In 2000, after developing and managing programs in the fields of education and chemical dependency treatment, Robert Pfeifer set out to create an innovative and effective treatment program for what he considered to be an underserved population of young adults struggling with addiction.
Utilizing his resources and more than 26 years of experience, Robert was able to identify what other treatment facilities lacked, and in doing so, he – and a select team of experts – created a solution … Sober College.
In 2005, Robert officially opened the doors to Sober College: A one-of-a-kind, dual-diagnosis drug and alcohol treatment program focused on healing and rebuilding the lives of young adults. From its first day, Sober College redefined rehab for its clients—and their families—by combining college and rehab under one roof.
Since then, Robert has continued to invest in young adults struggling with addiction by providing them with a safe, effective, and (just as important!) fun sober environment. Sober College is a place where life doesn’t stop; it continues thanks to a program that is flexible enough to fit the evolving needs, interests and passions of each client.
As a result, Sober College has become a program where sobriety is considered a celebration rather than a chore.
Married to Sober College’s Co-Founder Mindi Levins-Pfeifer, Robert is also the father of two children, Ben and Sarah. In his spare time, Robert enjoys yoga and hiking, two pastimes that served as inspiration for the development of Sober College’s yoga therapy program in 2013.
Just as some people are born to become athletes, scientists, or musicians, Mindi Levins-Pfeifer found her calling in life at a young age. She was born to instill hope in young people, even in the most dire of circumstances. It is a passion that has driven her throughout her career—a career that now spans more than two decades and has been singularly focused on helping youth in crisis.
After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from UCLA, Mindi spent more than a decade working with street kids as a case manager and director at the Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN). Following that important work, Mindi returned to school to obtain a Master’s degree in Social Work at Cal State Long Beach and began consulting for Free Clinics throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
It was during this time – after spending years of working for others to help underserved youth – that Mindi and her husband, Robert, discovered a bigger dream. One only they could fulfill.
Recognizing the need for a different kind of treatment program for young adults struggling with addiction, they utilized their unique expertise and resources to open Sober College’s doors in 2005. In doing so, they effectively redefined rehab for young people and their families.
Since then, and as part of her work at Sober College, Mindi has been dedicated to helping clients conquer their addictions. But she does more than that. She is also tireless in her endeavor to help her young clients rediscover the joys in life and redefine life’s limits.
When she’s not helping the young people on Sober College’s campus, Mindi is at home, enjoying life with Robert and their children, Ben and Sarah.
Liz Gomez received her undergraduate degree in social work from Syracuse University in New York, and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach. Before coming to Sober College, Gomez served as a consultant for youth programs across the country. Her experience in training and technical assistance, coupled with her expertise on trauma, informed approaches to working with runaway and homeless youth, the operation of a transitional living and independent living programs, and on administrative operations for programs providing services for youth—expertise she gained by serving as Executive Director of Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN) for 17 years. She joined the LAYN staff in 1989, bringing with her nearly 10 years of experience working with juvenile offenders, homeless youth, and other high-risk youth populations. She has served on the boards of the California Coalition for Youth, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, and the advisory board of The California Wellness Foundation’s Violence Prevention Initiative.
In addition to working at Sober College, Gomez currently serves as a board member for The California Wellness Foundation and has been actively involved in the leadership of numerous youth-serving, philanthropic, civic, and community organizations. Gomez shares, “What drew me to Sober College was their niche in serving young adults seeking recovery. Through my work over the years with this population of young people, it is clear they have unique needs and not everyone is equipped to provide quality services for them as Sober College is.”
Oriana has shown passionate dedication to those who struggle with addiction issues through her extensive studies and over 12 years of experience in the fields of addiction and mental health treatment. Oriana earned her Masters of Social Work from the University of Southern California and completed a Masters of Arts in Psychology with a specialization in Addiction and Certification as a CADCII Counselor. She has experience working in all aspects of the field, both inpatient and outpatient settings, and is well known and respected throughout the Southern California recovery community. Over the past couple years Oriana has shifted her focus from direct client care to programmatic oversight. She was promoted in 2015 from Director of Recovery Services to Associate Executive Director. Oriana supervises the team of directors, the counseling department, oversees communication and coordination of care with families, and is responsible for ensuring quality services in the Sobriety Component of Sober College’s Five Core Competency Model.
MA, CADCII, LCSW
Bill earned his BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from California State University, Northridge and has spent his entire career in advertising and inbound marketing, working for a number of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Farmers Insurance, Home Depot and the U.S. Department of Health. Bill’s own personal recovery journey of 22+ years was the keystone that led him to his work with Sober College’s young adult population, who are unique in their needs but under served in many ways. “This is incredibly important work. I am so committed to the Sober College vision because it resonates with me so greatly.”
In addition to his work at Sober College, Bill is very active in the local community, working with charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Hole In The Sky, a non-profit foundation for men and women seeking recovery, where he serves as Chairman of the Board.
Aimee Noel is a native Angeleno who has joined the Sober College team after working in the non-profit family service field since 1996. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology at California State University, Chico in 1995 and went on to study at Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, MA where she earned her Master’s degree in 2002.
