About Us

The New York Certification Association (NYCA) is a professional credentialing organization that has been authorized by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to administer certification services in New York for the Peer Advocate credential. The NYCA is a subsidiary of Florida Certification Board that was formed to address the growing demand in New York for independent professional testing and certification services.


The Florida Certification Board (FCB) has been in operation for 30 years. It also provides certification and testing services for other states including California, Michigan and Illinois. The FCB sets standards for and certifies individuals in various occupations including: the addictions arenas of treatment, prevention and criminal justice; mental health including behavioral health peer services; gambling; and, child welfare.




Neal A. McGarry is a native of New York, born and raised in Southampton. Although now residing in Florida, he has kept close ties to his roots. Mr. McGarry is the Chief Executive Officer of the New York Certification Association. For the past 16 years, he has served in a reciprocal role as CEO for the Florida Certification Board, Inc. Mr. McGarry is an accomplished leader with a proven track record of effective management for this non-profit organization, including planning, policy development, and implementation. He sits on numerous boards of directors for addiction service organizations, and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).


Amy Farrington is the Director of Certification. Having dual roles with the New York Certification Association and the Florida Certification Board, she is responsible for the development and administration of all facets of our professional certification programs. Mrs. Farrington has extensive expertise in workforce development, bringing over 18 years of statewide and national experience developing and administering professional adult education, training, and certification programs, and serving as the Director of Education and Training at the Florida Department of Children and Families. Mrs. Farrington holds a Master's degree in Instructional Systems Design.


Pamela Waters holds dual roles as the Director of Operations for the New York Certification Association and the Florida Certification Board. With a Master's degree in community counseling and 30 years of senior level administrative experience, she has worked in multiple sectors, including: human services, workforce development and professional certification, government and government relations, and professional trade association management. From 2002-2012, she was the director of the SAMHSA-funded Southern Coast Addiction Technology Transfer Center; prior to that, she served for a decade as the assistant director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association representing the interests of addiction service providers. She is a Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) and a Certified Prevention Professional (CPP).


LaShanda Farmer, MBA, is the primary certification contact for the NYCA. She has dual roles with the New York Certification Association and the Florida Certification Board as a Special Projects Manager. Ms. Farmer manages certification and training projects, and is the lead investigator for ethical violation complaints for the two certification organizations.


Peer Advocate Advisory Board

NYCA has the guidance and support of an 17-member volunteer Advisory Board, consisting of experts and leaders in the field of addiction recovery who are committed to the provision of safe, competent and effective peer support services. The Peer Advocate Advisory Board is responsible for overseeing the CRPA certification process and providing guidance on issues such as certification standards, policy and procedure, testing, adherence to ethical standards and the complaint process.


The NYCA Advisory Board Officers and Committee Chairs are: Joseph Turner, Board Chair; (Michael) Haynes, Board Vice Chair; Luis LaBoy, Chair of the Standards Committee; Cathy Saresky, Chair of Membership/Nominating Committee; and Patricia Wooldridge, Chair of the Complaint Committee. We thank the Board Officers and Committee Chairs for their willingness to serve in these capacities.


Members of the NYCA Peer Advocate Advisory Board include:


  • Adrienne Brown, LMSW
  • Jackson Davis, Center for Community Alternatives
  • Dona Dmitrovic, Optum Health
  • Jessica Feliciano, NY Recovery Community Coalition
  • Samara Gabree, Albany Catholic Charities
  • Haynes, NYC Health & Hospitals Corp.
  • Adele Herrera, Acacia Network
  • Luis LaBoy, United Bronx Parents
  • Sonia Lopez, Samaritan Village
  • Cathy Saresky, Catholic Family Center/Restart
  • Chris Taylor, Huther Doyle
  • Roy Tellis, Safe Foundation
  • Jeanette Tolson, Friends of Recovery, Delaware and Otsego Counties
  • Joseph Turner, Exponents, Inc.
  • Patricia Wooldridge, Phoenix House, Community Recovery Centers


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