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our staff

The majority of staff at CASA Recovery is in recovery. This allows us an informed perspective having "been there and done that."

Krishna Jessick, C.A.T.C. #051193 - Executive Director

Our founder and executive director Krishna has spent over 20 years in the field of drug & alcohol recovery, having helped in the creation and marketing of four other residential addiction treatment programs in California—Orange County. She studied Human Services: Drug and Alcohol Studies in Saddleback College and is a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor (CATC) as well as an educator for and member of the California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators (CAADE). She also trained in Relapse Prevention, Crisis Intervention, Denial Management, Primordial Sound Meditation, and Recovery Coaching.

Krishna has completed hundreds of successful interventions in the last 15 years. She continues to be involved in community advocacies, serving as liaison between Saddleback College and Drug Court, and working with County of Orange Risk Reduction Education and Community Health (REACH) Program. She is an advisory board member of the TEACH Program (also at Saddleback College), a Mental Health/Dual Diagnosis and Substance Abuse advisor at Orange Coast College, and a Drug Treatment panel member for the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (Prop 36). Krishna was the keynote speaker at the 2008 CAADE Conference in Costa Mesa and at the 2009 California Indian Law Association Conference, where she discussed substance abuse in Indian Country.


 

Dr. Valeh Karimkhani, D.O. - Medical Director

Dr. Valeh Karimkhani, D.O. is an adolescent and adult psychiatrist, dually board certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. Dr. Karimkhani is currently the Medical Director for CASA Recovery and is a consulting psychiatrist to several treatment facilities in Orange County. Previously, Dr. Karimkhani served as Chief of Psychiatry Consult Liaison services at Hoag Hospital in both Newport Beach and Irvine.

Dr. Karimkhani, was born and raised in Denver CO, where she completed her undergraduate studies with a double major in biology and chemistry. She attended medical school at the University of North Texas Health and Science Center, College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her internship was completed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and she completed her psychiatry residency at University of Colorado Health and Science Center in 2007, with an emphasis in adolescent psychiatry.

Dr. Karimkhani has been dedicated to serving the psychiatric needs of her community. She has extensive experience in emergency psychiatry, dual diagnosis, trauma, substance abuse, and adolescent psychiatry. Patients struggling with substance dependence are offered ambulatory detox services if needed, as well as treatment with Vivitrol.

Dr. Karimkhani is also a Major in the Army Reserves, and has completed three tours of duty in the Middle East. She is dedicated to helping and healing our American heroes and soldiers.

 

Treatment Staff

 

Sandi Fontana, M.A., MFTI #84153 - Program Director

Sandi holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has several years of working with clients who have experienced trauma, anxiety, and depression and with those currently battling substance abuse. She provides a safe and trusting therapeutic environment. Sandi helps clients gain personal insight by increasing self-awareness and emphasize existing strengths in an effort to guide them to successful recovery.


 

Nebiat "Lily" Habte, LMFT #49978 - Therapist

Lily holds a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She has over 10 years’ experience working in community agencies in Los Angeles and Orange County providing therapy and group services to clients who suffer from severe trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and domestic violence. She also has three years working in the capacity of Clinical Supervisor to trainees and interns. Her therapeutic approach is interactive, and she helps clients develop applicable solutions that can effectively be implemented in their daily life.


 

Patrick Manion, MA, MFT Intern, IMF #92914, PCC Intern #PCC2919

Patrick graduated from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology earning his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. He holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from UCLA. Patrick is clinically trained in working with trauma survivors including victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, military trauma, and their resulting issues of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Patrick is EMDR trained and is working towards his full certification through the EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Program. Patrick’s client-centered approach to addiction therapy focuses on the underlying issues leading to addiction, viewing addiction as a symptom of greater issues troubling the client.


