CFLR In Action

Hello from our Prevention Department!

Cortney Kleek - Education MVCC Human Services and Chemical Dependency Dual Major.  Following college, I was offered the Prevention Specialist position at CFLR in March of 2019, in 11 months’ time I was promoted to Senior Prevention Specialist (my current position).  I have a passion for working with youth who have suffered traumatic experiences and addiction, which is why I love doing prevention programming for the schools and community.  In my free time, I enjoy hanging around family and friends.  I look forward to growing my career in the field and furthering my education.

Lauren Platt - Education - I attended Mohawk Valley Community College, where I graduated in 2013 with my AAS in Human Services.  Work history - I worked for a number of years for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield as a customer care advocate until deciding to stay home to care for my children for a few years.  Then in September of 2019 I accepted the position of part time Prevention Specialist at Center for Family Life and Recovery.  Just a few short months later I was offered the full time position, which I happily accepted.  I really enjoy working for this agency, and am thrilled to be making such a difference in our community.  I look forward to growing with this agency, and being able to reach even more people of our community with prevention services, as well as the parenting and family services that I provide through evidence based programming. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my two sons, ages 17 and 12, and my friends and family.

My name is Brandi Lyons.  I was born in Rome New York on April 8, 1987.  I was raised in Rome, New York along with my three siblings.  I graduated from Rome Free Academy in June of 2005.  I have always had a passion for working with people and making a positive impact on my community.  I jumped into the workforce directly following graduation and I have worked in the human service field ever since!  I am the proud mother of two amazing children (Tiana and Justyce) who keep me motivated and determined to reach my goals.  In my free time I enjoy spending time with my fiancé, our children, and our two poodles (Ginger and Stormy).  We love a good game of Skip-bo!  Motherhood has taught me many things including the importance of education and following through with the goals that I set for myself.  With that I went on to further my education and graduated from Mohawk Valley Community College in 2018 with an Associate’s Degree in Human Services.  I joined the Center for Family Life and Recovery Inc. family in September of 2019 as The Compeer Specialist.  I am Currently enrolled in SUNY Empire State college and I look forward to graduating in December 2020 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and Community.

David Garrett
Bachelors - SUNY Geneseo
Masters - Bowling Green State University, Ohio

Worked in universities for forty years.  Bowling Green, University of Wisconsin, SUNY Cortland, Wesley College, Delaware, SUNYIT (SUNY Polytechnic Institute) for the last 34 years.  Worked in Student Affairs as Director of Residence Life, Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Orientation, Director of Student Life, Director of Counseling, and Director of International Student Services.
Outside activities: American Pheasant and Waterfowl Association, Western New York Pheasant and Waterfowl Society, Adirondack Avicultural Society, Barneveld Horsemen's Association, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's - Ride for Missing Children and Community Outreach Speaker.


My name is Caryn Schweinsberg and I am a Prevention Specialist at Center for Family Life Recovery. I am originally from Boonville, NY but graduated from Oriskany Jr. Sr. High School. I continued my education at SUNY Polytechnic Institute where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Community and Behavioral Health. Before completing my education, I had the opportunity to gain experience in the areas of direct support, administration and grant writing. Soon after graduating, I was offered the Prevention Specialist position with CFLR. I have a great love for the field of psychology and for contributing in the community and for that reason, I am honored to begin my journey with the agency. I am grateful most for the wonderful team I have the privilege of collaborating with and for the opportunity to make a difference in an ever-changing world. In my free time, I enjoy being around close friends and family especially my husband our dog and two cats.

Joe Passalacqua - Ed. MVCC and Utica college, work history, started at Neighborhood Center as a Case Manager – 2 years.  Went on to Oneida Co. Dept of Mental Health, - 5 years.  Mohawk Valley Psych. Center Intensive Case Manager – 30 years retired.  Started teaching the Impaired driving program for the Council on Alcoholism and Addiction in the mid 80s – present.  That agency rolled into our current agency CFLR.  After retirement I assumed the roll of coodinator for the IDP program.  I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and look forward to each season of Syracuse football.

Hello my name is Kristina and I’m 22!  I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a bachelors in Psychology in 2019.  I worked for the Neighborhood Center in the PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) Unit for Oneida County shortly after graduating which focuses on youth with behavioral and mental health issues.  I eventually started working for CFLR in the PINS unit for Herkimer County until I was accepted to a masters program in New Jersey to continue my education in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in adolescent/childhood psychology.  I hope to get my PhD and own my own practice eventually.  Due to COVID-19 my classes were switched to online and CFLR worked with my schedule and allowed me to stay with the agency in the Prevention Dept. as a part time Prevention Specialist specifically for the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program while I start my grad program.  I’m so grateful they gave me this opportunity and have helped me grow so much!

