Meet the Team (LBT)
Our team is a connected and committed group of leaders who are better and stronger when we are united in our work of creating joy and healing generations. We share our best practices, pushing each other to be the best we can be.
Erin Connolly is a licensed clinical social worker and certified yoga teacher. As an adolescent who experienced chronic and complex trauma, she learned early on that her purpose in life was to connect and support individuals and communities facing adversity.
Erin is a graduate of Temple University (BSW, Class of 1999), Widener University (MSW, Class of 2006), Education Policy Leadership Center (Fellow, Class of 2007) and Beyond Asana Yoga Teacher Training (CYT, Class of 2014).
Over the past 20 years, Erin has worked with and on behalf of trauma impacted children, families and communities through trauma-competent advocacy, education, healing-centered engagement, and therapeutic interventions. Sprinkled throughout her educational, personal, and professional life, Erin has used each experience as an opportunity to better understand and grow her purpose as a life-long Social Worker and Therapist.
Erin is an unwavering advocate for creating communities and systems of care that promote whole-being wellness and strength-based services for all. Erin thrives on interconnectedness and multi-disciplinary approaches and that has been reflected throughout her career.
Outside of work, Erin loves to spend time with her family and friends, travel the world, and spend as much time outside as possible.
Dr Jose Villongco received his medical degree from Fa Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation. He completed his residency training at Morehouse School of Medicine where he was the recipient of the Hoechst Marion Rousel Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Dr Villongco has served as the clinical director working in resident education, psychiatric consult with the Ryan White HIV clinic, clinical supervisor at the Fulton County Jail, and psychiatrist with the Cumberland Psychiatric Group.
Renae Anguiano did not plan to focus on adolescent girls when she started working in mental health. However, she quickly realized how much she loved it. This came about unexpectedly when she took her first job in treatment after getting a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Studies.
At a previous facility where she worked, many of the girls were struggling with overwhelming depression, abuse and trauma. Renae found she loved the experience of supporting and mentoring young women–particularly those who were considered tough cases. While at times the demands of her work were exhausting, Renae felt she gained much valuable experience and understanding. Additionally, learning opportunities soon presented themselves during an internship for Renae, working in a trauma center for children and families.
In May 2020, Renae started at Hobble Creek. She was looking for a broader opportunity and more involvement in the overall workings of residential treatment. From the opening of the facility and the admit of the first student, Renae has enjoyed seeing all the layers and elements of running a quality program come in to play and become a reality.
Renae loves to go on activities with the students, find ways to laugh with them and see their amazing successes. She feels that getting to know each one’s personality and their individual needs is the challenge that matters most to her. Renae brings warmth and insight to her position from experiences raising her own children. She loves mountains and beaches, reading a good book and hiking with her family.
Katie graduated from Marywood University with an MSW degree in Social Work, with a concentration in Behavioral Health. She has been working in the field for 15 years and has been acknowledged internationally as a certified trauma therapist. Katie has provided family and individual therapy, substance abuse, and behavior modification to a wide variety of populations such as children starting at the age of 5 to adults 60 and over. She has treated individuals diagnosed with autism, mental health illnesses, intellectual disabilities, and comorbidity.
TJ is a Queer Non Binary trans masculine therapist who is culturally competent and inclusive, sex positive and sensitive to the needs of our ever growing and changing populations.
TJ focuses on a strengths-based, client-centered, CBT and DBT approach to aid and guide teens and young adults in overcoming their challenges and realizing their own potential. They believe that teens’ needs, struggles and strengths within the context of the family is a major focus. TJ also promotes self exploration, self determination and creating ones own identity from the family. TJ is invested in the well-being and growth of the youth they serve. They are truly invested in their clients and their healing. TJ has completed several workshops in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as well as DBT training. In their spare time, you can find them playing or watching Rugby, watching football, singing, dancing, trying out new restaurants, shopping and spending quality time with family and friends.
Lee Lovett III, LMSW, holds a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he concentrated in clinical, behavioral health, and sub-specialized in Employee Assistance Programs. He is also a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, and believes that Hypnosis is an effective way to promote long-lasting behavioral changes. In his work with clients, he utilizes a range of therapeutic interventions from theoretical orientations including but not limited to: mindfulness-based stress reduction, psychoanalytic, dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapies, and motivational interviewing. Lee has always been fascinated with people and their stories. He comes from a humanistic, person-centered approach, believing that the storytellers are the experts in their lives. He strongly believes in the cathartic value that creative endeavors bring and likes to help people tap into that inherent part of themselves. He is a very active person, enjoys being outside for hikes and runs, and has a good sense of humor. While he takes his work seriously, he doesn’t take himself too seriously; he likes to have a good time and joke around, when appropriate.
