A treatment community that meets and exceeds your needs.
Collaborative. Committed. Creative.
Our team is hand-picked by our founder, Dr. Joanna Bronfman. We’re specialists in eating disorder treatment: educated, experienced, approachable, and one hundred percent dedicated to your success. We’re available to you – our patients and families – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. For our team, commitment means service, and service means meeting the highest standards.
Leadership and Program Directors
Clinical Supervisors and Staff
Educators, Care Coaches and Specialists
Communication is the foundation of healing relationships, which makes communication the hallmark of the Backcountry Wellness approach to treatment.
Dr. Joanna Bronfman is a thought leader in the field of eating disorder treatment. She holds a doctoral degree in psychology (Psy.D), a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and a master’s degree in education (MS). As a pioneer in the field of eating disorders, Dr. Bronfman lectures at major academic institutions such as Yale University and the University of Connecticut. She’s also a sought-after guest speaker, having accepted invitations to share her knowledge at The Nantucket Project and school districts nationally. Dr. Bronfman’s clinical work has focused on private clinical practice in conjunction with New York Presbyterian Hospital / Cornell Medical Center and the Pleasantville Public School District. Dr. Bronfman was formerly the Clinical Supervisor at the Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders of Greenwich, Connecticut. She earned her Psychology Doctorate from California Southern University, her Master’s in Social Work from New York University, her Master’s in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania.
Under Dr. Bronfman’s leadership (“Dr. B”), Backcountry Wellness offers the premier eating disorder treatment program in New England. She upholds an environment filled with acceptance and compassion, rather than stigma and judgment. Dr. B understands the social, emotional and psychological distress that adolescents and young adults go through when they struggle with an eating disorder.
Dr. B is committed to changing the paradigm in eating disorder treatment. Her life’s work – and her passion – is to create an open, inclusive, and inviting environment where everyone who needs help will seek help, and where everyone who seeks help will learn to heal in the way that works best for them. The right way.
Dr. Lindsay Moskowitz, M.D.
Psychiatric Medical Director
Dr. Moskowitz has a passion for treating children and adolescents. Her warmth, empathy, genuineness, honesty, and gentle demeanor aid in establishing a good rapport with her patients. She has a unique skill set in treating patients with eating disorders based on her comprehensive background in nutrition in addition to her psychiatric training. Dr. Moskowitz served as the Psychiatric Director of the Eating Disorder Program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center at Long Island Jewish Hospital through Northwell Health for nearly 8 years and left in February 2020 to focus on her private practice. She is board certified in both Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She was recently an assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. She earned her Medical Doctorate from SUNY Upstate Medical University and her undergraduate degree in Nutritional Studies from Cornell University.
Chase Bronfman, MBA
In 2019, Chase joined the BCW leadership team to oversee the business, operations, finance, and regulatory aspects of Backcountry Wellness. Previously, Chase worked as an Investment Banking Associate in New York City, managing a junior team that worked on large-scale corporate M&A, debt financing, and equity financing transactions. Prior to his work in the banking sector, Chase earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the NYU Stern School of Business and a Bachelor’s of Arts from New York University.
Jane Wynne, MS, RD
Jane earned her Master of Science in Nutrition from Hunter College, where she developed both a deep understanding and love for the power of nutrition. Through her work as lead dietitian at Monte Nido residential eating disorder treatment center in Irvington, NY, Jane realized her passion for helping those with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. This specialty further sculpted Jane’s ability to focus on the entire individual, addressing how mental health impacts food choices and wellness. She continues to work in the outpatient setting to provide tailored nutrition counseling to individuals, families, and program groups to help her patients work towards recovery and establish a sound relationship with food.
Alexis Meytin, LMSW
Lexi is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in eating disorders and mental health treatment. Lexi’s therapeutic approach is tailored to the unique needs of each individual and utilizes an array of evidence-based treatment modalities. She has experience working in inpatient, outpatient and residential treatment facilities. Lexi has earned her Master’s in Social Work from Adelphi University and her B.A. in Sociology from Stony Brook University. Lexi is continuing her education and is currently pursuing her PhD in Social Work at Adelphi University.
Lexi resides in Stamford, CT with her fiancé Leon and fur baby Scarlett.
