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.


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 Fact

Huge Philly Sports Fan

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 Fact

Lives in Lebanon, PA with wife, Caryn, two children, Ryan and Nate, and dogs, Jay and Archie

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

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 Fact

Was a “Moment of Zen” on The Daily Show

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 Fact

Big Alanis Morrissette fan


Dorian “Didi” Bess

Peer Support Specialist

Dorian is a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-T) who leverages 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 equitable access to proper services for women impacted by mental illness and substance use disorder. She’s currently studying Criminal Justice and Behavioral Science.

Fun Fact

Enjoys the arts and civic engagement

Charlie Braddock

Client Support Specialist

A former Release client, Charlie found success – and purpose – in recovery by building practical life skills while discovering a spiritual path in sobriety. As a client support specialist, he now uses his vast personal experience to help Release clients on their recovery journey, with a special emphasis on mental health, mediation, and the arts. Charlie is grateful to work with a team of professionals at Release Recovery whom he considers family. Before beginning his career in recovery, Charlie worked in contemporary art consulting and earned his bachelor’s degree from Naropa University.

Fun Fact

Has lived on four continents

Sam Brisson

Case Manager

Sam began his career as a care coordinator at an inpatient residential treatment center for adolescents, where he saw first-hand the importance of family and support systems in recovery. Now a case manager at Release, Sam works closely with clients and their families throughout their recovery journey and enjoys supporting clients as they transition from inpatient settings to becoming self-sufficient in their new lives in recovery.

Fun Fact

Passionate rock climber

Rodney Carrington

Client Support Specialist

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

Fun Fact

Avid basketball player

Nichole Daniello

Executive Chef

As Release’s executive chef, Nichole draws on her experience working in some of New York City’s busiest, most vibrant restaurants to ensure that every Release client has access to nourishing, delicious food. Nichole moved from Baltimore to New York City to begin her career as a health supportive chef who specializes in catering to food allergies with plant-based cooking.

Fun Fact

Nickname is Ned–her initials

Stephen D'antonio

Program Director

Stephen has worked in the addiction and recovery field since 2017 and has been in personal recovery since 2015. As program coordinator, Stephen draws on his professional and personal experience to create a roadmap for sustained and fulfilling recovery for all of Release’s clients. Highly skilled in problem solving for clients and their families, Stephen is an expert at working with young people in recovery, navigating college in sobriety, and helping all clients acclimate into Release Recovery’s New York City recovery community.

Fun Fact

2x marathon runner for Release Foundation

Mario Diurno

Special Services

Mario works in special services at Release, which means he goes to great lengths to answer the call when someone is in need – whether for transportation, sober companionship, or coaching. Mario loves working one-on-one with clients and maintaining long-term relationships with those he supports in recovery. He takes particular joy in receiving FaceTime’s from clients on their one-year anniversaries.

Fun Fact

Has a tattoo of an artichoke with a pad of butter on it

Dawn Marie Gallagher

Client Support Specialist

Dawn is a certified recovery coach and sober companion. After an 18-year career in international hotel management, she chose to focus on her own sobriety, which led her to a new career in the addiction and recovery field. At Release, Dawn helps clients navigate their way through early recovery – leading by example and offering guidance, support, transport, and structure with love and compassion. 

Fun Fact

Owns two adorable rescue dogs, Zorro and Charlie

Kenny Gilmore

Client Support Specialist

After years of experience working in the mental health field as a behavioral health technician, Kenny joined Release in May of 2022 as a client support specialist. Kenny enjoys connecting with clients and holds them accountable to their daily tasks within Release’s program. Kenny prides himself on being a self-motivated team player, guiding and supporting clients in every aspect of their early recovery process.

Fun Fact

Fan of fashion and music

Michael Hoffman

Client Support Specialist

Michael supports Release clients in every aspect of recovery, from sober transport and coaching to one-on-one time helping clients maintain sobriety. He is particularly skilled in coaching young adults in early recovery and has prior experience managing the alumni program at a residential treatment center for adolescents. Michael is working toward his professional certification for substance abuse counseling. 

