Morris Gelbart, Ph.D.

Dr. Moe Gelbart

Executive Director

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

Donnie W. Watson, Ph.D., CCFE, CATC V

Program Director

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 health care 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

Utilization Review

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.

Katie Saemann, R.N.

Katie Saemon

Clinic Nurse

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 Staff

Becky Ackerman

Rebecca Ackerman


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.


Teresa Lang

Intake Specialist

Terese Lang is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC-II), a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor III (CATC III), a Registered Addiction Specialist (RAS) , has an International 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 Marholz

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 in Torrance.

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 Therapists.

Kevin Brown

Rebecca Ackerman


Kevin Brown has worked in the mental health and addiction fields since 2006. He has been a counselor with the Thelma McMillen Center since 2014. His professional background includes extensive work with children, adolescents and adults with developmental, behavioral and mental health problems. He has spent significant time working in academic, correctional and rehabilitation facilities providing a wide range of services to both underserved and underperforming populations. Areas of specialty include Clinical Psychotherapy, School Social Work and Addiction Medicine with an emphasis on child and adolescent development and family dynamics. Mr. Brown offers both a professional level of intervention and personal dedication to those affected by substance abuse issues. He believes that by using a holistic and strengths-based approach, meaningful and lasting recovery can be obtained by both patients and their family members. Mr. Brown received his Bachelors in Psychology and Masters of Social Work degrees from California State University Long Beach. He is currently licensed by the State of California as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Teen Program Staff

Nina Hamouni, B.A, RRW

Primary Counselor

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 Dominguez 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

Primary Counselor

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.

James Ludka, M.A., R.R.W.

Primary Counselor

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.

Emily Lui, M.A., LMFT

Emily is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked in chemical dependency and mental health for several years. She earned her Bachelor's in Psychology at UC Santa Barbara in 2008 and went on to earn her Master's in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy in 2010. At Thelma McMillen, Emily has been privileged to work with teens and families in the Teen IOP, conduct educational school groups in local high schools and facilitates the HealthRhythms Empowerment Drumming groups for both the teens and adults.

Karen Thompson

For over 15 years, Karen has provided compassionate care to those afflicted with alcoholism and addiction exasperated by comorbid psychological diagnoses and other clinically relevant issues or emotional distress. She enjoys doing research; presenting educational power points and lectures; facilitating process groups; and counseling individuals, families, couples, parents and teens. She has worked in various capacities at local treatment facilities; Torrance Memorial Hospital’s Thelma McMillen Out-Patient Addiction Treatment Center, San Pedro Hospital’s Intensive In-Patient Chemical Dependency Unit (formerly at Center for Discovery’s Women’s Dual-Diagnosis Residential Treatment Center), Harbor Mandated Diversion Programs and Driver Benefits DUI Diversion Program. Karen’s education emphasizes Negotiation, Conflict Resolution & Peacebuilding; Caregiving for Elderly & Disabled; Psychology; Philosophy; Radio, Television, Film Broadcasting; Print Journalism and Speech. She has received scholarships for academic achievement, awarded President’s & Dean’s List, and is honored in Who’s Who in American Universities. Her credentials include Marriage Family Therapist Intern, National & International Registered Addiction Treatment Specialist, State-Certified Alcohol & Other Drug Addiction Treatment Counselor, and Co-Occurring Disorders Specialist.