Jessica Zweiman, LMSW
Jessica holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutgers’s University, an MFA in Directing from The Actor’s Studio & a BFA from WVU; as well, a certificate in Shakespearean Studies from Oxford University. Jessica believes strongly in the substance & strength of family; it is in this vein that she is, in addition to being the residential program director, an enthusiastic family, individual and marital therapist. Jessica leads, both in her work as a program director and as a therapist, as one who listens quietly, who looks for resolve with fairness and who believes in a glass half full. When our foundation, both inner and outer, can heal & become solid, so then too, can our lives.
Julia Simmons, LCSW
Julia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a strong desire to help others. Prior to working at Backcountry Wellness, she worked in a school setting, where she provided individual and group therapy. She has used those skills, along with her organization and dedication to her patients, to provide the utmost support to those with whom she works. She is an active listener and offers tremendous support to all of her patients and their families. Julia earned her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University and a B.A. in Education Studies from Brown University.
Leslie Epstein, LCSW
Clinical Supervisor & Family Therapist
Leslie is a passionate and dedicated family therapist. Prior to Backcountry Wellness, Leslie was the Director of Learning Resource Network at the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services. In her role there, she provided consultation to parents and families about their child’s development. Leslie ensures families are given the support they need and provides them with strategies to help their loves ones. Leslie earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and her B.A. in Psychology from Binghamton University. She has also earned a Certificate in Family Therapy from The Ackerman Institute.
Kate Osman, LMSW
Kate is a dedicated and compassionate family therapist. Kate believes communication between family members is the key to recovery and looks to provide a therapeutic environment in which all family members feel seen, heard and understood. Kate works to provide practical strategies to help parents and families support their loved ones, and, importantly, each other. Kate holds a Masters in Social Work from Yeshiva University and a BA in Psychology from Boston University. In addition, Kate holds an additional certification in marriage and family therapy from the Ackerman Institute for Family.
Melissa Redmond, LMHCA
Primary Therapist & Culinary Director
Melissa is a talented culinary expert and is the backbone of Backcountry Wellness’ food and menu-based programming. Melissa has a culinary Arts Diploma from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She believes that healing begins through the changing of one’s relationship with food. Melissa is in the process of obtaining her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Cappella University and earned her B.S. from Iona College.
Emily Johnston, LMSW
Emily has experience working in residential and outpatient settings. Aside from her extensive experience working with eating disorders, Emily has also worked for a non-profit organization with a focus on Runaway and Homeless youth. Emily has a strength based approach to treatment and believes in empowering individuals to take charge of their recovery. Emily is trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. Emily earned her Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers University and her B.A in Counseling from Lesley University.
Heather Van Hiel, LMSW
Heather practices psychotherapy through a compassionate and collaborative approach. Empowerment of the individual is an imperative aspect of her treatment style. Due to the effects of pressures of today’s society on mental and physical health, it is her mission to challenge harmful ideals while rebuilding confidence and self-compassion in individuals she treats. She comes to Backcountry Wellness after working in an addiction treatment setting. Heather earned her Master’s in Social Work from New York University and her B.A. from UCLA.
Jennifer Oberlander, LPCA
Jennifer earned her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and BS in Psychology from Mercy College. Jennifer has experience working in an outpatient setting and non-profit organizations for children and adults. Jennifer specializes in co-occurring mental health disorders with a focus on trauma, anxiety, and depression. Jennifer has a person-centered approach to treatment and has a passion for helping others achieve their goals.
Megan Schultz, LMSW
Megan earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University and her B.A in Psychology from the University of Connecticut. She has experience working in school settings and in residential eating disorder treatment settings. Her approach aligns with the common factors model, focusing on warmth, empathy, genuineness, and modeling what she expects from her patients. The most rewarding part of her work is being a part of this journey to recovery and seeing her patients reach a fuller, happier life.
Molly Gerster, RD
Molly earned her Master’s in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She has a strong background in biology and uses her scientific knowledge to develop nutritionally appropriate meal plans for the whole body. She is attuned to the emotional role food plays for many people, and factors this in when creating a plan that works for both mind and body. Molly obtained her undergraduate degree in Biology from Bates College.
