About Us

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation was founded by Matthew J. Barbis when his 11 year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, was abducted and murdered in Sarasota, Florida in 2004.  The Foundation’s goal is to reduce the number of child abductions in America by educating and empowering young minds with the knowledge necessary to avoid abduction.

Utilizing puppets and simple self-defense techniques, the foundation visited elementary schools on a regular basis and performed the Stranger Safety Program, free of charge.  The Stranger Safety Program started as a joint effort with The Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center.  Upon the creation of the concept, Good Sam partnered with Matthew Barbis to develop the program and introduce it into the local community.

Since its inception, the Stranger Safety Program had been welcomed into the community with open arms.  “Carlie’s abduction really changed the way I live my life.  To watch my family suffer as it has prompted me to take action and help other children in America”, says Matthew Barbis.  “Carlie’s abduction was highly publicized and now stands as a call to action for families and individuals everywhere to stand up to child predators!”

With the help of a volunteer educational committee with Patrick Chierichella at the helm, the program has evolved into an educational powerhouse. The Stranger Safety Awareness Program, was inspired, created and developed by a team of award-winning educators. Utilizing a multi-media platform, the program is dynamic, informative and fun for the students. Focusing on elementary aged children, the program engages students and offers them the tools they need to assist them in their own safety, as it relates to strangers. A formalized special education program has also been developed to address stranger safety concepts through middle school.

This curriculum focuses on three fundamental concepts: Awareness, Safety and Trust. Utilizing Health and Safety Standards established by New York State, the program is designed to reflect these principles consistently throughout all the lessons. The core messages are presented in simple DVD format with individual lesson plans written around each show. They are designed to deliver vital stranger safety concepts to children in a non-threatening, yet thought provoking manner. Each lesson plan includes a checklist of short-term and long-term objectives for the teacher to use as a guide, a list of materials needed to teach each lesson as well as summary statements and suggested homework assignments. Where appropriate, worksheets are also supplied for classroom use. Teachers will be able to use each open-ended lesson plan at their discretion throughout the entire school year.

The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation derives its name from Rose A. Brucia, Matthew Barbis’ grandmother.  “She was truly a living symbol of unconditional love and I feel it is only fitting to honor her memory with the foundation’s very worthy mission”, says Matthew J. Barbis.

Executive Leadership

Matthew J. Barbis – Founder & Chairman

Brian Simonetti, CPA – Chief Financial Officer

Maryann Brucia Barbis – Executive Director

Dr. Charles Kolenik – Director of Scientific Review and Operations


The Board Of Directors

Matthew J. Barbis (Founder & Chairman) – Matthew is the cousin of Carlie Brucia and the founder of The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation. Matthew personally instructs the live stranger safety program and writes, stars, produces and presents The Stranger Safety Awareness Program. Matt’s goal is to spread the work of the foundation to a national status and teach children everywhere about how to stay safe. Matthew also owns Matthew Barbis & Co. and is a retirement investment specialist.

Gina M. Heyder (Vice President)– Gina is also Carlie’s cousin and  sits on the Board to provide educational guidance to her brother Matthew.   Gina is a NY Certified Teacher in Brentwood School District on Long Island.   She has dual certification for special education and is a math & technology consultant.

Michael  P. Gagliardi – Michael is a NY Certified Teacher in the Brentwood School District on Long Island. He is dually certified in special  Education and Elementary Education.

Brian Simonetti – Brian provides his expertise in accounting for the benefit of the board. He has over 10 years experience dealing with nonprofit organizations. Brian is a Certified Public Accountant and is a   partner in Ross Strent & Company, LLP, a CPA firm in Melville, Long Island, NY.

Robert M. Chierichella – Rob is NY Certified Math Teacher in Sachem School District. Rob personally instructs the stranger safety program.

Patrick Chierichella (Educational Coordinator) – Pat is a retired science teacher from Sachem School district. Pat brings his extensive knowledge of curriculum writing to the foundation in an effort to expand the content of the stranger safety program. Pat also chairs, designs, writes, stars and oversees all educational aspects of The Stranger Safety Awareness Program.

Matthew Colson -Matthew is the Director of Alumni Relations for Stony Brook University. Matt coordinates and co-chairs the foundation’s annual walk/5K run.

