Debbie is a mother and grandmother, an author and an artist.  She says she takes after her mom in focusing on the bright side in life and chooses to see the good in people.  She is very passionate in everything she does.  Upon learning the realities of human trafficking, not only globally but here in our own backyard, she has purposed to raise awareness to the community and has a vision to provide safe homes of healing and hope for women survivors of trafficking.

Debbie is certified through Shared Hope International as an Ambassador, completing education and training regarding Human Trafficking. She is a public speaker raising awareness to the community through public speaking opportunities presenting workshops in schools, colleges, civic groups, churches, and local businesses.

She is a member of Safe Harbour Human Trafficking Task Force for Schenectady County, as well as Domestic Violence Task Force and Sexual Assault Victims Advocacy Task Force. She visits weekly with women at the city jail, joining counselors from the YWCA.

She is owner of Her Treasure Box and Founder/President of Eyes Wide Open, NENY Inc. Debbie and her friend Patty opened Her Treasure Box March 30, 2016. The art and craft supply thrift store, run solely by volunteers and all profit supports Eyes Wide Open, NENY, Inc. mission and goals. With the encouragement from the Sisters of the Coalition to End Human Trafficking, Eyes Wide Open NENY, Inc. was established in August 2015 with the vision to provide safe homes of healing and hope for women who have been trafficked.



Sister Fran has been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Albany, NY for 56 years. She is a retired educator, long-time justice advocate, a free-lance writer and a member of the Capital Region’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force.



Jeanne retired just over a year ago. Her background is in group health insurance and graphic design advertising. She has three children and six grandchildren. Her desire was to give back in the years ahead by becoming part of something meaningful. She was introduced to Eyes Wide Open by Patty & Debbie and embraced the opportunity. Her heart is open to learning more about human trafficking and helping in any way she can to fulfill their vision of healing and hope.



Tara is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and National Certified Counselor in private practice in Guilderland, NY.  Prior to opening her own private practice, she worked at St. Anne Institute in their community-based program.  She worked with victims of sexual assault, juveniles who sexually acted out, as well as the offender.  Since opening her private practice, Tara has become certified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a highly researched and evidence-based treatment technique to help people heal from trauma.  She continues to seek out training in advanced trauma techniques to better serve the population she treats.  Tara has spent her career focused on helping people who have struggled with trauma and trauma symptoms.  More specifically, her passion is helping people, of all ages and genders, heal from sexual trauma.  


Tara became aware of Eyes Wide Open when the organization reached out to her to coordinate therapeutic support for the women in the program.  Upon researching the non-profit, Tara quickly believed in the mission of Eyes Wide Open and wanted to be more involved.  Tara is excited and honored to be a part of Eyes Wide Open.



Ms. Puorto Conte is a professor at the Sage Graduate Schools, School of Health Sciences, Forensic Mental Health Division. She designed and teaches the Human Trafficking course , Suicide Prevention, Intervention
and Postvention Masters level course and Grant Writing at Sage as well as facilitates the Life Worth Living Recovery Group at New Choices in Schenectady and works as an advocate for several trafficked young
adult women who have aged out of the Safe Harbor Program.


She currently works as a presenter on Human Trafficking topics for HEAL Trafficking (Health,Education,Advocacy Linkage Because Human Trafficking is a Public Health Issue) out of Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard. Ms Puorto Conte has recently presented at Albany Law School, Albany Medical School, Capital Region SANE Nurses Association, Hudson Health Alliance Hospitals (Westchester Medical
Center) as well as other national and regional venues including Northeastern University School of Nursing in Boston,MA. She is currently working with Ellis Hospital to provide guidance on human trafficking identification and treatment policies as well as designing system wide training and providing on site screening for suspected trafficking victims, She also is preparing research on suicide risk and prevention for runaway and homeless trafficked youth. She also is the former Safe Harbour Coordinator for Schenectady County.


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