Aimee has experience working in residential treatment, working with adults with co-occurring disorders, conducting therapy with children and families, and has strong ties in the recovery community. She has pursued specialized training in suicide risk assessment, family systems, trauma and mindfulness. Aimee’s unique perspective allows her to look at individuals along a developmental continuum within a bio psychosocial context. “One of the things I love most about Sober College is that we are not just treating each resident’s drug abuse issues, we are looking at all aspects of the individual’s life and offering support to the whole person.”
Aimee brings a strong clinical background, an entrenched understanding of the complexities of adolescent and young adults, and—most importantly—is entrenched within the professional network that exists in the Southern California community. Aimee’s leadership and organizational skills are paramount in leading an internal Sober College team that includes Psychiatry, Neuropsychology, Internal Medicine, Individual and Group Psychotherapy, Somatic Mindfulness Experiencing, Urban Experiential Activities, and much more. Additionally, she will coordinate the delivery of specialized therapies and treatments when necessary.
Bruce Stark, M.D. brings a great combination of professional expertise, enthusiastic energy, and a down-to-earth manner that makes him ideal for the Sober College environment. Special interests include medical treatment and evaluation of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and all aspects of preventative health care.
Dr. Stark is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and also a Diplomat with the American Board of Internal Medicine. He graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine in 1990. He has 12 years of experience in private practice and did his Residency Training in Internal Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Dr. Stark is a specialist in non-invasive cardiac testing, headache management, and substance abuse, while he spends most of his time treating a wide variety of illnesses. These include treatment of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, weight loss, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, preventative health care, and cancer screening. Dr. Stark is committed to treating all aspects of a patient’s health, both physiological and psychological.
Dr. Stark, who also is fluent is Spanish, is married and enjoys spending his spare time surfing, skateboarding, playing guitar, and coaching his daughter’s T-Ball team.
Todd Zorick, M.D. completed residency in psychiatry, as well as a sub-specialty fellowship in addiction psychiatry at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned his Ph.D. in Neurosciences from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Zorick has the rare distinction of being double-board certified—Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine–in treatment of dual diagnosis individuals. He is a member of the American Psychiatry Association and the 2005 winner of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Outstanding Psychiatry Resident Award. Dr. Zorick was granted the Veterans Association Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Career Development Award at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Los Angeles for his project “Citalopram Effects on Craving and Striatal Dopamine Availability in Alcohol Dependence.” In addition to being Sober College’s Psychiatrist, Dr. Zorick is currently the Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and an esteemed published author of neuroscience and addiction papers.
For nearly a decade, Dr. Zorick has worked in residential treatment helping young adults struggling with addiction and co-occurring disorders. His expertise in dual-diagnosis treatment, addiction psychiatry, and neuroscience makes him a vital part of Sober College’s Clinical Treatment Program.
Since graduating USC, Boston College and Pepperdine University, Dr. Therese Mansour Moriarty has done extensive work in psychiatry across the country, publishing papers and continuing research in neuropsychology. For over two years prior to coming to Sober College, Dr. Moriarty was involved exclusively in neuropsychological assessment, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and consultation.
Dr. Moriarty completed her internship in the Federal prison system where she conducted neuropsychological evaluations on the inmate population, evaluating levels of impairment, functioning, and creating treatment plans and/or recommendations to help them function at the most optimal level while incarcerated. Following the completion of her doctorate, Dr. Moriarty began work in the private sector conducting neuropsychological evaluations on athletes, personal injury cases, workers comp, stroke, and dementia cases.
Dr. Moriarty completed this training while working for the Los Angeles Neuropsychology Group, as well as the Sports Concussion Institute. In addition to evaluating patients, she engages in cognitive rehabilitation with individuals following traumatic brain injury, strokes, and injured athletes.
A native of Pennsylvania, Ken received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Pepperdine University in Malibu, where he served as the Captain of an Intercollegiate Lacrosse team. After working nearly a decade as a nuclear and biochemist at places such as UCLA and Amgen, he returned to school to receive his Doctor of Chiropractic degree, an M.A. in Bioethics, and is currently a candidate for a Master’s in Public Health degree through the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is certified by The National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health and Fitness Specialist. Ken is also a Medical Assistant and adjunct professor of Health and Wellness at Woodbury University. He remains active by playing and coaching Lacrosse, doing triathlons, and working as a private trainer and spin instructor.
Sasha earned her Bachelors in Human Services with a concentration in Addiction. She began her journey at Sober College as a Mentor in 2011 and was promoted to Women’s House Manager in 2012 and Operations Manager in 2015. Prior to working at Sober College, Sasha was a Supervisor at the Salvation Army in Pasadena, where she gained valuable experience in the field of addiction. Her passion for “guiding young adults through their recovery” is what lead her to Sober College. Sasha says, “I love being a part of the Sober College community and helping young women grow in recovery.”
Chris Suffield-Jay (CJ) earned her BA in Psychology from California State University Northridge and went on to complete her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with a minor in Post Modern Theories at Phillips Graduate Institute. CJ is the Clinical Supervisor at Sober College.
