut. Courtney has over 10 years of experience providing a range of clinical care including biopsychosocial assessments, individual, group and family therapy to people of all ages, focusing on substance use and mental health issues. Courtney has been with Project Courage since the start of the Intensive Outpatient Program in 2014, and is very passionate about creating a positive working therapeutic relationship with her clients.

Greer Richardson MD – Psychiatrist

Dr. Richardson graduated from Yale University, Department of Psychiatry in 2001 and began treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and co-occurring illnesses such as substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and psychotic disorders. He has been in private practice since 2003 and treats a variety of illnesses, the majority of which have co-occurring substance use disorders. He is a national trainer for Cognitive Processing Therapy, a cognitive behavioral therapy for PTSD. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University where he teaches Yale residents general psychiatry. He graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Philosophy and a minor in Physics and earned his MD from the University of Tennessee.

Tina Campbell – Billing Manager

Tina brings her extensive experience in business administration and business management to Project Courages’ Billing Department. Tina has owned and managed her own business for over 10 years, has coached gymnastics for over 30 years, and believes that her compassion for others will be her greatest asset and help with her goal of making someone smile every day. 

Jean Watson – Primary Clinician

Jean earned her BA from Albertus Magnus College with a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She earned her Master’s in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University with a primary focus on Medical Social Work. Jean’s primary experience has been with the criminal justice system, specializing in sexual behaviors and compulsivity resulting in her CATSO (Connecticut Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders) certification. Additionally, Jean’s experience has focused on substance use and mental health disorders. Jean’s work includes individual treatment, family work, and group sessions. Jean is also a Register Yoga Teacher; her treatment work values and implements mindfulness and spirituality.

Rob Deffendall – Director of Recovery Support Services

Rob brings his 9 years of work in the recovery field and extensive involvement in the recovery community to Project Courage. Rob spent two years at Grant Street Partnership as a Residential Aide, five years at Turnbridge as a Case Manager and Support Staff Director while earning the title of 2014 Case Manager of the year, and previous to that, two years as Director of Residential Services at Westport House. Rob has over 10 years in sobriety, and is currently working on his CADC certification. 

Chelsea Verni – Recovery Coach

Chelsea’s work is designed to support clients with their journey to recovery through goal setting, finding purpose, building community, and working on the client’s overall health. Chelsea utilizes her background as a certified yoga instructor by incorporating the  philosophies she uses in her daily practice into her work here at Project Courage. She is currently working towards her BS in Psychology at Southern CT State University.

Liz McCall
Liz McCall – CAC, Family Recovery Coach

Liz, CAC has joined our team as a Certified Family Recovery Coach. She graduated from Saint Anselm College with a BA in Psychology. She has worked in the addiction field for over 10 years. Liz worked for the CT Council on Problem Gambling as a Prevention Specialist and at Aware Recovery Care as a Family Liaison.

Noah Morgenstein
Noah Morgenstein – Business Development Associate & Recovery Support Services Coach

Noah has joined our team as a Business Development Associate and a RSS Coach. Graduating from Dickinson College with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, Noah moved to Connecticut, establishing himself in New Haven and its recovery community. He worked for several years at a local substance abuse treatment center until he chose to pursue his passion for photography and design at a company in Fairfield, CT, that specialized in experiential marketing. Currently, Noah is enrolled in the Interactive Media and Communications Master’s Program at Quinnipiac University and uses his free time to practice his photography, writing, and design skills.

Jenna Deluca CAC – School-Based Counselor and Recovery Coach

Jenna received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Southern Connecticut State University and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in social work at Fordham University. She has been a Research Assistant for the Psychology department at SCSU for the past three years, focusing her research on mental health and addiction in college students, as well as the implications for prevention and intervention. At Project Courage, Jenna is a school-based, substance abuse counselor and recovery coach, where her focus is to help young women explore their substance use and maintain their sobriety with support, compassion and understanding – offering guidance for building “a life worth living.”

Erin Greenleaf MSW – Client Service Coordinator

Erin has a dual role at Project Courage as the Client Service Coordinator and the Office Manager. Erin received her associate degree and DARC Certificate from Gateway Community College in Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling, her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University, and her master’s degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University. Erin is currently working on obtaining her LMSW and LADC