Meet Our Team
Chief Executive Officer
Pamela Alvich is a mission-driven executive with 18 years of nonprofit leadership and behavioral healthcare experience. She has worked for many years in executive roles within the psychiatric and addiction area for adults and adolescents as an innovative business builder, adroit at strengthening sustainable patient services while leveraging philanthropic initiatives to advance care and education.
She spent numerous years at Silver Hill Hospital, a leading private not-for-profit psychiatric hospital treating adolescents and adults with psychiatric, substance use and co-occurring disorders, where she was responsible for improving procedures in the admissions process, expanding customer service for Silver Hill’s patients and families, and developing business relationships and referrals that resulted significant growth for the 90-year-old organization.
Prior to her experience in the mental health category, Pamela worked in the fashion and luxury goods world, overseeing global product development and management for Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Polo Ralph Lauren. Her leadership role with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as a State Officer and current President of her co-op board, further enhance her qualifications to work well with the community at NYCFL.
“I understand the difficulties managing addiction, but I also know that empathy, compassion, and targeted clinical care, will help young people and their families maintain their successful journeys to recovery. I am delighted and proud to be a part of this talented and successful organization.”
Eric D. Collins, MD
Dr. Collins completed his undergraduate studies in economics at Yale in 1984, following which he spent two years teaching chemistry and physics at Tabor Academy, a private high school for boarding and day school students in Marion, MA. In 1986, Dr. Collins enrolled at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he earned his MD in 1990 and subsequently stayed to complete his postgraduate residency training in Psychiatry and fellowships in both Addiction Psychiatry and Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. Dr. Collins then joined the psychiatry faculty at Columbia and pursued addiction research, including the publication as the first author in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2005 of a landmark clinical trial comparing heroin detoxification methods, including anesthesia-assisted detoxification.
In 2005, Dr. Collins became the Medical Director of Substance Abuse Services at New York-Presbyterian, a role in which he provided direct care to and administrative oversight for patients struggling with addiction, both at the Columbia medical campus of New York-Presbyterian and at the Columbia midtown outpatient treatment center. In 2012, Dr. Collins accepted the opportunity to become the Physician-in-Chief at Silver Hill Hospital, a private, not-for-profit psychiatric hospital in New Canaan, CT, where he oversaw and helped improve and advance psychiatric care, particularly addiction care, in their inpatient, residential, and outpatient settings. In November 2019, Dr. Collins joined the Metropolitan Center for Mental Health, a community mental health center in New York City, as its Medical Director. In September 2021, Dr. Collins joined the New York Center for Living as Medical Director, a role in which he continues to serve.
Dr. Collins is board certified in Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine. He has published over 30 articles and book chapters, and he has extensive experience caring for psychiatric patients, particularly those with addiction and co-occurring mental and physical illnesses. In addition, Dr. Collins lectures in pharmacology teaches students and fellows at the Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and maintains a private practice of general and addiction psychiatry.
Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Peter Chernack, DSW
Dr. Peter Chernack is a nonprofit leader with extensive executive organizational management and leadership experience in health and human services and higher education. He has held varied academic and administrative positions, designed, developed, and managed diverse programs, and directed broad-based program operations including budget and finance, strategic planning, HR, internal and external communications, resource and fund development, curriculum and program design, and program evaluation.
As Associate Dean at Adelphi University’s School of Social Work, Peter led efforts to advance university community partnerships, supporting workforce development in child welfare, trauma informed practice, gerontology, mental health, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, as well as continuing education and professional development among other responsibilities. He established the Institute for Adolescent Trauma Treatment and Training providing multifaceted training addressing complex trauma at the individual, family, and societal levels. As co-founder of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership and in his independent consulting, Peter has demonstrated expertise in executive transition, strategic planning, executive coaching, retreat facilitation, and executive and board leadership development and has built organizational capacity in diverse health and human service organizations.
His expertise in work with nonprofit boards includes board membership and board development within higher education, health and human services, and professional membership associations. Active in leadership development in higher education, Peter consults on curriculum and program design, program development, and program accreditation. Together with colleagues, he designed the successful program director training academy for the Council on Social Work Education and he was appointed to CSWE’s Council on Leadership Development. He is a member of the executive committee for the International, Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision. In his work to advance the social work profession, Peter has served on the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Workforce Commission, led NASW’s strategic planning process (2013-2014), and was elected and served as Board President, NYS Chapter (2014-2016). He is a former trustee and Vice Board Chair of The Education and Research Foundation of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York.
Geoffrey M. Golia, LCSW
Geoffrey M. Golia, LCSW is clinical social worker, supervisor, and non-profit leader with a deep passion and commitment for helping people seek fulfillment and meet their potential, while advocating for positive social change. Throughout his professional career, he has served with a broad range of people, families, and communities, including adolescents and young adults with substance use and mental health issues, formerly incarcerated young men, and children affected by the foster care system. These experiences shaped his view building a strong foundation of recovery is essential to one’s personal and professional success, and that all people deserve a reflective space to seek support, healing, and change.
