Meet the Team

The Release team is diverse, active, and committed to helping clients focus on the life-giving aspects of recovery–so that healing is more accessible and sustainable.

Meet the Team

The Release team is diverse, athletic, and committed to helping clients focus on the life-giving aspects of recovery–so that healing is more accessible and sustainable.

Our team of highly qualified staff is ready to serve you in each of our locations throughout New York.

Leadership

Zac Clark

Founder, CEO

Zac is a multi-dimensional business executive with over a decade of professional experience in the Behavioral Health field. As Founder and CEO of Release Recovery and the founding board member for Release Recovery Foundation, he is dedicated to providing comprehensive, innovative, and individualized care to all those in need. Having started in direct client care and quickly evolving into senior leadership positions, Zac has a strong understanding of the many facets of the recovery industry, including the nonprofit sector. His entrepreneurial endeavors, partnered with his commitment to high quality care, continue to expand Release’s growth and impact.

Fun Facts
  • South Jersey native
  • Philly Sports Fan
  • Ran 10 marathons, including the coveted Goggins challenge

Luke Stopper

Chief Strategy Officer

Prior to joining Release, Luke oversaw both primary and extended care treatment programs for adolescent and young adult males ages 13 to 25 at Caron Treatment Centers. At Release, he oversees program innovation, staff supervision, project management and external relationships. Luke received his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Penn State University and went on to become a Certified Clinical Supervisor and a Certified Addiction Counselor.

Fun Facts
  • Lives in Lebanon, PA with wife, Caryn, two children, Ryan and Nate, and dog, Jay
  • Villanova football and basketball fan
  • Loves Dave Matthews Band

Scott Apgar

Vice President of Marketing and Development

Scott left a long-standing career in the fashion industry to be of service to those in need of therapeutic options. Drawing on his experience as a father, he understands the critical importance of good and supportive care when a loved one needs help. Scott’s enthusiasm and “make it happen” approach to the mission of Release assures clients are provided with sophisticated and compassionate treatment. He is committed to sharing his experience and resources with families, while guiding them to the appropriate level of care.

Fun Facts
  • Spends his time with his lovely wife between NYC and the Hudson Valley
  • Born facilitator

Laura Sorte

Executive Director - Clinical Services

Laura is a NARM® Practitioner specializing in treating complex trauma, substance use, personality and mood disorders. After receiving her Master’s in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University, she discovered her passion for supporting the family unit through the recovery process. By utilizing compassion, intentionality and integrity, Laura brings her clinical expertise and personal experience as a woman in recovery to Release.

Fun Facts
  • Was a “Moment of Zen” on The Daily Show
  • Owns a dog named Goose
  • Has a daughter named Eleanor
  • New York native

Joe Zappone

Chief Operating Officer

Prior to working in the recovery field, Joe worked on residential property renovation, management, buying, renting and selling. He began working in the recovery field in 2015 and has been with Release from the very start. Joe has a strong background in sober companioning, sober coaching, recruitment, payroll management, property management, human resources, project management and more. Joe currently oversees the Operations, Accounting, Human Resources, Program Directors and Special Projects.

Fun Facts
  • Loves cake
  • Enjoys working out
  • Big Alanis Morrissette fan

Staff

Tatiana Abjuga

Client Support Specialist and Recovery Coach

Tatiana worked as a hairstylist in Tribeca for 4 years before deciding to pursue her passion for helping others navigate their journey to recovery. As a Recovery Coach and Client Support Specialist, Tatiana guides clients through early recovery and helps them to establish a strong sober community. 

Fun Facts
  • Southern California native, and current Bronx resident
  • Loves working with art, especially pottery
  • Has two adorable cats named Cleo and Phoebe

Dorian “Didi” Bess

Peer Support Specialist

Dorian is a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-T) and currently studying Criminal Justice and Behavioral Science. She utilizes her background in special populations, re-entry services, and substance use to support clients through the recovery process. Dorian is proud to act as an advocate for accessibility to proper services for women impacted by mental illness and substance use disorder. 

Fun Facts
  • Yonkers resident
  • Enjoys the arts and civic engagement

Charlie Braddock

Client Support Specialist

A former Release client, Charlie turned his life around by building practical life skills and finding a spiritual path in sobriety.  He aims to help other clients do the same through his vast personal experience with sobriety, mental health, meditation and the arts. Charlie feels grateful to considers the team of professionals he works with at Release Recovery as family. Before beginning his career in recovery, Charlie worked in contemporary art consulting and earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Naropa University.

Fun Facts
  • Born and bred in New York
  • Has lived on four continents
  • Loves playing guitar, painting, photography and working on film productions

Sam Brisson

Case Manager

Sam began his career in mental health and addiction at an inpatient residential treatment center for adolescents as a care coordinator before transitioning to Release. As Case Manager, Sam works closely with clients and families throughout their time with Release. He enjoys supporting clients as they transition from being in an inpatient setting to becoming self-sufficient in their new lives in recovery. 

