Licensed Professional Counselor with 20 years of experience working with youth and families, including adoptive and foster families. Michelle studied at Texas Christian University under the direction of Dr. Karyn Purvis and obtained her certification as a TBRI Practitioner. Michelle is trained in attachment and trauma informed therapy.
Michelle is passionate about her position as a therapist and passionate about coming alongside adoptive and foster families to serve in any way that is needed to help heal and move families towards their goals. Working alongside a team of professionals, Michelle also manages and collaborates to bring respite nights, nurture groups and other events aimed at supporting families.
Michelle also operates her private practice, Mountainview Counseling LLC in Somerset, NJ. Michelle and her family live in central, NJ
Jimmy Occhipinti is co-founder of Miriam’s Heart, along with his wife Elizabeth. Jimmy felt God speaking to his heart when he had a first-hand encounter with orphans in Criscor, Romania, where he helped establish a dental clinic through work with International Children’s Aid Foundation. Jim worked on the Board for ICAF for a few years and then began his work with Urban Impact, through his involvement at Zarephath Christian Church. In 2007, Jim & Elizabeth felt a strong sense to adopt. They began that process and within the next few years welcomed two children from South Korea. During their research, Jim & Elizabeth began gathering information to share with others and for several years, facilitated the “vision” of Miriam’s Heart out of their home. With a strong passion for rallying men to take action on behalf of the fatherless, Jimmy focuses his ministry on reaching men and developing their hearts to take on this divine purpose. Now the father of five, Jim has ample opportunity to show God’s heart to his children! Jim and Elizabeth live in New Jersey, where Jim works as a dentist.
Ifeoma Ejiogu has an Associates Degree in Education p-12 from Raritan Valley Community College and a Fine Arts Education degree from Montclair State University with a concentration in painting. A certified NJ educator, Ifeoma is gifted at working with children with special needs. Ifeoma has been a part of our team from the early development of Miriam’s Heart from the ‘couch ministry’ through to the creation of the professional advisory team! As an Artist, Ifeoma says, “I have come to realize that every moment in life, whether good or bad, creates an opportunity to later revisit, process, or express on canvas…whether a moment or a memory was delightful or harrowing we have the opportunity to portray them as delicate divine moments.” This desire to help our children share their story through art is what makes Ifeoma a true gift to Miriam’s Heart and the children we work with!
*Indicates Empowered to Connect Parent Trainer
**Indicates TBRI Practitioner
Emily Yang is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is trained in Child Centered Play Therapy and in Trust Based Relational Intervention, a trauma-informed and attachment-based therapy. Emily uses play therapy techniques to help children process past trauma, coach parents in playful parenting skills, and empower kids to overcome behavioral problems and build strong bonds within their families. Play & Heal Therapy for Families, LLC is Emily's private practice which she started three years ago by partnering with Miriam's Heart. Miriam's Heart has also made it possible for Emily to provide play therapy in a unique setting - a play room filled with toys, a sand tray, and miniatures which encourage children to engage their imaginations and activate the part of their brain that processes trauma. Emily's past positions include the roles of Adoption Caseworker at an international adoption agency, Clinician in a therapeutic foster care program and an Intensive In-Community Clinician for families in crisis. She has over 14 years of experience working as a Therapist with children and their families and has developed a passion for helping children adoptive families and foster care during times of transition. You can read more about her work at playandhealtherapy.com.
Christina Mosleh is a Certified American Sign Language Interpreter from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf working in the Tri-state area for over 20 years. Her passion is working within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in community in social, business, religious, educational and theatrical settings. Her heart has always been with foster care and adoptive families and she is thrilled to be part of the Miriam’s Heart team to serve as both an ASL Interpreter and also as a prayer intercessor. Christina is a mom to three amazing kids and lives with her husband and kiddos in Somerset County, NJ.
ASL TRANSLATOR &
Melissa Carrero is a Speech-Language Pathologist with a license to practice in NJ state and nationally. She provides skilled intervention and therapeutic services for clients who benefit from speech, language, voice, cognitive and swallowing therapy. She has over 15 years experience working to help a people of all ages; including toddlers, pre-schoolers, school-aged children as well as older adults. Melissa has experience working in a variety of settings including home care, schools, out-patient clinics, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. Melissa has trained in trauma and attachment styles through the Connect Course and Empowered to Connect.
Melissa is passionate about her role as a speech therapist to empower and educated her clients and their families in carrying over strategies used in therapy into daily routines in order to improve the overall quality of life for her clients and their families. Melissa lives in Central NJ with her husband and their two elementary school-aged daughters. She loves music, loves to dance and to spent quality time with family; usually playing board games and snuggling on the couch to watch a movie.
SPEECH & LANGUAGE
Valerie Pena is a registered, licensed Occupational therapist with over 30 years of experience in her profession. Her areas of expertise include evaluation and treatment of traumatic hand injuries, developmental disabilities and sensory processing disorders. Valerie has worked in various settings, including hospitals, schools, private practice and long-term care centers. She is certified in the state of NJ to administer modalities, such as TENS, therapeutic ultrasound e-stim and diathermy, and has completed several courses of study involving the therapeutic use of yoga and Pilates in the pediatric population. Valerie has developed multi-sensory programs that have been used successfully in school districts in NY and NJ. Valerie is also a wellness coach, and incorporates her knowledge of clean eating and exercise into her practice.
Valerie enjoys helping others develop improved quality of life and is looking forward to coming alongside adoptive and foster families to help them attain their goals. Valerie is a married mom of 3, and she and her family live in Middlesex County, NJ.