CJ has over 25 years of experience working with adolescents and Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) populations. She began her career working in Group Homes as a Child Care Worker in 1987 and her primary focus throughout her careers has been working with clients who are dual-diagnosed with addiction and mental health disorders.
CJ has a strong passion for helping clients become the person they want to be rather than the person they feel stuck being. CJ encourages clients to create their “own, unique story” rather than to live in the “problem-saturated story” that has shaped their often unhappy realities.
CJ’s philosophy is that hope is manufactured by cleansing the wounds from the past and choosing a direction that heals the soul.
“The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring with you. ” -Zen Proverb
Melissa Scharf received a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a M.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Phillips Graduate Institute.
Melissa worked as a college counselor at Santa Barbara Business College, which sparked her interest in working with young adults that are in search of a new path. After returning to school and completing her masters, Melissa worked providing therapy to students at Glendale Community College. Melissa has made a career out of helping others change both their academic and emotional lives. She remains passionate about watching that transformation take place.
Brooke Hall received her Bachelors in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Masters in Social Work at California State University, Northridge. She has worked in the mental health and substance abuse field for over 9 years. She has had the privilege of working with diverse populations in a wide array of settings including the Napa State Mental Hospital, San Quentin State Prison, and Veterans Affairs. She brings an empathetic and energetic style to working with her clients and utilizes a strengths-based approach in her therapy.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown
Angeli Desai received a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Marketing from George Washington University, and earned a M.A. in Psychology from New York University. Thereafter, Angeli received her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
Angeli has worked as a psychotherapist at Project Sister Family Services with individuals suffering from trauma. Later, Angeli worked at The Maple Counseling Center, where she worked with a broad range of issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and various addictions. Angeli has had a growing interest in working with young adults, specifically those who struggle with addiction. She appreciates the holistic and comprehensive treatment program of Sober College and sees how valuable such a program is especially for young adults. Angeli maintains a small private practice and works part-time as therapist at Sober College.
Elizabeth Perry has served as the director of the yoga therapy program at Sober College since 2013. She earned her master’s degree in depth psychology with emphasis in somatic studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute and is currently attending Pacifica in pursuit of her Ph.D. Elizabeth has obtained yoga certifications in Power Yoga, Pre/Postnatal Yoga, and has a 500-hour Yoga Therapy Certification. She is in her second year of training as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She considers herself a guardian of the process of helping clients make a mind/body/emotional connection that helps to heal trauma, regulate nervous systems, and aid in addiction recovery.
Elizabeth teaches Vinyasa flow yoga as well as restorative healing sessions. Elizabeth says, “Get ready to conquer your fears, tap into a deeper state of mindfulness, and have an amazing, healing experience. Namaste.”
Chris earned his B.A. from California State University, his Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certification (CADC) from the Institute of Chemical Dependency Studies and is currently studying for his Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles.
Chris has been working in the field of substance abuse treatment since 2012 and has a passion for working with young individuals struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. “This passion,” Chris explains, “comes from my own personal experience and my past struggles as well as my journey to recovery.” Chris joined the Sober College team in 2014 because of his passions for helping those suffering from alcoholism and addiction but also because he really believes and trusts the process. Chris says, “I believe in the way the program is designed, the team I work with and the genuine love and care Sober College gives to each and every client.”
Mike earned his BA in Psychology, and his Master’s degree in Social Work at California State University, Northridge. Mike has experience in clinical and case management aspects of recovery, and has been working in the field since exiting his graduate school program in 2015. Mike has had a passion for working with the 18 -26 year old demographic who struggle with addiction since he began his own journey in recovery from alcohol in 2008. Mike was drawn to Sober College because of his own experience involving education coupled with sobriety, and how important it is to recognize the idea of responsibility in real-life settings early on. “The thing is,” Mike states “that without having the structured program that Sober College provides, clients begin to get comfortable with life without responsibilities. This, in my experience, is a sure way to begin romanticizing usage and endangers the client’s ability to maintain long-term sobriety.”
Matt began working as a Mentor in the Men’s Program in 2014 and was promoted to Friar House Manager in 2015. He has also been the Manager at the Men’s Apartment Program and also has overseen the Men’s Sober Living Program. Matt graduated from the Sober College School of Addiction Studies Drug & Alcohol Counselor Training Program in 2016, and passed his CADC I test. He is now a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor. Four months after graduating, Matt became a Men’s Counselor here at Sober College.
Matt also supports Sober College’s message that sobriety should be anything but boring, and insists that all of the Sober College clients have fun in sobriety. Matt often serves as the Emcee of the monthly talent show, and serves as founder, organizer and host of Sober College’s Soberaoke Night. Matt believes that, “these young people are at a crossroads in their lives. It is possible that they are just one good memory away from never again needing to rely on drugs and/or alcohol.”
“I once overheard a client’s parent tell his son, ‘If you find a job that you love, you will never have to work a day in your life,’” Matt says, “If that’s the case, then I haven’t worked a single day since starting my career at Sober College. I have the greatest job in the world. I am a part of a team that helps
Mike received his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems from California Lutheran University, and more recently completed his drug and alcohol counseling education at the Institute of Chemical Dependency Studies.
