MC, LPC, NCC
Director of Peer Services
I am originally from the Garden State of New Jersey but was raised in North Phoenix in the Grand Canyon State of AZ. Being several skin shades paler than a traditional hyper-tanned ‘Jersey Girl’, I am still a ‘Jersey Girl’ at heart. I love the shore, Tasty Kakes, Bon Jovi, shopping, any almost any kind of Italian cheese, and hand-tossed-thin-crust pizza. What more could you want?! Sunshine! And, even though NJ has a piece of my heart, I couldn’t resist the allure of almost-year-round sunshine and I stayed in AZ attending Northern Arizona University (NAU) for my undergraduate studies. During my time at NAU, I was blessed to be able to spend one semester studying in Granada, Spain, where I was able to put my Spanish to use and to travel. At NAU I obtained dual Bachelor’s degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Science in Advertising. I had a not-so-glamorous life in Advertising for over six years. I knew within a short time that Advertising was not my passion but I was unsure of my next step. Throughout my life, I had gravitated to serving others. It didn’t click for me that I could have a career helping others. I thought to help others that meant I would have to be a nurse or a doctor and I knew I wasn’t a fan of seeing other people’s blood so that wasn’t going to work for me. This was all until a fateful conversation with a good friend, who happens to be an RN. During one of our heart-to-heart talks she said that I was a great supporter and listener and she casually mentioned that I might want to look into going back to school for a degree in Counseling, or a related field. A new path began in my life. I continued to work in Advertising and attend school at night for a majority of my program. I completed my Master’s in Counseling from the University of Phoenix in 2006 and I have been continuing my journey of serving others ever since.
During my time in Behavioral Health, I have truly found my passion. I am a family member of several loved ones who have or who are struggling with mental health and/or substance challenges. I have watched loved ones die from complications of long-term substance challenges. While serving others during their ‘black days’, as one of my favorite bands, Soundgarden, refers to them, can be challenging, I cannot imagine doing anything else. I started my work as a Counselor working with English- and Spanish-speaking clients seeking help for a variety of mental health and substance challenges. Through my counseling work in direct care, I completed my journey to obtain my Independent Counseling License in AZ, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), and continued to work as a Counselor and as a Supervisor in the Adult programs at an area non-profit agency.
Prior to coming to work for RI International in early 2015, I was the Clinical Director at a non-profit Phoenix-area Mental Health and Substance Abuse Agency that provides outpatient services. As Clinical Director for over 5 and a half years, I was responsible for providing clinical leadership and guidance to as many as 85 staff for programs that served children and adults across the Valley. By the time I left, I was responsible for the clinical guidance for programs that ranged from Birth-5 services, Adolescent DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) Groups, Adolescent IOP (Intensive Outpatient Services) for youth with substance challenges, Transition Services for youth and young adults transitioning into adulthood, and an adult Methadone Maintenance Program. During my time as Director, I implemented more than four new programs, opened two new offices, and improved overall department quality scores from an average of 65% to over an average of 85% consistently. I also carried my passion for serving others forward by providing clinical supervision to eight Social Workers and Counselors to help them in their processes to becoming independently licensed and ethically practicing professionals in their fields of study.
I am proud to bring my background and experience to RI International. I am proud to be a part of an amazing and talented group of people who work in Outpatient Services serving those who may be facing challenges and ‘black days’ in our community.
When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with my amazing husband, my two teenage stepsons… and our three rescued fur children, which include two wiener dogs (with large personalities but short legs) and one large fluffy white German Sheppard.