The Walk With Me Team

Walk with Me is a specialized outpatient treatment track for LGBTQ+ identifying people of all ages who are seeking therapeutic, medical, and/or peer support to address their specific needs.

Services include:

  • Individual, Family, and Group Outpatient Therapy
  • Inclusive and Affirming Peer Support Services
  • LGBTQ+ Affirming Psychiatry Care
  • Primary Care Services

LGBTQ+-Responsive Services include:

  • Comprehensive Sexual Health Screenings
  • PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) Prescriptions Available through On-Site Genoa Pharmacies
  • HIV Treatment
  • Hepatitis C Screening and Treatment
  • Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy and More!

To schedule an appointment call our Navigation Center at 888.793.3500 or email

MedicaidMedicare, and commercial health insurance welcome. A sliding fee scale is available based on family size and income. No patient will be denied health care services due to an individual’s inability to pay for services.

Staff Trained in Gender-Affirming and Trauma-Informed Approaches

Wheeler is undergoing an organization-wide effort to train every single staff member in Trans-Affirming and inclusive care.

Brittany-WWM-Bio.jpgBrittany Diorio, LCSW, (She/Her) is the Senior Integrated Health Care Clinician for Walk With Me, where she has been trained in gender and trans affirming and inclusive treatment approaches by Sarah Gilbert, LCSW of Transitions Therapy, LLC, developed and facilitated CT Clearinghouse Presentation: Do Ask: Providing Affirming Care for the LGBTQ+ Community, as well as Southington Pride Presentation: Combatting Bullying and How to Cope. Brittany also completed multiple DMHAS Trainings focused on working with LGBTQ+ clients including Intro to Clinical Practice with LGBTQ Clients; Exploring Gender Identity in Clinical Settings; Trauma-Informed Clinical Practice with LGBTQ+ Clients. She began her career at Wheeler as a foster care recruiter. As she was recruiting foster parents, she recognized an increasing number of children in foster care as LGBTQ+ youth as well as a need for LGBTQ+ foster parents. It was then she began recruiting for LGBTQ+ foster parents and debunking the myth that a parent(s) who is LGBTQ cannot be a foster parent(s).

NHeady-WWM-Bio.jpgNicole Heady, (She/Her) is the Peer Support Specialist for Walk With Me. She is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community and has been an advocate since youth. She started her career organizing events such as the ‘Q’ prom, and working on a pet therapy farm with children and animals. There, she realized the need for more support for the LGBTQIA+ youth in Connecticut. Currently, she is volunteering with the Trevor Project on their crisis/suicide hotline. She has completed many LGBTQIA+ affirmative trainings, including Affirmative Care for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People.

Twist-WWM-Bio.pngMichael P. Twist, DO, (He/Him) Wheeler’s Psychiatric Medical Director and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, provides administrative and clinical leadership, management and supervision for the organization’s psychiatric medical staff and all psychiatric medical service operations. He is also a Psychiatric provider at Wheeler, where he has been a panelist in our “Bridging the Gap: Providing Inclusive & Affirming Care for the LGBTQ+ Community” Virtual Event, serves on the LGBTQ+ Advisory Board which held a recent LGBTQ+ Town Hall for patients and providers, and shared his own life experiences as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community as a speaker for Wheeler’s Lunch and Learn program. In early 2021 he was a featured panelist in Columbia University Hospital’s “Options to Parenthood” for their LGBTQ+ Affinity Group. He was also featured in Access Mental Health’s focus on “Improving Health Care for the LGBTQ+ Community.”

Eleck-WWM-Bio.pngBecky Eleck, MD, (She/Her) oversees the delivery of primary care services for adults, children, and families through Wheeler’s Family Health & Wellness Centers in Bristol, Hartford, New Britain, Plainville, and Waterbury. She also provides clinical oversight and management of clinical performance outcomes and direct clinical supervision to providers, and provides direct primary medical care to patients across the lifespan. She also specializes in medication assisted treatment for addiction, HIV and hepatitis C treatment, and gender-affirming care.  She has been prescribing gender-affirming hormones within her primary care practice for over 10 years.  She’s passionate about making sure every patient receives respectful quality care. Dr. Eleck has been trained creating gender and trans affirming treatment environments by Sarah Gilbert, LCSW of Transitions Therapy, LLC and has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions.

Jessica-WWM-Bio.jpgJessica Arnold, LMFT, (She/Her) is the director of behavioral health in Hartford. She began her career at Wheeler as an IICAPS clinician working closely with acute adolescents. As time progressed, she moved from the community work to the intensive outpatient world serving youth involved with the Juvenile Justice as well as Department for Children and Families. Now, overseeing all Adult and Children outpatient services in Hartford, it is exciting to work closely on implementing such an important program like Walk With Me. Helping to support the LGBTQ+ community has always been a passion and she continues to stay educated and open to all that the program can offer for our diverse community!

