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.
Dr. Leonard P. Jones, MD
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.
Christina received her B.A in Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield, and her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in trauma from Antioch University. Christina has been a part of the Reasons team since 2011 and has worked across all levels of care as a care technician, a program therapist, an outpatient manager, and a project coordinator. In her position as project coordinator Christina assisted in the creation of the Reasons EDC residential programs. She holds close to her heart not only creating a supportive therapeutic environment for our clients, but also physical surroundings that are inviting and healing.
Christina has also served as a program therapist for various community agencies in her hometown working specifically with marginalized and minority communities. In her role as Director of Virtual Eating Disorder Services Christina is dedicated towards continuing to provide a supportive and accessible space for growth and recovery.
Christina has also successfully completed the TeleMental Health Training Certificate program from the Telehealth Certification Institute.
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.
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.
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.
Lara Lettsome, MA
Lara is a master’s level clinician who began working in behavioral health in 2013. She beginning her first counseling internship with Geriatric clients in an outpatient individual and group setting. Since then she has worked in a variety of sectors, including; Veterans with PTSD, Children, Troubled Teens, Special Needs, Vocational Rehabilitation, Transitional Independent Living, Addictions and Family Therapy.
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.
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.
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.
Anna Governale completed her undergraduate degrees in psychology and religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2002. She subsequently began working in the mental health field as a mental health worker at a residential treatment center for eating disorders for 5 years, while acquiring her master’s degree in clinical psychology. Anna completed her master’s program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. After graduating, Anna began working at a community services agency, serving underprivileged communities in the inner cities of Los Angeles, providing in home services to children, adolescents and families. After gaining experience working with this diverse population for 3 1/2 years, Ms. Governale realized that working with eating disorders was her true calling and something she was genuinely passionate about. Anna began working for Reasons in May of 2011 as a program therapist, and has also served as the program manager for the inpatient, partial and intensive outpatient programs at BHC Alhambra. She is currently the program manager for Hancock Park Residential Program and the Reasons Director of training. She is DBT trained, and pulls from a variety of therapeutic orientations in her work with clients to assist them in their journey to wholeness and healing.
Goldie Fadakar has a passion for education, mental health, and research. She received her undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Human Services from California State University, Fullerton. She proceeded to work with adolescents at a local high school preparing them for the college admission process, while also working on her research interests on adolescent development. Goldie continued her education by working on her Master’s Degree in Counseling with an Emphasis in both Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling from California State University, Northridge. While working on her graduate degree, Goldie transitioned to working in Student and Academic Affairs at the University of Southern California School of Social Work for 4 years.
She simultaneously worked as a school counseling intern for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and a Charter School in Los Angeles area. Throughout her decade as a clinician, Goldie has gained extensive experience in K-12 schools, the non-profit sector, and the Department of Mental Health funded substance abuse residential treatment program for adolescents. She has been trained in DBT, Aggression Replacement Training, Seeking Safety, and Strengthening Families Program. Goldie has also been trained in working with Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) and holds a Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC) in School Counseling. Goldie started working at Reasons over 4 years ago as a program therapist at BHC Alhambra Hospital. Over the years, Goldie has served as the Program Manager and Program Director of the Inpatient Hospitalization Program, Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) programs. She is currently the Program Manager for the Pasadena Residential Program.
Shannon graduated with her BSN and began working as an RN in 2015, and since 2016 has had the pleasure of working with Reasons at both the inpatient and residential levels of care. In addition to her role at Reasons, Shannon has worked on a telemetry unit and was a director of nursing at a surgery center. Shannon became a nurse because she finds a great deal of purpose from her life in the field, and working at Reasons gives her the opportunity to help others find their own purpose in life.
Becoming a nurse has allowed Samantha to pursue her passion for helping others. According to her, “Assisting patients at some of the most challenging points of their lives is a constant reminder for me of why I have chosen this field.”
Samantha initially worked with Reasons as a LVN, and subsequently decided to continue schooling to become a RN. She received her BSN while working at Reasons and was later promoted to Nurse Manager at Reasons’ Residential Pasadena location. She is devoted to working in the field of eating disorder treatment and recovery, as she feels that it is a population that is often overlooked.
Michelle is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and has a wealth of experience in the mental health field and has worked with well-recognized organizations such as Orange County Probation Department as a mentor/counselor for incarcerated youth; and Long Beach Community Hospital where she worked conducting assessments for psychiatric patients. She went on to work for F.A.C.E.S., Inc., a nonprofit organization that works in conjunction with the Orange County Court Systems as a clinical therapist. There she provided wraparound services to families in the community who were in crisis and court-ordered treatment. She held many court-mandated groups such as anger management, grief and loss, parenting, divorce mediation, family reunification, and individual, family, and couple’s therapy. Michelle was then promoted to Program Director in 2013 “Keeping Kids Safe” program where she oversaw eight practicum students and was the court liaison.
Her once dream has turned into a fruitful career as Michelle has held a series of progressively responsible positions at BHC Alhambra Hospital, Michelle has held positions ranging from inpatient clinical case coordinator for adults and youth, and clinical case coordinator supervisor for inpatient youth services. Additionally, Michelle is BHC Alhambra Hospital’s patient advocate grievance coordinator, Education Co-Chair for New Hire employee training, and certified as Service Excellence trainer. Michelle transitioned into the inpatient Reasons Eating Disorder Center, where she manages a team of clinicians providing eating disorder treatment interventions that focus on individualized medical, psychological, and nutritional needs.
Michelle has many years of experience in leadership and administration in both clinical and nonclinical settings such as acute care stabilization, and crisis management. In addition, Michelle uses a variety of therapeutic orientations while assisting patients to renew hope. Her newly found passion with eating disorders is now guiding her to pursue certification as an eating disorder specialist as she continues to provide compassionate care.
Hadis G. Schertzer
Hadis G. Schertzer is a Registered Dietitian that honors biological and cultural diversity when treating those dealing with disordered eating/eating disorders. Hadis supports individuals in their recovery journey on a path towards self-compassion following a non-diet, HAES approach. Hadis uses Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Exposure Response Prevention Therapy modalities when working with clients
Hadis has been working as a nutrition professional for over 10 years and has worked with Reasons for the past 3 years on the Inpatient unit, virtual PHP/IOP and is currently the Manager of Inpatient Dietary Services.
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.