Valerie Bryden, RD
Valerie Bryden is a Registered Dietitian with her Bachelors Degree in History and teaching certification for grades K through 6. Valerie decided when her kids were small (ages 4, 6, and 8) that she did not want to teach. Instead, she wanted to know what Vitamin A did – and that quickly snowballed her into finishing all of the RD courses at UConn, followed by a yearlong clinical internship at Yale New Haven Hospital in 2009. Valerie has over a decade experience working at all levels of care (Inpatient, Residential, PHP, IOP and private practice) with ED clients. Valerie stands steadfast against diet culture, weight as a measure of health and judging people based on their looks or how they eat.
Sasha Beatty, APRN
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Sasha is a trained and board certified Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse. Her over 10 years nursing career has afforded her the pleasure to work with many people and impact lives daily. She worked in Cardiac Telemetry for 7 years, Labor and Delivery for over 6 years and currently practices as a Nurse Practitioner in Pain Management in addition to working at Backcountry Wellness. Sasha has a passion for helping others and is a natural at her craft. Sasha earned her M.S. as a Family Nurse Practitioner and B.S. in Nursing from the Pace University Leinhard School of Nursing.
Mirzana Calhoun, LPN
Licensed Practical Nurse
Mirzana (“Zana”) Calhoun obtained her nursing degree from the University of The State of New York. She has over 8 years of experience in the eating disorder field previously working at the Monte Nido residential eating disorder treatment program. As someone who is recovered and also a parent, Zana has great compassion for the patients and their families. Prior to coming to the United States, Zana did a lot of philanthropic work with Bosnian orphan war children and has always been a children’s advocate. Her motto is that even on a bad day- it’s just a bad day and not a bad life. She’s currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.
Bianca Alicea, BS
Bianca graduated from Goodwin University with a B.S. in Public Health and a minor in Psychology. She has experience working in both the Danbury Hospital Trauma Unit and outpatient settings. Bianca also recently served as the Admissions Director for Westport Rehab. She has taken part in community outreach for raising awareness for mental health/suicide prevention and has also conducted research in the space. Bianca is passionate about improving patients’ wellbeing both physically and mentally.
Nicole Palumbo, MS
Education Liaison, Teacher
Nicole Palumbo comes to Backcountry Wellness with over two decades of mathematics education and administrative experience. Originally from Buffalo, New York, she is a graduate of Buffalo State College and Canisius College. As a mathematics instructor, she has highly developed people and problem-solving skills. As chairperson for the Mathematics Department at Claremont Preparatory School & St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s School, she became an expert in budgeting, long-term planning and staff management. Additionally, Nicole is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Outside of professional interests, she gardens, reads, and enjoys living in Chappaqua, NY with her husband, daughter, cats, dog and a one fairly ferocious hamster. Nicole and her family regularly foster kittens for a local animal shelter, and volunteer time and financial support to organizations such as the SPCA and Farm Sanctuary.
“Be true to yourself and kind to others, the rest will fall into place.”
Ilene Smith, MA, MPH
Ilene is an experienced teacher, facilitator and personal coach who is certified in Mindfulness and Positive Psychology. Her passion for teaching and learning has spanned over 5 decades and during that time Ilene has worked with people of all different ages and stages of life. Her dedication to the development of children’s social, emotional and educational needs, has defined her life.
Ilene has a Masters of Public Health from New York Medical College and was named Outstanding Woman in Public Health by the university in 2004. Additionally, she has a Masters of Arts from New York University in Health Education and Human Sexuality. Ilene has additional certifications in English and Drama education.
She has been an educational consultant for MindUp, a mindfulness curriculum developed by the HAWN foundation. Ilene was a senior trainer and facilitator at CARE for teachers, a mindfulness based professional development program designed to reduce stress and promote social emotional competence. Her work was featured at the International Mindfulness and Education conference in Rome.
Ilene lives in Pleasantville with her beloved black Labrador, Grace, who has been meditating with her since she was a puppy. She is the proud parent of one daughter, Sarah, who is a NYC based Drama educator. Ilene infuses each interaction with joy, meaningful connection, and an opportunity for personal growth.
