Gilead Board of Directors

Gilead’s Board of Directors represents all the major groups who have a stake in the work we do. Board members include clinicians, family members, community partners, business leaders, and major donors. All are deeply committed to providing broad access to high quality mental health care in our community.


Amol Amin

Amol’s journey as a recovery support specialist led him to be the Residential Manager at a Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (DMHAS) supported recovery program called Vita Pulita. The program is intensive and allows Amol to draw on knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines to critically assess and resolve a broad spectrum of individual health requirements and issues.

Amol is the founder and owner of Dope Fried Food truck, where he has created a community network where 10% of gross profits are donated to local organizations. As an Eagle Scout, Amol has always been dedicated to helping his community and it’s members have access to resources they may require to live more meaningful lives.

Cathy Boone

Cathy is a retired Assistant State Treasurer of the State of Connecticut; a member of Altrusa International of Central Connecticut; and is actively involved in the Middlesex VITA program, which provides free income tax preparation to low and moderate income individuals.  Cathy is pleased to join Gilead’s dedicated board and to work with them to continue the agency’s tradition of helping those in need of services to find the most appropriate assistance.

Cathy enjoys gardening, reading, theater and travel – especially to visit her two grandchildren.

Ray Bourret

Ray Bourret has been a part of Gilead Community Services, Inc. since his first meeting with former Chief Executive Officer, Barry Simon, at a Middlesex United Way presentation. This introduction opened Ray’s eyes to what Gilead does for individuals in Middlesex County who live with mental health conditions.

He has served on Gilead’s Board of Directors since 2008 and is passionate about helping individuals living with mental health needs in his community. Ray co-owns Suburban Stationers in Middletown, which delivers office supplies to businesses and nonprofits throughout Connecticut. In his free time, Ray enjoys spending time with this family, travelling and staying physically fit.

Suzanne Gaskell

After a decade of trying to manage her son’s mental illness and the heartache that goes along with it, Suzanne Gaskell was connected with Gilead Community Services. In two short years, with help from a dedicated team of professionals, she witnessed her son’s personal growth and acceptance of his illness.

Suzanne enjoyed a 29-year tenure as an art teacher at Daniel Hand High School t in Madison, CT, where she taught numerous courses including Photography, AP Drawing and Printmaking. Her interest in ART as a platform to raise awareness and promote positive social change empowered students to make use of their creativity for social advocacy. In an exhibit at the state capitol in 2020, ART for SOCIAL CHANGE, her students partnered with Gilead to create a series of powerful portraits that promoted expanded access to mental health care. Gilead nominated Suzanne and she was later named a Connecticut Arts Hero in 2023.

Since 2015, Suzanne has enjoyed working with her fellow board members, all of whom possess unique talents and are united by a singular cause, Gilead. Her experiences, both professional and personal, allow her to help Gilead find creative solutions to expand access to mental health care while sustaining their quality programs. When Suzanne is not working or spending time with her family she can be found in the garden.

Michael Hannah

Michael is a long-time employee at CVS Health via the acquisition Aetna, Inc.  He joined Aetna in the summer of 1990 when he relocated to the Hartford, CT area from Philadelphia, PA (his hometown) after attending the University of Pennsylvania. Michael has held various positions at the company, working in disciplines such as underwriting, marketing, sales support, training, and human resources.

Michael has a passion for helping others reach their potential. He has been a mentor to dozens of adolescents as well as adult professionals. He volunteers time to his church serving as secretary and leading the administrative staff. Michael’s passion for helping – and for doing good – are the foundations of his motivation and commitment to board service with both Oak Hill and Gilead.

Michael and his wife consider themselves foodies and they also love to travel. In addition to traveling, Michael enjoys tennis, exercise, puzzles, the arts, and summer weather.

Russ Hassmann

Russ Hassmann learned about the great work Gilead does in the community while managing his brother’s care at Gilead. Russ brings his experience from the private sector in strategic planning and relationship development to Gilead’s Board. Russ is a lifelong entrepreneur and is the Founder, President & CEO of National Sign Corporation headquartered in Berlin, CT. National Sign is a custom sign manufacturer that specializes in regional and national corporate branding programs.

