Who We Are


Kevin Paulin
Co-Founder & Executive Director

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

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.

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.

Kendra Hayden
Senior Program Facilitator

Kendra has been a lifelong advocate for bettering the community of New Haven as a lifelong resident. Kendra has worked in the human services field for over 15 years working with many types of demographics such as the literal and chronically homeless, special needs, re-entry, and victims of domestic violence.

During her career, Kendra has held positions of housing case manager and re-entry case manager playing both roles of liaison and advocate for all clients that she served. Kendra has and continues to participate in training sessions that focus on person-centered philosophies, motivational interviewing, and harm reduction. Kendra has completed many of these trainings through DHMAS and continues to educate herself on the best ways to serve her community.

Robbia Williams
Program Facilitator

Robbia J. Williams is a dedicated and compassionate professional with a strong background in the nonprofit sector and a passion for serving the public. With over ten years of experience, Robbia has honed excellent written and verbal communication skills. Always striving for exceptional service, Robbia has been instrumental in providing feedback to improve processes and ensuring that any unresolved issues are efficiently directed to the appropriate resources.

Currently, Robbia holds multiple significant positions that highlight a commitment to helping others. As the Recovery House Coordinator at Columbus House, Robbia was responsible for hiring, training, and supervising emergency shelter residential staff. Additionally, as the Warming Center Site Coordinator at Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, Robbia coordinates with partnering agencies to provide essential services to clients during overnight hours. In another capacity as a Case Manager for PATH Outreach & Engagement at Columbus House, Robbia performs outreach duties, offers transportation to appointments, and assists clients in articulating and achieving their recovery goals.

Robbia’s dedication to making a positive impact in the community extends beyond professional roles. Active in volunteer activities, Robbia has contributed to various initiatives, including providing free haircuts at the Norwalk Shelter and participating in fundraising and charity events.

Robbia’s educational background includes an Associate of Science in Marketing from Norwalk Community College. Combined with extensive work experience and a strong commitment to service, Robbia J. Williams continues to be a driving force in creating positive change and helping others on their paths to recovery and personal growth.


Benjamin 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.

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.

Rashid Farrell

Rashid Farrell is a first generation American, instilled and influenced by deep cultural values. His family is from Antigua and he was raised by a Ghanaian man, who he considers his father. A product of Waterbury, CT, Rashid has experienced life in a number of different places including Indiana, California, Texas, Washington state, and Virginia.

Rashid most recently worked as an executive for Accenture. He was the Global HR Leader for the Cloud First Business Groups. With almost 20 years of work experience, Rashid has worked in a variety of HR leadership roles across several industries with firms such as Microsoft, United Technologies Corporation and ExxonMobil.

In the community Rashid finds ways to create access for underserved communities specifically around education and achievement, which is what has attracted him to Winning Ways CT. In addition to Winning Ways CT, Rashid currently sits on the boards of Alexander Hamilton Scholars (Vice Chair of the Board), The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (Trustee). Rashid is also the host of the Legacy Hustle Podcast.

In his spare time, Rashid enjoys traveling, arts from all over the world, and is always game for a great conversation over a great meal. Rashid and his wife Rashida live in the DC metro area.

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.

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