Staff and Contributors

Specialized Family Therapy staff are the dedicated therapy professionals responsible for course content and forum moderation. You can read more about our history and experience in our biographies listed below. You can also find us on the support forums if you have questions about course content.


Image of Maurice Heidish, LCSW

Maurice Heidish, LCSW

Maurice Heidish, LCSW, is the past Director of the Community Partnerships Division of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania, a large diverse social service and behavioral health non-profit organization. He served in multiple roles with the agency with the last 14 being as Director of the Division. His early clinical experience entailed treating families with mentally, emotionally and/or behaviorally disturbed children and adults with co-occurring mental health and drug and alcohol dependence. Within his current Directorship/Administrative role, he has also provided direct service, trained, and led a team of Family Therapists.

Maurie specializes currently as an organizational and  program development consultant, and a clinical supervisor for agencies providing Specialized Family Therapy. He also provides clinical supervision for those clinicians seeking to be  licensed.

Mr. Heidish has been recognized by the Staunton Farm Foundation, which provides grants for behavioral health innovations. He received the 2011 Albert B Craig Memorial Award for this Specialized Family Therapy training regimen for Family Therapists. Mr. Heidish was also a finalist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Community Health/Mental Health Leadership Program 2004. He was also nominated for the Promoting Justice award from the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice 2005, and nominated for National Council of Excellence in Innovations Awards, 2008.

Mr. Heidish has taught at the graduate school of Marriage and Family Therapy at Seton Hill University and the Counseling Psychology Masters Program at Chatham University, as well as providing Continuation Education Seminars for Post Graduates at the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Social Work. He has made numerous presentations at the Senior leadership Conferences for the Alliance for Children and Families. He will be presenting his Specialized Family Therapy Training Module in October of 2013 at the National Conference of Marriage and Family Therapists in Portland, Oregon.

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Cecily Davis

Cecily Davis is a Masters level Social Worker with over 10 years experience practicing in the areas of children, families and community.  Cecily’s experience includes working with variety community partners – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, YMCA, YWCA, Fifth Third Bank, Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Corrections, charter and public schools.  She was employed as a Program Manager of Workforce Development with YouthWorks, Inc. There she facilitated trainings, career exploration activities, and taught transferrable skills that helped youth plan for their futures.

Currently, Cecily is employed with Family Services of Western Pennsylvania where she is a member of the Advancing Fathers and Family Enrichment Collaborative (AFFECT) Project. Cecily coordinates and facilitates parenting services in Allegheny County through collaboration with community organizations working with fathers.

Cecily holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelors of Social Work from Carlow University. Cecily is now in the process of becoming a licensed Social Worker and plans to pursue a doctorate degree in Education.

Image of John Murphy, MSW, LSW

John Murphy, MSW, LSW

John Murphy works for Family Services of Western Pennsylvania and is a social worker for the family support initiative at The Allegheny Jail in Pittsburgh, PA. This family support programming aims to help individuals and families affected by incarceration. John runs groups in the jail, facilitates specialized contact visitation, and consults with families in the communities where they live.

John also assists families that have been court ordered through family division with reconciliation counseling, co-parent counseling, and individual consultation. John began his career as an educator in 1997 and then moved into the field of community mental health. He worked five years on an assertive community treatment team in Chicago, IL and then six years as a Family Based Mental Health Worker in Greensburg, PA.

John has many years of experience working with broader systems. He has worked in collaboration with children and youth services, local schools, hospitals, clinics, corrections, and community programmers. John holds a Masters Degree of Social Worker from The University of Pittsburgh and a certificate in family based mental health from Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

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Joy B. Krumenacker

Joy B. Krumenacker is a doctoral candidate at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA where she anticipates completing her PsyD in Counseling Psychology in the fall of 2014. Joy received her Master of Science in Professional Counseling from Carlow University and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology from Penn State University.

Joy has had a variety of clinical and administrative experience in the sixteen years she has been employed in the field. Her career began working with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the majority of her clinical experience has been with adults with severe and persistent mental illness.

She has provided both group and individual counseling in community mental health centers, an outpatient hospital setting, and in a university counseling center; her counseling experience also includes providing co-parenting and reconciliation counseling in court-ordered cases. She has also managed a behavioral health program for the past five years and has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and counseling in the Pittsburgh area. Her research interest includes personality traits and attachment. Joy has two children and enjoys traveling, gardening, natural/alternative healing methods, cooking, and live music.

Image of Shauna Staranko, MS

Shauna Staranko, MS

Shauna Staranko, MS, is a Marriage and Family Therapist working towards licensure and practicing Specialized Family Therapy at Family Services of Western Pennsylvania as part of the National Fatherhood Initiative. She received her master’s degree from Auburn University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program and her bachelor’s degree from Grove City College.

She has worked with demographically diverse populations from rural Alabama to the inner city of Pittsburgh, PA, and her current work focuses on low income families with recent custody disputes. Shauna’s past experience includes working with individuals, couples, families, and groups in the community mental health, detention center, and university therapy center settings.

Her research interests include the relationships between health and childhood maltreatment, attachment, and relationship education, with her work being presented at conferences held by the American Psychological Association, Southeastern Conference on Family Relations, Society for Research on Child Development, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

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Lynn Acquafondata

Lynn Acquafondata, DMin, MS, MHC-LP, is a mental health counselor for the Pastoral Counseling and Family Therapy Group in Rochester, NY ( ).

She learned specialized family therapy during her internship at Family Services of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Maurie Heidish.

Lynn earned her Doctor of Ministry degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School (2013) with her thesis “Mapping Congregational Emotional Systems” and created a system for counseling congregations — Lynn earned her MS in counseling from Duquesne University (2013).

She has served as a hospice chaplain, hospital chaplain and a congregational minister. She is an ordained minister and has won two sermon awards. Lynn loves to dance, and to spend time with her husband, two adult sons and her two dogs.

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Andrew Yelanich

Andrew Yelanich is a former employee of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania who helped the team build its original website. He served as “technology translator” and worked with OrgSpring in creating the new online course website.

Andrew is a great supporter of the Pittsburgh non-profit network, and he likes to find new technologies and then help match them to local programs in need of new solutions.

Image of Bethany Smith

Bethany Smith

Bethany Smith practices Specialized Family Therapy (SFT) at Family Services of Western Pennsylvania.  She has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA.  She also holds a Bachelor degree in Social Work from the same university.  Ms. Smith developed an interest in SFT while engaging in an undergraduate independent study course with Maurice Heidish.  She helped to prepare the SFT training regimen for web-based format and became interested in both the goals and techniques of the model.

Prior to obtaining her masters degree, Ms. Smith focused on promoting economic self-sufficiency for low income individuals and families.  She has clinical experience with individuals, couples, families and groups.  She has worked in a community mental health center that serves LGBTQ clients and at The Seton Hill Center for Family Therapy.  Ms. Smith’s professional passions are systems theories and studying the affect of trauma on family systems and interpersonal dynamics.  She is trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy and currently attends the Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh.