Meet the Staff
Reasons Eating Disorder Center places high importance on utilizing highly skilled and trained eating disorder treatment professionals in our programs. We believe in a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment which includes doctors, nurses, dietitians, therapists, mental health workers, diet aides, and somatic and experiential therapies.
Nikki has a Ph.D. in Depth Psychology, with an emphasis in psychotherapy and is a licensed marriage and family therapist in both California and New York State. She is also a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist- Supervisor. She has worked in various aspects of eating disorder treatment over the past ten years, utilizing her experience as a clinician and passion for the idea that relationships are healing to inform her efforts in program development, training staff, admissions, business development and clinical outreach aspects of her work. Integral to her clinical philosophy is her personal practice of yoga and meditation including completing a Yoga teacher training with an emphasis on trauma-sensitive mind-body movement. She is the founding chair of the International Association of Eating Disorder
Professionals, San Diego Chapter, and has served on several chapters over the past eight years. She currently serves in the role of National Director of Program Development where she is responsible for developing the Reasons philosophy and ensuring consistency across all programs through oversight of clinical and operations, as well as development and expansion efforts.
Norman completed his B.A. at Yale University where he studied music and psychology, and was the recipient of a Mellon Fellowship for Research in Psychiatry. He completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UCLA, where he was the recipient of an individual National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health to study the neurobiologic underpinnings of emotion recognition and understanding in Autism. Most recently he has been involved in a multi-site, longitudinal study of children and adolescents at risk for developing bipolar disorder.
In conjunction with his research, Norman has developed an expertise in treating and teaching about psychiatrically complex populations, multi-modal treatment, and diagnostic assessment. While rooted firmly in empirically supported approaches, he has incorporated practices emphasizing somatosensory integration and that draw from eastern and traditional medicine with our current knowledge of the neurobiologic and cognitive processes underlying anxiety, mood, trauma and eating disorders. He has endeavored to develop a clinical approach that focuses on the exploration of meaning as a path to healing and that honors an individuals’ own narrative and journey.
Norman is a frequent, national speaker and educator, and is a passionate advocate for eating disorder awareness and translating research into clinical practice. He is the co-chair of the People of Color Subcommittee of the African American Eating Disorder Professionals of IAEDP, the co-chair of the Transcultural SIG of the Academy for Eating Disorders, a founding member of the Behavioral Health Task Force of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, on the Board of Directors of the Eating Disorders Coalition, the Eating Disorder Advisory Council for the Joint Commission, and the Clinical Advisory Boards for the Multi-Service Eating Disorder Association (MEDA), Recovery Warriors, Spectrum CBT, and Tikvah V’Chizuk.
Dr. McNeel received his BS in Chemistry from Central Michigan University, his MS in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his MD from the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed his Residency and Child Psychiatry Fellowship from the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and has over 10 years of experience working with patients with eating disorders.
Dr. McNeel is an active research physician and is the principal investigator in numerous Phase I-IV Clinical Trials. He is currently the Medical Director of BHC Alhambra Hospital, and has been the Chief of Staff and the Medical Director of the Eating Disorder Programs for over 10 years. Dr. McNeel practices on the principle that respect of the patient’s individual beliefs on medications is of utmost importance and does not impose medications, rather makes recommendations which support the therapeutic process of recovery.
Christina brings her experience of depth psychological training and providing case management services to patients and families at our various levels of care. What stands out about Christina is her passion for advocacy and service to patients, families, and surrounding healthcare professionals. She draws her inspiration and reflection from music, nature and the creativity of daily life. We are certain when you meet her and have the opportunity to work together through the admissions and case management process for your patients you will be inspired by her commitment to going above and beyond for patients and families.
Fiona LaRosa-Waters is an experienced behavioral health marketing professional and community relations specialist, and the director of business development for Reasons Eating Disorder Center. She has been working in the eating disorders field since 2011 and has held positions as a professional outreach representative for eating disorder and substance use facilities, a counselor in a treatment center for adult women with eating disorders, and providing outpatient case management and treatment placement services for clients struggling with addictions and eating disorders. Prior to shifting to a career in behavioral health Fiona worked in special education coordinating the administrative and operational aspects of a residence of deafblind students ages 16-22. She is passionate about helping people locate resources to support treatment and recovery, advancing education about eating disorders and addiction, and connecting with the mental health community. Fiona graduated summa cum laude from Lesley University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services. She enjoys traveling, public speaking, cooking, and hiking with her dog.
Claire St. John
Claire holds a Master’s of Public Health Nutrition from Loma Linda University, and after completing her rotations at Eisenhower Medical Center, passed the exam to become a Registered Dietitian. Working with eating disordered clients from the outset, she has developed a method of practice that includes exposure and response therapy, motivational interviewing and compassionate understanding paired with firm encouragement.
Helping people reconnect with food and normalize their eating patterns is the most rewarding part of working with eating disordered patients for Claire. Encouraging people to be able to make peace with food, enjoy meals with loved ones and move through the world without fear is why Claire chose the field of eating disorders.
Claire enjoys reading and writing and hiking and cooking, and spent seven years as a newspaper reporter, covering the school beat and the City Hall beat. She enjoys learning about her clients’ passions — what they’re reading, what they’re studying in school and what their hobbies are, taking a whole-person approach to treatment.
