Community Awareness Network For A Drug-Free Life And Environment, Inc. (CANDLE) was founded as a non-profit organization in 1982. Its mission is to prevent substance abuse and violence among youth. CANDLE's goal is to improve the health and climate of our schools and our communities by providing prevention education and resistance strategies to youth and their adult allies, and support programs for young people at risk. Contact us at 845-634-6677 or via email


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Joanne Goodman
Executive Director

Joanne Goodman has been executive director of CANDLE since 2002, during which time she has helped to expand the reach of CANDLE’s substance abuse prevention programs and services for LGBTQ youth to school districts and communities throughout Rockland. A graduate of Hunter College, Joanne holds a MS from the University of Michigan and an MPA from New York University.   

Joanne has been an activist in the helping professions since college. Her commitment to advocating for those marginalized by society has taken her from a career as a clinician to one as leader of several non-profit agencies serving developmentally disabled children, formerly incarcerated women, and families in need of decent, affordable housing.  -  (845) 634-6677 ext. 11

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Annie Scott
Program Director

Annie Scott has been a member of the CANDLE team since 2006. Her primary responsibilities include supervising all prevention staff and program activities, creating and developing programs in schools and community settings, and meeting with school staff and administration to plan programs. Annie develops and facilitates workshops and groups for students, school faculty, parents and community members.

Annie grew up in Rockland and participated in CANDLE programs beginning in first grade. She completed her two-year Master’s Level Internship at CANDLE and remained a staff member for an additional year. She then returned in 2014 in the position of Assistant Program Director and was promoted to Program Director in 2015. Annie received her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University and is a Licensed Master Social Worker. - (845) 634-6677 ext. 13


Laurie Puca
Office Manager

Laurie Puca joined the CANDLE team as Office Manager in 2015.  Laurie ensures the CANDLE office runs smoothly by organizing and coordinating all administrative tasks and office procedures for all staff, consultants, and volunteers.  She provides general administrative support for all staff, the Finance Coordinator, the Executive Director and the Board of Directors.

Laurie has a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and 17 years’ experience as a Human Resources professional in the corporate sector.  Laurie also has 18 years as a service volunteer in Rockland County.  She is the parent of two children that participated in CANDLE’s prevention education programs while in elementary school.  Her family also participated in CANDLE’s Strengthening Families Program. - (845) 634-6677 ext. 10


Marta Halifi
Finance Coordinator

Marta Halifi joined the CANDLE team as Finance Coordinator in 2010 after working four years on a consulting basis. Marta oversees all aspects of grant management, maintains the financial books of the agency, monitors compliance with regulatory agencies, oversees the audit review and prepares the annual budget for CANDLE.

She has a Master’s in Business Administration-Accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Bachelor’s in Economics from Hunter College. Marta’s children participated in CANDLE Programs while in elementary school. - (845) 634-6677 ext. 12


Michele Hughes
Program Coordinator

Michele Hughes has been a Program Coordinator at CANDLE since February of 2017.  She facilitates psycho-educational groups for elementary and middle school youth and implements classroom programs in school and community settings.  Michele develops and presents workshops to students, school faculty, parents and community members. 

Michele received her Master’s in School Counseling from the University of Rochester and is a Nationally Certified School Counselor.  Michele’s children participated in many CANDLE programs as elementary and high school students. - (845) 634-6677 ext. 16


Lois Ross
Licensed Master Social Worker

Lois Ross is a Licensed Master Social Worker who joined the CANDLE team in 2005.  Lois provides, assessment, referrals and short term counseling services to school age children at The CANDLE Center of Orangetown. She received her Master’s degree from Fordham University and specializes in prevention counseling addressing interpersonal and family issues, bullying, alcohol/substance abuse, eating disorders, self-hurt and sexual promiscuity.  Lois’s children participated in CANDLE programs while in elementary and high school. - (845) 680-1683


LindSay Melisurgo
Program Coordinator

Lindsay Melisurgo has been a Program Coordinator at CANDLE since August of 2016.  Lindsay designs and implements classroom-based prevention programs for students of all ages. She also facilitates psycho-educational groups and workshops for students, school faculty, and community members. 

Lindsay received her Bachelor’s in English and Master’s of Art in Teaching from the University of Maine.  She is a former teacher at the New York City Department of Education. - (845) 634-6677 x 23


Ron Garzia
The CANDLE Center Program Coordinator

Ron Garzia joined the CANDLE team in September of 2017 as The CANDLE Center Program Coordinator.  He manages outreach for The CANDLE Center and presents prevention education programs in schools in Rockland. 

Ron was an educator in the East Ramapo Central School District for 35 years and the Assistant Director at Camp Venture Summer Camp for 36 years.  He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education and Health Education and a Master’s in Special Education. His children were introduced to CANDLE programs in elementary school. - (845) 680-1683


Jay Tyler
Youth Pride Program Assistant

Jay Tyler joined CANDLE as a staff member in 2016 as the Youth Pride Program Assistant.  Jay assists in planning programs and activities for LGBTQ youth and youth serving professionals and coordinates the volunteer mentoring program for young adults.  Jay visits school groups and clubs to provide technical assistance and discuss CANDLE programs and events. Jay also facilitates the Trans Youth Group and presents LGBT Cultural Competency training to high school and middle school students.

Jay was a Youth Pride Program participant while in high school and joined CANDLE’s Leadership Project while studying Journalism and Public Relations at SUNY New Paltz because of his love for the program.  Upon graduating with his Bachelor’s degree, Jay became a full-time staff member at CANDLE. - (845) 634-6677 x 24