Morris Gelbart, Ph.D.
Executive Director Morris Gelbart, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist,
a graduate of the University of Southern California, and has been practicing
since 1976. He has expertise in alcohol and substance abuse, is certified
by the American Psychological Association in the Treatment of Substance
Abuse, and was one of the founders of the Alcohol and Drug Treatment,
now known as the Thelma McMillen Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment.
He is presently the director of Gelbart & Associates, a multi-disciplinary
mental health group in the South Bay. Dr. Gelbart is a consultant to the
California Medical Board Diversion Program and the California State Lawyers
Assistance Program. He has wide experience in workplace violence and stress,
managed care issues, chronic pain, and works with adolescents and adults,
in individual, couple and group therapy. In addition, he treats anxiety,
depressive disorders and relationships.
Donnie W. Watson, Ph.D., CCFE, CATC V
Dr. Donnie W. Watson has over 25 years of management experience in directing
programs that educate and treat both adolescent and adult substance abusers,
and their families. He has expertise in evidence-based prevention and
treatment interventions, respectively. He has over fifty (50) publications,
articles and book chapters related to a variety of substance abuse issues.
He has worked in academic, clinical, research and community settings over
the course of his career while providing supervision and training to an
array of healthcare providers who specialize in substance abuse treatment.
Prior to coming to The Thelma McMillen Center, he served as a Senior Principal
Investigator at UCLA's Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP).
In this capacity, he directed an adult outpatient substance abuse treatment
center, and managed several community-based grant-funded substance interventions
for youth and their families. He previously directed the CORK Institute
on Alcohol and Drug Abuse at Morehouse School of Medicine, where he was
also an Associate Professor of Psychiatry. He completed an APA approved
clinical psychology internship (with specialty in child and adolescent
psychiatry) at Grady Memorial Hospital/Emory University School of Medicine.
Upon completion of his internship, he served as Director of Child and
Adolescent Research, Psychology Division at Emory University School of
Medicine. He earned his B.A. from Saint Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota,
and his doctorate from Vanderbilt University in Clinical Psychology with
minor emphases in Alcohol Studies and Experimental Design. He is a Certified
Compassion Fatigue Educator with an emphasis on helping the caregiver
maximize their potential in the workplace as well as being certified in
the implementation of "Seeking Safety Treatment Modality for PTSD
and Substance Abuse". Dr. Watson is a Certified Addictions Treatment
Counselor (CATC) V, a member of the California Association for Alcohol
and Drug Educators (CAADE) and a member of The Addiction Counselor Certification
Board of California (ACCBC).
Jean Carfagno, M.A.
Jean Carfagno has more than twenty-five years of experience as a therapist
in chemical dependency inpatient, outpatient and private treatment settings.
She has helped individuals, couples and families in dependent or addictive
families. Carfagno serves as a primary therapist, alumni coordinator and
utilization reviewer, and is one of the original founders of the outpatient
chemical dependency treatment program at Torrance Memorial. In addition
to her work at Torrance Memorial, Carfagno is an adjunct professor at
Antioch University Graduate School where she teaches Addiction Courses.
Active in community service, Carfagno is an elder in her church, a conciliator
for the Los Angeles Center for Conflict Resolution and is a national director
of alumni for the Mortar Board Honor Society. Carfagno holds a bachelor's
degree in psychology from Ohio State University; a master's degree
in counseling psychology from Lindenwood University; and a certification
in alcohol and drug counseling from the University of California, Los
Angeles. Her honors include Phi Beta Kappa and Who's Who in America.
Katherine brings her experience and enthusiasm to her position interfacing
with the South Bay professional community and managing Thelma outreach
and education programs, Including Frontiers in Addiction. As a recovering
woman who has grown from her own personal challenges, her desire to join
The Thelma McMillen Center stems from believing in the work done here.
She is passionate and dedicated to the service of women who struggle with
addiction and other self-injurious behaviors. Katherine’s work in
the recovery field started as the Director of The Sarah Marie House, sober
living for women, from which she has developed strong ties in the community.
Katherine has degrees from U.C.L.A., Southwestern School of Law and is
a member of the California State Bar; her varied life experience has proven
to be an asset in her desire to help people.
Katie Saemann, R.N.
Katie Saemann has held the position of Clinic Nurse at the Thelma McMillen
Center for the last 5 years and has been a Torrance Memorial Medical Center
employee for 28 years. She has an Associate of Arts Degree and R.N. Degree
from El Camino College and a Bachelors degree in Health Science from California
State University of Dominguez Hills. Katie is a member of the Nurses Christian
Fellowship and volunteers with the Kitchen Table Trust sending care packages
to members of the U.S. Military overseas.
Adult Program Stafff
Becky Ackerman has worked in the field of recovery services for more than
17 years. Becky attended California State University Dominguez Hills and
is a certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor as well as a Registered
Addiction Specialist. Becky's experience includes service to a variety
of populations including adults, adolescents, pregnant and parenting women
and dual diagnosed. Becky is a passionate and committed professional,
dedicated to fostering hope in those that seek help to change.
Gary Cesena, BS, LAADC, CADC II, NCAC II, ICADC
Gary Cesena presently serves as a counselor for the Thelma McMillan Center.