Hello, my name is Kerina Herard and I am the Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator for Compeer Utica. I have a bachelor's in Chemistry from SUNY Oswego and am currently pursuing my Masters in Public Health. Since I was little, I always wanted a career in the healthcare field. I especially wanted to work with people affected by mental health disorders, and therefore I am quite excited to be joining the CFLR family!

I have two adorable toddlers at home who keep me on my toes, so when I am not at work, you can find me either doing homework or hanging out with my family.

Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action

Senior Take Back Days!

A big shout out to Kristina Lindberg for doing an awesome job working with the UPD to begin our Senior Kick Off of Take Back Days. Our Prevention Team will also be working with the UPD on 10-22 at Schulyer Commons 9-10:30 and Perritta Twin Tower of the Housing Authority 11-12:30. If you know anyone living in either of these sites please let them know about this so they can prepare to dispose.

Anyone can take part in National Take Back Day on Saturday, October 24th. Get rid of all expired and unused prescribed and OTC medications, including pet meds. This is proactive prevention at its finest by each and every one of us participating we decrease the likelihood of children and/or those struggling with substance use disorder to obtain these drugs. You do not have to wait until the National Take Back Day, we have many MedReturn Units in our county to drop off at any time.



Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action

Light of Hope Virtual Event



Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action

CFLR Administration and Leadership Team!

I am Cassandra Sheets and honored to be the CEO of Center for Family Life and Recovery.  I have had this honor since the inception of this Agency and truly believe that we all have the power to achieve and celebrate recovery!  I started out as a case manager many years ago and received my Masters in Social Work with a passion for working with Employee Assistance Programs.  This passion landed me at the Mohawk Valley Council on Alcoholism/Addictions and the rest is history of prevention, EAP and leadership growth but mostly embracing my family history of recovery and learning to appreciate it so much that we just needed to create an agency to help others find this joy in their lives. When I am not at work, I certainly keep busy with my family, husband, Bob of 26 years and our boys, Michael and Nicholas.  We love to hike, and ski.

My name is Michele Kohl. I am still considered new here at CFLR. I worked in Healthcare for 28 years and a friend saw the CFLR COO position advertised and told me this would be perfect for me. I do feel this was truly meant to be as I love all the wonderful work CFLR does every day. I am very inspired by our CEO Cassandra Sheets who has taught me so very much in a short time. I feel very blessed everyday with all the inspiring stories of people who have been helped by the amazing staff at CFLR.

I am Heather Youda, a little over 4 years ago, I was looking for a career change from the corporate world and found CFLR.  My heart always seems to feel best working at non for profits and this has been home since I walked through the door.  I am currently the Executive Assistant for the CEO and help with Human Resources and Fundraising, I love to facilitate events and meeting and engaging out in our community.

I have recently just enrolled back in school to complete my bachelor’s in social work and hope to concentrate on helping families be able to overcome their past and live a happy healthy life.  After having gone through some humbling experiences in my life, finding through CFLR and my family I have found that you can heal and live from all forms of damage to find a truly, happy, healthy life.  I hope to show other people that they can be a survivor from anything they have gone through.
I am the single mother of 3 beautiful children Jake, Martina and Salyscia , and have a fur-doggie Trooper.  I love to travel and see my family when possible, if there is a baby around I am usually trying to cuddle them up. When I am not at work you can find me by the water, standing somewhere in the sand, soaking up the sun, listening to music, or reading a book or watching sports by a fire outside.  I am an avid sports lover Go Bills! Sabers Hockey and SU College Basketball fa and usually try to enjoy as many live games as possible with my friends, smiling and enjoying life is the best self-care.

Hi everyone, I am Jodi Warren the Director of Prevention Services.  I am a Midwest gal born and raised in North Dakota, yes that is right, go UND Hockey and NDSU Bison Football.  Growing up playing sports and coaching the majority of my life has provided me with many opportunities and experiences in my life of leadership, team building, strategic planning and being a team player.  I have been able to take those skills and put them into professional practice.  I am a devoted to my family (that includes my tribe of friends too) as they all are so very important in my life.

As the Director of Prevention I oversee all of the prevention programming and services in our agency.  I am involved in many local, regional, and state coalitions.  My educational background and over 20 years of experience in Psychology, Human Services, Behavioral Analysis, Chemical Dependency and Trauma Informed Care has built a solid foundation for me to do what I love the most and that is to support, help, educate, and offer encouragement and HOPE to those that are struggling.  The great joy I get in my profession is seeing and/or hearing that I helped make a difference in someone’s life, that is why I do what I do!  I must also do shout out to my entire team of Prevention Specialists, Compeer Specialist, IDP Coordinator and Instructors, thank you for all you do each and every day!!!!!!!