Jeanni, a native of Racine, WI, is a woman of purpose and defender of the disenfranchised. She has worked with the some of the most vulnerable populations locally and internationally. She recognizes the importance of civic engagement as a tool to impact change. She is a champion of education, having earned a bachelor’s in communication and two master’s in education and social work. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in social work at Howard University. Jeanni is a 2015 graduate of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an organization with a longstanding reputation for advocacy, change, and societal progress. She served as the co-chair for the Inaugural Social Work Student Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, raising awareness around the Social Work Reinvestment Act. In the summer of 2014, she served as a White House Intern in President Barak Obama’s Administration. Jeanni believes in striving forward while reaching back to cultivate strong leaders in future generations. In her spare time, she is an avid traveler, enjoys cooking, crafting, live music, and spending time with her family, friends. and dogs (Riley and Rocco).
Dr. Amanda N. Nicholson, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in Sex Therapy. Dr. Amanda specializes in individual, family therapy, coaching, and couple’s therapy. Her areas of specialty include sexuality, religion, relationship issues, anxiety, trauma, and depression. Dr. Amanda received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Behavior Analysis with a minor in Africana Studies from Savannah State University, Master of Family Therapy from Mercer University, Master of Education in Human Sexuality Studies with a concentration in Sex Therapy from Widener University, and Doctor of Philosophy in Human Sexuality Studies with a concentration in Sex Therapy from Widener University. Dr. Amanda is a trauma informed therapist who is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Having a family theory informed approached Dr. Amanda enjoys using Narrative, Emotional Focused, and Structural therapies in her therapeutic approach while collaborating with her students and families about their care. Dr. Amanda is also a college instructor with five years of teaching experience in the University System of Georgia.
In her free time Dr. Amanda enjoys reading books that whisk her imagination off to new places, practicing yoga, eating food good for the soul, watching movies that make her laugh until she cries and enjoying life to the fullest.
Natasha is an alumnus of Georgia State University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Business Administration degree with a concentration in Managerial Science. She also Graduated from Georgia Military College Phi Theta Kappa Cum Laude with an Associate in Science, Business Administration degree. Natasha has a passion for human service and has expended over twenty years of her career working for the State of California, Department of Health and Human Services. She worked as a leader in her church, Friendship Community Church where she was a facilitated young adult and children and youth groups. Natasha has a desire to make difference in all she does and have a positive impact on the lives of people she has interactions with.
Helene has extensive experience in the delivery, management, and administration of behavioral health services. Over the span of her 30-year career, she has developed programming in various adult and adolescent treatment settings including inpatient care, partial hospitalization, IOP and outpatient. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker herself, she is passionate about person-centered, quality treatment. Helene seeks to build genuine relationships with the individuals and families she serves. Her training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Trauma-Focused CBT and Multi-Systemic Family Therapy provides a clinical framework that is solution-focused. Prior to joining Embark, Helene operated a Private Practice, had been an adjunct faculty member at Alvernia University and currently serves on several community advisory boards.
Helene is a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania. She received her BSW from Bloomsburg University, MSW from Temple University and attained her MBA from the University of Scranton. Helene and her husband own and manage a local pizzeria. In her free time, Helene enjoys traveling, walking, hiking, spending time with family and loves to relax near the East Coast beaches.
Sabrina Hansen is the Director of Marketing and Outreach at Embark Behavioral Health- DC Metro. Her passion for creating a culture of helping through communication and outreach can be traced back to her pre-professional days, whether it was as a member of her high school student council or through serving as a university ambassador during her undergraduate studies where she served as a student liaison for prospective students. While earning her Master’s in Social Work, Sabrina joined a telehealth pilot program serving vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Sabrina has also served as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for over 7 years.
In her professional career, Sabrina has had opportunities to spread her mission of compassion and well-being in her work as a people and business leader for a leading global cosmetics company, a 4-diamond luxury destination spa focusing on wellness, nutrition and fitness, and most recently, a leading nonprofit healthcare organization.
Sabrina enjoys exploring new running, hiking and adventure paths both locally and internationally. She is happiest when she is making memories with her husband, friends, family and her two cats.
