EF Leadership Team
Cindy Puccio, PhD, MA, LCSW, Head of Mentor Education, is a developmental psychologist and clinical social worker who began her career twenty years ago in New York City. She has a wide range of professional experience and expertise including individual, family and group therapy for children and families, school counseling, child-centered play therapy, and educational remediation. She also leads in-service trainings on relevant research and practice.
After completing her B.A. in Literature from Middlebury College, Cindy earned her Master’s degree in Child Development from Sarah Lawrence College and then her M.S.W. from New York University. She recently earned her PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Developmental Disorders and is on the Faculty of Sarah Lawrence College.
Outside of her work at EFCNY, Cindy also specializes in therapeutic work with children who are on the Autism spectrum and she has studied and practiced Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s DIR/Floortime® method for over 15 years. She currently teaches training courses in this method to graduate students who are pursuing their certification through The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning. Her other passion and area of expertise is in child centered play therapy and Cindy has been teaching seminars in play therapy at Sarah Lawrence College for twenty years. She is also a faculty member of the Sarah Lawrence College Child Development Play Institute and Graduate School. This program includes students and professionals from all over the world who are devoted to learning about the ways in which play impacts child development. Cindy also sits on the advisory board of The Meeting House, a non-profit, after-school community program in Manhattan.
At EFCNY, Cindy provides non-psychological mentoring support for students and staff and serves as EFCNY’s Head of In-Service Mentoring Education. Dr. Puccio is a licensed therapist but does not offer therapeutical, clinical, or medical services of any kind at EFCNY.
Stephen Rudin, MD, is the Principal Mentor and President of EFCNY as well as Peak Year LLC (est. 2016), Individual U. LLC (est. 2003) and Emotional Intelligence Tango LLC (est. 2017). A Chief Learning Officer for families and family offices, he is a nationally prominent thought leader and speaker in the area of intergen conversation and collaboration with a focus on qualitative capital, re-gendering of wealth, sustainability of the planet, spirituality, and the introduction of systems thinking.
After graduating from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine where he received his medical degree and after initial residency and research training, Stephen decided not to follow the path toward practicing medicine and instead has devoted himself and his career to helping children, young adults, families, and individuals of all ages unlock their potential. In addition to EFCNY, Stephen is the Founder, Principal Mentor, and President of three other renowned experiential mentoring organizations, Individual U. LLC (est. 2003), Peak Year LLC (est. 2017) and Emotional Intelligence Tango LLC (est. 2017).
A former Upward Bound Teacher of the Year, for the past thirty years Stephen has mentored individuals from kindergarten through medical school, graduate school, and beyond. His work at Peak Year focuses on helping its participants to find and explore their passions and turn them to meaningful purpose, acquiring the skills and practices to help them navigate their best and happiest paths forward.
Stephen is currently engaged in the completion of three highly anticipated writing projects, two in the educational space: Transforming Education© (coauthor Christina Young) and College Train Wreck: Tools and Tips for Getting Back on Track (to a Happier and More Successful Life)©. A humorist and writer about the human condition currently working on the comedic novel The Prosthetic Hipster©, Stephen was also the head writer of best-selling, award-winning software and books including A.D.A.M.: The Inside Story, The Nine Month Miracle, and The Human Body: Fandex Family Field Guide. Stephen’s diverse interests and practices include white water kayaking, Tai Chi, Ving Chun Kung Fu, Japanese culture and martial arts, outdoor adventuring, and Argentine tango, all of which have found their way into Peak Time programs. He is also the owner and serves as Director of the Peak Year Gallery. Stephen lives on NYC’s Upper West Side in a hobbit-sized co-op with an enchanted garden.
Stephen Rudin graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine where he received his M.D. degree. He is not in the practice of medicine at Peak Year or anywhere else.
Matthew Kelly, PhD, MPH, Head of Academic Mentoring at EFCNY. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in a unique, non-clinical, interdisciplinary program within the Departments of Sociomedical Science and History. He additionally earned his Master’s Degree in Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University where, as a Wyman Scholar, he studied the History and Ethics of Public Health and Medicine. Prior to that, he studied Biomedical Ethics and Biology at Brown University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude. Matthew has served as a member of the Steering Committee for the Joint Atlantic Seminar in the History of Medicine and currently sits on the Advisory Board of Say Ah Inc., a Manhattan based health literacy organization. His dissertation, which explores the history of AIDS activism in New York City, was awarded Columbia University's Marisa de Castro Benton Award and has been nominated for the Bancroft Award.
