Highly credentialed professional team
We are proud of the remarkable team we have assembled here at Alta Mira. They have been handpicked for their competence and passion for the recovery process.
- All licensed masters and doctoral level therapists.
- Clinical team with over 200 years of addiction experience.
- Full-time neuropsychologist on staff.
- 24-hour medically monitored detoxification.
- Board certified consulting addiction physicians and psychiatrists.
- Detox Specialists on-site and available seven days a week.
Meet the Team
Executive Director of Alta Mira Recovery Programs
& Chief Operating Officer for Constellation Behavioral Health
Drew’s professional experience in the technology and recovery industries is extensive, spanning over three decades. Mr. Paxton was most recently employed as Chief Marketing Officer for OneHealth Solutions, Inc., a technology company dedicated to connecting individuals dealing with chronic medical and behavioral conditions, including addiction and co-occurring behavioral health disorders. Before OneHealth, Drew served as CEO of Alta Mira Treatment Programs under a prior ownership group. Drew came to Alta Mira initially from The Betty Ford Center where he served as Clinical and Executive Director for their nationally recognized 90-Day Program. Drew also served for several years as Director of Admissions and Business Development at The Betty Ford Center.
Earlier in his career, Drew worked at prestigious management consulting firms such as The Boston Consulting Group and L.E.K. Consulting. Additionally he ran global marketing for the QuickBooks brand at Intuit. Drew received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and French from Stanford University. He also holds a Masters in Business Administration in Marketing and International Business from Harvard Business School.
Matthew D. Blagys, PhD
As Alta Mira’s Clinical Director, Dr. Blagys is responsible for the clinical supervision, oversight and direction of our treatment programs. Dr. Blagys received his doctoral degree from the University of Arkansas in Clinical Psychology. He completed his Predoctoral Internship and Postdoctoral Training at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Blagys then completed a four year intensive Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Austen Riggs Center, a residential dual diagnosis treatment center in Stockbridge, MA, working with clients typically labeled ‘treatment resistant’. Later, he worked as a Psychotherapist and Admission’s Director at the Boyer Foundation, a residential treatment center in San Rafael, CA.
Dr. Blagys was most recently employed as a staff psychologist and co-chair of the psychology department at Napa State Hospital. Dr. Blagys has diverse interests including working with treatment resistant clients, residential treatment, psychodynamic psychotherapy, organizational and group dynamics, integrating psychological assessment into treatment, similarities and differences between treatment approaches, and psychotherapy process and outcome research. Dr. Blagys has published several articles and made numerous presentations in these areas.
Elizabeth Suti, LMFT
Director of Outpatient Services
Elizabeth Suti is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has worked in the mental health and addiction treatment fields for the past 25 years. Prior to joining Alta Mira as Director of Outpatient Services, Elizabeth held a clinical position at the UCLA Department of Psychiatry for 16 years. As Clinical Director, she helped launch the Addiction Medicine Service at UCLA which included both an inpatient and partial hospitalization program for addiction and co-occurring disorders.
Elizabeth maintained a private practice focusing on addiction and recovery issues for many years. She began incorporating mindfulness skills in her private practice and at UCLA 10 years ago. She has presented on Mindfulness and Addiction Treatment and was the lead clinician for a UCLA research study using Alan Marlatt’s Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) protocol.
Elizabeth has co-authored several published articles about women and addiction. She co-founded the Women’s Association of Addiction Treatment (WAAT) 12 years ago in Los Angeles, which now has several chapters across the country. She is thrilled to be back in the Bay Area where her career first began.
Patti Weiss, PhD
Patti Weiss is the Program Neuropsychologist at Alta Mira responsible for psychological testing of all our clients, supervising MFT and Ph.D. interns and serving as a primary therapist for our clients. Patti received her Ph.D. in Clinical Neuropsychology in 1999. She did her pre and post doc studies at St. Mary’s Medical Center, in San Francisco, on their Adolescent Psychiatric Unit.
