Cliffside Malibu Staff

Welcome to Cliffside Malibu! Each and every member of our staff is dedicated to assisting each resident on their own unique path to sobriety. From our resident advisors to our program director, we all view residents as the individuals they are, and offer them our greatest care. Our mission, as a staff, is to offer residents suffering from substance dependence the opportunity to develop a strong foundation in recovery from which they can build a life free of alcohol and drugs.

Directors

Kelly Stephenson COO
Kelly Stephenson

Chief Executive Officer

Kelly Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer of Cliffside Malibu, began her career in 2002 working in the health and human services field with mentally ill and substance dependent women.

In 2007, after studying Business Administration at Ferris State University, Ms. Stephenson made the decision to move from Michigan to California to pursue a career in an industry she was passionate about. She has worked in Substance Use Disorder field for over 15 years, helping clients achieve long term sobriety and ensuring best practices and highest standards are met in all areas of the client care.

Ms. Stephenson’s, passion and life’s work are in sync. She has a career she loves, leading staff and working with clients, all while increasing Cliffside Malibu’s national presence. She has been with Cliffside Malibu since 2015, starting as the COO and transitioning to CEO in July 2018. She thoroughly enjoys her role and is excited for the future of Cliffside and its Clients.

Dr. Craig Smith
Dr. Craig Smith

Medical Director

Dr. Craig V. Smith, M.D. is a former organ transplant surgeon, who now dedicates his practice to addiction medicine. He received his M.D. degree from the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Smith then completed his general surgical residency at Harbor-UCLA medical center and his multi-organ transplant surgical fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh medical center. He returned to UCLA medical center to start his career in academic transplant surgery, performing transplants, teaching students and residents while also conducting research on transplantation for the treatment of diabetes. During his academic career as an associate professor of surgery, Dr. Smith performed more than 500 organ transplants at UCLA, UC Irvine and the City of Hope National Medical Center.

Since alcohol and drug use are leading causes of organ damage leading to the need for a transplant, Dr. Smith learned about addiction by listening to his patients. More importantly, since a requirement to receive an organ transplant is abstinence from using alcohol and drugs, Dr. Smith learned about recovery from listening to his patients. After listening over the years, pursuing self-study and continuing medical education in the field of addiction, in 2009 Dr. Smith decided to dedicate his career to addiction medicine.

Dr. Smith is board certified in Addiction Medicine by both the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Addiction Medicine.

On-Site Medical Staff

Natalie Shorten LVN-Lead Resident Health Advisor
Natalie Shorten

LVN – Lead Resident Health Advisor

Natalie has been a member of the Cliffside nursing team since February of 2017. She co-manages Cliffside’s team of nurses and focuses in staff development and client care. Natalie enjoys building therapeutic relationships with our clients and loves Cliffside for its non-judgmental and openminded atmosphere. She loves to travel, spend time with family, and is a big-time animal lover.

Chelsea McElwain LVN-Lead Resident Health Advisor
Chelsea McElwain

LVN – Lead Resident Health Advisor

Chelsea has been a member of the Cliffside nursing team since November of 2016. Chelsea co-manages Cliffside’s team of nurses and focuses on staff development and client care. Chelsea is a licensed vocational nurse who is currently in school working to become a registered nurse (and eventually a nurse practitioner!). Chelsea loves watching clients grow and progress through treatment. When she’s not at work she’s most likely to be found either at Disneyland or snowboarding.

Tara Bordonaro LVN Medication Manager
Tara Bordonaro

LVN – Medication Manager

Tara has been a member of the Cliffside nursing team since April of 2015. Tara oversees medication management at Cliffside and is also responsible for staff training and development. Tara uses her infinite patience not only as a great teacher for staff, but also helping clients navigate their way through treatment. Tara is a licensed vocational nurse who plans to continue her nursing education and become a registered nurse. She enjoys world travel, and spending time with her daughter and family.

Leanne Thomas LVN - Resident Health Advisor
Leanne Thomas

LVN – Resident Health Advisor

Leanne has been a member of Cliffside’s nursing team since May of 2018, and a nurse for over a decade. Leanne has experience working in many different areas of the nursing field and enjoys substance abuse specifically because it’s a cause close to her heart. Leanne loves the beach, working out and spending time with her family.

Kelsea Shorten LVN-Resident Health Advisor
Kelsea Shorten

LVN – Resident Health Advisor

Kelsea has been a member of Cliffside’s nursing team since June of 2017. Kelsea is a licensed vocational nurse and hopes to continue her education and become a registered nurse. Kelsea enjoys working in an environment that places such a strong emphasis on community. She enjoys traveling and spending her free time with her dog and her family.

Michelle Jones RN-Resident Health Advisor
Michelle Jones

RN – Resident Health Advisor

Shelley has been a member of Cliffside’s nursing team since February of 2017. Shelley is a registered nurse (RN) with 20 years of nursing experience. She specializes in addiction and pain management, and has worked in the addiction field for over a decade. Shelly is interested in holistic practices and loves yoga, meditation and reiki.

Karen Stewart LVN Resident Health Advisor
Karen Stewart

LVN – Resident Health Advisor

Karen has been a member of Cliffside’s nursing team since November of 2017, and a nurse for over a decade. Karen loves watching clients’ progress from start to finish through treatment and being fortunate enough to be part of their recovery stories. Karen loves to travel, try new food, and spend time with her family.

Clinical

Karen Rubenstein LMFT - Clinical Program Director
Karen Rubenstein

LMFT – Clinical Program Director

Karen Rubenstein, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC 43747) with a specialization in addiction and co-occurring disorders. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge and her Masters of Arts degree in Psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute.

Karen has been with Cliffside Malibu since 2014. Karen’s work in bringing the clinical philosophy using the Stages of Change, Evidence Based Practices and the therapeutic alliance to life, goes unparalleled to any other treatment program. She works closely with the clinical team by guiding them towards utilizing a center of excellence philosophy and ensuring the clinical program at Cliffside Malibu is at the forefront of the industry.

Karen has over 20 years of management experience and has been working in drug and alcohol treatment since 2004. She has extensive experience with managing and structuring clinical programs that best meet the needs of clients.

Prior to her work as a Therapist, Karen was a Vice President and Operations Department Head for Nationwide residential lending at one of the largest savings and loans nationwide for 10 years. Her management experience spans over two decades.

As a Clinical Director and Program Director, Karen managed the clinical teams providing adolescents, adults and their families` the necessary tools to effectively address mental health and substance abuse issues. Karen worked compassionately with staff, clients, and their families to foster a healing environment.

Britney Stearns AMFT
Britney Stearns

AMFT – Asst. to Clinical Program Director

Britney Stearns is a Associate Marriage and Family therapist (AMFT) and received a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Arizona State University and a Masters degree from Pepperdine University. Britney has 5 years working within the field of addiction and 2 years working with children with Autism. Britney has been at Cliffside Malibu for the past 5 years.

Michelle Brady Clinical Coordinator
Michelle Brady

CADC-II – Clinical Coordinator

I am the clinical coordinator for Cliffside Malibu. I am directly involved in client coordination of care, facilitating group therapy as well as meeting with clients regarding individual needs and communicating with clients families when the first arrive.

Prior to starting with Cliffside I started my journey in recovery as an EMT then participated in multiple volunteer opportunities Safe House of the Desert, Jewish Family Services, ABC Club, and ultimately ended up at Micheal’s House (Foundation Recovery Network) for 7 years as the residential counselor manager which was a rewarding.

Moving forward I received my certification for a drug and alcohol counselor, received an AA degree in counseling and psychology from college of the desert, received a BA degree in psychology from Cal State Channel Islands and currently working on a masters in clinical psychology. I’m current a CADAC II and a Smart Recovery facilitator.

I enjoy meeting and working with people from all over. I believe that learning the ways, opinions and beliefs of others is key to putting life in its true perspective, helping one to grow. I believes in treating the whole individual and meeting clients where they are, providing an empathetic, non-judgmental approach for the recovery journey.

Britney Elyse LMFT - Program Therapist
Britney Elyse

LMFT – Program Therapist

Britney Elyse is a licensed psychotherapist (LMFT) and received a Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Britney has over a decade experience working within the field of addiction and dual diagnosis. Britney has been at Cliffside Malibu for 5 years and with her unique style has treated some of the most challenging cases. Britney is currently attending Somatic Experiencing (SE) Trauma Institute, where she is in the intermediate level. She utilizes the stages of change, S.E., Cognitive Behavioral, Psychodynamic, Dialectical Behavioral, and experiential approaches to help clients through the early stages of recovery and beyond. In her free time, Britney enjoys traveling to Europe, spending time with her 2 Pomeranians, studying history, and immersing herself in the recovery community.

Tracy Gottbetter LMFT
Tracy Gottbetter

LMFT – Program Therapist

Tracy Gottbetter is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in the treatment of addiction. She earned her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute in 2005, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from the University of California at Berkeley. Tracy was Adjunct Faculty at Phillips Graduate Institute, teaching both group dynamics and supervising in the family systems program. She has over a decade of experience working at various treatment centers, schools, and mental health agencies in the Los Angeles area. Tracy integrates a family systems perspective, cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, mindfulness and spirituality into her work. She recently started training in EMDR therapy in order to better help her clients.

Darrin Kagele LMFT - Program Therapist
Darrin Kagele

LMFT – Program Therapist

Darrin Kagele is a Board licensed psychotherapist with 6 years of extensive client experience. He holds a Master’s degree from Antioch University in clinical psychology with an academic concentration in family, depth and spiritual psychology. He has worked in a variety of settings including community mental health, addiction treatment, and in private practice. Additionally, Darrin brings his lifetime personal practice and teaching background in meditation to his mindfulness-based interventions, helping clients positively transform their lives.

Nika Kalili LMFT
Nika Kalili

LMFT – Program Therapist

Nika Kalili, holds a Masters in Educational Psychology, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Nika’s field of interest and passion consists of promoting the deeper understanding of issues surrounding multiculturalism when working with the minority population. In addition Nika has been practicing in the mental health field and in substance abuse for over 13 years with the emphasis of applying psycho-dynamic and object relations theories to better understand attachment styles and the unconscious forces that can play in ones current behaviors, thoughts and emotions leading to addictions and other maladaptive behaviors. Nika believes awareness of the root cause of our problems alone may not bring about the changes ones is desiring. Therefore she uses the combination of Cognitive Therapy and strength based approaches in addition to the psycho-dynamics to challenge thinking patterns and valuing the capacity, skills, knowledge, connections and potentials that can bring into practice the ability to look beyond there presenting problems, childhood experiences and dare to making the incremental changes needed in creating the life they intended to live. Nika also works in her private practice and has achieved academic publishing and Author of Unveiling Iranian women’s beliefs and attitudes towards divorce, published in 2010 through Lambert Academic Publishing.

Jacek Wysocki LMFT
Jacek Wysocki

LMFT – Program Therapist

Jacek Wysocki is a licensed therapist in greater Los Angeles area. Jacek graduated with a BA degree in psychology from UCLA in 2009 and an MA degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy from Pepperdine University in 2012. Throughout his career, Jacek had gained experience conducting therapy in a broad range of settings such as outpatient, inpatient and in-home. Since his first internship in 2011, Jacek has been dedicated to addressing issues underlying substance abuse. Among other modalities, Jacek enjoys using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with great success.

Jonathan Mozenter LMFT
Jonathan Mozenter

LFMT – Group Facilitator

Jon has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for 6 years and has worked at Cliffside Malibu for over 5 years. He has worked as a primary therapist in the Residential Treatment Program while also working as a group facilitator in the Residential and Outpatient programs. Jon has helped develop group therapy curriculum in the residential program and been active in developing Cliffside’s Family Program. Prior to working at Cliffside, Jon worked two years in county mental health in primarily Spanish-speaking Latino communities. Jon received his Masters in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute and Bachelor of Arts from University of Vermont.