Joseph M. Schwan – Joe is a Certified Public Accountant in Ronkonkoma, NY. Joe has been a major donor to the foundation, enabling the Stranger Safety Awareness Program to develop to its next level; a national DVD program.

Lori Ann LaRocco – Lori Ann is the Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, “Thriving in the New Economy”, “Dynasties of the Sea”, and  “Opportunity Knocking” National Best-Selling Author and C-Suite Insider Columnist for CNBC.com. Lori Ann has over 18 years in the broadcast industry and has the ear of the world’s biggest business minds and members of Congress. Lori Ann hopes to help spread the news and awareness on the foundation’s efforts to keep our children safe.

Jessica McAleer-Decatur – Vice President for Marketing and Communications at St. Joseph’s College, Jessica has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry and is responsible for advancing the mission of the foundation through effective media and public relations strategies.

Christopher J. Twomley – CJ is a Human Resource Manager. CJ has written  all human resource documents for the foundation and sits on the board to oversee proper implementation.

Joseph Coreno – Joe is the Director of Novak Motors. Joe has been in the auto finance and leasing business since 1990, working for industry leading companies such as Ford Credit, Chase Auto Finance, and Mercedes-Benz Financial. Not surprisingly, Joe Coreno created the Annual Rose Brucia Car Show and is a major donor for all Rose Brucia events throughout the foundation’s existence.

Michael Meyers – Mike  has supported, volunteered and attended every 5K/ Walk that has benefited The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation dating back to when The Rose Brucia Educational Foundation partnered with St. Joseph’s College. Mike has lent his legal advice countless times over the course of the foundation’s endeavors.

Patricia Magri – Pat has over 16-years’ experience in banking working currently as a Senior Client Associate for Signature Bank. Outside of banking, she has spent many years volunteering from the Girl Scouts of America, Sachem Marching Bank Parent Association, Junior Achievement, and conducting Financial Education programs in local school districts. Pat is a member of the Rose Brucia Golf Committee and helps with the Annual Car Show.

Faithful   Volunteers:

Without the dedication of the following individuals, we would be unable to continue our free presentations on a regular basis!

Maryann Barbis Renee Barbis Ron Barbis
Bridget Bendjy Meghan Bourke Thomas W. Brucia
Cristina Camello Cheryl Cooper Jeffrey J. DeRosa
John Diaz Patti DiMenna* Diana Fogarty
Jane Fritz Dominique Grasso Bill Hagemeyer
Richie Heyder Jillian Meyerricks Aidan Phelan
Karen Phelan Kiera Phelan Lorcan B. Phelan
Lorcan B. Phelan Jr. Anthony Rosamilia Marc Rosamilia
Jennifer Sarnicola Matthew Sigault James G. Valentine, Jr.
Sean T. Wall Trisha Zuvich **

* Patti DiMenna has performed over 100 shows!

** Trisha Zuvich has performed over   150 shows & designed the logo for our walk/5K run along with illustrating   our stranger safety coloring book!

Educational Committee:

Stephanie Allen Gina Barbis Maryann Barbis
Matthew Barbis Trish Bergin-Weichbrodt Sue Brandes
Patrick Chierichella * Robert Chierichella Charles Comstock
Dr. Ben Tieniber Jill Karp, Ed.D. Denise Kleinman
Dr. Charles Kolenik Nick LaGrega MJ Maione
Dennis McElheron Patrick Morris Diane Muro
Jackie Nolan Jim Nolan Ed Paquette
Michael Pepe Michael Saidens Matt Wells
 Nancy Giffone Roni Yadeska  Dawn Kollmer

Lorianne Berberich                    Jennifer Crane                          MaryAnn Robinson

Clodagh Harte                             Lisa Eaton                                  Lori Medina


* Patrick Chierichella and Dr. Ben Tieniber are the Educational Co-Chairpersons.

All lessons in Spanish have been translated by Pamela Reynolds.


  1. Myranda Barreau says:

    Thank you for doing such as wonderful job…teaching our children about safety and protecting them from horrible acts of violence!

  2. Glynn R Birch says:

    I applaud your efforts to help other families avoid such a tragic death and experience. At times it takes a high profile type of case before the public accepts the message. Thank you for sharing your pain with the world.

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