Amanda Nisewaner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked with young adults and adolescents navigating transitions for the past decade. Amanda received her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz and her masters in Social Work from Boston University. She spent her training years at Children’s Hospital Boston with an emphasis on trauma and working with recently arrived refugees and immigrants. She has experience working in community clinics, hospitals, school settings and the home environment. She takes a holistic and collaborative approach to identifying treatment goals and strives to create a calm and safe space for individuals to express themselves and talk through their experiences. She pulls from a variety of therapeutic modalities and will utilize narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems, nature therapy and enjoys teaching mindfulness to young people. She utilizes a trauma framework when serving her clients and has experience treating mood disorders, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and those struggling to navigate the complex world we live in. She understands the needs and challenges that young people are faced with in today’s society and enjoys exploring the political and cultural climate that impact our well-being. In her spare time, you will find Amanda hiking with her dog in the redwood forest or enjoying the local beaches.
Maylan Peterson has spent the last 9 years gaining knowledge by working with youth in many different types of programs.
Maylan has had experience working at other programs as a mentor and a supervisor, before leaving to expand her knowledge in various new organizations.
Maylan has always had a passion for helping people heal and grow into healthy versions of themselves. She enjoys supporting adolescent females overcome challenges as they flourish as adults.
In her free time Maylan enjoys spending time with her family, especially her dog, Trigger.
She enjoys spending time in nature, hiking, and most of all she loves being an aunt to her many nieces and nephews!
Nicole Wint is a Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW). Nicole Wint holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from the University of the Caribbean and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Simmons University. For the past thirteen (13) years, Nicole has worked extensively with teenagers and young adults across Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and the United States which undoubtedly has attributed to vast improvement in cultural competence and diversification of knowledge in her area of expertise. Nicole has a passion for working with youth and while working in Turks and Caicos singlehandedly commenced and maintained campaigns on ending bullying and child sexual abuse. Projects are maintained to date by the Turks and Caicos government.
Nicole is consistently developing competence in use of techniques including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness and Play Therapy as part of best therapeutic practices. Nicole is experienced in areas of communication, working with culturally diverse groups, public speaking and leadership skills. Nicole has strong ethical values, great compassion for people and believe that the family is the backbone of the society. Nicole is competent in her ability to work independently and with a team.
In her spare time, Nicole likes to read, cook, travel and watch movies with her family.
Sophie is a licensed professional counselor and a school counselor with a MA from Lewis University. She has eight years of professional experience working with families and youth in a variety of settings. Sophie uses an eclectic approach often combining the practical solution focus of brief therapy techniques, client-centered therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy modalities allowing for tailored treatments for clients of varying individual needs.
Sophie has a keen ability to listen and truly understand her clients. As a counselor, she desires that each individual feels that they are being heard, not only through their struggles and adjustments, but also through their successes and self-awareness. Sophie is committed to helping her clients create fundamental changes that are lasting while teaching them to be self-sufficient by using developed strengths and personal resources to solve major problems that life brings.
Sophie has a unique passion for motivating, inspiring and empowering others to achieve their dreams as she walks with her clients on their journey of discovering their strengths and potential. She understands that each person has a unique story and sees the beauty in helping clients through their transitions. Life experience, education and a passion for others inspired her mission to help others. Her passion and innate ability to understand the challenges of youth and families empower clients to regain confidence and successfully work through obstacles in their lives.
In her free time, Sophie enjoys running, hiking, golfing, traveling with her family and enjoying many genres of live music.
Steve White is a prime example of someone who has followed his passion. Throughout a highly successful career managing several regional departments of a national diesel manufacturing company followed by oversight of marine operations and repairs of large, ocean-going vessels Steve could not get away from his true calling as a chef. So, he went back to school, completed a culinary four year degree and began refining his natural talents into a career where he is noted for his versatility, professional knowledge, and for his unique ability create delicious and nutritious meals that range from mouth watering American fare to several variations on international cuisine favorites. Working with our dietician, Steve is able to address unique dietary needs of our some of our clients while appealing to all of our staff and clients with his rotating menu. Steve is also a great teacher who hopes to light the passions in our clients when it comes to becoming more versatile, less fast food dependent, and more competent as they move into adulthood.