“GO VIKINGS, YANKEES, RANGERS, and LAKERS,” I just had to get that in

Hello Everyone!  I’m Ambi, the Director of Family Support Navigation Services.  “They” say that you don’t choose this field, it chooses you, and I don’t think that sentiment could be truer about my life.  I never realized the impact that substance use of those I loved, through many years of my life, impacted me the way that it did.  I didn’t know how much I would learn about myself or how many amazing people would shape the way I see the world, because of the journey of Recovery.  I never said or knew I wanted to be in this field, until I was led there.  I didn’t know the passion and fierce love I’d have for making a difference and the people I’ve met, or even believing I could make a difference, would become a part of who I am.  I feel so lucky to be a part of a work family that shares this passion and joy of our community members and each other.  When I’m not playing hard with our CFLR team, I’m a yoga/pilates loving, puppy snuggling, ballroom dancing, nature loving, jump roping, book worm, photographer, health food nut, student of life, introvert who loves the people in my life fiercely and finds joy in each day in the little ways.

Bonnie Carr joined the team at CFLR a little over 2 months ago as Director of Recovery Services. She is a Licensed Master Social worker in New York State and a Credentialed Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor.  Bonnie is also a MINT trainer (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers) trained by Miller & Rollnick.  She has almost 39 years working in the field of behavioral health care as a clinician, supervisor and an administrator.  Bonnie has worked in child welfare and both the addiction and mental health treatment settings.  She has seen the behavioral health care field evolve over the years and she continues to promote and believe in the resilience and well-being of the individuals who seek our assistance.  She is an animal lover owning two cats & a dog, loves her garden, watching it grow, feeding the birds and taking in beautiful sunsets.  Her belief is that “Just a drop of kindness could make a difference in a person’s life”. [anonymous author]

Jennifer D’Amico-Director of EAP/Clinical Counseling Services

I have been working within the mental health/social services field for approximately 8 years.  I started as an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and quickly realized that I wanted to do more for others.  I went back to school where I received my MSW designation and quickly got licensed with plans to extend this licensing to become an LCSW.  My passion is working with the community, families, and couples which I what I started out doing when I came to CFLR as an intern working with our EAP and department of social services counseling programming.  I recently took over the EAP/clinical services director position in 2019 after the birth of my son Geno so I could continue to do even more communal work while still providing the counseling I love.  I will shortly receive my CFRC designation (certified first responder counselor) so that I may continue to help those who need it most.  My most favorite part of my time outside of work is spending it with family and especially the walks and adventures I take my son on!  I absolutely love the Mohawk Valley and plan to spend the rest of my days here working to serve others through mental health assistance and support.

My name is Richard Rinko. I am the Director of Finance at Center for Family Life and Recovery.  I started at CFLR in August of 2015.  I was born and raised in the Valley and moved to New York City to attend College and after school I started working in non-profit accounting and decided to stay in the city.  I relocated to upstate New York back in December of 2014 to care for my Mom which was a big decision to make after living downstate and New Jersey for over 30 years.  It’s one of the best choices I made for her at the time and won’t regret it.

My passion when I was younger was to go into childcare/teaching I always had a desire to help and work with children.  I guess I made the right choice with a change of heart and was able to get my first job in the central New York area when I relocated.  CFLR is my first job in this area and it’s such a pleasure to work with such a great team.  Later in years my dream came true with the option to be able to adopt my son back in 2002 and he will turn 18 this year.

My name is Melissa Kleek.  I am the Administrative Assistant at Center for Family Life and Recovery.  I started at CFLR as a part time program assistant in the front office in June of 2018.  I was told to find a new line of work after I had injured my back working in health care.  While this was a scary transition as heath care was all I had known I found a job I liked, I found a way to help people in a less physical way and a work family who supported me in through this change.  Four months into my employment with CFLR I accepted a full time hybrid position working still as a Program Assistant but also a Finance Assistant.  I worked in this position for about 6 months before transitioning to my current role as an Administrative Assistant working closely with Finance and Human Resources which I have been in for a year and three months.  I am very thankful to have been offered the opportunity to grow in an agency that makes such a positive impact on our community.

In my free time you can find me spending time with my animals and my family.  I look forward in continuing to learn and grow within the agency.  I would like to continue and complete my education in Human Services so I could be more of an asset to my team.

Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action