Patti has 21 years of experience in working with Substance Abuse. She stared in 1990 at Centerpoint in San Rafael at an outpatient recovery program, and continuing at St. Mary’s Hospital on the Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Unit, where she has been since 1995. She also spent two years working at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, in 1993-94, where 50% of the patients she treated were hospitalized due to the effects of substance abuse. Patti was licensed in 2002, and spent the last five years at St. Mary’s, while also conducting weekly psychological assessments at Juvenile hall, specializing in abuse and injury cases. She also has extensive experience with substance abuse, murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and rape cases, mainly with juveniles. Patti maintains a private practice in San Francisco, and continues to consult with Juvenile Hall and the Nueva School, specializing in gifted children and teens.
In her spare time Patti is a respected concert violinist who has toured with Josh Groban, the Gipsy Kings, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, among others. Patti speaks six languages, including French, Italian, Hindi, Spanish, and Urdu. She is currently studying Arabic, and also ballet, hip hop and jazz dance.
Anna Welsh, PhD
Dr. Anna Welsh is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Dr. Welsh has extensive training and experience in providing psychotherapy for trauma-based disorders. She recently worked at the UCLA Rape Treatment Center as well as the Solstice Clinic in southern California.
Her clinical experience includes providing crisis intervention for acute sexual assault victims, providing long and short-term psychotherapy in private practice and community psychotherapy centers, school-based programs, and non-profit mental health residential facilities. She has also completed additional training through the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Dr. Welsh grounds her work in psychodynamic and Jungian theory, and places great importance on the therapeutic relationship, empathic attunement, and containment.
In her free time, Dr. Welsh enjoys hiking, camping, and skiing with her family.
Laureen Worden, PhD
As a licensed Psychologist for over 20 years, Dr. Worden specializes in the treatment of emotional dysregulation, particularly for adults and adolescents suffering with addictions and eating disorders. Dr. Worden has assumed leadership roles as Clinical Director at two addictions facilities in Florida and California, as well as Lead Clinical Supervisor at an APA approved program where she trained and supervised therapists. Her unique psychotherapeutic approach combines specialties in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, Collaborative Problem Solving, Mindfulness, and Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Worden has utilized these approaches to work in a rapid yet in-depth manner with such mental health issues as addiction, trauma, guilt, shame, explosiveness, anxiety, depression, and relational conflict. Dr. Worden received a BA in Linguistics from McGill University, an MS in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of South Florida, and an MS and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon.
Aaron Conroy, LMFT
As one of Alta Mira’s primary therapists, Aaron Conroy is a licensed MFT (Marriage & Family Therapist) with over 15 years of experience providing mental health and substance abuse treatment in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from Sonoma State University, Aaron worked extensively on with the American Indian population on several reservations providing mental health and substance abuse treatment. Returning to the Bay Area in 1997, he received his Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University, and took a clinician position at Native American Health Center in Oakland.
Aaron later joined Kaiser Permanente where he worked as the parity liaison between their psychiatry department and their Chemical Dependency Recovery Program. While there, Aaron was instrumental in helping usher into the Kaiser curriculum the philosophies of harm reduction and coexisting diagnosis. Aaron has also used his expertise in addiction and trauma treatment in his work with The National Health Service Corps working with under-served populations. He has served as the Clinical Director for the Friendship House Association of American Indians and as a Director of Residential Programs at Haight Ashbury Free Clinics.
Aaron is a fifth generation San Franciscan and in his free time enjoys spending time with his son and sailing on the bay.
Janice Graham, LMFT
Janice is a graduate of The University of San Francisco, where she earned a Masters Degree in Psychology, with additional post graduate work in mood disorders completed at the University of California, Berkeley. She has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 15 years, specializing in the multi-disciplinary treatment of addiction, co-occurring mental health disorders (including mood disorders), and PTSD/trauma. Most recently Janice served as the Director of the Milieu at the well-respected Life Healing Center of Santa Fe. She brings to Alta Mira her extensive experience in treating trauma, mood disorders and co-occurring disorders.
Nazaneen Nekbeen, MA, MFTI
As a counselor at Alta Mira, Nazaneen provides one-on-one counseling, runs progress groups, assists with psychological testing, and support to clients as they go through their journeys. For over seven years, she has worked in the field assisting individuals and families and empowering them so that they may attain their goals and achieve their personal best. Nazaneen received her Master’s in Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.