Before becoming a part of the Sober College family, Mike was a personal banker for over 12 years. In 2012, Mike was introduced to the world of recovery. Mike was hired at Sober College as a Mentor in February of 2014, and was quickly promoted to Men’s Counselor after just one year. “Through my own experiences in recovery, I have found a strong passion in helping other young men achieve and maintain a sober lifestyle,” explains Mike. “Sober College offers a great program for reintegrating young men and women back into the real world. There is no other program that offers this unique process of recovery, education and occupational success.” Mike explains that these attributes are some of the reasons he is looking forward to a long career with Sober College.
Irma is a Registered Alcohol and Drug Trainee I and is working on obtaining her bachelors in Psychology from Cal State Northridge. She has been working in the field of counseling for over 10 years, with experience in probation, drug and alcohol treatment, and rape and crisis counseling. Her extensive experience makes her a valuable asset to the Sober College Women’s Program and the clinical team as a whole. Having worked in other drug and alcohol treatment programs, Irma is grateful to be working at Sober College because of their unique and effective approach to dual diagnosis treatment. “Sober College has a different perspective on treatment than other programs,” says Irma, “and treatment is provided by loving and devoted staff from top to bottom. I love working with these young women and with my coworkers. Sober College is truly an incredible place to work and recover.”
Lisa began her career at Sober College in 2012 as a Mentor for the Women’s Program. Later she was promoted to Lead Mentor of the Women’s Program and is now in her current role as Women’s Sober Living Counselor & Coordinator. Through her own experience with recovery from substance abuse and addiction, she has found that her true passion in life is helping others who are currently struggling as she once was. “Simply being able to listen, offer advice, and provide guidance for our young adults through the difficult times they may be going through brings me great joy and happiness,” explains Lisa, “I am so grateful that Sober College allows me to be a part of their path to recovery.” Lisa completed her Chemical Dependency Counselor Training from the Institute of Chemical Dependency Studies and is now in the process of completing her Bachelors of Science in Psychology. She hopes that her involvement at Sober College will impact the lives of young adults and lead them toward a path of peace and long term sobriety.
Communication Studies, M.A., Communication Studies, B.A., Minor Political Science
An alumna of the San Diego State University Aztecs, Jenna received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a minor in Political Science and continued on to earn a Master of Arts in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Gender Studies and Persuasion. Jenna’s teaching experience includes Public Speaking, Intercultural Communication and Communication and Politics. Jenna adds, “It is my hope that my students experience the power of their education as I did through shared experiences and mutual understanding.”
M.A. Higher Education & Organizational Change; B.A. Sociology, minor in Education
Nestor received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California Berkeley, where he focused on leadership development and cross cultural competencies. He was passionate about education so he decided to pursue a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California Los Angeles. His research focused on the identity formation of college students and making the transition to college as stress-free as possible in order to ensure student success. His goal is to empower students at Sober College to believe in their own educational abilities through critical dialogue.
Vania Tuynman received her Bachelor of Arts and doctorate in Psychology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where her research focused on the psychological and social challenges of career development for young adults. Prior to arriving at Sober College, she taught courses in French, Spanish and Psychology at Halstrom Academy, the UNAM, and the Technological University of Guanajuato in Leon, Mexico.
Bio Coming Soon!
Armen began his career at Sober College in 2013 as an Overnight Mentor, quickly worked his way up to Lead Mentor of the Men’s Primary Program, and in 2015 was promoted to Oxnard House Manager. Armen’s personal experience with drugs & alcohol abuse lead him to work at Sober College to help young adults with addiction.
Having earned over four years of sobriety himself, Armen is passionate about helping Sober College clients change their lives for the better. Armen says, “I love working at Sober College and helping young adults in the healing process of addiction. Sober college is more than a job, we’re a family and I love what I do.”
Jennifer Mertell began working at Sober College in 2013 as a Mentor in the Women’s and Men’s Primary Programs. In 2015 she was promoted to House Manager of Sober College’s Women’s Residential Program.
Jennifer is in recovery herself and is passionate about helping other young women recovery from substance abuse and addiction. “My personal experience with addiction has led me to work at Sober College,” says Jennifer, “My passion is to help young adults through their own recovery and healing process and show them there is a new way to live life.”
Bio Coming Soon!
Bio Coming Soon!
Lauren Binet received a Bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Economics from the State University of New York at Purchase. She then worked for several years at one of NY’s World Trade Center clinics, coordinating mental and physical health care for responders to 9/11, before pursuing her passion for social justice through education. Lauren went on to receive her Master’s from Hunter College of the City University of New York in Adolescent Social Studies Education. She taught at both private and public schools in her native New York City, and moved in 2012 to Sao Paulo, Brazil to become a Senior Consultant and Project Manager at a corporate education firm. She and her husband spent 3 years in the southern hemisphere before relocating to the west coast.
Professionally, Lauren is an experienced educator and adviser, and personally, has seen many loved ones fall victim to the disease of addiction. She is thrilled to be able to bring these two worlds of experience together in her position as Extended care program manager here at Sober College, and looks forward to guiding her clients to success and witnessing them choose joy in their pursuit of holistic recovery.