Fun Fact

Has a dog named Beetle

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 Fact

Originally from Flushing, Queens, aka The Flush

John Kourtessis

Operations Manager

From look and feel to cleanliness and security, John ensures that all of our properties live up to the impeccable standards that our clients deserve and have come to expect from Release Recovery. John is particularly focused on making certain that each property runs efficiently, so clients and staff are able to focus on the most important task at hand: recovery.

Fun Fact

Big fan of the beaches in Greece

Eddie Manley

Case Manager

A certified addiction recovery coach and recovery peer advocate, Eddie helps bridge the gap for clients between transitional living and their aftercare needs – so that their recovery is well-rounded and that they are set up for success. Eddie’s passion for helping others struggling with addiction stems from his personal battle with substance use. Having begun his journey to recovery in 2008, Eddie – a graduate of the University of Scranton – is keenly aware of the ups and downs of maintaining recovery over the long-term; and he is dedicated to helping Release’s clients see their journey through.

Fun Fact

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, Lola is a wealth of love and support for Release’s clients and staff. In her role of house caregiver, she cooks meals and ensures the Release Westchester Men’s House is kept in excellent condition. But it’s her huge heart that has the greatest impact. Lola previously worked for 20 years at New York Hospital, where she served as a caregiver for the elderly and focused on mental health.

Fun Fact

Enjoys gardening, dance class and babysitting

Blake Porter

Director of Admissions

Blake was drawn to Release Recovery for its client-first philosophy. An alumni of the program and an employee since 2018, he knows that seeking treatment, especially in the early days, can be filled with tremendous fear and stress. As admissions director, he takes seriously his responsibility to provide hope, calm, and most importantly, guidance to clients and their families.  

Fun Fact

Learned how to ride a bike on 3rd birthday without training wheels

Jordan Rabner

Admissions Coordinator

Jordan worked at Release’s Womens House as a client support specialist and recovery coach before transitioning to the admissions team. She specializes in care coordination, program development, behavioral interventions, and family support. Sobriety is an important part of Jordan’s life, as many of her relatives are in recovery. Before Release, Jordan worked in non-profit development and behavioral health. She is currently earning a Dual Master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health at NYU and received Bachelor’s degree in Biobehavioral Health and Disability Studies from Penn State. 

Fun Fact

Has a dog named Lila that is a staple of Release HQ

Adam Rappaport

Client Support Specialist

A former client at Release Recovery, Adam was inspired to take what he learned – and the new life he earned – to help those struggling with addiction. He’s skilled in operations and customer service and works to connect with clients early in their journey to pass along the knowledge he learned throughout his journey. Adam continues to grow spiritually and strives to be the best version of himself – one day at a time – as he helps show Release clients that a life without drugs and alcohol is a life worth living. 

Fun Fact

Deep affection for art, movies, being active, and being surrounded by loved ones

Guy Rella

Program Director

Guy oversees all of Release’s clients’ cases, bringing to bear any and all resources needed for clients to progress successfully within the Release program – from intake to discharge and aftercare. As program director, he ensures all aspects of each client’s support system are managed effectively throughout the recovery process, communicating with and aligning clinical providers, family, loved ones, and Release support staff. Guy has a Master’s degree in mental health counseling and serves as a mental health counselor with a limited permit (MHC-LP). He is working towards full licensure. 

Fun Fact

#Girldad of two

Marshall Rogers

Adventure Coach

Marshall is Release Recovery’s full-time adventure coach, leading group trips and adventures – from rock climbing and hiking to snowboarding and kayaking – for Release’s clients, rekindling their connection with nature and other healthy activities. Marshall was a client at Release when he discovered his passion for nature and adventure. Now certified in wilderness first aid and as a wilderness guide and outdoor educator, Marshall is determined to show that a life without alcohol or substances can be fun – one adventure at a time.

Fun Fact

Plays guitar and writes music

Margaret Ross

Executive Assistant and Community Manager

Margaret began at Release Recovery as a client support specialist in the Women’s House. A former D-1 runner, she found out about Release through a running podcast and has assisted the Release Foundation with its successful New York City marathon fundraisers, as well as with bookkeeping for scholarships. Today, she wears several hats, but mostly assists Founder & CEO Zac Clark and Release with administrative projects. Margaret is a graduate of Stony Brook University with a background in sociology and a focus on substance use and prevention.