Geoffrey was previously the clinical director at Turnbridge, a residential treatment program serving young people and their families struggling with substance use and mental health issues. In that role, he led a team of therapists and psychiatric nurses provide comprehensive, evidence-based care while supporting 12-step and related recovery programs. Prior to that, Geoffrey spent nearly a decade at Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO) serving justice-involved and formerly-incarcerated 16- to 24-year-old men—starting out as a social work intern in the jails on Rikers Island and rising to the position of chief administrative and program officer.
Geoffrey received his bachelor’s degree from New School University’s Eugene Lang College in 2005 and his master’s degree in social work from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work in 2012. He currently resides in New York City with his wife, daughter, two cats, and a dog.
Satin Zarkar, MD
Dr. Zarkar completed her undergraduate education at University of California, Irvine, obtaining a B.S. in Biological Sciences. She went on to attend Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine where she received her medical degree before completing her residency in adult psychiatry at Mount Sinai Morningside/West Hospital. It was there, during residency where Dr. Zarkar’s passion for working with children and adolescents grew. This guided her to attend the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she is currently serving as chief fellow. Through her training, Dr. Zarkar has been fortunate to work extensively with both adolescents and adults struggling with addiction in both the inpatient and outpatient setting giving her a unique and compassionate approach to care.
Jillian D’Ornellas, LMFT
Jillian began working with adolescents and their families through the PINS Diversion program in Nassau County, serving as both a family therapist and clinical case manager. She then shifted to work with adolescents and their families at Outreach Development Project as a family therapist and primary counselor. Jillian is certified in evidence-based practices for adolescents including Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) and the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), as well as trained in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Jillian holds a B.A. in Psychology from Binghamton University and an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Hofstra University.
Director of Family Services
Cindy Leinwand, LCSW, CASAC
Cindy Leinwand has devoted her professional life to working in the field of substance use disorder. She has done this in a variety of settings that include schools, community based programs and private practice. She began her career as a school social worker and clinician at a prominent Long Island New York State OASAS funded non-profit agency. During her long tenure there, she became the Director of Prevention and School Services. In that role, she was responsible for prevention programming and supervision of the agency’s school social workers in multiple Long Island school districts. She was a liaison to several social work graduate schools and had oversight of field placements and training of students. She also had a key role as a clinician in the agency’s family program. She worked with adolescents, young adults and families running parent and multi-family groups. Her commitment to team work and collaboration grew out of her many years of work in this setting.
Cindy Leinwand’s most recent professional role was as an addiction specialist at an acclaimed Long Island community center. The center offered social, cultural educational and health and wellness services. She was recruited to launch a new program. The program offered support to individuals struggling with substance use concerns and to those who would benefit from health and wellness services as part of their aftercare in recovery. Assessments, referrals, family support, and community education programs were a key part of her work. This position gave her the opportunity to attend an immersion program with the residents and staff of a spiritually based residential addiction treatment center. It was an inspiring model of a mind, body and soul approach to healing. She brings the inspiration and teachings from this experience to her work at The Center for Living. Cindy Leinwand obtained a BA in Psychology from Syracuse University and her MSW from Adelphi University.
John McAteer, LCSW
Mr. McAteer’s current position is enhanced by his prior experience as both an Adjunct Professor as well as the Director of Training and Evaluation at the Institute for Adolescent Trauma Treatment and Training at Adelphi University School of Social Work. He is certified in Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS) and is an OASAS-certified trainer in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). Formerly on staff at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, he has provided evidenced-based training for substance use and mental health throughout the five boroughs. He is a frequent guest speaker on the issues concerning the vaping epidemic. He has his MS in social work from Columbia University and his BA from Adelphi University.
Coordinator Alumni Relations/Primary Therapist
Peter Newland, CASAC
Peter’s work in the field of chemical dependency spans 25 years, first with Phoenix House as a case manager with adolescents and then Director of Adolescent Ambulatory Services where he supervised several outpatient modalities; that included peer groups, multi-family groups and individual sessions. Peter then helped develop a chemical dependency program at Harlem East Life Plan which assessed and treated individuals with the goal of abstinence from alcohol and drugs. In a multidisciplinary setting Peter was the “Coordinator of Adolescent Services at Realization Center, Co –facilitating Family Group, Peer Groups and family workshops.
Peter has conducted numerous seminars and presentations to schools, parent groups, hospitals and mental health professionals. Topics have covered substance abuse and teens, detecting early warning signs for a teen in need of a intervention, how to engage a teen and his/ her family in treatment, and strategies for long term recovery.