 

Michael Carlyle, CADC-CS, ICADC #CS0920517 – Clinical Supervisor

Michael is a graduate of InterCoast College and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor - Clinical Supervisor (CADC-CS) as well as an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC). He received his credentials from the California Certification Board of Alcohol & Drug Counselors (CCBADC) and the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP). For the last seven years, Michael has dedicated himself to finding multidimensional ways of providing care to clients with substance abuse issues, and also help family members become formally involved in their loved-one’s recovery process. Michael works as lead counselor and clinical supervisor at CASA Recovery, and facilitates group and individual counseling sessions for clients to support them in creating sustainable alcohol and drug addiction recovery plans. Michael’s goal is to guide our clients to use positive cognitive approaches, holistic practices, and spirituality to raise self-awareness of their individual strengths so they can develop coping strategies and lifestyle changes that will support their long term personal growth and sobriety.


 

Michele Hiller, C.A.T.C. #154630 - Counselor

Since 2007, Michele has been working in recovery and feels extremely blessed that she has turned her past struggles into productive tools for helping others. Her aim is to give recovering addicts a sense of purpose and hope to keep them on the right track. Michelle is a graduate from Saddleback College as a Mental Health Worker and an Alcohol and Drug Addiction Specialist. In 2012, she graduated from Santa Ana College as a Para-Professional Mental Health Worker.


 

Sandy Szemenyei, CADC-II #A015700315 - Ordained Minister / Biblical Counselor

With 20 years experience, Sandy serves as our Biblical Counselor offering a faith-based approach to drug & alcohol treatment here at CASA. She is ordained through the Evangelical Christian Fellowship and has an Advanced Certificate in Biblical Counseling through Light University. Sandy originally found her calling while living in Australia through her pastor at Mandurah Calvary Chapel, who first hired her to work at a crisis center. It was her pastor who encouraged her to become a drug & alcohol counselor. Sandy loves helping others learn about living life without drugs and alcohol with Jesus Christ at the center.


 

Michele Lavigne, CADC-II, ICADC #A018370415 - Counselor

Michele Lavigne is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor - Level II and has worked in the substance abuse treatment field for over 20 years. She has experience in many different settings and in several professional roles with various populations, including gender specific programs, adults, families, adolescents and court-ordered clients. She has completed advanced training in neuro-nutrient therapy and is the founder of Wellminded, an integrative whole-person approach that includes natural brain repair, traditional treatment, spiritual exploration, together as a comprehensive approach to substance abuse counseling and genuine wellness. Michele is passionate about not only helping people achieve and maintain sobriety but to attain their highest potential through mind, body and spirit.


 

Kristen DeGeorge, CADC-II - Program Manager

In 2011, Kristen started working in recovery and brings with her years of experience in helping struggling addicts and alcoholics land in recovery. She graduated from InterCoast College with a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling and Co-occurring Disorders and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC-II). As the Program Manager at CASA Recovery she uses her experience and personable approach in ensuring an exceptional client experience from the first day through a successful discharge. She has a passion for providing the highest level of care to every client she comes in contact with and a genuine respect for our recovery community. Her heartfelt interest in helping men and women get sober is valued and proves the quality of care that is provided at CASA Recovery. Kristen wants to share with her clients a simple message that “life does not end when entering recovery; recovery is just the beginning of a life worth living.”


 

Kevin Conlon, CATC-II #178456, Counselor

As a Counselor, Kevin values the process of providing our clients the necessary support for a successful transition back into the community while integrating the clinical treatment, medical care, housing and employment assistance provided during the course of a client's treatment.


 

Sean Treacy - Director of Business Development/Admissions

Sean brings to CASA his years of business knowledge and sales experience. He studied business and finance at the The Ohio State University. Sean's talents have given him the opportunity to oversee both the intake coordination and well as the outreach efforts at CASA Recovery. As a recovering addict himself, Sean possesses the patience, understanding and compassion needed to help struggling addicts find help.

“In my own journey, I’ve found that spirituality, community connection and giving back were the solutions to the emptiness and isolation of addiction. I know that healing didn’t begin until I asked for help. My prayer is that I can help those calling to make the decision to change and guide them on their own journeys towards healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.”