Fun Fact

Has never eaten a hamburger or hot dog, but not a vegetarian

Caryn Rude

Program Specialist

Caryn works with Release clients to help set, work toward, and achieve their goals. As Program Specialist, Caryn is passionate about helping clients succeed– not only in recovery, but in life. Caryn works closely with parents to help them understand addiction, mental health, and how best to support their child. Caryn was a catering manager for 15 years before getting sober and deciding to pursue a career in behavioral health. She’s currently in graduate school, studying to become a mental health counselor.  

Fun Fact

Former dance instructor

Soo Saxton

Lead Support Specialist

As a lead client support specialist, Soo guides Release’s clients to a healthier lifestyle through exercise, community, and self-discovery. An alumni of the program himself, Soo remembers well the way Release’s dedicated staff helped him reconnect with family and friends and rekindle his healthy passions – which is exactly what he strives to do today for his clients.

Fun Fact

Avid skateboarder

Josh Scholey

Client Support Specialist and Sober Companion

Josh focuses on safe transports, coaching, and companion jobs. He is particularly skilled in working with young adults in early recovery, helping to connect clients to New York City’s greater recovery community through his own lived experience – reminding every client that a life in recovery can be as fun as it is fulfilling.

Fun Fact

Loves traveling and experiencing different cultures

Craig Sears

Community Manager

Craig resides at one of Release’s Westchester Properties for five to six days each week in order to maintain the property and uphold a positive and constructive living environment for Release’s clients. Additionally, Craig manages staff scheduling for the Westchester properties, coordinates and participates in client transport, and works with kitchen staff on weekly and special occasion food ordering.

Fun Fact

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

Carly Smith

Client Support Specialist

Carly is a client support specialist in long-term recovery herself. She lives by the motto “Help, Guide, and Assist,” which fueled her own recovery and shapes the attitude she brings every day to Release Recovery – where she ensures that the women at Release are safe, cared for, and connected.

Fun Fact

Loves journaling

Laura Swanson

Community & Case Manager

As a case manager and certified recovery coach, peer advocate, and personal trainer, Laura acts a cheerleader for her clients while simultaneously challenging them to be their best. She’s with her clients every step of the process, checking in often and using big-picture thinking to help clients manage their time, prioritize the present, and grow spiritually, mentally, and physically in recovery and beyond.

Fun Fact

Has a background in musical theater and dance

Grace Adams

Media Manager

Grace is a former client of the women’s program. Now she manages the social media for release recovery and the foundation. Grace got her undergrad and graduate degree at Southern Methodist University. She uses her past experience in advertising and performing arts to create visually intriguing strategies to increase brand awareness. She manages the content from ideation to the post date and beyond. Grace is passionate about destigmatizing addiction among young women and showcasing that sobriety is NOT boring.

Fun Fact

She has a tiktok account to help debunk the myth that sobriety is boring

Kirk-Patric Wilson

Client Support Specialist

Kirk has more than 20 years of experience in technical and administrative management roles and five years in the addiction recovery field. He brings to Release a wealth of communication and social connection skills, which he uses in supporting his clients.

Fun Fact

Huge fan of board games

Leonard Woods

Client Support Specialist

After entering recovery at the age of 65 in 2019, Leonard became a certified addiction recovery coach and certified recovery peer advocate. He began at Release in May of 2021, where he loves working with clients at Release’s 6th Avenue residence. Leonard focuses specifically on clients finishing school and pursuing careers in New York City, as he knows first-hand how hard that can be. He earned a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University and practiced as a private residential architect for more than 40 years.

Fun Fact

Passionate rescue dog owner

Chris Nagle

Family Services & Admissions Coordinator

Chris began working in behavioral health in 2013, starting at a residential treatment center. This field quickly became Chris’s calling, leading him to gain extensive experience in various roles such as case management, admissions, and director of professional development. Chris’s diverse skillset encompasses crisis intervention, family coaching, and situational analysis as a consultant. Drawing upon compassion and empathy, Chris establishes meaningful connections with clients and families, providing them with the necessary space to initiate the healing process. Alongside his passion for helping others, Chris enjoys an active lifestyle that combines athletics and academics and is currently attending Columbia University studying Sociology and Political Science and looks forward to sharing this valuable knowledge with others.

Fun Fact

Played college lacrosse

Don’t hesitate to get in touch