Maureen Sheehan, LMSW: Executive Director
The Focal point model uses arts and therapeutic integration as an intervention in our underserved communities. Focal Point integrates creativity, self-expression and compassionate acceptance of our participants. We address core issues through the use of photography as a means to seeing oneself as a powerful change agent. The lens of the camera acts uniquely as a distancing and objectifying agent for subjective experiences, developing capacity for introspection and change.
Focal Point assists participants in learning to utilize this valuable connection through the lens of a camera.
Michelle Russell, LMSW: Group Facilitator
Michelle is a committed advocate for the empowerment and protection of vulnerable populations. She envisions a world where all children feel valued and encouraged to participate. It is her goal to help achieve this by contributing to the provision of education and providing support to youth and their communities. Over the past 10 years she has gained extensive experience working with youth and families in educational and therapeutic settings both locally and abroad.
Suzanne Scala, ATR, LPC: Group Facilitator
Suzanne is an art therapist, a licensed professional counselor, and an artist. She has been fortunate to explore working with diverse populations, in various settings throughout her journey to becoming an art therapist. Past experiences include working in schools and group homes with individuals and groups with intellectual and physical disabilities. She has worked within a clinical inpatient psychiatric and detox unit, at a therapeutic camp for children and adolescents with social, emotional, and behavioral issues, as well as a residential eating disorder treatment center. Over the course of this journey, and currently, she works in a private practice. Suzanne believes in the power of art therapy, as she has witnessed its ability to provide healing, self-awareness, insight and self-expression through the creation of art in the therapeutic process.
Alexandra Dziedzic, LCAT, ATR-BC: Group Facilitator
Alexandra is a registered, board certified and New York State licensed creative arts therapist with a Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Counseling from the College of New Rochelle. She has been practicing for over 10 years as an art psychotherapist working with children, adolescents and adults experiencing mental health issues in a variety of settings. Currently she has a private practice in Westchester and Manhattan where her work focuses on helping her client’s reach their personal goals. She believes that providing a safe supportive environment is an impetus for self-exploration, creativity, change and growth.
Ahimsa Luciano, LCAT, ATR-BC: Group Facilitator
Ahimsa is a clinical art therapist with an extensive background covering a wide variety of settings and diverse populations. She is passionate about her work and encouraging clients in their use of art to learn new ways to deal with and manage emotional stress, learn new ways to communicate, explore ideas, personal beliefs and ways to explore and engage with the world around them. Ahimsa has spent the last 10+ years cultivating a multi-modality approach to therapy that allows each client to feel safe and nurtured in their therapeutic journey and is eager to bring her approach to the Focal Point Project.
Tracy Schneider, LCSW-R: Group Facilitator
Tracy Schneider comes to the Focal Point Project with over three decades of experience as a licensed clinical social worker. Having spent the majority of her professional life in a variety of positions within the safety net facilities of New York City, her priority and commitment always was on the empowerment of patients, the disenfranchised and the underserved. She has designed and implemented projects that broke down barriers to care as well as leveraged the strengths that come from building partnerships and collaborative strategic alliances since it is her belief, that the best work is accomplished by those with a shared mission. In addition to her work in human services, Tracy is a singer/songwriter who was half of the acoustic duo Pahnahs and is a strong believer in the Arts as a vehicle for self expression.
Tiffany del Fierro, MAAT: Group Facilitator
Tiffany del Fierro is a graduate of the NYU Masters program in Art Therapy, and a licensed Creative Arts Therapist. Tiffany's experience includes working with children, adolescents, adults, and older adults in varied settings. While using the creative process in a supportive and non-threatening environment, clients are empowered to manage symptoms, improve well-being, and cultivate personal growth as dynamic contributors in their treatment journey. Tiffany is currently in private practice and is a firm believer in the healing and empowering quality of the arts.
Shari Fanelli, MS, LPC, ATR: Group Facilitator
Shari is an art therapist and licensed professional counselor who utilizes the creative arts to facilitate the expression of thoughts and feelings when words may not be as easy to come by. Over the past 11 years she has worked in non-profits with children, adolescents, and their families providing individual therapy, parent guidance, and family therapy. She has experience in providing office based and in-home clinical services to diverse populations of people living with complex mental health needs, substance use, and family conflict. Shari currently oversees the intake unit at an out-patient facility and supervises a variety of clinical staff including case managers, social workers, and mental health counselors, and utilizes her background of art therapy to enhance her supervises learning experiences. She brings a broad range of experience to Focal Point will use her passion for the arts as healing to promote expression and growth among the group participants.
Katya C. Zajac, MAAT: Group Facilitator
Katya is an art therapist, with a passion for creative expression in all forms. She has experience working with diverse populations, ranging from veterans, to at risk youth, and persons with substance abuse issues. Katya believes everyone has the tools within them to create positive change, and is drawn to this field as a facilitator to encourage and support people through their process. As an artist herself, Katya personally understands the empowerment and healing through the arts.
Liz McDonald, LMSW: Group Facilitator
Lizzy is in pursuit of a new era where relationships and connection are at the core of our nation’s values. In a world of increasing violence, intolerance, and climate degradation, now is the time to engage in practices that bring people together, teach empathy, and empower individuals and groups to move towards a new paradigm. Lizzy received her Master’s of Social Work to commit herself to this work, with a special focus on bringing restorative justice and empathy building initiatives to our education system. She is excited to be part of the Focal Point team.
Lesley Achitoff, ATR-BC: Group Facilitator
Lesley is a Creative Arts Therapist Licensed in New York State since 2006. She has been privileged to witness the profound effects of this modality through her work in various locations, including her current position as the Director of Creative Arts Therapy on Rikers Island, NYC, working with men, women and adolescents.Through this program, the participants have gained insight, increased their motivation to move forward in their lives despite many setbacks and years of marginalization, regained contact with alienated family members, and developed renewed hope. Her team’s clients report that they leave the jail environment with a renewed feeling of connection, a commitment to manage their substance use challenges, new ways of managing difficult emotions, and an overall sense of empowerment to take control of their lives.
Lydia Mandell, ATR-BC, LPC: Group Facilitator
Lydia is an art therapist, licensed professional counselor, and breathwork coach who believes that connection and creativity are superpowers that exist within every human being. She is passionate about the idea that creativity is innately healing and empowering. Over the past 16 years, she has gained experience with individuals and groups from diverse populations including veterans, people living with substance abuse, addiction, mental health, and social concerns. As an artist herself, Lydia can attest to the healing power of the creative process. She is committed to supporting people throughout their creative process to access their own unique artistic voices to tell their personal stories from a place of empowerment and confidence.
Lorraine Murphy, LCAT, ATR-BC, LPC, ATCS: Group Facilitator
After receiving her Master’s degree in Art Therapy from New York University, Lorraine committed her efforts to working with families effected by mental illness. As a licensed creative arts therapist and licensed professional counselor, she currently manages a private practice and educates college level students about the therapeutic benefits of the expressive arts. Lorraine’s personal pursuit of the arts, more than 15 years experience serving clients and focus on the mind-body connection is the inspiration for her work with the Focal Point project.