Olin Pirkle is a licensed master social worker with an MSW from the University of Georgia. Olin also holds an ED. S degree in professional school counseling and has over 5 years of professional experience working with families and youth in a variety of settings. Olin uses an eclectic approach often combining the practical solution focus of brief therapy techniques with cognitive behavior therapy techniques allowing for tailored fit treatments for clients of varying individual needs. Olin is committed to helping clients create fundamental changes that are ever lasting while teaching clients to be self-sufficient by utilizing developed strengths, the environment and personal resources to solve major problems life inevitably brings. Olin has extensive training and professional experience with the application of brief therapy methods including Solution Focus Brief Therapy (SFBT) and Reality Therapy. Olin also has professional training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as well as specialized training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TF-CBT). Olin is also inspired by the Existential Therapists, and he encourages clients to search for deeper meaning in their lives.
Lauren Disner brings her extensive background as a therapist, clinical leader, entrepreneur, educator and treatment innovator to Potomac at Hobble Creek. From her early work in direct care responsibilities in an adolescent treatment program to her more recent leadership of a successful group practice and an adult recovery center, Lauren is at home working with families with challenges. Lauren’s work and interest areas, both personal and professional, have allowed her to connect powerfully with clients while utilizing a rich set of clinical skills, including DBT, CBT, Motivational Interviewing, family systems approaches, addiction recovery strategies and focused trauma work. Fluent in both Spanish and English, Lauren’s life outside of work encompasses a wonderful multi-cultural family, musicianship, a regular mindfulness practice and a variety of other interests.
Lauren and her husband Carlos are parents to four kids. She and her family enjoy learning new skills in handicrafts and homesteading, engaging in a variety of sports such as baseball and soccer, practicing dance, reading popular fantasy series books aloud, and watching historical fiction dramas.
Nadia Bhatti, Regional Director, is Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and have been working in the field for over nine years. I have had the honor of working with a wide range of people experiencing relationship and/or transitional issues, as well as more severe problems including mental health, personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, trauma, OCD, grief, Families, organ transplantation, and individuals who struggle with depression, anxiety, relational couples issues, and substance use disorders.
I utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Function Family Therapy, and Mind-Body interventions. I believe it’s essential to be open-minded and non-judgmental when someone shares their personal story or experiences with me. Our relationship with our self and others has worth and is useful to explore in therapy. I believe that seeking help is a huge step in the right direction and that therapy should be viewed as personal care and maintenance, not because something is “wrong” with you. My warm and collaborative style is empowering and I help hold the clients accountable for making the changes they wish to see in their lives.
Brent has spent his career of almost 20 years working with teens and their families in a variety of settings including residential treatment, acute care, intensive outpatient and home based services. He has served in various leadership capacities over the years including clinical director, admissions/business development director, intake director and director of utilization review.
Brent relates comfortably and professionally with families and clients alike. Although Brent has a wide range of clinical knowledge, his true passion and skill set lie in working with people. He finds great joy in guiding families out of a crisis situation and into peaceful solutions. Brent’s experience working within the field of mental health in admissions allows him to have the breadth of knowledge when assessing the needs of clients in acute situations, as well as less critical circumstances. Brent played an integral part in creating an operational psychiatric facility within a community unfamiliar with such practice.
Brent is an active member of his community and finds the most joy spending time with his family. His wife, Julie, and their three teenagers thoroughly enjoy hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. Julie is an elite marathon runner and Brent rides his bike along side her to keep up. Brent and Julie love attending their kids sporting events including high school football, soccer and cheerleading.
Kurt Vaillancourt is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and certification as a Clinical Supervisor. His experience includes multiple roles including Case Manager, Senior Program/Clinical Director, Clinical Coordinator, Admission and Marketing, Program Development, and Individual, Family, Couples, Children, Adolescent and Group Psychotherapist.
Kurt recently relocated to the Bay Area from Los Angeles where he was born and raised. He has worked in numerous hospitals/medical center settings including Cedars-Sinai, Century City, and Kaiser Permanente just to name a few. In a professional role he is often described by his clients as supportive, ethical, passionate, and energetic. Kurt’s colleagues describe him as empathic, reliable, humorous and consistent within the therapeutic realm.
Kurt Vaillancourt, also known as Dr. Kurt, hosted a live Internet streaming show and podcast that could be heard on iTunes and the Stitcher App where The Dr. Kurt Show was nominated for a Stitcher Award in 2012. Dr. Kurt was able to successfully provide his listeners with both heart felt stories as well as the light-hearted moments bringing a smile to his audience. Although Kurt is not necessarily in the spotlight these days he likes to make guest appearances on local radio and television shows, however, he tends to focus his attention on his clients — You and your family!