Russ joined the Gilead Board of Directors in October 2014. He lives in Durham, CT with his wife Leslie and three children. His passion is making the best maple syrup in Connecticut at Durham Sugarhouse.

Fran Ludwig

Fran Ludwig’s background is in environmental science, however, her career focus changed in 1988 with the arrival of a son whose significant behavioral challenges became a full time job. After a very difficult childhood and adolescence, her son was admitted to Gilead’s ACT program in 2007. That change proved transformative for him, and inspirational for Fran.

In 2010 Fran joined Gilead’s board and has discovered a growing passion for Gilead and mental health advocacy. Fran also has a daughter who works with children with autism.

Fran Ludwig has lived in Middlefield for the past 30 years although a transplant from South Carolina. You’ll find Fran walking in the woods any morning of the year, and working in the garden when the weather’s warm.

Laura Patey

Laura has served as the Associate Dean for Student Academic Resources at Wesleyan University since 2013. She has over thirty years of experience in disability services having previously served as Director of Access Services for Students with Disabilities at Lesley University and in a similar position at Wheelock College. Laura’s background includes experience as a special education teacher, vocational rehabilitation counselor, consultant and co-owner of a private for-profit rehabilitation agency.

Laura is an active member of the CT Association of Higher Education and Disability and has implemented statewide training on disability issues for vocational counselors and adult education providers. Laura joined the Gilead Board of Directors in November 2016 and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with her beautiful grandchildren and two adorable whippets.

Phil Pessina

As the Deputy Chief of the Middletown Police Department Phil Pessina often worked with River Valley Mobile Crisis and Gilead Community Services, seeing firsthand how much mental health care organizations like Gilead can change lives and create both hope and opportunities for their clients.

Phil’s inspiration came from his parents who taught him to treat others with respect and to be of service and care for those who are less fortunate. He continues to inspire others by giving them hope and advocating for their needs. During his 42 years as a law enforcement officer, Phil was an advocate for children, youth and adults. He recognized their efforts and was personally inspired when they did succeed. Phil’s faith has always carried him through and been his path to service!

In his spare time Phil focuses on family — three daughters and six grandchildren, including one set of twins. His daughters have taught him how to dress and accessorize. Phil loves to watch chick flicks, read romance mystery novels and enjoys working outside.

David Porteus

Dave joined the Gilead Board of Directors after a 35 year career in the insurance industry.  He worked in the U.S. and abroad for a number of international companies and brings a background in finance, marketing, information technology and strategic planning.

Dave came to Gilead following a few good (Quizine) meals with friends who were involved with Gilead and was impressed with the caliber and dedication of the staff. As a parent of an autistic son, now living in a group home, he has several decades of experience dealing with issues similar to those faced by many Gilead clients and is keen to help build and maintain the support that individuals and families need.

Living in Portland for most of the last three decades, Dave spends his free time playing music and traveling with his wife of 40+ years.

Carrissa Williams

Carrissa holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!). She is an entrepreneur and Licensed Psychologist in CT and NY. She is the owner of Small Victories Wellness Services, a group practice in downtown Middletown that is committed to serving adults with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Before owning her own practice, Carrissa trained and worked in a variety of clinical settings including community mental health, residential substance abuse treatment, the VA system, and college counseling.

Carrissa joined Gilead’s Board of Directors in 2019. She is passionate about increasing access to mental health and addiction services in the state of CT. When she’s not in the office, snuggling with her dog Casper, indulging in guilty pleasure TV, and spending time with friends.

Paul Zakarian

Paul and his wife, Sowgol, have been supporters of Gilead’s mission since they moved to Middletown almost 16 years ago.  They have hosted a Quizine for a Cause dinner every year since attending their first annual fundraising event eight years ago.

Paul joined the Gilead Board of Directors in 2019, bringing twenty years of experience working in behavioral health management.   He is a UConn graduate with a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) and currently works as an Assistant Vice President of Operations at Advanced Behavioral Health, Inc. in Middletown where he helps manage statewide programs providing support services to individuals with substance use disorders.

Paul and his wife are the parents of two high school age children.  When not chauffeuring his children he enjoys hiking, kayaking, fishing and working in his garden.