Benjamin M. Eiland, MA, CATC
Director of Integrated Healing
Ben Eiland has been in the chemical dependency treatment field for over 35 years, Throughout his career he has had the privilege of being a director of both inpatient and outpatient chemical dependency treatment programs, for both adults and adolescents. He is the past director of substance abuse treatment services for the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic and was the co-founder of Integrated Counseling and Consulting Services, specializing in relapse prevention and domestic violence.
Ben has been a trainer and consultant in such areas as chemical dependency treatment, co-occurring disorders treatment, domestic and workplace violence. He has provided training and consulting for such diverse organizations as the American Indian Training Institute, Maui Social Services, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bar Association.
Ben has taught at a variety of educational institutions over the last 32 years and is currently an adjunct faculty member at JFK University in Orinda, and the College of San Mateo, where he teaches courses for individuals who are pursuing a career as a certified addiction counselor. He is currently on the board and is the President of the California Association of Alcohol/Drug Educators.
Lisa Molbert, LAADC, CADC-II
Compliance Manager/Discharge Planner
Lisa has been working in the mental health field for almost 20 years. She is a licensed advanced alcohol and drug counselor, and an experienced interventionist. Especially adept at treating addiction and alcoholism, Lisa specializes in relapse prevention and chronic pain syndrome and excels in the evaluation and assessment of dual diagnosis patients.
Lisa also lectures to physicians on addiction and the treatment of chronic pain, and promotes attorney awareness through her talks at continuing education programs on alcoholism and addiction. Lisa was cited as an expert in Nolo Press’ resource book Healthy Employees – Healthy Business for her expertise in alcoholism and addiction as they relate to insurance resources and treatment. Currently, Lisa is Compliance Manager and Discharge Planner for Alta Mira.
Lead Recovery Counselor/Client Advocate
Amy is a former school teacher who changed career paths to be able to assist those on the road to recovery. She has worked in the chemical dependency field for 3 years and is near completion of the CAADAC Program at U.C. Berkeley Extension. As our Recovery Counselor Supervisor, Amy leads our team engaging clients in different physical activities such as kayaking, yoga, and meditative walks. She also uses her own journey of recovery to relate to our clients. Amy is also a writer and the author of Secrets of a Soccer Mom.
Family Program Counselor
Michelle Bonsignore coordinates and co-facilitates Alta Mira’s 4-day Family Program, a program that all family members are encouraged to attend. Michelle joined Alta Mira as a graduate student of Dominican University, and is working towards licensure as a Marriage and Family therapist. With a particular focus on family systems, her professional and personal experience lend to providing vital support to family members while loved ones seek treatment.
Lead Recovery Counselor
As our evening Lead Recovery Counselor, Sharif Ali is instrumental in orienting new residents to the milieu, as well as helping to facilitate our innovative program offerings.
Sharif brings a deep and heartfelt understanding to the recovery process and works to promote a safe and healing environment that allows for personal growth, education and recovery from addiction, in all its many guises.
Currently Sharif is attending John F. Kennedy University’s graduate program in Counseling Psychology, where he is working toward his MFT and LPCC licensure.
Manager, Recovery Counselors
One of our stellar Recovery Counselors, Fergus plays a critical role in supporting our clients day to day. With almost 13 years of sobriety under his belt, Fergus brings his expertise and understanding to our clients’ unique journeys from drug and alcohol dependence to sober life. Fergus is also currently working towards his certification with the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) at U.C. Berkeley.
Before joining the team at Alta Mira, Fergus travelled extensively and enjoyed an eclectic array of professional experiences. He once managed the legal department of a phone company, he was a ski instructor in the Sierras, a golf course marshal, and has also worked in real estate sales.
For Fergus, the common thread throughout it all has been his love and appreciation of people. From his native homeland of Ireland he inherited the “gift of the gab.” Fortunately, Fergus is also blessed with the gift of listening, which is so vital to the recovery work he loves.
Senior Overnight Recovery Counselor
Minor is the Senior Overnight Recovery Counselor and a Bilingual DUI Counselor. He lends daily support to our clients. Minor received his Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, graduated the Police Academy and later worked as a Police Officer and Sheriff’s Deputy. He also spent several years working as a Youth Counselor helping addicted youth with dual diagnoses.
