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Courtney W Albert, LMHC, M.Ed., MA

Courtney Albert

Courtney W. Albert, LMHC, M.Ed., MA is the Founder & President of Give Way to Freedom and a licensed mental health counselor with a private practice in Poughkeepsie New York. Courtney specializes in trauma therapy and is an EMDRIA certified EMDR therapist. She has completed intensive courses in Somatic Trauma Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Ego –State Therapy, and EMDR. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP level 1 and is currently completing the required curriculum for CCTP level 2). She also served as a mental health counselor for survivors of human trafficking and torture at the Helen Bamber Foundation, London, UK, and for domestic minor victims of sex trafficking at the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, and was a mental health counselor at Columbia County Mental Health.

Courtney is on the steering committee of the Dutchess County Taskforce Against Human Trafficking and heads it’s training subcommittee. Courtney was a member and executive board member of Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASADA) for six years. Courtney has facilitated numerous trainings and workshops on human trafficking and the psychological impact of interpersonal trauma for a wide variety of professional groups and agencies, including medical and mental health providers, social service providers, educators, law enforcement officers, probation officers, and attorneys. She has presented at numerous conferences.

Courtney was awarded the 2018 Crime Victim Services Award by Family Services & Vassar Sexual Assault & Violence Program (SAVP). She completed her bachelor of arts in psychology, with honors, from the University of Rochester, her master of education in counseling psychology from Temple University, and her master of arts in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of New Haven.


Edith Klimonski

Edith earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology with a concentration in Women’s Studies from the College of the Holy Cross, and a Master of Science from University of Wisconsin — Green Bay. She managed the start-up process, and since its incorporation in 2009, she has been the director of Give Way to Freedom. She has given and organized trainings on human trafficking throughout the United States to a wide variety of professionals including healthcare workers, social workers, social service providers, law enforcement, lawyers, drug treatment counselors, students, and educators and in addition has done many community awareness events. She has mentored four University of Vermont College of Medicine semester long Public Health Projects, two of which were accepted into the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting. Edith sits on the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Collaborative on Human Trafficking, UNITE (Understand, Network, Innovate, Teach, Eradicate) lead by their Clinical Simulation Laboratory. She is a member of the Vermont Human Trafficking Task Force and Co-chairs their Training & Outreach Committee. Give Way to Freedom is part of the Freedom Network; she co-chaired their Training Institute from 2017-2019, and is now a member of their Steering Committee. She is also currently consulting for the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition’s Airport Initiative. In 2015 she received the Ally Award on Crime Victims’ Rights Day from the State of Vermont. She devotes her volunteer work extensively to Rotary International in the Rotary Club of Essex and was given the Unsung Hero award 2018. In May 2019 she was given the Outstanding Alumna Award for the Albany Academy for Girls in Upstate New York.



Deborah P. Volk is a partner in the Burlington, Vermont law firm of Bothfeld & Volk, where her practice is limited to immigration and nationality issues. She has been practicing immigration law for over 20 years and has been a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1990. Ms. Volk has lectured at universities and attorney conferences, and she is a long-standing consultant to attorneys and judges both in the U.S. and abroad. Ms. Volk addressed Members of Parliament, justice officials, members of the judiciary, and other government policy-makers at the Canadian National Forum on Criminal Records. She participated on a panel covering immigration issues in the U.S. First and Second Circuits, attended by judges, U.S. probation officers, and Vermont attorneys in federal practice. She was chosen by the Vermont Bar Association to serve on the Human Trafficking Task Force assembled to make recommendations and legislative proposals regarding human trafficking in the State of Vermont. Over the course of her career, Ms. Volk has represented a broad range of clients. Ms. Volk received her Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law, and her Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Boston University.


Elliot Gray

Elliot Gray is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, as well as an Assistant Vice President at Morgan Stanley in Burlington, Vermont. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from St. Lawrence University and joined Morgan Stanley in 1997. At Morgan Stanley Elliot specializes in assisting with investment management and personalized client services. He brings his financial world perspective to the board at Give Way to Freedom.


Heather Ross

Heather Ross is a litigation partner at Sheehey Furlong & Behm P.C. in Burlington, Vermont, where she represents business and individuals in civil and criminal matters. Prior to joining the firm in December 2016, Heather spent fourteen years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont as a federal prosecutor and defending the United States in administrative actions. Heather has prosecuted numerous complex fraud cases, drug trafficking cases, and human trafficking cases. She co-chaired Vermont’s statewide Human Trafficking Task Force from 2013 to 2016. She was the Human Trafficking Coordinator for the Vermont U.S. Attorney’s Office for several years and obtained the first human trafficking conviction in the State of Vermont. Ms. Ross has regularly lectured lawyers, law enforcement personnel, educators, health care professionals, and other community groups about how to identify and respond to instances of human trafficking. In 2015, she assisted in developing a Public Service Announcement to raise community awareness about the intersection of drug trafficking and sex trafficking. She currently provides pro bono legal assistance to victims of human trafficking. Heather is a 1995 graduate of William and Mary Law School and a 1991 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College. She served as a law clerk to United States District Court Judge William K. Sessions III upon her graduation from law school.


Chris Destito

Chris Destito works for Twitter, Inc. in Corporate Security. He retired from the FBI in 2017 after 21 years of service.  The last five years of Chris’ career was spent fighting the overwhelming heroin problem in the State of Vermont.  While doing so, Chris learned of the significant human trafficking problem in the State and began trying to assist the victims and prosecute those responsible.  Chris relied on the vital services that Give Way to Freedom provided to assist the women that were prayed on by individuals distributing heroin in the State.

As a newly established board member, Chris hopes to assist in educating law enforcement on how significant the problem is in the State, provide guidance on how to assist the victims, and finally to successfully prosecute those responsible for this heinous crime.  Chris is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.



Bernice Hazucha is Suicide intervention Spanish speaking counselor for the National Suicide Lifeline and for Dutchess County Helpline for over 19 years. She has also worked in crime and domestic violence victims programs since 2004. She has spent over 22 years providing community services throughout the Mid-Hudson /New York City area volunteering her services. Bernice’s passion for providing a voice for those who cannot or will not come forward has been a signature of hers for quite some time. She is a survivor of domestic violence and has made it a point to utilize her voice and skills to help encourage those less fortunate.

Bernice served as the past President of A.H.O.R.A, Association of Hispanic to Obtain Resources and Assistance for over 5 years as a Board member for that organization for over 11 years before the Board decided to dismantle since it had accomplished what it had set out to do for over 15 years. Currently, Bernice is on the Board of CASADA as Co-Chair. She volunteers in several community groups and participates in the Vet to Vet peer groups in Putnam, Orange, and Dutchess.

Bernice holds a degree in Human Services as well as several certifications in the substance abuse area, DBT, CBT, Vet to Vet mental health crisis. Bernice is a certified National Anger Management Specialist.

When she is not out and about trying to save the world, she is home doing what she loves to do best, cook up a storm for family and friends. Bernice loves traditions and loves to share this with her friends and family. Her Latino heritage just pours out of her in her cooking and in her personality.


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