Chris Lacey, Chief Executive Officer
Chris Lacey joined the Waterford Country School staff in 1998 as a Lead Child Care worker in the Shelter program. He quickly advanced and became a Supervisor in the Shelter program and then later Assistant Program Director for Safe Homes in 2003. In 2006, he was promoted to Program Director for Foster Care, which eventually grew to include all the community services the Agency now offers. Chris served as the Community Services program director for Adoption Services, Children’s Outpatient Clinic, Intensive Family Preservation and the Foster Care program at our satellite facility in Norwich for 11 years before becoming the Assistant Executive Director overseeing all the agency programs. In 2021, Chris became the Executive Director of Waterford Country School after 22 years of service. Chris obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Eastern Connecticut State University and earned a Master of Science in Human Services from Springfield College.
Emily Thomson, Chief Operating Officer
Emily Thomson graduated from Western New England College in Springfield, MA, with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and received a Master of Science in Psychology from Connecticut College. She has been working at Waterford Country School since 2001 where she started as a clinician in the Safe Home Program was promoted to Assistant Program Director. Emily was promoted again to Residential Treatment Program Director in 2012. In 2017, Emily was placed in charge of both the Residential Treatment and Hunts Brook Academy long term care programs. In spring of 2021 Emily became the Chief Operating Officer overseeing all of the clinical programs of the agency.
Sharon Butcher, Director of Education
Sharon Butcher has been an employee of Waterford Country School since the summer of 1979. She started as a child care worker and moved into the Education department in 1984. In 2004 she was selected as the Director of Education and continues to serve in this role. Sharon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Eastern Connecticut University. She holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Comprehensive Special Education and an Intermediate Administrator and Supervisor certification from Southern Connecticut University. Sharon is an adjunct member of the faculty of Cornell University, providing training and consultation for the Residential Child Care Project.
Lisa joined the Waterford Country School family in 1998 as a Foster Care Coordinator in the therapeutic foster care program. Lisa moved to the Intensive Family Preservation program in 2003 and worked with families in their homes before returning to Foster Care as a Supervisor. Lisa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Relations from the University of Connecticut. She holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Joseph’s College. Lisa is a trainer for Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Families and holds a certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies from Justice Resource Institute. In 2017, Lisa became the Director of Foster Care and Community Services programs in our Norwich location.
Ben Turner, Director of Outdoor Education
Ben began working at Waterford Country School in 2009 as an Adventure and Animal Therapy Facilitator, and was promoted in 2012 to Camp Director. In 2014 he was named Assistant Outdoor Education Director and in 2015 assumed the role of Director. Ben designed and directed the WCS’s Camp Cuheca summer program, an after-school program, and the Agency’s fitness trail. Ben Turner was born and raised in Waterford, just a few miles from Waterford Country School. Ben holds a bachelors degree from Northeastern University in business management. At Northeastern, Ben began his career helping and motivating others as a Fitness Consultant for Boston police/detectives, corporate executives, and dual-diagnosed adults in recovery. Ben is a Cornell University certified TCI Trainer, holds a United States Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Rehabilitation Permit, CT DEEP Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, on the Board of Directors for Reliance Health Inc., and Challenge Course Manager.
Julianna Velazquez, Development Director
As Director of Development at WCS, Julianna provides leadership, program development and management for all fundraising and communication efforts. She is in charge of the annual fund, grants, special events, community outreach, media relations and publications. She earned her Master of Science Degree in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut. Julianna has worked in fundraising for over ten years.
Stacy Lowry, Chief Financial Officer
Stacy Lowry joined the Waterford Country School staff in September 2019. In her role, she provides leadership to the Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology groups. Her key skills include critical/analytical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration through effective communication. Prior to joining the Waterford Country School team, Stacy worked most recently as the Director of Communications and Practice Management for First Financial Advisory Services, an Investment Advisory firm in Westerly, Rhode Island. In this diverse role, she handled process improvement, database management, compliance, marketing and client communications, as well as business technology and analytics. Earlier in her career, she formerly worked as a Financial Analyst for Pfizer Global Research and Development, and as the Accounting and Reporting Manager first for Mohegan Sun Casino and later The Providence Journal newspaper. Stacy earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Finance from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2003, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from the University of Connecticut in 1993.
Brian joined Waterford Country School in 2017. He brings with him over 30 years of construction and maintenance experience, traveling and supervising projects such at power plants, schools, casinos, water treatment plants, restaurants and residential properties. In 2011, he received a construction excellence award for the incredible building of 7 restaurants in 12 weeks at one of Connecticut’s casinos.
Brian started out after completing welding school working at General Dynamics and then at a Nuclear Facility. He holds certifications in OSHA safety, scaffolding erection and inspection, articulating lifts, weld inspections, nuclear facility fork truck license, heavy equipment operator license, CPR and first aid. He says “to stand back and look at something you’ve created or built over the years is a satisfying feeling. But to do this for the kids at WCS brings the work full circle for me.”
Jenna Baerlocher, Director of Short Term Group Care
Jenna came to Waterford Country School in October of 2014. As the Assistant Program Director for the STAR Emergency Shelter Program she provided direct supervision to all the masters level clinicians, coordinated the hiring and training and of new child care staff for the shelter program. Jenna holds a Masters Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from the University of Rhode Island and a Bachelors Degree in Child, Family & Consumer Sciences from the University of Idaho.
In 2020, Jenna was promoted to the Director of Short Term Group Care overseeing all operations and staff in both the SFIT and Emergency Shelter programs. She collaborates with CT Department of Children and Families and struggling families in the community. Although these programs for kids are short term, they are essential services for families needing intensive therapeutic support. Jenna is a certified CARE Educator, TCI trainer and Seven Challenges Leader.