Meet Our Expert Presenters!
Marla Berger, LMHC, ATR is the Program Director at Tomorrow’s Rainbow, which provides free, grief support groups to children 3 years old through high school using art, play and miniature horse interactions. Marla has been working with children and adults in the Mental Health field for over 15 years. After receiving her Bachelors Degree from University of Florida and her Masters Degree in Art Therapy from University of Louisville, she began to specialize in working with children and their families. A Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Registered Art Therapist, Marla is also pursuing her goal of becoming a Registered Play Therapist to better serve Tomorrow's Rainbow clients. A lifelong horse lover, she began incorporating horses into her therapy sessions in 2001. She became certified in Equine Assisted Learning/Equine Assisted Psychotherapy through the Equine Assisted Growth And Learning Association (EAGALA) and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International).
Nicole D. Benincasa-Ragonese, LMHC holds her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Hofstra University, NY and earned her Master of Science in Mental Health and School Counseling from CUNY Queens College, NY. She currently serves as the Manager of Patient and Family Centered Care at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY. Mrs. Benincasa-Ragonese is responsible for optimizing patients and families health care experience through emotional, social and developmental support. She currently also has a private practice where she specializes in working with suicide survivors as well.
Mrs. Benicasa-Ragonese founded the Commack Alumni Scholarship Foundation in Loving Memory of Michael A. Benicasa in 2012. Her brother's foundation is dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
Kerry Debay, ATR-BC, LMHC, CTS serves currently as the Chief Program Officer for Palm Beach County at the Children's Healing Institute. She is a Board-Certified Art Therapist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Certified Trauma Specialist. She has been working with children and families in Palm Beach County for over 20 years with a significant focus on grief & loss education and support. Kerry is the author of The Grief Bubble, a workbook for children designed to assist in the understanding and expression of grief in response to a loss through death (available in English and Spanish). She is a contributing author of Assessment and Treatment Activities for Children, Adolescents, and Families Volume II: Practitioners Share Their Most Effective Techniques and illustrated the children's book Honey Bear Died.
Kerry is also a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. Trained in the Kripalu style, she is a certifies Prem Yoga teacher and has additional training and certification in Restorative & Pre-Natal yoga.
Kerry's practice is informed by her professional and personal experience and commitment to the journey of self awareness, healing and growth. Her philosophy and style embrace compassion, self-acceptance, the wisdom of the body and Self, and the innate ability to survive, heal and thrive.
Doreen T. Cammarata, MS, LMHC, educates graduate students and professionals on grief counseling issues. She is currently an adjunct instructor at Hofstra University and has also taught in the graduate counseling program at Florida Atlantic University. As the former President of the Palm Beach ADEC Chapter (Association for Death Education & Counseling), she organized enrichment seminars and networking opportunities for her fellow colleagues for over a decade. Doreen has numerous years of experience as a consultant in her field in addition to her full time work experiences as a school counselor for at-risk youth, a grief and bereavement specialist working with adults and children at a local hospice program as well as counseling stroke survivors and their families. During her work as a board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Florida Southeast, she served as a Panelist for the National Suicide Survivors Day Conference and was the recipient of the 2005 Outstanding Professional Award.
Kim Despaquale, Yogi is leading all our participants in a beautiful opening heart practice. Kim is a certified 200 hour E-RYT who shares her yoga practice on land and water. When not in the studio, organizing activities at Blueline, you can find her instructing yoga on a paddleboard. Besides her incredible involvement in the community she is also a mother of two outstanding young ladies and wife. She helps her students re-connect with the elements and re-discover their true authentic self. Her practice is inviting and heart felt, reminding each student "You Are Always Enough".
The conference will conclude with a panel of presenters sharing their experiences with the work they do, why it’s important to them and then allow the audience to ask questions.