A born-and-raised New Yorker, honorary Brasileira, and newly minted west coaster, Lauren is also an ocean lover, wannabe writer, eternal optimist, and family gal. She can be spotted in her free time trotting the globe with her husband, dog, and 2 step-daughters.
Lori has worked in the field of addiction treatment since 2006. Her career at Sober College began in 2012 as a Mentor in the Women’s and Men’s Primary Programs. Lori quickly moved up into her new position as Activities Coordinator. As Activities Coordinator, Lori organizes all of the larger weekend activities for Sober College clients including things like trips to Six Flags Magic Mountain and skydiving. As Activities Coordinator she also heads up Sober College’s CORE, or Community Outreach Program, and works with the counselors and treatment team to ensure that clients are meeting their required number of hours and keeping up with their programs.
Lori’s experience in the field of addiction treatment has led her to pursue a degree in social work because of the joy she gets by helping others. “I do this because my family has a long history of addiction,” explains Lori, “I want to help save lives and suffering for other families. I believe the program at Sober College really works and I love being a part of the team here.”
I started working here because I realized that anything that I have accomplished in my life is because of my recovery program, and I want the next generation to do bigger and better things than I have. Music and sobriety go hand in hand, and I love being a role model in these young adults’ lives.
Mikey has been playing music professionally for 11 years. He is the drummer for the band Shiny Toy Guns and was nominated for a Grammy in 2007. With Shiny Toy Guns, Mikey has made two records on the Universal Motown label and a third for Eleven Seven. Mikey has been sober for 10 years and is in the process of completing his CAADAC certification to be a drug and alcohol counselor.
Mikey has worked at Sober College since 2011. He began working with the clients at the house as a mentor, and now he gets to work with them in the studio as the Music Coordinator. Mikey says, “I started working here because I realized that anything that I have accomplished in my life is because of my recovery program, and I want the next generation to do bigger and better things than I have.” Mikey brings a unique perspective and a musical expertise to Sober College’s Music Program. He continues, “Music and sobriety go hand in hand, and I love being a role model in these young adults lives.”
Collin Palomares began working for Sober College in 2010 as a mentor for the men’s sober living program. Since July of 2011 he has been heading Sober College’s Film Department as Film Coordinator. Collin graduated from New World School of the Arts/University of Florida with a B.F.A. in Acting for Theater. At Sober College he combines his passion for film production and service work in order to provide clients with the opportunity to express themselves through acting and film production, cinematography, lighting, sound design, and editing.
Nick Murphy began his career at Sober College in 2012 as a weekend mentor, and, over his four years at SC, he has worked many different jobs including: Mentor, Activities Coordinator, Clinical Services Assistant, and now Creative Arts Assistant. Nick has been a visual artist for over a decade and is so excited to be able to share his passion for art with the clients, and help them find their artistic voice.
Though Nick is not in recovery himself, he had a turbulent childhood with a family plagued by addiction. Nick has been “straight-edged” his whole life, meaning he has never once touched drugs or alcohol, and is grateful to say that most of his family is now in recovery. Nick states: “I am so grateful to be able to work for Sober College and to be able to be a part of, and give back to, the programs that gave me my family back.”
Bio Coming Soon!
While working full time at Sober College since 2007, Andy has completed the Addiction Studies Program at Pierce College, and is currently working on his Bachelors in Psychology from Woodbury University. As an alumnus of the Sober College program himself, Andy is passionate about the work he does with the young adults that come through Sober College. “I love working with young adults, and Sober College is the type of environment where if a client has an idea, such as wanting to become a mechanic, and EMT, or an ice skater, they are going to make it happen.”
As Medical and Logistics Manager, Andy works closely with our primary physician, neuropsychologist, Clinical Director, and psychiatrist to arrange client medication, schedule appointments, and coordinate with house staff and house managers to ensure that all client needs are being met. With over five years of experience not only working in treatment, but working at Sober College, Andy is an integral part of the Sober College treatment process.
Bio Coming Soon!
M.A. Sociology, San Diego State University; B.A. Sociology, minors in Applied Psychology and Education, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Rachel developed the Drugs and Alcohol in Popular Culture course specifically for the Sober College student. It is Rachel’s goal to help students develop a sociological perspective on drug and alcohol use and addiction through the study of American popular culture. In this course the student is the expert; they are hugely familiar with both the culture they live in as well as with their personal experiences surrounding drug and alcohol use. We use this expertise to critique and analyze the beliefs surrounding drugs and drug use in our society. Students will discover how beliefs are transmitted to the general population and how in turn those beliefs continually influence our understanding of drugs, alcohol and those that use.
Rachel enjoys introducing new material in innovative ways and showing students how sociology is a part of their everyday lives. The aspect that she loves most about teaching is the interaction with the students. Rachel adds, “Developing a rapport with students is very important to me. Receiving positive feedback from students about my ability to maintain a safe and fun classroom environment is very rewarding and one of the reasons why I love what I do. As a teacher within a therapeutic community, it is perhaps most rewarding to see the positive effects in my students’ lives as a result of the study of sociology. It is amazing to watch students process the academic information presented in class and, in turn, transmute it to tangible and identifiable action and positive change in their search for recovery.”