He has over 30 years of experience and expertise in clinical, educational,
and multi-systems management in the addiction field. Because of his strong
desire to ensure patients receive the best of care, he has served in many
capacities on professional boards dedicated to counselor competencies
in California. He holds a LAADC*, Licensed Advance Alcohol and Drug Counselor,
a CADC II, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Level II, a NCAC II, National
Certified Addiction Counselor Level II, and an ICADC, International Certification
as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He has been honored to have received
two distinguished recognitions from the California Association of Alcohol
and Drug Abuse Counselors: The Jim Fulton Memorial Award in 2002, For
Positive Impact on Clients and the Counseling Profession, and in 2004
The Joseph A Giannantonio II Award, in recognition of Commitment to the
Recovery Movement as an Outstanding Educator in the Field of Addition
Medicine. Mr. Cesena currently has a private practice in Bixby Knolls,
CA and works closely with institutions of higher learning helping to support
Alcohol and Drug Free Campuses.
*Currently a Non-Governmental License in California
Terese Lang, CADC-II, CATC III, RAS
Terese Lang is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC-II), a Certified
Addictions Treeatment Counselor III (CATC III), a Registered Addiction
Specialist (RAS) , has an Internatinal Certification as an Alcohol and
Drug Counselor (ICADC) and a member of NAADAC, the National Association
for Addiction Professionals. She has a Bachelor's Degree from California
State University Long Beach and a Drug and Alcohol Certificate from California
State University Dominguez Hills. She serves on the Advisory Board for
the Drug and Alcohol Certification Program at CSUDH. Terese has extensive
studies in Dual Diagnosis.
Jodie Marholz, MRAS, ASW
Jodie has been working in the field of addictions since 1998. She earned
her certified Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate at California State
University Dominguez Hills and is currently a Master Registered Addiction
Specialist with the Breining Institute. Jodie earned her Master of Social
Work Degree from CSUDH in 2011. Her focus is in the field of alcoholism
and chemical dependency, and the many facets associated with providing
treatment for individuals, and families who have been impacted by this
disease. She has dedicated the last sixteen years to working with many
different individuals, and populations, in a variety of modalities, who
have experienced their love ones, suffer as a result of alcoholism and
substance abuse. Jodie continues this effort at the Thelma McMillen Center
Barbara Mignosi, M.Ed., M.A., MFT
Barbara has been working in the field of substance abuse treatment for
over 15 years. She is licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes
in treating the entire family system. She also presents workshops for
health care professionals, and has a private practice in Torrance. In
addition to her work in the substance abuse field, she has master's
degree in educational administration. She has taught in the school system
for almost 30 years. She has expertise in cross-cultural aspects of family
dynamics. She is a passionate professional who excels in delivering psycho-educational
presentations to clients and their families. She is very active in the
community as illustrated by her positions as a Past President of the National
Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, and a Past Vice-President of
the Long Beach/South Bay California Association of Marriage and Family
Teen Program Staff
Colleen Ecker, AA, BS, CADC-I, CCDP, BRI
Colleen Ecker has more than a decade of experience as an addiction specialist.
She is a certified alcohol and drug counselor at the Thelma McMillen Center.
She counsels adults/teens and facilitates process groups. She also presents
a variety of educational lectures. Colleen's background includes Life
Skills Counseling, Educational Consulting, Parent Advocacy, and Substance
Abuse Interventions. In addition to her work at TMC Colleen speaks at
local schools, and churches on substance awareness. She has spent the
last several years at a college as the Wellness Counselor and Instructor.
Colleen volunteers in several philanthropic organizations in her community
and is an active participant in 12-step recovery groups.
Nina Hamouni, B.A, RRW
Nina Hamouni has worked in the recovery field for several years, specializing
in young adults and families. Nina attended California State University
Long Beach and received a Bachelor's degree in psychology. Following
her undergraduate degree, Nina attended California State University Dominquez
Hills and is a certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor and is a registered
recovery worker through CAADAC. She also is Certified Addictions Treatment
Counselor (CATC III). Prior to her experience at the Thelma McMillen Center,
Nina has worked in a variety of addiction settings including residential
and outpatient treatment. Nina has worked with a wide range of individuals
including; adolescent treatment, young adults, families and couples. Nina
is a compassionate counselor who is inspired by helping clients, who are
addicted, to recover.
Elise R. James, M.S. RAS
Elise James has been dedicated to the field of recovery for over 14 years.
She is currently a primary therapist and supervisor, working mostly with
our adolescent clients and their families. Elise has a wide range of experience
in the substance abuse field, from working in Treatment Centers (In-Patient
and Out-Patient) to being a Director of Felicity House, a sober living
home for women on the Westside. She holds a bachelor degree in history,
is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been a Certified Drug
and Alcohol Counselor (Registered Addiction Specialist) since 2003. She
has been a part of the Thelma McMillen Center for over 8 years.
Ami Kunimura, MT-BC
Music Therapist, Yoga Instructor
Ami Kunimura is a board certified music therapist and yoga instructor in
the Teen Outpatient Program at the Thelma McMillen Center for Chemical
Dependency. Her clinical experience includes working in treatment and
recovery for mental health, addiction, trauma, stroke, cancer, and developmental
disabilities, with individuals and groups in private, inpatient, and outpatient
settings. Ami received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Loyola Marymount
University, a national board certification in Music Therapy from Chapman
University, and a certificate in Yoga Education from Yoga Vidya Gurukul
in Nasik, India. Ami is also the owner of Inspired Arts and Wellness,
a local music therapy and therapeutic arts practice providing services
and education to the community.
James Ludka, M.A., R.R.W.
James Ludka is a primary counselor in Thelma McMillen's teen program.
He holds a Master's Degree in Counseling and is a Registered Recovery
Worker with CAADAC. A former educator and administrator, James feels right
at home in the South Bay working with teens and their families in our
recovery based therapeutic setting.