Fun Facts
  • Lifelong car enthusiast
  • Passionate rock climber
  • Loves taking clients to the climbing gym

Rodney Carrington

Client Support Specialist

Rodney specializes in overnight care at Release’s transitional living houses.  He ensures that residents are safe and secure at all times, as he observes residents, administers daily medications, and makes sure all residents have performed chores before heading to bed. 

Fun Facts
  • Resides in Harlem, New York City
  • Loves to play basketball
  • Owns a dog named Willow

Mack Cosgrove

Community Manager

Mack worked for a media agency in NYC for 4 years until finding a life in recovery. After spending time at Release as a client, he quickly realized he wanted to help others and pass on the skills he learned at Release’s transitional living program. As House Manager, Mack is passionate about helping clients find a full, empowering life in recovery.

Fun Facts
  • Played college football
  • Golf fan

Wesley M. Cutler
III

Client Support Specialist

State Certified Senior Peer Specialist. Recently completed provisional training for CASACT CBT. Skilled in motivating and interviewing clients.

Fun Facts
  • Recently discovered his love for horticulture
  • Loves Betta fish
  • Enjoys pondering the world from a multitude of perspectives
  • Likes running groups

Nichole Daniello

Executive Chef

Moved to New York City from Baltimore to begin her career as a health supportive chef specializing in food allergies with a plant-based cooking. Worked in some of NYC’s busiest restaurants and has a food science background. Passionate about making nourishing food choices available for everyone.

Fun Facts
  • Nickname is Ned–her initials

Stephen D'antonio

Program Director

Began working in the addiction field since 2017 and has been in personal recovery since 2015. Highly skilled in problem solving for clients and families to create a sustainable roadmap for moving forward. Expert in young people recovery, navigating college in sobriety, and helping all clients acclimate into Release Recovery’s NYC recovery community.

Fun Facts
  • 2x marathon runner for Release Foundation
  • Pickleball extraordinaire
  • Skier
  • Dessert guy

Aiden Dekidjiev

Client Support Specialist

Used to work in compensation at a tech company, but desired a more meaningful job. Has been in recovery for a number of years. Giving back to the community that gave so much was a perfect fit. Enjoys one-on-one time with clients, as it gives him the opportunity to understand them on a deeper level, which allows him to be as helpful as possible.

Fun Facts
  • Loves to go hiking, cycling, running and rock climbing
  • Goes on a big international trip every year
  • Spent two months backpacking through Thailand

Mario Diurno

Special Services

Goes to any lengths to help someone in need and views helping someone potentially find recovery as the greatest feeling in the world. Provides transports, sober companionship and coaching. Answers the call and heads out like a firefighter. Loves working one-on-one with clients. Loves when clients FaceTime him on their 1-year anniversary of sobriety. Strong in making people feel comfortable and trusting him for support.

Fun Facts
  • Has a tattoo of an artichoke with a pad of butter on it
  • Thinks Pearl Jam is the greatest band of all time
  • Worked on a cross country rock tour 100% sober

Dawn Marie Gallagher

Client Support Specialist

Decided to end an 18-year international career in hotel management to focus on her own sobriety. Helps each individual navigate their way in early sobriety offering guidance, support, and structure with love, compassion, and leading by example. Certified Recovery Coach, sober transport and sober companion with more than 150 CEU in alcoholism/addiction.

Fun Facts
  • Born and raised in Brooklyn
  • Owns loveable rescue dogs Zorro and Charlie
  • Lived in Puerto Rico and Amsterdam
  • Passion for traveling and languages

Amanda Geathers

Client Support Specialist

Helps Release Recovery clients understand how to deal with their inner thoughts and feelings. Provides great support.

Fun Facts
  • Seamstress
  • Painter
  • Loves arts, crafts, and creating beautiful art

Kenny Gilmore

Client Support Specialist

Provides support to clients by encouraging accountability with daily tasks and guidance in all areas of their rehabilitation process. Self-motivated team player.

Fun Facts
  • Likes photography
  • Loves sports
  • Fan of fashion and music

Jeniffer Glynn

Case Manager and Aftercare Coordinator

Specializes in case planning and logistics, client/family case management, staff team support and professional development with aftercare clients. Earned Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and worked as a personal trainer before entering the recovery field as a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach.

Fun Facts
  • Dachshund lover
  • Dyslexic

Michael Hoffman

Client Support Specialist

Supports Release clients in various aspects of maintaining sobriety, sober transport, and coaching. Skilled in coaching young adults in early recovery. Prior experience in film editing and setting up and managing the Alumni Program at a residential treatment center for adolescents. Working toward professional certification for substance abuse counseling.