Board Emeritus Members

Kim Hogan

Kim Hogan believes great things happen when people come together to help each other. Gilead’s motto of improving lives and building futures certainly describes Kim. Passionate for education, Kim is currently employed as the Dean of Administration at Middlesex Community College and is known for her ability to get things done. She helps students build their social intellect and work toward achieving their educational goals for a brighter future.

A native of New Jersey and a resident of Southeastern Connecticut, Kim joined our Board of Directors in 2014. Kim obtained her Masters of Science degree in Educational Leadership at Central CT State University and is a graduate of Glassboro State-Rowan University where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Outside of the office, Kim can be found boating on the Long Island Sound, golfing or enjoying time with friends. Kim is also Vice Chair for the Middlesex County United Way Board and a member of the Women’s Initiative Committee.

Jean Monahan

Several years ago Jean Monahan hosted a Gilead client at her Fundraising dinner, and their relationship flourished. This fun loving, insightful client has provided her whole family with a perspective not previously realized regarding the necessary services provided by Gilead.

Jean thrives on giving back to the community and for the past 30 years has done that in various ways, including volunteering on numerous boards, joining the local PTA and mentoring in the public school system. Jean is also a certified Domestic Violence Advocate. Middletown resident and a paralegal at a law firm in New Haven, Jean joined the Gilead Board in 2010. After graduating from Boston University Jean ran a successful business for almost 10 years.

She and her husband, Mike, enjoy more than anything, spending time with their three sons. Mack, a yellow Labrador is the Monahans’ latest addition, and he is just as friendly and outgoing as the rest of the Monahan Family. Whenever time allows, Jean enjoys gardening, reading and travel.

Gary Wallace

Gary Wallace grew up with a triple passion for music (playing the snare drum, various percussion instruments and the marching band), athletics (soccer, basketball and baseball), and poetry. After attending Mitchell College in New London, Gary joined the US Navy in the late 1987 and served during the Persian Gulf War on board the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.

As a Middletown Police Officer, Gary continues to stay sharp musically as a snare drummer for the Middleton PBA Pipes and Drum Corp. They perform locally and around the state for various ceremonies, parades, and events. Last but not least, he has written a few poems for his own private collection and even copyrighted one for possible release in the near future.

Gary is from East Hampton, a 2009 Graduate of Middlesex Community College, and has been a board member since 2012. Gary’s connection to Gilead and its mission lies within our relentless effort to provide support for individuals they serve. This is collaboration that serves both agencies well.

Jeff Burgess

Jeff Burgess caught the Gilead “bug” at our first annual fundraiser, Quizine for a Cause. He has been committed to Gilead’s mission ever since serving on the Board of Directors as President and as a general member since 2005. Advocacy is one of Jeff’s strengths and he can be counted on to represent Gilead’s clients at the Legislative Office Building, “Gilead makes the most of limited resources; they are efficient while also producing great outcomes evidenced in the changes in clients’ lives.”

Jeff jokes that he likes to do nothing in his spare time but he loves cooking, eating out, and fishing. A Tiger Fish in South Africa is one of Jeff’s most memorable catches. Jeff loves cheerleading for his two sons, and spends any free time he has with them and his wife, Suzanne.

Frank Zocco

Frank Zocco actively gives back to the community where he lives and works offering both his time and expertise to deserving professional and charitable organizations in the area. He is currently the Chairman of a local advisory council. Frank is Past-President of the Central Connecticut Business and Estate Planning Council as well as the Middletown Little League. He was a founding member of Leave-A-Legacy of Middlesex County. He is a proud former member of the Rocky Hill Volunteer Ambulance, where he was an Executive Board Member. In addition, he is also a former advisor to the Rocky Hill Police Explorers. Frank resides with his wife and two children. In his spare time Frank enjoys music, photography, cooking and judging BBQ contests.

Frank is a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Wealth Advisor and Partner at a local Financial Services firm. He has been actively serving his accomplished corporate and individual clientele with their retirement plan and investment needs for more than 20 years. Frank prides himself on delivering innovative, yet practical financial guidance, coupled with an in-depth knowledge of 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans, differentiating him and his approach to financial management and implementation services.