Heather is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She has always had a passion for helping others. It was this passion that motivated her to join the Peace Corps as an educator and advocate for children in Ukraine. After the Peace Corps, she gravitated towards a career in the mental health field and began working at a local non-profit mental health agency. Here, she realized that helping the under-served was her calling. It also inspired her to pursue a degree in registered nursing in order to additionally assist this population within a medical capacity.
She is committed to creating an environment that supports a healthy mind and body as well as aid in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
Program Manager, Hancock Park Residential and Reasons Director of Training
Currently based in Los Angeles, Ca, Ashley’s multidisciplinary background in the fields of music, fashion, & psychology have allowed her to identify with clientele from a wide spectrum of backgrounds & service needs. Ashley’s natural gift for educating, uplifting, & inspiring people through her own personal narratives about identity has served to create a wake of diverse experiences that are effective & unique in approach. Her approach to social connectivity focuses primarily on creating, with intention, an understanding of humanity one experience at a time. Combining both creativity and social consciousness, she exhibits an awareness rarely seen in fast paced, detail oriented environments, all while passionately serving those who “fall between the margins”. Ashley believes in making constructive use of our personal freedom to express what is contained in our hearts, and she offers a genuine, patient & nurturing method for facilitating conversations, fostering open/safe spaces for healthy discussions & critical dialogue. Ashley is constantly learning new things about herself to better connect and be of service to the community she loves.
Ashley is an AMFT who received her MA at Antioch University. She is a record collector, a mother, and hosts a monthly day party called Soul Therapy. She is currently the Assistant Director of Admissions for Reasons Eating Disorder Center in Los Angeles, California.
Megan is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Admissions Specialist at Reasons at Fremont Hospital. Megan has worked in the treatment of eating disorders since she began her initial post-graduate internship in 2008. Since that first training position, she has worked in small private clinics and large HMO provider settings and hospitals, in all levels of eating disorder care.
Megan is a member of the Association of Professionals Treating Eating Disoders (APTED) and California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT). She is trained in both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and she strives to utilize her knowledge and experience to be a resource to families through the admissions process.
Vita received her Bachelors in Science of Registered Nursing in beautiful Puerto Rico at Inter Americana University of Puerto Rico. Vita has been working in Business Development and Admissions since 2014, primarily working with geriatric patients by helping them find suitable plans that fits their needs while providing exceptional quality of life. Vita has a passion for helping provide excellent care to her community, and her passion continues to grow in the eating disorder field since joining the Reasons Eating Disorder Center team. In her leisure time, Vita likes to cook, sing (in private!), and spend time with her husband, family and dog.
Dai Ja Rodriguez
Dai Ja is an experienced behavioral health professional who has been active in the eating disorders field since 2013. She has worked directly with clients, families, and treatment teams in her previous roles as a residential housing manager and community relations liaison, allowing her to approach clinical outreach with quality of care and collaboration as priority. She is passionate about increasing eating disorder awareness and access to supportive resources for mental health and eating disorder recovery. Dai Ja graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Sciences. She enjoys traveling, playing tennis, and spending time with her family and friends.
Jillian co-created yoga programs for Reasons Eating Disorder Residential Center and BHC Alhambra Hospital in 2009, where she works with adolescents and adults. She also founded the office yoga programs for NPR (National Public Radio) in Culver City and MTA (Metro Transportation Authority) in Downtown Los Angeles. Her strong belief that Wellness programs should not discriminate against those who have varying degrees of physical abilities, inspired her to developed an all inclusive wellness program for JLL. Jillian works privately as a yoga therapist and bodyworker (via zoom). She is Yoga Alliance certified.
Jannie Martinez, LMFT
Jannie Martinez Received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She graduated with honors when receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and with a minor in Sociology. Jannie has a background working with 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations with children and families, within school settings, providing family parenting classes, as well as managing court mandated cases. She has provided in home services for individuals that were diagnosed with Autism by utilizing Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Jannie also had the opportunity to work in Civil Forensic Psychology, by providing services for immigration law individuals, personal injury, and Victims of Crime, as well as conducting psychological assessments and evaluations. After obtaining experience with diverse population, Jannie joined Reasons as a mental health worker, where she developed her passion for working with eating disorders. She later transitioned into a program therapist position, and has worked at all the Reasons levels of care (inpatient, residential, and PHP/IOP) and is now the Program Manager at the San Marino Residential Center. Jannie has is trained in DBT and Seeking Safety, and her therapeutic style is collaborative, pulling from different approaches and modalities that lead patients to wholeness and integration.
Dr. Leonard P. Jones, MD
Lara Jones, MA
Her love for helping people started when she was 13, when she began to volunteer with kids who had special needs. Lara obtained her bachelors from Grambling State University, all the while volunteering over 700 hours per year to different causes. Lara earned her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health with emphasis in Counseling and Guidance at a CACREP Accredited program from Louisiana Tech University. Lara would best describe herself as an advocate because she wishes to give a voice to those who feel silenced. In her spare time she takes dance classes, hikes and writes poetry.
We Hold Hope for Your Recovery
Eating disorder recovery is not always easy, but it is possible. Let us support you in discovering not only the reasons for your eating disorder but the reasons for your recovery. To schedule a no-cost clinical consultation or for more information, please call 844-573-2766 or our online contact form. In case of a medical emergency or crisis, please call 911 or seek the nearest emergency room.