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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lisa Molbert, LAADC, CADC-II
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 an Outpatient Primary Therapist at Alta Mira.
Experiential Activities Program Coordinator & Alumni Coordinator
As Alta Mira’s Experiential Activities Program Coordinator, Tom assists our clients in exploring and developing methods for personal enhancement and the way they feel through recreation and exercise. He accomplishes this by orchestrating numerous off-site trips which include a variety of outdoor activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, sailing, visiting art museums, horseback riding, and more.
Also a lifelong climber and exercise enthusiast, Tom finds great pleasure in sharing his passion for life with others, believing that the connection between oneself and the outside world can best be developed through direct interaction. He maintains over 20 years of experience working for cutting-edge mental health and addiction treatment facilities.
Recovery Counselor Supervisor
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 Coordinator
Michelle Bonsignore is our Family Program Coordinator. Michelle’s professional and personal understanding of addiction’s impact on families allows her to be highly impactful in counseling individuals and their families through their early and ongoing recovery processes. Her role includes organizing and co-facilitating the monthly 4-Day Family Program, providing dedicated support to family members, as well as leading client groups.
Concurrently, Michelle is earning her Master’s Degree at Dominican University in Counseling Psychology.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cherlyne Short Majors, PhD
Chief Development Officer
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.
Christi Cessna, MS
National Director of Clinical Outreach
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.
Clinical Outreach Representative, Northeast USA
Barbara is the Clinical Outreach Representative for the Northeast United States. In this role, 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.
Lisa Bosler, MSW, MTS
Clinical Outreach Representative, Northern California & Pacific Northwest
Lisa Bosler, Clinical Outreach Representative for Alta Mira Recovery Program and Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services, has over 12 years of experience in both direct service social work and sales outreach. Lisa holds a Master of Social Welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. After spending several months in Kathmandu, Nepal at the age of 21 working as a volunteer at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Home for the Sick and the Dying, Lisa felt called to pursue a degree in social work.
After graduating from UCLA, Lisa was granted a Henry Luce Scholarship and lived for one year on the border between Burma and Thailand in Mae Sai, Thailand, working for a Thai-run organization that helped young girls at risk. Upon returning to the U.S., Lisa became a clinical social worker on an inpatient psychiatric unit at San Francisco General Hospital where she learned first-hand the struggles that patients suffering from mental illness face. While she enjoyed working with a team of multidisciplinary professionals, she had a desire to return to school to look at the role of spirituality and faith in times of crisis.
The last eight years have found Lisa working with doctors and therapists to educate them on medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine, a medication that helps patients suffering from opioid dependence. Lisa’s unique background allows her to help clients and healthcare professionals alike successfully navigate their treatment options. Lisa’s goal–to serve with integrity and compassion as a member of a committed team–aligns with Alta Mira and Muir Wood’s core values and serves to guide and inspire her work.
Most teenagers’ kitchen jobs involve burger flipping and French fries, but Chris Miller’s after-school gig at the Perfect Pan Cooking School gave him the chance to assist culinary greats like Chef Julia Child & Chef Jacques Pepin. His global influences range from the Mediterranean to China, where he was among the first American college students to visit the mainland since the communist revolution.
By the time he began his training at the California Culinary Academy, Chris’s love of food had evolved into a talent for creating flavorful, healthful dishes. While holding a number of key positions at a Colorado and St. Thomas Ritz – Carlton, the Golden Door Spa in San Diego and Paula LeDuc Catering in San Francisco, he endeared himself to numerous Hollywood “A” list clients. Chef Chris has cooked for 3 U.S. Presidents and the demand for his cooking took him to private residences and yachts across Southern & Northern California.
Chris went on to become the Executive Chef at Dr. Deepak Chopra’s Center for Living in Rancho Santa Fe, California and North American Executive Chef for UB Group based out of India.
Chef Chris has over 35 years experience in the kitchen and knows that the key to many clients wellness and recovery success is in his ability to apply his global knowledge of healthy cuisines and their ingredients to fulfill the nutritional needs of detoxing and recovering clients. Chef Chris has over 10 years of direct experience working with Doctors, Dieticians and Nutritionists and Therapists whose unique client referrals include Eating Disorders, Food Allergies plus Vegan & Vegetarian and other restricted diets. Chef Chris’ Kitchen staff are all hand selected and each have outstanding resumes including Culinary Degrees from the top schools in the country; The Culinary Institute of America, California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Blue & Johnson and Wales.
Albert Pantoja was introduced to the building industry over 30 years ago and has since worked on custom clientele projects as well as commercial store projects for the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, Macy’s, and Starbucks, to name a few. His commercial building experience led him to work alongside Trinity Properties, San Francisco’s largest landlord, where he helped maintain and renovate numerous properties, as well as with Fisher Development, one of California’s largest shopping mall contractors.
After graduating from the University of San Francisco and serving an active-duty military service, Albert went on to work for the Law Offices of Melvin Belli. Later he became a certified Building Inspector, which wove together with his construction expertise and managerial skills as he created a home here at Alta Mira heading up the Facilities team.
Albert also has over 20 years in recovery. On his off days he is a practicing Reiki Master, professional photographer, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, and a Certified Life Coach. He has extensive knowledge and practice of Native American traditions and beliefs, and has been honored as “Kahuna” for his practice of Native Hawaiian healing energy work in Hawaii, under the guidance of Kahuna Ho’okahi.
As Alta Mira’s Sous Chef, Nicholas Williams is responsible for overseeing our five-star dinner service and supervising kitchen staff. After testing out of high school at the age of sixteen to pursue his dream of becoming a culinary master, Nicholas has been making a name for himself in the field. He joined Alta Mira in 2010 and has since risen to the rank of Sous Chef, gathering a personal repertoire of over 160 dishes. Nicholas has overseen events for Music Cares, Alta Mira’s Visiting Professionals Day and many a marketing luncheon.
A Sonoma County native, Nicholas brings a wide knowledge of local produce to the kitchen. Throughout the year his dishes incorporate delicious seasonal vegetables sourced from local farms and farmer’s markets. Outside of the kitchen, you can find Nicholas enjoying another of the delicacies the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer – a world-class show at a local concert venue or jazz club.
Brigitte L. Lank, MA, PhD, CSAT
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.