Fun Facts
  • Has a dog named Beetle
  • Loves a baseball
  • Diehard Yankees fan

Joshua Hornstein

Client Support Specialist

Release Alumni giving back to an organization that has helped him tremendously. Lives by the saying, “Nothing is given, everything is earned!”

Fun Facts
  • Big Mets fan
  • Skilled in wrestling and boxing
  • Originally from Flushing, Queens, aka The Flush

John Kourtessis

Operations Manager

Makes sure all of Release’s properties look good and run efficiently. Assists with client support, transportations and Monday Night Runs setup. Maintains inventory of drug tests and other essential items at all properties.

Fun Facts
  • Loves playing basketball
  • Dog lover
  • Big fan of the beaches in Greece

Annick Kruse

Client Support Specialist

Initially set on becoming a surgeon, decided to focus on mental health after realizing her passion of breaking the stigma around going to treatment. Uses her own inpatient treatment experience as inspiration while working at Release’s 74th street house. Gives women an outlet to explore their spirituality, empowers them to better themselves and helps them build a strong foundation of self love as they explore their sober lives. Hopes to show women that with the right support, mindset and dedication, a positive and successful life is truly possible after treatment. Current student working towards a degree in Psychology at Hunter College. Also training to become a Certified Peer Mentor.

Fun Facts
  • Huge proponent of self care through meditation, crystals, art, mindfulness, skincare or good conversations
  • Loves a good cup of chai tea and sitting in the park with her pup and tarot cards

Eddie Manley

Aftercare Coordinator and Lead Client Support Specialist

Began his journey to recovery in 2008. His passion for helping others with addiction issues comes from his many years of personal struggle with substances. Helps bridge the gap between client residential living, and their aftercare needs for a well rounded recovery. Received degree in Marketing from the University of Scranton. Certified Recovery Peer Advocate and a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach.

Fun Facts
  • Wrote a screenplay called “Before I Wake” about his recovery journey
  • Lifelong passion for acting
  • Can be seen on various New York TV shows playing detectives, cops and firefighters

Lola Paz

House Caregiver

Everyone’s favorite team member and house mom with a huge heart. Cooks meals and maintains upkeep of the Release Westchester Men’s House. Previously worked for New York Hospital as a mental health worker for 20 years and as a caregiver for the elderly. Great source of support for Release clients and staff.

Fun Facts
  • Enjoys gardening, dance class and babysitting
  • Caters for Mila’s Catering on the side

Blake Porter

Admission Director

Has worked for Release Recovery for four years, two years in Admissions. Enjoys being a family and the clients-first philosophy at Release. Provides hope, calm, and even joy in a family’s most sacred moment of uncertainty.

Fun Facts
  • Learned how to ride a bike on 3rd birthday without training wheels
  • Loves Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and the Grateful Dead
  • Hails from an incredible family WAY Upstate New York

Hayden Quigley

Client Support Specialist

Coaches clients to realize their full potential and live a healthy, sustainable life.

Fun Facts
  • Born on Long Island
  • Loves snowboarding and live music
  • Favorite movie is The Dark Knight

Jordan Rabner

Community Engagement Coordinator

Sobriety is a huge part of her life, as many of her relatives are in recovery. Worked at Release’s women’s house as a Client Support Specialist and Recovery Coach before transitioning to Community Engagement Coordinator and the Admissions team. Specializes in program development, special projects, behavioral interventions, community outreach and sibling support. Worked in non-profit development and behavioral health before moving to New York City to earn a Dual Master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health at NYU. Received Bachelor’s degree in Biobehavioral Health and Disability Studies from Penn State.

Fun Facts
  • Has a dog named Lila
  • From Pittsburgh
  • Loves documentaries

Adam Rappaport

Client Support Specialist

Former Release client. Continues to grow spiritually and strives to be the best version of himself one day at a time. Skilled in operations and customer service and passionate about assisting people in need. Aims to pass along knowledge learned over the course of his own sobriety and connect with clients early in their journey to show them that a life without drugs or alcohol is a life worth living.

Fun Facts
  • Grew up in Harrison, NY in Westchester County
  • Deep affection for art, movies, being active, and being surrounded by loved ones
  • Loves dogs and music

Guy Rella

Program Director

Oversees each client’s case, delivers support needed to progress within the Release Development Program, from intake to discharge and potentially aftercare. Ensures all parts of the client’s support system are managed through the client’s recovery process, communicating and aligning clinical providers, family, loved ones and Release Support Staff. Has a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. Mental health counselor with a limited permit (MHC-LP) working towards full licensure.

Fun Facts
  • Born and raised in the Bronx
  • Girl dad (#girldad) of two
  • Loves pizza

Marshall Rogers

Adventure Coach

Works with clients to reignite the flame within themselves through the Great Outdoors. Rekindles their connection with nature and other healthy adventurous activities.