Steven L. Batki, MD
Consulting Physician: Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine
Dr. Steven Batki is listed in the US News and World Report as one of the top doctors in the field of Addiction-Psychiatry. Through a peer nomination process, he currently ranks in the top 10% for the entire United States. He is also listed as one of the best doctors in the region for, Top Psychiatrists in San Francisco. Read More.
As our primary consulting Addiction Psychiatrist, Dr. Steven Batki is responsible for the psychiatric and addiction medicine needs for Alta Mira clients. Dr. Batki has 30 years of medical and psychiatric experience and is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine and Chief of the Substance Abuse Programs at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Dr. Batki is also the director of the Addiction Research Program and the Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship Program. Prior to his current positions, Dr. Batki was the director of the division of substance abuse and addiction medicine at San Francisco General Hospital.
Dr. Batki earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia University, and received his medical degree from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University. Dr. Batki completed both his psychiatry internship and residency at the UCSF School of Medicine. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and is board-certified in both Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry. Dr. Batki is also a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine.
Dr. Batki is an active medical researcher studying addiction treatment. He has received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Department of Defense. Dr. Batki’s research and clinical interests focus on improving the treatment for alcohol, opioid, and stimulant dependence. His current work includes studies of alcohol dependence in patients with traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
David Smith, MD
Chair of Addiction Medicine
Dr. David E. Smith is recognized as a national leader in the treatment of addictive disease, the psychopharmacology of drugs, new research strategies in the management of drug abuse problems, and appropriate prescribing practices for physicians. He teaches that addiction is a primary medical illness which is best treated in a multidisciplinary fashion, utilizing the group process, individual psychotherapy, and the 12-Step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous.
Dr. Smith has over 45 years of experience treating addiction as a medical disease. At Alta Mira, Dr. Smith chairs our quality assurance committee and lectures to our clients on the neurobiological aspects of addiction, treating addiction as a brain disease, and the medical management of psychoactive drug dependence, including cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs.
Dr. Smith founded the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics in 1967, inaugurating the principle of “Health Care is a Right, not a Privilege.” He is a Fellow and former President of The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). He lectures extensively and is the author/co-author of over 350 professional articles and books, including Unchain Your Brain: 10 Steps to Breaking the Addictions that Steal Your Life, with Dr. Daniel Amen.
Helen “Py” Driscoll, MD
Consulting Physician: Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine
Dr. Driscoll serves as our primary independent consulting medical physician and is responsible for the detoxification and medical needs of our clients. She is board certified in both Internal and Addiction Medicine. Dr. Driscoll has 15 years of experience at Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland where she completed her residency and later served as an attending hospitalist instructing a team of residents, interns, and medical students. She has cared for over 7,500 patients suffering from medical complications caused by addiction. Dr. Driscoll earned her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and Bachelor’s in Human Biology at Brown University. She is an Advisory Board Member at Stepping Stone Residential Recovery Program for Women in San Francisco and a member of ASAM and CSAM.
Tracey Scalise, LVN
Lead Detox Specialist
Tracey has been a Detox Specialist for several years and her primary experience has been working in recovery centers such as at Alta Mira. Prior to her work in recovery, Tracey was a wellness director for an assisted living community. She has a passion for nursing and holistic health. She is an LVN and currently working on obtaining her RN. She has obtained a Bachelor’s in holistic nutrition and is working on a Ph. D in Naturopathy through Clayton College of Natural Health. She has been a clinical massage therapist for over ten years for a physical therapy clinic in which she still sees clients. She has a love for working in recovery and is glad to be a part of the team at Alta Mira.
Joe Sorg, LVN
Ben Paruso, LVN
Amy Naber, MA, CYT, CPT
In her yoga teaching and counseling, Amy specializes in: mind/body integration, recovery from other processes or addictions, beginners and those intimidated by the practice, pregnancy, postpartum women, weight management, fitness programs, healthy eating, recovery from eating disorders and poor body image, and elderly movement.
Amy is certified by the Yoga Alliance to teach adults, children and families as well as pregnant and postpartum women. She has completed well over 500 hours of yoga education and training, a 300 program with American Fitness Association to become a certified personal trainer, and she holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on Somatics and Depth Psychology. Amy uses her unique combination of skills to create customized wellness plans and guide clients in improving their health, serenity, and well-being and in achieving their personal goals.
