The Team | Empowered Connections | Specialized Counseling for Girls and Women

Our EC Team supporting our local Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk, Fall 2017



Deitra Fant was born and raised in Louisiana and she is quite the Southern Belle. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Southern University A&M College located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana majoring in Rehabilitation and Disability Counseling. Following graduation, Deitra was offered a job in Northern, VA where she uprooted herself from Louisiana to the big city to begin her career. In 2013, Deitra received her Master of Arts from Argosy University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling located in Arlington, VA. Deitra also met her husband while working for the same company. They later had two beautiful girls.

Deitra has ten years of experience providing case management, individual/group therapy, employment counseling, and affordable housing for adults. She prides herself with having the innate ability to contribute positive and quality services that improve women’s quality of life and empowering them to be the best person they can be. She is super excited to work exclusively with adult women as she is passionate about women’s issues and our LGBTQ+ community.

One fun fact about Deitra is that she is a great Cajun cooker. If you’re ready for some motivation and empowerment, please email her at or call her at 301-690-0779. ext. 707.


Alex is a Southern Maryland native, originally from Charles County but has spent some time in Salisbury and Alexandria, Virginia before making it to St. Mary’s County. Alex spends most of her time at Medstar St. Mary’s hospital as a medical and psychiatric social worker and then you can see her at church on Sundays behind the piano. Alex received her bachelors of social work (with some psychology and music in there) at Salisbury University and then her Masters of Social Work, from Catholic University of America in DC. Her experiences range from community organizing with a bunch of nuns in Princess Anne, MD to working as a mental health case worker on the streets of Washington DC.

She loves her two sisters, Teresa who is a Marine (oorah!) and Rebecca who is a nurse, both strong female figures in her life. She especially cherishes terrible little Bentley, her three year old nephew.

Her passion has always been in the field of mental health, understanding that it is a key aspect to complete wellness; she is excited about helping young girls beginning at the age of 8 to 18 years old. If you’d like to reach Alex to schedule an appointment or ask her a question, her email address is or 301-690-0779, ext. 702.



Jessica Jolly is originally from the greater Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania.   She received her MSW from West Chester University. She is currently a licensed certified clinical social worker in the state of Maryland. After graduating from her master’s program she moved to St. Mary’s County to join her husband in starting a career. Jessica has over five years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health field. She has also served in roles working with children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities and on the autism spectrum. She is passionate about utilizing a strengths based approach in assisting clients to overcome their unique challenges. Jessica embraces diversity in practice. She understands the nature ofsocial diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, marital status, and mental or physical disability. She has worked with individuals across the lifespan from aged six and up. Additionally, she is passionate about issues unique to women and strives to provide a compassionate and individualized therapy experience. She loves serving our LGBTQ+ community and considers herself an ally as well as an activist!  She has experience in treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, AD/HD, bipolar disorder, trauma & PTSD, anger, self-esteem and substance abuse issues. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and has past experience in assisting clients in crisis situations. In her spare time she enjoys kayaking the beautiful waters of the area.

To reach Jessica, you may email her at or call 301-690-0779, ext. 705.


Diane Crouse, a newcomer to Southern MD, is originally from Boston MA. She received her MSW from Bridgewater University and M.Ed. in Rehabilitation Counseling with the Deaf from Northeastern University.

She has spent more than 25 years working with families, children and adults. She is fluent in ASL and has expertise working with Deaf children and their families, and parents of children with other special needs. Her practice has included clients with recovery issues, children of hoarders and survivors of dysfunctional families, as well as those experiencing anxiety, depression, ADHD and low self-esteem. She has also worked with and advocated for survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing who experienced trauma, hearing loss and head injury.

Diane offers a strength based approach in a warm, supportive and empathic environment. Her approach is collaborative and flexible to assist each individual to achieve her goals and continue on her journey to a healthier and more contented life. She offers spiritually and religiously sensitive counseling and is respectful of each individual’s personal belief system in order to help them use that system to guide them through their current challenges.

Diane enjoys working with individuals who have a desire to address any problem which is causing discomfort or confusion in their lives. If you wish to improve self-esteem, overcome anxiety or depression and make healthier life choices she would love to meet with you.

Diane is licensed in the State of Maryland as an LCSW-C and in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an LICSW. She volunteers as the coordinator of a Charles County food pantry and is a member of the Board of Directors of LifeStyles Inc., a social service agency which coordinates housing and services for the homeless in Charles and Saint Mary’s Counties.