William “Will” Hughes holds a Master of Science in Counseling Degree with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health from Prescott College. He is currently working towards his LGPC licensure in the state of Maryland. Will specializes in mindfulness-based counseling techniques and psychoeducation for young adults experiencing challenges commonly associated with the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: attention-seeking; substance use; guilt; avoidance; depression; executive functioning; ect. Empowering teens and young adults with scientific knowledge of why they feel, behave and react in ways that don’t serve them and offering skills to help them maintain vigilant awareness of their symptoms and choices of response is his focus. He believes strongly in experiential and adventure-based learning, often taking clients into nature, where they may experience their immediate mental reactions to subtle stimuli. Will’s other passion is counseling adults through difficult career and life-stage transitions, utilizing the Pro Discovery assessment tool as a foundation. Clients experiencing feelings of identity loss, diminishing self-worth, hopelessness and catastrophic thinking respond well to the authentic personal reflection and Positive Psychology perspective Pro Discovery provides them. He is Founder and Director of the Family Legacy Project (on-going), an adaptation of this instrument for application with multi-generations of families seeking unity, purpose, identity and flourishing. Will is a Cancer survivor, adventure travel enthusiast, professional-level Chef and avid skier.
After assisting with the merger of Innerchange and Calo Programs throughout the last year, Dustin Tibbitts, LMFT, the former CEO of Innerchange with 25 years’ experience, will lead this esteemed team as the CEO of Embark Behavioral Health. Dustin is based at Embark’s headquarters in Arizona.
Amanda Marlar, MS, NCC joined the Embark family in 2016 and has been in the behavioral health care field for 10 years. She was formerly with Vive Family Support Program and has a passion for admissions. Amanda is located in Florida and now heads up in-home services as the National Coordinator.
Kathleen Goughler, an experienced behavioral healthcare executive, has most recently led outreach efforts for New Vision Wilderness. Kathleen is based in Pennsylvania and will coordinate our local and national referral relationships, sales training, and advise on marketing methods.
DeShawn Artis is an Associate Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master of Arts Degree in Community Counseling, along with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University, Atlanta Campus. DeShawn has a strong desire to work with families and help them become “unstuck” by observing interactions, or “transactions” within the family that seem to support or encourage problems within the family system. DeShawn has over 10 years of experience in working with individuals, couples, families and group work. His experience varies from community-based work to substance abuse and residential treatment centers, as well as inpatient psychiatric hospitals. In working with families, one of the treatment modalities that DeShawn finds useful is the Structural Family Therapy approach or SFT. In practice, concepts such as boundaries, alliances, and interactions among family members are highlighted and new ways of interacting within the family are encouraged, as the therapist, in a metaphoric sense “becomes a member of the family.” While working with individuals, DeShawn finds Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy helpful. In REBT, DeShawn understands that while problems seem to create tension in our lives, it is not the problem that maintains the dysfunction, but rather the way we think about the problem, that serves to continually perturb our daily lives. Uncovering such irrational thinking patterns is most liberating! DeShawn has many things he is passionate about when it comes to therapy. He finds joy in working with LGBTQ youth, looking at preventative, treatment and therapy for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, incorporating spirituality into the counseling process, working to address individual, family and community trauma and a host of other concerns, as they relate to mental health. In DeShawn’s spare time you can catch him at poetry spots, swanky bookstores in East Atlanta, trying out new restaurants, participating in community advocacy, or simply trying to browse for the next best show on Netflix.
Jennifer Walker is a licensed clinical social worker with a master of social work degree from Savannah state university. She has a unique passion for empowering, inspiring, and motivating others to achieve their dreams. Life experience, education, and determination ultimately inspired her to become a “Change agent”. Over the past twenty years, Jennifer has served children, families, and communities as a certified school social worker, executive board member for the school social worker association of Georgia, national presenter for the national drop out prevention center, non-profit board chair for feed the city, field liaison for fort valley state university, success coach, mentor, CEO for jk marketing, and community clinician for mental health agencies. Jennifer uses a strengths-based, client-centered, and humanistic approach to assist teens and families to reach therapeutic goals while using CBT techniques. Jennifer enjoys working with children and families facing transitions and conflict. She strives to make a difference in the world with her “Out of the box” style. Ms. Walker’s goal is to be genuine yet a realistic catalyst that will empower youth to regain their confidence and move past the obstacles in their lives.