Daniel has been practicing meditation for over 30 years, including as a student of Zen masters Roshi Sasaki, Maezumi Roshi, and of Christian Zen Masters Willigis Jagerr, Pat Hawk and Christian leader Thomas Keating, and as a resident monk at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. Daniel has traveled both nationally and internationally teaching meditation, Centering-Prayer, and “Spiritual Journey” workshops. For six years Daniel served as Vice-President of the Board of Colorado Contemplative Outreach and he was a Spiritual Counselor of Intensive Public Retreats at St. Benedicts Monastery. In addition, he established the KIVA (Kindness In Viable Action) program – a reentry program that teaches meditation and life skills to incarcerated youth. Daniel is dedicated to meditation as a healing and recovery modality.
Adriana Popescu, PhD
Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist with 20 years of experience in the mental health field. She received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, a program that takes a holistic approach to the training of psychotherapists, teaching them how to help clients self-actualize and reach their highest human potential. Adriana is also a certified hypnotherapist and Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) Practitioner, having discovered that Energy Psychology provides incredibly powerful tools to identify and eliminate the deep-rooted causes of suffering and distress. She developed her specialty in treating addictions and co-occurring disorders over eight years at Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, where she managed the Adult Substance Abuse Program, and two years as Director of Outpatient Services at Marin Services for Women.
Natasha Marcy, LMT
Medical Qigong Practitioner, Massage Therapist
Natasha has been engaged in the healing arts for over 10 years. Her initial massage training at the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts in Santa Fe led to further studies in Holistic Health and Medical Qigong. She believes in educating clients about self-regulation through diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques. Detoxification of mind, body and energy fields can greatly reduce the toxic emotions that drive many to substance abuse. She finds great joy in empowering individuals with skills that can be called upon at any stage of recovery and with the knowledge that healing can be in their own hands at any moment.
Sharon Zo, MS, LAC
Sharon Zo is a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in addiction, chronic pain, and stress related conditions. At Alta Mira, Sharon leads our weekly group acupuncture sessions and also conducts individual acupuncture sessions for clients. She has 15 years of experience helping clients replenish their internal reservoir of resources for healing the physical, emotional, and spiritual body. Sharon received her Master of Science degree from American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and completed additional clinical training at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Sichuan, China. In addition to Alta Mira, Sharon has worked as part of a multidisciplinary team treating chronic pain at Kaiser Medical Center in San Francisco for the last 10 years.
Chief Executive Officer
Bill co-founded Alta Mira with the vision of creating one of the world’s leading addiction treatment centers. As CEO, Bill manages the center’s marketing, finance, and operations.
Prior to Alta Mira, Bill worked for eight years as a Wall Street research analyst focusing on consumer Internet/media businesses. Most recently, Bill was a partner and senior analyst at ThinkEquity, where he re-launched their Internet and media franchise. Prior to ThinkEquity, Bill was a director and senior Research Analyst at JMP Securities and a senior associate at Salomon Smith Barney.
Before working as a research analyst, Bill worked for a venture capital firm and a Chicago-based healthcare startup. Bill holds a BA from Colgate University and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Vice President of Finance and Information Technology
Sebastian Alioto serves as the Vice President of Finance and Information Technology of Alta Mira, bringing with him over 25 years of senior financial and operations management experience in both the profit and non-profit sectors. Sebastian is a hands-on manager with a passion for long-term planning, operational management, improving internal systems and processes, and for staff education.
Sebastian has served as the senior VP of finance in several technology companies throughout his career, including HealthVISION, ViaNovus, Inc., and MDC Information Systems. Most recently, he was the Vice President of Finance for the Human Services Management Corporation of San Francisco where he managed both financial and operational aspects of the company as well as the IT department, which provided networking, security, equipment and application support to over 50 users in 9 separate locations.
A San Francisco Bay Area native, Sebastian graduated from the University of San Francisco and is an inactive CPA. He makes his home in the city of San Francisco with his wife, Malena, and his two children, Lisa and Frankie. In his spare time he can be found teeing up at a local golf course or taking a trip to either Sonoma or Lake County with his family.