Dr. John Smith holds a Ph.D. in Addiction Studies from International University for Graduate Studies; a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Indiana University. In addition to being the Dean of Instruction for the Sober College School of Addiction Studies, he is also a Professor of Addiction Studies at Mt. San Antonio College, an accomplished author, and a Certified Practitioner in Rapid Trauma Resolution™ therapy, a method that quickly and effortlessly clears the emotional effects from past traumatic experiences. Dr. Smith has over thirty years of experience in the field and he has taught and trained hundreds of Addiction Counselors. He is the author of “Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Disorders: A Practitioner’s Guide”, which is used by many colleges and universities. He has also published several articles in professional magazines. He is the Best Selling author of “The Authentic Man: A Guide to Happiness and Purpose” released in 2015.
Dr. Smith’s extensive experience with the treatment of addiction and co-occurring disorders—as well as his education in the field—makes him the ideal person to ensure that the Sober College School of Addiction Studies curriculum remains the most up-to-date and relevant.
Kristi is responsible for managing the Sober College admissions process to ensure our customers, referral partners, and prospective clients receive the best possible admissions and inquiry experience.
Kristi Kettle comes to Sober College with 25 years of Sales and Sales Management experience. Previously Kristi was the Regional Director of Sales of a publicly held corporation as well as a Vice President of Sales in the telecommunications sector. In both of these roles, Kristi was instrumental in growing the companies both in revenue and in market share.
Kristi brings a unique combination of sophisticated processes, keen negotiation skills, and a passion for the recovery industry. Her talents and abilities are used at Sober College to streamline the admission process and to help maintain the highest standards with respect to documentation, admissions communications and new client intake. States Kristi, “Being 30 years sober, I’ve helped many people with their sobriety. There is nothing more exciting to me than to have the opportunity to introduce Sober College to young adults who are struggling with their addictions.”
Ian Mcloughlin is an alumni of Sober College. He graduated from our program in 2011, and went on to complete his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from St. Mary’s College of California. While at St. Mary’s, Ian also played on their division one baseball team for all four years. This is something he believes he would not have been able to do without the tools he learned at Sober College.
After graduation from St. Mary’s, Ian returned to the Woodland Hills area and began working as a mentor in the men’s program at Sober College. Looking to use more of the skills he learned in school, Ian applied and was hired for a position in the Admissions and Marketing Department in 2016.
“I came back to work at Sober College because I wanted to help young adults that are going through what I went through,” Ian explains, “Now, I get to work with both clients and families who are looking for help, while giving back to the place that saved my life. I am so grateful to be able to use my skills and help others at the same time.”
Kathleen Ballue joined our Sober College team as a skilled marketing and community relations specialist. Kathleen brings over 20 years of accomplishment in business development and community outreach, to include acute care hospitals, corporate media relations, event planning, publishing and entertainment publicity. Additionally, she has clinical work experience in behavioral health counseling, case management, group therapy, intake, admissions, and discharge planning. This diverse work experience has deepened her ability to build and maintain relationships with mental health clinicians and treatment providers. Kathleen is dedicated to discovering creative, strategic ways to collaborate among industry professionals and colleagues, bringing an impassioned commitment to the achievement of collective organizational goals. Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and a Certification in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, both from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Holly Daniels, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, meditation teacher, and mental health advocate. She brings her many years of experience working in dual diagnosis treatment centers to her Clinical Outreach role at Sober College. After earning her degree in clinical psychology, Holly worked for many years as a primary therapist at Monte Nido and Associates, the Valley Community Clinic and The Canyon residential treatment center in Malibu, where she specialized in treating those with complex issues including co-occurring addictions, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and associated mood and anxiety disorders.
In her role Clinical Outreach at Sober College, Holly is able to integrate her complex clinical expertise with her passions for connecting people and spreading the word that recovery, health and wholeness can be exciting and fulfilling. Holly shares Sober College’s dedication to encouraging and promoting self-discovery and resiliency toward long-term, sustained recovery for every young adult who comes in for treatment. She feels fortunate to be able to continue her work alongside the compassionate, expert, invigorating team at Sober College.
A mother to two teenagers, Holly relies on her personal daily meditation practice to bring balance to her own life, and she enjoys teaching meditation and mindfulness skills to others. “I believe,” explains Holly, “that healing involves building connections with other healthy people and creating fulfilling, meaningful life experiences outside of treatment. Sober College offers young adults opportunities to do just that.” Holly loves watching clients get involved in ‘real world’ activities in ways that no other treatment centers provide. “I feel fortunate to be part of such an innovative and effective team.”
Michelle Kemmer, CPA, joined the Sober College team in 2015 after serving as our trusted business advisor for several years. She began her career in the music business working for companies such as William Morris Agency, Borman Entertainment, and Warner Brothers Records. After several years in entertainment, Michelle shifted her focus to the field of accounting. She has over 17 years of experience in business management, from operating her own bookkeeping business, to serving as accounting manager for a local CPA firm. Michelle has extensive knowledge of financial statement preparation, variance analysis, and preparation of budgets and financial projections. Her knowledge and skills are crucial to the management and future growth of Sober College.
