Working to end violence


The Center for Empowerment and Education’s educators are certified domestic violence and sexual assault counselors in accordance with CGS 52-146k. This gives our programs the added benefits, when necessary, of responding immediately to individual participants who are victims and facilitating a smooth transition for continuing services at our agency.

Matt Austin

Director of Education, Training & Outreach

Matt is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University with a B.A. in English with a minor in Theater Arts. He is certified in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Counseling. Matt has been heavily involved in the Fairfield County arts community over the last 15 years, working with many local theaters in a variety of capacities; including organizing various education programs. Before joining The Center full time as a prevention educator and then the Education Coordinator, he was an actor in our Act Out theater program.

As the Director of Education, Training, and Outreach, Matt provides strategic direction for all department activities, and represents The Center on various community initiatives and collaborations. Matt schedules and facilitates trainings for professionals within the community, and all adult education programs.

Contact Information: 203.731.5200 x226/

Courtney Lauria
Prevention Educator

Courtney is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a B.F.A in Theater Arts. She is certified in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Counseling as well as being certified under the Safe Dates program from CCADV. Courtney recently moved to the Danbury area after spending several years working as a playwright and actress in New York City. Courtney joins us after leaving a position with running the Broadway Classroom Program. While with Broadway Classroom, Courtney developed and produced theatrical and educational workshops for students ages 8 to 88.

Contact Information: 203.731.5200 x250/

Cara Mackler

Director of Campus Services

Human Trafficking Specialist/Legislative Liaison

Cara joined The Center in 2016 as a Prevention Educator. She now serves as the Director of Campus Services and Legislative Liaison for The Center.

Previously, Cara worked as a Peer Advocate at the Violence Prevention & Advocacy Services at the University of Rhode Island, and Prevention and Communications Intern at the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence before moving to Florida where she worked as the Coordinator of Volunteer Programs for Community Youth Development. Cara also worked at Selah Freedom with survivors of sex trafficking in a residential facility and as a facilitator for the My Life My Choice prevention education program for at risk youth.

As Director of Campus Services, Cara oversees all campus services including counseling, crisis intervention, advocacy, education programs, staff and faculty trainings, and outreach initiatives at our satellite office at Western Connecticut State University and the Danbury campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College. As the Legislative Liaison, Cara communicates with our local legislators to advocate for the legislative priorities from both the CT Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence that work to further support survivors of interpersonal violence. Cara is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island where she earned her B.A. in both Sociology and Gender Studies. She is certified as a domestic violence and sexual assault counselor.

Contact Information: 203.837.3939/

Michele Cousens
Prevention Educator

Michele comes to The Center after 10 years of managing a small mental health practice.  She previously had a long career in the music business, both as an executive assistant in performing rights and as a radio personality on local Fairfield County stations. Michele was a board member and served as a support group facilitator for the Rowan Center (formerly The Sexual Assault Crisis Center) in Stamford, CT.  She is a level one Reiki and level two EFT/Tapping practitioner, and she teaches a sexuality education program (“Our Whole Lives”) for K-6 children in her congregation.  Michele is a life-long Connecticut resident, and she is currently working towards her MSW at the University of Bridgeport.

Contact Information: 203.731.5200 x251 /

Cameron Wilhelm


Cameron is a graduate of Pace University and holds a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies. He is certified in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault counseling. Cameron recently returned from living in Brazil where he  taught English to students of all ages as a certified ESL instructor. During his time there, he also studied Portuguese and is now fluent in the language. Previously, he worked at MCCNY Charities in New York City where he did development work for the organization’s LGBTQ homeless youth shelter and food pantry.

Contact Information: 203-731-5200 x.233 /