Vice President of Human Resources
Christi Cessna, MS
Vice President of Business Development
Christi Cessna earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at the University of Central Arkansas and then received her license as a Psychological Examiner. Her broad clinical experience as a therapist includes working with young adults, adolescents and their families in various settings (outpatient and inpatient, college campus counseling center, and in-home counseling). Christi’s therapeutic experience compliments her expertise in business development and strategic planning.
For the last 15 years, Christi worked at Sierra Tucson. During her time there, she was an Administrator that served as the Director of Intake and Marketing and later promoted as Senior Director of Clinical Outreach. Under her leadership, she expanded the Clinical Outreach team nationally and internationally resulting in Sierra Tucson experiencing the highest admissions and census in over 15 years. It was during this growth period, that Sierra Tucson was recognized as one of the top psychiatric hospitals in the country.
Christi was drawn to work with Alta Mira based on the values of focusing not only on personal attention to each client but also the respect and care towards the staff. As the treatment industry continues to shift, her focus continues to be on the best interest of the client.
Cherlyne Short Majors, PhD
Senior Strategic Advisor
Dr. Majors is a well-respected and highly accomplished behavioral healthcare professional with over 24 years of experience ranging from clinical practice to senior executive administration at prestigious, nationally renowned treatment facilities such as the Betty Ford Center, Cirque Lodge, Charter Behavioral Health’s Provo Canyon School, and most recently as Executive Director for Casa Palmera. Holding both a Doctorate and two Master’s degrees, Dr. Majors has a robust history of developing successful start-up businesses and being an agent of change in existing businesses that want to make an investment in continuous improvements and expect immediate results as well as long-term strategies to maintain achieved gains. As a consultant and both a national and international speaker, Dr. Majors focuses on innovation in behavioral healthcare.
Dr. Majors has a proven track record of achieving results starting early in her career. Dr. Majors developed and marketed the Statewide Technical Assistance and Training Services (STATS) program, which is a Texas prevention program for high-risk youths which she grew from 20 to 101 programs in 3 years, positively impacting the lives of more than 20,000 youths across Texas.
Dr. Majors completed her Ph.D. in Addiction Studies as well as post-graduate training in Family Systems Theory. She is a Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Master Addiction Counselor (National) and licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (Texas), and holds a Lifetime Teacher’s Certificate from the state of Texas. Additionally, she has obtained certification from the Small Business International Trade Association in Small Business International Management. She sits on numerous Boards and Advisory Councils.
Director of Admissions
Leslie Clarke has an extensive background in drug and alcohol treatment, sales and marketing, and administrative management. She owned her own business in the financial world for over 20 years prior to making the transition into the recovery industry. With over 30 years of sobriety, having helped thousands to find permanent recovery and personally ‘sponsoring’ dozens of women, Leslie has developed a unique perspective and brings this valuable experience to the everyday work as head of Alta Mira’s admissions office. She interacts directly with clients and their families, helping them navigate various treatment options to determine their best course of action for successful recovery. As Director of Admissions, Leslie is usually the first person our clients talk to as they call for help and information. She has the great privilege of helping people make one of the most important and life changing decisions of their lives.
Senior Director of Marketing
Linda joined the Alta Mira team to help forward the mission of creating extraordinary treatment experiences for those seeking help with addiction and behavioral health issues. As Senior Marketing Director, she values the opportunity to help individuals and family members connect with the help they need, and strives to make that process as safe and comforting as possible. She has a strong belief in the integrity and excellence of the vision behind Alta Mira and its sister program for adolescent boys, Muir Wood.
Prior to joining Constellation, Linda served as Director of Internet Marketing for CRC Health Group. Her marketing career also includes work with agencies, non-profits, and educational fundraising groups. Before finding her calling in behavioral healthcare marketing, she worked as a high school art teacher, a graduate instructor at Syracuse University, and owned a yoga studio in Asheville, North Carolina.
She holds graduate degrees in Museum Studies from Syracuse University and in Education from State University of New York at Oswego.
Senior Clinical Outreach Representative
As Senior Clinical Outreach Representative, Barbara is responsible for establishing and maintaining professional relationships on behalf of Alta Mira with referring therapists, psychiatrists, physicians, substance dependence providers and employee assistance programs. Barbara was most recently with the Hanley Center as their Professional Outreach Manager for the Northeast states.
