James is a Licensed Master Social Worker who has been working successfully with children and families since 2000. During this time he has worked in the summer camp and social service industry helping in various aspects including, management, clinical and direct services. James’ vision is to maximize the focus on the frontline within social service agencies towards more effective and lasting impacts on lives.
James has been described by clients, employees, and leadership as a team player, who can easily cultivate solid rapport and facilitate success with most anyone. James also works as a Mental Health Clinician for the YAI Network and a Staff Trainer for Independent Support Services.
Board of Directors
Christen Lambert, President
Christen is a business developer specializing in Mergers & Acquisitions, who brings professional knowledge of banking, capital raising, budgeting and forecasting to our team.
Her call to be a part of Lodestar comes form extensive experience working at and with non- profit organizations, particularly in the social service sector.
Jay Able, Treasurer
Jay is Director of Purchasing / Contract Administrator, leading comprehensive procurement activities for a major local infrastructure firm. His former skill set as a Director of IT and Corporate Assets Manager lends additional competencies.
He is an active community leader and committed to creating a top notch resource for children and families in need
Fred is an accomplished entrepreneur, CEO and CFO, with over 45 years of experience in identifying, executing and managing business ventures in a variety of fields.
As a father of four and a civically-minded citizen, he is vested in the idea of creating more opportunities for local youth to receive needed programs and services.
Hon. Clifton Nembhard, Secretary
Cliff is presently serving as a Judge in NYC’s Housing Court. He has been a member of the NY State Bar Association since 1999 and has extensive legal experience in public and private sectors.
He is passionate about making a positive impact in the child welfare system and improving the lives of families in his community.
Bob has over 35 years of experience in the field of school psychology, mostly with Little Flower Children and Families Services, with whom he retired in 2016.
Bob is passionate about wanting to see an increase in services for special needs populations on Long Island.
Jennifer Brent, LCSW graduated Stony Brook University in 2008 with a BA in psychology and then went on to complete a master’s degree in social work at Stony Brook in 2015. After graduating, Jennifer moved to Connecticut where she was employed as director at an independently owned learning center that offered alternative schooling for children who were unable to thrive in a regular school setting due to learning and emotional difficulties. Upon moving back to Long Island to be closer to family, Jennifer worked as a care coordinator and in-home intensive worker for an HCBS waiver program. Since 2017 Jennifer has primarily worked in the private practice setting and wanted to find a way to return to helping children within the waiver system. Jennifer is passionate about Lodestar’s mission to provide quality in-home services to emotionally disturbed youth. As a private practice therapist, Jennifer is aware of the limitation in the scope of help that a therapist alone can provide to the youth and their families on a once per week basis and strongly believes in the need for additional services to support youth and their family.
Maeling Ruiz has been a Program Supervisor for Lodestar since December 2019. She is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), as well as a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC). She has seven years of experience providing children’s mental health services, including clinical services for foster children/adolescents and mental health services for autistic young adults. She has also worked for Children’s Single Point of Access. Other experience includes Substance Abuse Counseling and Parent Training.
Dorothy is currently an assistant supervisor and provides PSR, RCS, and YPA for Lodestar. She is graduating with her B.S. in Psychology in May of 2021 and is pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology in the fall. Dorothy grew up babysitting and counseling, giving her lots of experience working with children who have intellectual/developmental disabilities.
Allison Halpin is a Stony Brook University graduate majoring in psychology. She grew up babysitting and caring for her niece and nephew, giving her great experience with children. She is passionate about mental health, physical fitness, and encouraging healthy behaviors. She is currently advancing her career in supporting children and their families by pursuing her Master’s degree in School Psychology at Adelphi University.
Darrell just recently graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology, and is ready to pursue his passion of helping those with mental health needs. Darrell completed one hundred hours of community service advocating for social justice and helping to provide education, clothes, and food to those in need.
Although Gina started her career in a bank, she felt that the field of educating young adults was where her heart belonged. Following her heart, Gina achieved a Masters Degree in Special Education/General Education from Dowling College and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Dowling. As the former Director of Independent Living at a college program, Gina has spent over 20 years providing skill-based learning to her students. In her role at the college, Gina was able to teach courses in personal finance, culinary, nutrition and community living. Gina prides herself in her ability to think outside of the box. Gina loves to read and encourages others to do so. Gina also loves spending time with her husband, their two daughters, and their big, loveable dog Teddy.
Vanessa graduated from SUNY Farmingdale and has a background in biology and psychology. Vanessa is currently a nursing student and is hoping to integrate psychology and nursing in her future career. She is passionate about helping others and has had great experience working with adults with disabilities as well as in the medical field.
Emalee Fico is a SUNY Oneonta graduate majoring in anthropology and a minor certificate in positive psychology from Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, Netherlands. Having a background of working with kids from swim lessons to babysitting and student work in promoting anthropology to younger ages, Emalee has grown a large passion for working with children. She is passionate about helping others by normalizing mental health advocacy and making healthy lifestyles and resources accessible to all. Emalee is looking to pursue a master’s in Mental Health Counseling in the Fall of 2021 to further her career and ability in helping children and adults.
Brianna Perino is a Stony Brook University graduate who majored in psychology from Mattituck New York. Brianna has spent many summers nannying and babysitting which helped her decide that she would like to work with kids in her career. She enjoys being outside, gardening, and being with friends and family. She is determined and passionate about finding the tools to encourage positive behaviors and attitudes in all kids.
Renata Cheshire graduated from St. Joseph’s College with a Bachelor’s in Community Health and Human Services in 2014. She has had many years of experience in crisis intervention, teaching, tutoring and nannying, including past experience as a Teacher’s assistant and Family Advocate. Renata wants to provide support and resources to children and families in need.
Jamie is currently getting her master’s in social work at Adelphi University. She has always had a passion for working with others in the mental health field. She has previously worked at a school, giving her experience with children. Jamie hopes to one day become a licensed clinical social worker and improve the lives of others through mental health treatment.
Victoria is a go-getter with a passion for non-profit work. She prides herself in her creativity, organizational skills, and communication skills. She graduated from Pace University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. Victoria has had multiple internships in which she coordinated and organized events, and she worked as a Campaign Assistant for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Alyssa is a 22 year old psychology student who grew up in Bohemia, NY. She is graduating in December 2020 with her Bachelors Degree from SNHU. Alyssa loves spending time with her family, including her 2 year old daughter and fiancé. Alyssa has always had a passion for helping others and enjoys working with children.
Hannah earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biobehavioral Health from Pennsylvania State University in May of 2020. She has had multiple internship and job opportunities in the medical field, including work as a Pre-Medical Student Shadow at the Pediatric Asthma And Pulmonology Associates of NY, a Pediatric Floor Aide and Counselor for the Grenville Baker Boys and Girls Club, and a Physical Therapy Assistant. She is also a member of Alpha DpsilonDelta, a nationally recognized pre-health professional fraternity, and is an Ambassador for the College of Health and Human Development Honors Club.
Jessica Lanza is a Stony Brook graduate with a background in sociology and psychology. Jessica also works in the field of quality assurance. Jessica has always had a passion for working in the mental health field and is considering advancing her education in mental health counseling.