Diane has been married for 32 years, and is proud to be the mother of two adult children and “Nah-Nah” to Drew and Caleb. She loves to quilt, travel and hosts a monthly book club.

If you are ready for a change in your life, you can reach Diane at:

Maria Battaglia-Perrygo is our Community Outreach Coordinator! She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and has made her home in St Mary’s County 17 years ago.  She is mom to two fabulous boys ages 27 and 13. Maria has been a fierce ally to the LBGTQ+ community since the age of 12.  Growing up in SF has taught her how important diversity, equality and love really is.  Maria is a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault and is an activist for women’s reproductive rights; she stands strong against all types of bullying. Her dream is to one day open a shelter for women and their children. Maria is community minded and loves Leonardtown, music and her friends.

If you have any community programs  you would like us to participate in, any sponsorships for great causes, etc. please contact Maria at or you can reach her at 301-690-0779, ext 704.

Shannon Cooley was born in Michigan but did not stay there long. She was a Navy brat and has lived on the East Coast, West Coast and even in Sicily for a year. She moved to St. Mary’s County in 1985 and graduated from Leonardtown High School in 1988. She has two B.S.’s degrees, one from University of Phoenix in Criminal Justice Administration and the other from Colorado Technical University in Criminal Justice with Human Services. She is currently working towards getting her Master’s in Social Work and is excited to conduct groups with girls here at EC. She also loves paranormal investigating and has been a belly dancer for over 10 years; she loves being a mom to her 2 daughters. You can reach her at or at 301-690-0779, ext. 706.


Deborah Duley was born and raised in Charles County, Maryland and has lived all over the country.  She earned her Bachelors in Social Work from Bowie State University and went on to earn her Masters in Social Work from Howard University in Washington DC.  She is licensed in the State of Maryland to practice social work and am currently practicing social work under the supervision of ASWB’s board-certified Supervisor Donna Bennett, LCSW-C. Additionally, she is a certified Stepfamily Foundation counselor and a trained divorce & custody mediator.  She is also am trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training).

Deborah is the founder and owner of the counseling practice Empowered Connections LLC, located in the heart of beautiful historic Leonardtown, Maryland and the facilitator of the therapy program “10 Sessions to Better Self-Esteem.”  She has over 25 years of experience working with women in many capacities such as activist, domestic violence counselor, and crisis interventionist. She is a regular contributor to the popular website, where she offer solutions to the anxiety most of us experience in our lives, a regular writer in the local women’s magazine, Southern Maryland Woman, Health Magazine and has been featured in other national magazines.

As the “women’s therapist,” she is passionate about working with women, teen girls and our LGBTQ+ community! She integrates her knowledge of mental health issues and her life experiences to assist them in increasing their self-esteem, decrease anxiety & depression symptoms and tackle a whole host of personal issues that women struggle with. Not only has she educated herself on how to help women, she has walked the walk … her life hasn’t been perfect.  Far from it!  She struggled for years with boundaries, choosing the wrong people to love, feeling lost and alone and making terrible choices.  She’s been there!

She is a proud mom of a 16-year-old son and the lucky stepmother to two beautiful young women; Deborah is happily remarried!  She loves to cook, read, travel and hang with her husband whenever they can.   She has worked very hard to get here and understand firsthand how effective therapy can be if you are willing to do the work.  She is on your journey with you to help you reach your full potential!  You can contact Deborah directly at or call 301-690-0779.

Our mascot and therapy dog Bailee is a 2 & 1/2 year old Welsh Pembroke Corgi. She loves lounging, car rides, pettings and Starburst but she hates brushing, baths and bananas (weird). She loves to accompany Deborah to the office providing love and affection if needed by clients. She is from an Amish family in Pennsylvania but loves living in Southern Maryland with her family and 3 year old Corgi brother Toby.

“She was unstoppable. Not because she didn’t have a painful past, doubts or failures, but because she lifted herself up despite them.”

― Leslie Cassidy

Where your story is OUR story!


Contact Us

Deborah Duley, MSW, LGSW & Associates

Phone: 301-690-0779  |  Fax: 443-407-4455  |  Email:

Address: 41650 Courthouse Drive, Suite 301 / PO Box 2456, Leonardtown MD 20650

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