She began her chemical dependency marketing career at the Caron Foundation, where she was Outreach Service Representative from 2001 to 2007; she also has 25 years of experience in the medical field. She was a research associate in neurosurgery at Yale–New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, where she authored two research papers. Her medical positions included department head of cardiology and neurology laboratories in New York and Connecticut hospitals. Barbara resides in Wilton, Connecticut. She represents Alta Mira in the Northeast states of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Bill Ryan, RAS, BRI, CLC
Clinical Outreach Representative, Southern California & Arizona
Bill Ryan has been involved in the field of chemical dependence and mental health both professionally and personally for over 30 years. Bill is a Registered Addiction Specialist (RAS), a Board Registered Interventionist (BRI) and a Certified Life Coach (CLC). He is a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA), the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) and a full member of the Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS).
Bill serves on the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Recovery, a non-profit which focuses on viable solutions to treat the chronic disease of addiction by providing services to affected individuals, their families, and their friend’s and is a Board of Advisor for the Merritt Center a non-profit dedicated to individual and group renewal and empowerment.
Since 1977, when Billy (as his friends and family call him) began his own personal healing he has helped carry the message of recovery to countless people around the world through public speaking, seminars, workshops, and written publications. His personal story appears in a twelve-step fellowship recovery book with more than seven million copies in circulation in 131 countries around the world and is currently available in 39 languages with 16 translations in process.
He works closely with organizations, companies, family members and individuals. Bill facilitates interventions worldwide, coordinates’ clients’ recovery treatment, and provides post treatment monitoring and coaching services.
His unique combination of personal experience with successful recovery from addiction coupled with his many years as a senior executive in the corporate environment encompassing numerous professional leadership skills and savvy make him especially well-suited to operate in many situations where addiction needs to be addressed.
Ellen Plaze, LCDC, BRI-II
Clinical Outreach Representative, Central USA
Ellen Plaze, LCDC, BRI-II is a licensed addictions counselor and an interventionist with over 30 years of experience in behavioral health. As a counselor and Program Director for treatment centers, she has developed and directed outpatient programs, family programs, and marketing departments. In her private practice, she specialized in interventions that included working with children.
Ellen is also a national speaker. Formerly with Sierra Tucson, she successful developed relationships with clinical professionals by providing concierge level customer service for over 15 years. She was drawn to Alta Mira for their highly personalized approach that allows her to continue to bring that high level of service to her clinical network.
Shelby Swartz, MA
Clinical Outreach Representative, Northern California & Pacific Northwest
Shelby is the Clinical Outreach Representative for Alta Mira in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. In this role, she is responsible for establishing and maintaining professional relationships with therapists, psychiatrists, physicians, substance dependence providers and other professionals in the community. Shelby holds a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from St. Mary’s College of California. She has over 20 years of experience working in the mental health and addictions field with adolescents, young adults, adults, and their families. Shelby has provided individual, group, and family therapy as well as facilitated psycho-educational workshops.
Prior to joining the Constellation team, Shelby worked as an outreach specialist for CRC Health Group, Inc., was an Educational Consultant, worked as the Program Director for an international adoption agency, was a social worker with foster youth and foster families, and co-developed a therapeutic residential facility for foster youth.
Carla Chludzinski, MSW, LCSW
Clinical Outreach Representative, Midwest USA
As a licensed clinical social worker for over 30 years, Carla has had the opportunity to use her extensive clinical skills in a variety of settings: emergency medicine, law enforcement, psychiatry, and, since 1977, the addiction treatment field as well as behavioral health. After several years with Hazelden Chicago managing intake and admissions, she joined Sierra Tucson as the Midwest Clinical Outreach Coordinator where she was an integral part of the Marketing Team for nearly 10 years. Most recently, she served as Clinical Relations Coordinator for Rosecrance Health Network, which provides adults and adolescents with addiction treatment.
This professional path has allowed Carla to assist many in finding the best treatment match for their behavioral health needs. She was drawn to Alta Mira’s clinical depth and ability to operationalize its vision in such a conscious, meaningful way.
Amanda E. Lehrer, M.S.W
Clinical Outreach Representative, Northeast United States
Amanda earned her Masters Degree in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University and her Bachelors Degree in Social Work from Mercyhurst University.