 

Wellness Center Staff

Grant Collins, M.S., Acupuncturist #AC9668, Oriental Herbalist

With a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine from the Southwest Acupuncture College, Grant is passionate about using acupuncture to help clients reduce cravings, aid against relapse, promote better sleep, and induce overall calmness of the mind. He is California Board Certified and started a private practice in 2003. He has spent many years studying, competing, and teaching martial arts and is an Elite Doctor's Speakers Bureau member, allowing him to educate the public on nutrition and health.


 

Celeste Seiler – Massage Therapist

Celeste describes CASA Recovery's approach to rehabilitation as revolutionary and holistic. She has been a firsthand witness to the overwhelming effects of addiction not only on the mind and body, but the spirit. She is the owner of ‘A Touch of Heaven Massage and Holistic Healing’ and aims to use detoxification massages, Ayruvedic techniques, Oriental techniques, and nutritional therapy to help those struggling with addiction. Her massages relieve pain, restore proper bodily functions, and ultimately help clients reconnected with their bodies.


 

Dr. Bahng - Acupuncturist

Scott S. Bahng is licensed with the California Board of Acupuncture and is board certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Herbalogy and a Master's Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from South Baylo University in Southern California and is now an instructor of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

His main practice focuses are orthopedics, pain management, women's health, detoxification, rejuvenation and preventive care. With over 15 years of clinical experience as an alternative medicine practitioner, he offers clients of CASA Recovery a wealth of knowledge to help heal their physical and emotional concerns with an alternative approach. Every client at CASA Recovery is offered acupuncture as part of their treatment program.


 

Carolyn Long, E-RYT - Yoga Instructor

Carolyn's passion for yoga began in 2000 when she first discovered a Bikram Yoga class in Laguna Beach. She was immediately addicted to the physical and mental challenge and greatly inspired by the sense of peace, calmness and grounding she felt after leaving class. Being a group fitness instructor for many years prior, Carolyn completed her yoga teacher training in 2009. She is 200hr E-RYT Yoga Alliance Certified in Power Vinyasa Yoga levels 1, 2 and 3, Hot Power Fusion, Yoga Sculpt and Meditation. Carolyn also is now certified in Yoga for Cancer Management and guides cancer patients, cancer warriors and caregivers.


 

Jennifer Wong, CHT, RMT - Guided Visualization/Meditation Instructor

Jennifer received her Hypnotist certification in 2007 at the College for Healing Arts in San Diego, CA and did advanced training and certifications with Calvin Banyan, MA CHT in London, UK. She specializes in Relaxation Therapy, Stress Management, Anxiety Reduction, Fear and Phobia Removal. Jennifer teaches CASA clients proper mediation techniques and provides weekly guided visualization group sessions tailored to helping those early in recovery let go of trauma and fear.


 

Bernie Wolfe, Certified Trainer and Nutritionist

For the past 18 years, Bernie has worked as a fitness trainer for the International Sports Sciences Association. Here at CASA Recovery, he designs tailored exercise programs and diets to help clients feel and function better. He uses his skills as an Afro-Cuban based drumming expert to lead CASA Recovery's spiritual drum circles.

 

 

Native American Track Staff

 

Jacque Tahuka-Nunez

Named by the state of California as the ‘2009 Indian Educator of the Year,’ Jacque is a proud California Indian whose ancestors were credited for building the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Here at CASA Recovery, she teaches basket weaving, shell necklace making, soapstone carving, and other crafts to open clients to honest communication and spiritual healing. Her goal is to continue sharing her Acjachemen culture and history, ultimately helping preserve and pass her culture along through traditional Native American storytelling.


 

Peter Macias

Peter is an alcohol relief specialist who uses the healing properties of Native American spiritual ceremonies to help clients get back to their roots. He is a member of the Pala band of Mission Indians and has a certificate in Drug and Alcohol Counseling.