Harry Gordon is Mental Health Clinician with a Master of Science Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University. Harry also holds a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Counseling Theory in Couple and Family Systems. Harry has a zest for helping young adolescents as evidenced by his work as a school teacher, coach and mentor. He has numerous years of experience with the children and adolescent population as he founded a youth summer camp for inner city at risk boys, coached basketball and baseball at Atlanta area recreation centers, started a Men of Distinction program at community schools. Harry believes that a systemic family approach will help troubled youth be engaging the entire family. Harry believes that young men need to understand who they are as men, what they can achieve, how to understand and control: their emotions, low self-esteem, drugs, gender identity issues and self-harm. He believes that young ladies need to understand their self-worth, the pitfalls of teen pregnancy, having positive relationships, gender identity and self-harm. In his spare time Harry spends time with family and friends, exercises and travels.
Ayana is a National Board Certified Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor, and a Certified Anger Management Specialist with a Masters Degree in Community Counseling accompanied by a certification in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University. She has over 15 years of experience in the behavioral health field. Ayana specializes in individual therapy, family therapy, life coaching, and clinical supervision. Her areas of expertise include depression, mood disorders, behavior disorders, ADHD, anxiety disorders, adjustment disorder, anger management, self-harming behaviors, relationship issues, and parenting skills. Ayana uses a solution-focused, person-centered approach in her practice and has extensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Functional Family Therapy, Clinical Supervision, and Aggressive Replacement Training. She is passionate about being a change agent and working with individuals and families from all walks of life to drive positive change by liberating the best version of themselves.
Ayana enjoys spending time with her children (son and dog), going to the beach, laughing, reading, thrifting, and traveling.
Shellina Jenkins is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia and a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor. Shellina gained interest in helping individuals fight the battle against substance abuse and mental health as a young child. She was eager to find a way to help those in need very close to her. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Georgia State University, and her Master’s Degree from Fort Valley University. Shellina has a variety of work experience with adolescents and adults in corrections, drug court, foster care, mental health clinics, working with individuals struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. Prior to joining Embark Behavioral Health, Shellina has held leadership positions in mental health clinics and corrections. She has also worked in private practice settings to assist in the treatment of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, SPMI and substance abuse. Shellina has provided training on suicide prevention/intervention, substance abuse and mental health in community-based settings and in corrections.
Shellina’s philosophy on behavioral change involves several treatment modalities such as role modeling / teaching to encourage positive thoughts & behaviors, focusing on positive outcomes utilizing CBT, DBT, solution focused approach etc.
Chad Gunville is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Substance Use Disorder Certified Counselor who has a Masters degree in Holistic Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. He has worked in the mental health field for over 10 years in a variety of settings serving youth and families all throughout the Bay Area. He has done work in youth agencies, group homes, outpatient settings, and private practice. Chad uses a strength based, solution focused, and humanistic approach to help families feel comfortable and find the strength to make changes. He is a firm believer in looking at the whole picture and being an active and supportive player in the lives of the people he serves. Chad is very passionate about this line of work and knew from a young age that he wanted to help people. He’s very aware and has a great ability to see things from different perspectives. His kind-hearted and compassionate nature makes him an easy person to talk and open up with. Chad has an emphasis on his degree in Buddhist psychology and has completed intensive workshops in expressive arts therapy, eco-therapy, and motivational interviewing. He’s a firm believer in the saying, “Nothing happens TO you, it happens FOR you” and he has a great ability at helping instill hope in the families he’s supporting. In his spare time you can find Chad playing all kinds of sports, exploring nature, writing rhymes, practicing numerology, or hanging out with friends and family. He also loves being with his dog which is 3/4 golden retriever and 1/4 shih tzu-pug.
A New York State Mental Health Counselor, David Diaz has worked with many populations and specializes in working with adolescents and young adults with co-occurring disorders and exploration of client’s gender identity and sexual orientation (LGBTQ).
David uses evidenced-based practices to pave a path in providing therapy towards achieving client-oriented goals. Modalities include, but are not limited to, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Gestalt Therapy, Trauma-Informed Care (Seeking Safety), Feminist Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy, Multicultural Therapy, and Art Therapy. David has assisted clients in overcoming sexual abuse/intimate partner violence through the use of the Power and Control Model and other evidenced-based practices.
David focuses on guiding the client in identifying their needs, strengths and goals while in therapy in order to work towards the positive outcome they desire and enable the change from within.
