Who We Are

We are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and the best of friends.

We are students and researchers, mentors, volunteers, and teachers. We are athletes and artists, speakers, spiritual seekers, looking for peace and trying to give as much as we possibly can to our world. We are humans.

And just like you and I — those among us who have been convicted of a crime are human too. For those that have faced their consequences and should return to our society, further segregation and retaliation is not the answer to helping create productive, contributing humans. 

Those too struggling with homelessness, addiction, behavioral disorders, and the plethora of issues that go along with incarceration: they are all human. Our humanity brings us together. It tells us to lend a hand to someone when they fall down, to care for the sick, and stand up for our fellows — especially when they cannot stand up for themselves.

We at Winning Ways hope to be a spark. To show our brothers and sisters that sometimes a second chance is all it takes – and how miraculous a second chance can be. To take an individual that has wronged others or society, who bears a host of dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors, and show them how to be a caring, working fellow among us. Why? Because we all share in this humanity and world, and to work towards a better life for all is one of the most constitutional missions. Winning Ways is a community, a family, and a home.

We hope you will stay for a while. Please explore the other pages for an idea of the state of the prison system, the issues facing our society including poverty, homelessness, learned helplessness, addiction, mental disorders, and what we can change – together.  

Benajmin Backes

Co-founder & President

Benjamin Backes, LCSW, LADC is the Assistant Executive Director of Frankenberger Associates, where he oversees the therapeutic services, which include the PEERS® Social Skills program and other counseling services. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC), Ben provides counseling services to students and their families, as well as individual crisis management for schools.

Additionally, Ben speaks frequently about addiction, anxiety, depression, social skills, and other behavorial/developmental topics. Some of his presentations include, “21st Century Addiction”, “An Honest Conversation” and “My Story”, in which he provides the latest evidence-based research regarding substance use along with insights from his personal journey with addiction. Prior to his role at Frankenberger Associates, Ben was the Director of School-Based Counseling at Project Courage LLC, where he provided counseling services at numerous high schools and supervised other school-based counselors.

Ben also brings experience with Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT), and individual, group, and family counseling. Ben received his Associates Degree and certificate in Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling (DARC) from Gateway Community College, his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University, and his Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University.

Andrew Redenti

Co-founder & Vice President

Andrew holds a B.S. in Molecular & Cell Biology from the University of Connecticut. He is enrolled in the dual Doctor of Medicine & Doctor of Philosophy at Columbia University, graduating in 2025 to train in medical oncology, and to conduct research to advance synthetic biology & immunology while designing novel therapeutics.

Before medical school, he worked as a chemistry tutor & teacher for several years, taught courses at Yale, as well as middle and high-school classes through the Health Career Opportunities Program through the University of Connecticut. His thousands of hours of teaching, and knowledge of neuroscience, continue to contribute course refinement through creation of our Curriculum. Outside of medicine and teaching, Andrew runs a weightlifting gym, and guides individuals in aspects of physical health, nutrition, and athletic training.

Today his major goal in life is to reduce the burden of suffering experienced through various tragic realities of the human condition. More broadly, to help end the misdirection, suffering, and death of bright, young people in our society, whether through greatly needed community programs such as the one born here, or methods of curing human disease.

Kevin Paulin

Co-founder & Executive Director

Kevin currently serves as the co-founder and the Executive Director for Winning Ways Inc., founded in 2016.

Prior to his present position, Kevin held managerial positions at both Marrakech Inc. located in Woodbridge, Connecticut and Columbus House located in New Haven, CT. Kevin has over 9 years’ experience in serving demographics such as those experiencing homelessness, the intellectually disabled and other mental illness diagnoses, those experiencing reentry, veterans, and those experiencing
recovery. In addition, Kevin holds the role of serial entrepreneur that takes great pride in educating his community of financial literacy. Kevin passion to educate those about the financial sector is evident by receiving an associate degree in business management from Gateway Community College as well as receiving his bachelor’s degree in business management from Charter Oak State College. Kevin also is on
the Board of Directors for The Connecticut Women’s Consortium located in Hamden, CT.

Rebekah Lyas


Rebekah currently serves as the Deputy Director of the South Park Inn, the largest shelter for homeless individuals in Hartford county. She previously served in Manager and Director roles at Columbus House and ImmaCare Inc. formerly Immaculate Conception Shelter. She has a Bachelor’s in English Literature and a Masters in Women’s Studies. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the statewide nonprofit organization Journey Home, Hartford. She was selected to be a part of the 2023 cohort for the Leadership Greater Hartford Quest Program, and the Community Leadership Program Practice, Listening to Lead!
While not saving lives in the capitol region, she enjoys reading, yoga, and gardening. She is a loving wife and mother to two wonderful daughters, and recently beat stomach cancer. Her time leading with Winning Ways is a part of her quest for self improvement.

Neoccihia McNair


Neo McNair is a highly skilled and motivated businesswoman committed to the development of small business and community organizations who strive to bring their ideas and visions to life. She is a proven and experienced CEO and Business Development Director with record of significantly improving sales by developing strong customer service relationships.

Neo is esteemed by her peers and has served in business for over 20 years in various management and leadership positions. She has worked alongside Fortune 500 company executives and leaders. Neo’s most fulfilling work was serving with the American Heart Association, where she held the position of Director of Business Development/ Planned Giving. During her time with the AHA she raised over 15.5 million for cardiovascular disease research.

Since 2014, through her company Get Organized, Neo has gained the trust of over 300 individual & business clients throughout the U.S in providing financial, fundraising, management, marketing, technology & spiritual services. Neo graduated from the University of Delaware and Wesley College with degrees in Business Management, Economics and Leadership. Neo has a charismatic personality that leaves you feeling energized and filled with hope. It is her personal mission to be a blessing onto others and serve with a smile, excellence and a shining spirit.

Libby Protzman


Libby is from Connecticut, born in Hartford. She spent her childhood growing up on the shoreline, and currently works as a public relations, fund development and marketing consultant. Her recent collaborations include Women Empowering Women Events national conference organization, New England Fashion Week where she designed the official flyer and walked as a runway model in the closing show, a celebrity brand and corporation in Los Angeles, and her town’s non profit Marlborough Food Bank.

She currently volunteers for the international anti trafficking organization Love146 and founded and co-chairs the Love146 Greater New Haven Volunteer Team. She is an advocate for domestic violence survivors and recounted her own story as a part of the Women Empowering Women Events “Women Talk” Virtual Conference 2021, which was viewed by over 750 people. She is a loving mother to two young sons, coaches T Ball for the RHAM Youth Baseball League, Buffalo chicken and craft beer super fan, and enjoys space opera or gangster movies. 

Wilfred Charles

Creative Arts Director

Meet Wilford Charles, a passionate advocate for diversity and change in the arts community. For over 15 years, Mr. Charles has made a significant impact on the industry, serving as the co-founder of the award-winning Above Art Studios. Through his leadership, Mr. Charles has made it his mission to provide a platform for black and brown artists, particularly those from underserved communities.

Aside from his work as a gallerist, Mr. Charles is also an accomplished entrepreneur, helping artists monetize their work and showcasing their talent to a broader audience. As an international DJ, music artist, and clothing designer, he brings a unique perspective to his work and strives to use his influence to create positive change.

In addition, Mr. Charles is the founder of Beyond the Arts Magazine, an innovative publication that spotlights the stories and achievements of artists and creatives from all walks of life. Through his various endeavors, Mr. Charles is dedicated to promoting diversity, equality, and creativity in all aspects of the arts.

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