In addition to his academic research, Matthew enjoys writing works for the stage, and several of his plays have been developed or produced in the NYC area and elsewhere. He has been nominated as finalist for several playwriting awards, including the Woodward/Newman Drama Award and the Todd McNerney Playwriting Award.
Allison Meek received a BA from Brown University in History and a MS in Education from Pace University. She continued her graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, which culminated in her certification as a New York State Teacher.
With over 18 years of experience teaching in New York, Allison serves a diverse learning community. She created a Pre-Teacher pilot program which addressed the under-representation of teachers of color in NYC public schools. As a recipient of the Freeman Experiment Teacher’s Project Grant, Allison toured rural China and designed history curriculum on Maoist Revolutions. A native of Mississippi, she returned for a year to conduct fieldwork and investigate social history at the University of Mississippi’s Center for Southern Studies.
A mother of three children, Allison enjoys equipping students of all ages with the critical thinking skills to navigate the complexities of disparate narratives. She specializes in creating curricula to address the individual needs of students as she inspires them to fine tune their academic strengths and address their academic weaknesses.
At EFCNY, Allison mentors students in the careful reading and writing of history, literature and pop culture while integrating mindfulness and Executive Function into their work. She also mentors students as they pursue higher degrees, maneuver the college application process, the college/university experience, and the world beyond.
Adele Diamond, PhD, is the Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and was recently recognized as one the 15 most influential neuroscientists alive today.
Adele is at the forefront of research on Executive Functions and on the brain’s prefrontal cortex on which they depend. Executive Functions include “thinking outside the box” (cognitive flexibility), mentally relating ideas and facts (working memory), and giving considered responses rather than impulsive ones while resisting temptations and staying focused (inhibitory control, including selective attention).
She has made discoveries that have improved treatment for two different medical disorders and discoveries that have impacted education, improving the lives of millions of children. Her work has shown that executive functions can be improved even in the very young.
Adele was educated at Swarthmore (BA, Phi Beta Kappa), Harvard (PhD), and Yale Medical School (postdoc). Her discoveries have improved treatment for medical disorders (including ADHD) and impacted education worldwide, improving millions of children’s lives. Her many awards include an honorary doctorate (Honoris Causa) from Ben-Gurion University and the Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society. She was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the YWCA and named one of the “2000 Outstanding Women of the 20th Century.
Dr. Diamond is the Founding Advisor of EFCNY.
EF Mentoring Team
Rick Reil has been delighted to find a career in music and teaching after first attending Seton Hall Law School. He comes to EFCNY after a three-year history as the Music Director of Individual U. LLC, where he has mentored students in a variety of musical instruments, digital recording techniques and music software. He has been writing, recording and performing music since the age of 11. Along with his brother Kurt Reil, Rick is the Co-Owner of House Of Vibes (HOV), a commercial recording studio in Highland Park, NJ, which serves as the creative base for their band, The Grip Weeds.
Critically acclaimed for their recordings and blistering live shows, The Grip Weeds have produced eight albums and have garnered considerable airplay on Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage Sirius XM radio channel. Experienced recording engineers, Rick and brother Kurt have produced all the bands’ recordings, as well as those of other clients of HOV which include Mark Lindsay, former lead singer of Paul Revere And The Raiders, The Smithereens, and members of the The Grass Roots.
From 2010 to 2013 Rick was the drummer for the legendary ’60s band The Left Banke, known for their hit song “Walk Away Renee.” Since 2015 The Grip Weeds have served as the backing band for Mark Lindsay, performing many of The Raiders’ classic hits. Much happier playing a riff and mentoring students than arguing a case, Rick has been delighted to find a lifetime in music and education.
Rick’s special interest in his educational endeavors is in imparting Executive Function skills through the study and practice of piano, guitar and drums. He also helps EFCNY students with an interest in the music business to learn the art and design of music editing and other important studio skills.
Dustin Long: As an undergraduate student, Dustin attended UC Berkeley, where he initially planned to study astrophysics. His love of both reading and writing fiction, however, led him to attain a B.A. in English Literature instead. He continued this course of study in graduate school at Indiana University Bloomington, where he focused on using 18th Century “rise of the novel” theory to examine the more recent “rise of the graphic novel.”
Since moving to New York in 2007, he has divided his time between teaching and writing. His first novel, the Los Angeles Times bestselling Icelander, was published by McSweeney’s in 2006, and his second novel, Bad Teeth, was published by Little A in 2014.