David enjoys swimming, soccer, and reading.
Marisol Bucio is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. She obtained her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adler University. Marisol is a bilingual therapist (Spanish) and has experience working with a culturally diverse population. She has worked in different settings such as not-for-profit organizations and community agencies where she assisted in reunifying families. Marisol believes that every individual can benefit from therapy and works to create a safe, trusting, non-threatening environment for each client. Marisol specializes in helping children, adolescents, and adults with work-life balance and transitions, depression, stress, anxiety, self-esteem, grief/loss, trauma, and self-harm. Using a collaborative and integrative approach with clients, Marisol utilizes cognitive-behavioral, client-centered, and Adlerian therapy to meet the unique needs and desires of each client. During her free time she enjoys traveling, eating at new restaurants, and watching Netflix.
Ryan Weinstock is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University Chicago. From an early age he developed a love for the outdoors and a passion for playing sports. He is an avid distance runner and was captain of the Cross Country team at his alma mater, Kenyon College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in sociology. Ryan has nearly 10 years of experience working with at-risk adolescents and young adults in a variety of settings. He uses outside the box thinking to conceptualize creative, often experiential strategies to connect with youth. He is a firm believer in meeting clients where they are at in their therapeutic process. It is this client-centered approach along with a knack for active listening that has allowed him to make a strong connection with so many young people. In his free time, Ryan enjoys volunteering, hiking, and kicking around the soccer ball. When he is not off exploring the trails Chicagoland has to offer, he is spending quality time with his girlfriend Rachel, with whom he has plans with to someday amass a family of dogs together.
Dr. Sharnell Myles, Psy. D. is a licensed psychotherapist and certified clinical trauma professional who specializes in the treatment of complex trauma. Her dedication to serving children, youth, and adults has spanned over 20-years with a focus on utilizing trauma-informed services to treat a continuum of trauma experiences, including domestic minor sex trafficking and community-based trauma. Dr. Myles is the Executive Director of JoyUs Beginnings Child & Family Wellness Center and The Urban Trauma Positive Impact Center, Inc., an exclusive trauma-informed treatment and advocacy center located in Atlanta, Georgia. Services include trauma informed therapies, trauma assessments, group treatments, gender specific social justice initiatives for girls of color and PeriCare a 2-Gen maternal fetal behavioral health treatment and advocacy initiative. Dr. Myles served as the first Clinical Director for youthSpark, Inc. and was to serve vulnerable youth who experienced exploitation, abuse, and other victimizations within the Fulton County Juvenile Court (FCJC), the largest juvenile court in the southeast region. Throughout her career, Dr. Myles has consulted with systems of care, such as East Cleveland’s MyCom, Inc. and Minnesota’s Robbinsdale Area Schools, to develop trauma-informed systems of care, policy, programming, and training on trauma and equity. In December 2018, Dr. Myles collaborated with Atlanta Public School Board Member Erika Mitchell – District 5 and co-authored the first Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) Protocol for schools in the state of Georgia and has trained hundreds of school social workers on this policy. In addition, she has trained over ten thousand individuals on the impact of trauma DMST which includes Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, corporations, law enforcement, mental health providers, educators, lawyers, governmental officials, community members, and youth.
Dr. Myles has accepted many leadership positions throughout her career. She is the current Advisory Board Chair for the DeKalb County Juvenile Court Mental Health Court – Journey Program, a member of the Georgia Statewide Multi-Disciplinary Team for Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, Board Chair for Breaking the Cycle, Inc (Philadelphia), and was the Vice Chair of the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Taskforce Survivors Supported and Protected workgroup. Dr. Myles is a subject matter expert and provides expert testimony in legal cases involving child and adolescent trauma. She has presented at various conferences and has experience in vast settings such as clinical, juvenile justice, Department of Defense, and community-based settings.
Sheryl Walden is a Clinical Licensed Social worker with a Master of Social Work from Boston University.
Sheryl has experience working with adolescents, adults, couples and families in office, home, hospital, and community-based settings. As a professional and a parent of grown children, Sheryl understands the adolescent years and knows the challenges of parenting. Sheryl has experience helping families balance the tension between a teen’s need for greater independence, a secure home- base and parental adjustments and flexibility toward ongoing changes. Sheryl believes each family is unique but all experience times when therapy can provide added support, increased communication and greater understanding of family dynamics.
