The Home of Melissa's Project

Our Team



Michael Mackniak, Esq., MNMP, CBIS, NCG

Chief Operating Officer

Michael is responsible for all aspects of Guardian's program coordination, planning and strategy. He serves as the liaison to the local mental health authorities, probate courts, police departments, and hospitals. Michael earned a Bachelor's degree from Ithaca College and his Juris Doctorate from Quinnipiac College School of Law. He also has a Master's degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy. Since 1995, Michael has engaged in the private practice of law with a special focus on Probate Court issues and incapacity. As a result of his experience, Connecticut's Probate Court administration, in collaboration with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, commissioned him to pilot the program now known as Melissa's Project.


Sara Valentino, LCSW

Clinical Director

Sara has a MS from Columbia University School of Social Work and a BS in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University. She began her career as a clinician working with survivors of domestic violence and families within the child welfare system in New York. Sara has had the good fortune to work with people living with severe, persistent mental illness and in private practice doing individual and group work. She has experience in facilitating a number of psycho-educational groups on various topics. Sara is a trained DOVE advocate and has been instrumental in Guardian's program development and implementation of staff protocols and procedures. Her clinical training and experience as a case manager afford her the ability to effectively work with disabled persons at risk of incarceration and frequent hospitalizations and their community service providers.


Angela Caron, MSW, CBIS, NCG

Administrative Regional Director

Angela earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology at St. Joseph's College in Maine and is currently pursuing her MSW at Southern CT State University. She has experience working with persons diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness in both inpatient and residential settings. She has been a care coordinator with Guardian for ten years and recently became the Administrative Regional Director overseeing the New Haven, Middletown and Hartford Regions.

Meet Our Board Members

James Barbieri, Chairperson

Jennifer Dauphanais, Secretary

Richard Tirloni, Treasurer


Guardian is thankful for the support and staff at Connecticut Community Foundation. We value their role in strengthening the capacity of nonprofit organizations in the region through their Nonprofit Assistance Initiative.


Contact Us

Phone: 203.723.4332 | Fax: 203.723.9250 175  Church St, Suite 202 Naugatuck, CT 06770

© Copyright 2018 Guardian ASL