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Torry Bernard

     Torry has been involved with Join Rise Be since June 2015. She grew up in the Foster Care system between the ages of 13-21. Torry was challenged with obstacles and struggles that led her into recovery later on in her 20's. When Torry moved to Connecticut she faced homelessness and mental health challenges. She began her recovery by talking with other peers who had similar experiences and this led Torry to believe strongly in peer support. 

     Torry's passion is to help others. She loves advocating for foster youth and young adults who are trying to find their path in life. The resilience and strength Torry found during her childhood and early young adult years has given her the hope that she can be there for others who are going through the same thing. 

     Torry earned her Associate's degree in Liberal Arts from York County Community College. She is also a Recovery Support Specialist, is trained in Intentional Peer Support, and is a certified WHAM Group Facilitator. Throughout her years of involvement, she has come to know that there are many resources available for young adults within the state of Connecticut that others may not know about. All  the work she has done and everything she has been involved in has helped her to conclude that recovery is possible. 

     

Meet Our Team!

 

Luz Feliz

     Luz became a part of the Warmline team in February 2016. Working on the Warmline provides a personal, intense sense of community and gives her the opportunity to give back. Luz loves that Join Rise Be is an initiative revolved around young adults and she enjoys being a part of something that would have been beneficial to her when she was younger.

     Through her work, Luz has had the opportunity to become a certified Recovery Support Specialist, an achievement she feels very proud of.

     Additionally, Luz is trained in Intentional Peer Support and uses the knowledge gained to help navigate through her everyday life. Working with Join Rise Be has also taught Luz to be more accepting of herself and how to use constructive criticism in a way that will help her transform and grow.

     Through these positive life lessons,she has been inspired to continue improving in her everyday life to be able to serve her community effectively and simply be the best person she can possibly be each and everyday. In addition to working for the JRB team, Luz is currently studying to obtain her degree in Social Work. 

Michaela I. Fissel

     Michaela I. Fissel has been actively involved in the behavioral health field since achieving recovery in 2007 at the age of 21. Since that time, Michaela has risen as a highly recognized advocate who actively seeks to ensure that the opportunity of recovery is available to all young people within Connecticut. Through her nine years of exploring emerging adults as a behavioral health service population, Michaela has identified the need for including consumers of direct care services as equal members of the decision making process when planning, implementing, and evaluating services. It has been made clear that their perspective is critical for ensuring that the services and supports are effectively tailored to the unique experience of achieving recovery, while transitioning to adulthood, in the 21st century.

    

     In 2010, Michaela received a top research award upon graduating Cum Laude from Central Connecticut State University, while she has also received honors through the CT Certification Board, Keep the Promise Coalition, Senator Blumenthal, the Psychiatric  Rehabilitation Association of Connecticut, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Coalition of Connecticut, among others. In addition, Michaela was selected to work with other young adult leaders from around the country to launch the national organization Young People in Recovery and is an elected member of her local Board of Education.

     As a local, state, and national speaker, Michaela has continued to share her story, while challenging the status quo. Among the many opportunities that have been made available to Michaela, she is most proud to be the mother of three amazing children and having a partner who is her greatest support. When she is not working or volunteering, she can be found gardening, walking, or kicking the soccer ball with her family.

Johnathan McKenzie

     Johnathan McKenzie very recently joined the Join Rise Be team. Johnathan's early interest in neuropsychology,  philosophy, and socioeconomics stems from his personal journey through New York and Connecticut's inpatient and outpatients. Upon discovering some of the foundational flaws that lead to many of our society's struggles, Johnathan began his pursuit of advocacy. Participating in civil protests, mental illness awareness and LGBTQ pride events led to his discovery of Connecticut's Statewide Consumer Advisory Board and subsequent application to becoming a Training Coordinator and Warmline Operator for Join Rise Be. 

     Johnathan, as president, founded the Danbury Youth and College Division in 2016. Since then, he has transferred to the Waterbury NAACP as Community Coordinator. Johnathan has received CNA Training, and is a Certified Microsoft Technology Associate in Cyber Security, Server Administration, and Networking. 

     In his free time, Johnathan actively trains for a variety of competitive races, practices martial arts (Krav Maga/Wing Chun) as well as writes, creates and produces his own music. 

     Johnathan anticipates that his participation in the Join Rise Be mission will couple with his desire for social reform and equal rights for all individuals; regardless of age, race, gender, sex, creed, or challenge. 

 

Rose Nisotis

     Rose is lively and delighted to work in this safe, creative, and healing place. They have struggled with their mental illness and traumatic experiences over the past few years and are currently in the process of recovery. Rose is non-binary and proves the fallibility of the construct of the gender binary by living and loving authentically! They recognize that they do not have to heal all of their trauma before they can live a fulfilling life and that is what inspires them to appreciate every tiny step towards becoming their most developed self. They believe the ability to help and support someone is one of the greatest gifts people can offer. When they are not working you can find them playing chess and making music!

Marco Stanley

     Marco is an empathetic and intuitive artist who was born and partially raised in Meriden, Connecticut. In the span of a few years, he moved from 3 different homes until his mother made the decision to give up guardianship. Despite traumatic childhood struggles, it wasn’t until he was in high school when he first discovered his fascination for the human psyche. For as long as he can remember, Marco has always wanted to make others feel welcome, happy, and loved. Exploring what it means to be conscious became a priority after issues surrounding abandonment and lack of self-worth became prevalent. Multiple hospitalizations and other hardships showed him the importance of time and energy. His purpose became very clear: Do what you love and inspire others to do the same.

     Working as a warmline operator goes hand in hand with his abstract way of thinking. He believes in pursuing a self-defined life around the many forms of creation. From photography to graphic design to poetry to music, he takes on many hats in life. With that being said, when he’s not working at the Join Rise Be headquarters, he’s creating art and publishing it while simultaneously sharing knowledge and advocating for topics such as love, substance abuse, healing, abandonment, mindfulness and so on.

"Sharing our experience to influence change so every young person has the opportunity to achieve recovery across the state of Connecticut."

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