Sheryl is a fan of Motown, movies and Mexican food. She has been married for 30+ years and a native to California.
Julianne has worked in outpatient, home and community-based, and residential settings. She has experience working with individuals and families presenting with a range of mental health concerns- including eating disorders, co-occurring mental health disorders, and autism-spectrum disorders. Before pursuing mental health counseling, Julianne received her B.S. in Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University. While working as a research assistant in a Counseling Psychology lab, she became especially interested in the interplay amongst one’s family, relationships, and behavioral health. After graduating and working in homes with special needs clients and their families, Julianne went on to earn her Masters in Couple and Family Therapy from Drexel University. She is currently working toward licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).
Julianne strives to provide clients with a safe therapeutic environment, utilizing Dialectical Behavior Therapy and a variety of family systems approaches, such as Contextual and Structural Family therapy. Julianne approaches her work with individuals in the context of their relationships, with the ultimate goal of helping them gain self-love and compassion.
In her free time, Julianne enjoys being active outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and reading.
Elizabeth has worked with adolescents, young adults and families for over 10 years. After earning a Masters of Social Work from Columbia University she has dedicated her life to helping clients make real and effective changes through a family-systems and strength-based therapeutic approach. Elizabeth strives to build a compassionate, caring and safe environment to help clients identify what is causing havoc in their life. She combines client centered and motivational interviewing with evidence-based treatment methods such as CBT and DBT.
Elizabeth enjoys exploring the natural beauty of DC with her husband and with her dog, Roxy, spending weekends at the Delaware beaches, and spending plenty of time with family and friends sharing laughs and making memories. She and her husband recently had a skateboard ramp built in their backyard.
Benjamin Zeoli has many years of facilities management in primarily holistic settings. He has also worked very closely, as a technician, alongside doctors in the fields of human holistic health care and holistic veterinary care. Seeing to a clean, safe, healthy and properly functioning work environment will be Benjamin’s focal points at Potomac Pathways. For the past 33 years, Benjamin has been a practicing Buddhist. He enjoys gardening, decorating, music, cooking, spending time with family and friends and has a tremendous love of animals.
Christopher Hodgson received a BA in psychology from the University of Georgia in his hometown of Athens. He has a diverse background in administrative, customer service and management roles with various businesses ranging in size from “mom and pop” through an NYSE mutual fund corporation. After relocating to Maryland, Christopher met his partner in 1997 while living in Baltimore and they now reside in Western Montgomery County surrounded by the lush greenery of the Maryland Agricultural Reserve. During his personal time he enjoys audio books, cooking, learning about American Sign Language and deepening in the practices of Vajrayana Buddhism.
Grant Gamble, CADC-II started working in dual-diagnosis treatment in 2015 as a primary case manager for Sober College’s residential young adult program. He is a certified drug and alcohol counselor and is in the process of completing his Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. Grant has experience working with young adults diagnosed with both substance abuse and mental health diagnoses. He has a great interest and understanding of the recovery process for young adults with substance abuse dependency. Grant believes in an entire mind and body connection in order to maintain long-term recovery. He focuses on helping steer client’s focus on their individualized treatment plan by supporting them in five major competencies he believes are essential to the life long recovery process (Life Skills, Sobriety, Fitness, Productivity, and Emotional Well-Being). Grant is an avid swimmer, frequent live music attendee, and lover of all things ocean related! Grant is a Washingtonian by birth, but loves to incorporate the positive California vibes he inherited during his time in Los Angeles!
Atira has worn many hats since she joined Embark Behavioral Health in 2016. Hired as the clinic’s Compliance Officer, she then served as the Director of Operations for three years before stepping into her current role. Prior to that she had years of experience managing and leading retail businesses. She also spent more than a decade providing care and tutoring to children and teens with trauma, anxiety, depression, and ASD.
As a teacher in the Palyul tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Atira is passionate about connecting people to the therapeutic, spiritual and creative tools that help them befriend their own minds and the world around them. She offers classes on how to develop wisdom and compassion through meditation and mind-training.
Atira is a strong proponent of the healing power of the arts and has been leading poetry workshops in schools since 2004. In her spare time, Atira enjoys reading, writing poetry, creating art, and exploring the great outdoors with her husband.
John Pelletier is a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park with a BA in English. He has a long history of management and administration in companies both large and small in various industries including big box retail, local grocery and veterinary medicine. A former veterinary assistant, John continues to spend time volunteering with animals and enjoys gardening, meditating and reading.