Wide-ranging in his own interests, at EFCNY Dustin has worked with students in a great variety of areas. In addition to reading and composition, he has also taught subjects as diverse as biology, math, geography, political science, etc., always with an eye to helping students improve their Executive Function and work toward self-reliance. Dustin enjoys building long-lasting relationships with his students and demonstrating how the same set of Executive Function tools can be usefully applied not only to just about every area of academic study but also to the non-academic challenges of life as well.
Tioma Maloratsky is a native of Moscow, Russia, trained in physics and mathematics at MIT and in education at Wellesley College. He worked on design and construction of the Tokamak reactor at the MIT Plasma Fusion Center and then for the Experimental Study Group, teaching physics and mathematics courses to MIT freshmen and incoming minority and disadvantaged students in alternative small-group settings. He then taught high school physics at Boston Latin Academy as part of his teacher training while consulting for Global Lab.
While continuing his work in mathematics and physics education, Tioma fell in love with Argentine Tango and studied it intensively for many years, becoming a known teacher and performer of the art. He produced an internationally acclaimed website tangoprinciples.org, which has been translated into several languages.
Tioma’s deepening practice of tango led him to the study of mind-body integration practices such as the Alexander Technique, Tai Chi Chuan, and Nei Kung, which have enriched both his artistic practice and his integrated teaching methods.
Impressed by the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr. Daniel Siegel in secular mindfulness initiatives, Tioma became an early enthusiast in bringing mindfulness to teenagers and young adults to help them develop better focus, self-regulation, and Executive Function skills. He received his mindfulness educator training with Mindful Schools and at several Mindfulness in Education Conferences.
Mariana Fresno One of the most dynamic Tango performers of the new generation, Mariana has established herself in the field of Argentine Tango through performing in numerous Tango shows and motion pictures. She has also distinguished herself as an extraordinary Tango mentor of children and young adults throughout the world. Before discovering tango, she graduated from the National School of Dance in Buenos Aires, where she studied ballet, folklore, jazz and modern dance.
Mariana has studied under such prominent instructors as Juan Carlos Copes, Mingo and Esther Pugliese, Graciela Gonzélez, Gustavo Naveira, José Garéfalo, Natalia Games y Gabriel Angio, Facundo and Kelly, Julio Balmaceda and with renowed milongueros such as Tete and Silvia, Rodolfo and Maria Cieri, ‘El Pibe’ Palermo, Carlitos Albornoz and many others. In 1997 she starred in the Buenos Aires Tango show with the Walter Réos Orchestra, which ran in Tokyo, Japan. She toured Chile with Osvaldo Zotto’s group, and in 1999 was also part of Anébal Pachano’s Tangou musical show. Mariana’s remarkable maturity and depth as a dancer is exhibited in films such as Evita directed by Alan Parker, and El Sueño de los Héroes (The Dreams of Heroes) by the Argentine director Sergio Renén. In Buenos Aires, Mariana joined the Escuela Argentina de Tango and the Abasto Plaza Hotel teacher’s staff.
She has also taught Tango workshops throughout the world including Argentina, the United States, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, France and Denmark.
Frances A. Smokowski is a critically recognized painter known for her compassionate engagement with complex social issues. Frances holds a Masters of Fine Art from the New York Academic of Art Graduate School of Figurative Art and a Masters of Art in Art Therapy from the School of Art Institute of Chicago. As a registered art therapist with over 25 years of experience as a facilitator of the creative process for individuals and groups, Frances has produced annual, rotating and ongoing displays of 2D and 3D client art for schools, therapy centers and other institutions.
Frances has an extensive exhibition history, most recently showing in New York City. She has created exhibition opportunities in alternative spaces in our Nation’s Capital and in her hometown of Buffalo, New York. She has served select non-profits and for-profit galleries as a volunteer consultant. Her “Insight & Inspiration” exhibition was the first of its kind to be curated by an esteemed art historian from a major museum, presenting art created by accomplished healers.
Additionally, she has served as a curator in a range of settings. Her love of art history and institutional collections supplements her understanding of museum culture gleaned from periods of employment at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Art Institute of Chicago. Her passion for historical and sacred masterpieces has found expression in her work as an independent copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
At EFCNY, Frances works in a person-centered, non-clinical way with students of all levels of experience creating 2D and 3D artwork. She guides individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in art, helping them develop and strengthen their portfolio, prepare for undergraduate courses of study, navigate college art courses, and research professional avenues for development as artists.
