Prior to starting True To Life in 1999, Jay worked with Gap Inc., where he was responsible for management, sales and leadership development in the Northeastern United States, as well as starting new operations in Paris, France. Leaving Gap to become the Director of Training for Viacom Inc., Jay played a key role in the creation of a new division of the company, which merged all the core brands of Viacom, including MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Pictures, into one business concept. In 1999 Jay founded True To Life Training. He was determined to solve the “soft skills” challenge of transferring nuanced learning from the training room to the real world. Today, Jay is a highly regarded consultant to summer camps throughout North America. His passion for start up ventures continues as he has overseen the launching of 9 new specialty camps for the Foundation for Jewish Camp, supported by an $18 million grant from the Jim Joseph and AVI CHAI Foundations.
Jana holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a MA in Educational Policy and Administration from New York University. Jana started her career in Residence Life as an RA her sophomore year of college and continued her experiences through her role as a Graduate Residence Director in graduate school. Jana discovered a love for learning in the residential environment and a deep commitment to student leadership development, so she decided to pursue Res Life as her career and served as a Residence Director for 5 years and an Assistant Director for Residence Life for 6 years. Jana has dedicated her professional life to the growth and development of college students, and the staff and faculty who work with them, including four years of involvement on the NEACUHO executive board, being recognized as the NEACURH Advisor of the Year in 2011, and winning the Dan Hallenbeck Service Award in 2013. Jana is also a huge animal advocate and volunteers with a rescue in her free time.
Tyler Catanella holds a BA in Theater Education from Emerson College. As a working Teaching Artist, Tyler is known for his compassionate demeanor and his ability to connect with everyone he meets. Tyler teaches throughout the greater Boston area and works extensively with K-12 students, college students, and the educators that work with those populations. Additionally, Tyler loves to be a dad to his three legged cat, Buck.
Joy Arcolano holds a BA from Russel Sage College and an EdM Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School. As a long-time Teaching Artist, Joy has a true love for teaching and learning. She brings her expertise to her work by focusing on every learner's style and every organization's learning culture. Joy brings a warmth to all of her workshops and has been enjoying her work with True to Life for 12 years. Joy is also a faculty member at The Boston Conservatory.
Brett Gurwitz holds a BA from the University at Buffalo and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. He has over ten years of youth development experience as a supervisor, mentor, trainer and therapist. Brett is a strong listener who can skillfully bring a group together and challenge their development. In addition to his work with True To Life, Brett works as a Coach and Trainer with Ramapo for Children where he helps educators and youth-service professionals gain practical tools they need to grow as leaders and promote success for their young people.
Molly has over 12 years of experience working with children and staff in summer camps and after school programs. After serving as the Literacy Program Coordinator at Kids Orbit After School and the Assistant Director at NC Mountain Lake Summer Camp, Molly received her Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She currently serves as a Trainer with Ramapo for Children. Molly also combines her backgrounds in education and the performing arts with Story Pirates, where she inspires young people to explore improv, theater and creative writing. While Molly no longer gets to spend her summers at camp, in her heart, she'll always be canoeing on the lake.
Jordan Mackenzie holds a BA in Theater Arts from Dean College, where she was also a Resident Assistant. Jordan has an inspiring energy and brings it into every educational environment she teaches in. As an educator with a strong commitment to social justice, Jordan has connected deeply with the power and potential of bystander intervention. In her free time, Jordan loves to take obscure pictures on her cell phone, travel, and experience culture and life as much as possible.
Jen currently holds a BA in Sociology and a Masters in Higher Education Administration. Prior to joining True to Life Training, Jen served 7 years as a Residence Director and 3 years as the Assistant Director of Residence Life specifically for Learning Communities and First Year Student Programs. During her tenure in Higher Education, Jen specialized in Staff Training and Development. Jen prides herself in her acute attention to detail and love of logistics. She is excited to assist the True to Life clients in meeting their needs. Jen currently lives in Long Island, NY with her husband and spends her free time visiting thrift shops searching for hidden treasures, getting lost in a good book and of course enjoying her daily trip to Starbucks.
Melissa joined True to Life Training in 1999 and is currently a Client Care Specialist and internal Team Trainer. She assists clients during custom project development and helps onboard new team leaders within our company. With expertise in communication and public relations, Melissa is an integral part of developing how we serve our clients prior to training. Also a gifted writer, instructor, and award-winning actress, Melissa is an active member of our content development and facilitator team. Given her long relationship with True To Life, Melissa is lovingly known as “the person who knows everything!”
“True to Life Training has developed the best method I have seen for training teachers, camp counselors and just about anyone who works with people. They bring to life real situations that resonate with staff and help them learn new skills while sharpening old ones in ways that are both memorable and highly effective.”
– Bob Ditter, Child and Family TherapistNational Camp Consultant
“It IS My Place is a dynamic program that educated our new students with university policy through realistic scenarios. The presentation opened the door to rich conversation that sparked bystander intervention and action by our community members.”
-Daniel Brown, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs & Director of Campus Life, Quinnipiac University
“True To Life dealt with the troubling sorts of problems that plague every camp, in a pointed but humorous way. Now that I’ve witnessed their program, I can’t imagine how we as an association could have addressed these sensitive problems AND solutions, in any more effective format. In addition to hitting the content mark, Jay and his team set the tone for the rest of our conference – with energy, humor, and sincerity.”
-Amy Katzenberger, Educational Services Director
American Camp Association
“Compassionate Compliance with Jana was phenomenal! She made a tough topic engaging and easy to learn more about. I honestly feel much more comfortable handling these situations after this session. The information presented was very clear and expanded my knowledge on both procedure and why we do what we do.”
– Resident Assistant