Michelle has been the Treasurer of the not-for-profit organization, Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, since 2008. This organization is dedicated to establishing and maintaining the trail system in the Santa Monica Mountains for all users to enjoy, through partnerships with local agencies and landowners.
When not working, Michelle enjoys everything having to do with the outdoors—from riding her horse, hiking, backpacking, canyoning and rock climbing, to just sitting and meditating in nature. Her favorite places are anywhere in the Sierra.
Julia began working at Sober College in 2010 as a Marketing and Admissions Assistant and has since grown with Sober College and its Marketing and Admissions Departments. A Maryland native, Julia studied Chemistry at the University of Maryland in College Park before moving to Southern California in late 2009. Julia has attended several Online Marketing Conferences and is currently working toward her degree in business.
Through her own experiences with addiction and recovery, Julia has a unique perspective that brings a higher level of honesty and understanding to Sober College’s marketing and admissions efforts. Having been on both sides of the table, she is able to understand not only the hard work and dedication that it takes to work in treatment, but also the questions, concerns, and fears that potential clients and their families are dealing with when looking for treatment center. “My goal for the website, as well as the interactions I have with young adults and their families, is to make this difficult process as easy as possible by providing them with the information they need to make the decision that works best for them.” Through her experience in the field, Julia understands that the best program for one person may not be the best program for another. “All I can do though the web, over the phone and in person is share what I know personally to be true about addiction, recovery and Sober College.” Julia jokes, “I have the easiest job in the world! Talking about a program that I know and believe in, and getting to help other people in the process…Who could ask for anything more?”
Alyssa, a native Angeleno, started her journey with Sober College in 2013. She received her Associate’s Degree as well as her Bachelor of Science in Marketing from California State University Northridge and has plans to continue her education at the Masters level. Her prior experience with customer service, marketing, and management allows for a seamless integration when working with a variety of individuals. Although not in recovery herself, she has seen time and time again how it can affect those who are closest to her, and if she is able to help even one, that gift is priceless. “I am passionate about Sober College and the work that we do here. There is no way that I would be able to promote a program that I am not able to completely stand behind. I have seen the impact on many of our young adults and it is truly a program that should be shared with the world.”
As an Admissions Representative for Sober College School of Addiction Studies (SCSAS) Daniel Woolever is responsible for speaking with potential students and helping them learn what SCSAS is all about. Prior to working with us, Dan worked in corporate sales for over 10 years. In coming to work at Sober College Dan was excited to combine his two passions, sales and helping others.
Dan explains, “I have always excelled at sales but I was looking for a way to use my skills and help others as well.” Dan was introduced to Sober College by a friend and was immediately attracted to the company and what he heard. “When I learned about what Sober College did for young adults and addiction professionals and how much my friend enjoyed working there I knew I wanted to be a part of the team.”
Through Dan’s own life experience with addiction and recovery he is able to bring a level of compassion and understanding to students who are looking to enter the field of addiction treatment.
Lena Sheffield is a licensed psychotherapist and addiction counselor in Miami, FL. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Miami and received her Florida Certified Addiction Professional and ICRC certification in 1988. Since that time Lena has earned certification as Master Addiction Counselor, through NAADAC, and recently awarded Certified Eating Disorder Specialist through IAEDP.
With over 30 years experience in mental health and addiction field Lena has held various positions in child and adolescent psychiatry in a hospital, residential treatment for eating disorders, substance use disorder, process addictions, community based counseling and private practice the last three years. Additionally, she actively volunteers for advocacy organizations.
Mentoring and training have been an important part of all of Lena’s positions. She has provided numerous workshops and taught undergraduate classes for professionals, community and academic institutions.
As an experienced professional in the fields of Addiction, Counseling and Mental Health Treatment, Lena brings both expertise and experience to her position as an Instructor for the Sober College School of Addiction Studies that she shares with her students.
Jason Allison, has the highest credential and is a Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor LAADC-CA (non-governmental license) through the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP). #LCi0151214
In 2014 at the Inaugural CCAPP conference Jason was the award recipient of the Very Important Professional (VIP) award. This was given for his ability to be a role model for others and influenced both clients and peers. Jason was recognized as a leader in the field of alcohol and drug counseling, and to the growth of the Association. The VIP Award is presented for distinguished service, achievements, and contributions to the prestige and growth of CCAPP.
SAP, CADC-II, ICADC, LAADC CA
Britney David completed the alcohol and drug counseling studies program at Intercoast College in Burbank, California. For her practicum hours she interned at Able Family Support in Panorama City, then transitioned to Action Family Counseling’s Studio City Intensive Outpatient Program where she completed her hours. She then moved on to Action Family Counseling’s corporate office where she worked for three years in the Admissions, Intake, and assisting the billing department. While at Action she also participated in weekly group counseling providing services to at risk youth. After Action, Britney found her niche and began working for a recovery call center where she quickly moved up and began managing her fellow employees.