Kim-WWM-Bio.jpgKimberly Pepice, LPC, (She/Her)  is director of behavioral health in Plainville. She provides clinical leadership, management, and supervision to providers in Plainville. Kimberly is passionate about providing affirming and inclusive care and an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. Kim has attended the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, Creating a Trans Affirming and Inclusive Environment training, and is a part of Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO).

Maria-WWM-Bio.jpgMaria Banevicius, APRN (She/Her) is a family nurse practitioner for Hartford’s Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center.  She provides primary care services to patients of all ages ranging from pediatrics to adults. She has a special interest in providing gynecologic services, treating Hepatitis C, and, providing medication addiction treatment. Maria has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions.

MColburn-WWM-Bio.pngMary Colburn is your Family Nurse Practitioner at Waterbury’s Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center. She is very passionate about providing gender affirming care to the LGBTQ+ community. She also has a special interest in providing medication addiction treatment, diabetes, hypertension, and preventative medicine. Mary has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions.

MLeece-WWM-Bio.pngMichelle Leece is a Nurse Practitioner for the Waterbury Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center specializing in family medicine. She provides primary care for all populations including gender-affirming care, and has a special interest in addiction medicine and Hepatitis C treatment.  Michelle has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions.

Nneka-WWM-Bio.jpgNneka Mathew, is an Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner at Wheeler’s Hartford Family Health & Wellness Center. She is a graduate of UCONN school of Nursing. She treats a wide cross section of patients with varied chronic diseases, as well as providing medication addiction treatments. One of her core 
value is to provide holistic and compassionate care. Nneka has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions.

Caitlin-WWM-Bio.jpgCaitlin Minihan, is a Family Nurse Practitioner at the 
Bristol Family Health & Wellness Center. She graduated in 2017 from University of Saint Joseph and has over 10 years of experience in critical care nursing including cardiothoracic and neurosurgery specialties. Caitlin is currently seeing patients across the lifespan, specializing in medication addiction treatment, diabetes management, cardiovascular and infectious disease. Caitlin has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions.

JMitchell-WWM-Bio.pngJena Mitchell, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, (She/Her) is honored to have the opportunity to make sure every patient receives  respectful care, and has enjoyed having an affirming practice working with the LGBTQ+ community. Jena is happy to provide both primary care and gender-affirming care through the use of gender-affirming hormones to her LGBTQI+ patient population at the Bristol Wheeler Family Health and Wellness Center. Jena is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Nursing Practice through Chamberlain University and enjoys participating in continuing education to help improve the lives of her patients and families. Jena  has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions.

Marai-WWM-Bio.jpgMaria Slajda MSN, APRN, FNP-C, is a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner who received her Master’s degree in Nursing in 2018 from the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, CT. She attended Capital Community College in Hartford for her Associates Degree in Nursing and University of Hartford for her Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Maria is fluent in Spanish. Maria  has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions and has been trained creating gender and trans affirming treatment environments by Sarah Gilbert, LCSW of Transitions Therapy, LLC.

Basia-WWM-Bio.jpgBarbara “Basia” Szajda, MD, IBCLC, (She/Her) is a pediatrician at Wheeler’s Hartford Family Health & Wellness Center. In addition to providing medical care to children of all ages, Dr. Szajda provides lactation consultation visits for breastfeeding/chestfeeding parents and offers medical visits in Spanish, Polish and English. Dr. Basia has attended Transgender Health Echo (TransECHO) and attends regular grand rounds discussions and has been trained creating gender and trans affirming treatment environments by Sarah Gilbert, LCSW of Transitions Therapy, LLC.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need to be in therapy with the Walk with Me program in order to receive gender affirming medical care?
    • No, you can utilize it as both therapeutic and medical care or just for medical care. At any point, you can change your path of services.

  • Can I get case management or peer support without receiving therapeutic services?
    • No, not at this time.

  • Are there any Walk With Me groups that my child can any attend?
    • Yes! There are currently 2 children’s groups running for ages 11-14 and 15-18 in Plainville.

  • Are gender neutral restrooms available at your locations?
    • Yes!

  • At what location can I access Walk With Me mental health services?
    • At this time, Plainville and Hartford.

  • At what location can I access Walk With Me medical services?​​​​​​​
    • At this time, Plainville, Hartford, New Britain, Bristol, and Waterbury.

  • What insurance is accepted for the Walk With Me program?​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • We accept most commercial insurances as well as Medicaid and Medicare.

  • Do I have to be “out” to access Walk With Me?​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • No, LBGTQ+ status is confidential. We are happy to work with you no matter where you are on your journey. We have strategies to maintain privacy for clients of all ages.

  • Is Walk With Me a good fit for parents and caregivers of LBGTQ+ clients?​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
    • Yes, we work with the entire family and support everyone.​​​​​​​

Wheeler is currently in the process of applying for inclusion in the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) and are well positioned to be accepted in 2022. The HEI is the national LGBTQ+ benchmarking tool that evaluates healthcare facilities' policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees.

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