Fun Facts
  • Passionate snowboarder
  • Plays guitar and writes music
  • Loves helping people struggling with substance abuse and mental health

Margaret Ross

Executive Assistant and Community Manager

Began at Release Recovery as a Client Support Specialist in the women’s house. Assisted Release Foundation with the NYC marathon fundraiser and bookkeeping for scholarships. Wears several hats, but mostly assists Founder Zac Clark and Release with administrative projects. Graduate of Stony Brook University with a background in Sociology with academics focused on Substance Abuse and Prevention.

Fun Facts
  • Long Island native
  • Former D1 runner. Found out about Release through a running podcast
  • Has never eaten a hamburger or hot dog, but not a vegetarian

Caryn Rude

Case Manager

Catering manager for 15 years before getting sober and wanting to work in behavioral health. Meets with clients weekly to help set and achieve their goals. Maintains constant contact with the client clinical teams to ensure everyone is on the same page and collaborating to best help clients succeed not only in their recovery, but in their life. Works with parents to help them understand addiction and mental health and how to best support their child. Currently in graduate school to become a mental health counselor.

Fun Facts
  • Runner
  • Former dance instructor
  • Loves board games
  • Grew up in Long Island and lives in New York City

Jordan Saunders

Client Support Specialist

Asset protection, estate management, operations administration.

Fun Facts
  • Moved only once as a child
  • Played the alto saxophone in college
  • Loves accents

Soo Saxton

Client Support Specialist

Guides people to a healthier lifestyle through consistent exercise and finding themselves.

Fun Facts
  • Avid skateboarder
  • Model

Josh Scholey

Client Support Specialist and Sober Companion

Brings love and compassion to every client. Helps clients through tough situations by showing them that a sober life is amazing and fun.

Fun Facts
  • Grew up in downtown Manhattan
  • Loves traveling and experiencing different cultures

Craig Sears

Community Manager

Maintains a positive and constructive living environment for Release clients clients. Resides at Underhill 5-6 days per week to maintain property and attend to its overall presence. Occasional buffer between clients and case managers. Supports staff with senior staff members. Manages staff scheduling in Westchester properties. Coordinates and participates in client transportation schedules. Works with kitchen staff on weekly and special occasion food ordering. Assists with monitoring and ordering products, supplies, and maintains property vehicles.

Fun Facts
  • Coached competitive baseball for 18 years on both the high school and summer AAU circuit
  • Director of Connecticut Impact Softball Club and Head Coach of 16/18 Premier Programs that help young ladies pursuing higher education use softball as a tool to get into some of the most educational competitive universities
  • Has helped players find placement at Yale, Fordham, Colgate, Georgia Tech, Hofstra, Swarthmore, University of Massachusetts and more

Carly Smith

Client Support Specialist

Help, guide and assist.

Fun Facts
  • Loves to read books
  • Loves journaling

Stef Spiegel

Client Support Specialist

Started at Release as an intern in 2022 and was lucky enough to join the women’s house in a client support role when the internship ended. Uses social emotional learning skills to build strong relationships with residents. Currently in final year in grad school to receive Master’s degree in School and Mental Health Counseling.

Fun Facts
  • Attended Tulane University in New Orleans for undergrad and graduated in 2018
  • Moved to Aspen for a year and lived and worked on the mountain
  • Teaches competitive dance

Laura Swanson

Case Manager

Thrives on being a cheerleader while challenging clients to push and be better. Goes through the process side by side with clients and checks in often. Uses big-picture thinking to help clients manage their time, prioritize the present and grow spiritually, mentally and physically in sobriety and beyond. Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Recovery Peer Advocate and Certified Personal Trainer.

Fun Facts
  • Has a background in musical theater and dance

Kirk-Patric Wilson

Client Support Specialist

Has more than 20 years of experience in technical and administrative management roles and five years in the addiction recovery field. Brings to Release a wealth of communicative and social connection skills, which serves as a catalyst between clients and Release programs.

Fun Facts
  • Loves connecting with clients over a meal and great conversation
  • Huge fan of board games
  • Big fan of Blue Bloods and Family Guy

Leonard Woods

Client Support Specialist

After entering recovery at the age of 65 in 2019, became a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and Certified Recovery Peer Advocate. Began at Release in May of 2021. Loves working with clients at Release’s 6th Avenue residence. Works well with the men finishing school and pursuing careers in New York City because he remembers how hard that was. Received Master of Architecture degree from Yale University and practiced as a private residential architect for over 40 years.

Fun Facts
  • Owns older rescue dogs for many years
  • If he wasn’t working for Release, he would be focused solely on dog rescue
  • Gay man born in Tulsa, OK in 1954, and is alive and well

Don’t hesitate to get in touch