As a social worker with over 17 years of experience, Amanda has had the opportunity to use her clinical skills in a variety of settings: designing disaster mental health preparedness and response curriculum, training mental health professionals, providing in-home and in-school family therapy, counseling adolescents in residential facilities and working for the Region II Head Start program as the Mental Health Content Specialist.
In her most recent experience, she was the Regional Outreach Specialist for CRC Health Group, which provides adults and adolescents with addiction and mental health treatment.
In a world often overwhelmed by addiction and mental illness, Amanda strongly believes that we as a community need to advocate for the addicted and mentally ill. Her passion and commitment are always driven by making sure her clients and families receive the best treatment possible. She was drawn to Alta Mira and Muir Wood because of their shared dedication to every step of their clients’ recovery.
Amanda resides in New York City and covers the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut regions for Alta Mira and Muir Wood.
Scheduling/Front Desk Administrative Assistant
Brigitte L. Lank, MA, PhD, CSAT
Process Addiction Therapist & Strategic Advisor
Dr. Lank is a licensed psychologist who holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She has two decades of direct clinical service to include specialization in addiction medicine, substance related disorders, process addictions, eating disorders and co-existing psychiatric disorders. With a commitment to addictions field and treatment development she has conducted original research of personality variables and alcohol abuse and dependence. Dr. Lank has taught Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Substance-Related Disordersat both the undergraduate and graduate level and has worked in a range of local hospital, residential and outpatient settings including: Haight-Ashbury Psychological Services, Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, Kaiser Permanente Chemical Dependency Recovery Programs and the University of California San Francisco, Division of Substance Abuse and Addiction Medicine. Her work has included clinical coordination and oversight for a federal and state-approved pilot program for opiate replacement treatment supported by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Dr. Lank is the past two-term President of the Board of Directors for the National Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Addictions (NCADA-Bay Area) in San Francisco, CA. and past committee member of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) Diversity Committee New York, N.Y.; Founder of The Northern California Chapter and Education Chair for the Womens’ Association for Addiction Treatment (WAAT) and Founder of the Lank Institute for Sexual Addiction and Recovery (LISAR), Dr. Lank is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) and provides local and national information on Sex Addiction on both radio, print and television. Lastly, Dr.Lank provides substance abuse and sex addiction assessment and individual, couple, and family psychotherapy in private practice in Marin County, California.
Ed Storti, ICADC, CADC
Ed Storti, author, lecturer and Intervention Specialist, is an international and California Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor and Board Registered Interventionist. Over the past 35 years, Ed has developed and refined a proprietary and revolutionary motivational intervention process called The Storti Model™. Choreographing over 3,500 interventions throughout the world perfecting The Storti Model™, Ed’s efforts have motivated thousands of alcoholics, addicts and others suffering from acute illness to successfully seek treatment. In addition to alcoholism and drug addiction, The Storti Model™ is also adaptable for those suffering from eating disorders, unhealthy lifestyles, personality disorders and severe medical illness including cancer and HIV.
There is an old and popular myth that one must wait until a loved one “bottoms out” due to his/her disease of addiction or until he/she asks for help. Sadly, the bottom can mean death, insanity or a painful lifestyle unbecoming for all those involved. The foundation of The Storti Model™ is based on the theory that since the patient is physically/psychologically deteriorating or dying from an addictive disease, the best course of action is to act immediately and honor the addicted with a positive presentation in front of them while there still is time (a living eulogy so to speak) rather than waiting for the bottom. Ed’s philosophy is to present the gift of treatment to the addicted individual within a positive atmosphere of love, dignity, trust and compassion. As Ed states, “The Storti Model™ honors the addicted at that moment; its designed to give them reason to feel that they are special, that they are meaningful and that there is hope.”
Currently, Ed’s business is focused on two primary segments: (1) assessing potential intervention cases and, when appropriate, referring the cases to one of several hand picked interventionists personally trained by Ed in The Storti Model™; and (2) speaking to patients, families of patients, treatment center staff and other professionals concerning a variety of topics including addictive disease, treatment / post-treatment and other professionalism topics. For questions and / or more information, please go to www.stortimodel.com or call (310) 547-5704.