Administrative

Juniper Lusk Milieu Manager
Juniper Lusk

Milieu Manager

Juniper has been with Cliffside since 2017 and has worked in the field of drug and alcohol treatment for over 15 years. As Milieu Manager, Juniper works to maintain a positive therapeutic setting in which clients with substance use disorder feel safe enough to learn healthy interpersonal boundaries and behaviors. Her passion is being of service to people suffering from addiction. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, playing disk golf, and enjoying all the activities Southern California has to offer.

David Vaknin Facilities Manager
David Vaknin

Admissions Coordinator

Dane Fisher CADC-I - Manager of Client Operations
Dane Fisher

CADC-I – Manager of Client Operations

Dane has worked at Cliffside since October of 2014. Dane completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University. Dane is a certified drug and alcohol counselor (CADC-I) and oversees several departments responsible for client care including nursing, residential advising, and aftercare and alumni coordination. Dane is an avid traveler and enjoys taking Japanese language classes in his free time.

Peter Hoang Admissions Coordinator
Peter Hoang

Admissions Coordinator

Peter is a Marine Corps veteran who’s worked in the treatment field since 2014 in a variety of capacities. He’s now a dedicated member of Cliffside’s admissions team who loves helping families and individuals overcome the challenges of addiction. Peter is also a Game of Thrones superfan who enjoys snowboarding, off-roading and traveling in his spare time.

Shannon Powell Admissions Coordinator
Shannon Powell

Director of Admissions

Shannon has been working in the treatment field since 2012 and now manages Cliffside’s admissions team. While Shannon devotes much of her energy to her work at Cliffside, she likes to travel in her free time. She loves keeping in touch with Cliffside alumni and getting updates on how well they’re doing! It reminds her how important the work we do here is!

Brenna Nelson Admissions Assistant
Brenna Nelson

Admissions Assistant

Brenna has worked at Cliffside for over four years. Brenna has experience working in both the operations and admissions departments. Brenna came to work in the treatment field because she loves helping others transform their lives and re-establish relationships with their families. In her free time she enjoys photography, traveling and spending time with her family.

Dan Csolak Hospitality Manager
Dan Csolak

Hospitality Manager

Daniel came to Cliffside with 10 years of experience in restaurant and hospitality management. Daniel is a graduate of Missouri State University who found his way to Los Angeles pursuing a career as a writer. Fortunately for Cliffside, Daniel also has a passion for helping others which brought him to work in the treatment field. Daniel oversees Cliffside’s kitchens and housekeeping department. In his free time he enjoys traveling, hiking, biking and skiing – especially in the Lake Tahoe area.

Therapeutic

Sarah Brodsky Massage Therapist
Sarah Brodsky

Massage Therapist

Bryan Hyman Yoga Instructor
Bryan Hyman

Yoga Instructor

Keli Vargo Massage Therapist
Kelli Vargo

Massage Therapist

Corey West Personal Trainer
Corey West

Personal Fitness Trainer

Adam Greenburg Acupuncturist
Adam Greenberg

Acupuncturist

Residential

Mathew Malloy Sr. Lead RA
Mathew Malloy

Sr. Lead Resident Advisor

Matthew has been with Cliffside since January of 2015. He is a certified addiction counselor (CADC-II) and he manages the residential department. Matthew devotes most of his time and energy at Cliffside into staff development to ensure we provide the highest level of client care possible. Matthew spends most of his free time with his beloved Rottweiler.

Jordan Payton-Fearnley Lead RA
Jordan Payton-Fearnley

Lead Resident Advisor

Jordan has worked at Cliffside since February of 2017 and manages a team of resident advisors in one of Cliffside’s inpatient facilities. Jordan came to Cliffside with a background in service industry management and focuses on training staff to provide top-notch client care. Jordan is currently working on her certification as a drug and alcohol counselor at UCLA, and loves to practice yoga, travel and read in her free time.

Jeremiah Hernandez Lead RA
Jeremiah Hernadez

Lead Resident Advisor

Jeremiah has worked at Cliffside since August of 2015. He manages a team of resident advisors in one of Cliffside’s inpatient facilities. Jeremiah is currently working simultaneously on his psychology degree and counselor’s certification and hopes to continue studying psychology at the master’s level. Jeremiah spends his free time drawing, or at the movies with friends. He has a passion for helping others grow and brings that passion to work every day at Cliffside.