Frances’s students have been accepted at the top art schools including The Rhode Island School of Design, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Pennsylvania Academy of Art, Carnegie Mellon University and LaGuardia High School for visual and performing arts. Her students often are accepted into their first choice schools and some have earned valuable and prestigious scholarships.
Frances’s extensive training in human development and diverse learning styles coupled with her mastery of a wide range of historic and contemporary techniques allows her to truly customize lessons. Her emphasis on developing students’ strengths, building the kind of confidence that comes from solid conceptual and material experience, gives her students a competitive edge. They move on from her mentorship as skilled makers, adept at thinking through technical, thematic and other challenges inherent in a well developed, yet ever-deepening, studio practice.
Eunnye Yang: Artist Eunnye (“IN-YA”) Yang was born and raised in South Korea. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from E-Wha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea and moved to New York City in 1996 to continue her studies. She completed her Fine Art studies at the National Academy of Design School of Fine Arts in New York in 2006 where she garnered the Edward Mooney Travel Prize, the Newington-Cropsey Foundation Academy Award for Summer Study in Italy, and the Frismuth Whitney Prize for Young Sculptors.
Eunnye combines her training from numerous disciplines—sculpting, painting, restoration, performing arts, yoga, meditation, cooking and nutrition—into her constantly expanding artistic vision, and integrates that vision into her teaching in Art and Design through EY Design consulting services.
At EFCNY, Eunnye consults as the head of art, sculpture, yoga studies, and museum-based learning. She combines her work in sculpture with mentoring in Executive Function skills, particularly by helping students sculpt figurative self-portraits. Eunnye was commissioned to create a relief sculpture representing the self-monitoring aspect of Executive Function, and her three-part series capturing ten years of self-monitoring of her own life hangs at the entrance of our main learning center. She feels privileged to bring her own learning experiences as an artist to her work with young people and, as a member of a team of mentors, assists students in finding their passion and best path forward.
Eunnye guides students who are looking to have careers in the arts in creating their portfolios and preparing for the interview process as well. Eunnye also serves as EFCNY’s official liaison to the Korean community in the United States and in Korea, where she is the contact point for families and organizations wishing to send their children to study at EFCNY and in the US in general.
The most rewarding aspect of Eunnye’s work as a mentor is that former students love to remain in contact with her over the years, sharing how they are thriving in their studies, seeking advice, or simply requesting to enjoy a day at a museum or exhibit together when they are nearby or when Eunnye can visit them. Eunnye has served for several years on the board of the AHL Foundation, the Korean Contemporary Artists Support System. In her extra time, Eunnye is an avid animal lover and well-documented cat whisperer. Eunnye also serves as the Assistant Director and Curator of the EFCNY Gallery.
Sae Okihara is a true ambassador of Japanese culture and language. Sae earned an MA in American Literature at Kansai University and a second Master’s degree from New York University in teaching Japanese as a foreign language. Sae firmly believes that a greater understanding of Japan and its arts, customs, and traditions can be brought to the United States through the transmission of its language and has put this belief into practice with years of teaching experience, including work at the University of San Francisco and New York University.
At EFCNY LLC, Sae embeds Executive Function mentoring into her work in Japanese language, art, culture and cooking. She conveys a unique perspective on the world that fuels students’ interests in Asian language, art and culture while simultaneously conveying a joyful and mindful approach to organizing and approaching assignments, deadlines, projects and tasks.
Lucie Young: Lucie is an internationally successful journalist and author who has written extensively for the New York Times newspaper and magazine, the London Telegraph newspaper, and myriad publications globally. Her blog has had 200,000 hits and has been read in 130 countries, and her biography of designer Eva Zeisel was a nonfiction best seller. Her specializations include arts, culture, design, architecture, food, travel, spirituality and health reporting.
Lucie discovered the powerful, transformative energies of Tai Chi and Qigong 20 years ago. These two ancient Chinese practices are the most studied forms of exercises in the world. For over 15 years, Lucie has taught students of all ages and abilities the classic Yang style Tai chi short form. Her advanced students learn the rare and exquisite Yang style long form and push hands—the highest of martial arts. She also teaches Qigong exercises, which are immediately rewarding and easy-to-learn routines.
At EFCNY, in addition to mentoring chi-channeling practices, Lucie also mentors creative writing and essay writing and enjoys helping students find their unique voice and explore their creativity.