Leslie Santiana, RYT
Somatic Therapy Practitioner
Leslie is a 500-HR RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher), ACE Nutrition Specialist, and Certified Personal Trainer. She works individually and in small groups to encourage clients to rebuild a healthy relationship and connection with their bodies through mindfulness, meditation, and movement. Having studied yoga as a therapeutic support system, she acquired experience serving populations recovering from chronic stress, addiction as well as food and body-image related challenges. She has specialized training through “Eat Breathe Thrive” (TM) and ” Yoga for Eating Disorders.” Her sessions blend her background in the performing arts, healing arts, and personal recovery from an eating disorder.
Ariella Rahbani, MS, RYT
Mindful Movement Instructor
Ariella Rahbani is a yoga and movement instructor with certifications in vinyasa yoga, aerial yoga, Mat pilates, Sup yoga, and group fitness. Ariella earned a B.S. in Psychology from Western Connecticut State University and M.S. in Nutrition from Adelphi University. Ariella incorporates her knowledge into providing a full mind, body, and spirit connection for students who take her classes.
Danielle Verboven, LPCA-I
Care Coach, Graduate Intern
Danielle received a bachelor’s degree in Relational Communication from Western Connecticut State University and is currently in the final weeks of pursuing her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health to obtain her professional goal of becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC). Along with her role as a Care Coach, Danielle is one of BCW’s clinical interns and leads Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), 8 Keys to an Effective Recovery, and Timeline group therapy. Danielle believes self-compassion is essential for those on the road to recovery and is passionate about creating a therapeutic environment by providing the clients with the resources to develop techniques that will improve their mental health conditions.
Grescia Estabridis, BS
Grescia Estabridis (She, Her, Hers) received a bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Mercy College and is currently a Graduate student at Fordham University pursuing a Master’s Degree in School Counseling and Mental Health Counseling. Upon graduation, she plans to focus her practice on stigmatized identities of marginalized individuals, and, in particular, first-generation bilingual students enduring cultural differences. Grescia’s mission and passion are to serve the community by offering her support to people who are healing from any form of adversity or life-altering experiences.
Diana Mitova, BA
Diana Mitova, B.A, holds her Bachelor of Arts degree in the concentration of Psychology from the University of Connecticut (UConn). At the University of Connecticut, Diana was a member of the Tau Sigma National Honors Society, International Honors Society in Psychology and Phi Beta Kapa Honors Society. In 2021 Diana received the Excellence in Psychology Award from the Psychology department at UConn. Currently, she is working towards her MSW at Columbia University and on becoming a certified DBT practitioner. Diana is passionate about bringing kindness and compassion to everything she does.
Crystal Cruz, BS
Crystal enjoys working with adolescents, and has a love for behavioral interventions that help reinforce desirable behaviors while eliminating unwanted ones. She is certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has her Bachelors degree in Psychology. Crystal is currently obtaining her Masters degree in School Psychology and looks forward to continuing her therapeutic work at Backcountry Wellness.
Stella Balbino, BA
Stella has earned her bachelor degrees in General Psychology and Music from Hunter College. She has great experience in music performance and in working with children and teenagers in educational and recreational settings. Stella is passionate about assisting patients into creating optimistic perspectives of their life circumstances which can lead them into believing in their capacity to overcome hardships, pain and despair. Stella is creative and uses that as a tool to engage with and reach our patients. Stella plans to do her Masters in Music Therapy and currently runs music groups at our residential program in which she uses music to relieve stress and provide a positive and light environment to our patients”- B.A. in Psychology and Music
Robertha Bourne, BS
Robertha joined the wonderful crew of Backcountry Wellness in March 2022 as an Overnight Care Coach. Prior to Backcountry Wellness, Robertha gained over 9 years of experience working with adolescents in therapeutic environments. She is a graduate of Westchester Community College where she majored in Early Childhood Education. Robertha is presently pursuing a Degree in Nursing.
As a human, Robertha believes it’s essential to do your part to help others that are in need. During her free time, she loves to garden and spend time with her three turtles (Leonardo, Raphael, and Michael Angelo), Tortoise (Rocket), and English bulldog (Kash).
Jenna Bryden, BA
Jenna graduated in 2022 from Salve Regina University with a Bachelors of Arts in psychology. Jenna is pursuing a Masters in Social Work at Southern Connecticut State University. Jenna has previously completed internships in a PHP and residential setting specializing in eating disorders.