Megan Sharkey Resident Advisor
Megan Sharkey

Resident Advisor

Megan has worked at Cliffside since February of 2017, and in the treatment field since 2015. Megan has her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Antioch University, where she is also currently pursuing her master’s degree in clinical psychology in order to become a therapist. Megan has a passion for working with struggling individuals and is focused on continuing to build her career around helping others.

Jonathan Kim Lead RA
Jonathan Kim

Residential Counselor

Jonathan Kim is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and received an Associate Degree with a concentration in Addiction Studies at Pierce College. He is currently attending Antioch University pursuing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. He has worked in the mental health field for the past 4 years in varying positions. He enjoys golfing, reading, and eating in his free time.

Parrish Gillett Lead RA
Parrish Gillett

Lead Resident Advisor

Parrish has worked at Cliffside since June of 2016. While his background is in the recording arts, Parrish’s experience at Cliffside has led him to pursue his counseling credentials (currently working towards his CADC-I certification). Parrish believes the work we do at Cliffside is important and that motivates him every day he comes to work. He appreciates any little thing he can do to positively affect our clients. In his free time Parrish still produces music, listens to podcasts, and loves cats.

Stefanie Kosha Lead RA
Stefanie Kosha

Lead Resident Advisor

Stefanie has worked at Cliffside since July of 2017. Stefanie completed her vocational nursing studies and now manages a team of resident advisors who work in one of our inpatient facilities. Stefanie enjoys helping people overcome their problems with addiction and seeing them progress through their treatment at Cliffside. In her free time Stefanie loves to travel and spend time with her family.

Alex Cresswell Lead RA
Alex Cresswell

Lead Resident Advisor

Alex has worked at Cliffside since November of 2016 and manages a team of resident advisors working in one of our inpatient facilities. Alex is currently working on a nursing degree (BA) and is on track to become a Nurse Practitioner. He loves seeing clients transform their lives during their time at Cliffside and is happy to help in that process however he can. In his spare time Alex is a competitive auto racer and competes on tracks all over California.

Antoinette Williams CADC-II-Lead - RA
Antoinette Williams

CADC-II – Lead Resident Advisor

Antoinette has worked at Cliffside since 2010 and has extensive experience working in the fields of mental and behavioral health. Antoinette is a certified drug and alcohol counselor (CADC-II) who manages a team of resident advisors working in our inpatient facilities. Antoinette enjoys helping clients feel better about themselves and loves Cliffside because the team here is like family. In her free time Antoinette loves jazz concerts, spending time with family and friends at the Huntington Library and the botanical gardens.

Ben Hinkle RA
Ben Hinkle

Lead Resident Advisor

Ben has been working at Cliffside since May of 2017 and manages a team of resident advisors working in one of our inpatient facilities. Ben has been working in treatment since 2015 and loves seeing clients turn their lives around. Ben spends his free time playing guitar, cooking, and spending time in nature.

Roxie Konis RA
Roxie Konis

Resident Advisor

Mike Evans RA
Mike Evans

Resident Advisor

Mike has worked at Cliffside since January of 2017 and has worked in the field of drug and alcohol treatment since 2015. Mike is currently working on his drug and alcohol counseling certification at Oxnard College with the goal of becoming a case manager here at Cliffside. If he’s not at work, you’ll find Mike surfing, skateboarding or listening to music.

Client Care

Jackie Brown Client Care Asst.
Jackie Brown

Alumni Coordinator

Jackie has worked at Cliffside since February of 2015. Before launching Cliffside’s alumni program, Jackie worked in the residential and client care department. Jackie’s focus is to provide an added layer of support to our clients after they’ve discharged and keep them connected to the Cliffside community. Jackie is working towards completing her counseling certification (CADC-II) and eventually towards becoming a licensed therapist. Jackie enjoys hiking, meditation, working out, and spending time with friends (and alumni, of course).

All physicians are independent contractors and contract individually with their particular clients to provide the most comfortable medically assisted detox and or medication management possible.

We contract with talented group facilitators with a range of expertise to provide our clients with a full, robust experience through a variety of interventions to insure a complete, holistic experience.