Indie Cusack, LMSW
Indie Cusack (they/them) is passionate about providing clinical support to people with a range of identities and experiences. Their professional experience includes substantial experience working with people with serious and persistent mental illnesses, neurodivergent people, and people in the LGBTQIAA+ community. Indie is a strong proponent of using a variety of therapeutic approaches to make clinical care accessible to people who may not respond well to conventional methods. Indie has received their BA in Child Development at Sarah Lawrence College and a MSW from Silberman School of Social Work.
Gil Weiss, LMSW
Gil Weiss is passionate about the field of addiction and recovery as a result of his own personal and professional experience. Gil began his work in the field as a Recovery Technician at Transcend Recovery, a sober living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He enjoyed working with young adults struggling with addiction and co-occurring disorders and was eager to learn more, which influenced him to pursue a master’s degree at NYU Silver School of Social Work. Within the Master’s Program at NYU, Gil was part of the Substance Use Focused Learning Opportunity which is a specialized program focused on clinical work with individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Gil also gained valuable field experience as a Clinical Intern at Inter-Care, an OASAS licensed outpatient treatment center in Manhattan.
Gil understands that many young people are ambivalent about sobriety. Thus, he uses a Strengths Based approach and Motivational Interviewing skills to assess a client’s readiness for change.
Nadine Raia, MSW
Nadine was influenced to pursue a master’s degree at NYU Silver School of Social Work after working with adults struggling with substance use and co-occurring mental health concerns at Integrity House in Newark and Secaucus, New Jersey, and adolescents with eating disorders, substance use disorders and co-occurring diagnoses at Next Generation Village Sebring, Florida. Within the master’s program at NYU, Nadine was part of the Substance Use Focusing Learning Opportunity which is a specialized program focused on clinical work with individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Nadine gained valuable experience as a Clinical Intern at The Door NYC, working with Young Adults in Crisis and at Inter-Care, as OASAS licensed outpatient treatment center in Manhattan and Westchester. She received her BS in Journalism from Boston University and her MSW from NYU. She holds additional certifications in Mental Health, Trauma and Addiction Yoga through Kula for Karma and Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University. She works from an integrative strengths-based, inclusive and solution-focused approach, focusing on mindfulness, movement, and the gut/brain connection.
Sarah Vidal, LMSW
Sarah is ready to meet her clients wherever they may be on their journey toward sobriety. She believes this process is not only about resolving and healing the issues that clients come to treatment with, but about moving toward becoming a whole person as well. Sarah helps her clients to honor their feelings and see them as guiding forces rather than as something to fight or be afraid of. Sarah’s experience includes extensive training in trauma informed care, LGBTQ+ affirmative care, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Since graduating from the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, she has worked as a Clinician at Odyssey House, a NYC-based treatment center for clients with substance use and other mental health disorders, and as a psychotherapist at a small private practice. She has worked with clients of many ages, coming from diverse backgrounds and presenting with a range of issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, disordered eating, and poor self-esteem.
Dan DeCotiis, LMSW, CASAC-T
Dan DeCotiis, LMSW, CASAC-T is a primary therapist with extensive personal and professional experience working with young adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse and mental health. After receiving his master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University, he has dedicated himself to helping young people rebuild their lives and achieve their goals. Dan found recovery at 20 years old and now has 12 years of sobriety which he credits with giving him a second chance at life. He has worked extensively with crisis intervention, case management, group, and individual therapy, and specializes in motivational interviewing and a strengths-based approach to clinical work.
Shannon Gunter, LMSW
Shannon uses a non-judgmental and strengths-based approach with her clients, empowering them to take ownership of their life story so that they can move forward with positive healthy change. She entered the field of addiction at The Baywood Center, an intensive outpatient substance use disorder clinic in Queensbury, New York. There, she developed and facilitated the relapse prevention group therapy curriculum. She continued her work at Sanctuary for Families, a domestic violence agency in New York City, providing trauma-informed counseling, crisis intervention, and vocational/career counseling to survivors of gender-based violence. She received her BS in Dance and Social Work from Skidmore College and her MS in Social Work at Columbia University.
Shanna Fried has been in the field of substance abuse and mental illness for over a decade. Shanna was a teenager when she found sobriety 20 years ago and found a new way of life at a young age. Therefore, through her personal journey, she found strength in working with the younger community and finds rewards in every part of the work she does with each client. Coaching is guiding someone where they can’t get on their own. It is change and learning. I am a coach because of the passion I have. There is no other feeling than helping others to open their eyes from where they have been shut for so long. Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out; we do this together. Sometimes a person just needs a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.
Peer Recovery Support
Taylor Taxin has worked in the recovery industry since 2017. She started at a sober living facility in Tribeca and during that time found her real passion in peer coaching and being a sober companion. Since she has been in recovery for several years, she knows first-hand what her clients are going through and can help them through their recovery. In her spare time, Taylor practices kundalini yoga, travels, spends time with friends and lives life to the fullest.