Britney joined the Sober College team with years of experience in admissions, billing, and insurance verification experience and looks forward to growing with this company. “As soon as I came across Sober College I knew I wanted to be a part of this organization,” explains Britney, “I was inspired by the program and the attention they pay to truly helping young people recover.” While not in recovery herself, Britney has personal experience dealing with addiction in her family. This has driven her to pursue her career not only in insurance but in counseling. “I love knowing that I am part of a solution and can offer a helping hand to those who need it most.” Britney looks forward to pursing her career within this industry and day by day adds it to a piece of her journey.
Leila, a Texas native, has been successfully working in the banking and finance industry for over 12 years. With over a decade of experience behind her she has grown from being a teller to the head of the international wires department with BancFirst. Prior to working at Sober College, she was a loan underwriter for Southwest Airlines Credit Union. Leila has achieved her Associate’s Degree and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Finance. Leila’s passion for working in this field stems from personal ties. She adds, “I wanted to work for Sober College because addiction has affected one of the most important people in my life and it is truly extraordinary what this company does to help young adults.”
Sasha began her career at Sober College in 2012 as a Mentor in the Men’s Primary Program, has grown with the company since then, and is now the Clinical Services Assistant. Her past work and her personal experience in recovery make her uniquely suited for her role on the Sober College team. Sasha explains, “Prior to working at Sober College, I worked at various treatment centers and medical doctors’ offices throughout the West Valley, promoting wellness and recovery.” After completing her Bachelor of Science in Counseling with an emphasis in addiction, Sasha plans to transition into a Masters program in an effort to advance her knowledge and continue to grow with Sober College. Sasha continues, “I have 7 and a half years of recovery and went through treatment myself at the age of 26. One of the most rewarding parts of working here is being able to help these clients. I do this so they too know that they aren’t alone and there is hope.”
Danette has been working in drug and alcohol treatment since 2010, and has worked at Sober College since 2014. Danette began working at Sober College as a mentor in the Women’s Program and joined the clinical team in 2015. Danette is a Registered Alcohol and Drug Trainee Level I and is in the process of becoming a Certified Addictions Counselor while continuing her education in the field of psychology.
“Being in recovery and going through treatment, I understand the process and dedication it takes to achieve long term recovery,” says Danette. “I am proud to work for a company that teaches young adults how to live clean and sober, and to make positive changes that will help them succeed in life long after they leave.”
Crystil Siliceo has worked at Sober College since 2014. Starting as a mentor in the Women’s and Men’s Program she found her passion in helping young adults. In 2016, she transitioned to the clinical team where she now serves as a Clinical Services Assistant.
Crystil is in the process of receiving her CADAC-I and is excited to be pursuing a career aligned with her passion. “I Love working at Sober College because I get to be a part of that moment when these young adults see they can be anything and do anything they want and that they are truly worth it.”
Michelle began working at Sober College in 2015. Michelle was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, and prior to working at Sober College she had worked in retail for almost six years. While working in retail Michelle learned how to provide great customer service and to manage difficult situations. During this time she also discovered her passion for helping people and decided to make a change. Michelle then began working at an adult day program with elderly clients and clients with disabilities. Within a year she was promoted to Administrative Assistant, where she performed client intakes and managed the day to day of the office. After taking time off to start her family, she decided to return to work and began her time at Sober College. Michelle loves how Sober College is so warm and welcoming and helps so many young people and their families. She says, “Sober College offers a great program for young adults and it is amazing to see all the cool and fun activities at Sober College and the impact they have on both the clients and their families.”
Jess Seraiva was born and raised in New Hampshire, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from New Hampshire Institute of Art.
Jess has years of experience working in retail and technology companies such as Verizon and Microsoft. There she learned great customer service skills as well as leadership skills. But retail was never her passion.
After driving across country to start a new life in California in 2015, Jess looked for a new career where she could make a difference. Her brother Jason struggled with his own addiction to drugs for years before his passing is 2012, and Sober College seemed to be just what she was looking for. Jess says, “Sober College treats their employees as well as the clients like family, it is hard not to want to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Allison Carpenter started at Sober College in 2016 with the opening of our new therapeutic learning center. As a recovering addict herself, Allison knows what recovery and the treatment experience are like first hand. “I struggled for many years and once I found recovery my life has improved tremendously,” she explains.
Allison loves working at Sober College because of the purpose being able to help young adults in recovery giver her. In recovery she discovered her passion for helping others. “I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life,” explains Allison, “I want to help others to recover and become successful and I truly believe that is what we do here at Sober College.” Allison plans to continue her education down the road but is actively enjoying her work, her life, and her sobriety.
Sober College Mentors
At Sober College 24 hour supervision is provided by Mentors who work in both the Men’s and Women’s Primary and Extended Care Programs. Mentors are responsible for the care and welfare of all clients. Under the direction of their House Managers, Sober Mentors help clients keep the daily schedule which includes outings, 12-step meetings, groups, gym, academic block, doctors’ appointments and more. Mentors are responsible for transporting clients to all scheduled outings, handling drug testing, performing client intakes and more. Equally as important, however, are the trusting relationships that Mentors develop with each and every client that comes through Sober College.