Our Experienced Staff

The staff here at Valley Recovery Center comes from a variety of backgrounds, and everyone of them is devoted to helping our patients find the treatment or treatments that really speak to their needs and address their history with addiction. The staff includes psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, who work to guide patients through their entire recovery process. They also provide one on one therapy, develop a personal treatment program for each patient, and help patients set goals and achieve lasting recovery.


Gary’s commitment to treatment is best seen through a fifteen-year work history that includes providing a broad range of mental health services to children, teens and families, foster care and at-risk youth, seniors and the physically disabled, as well as individuals with chronic or acute mentally illness and co-occurring substance use disorders. He has found success in the treatment of individuals suffering from traumatic or acute stress, depression and anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior and substance use. His work has also included services to low-income families and children struggling with violence or abuse, mental illness, behavioral disorders, learning differences, physical illness, parental loss and traumatic grief. He uses a psycho-dynamic perspective with a cognitive-behavioral and narrative therapies approach to treatment. He believes each individual, couple, or family can heal through this process, improve their relationships and achieve a greater quality of life.


Mary Lou was born and raised in New York City. Shortly after graduating from college Mary Lou and her
young family relocated to Los Angeles. She went on to earn her master’s degree in clinical psychology
from Phillips Graduate Institute and her Doctorate from The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.

Aside from her Doctorate, she holds both a Marriage and Family Therapist License as well as being
licensed as a Professional Clinical Counselor. Mary Lou brings to Ohana decades of experience in both
the Mental Health and Substance abuse fields across all continuums of care.


Rick Macrory is a certified Chemical Dependent Counselor who has had experience as a case manager and facilitator in many treatment facilities, as well as extensive knowledge on how to work recovery in his life. Rick attended Point Loma College in San Diego where he studied Business Administration. Rick has excelled in sports and developed the art of working as a team player. He brings to our program compassion, love of recovery and straight talk. He is passionate about recovery and about helping our clients change the direction of their lives. Rick creates a trusting, vulnerable environment for our clients to navigate the most difficult emotional work.


Chris has worked in the field of addiction for over three years, working on his Associates of Science in Addiction Studies, and plans on continuing his education to become an LMFT.  He has a wide range of experience in substance abuse, including motivational interviewing, CBT, and relapse prevention. Chris has great success in meeting clients where they are mentally and emotionally and building rapport with a diverse population of clients towards personal growth. Chris has been an active member in the recovery community for over seven years and is greatly experienced in the 12 steps.


Jennifer Poynter is a yoga and meditation teacher who focuses on health and healing underserved communities and those impacted by trauma and abuse.  Her classes are held in studios, drug rehabs, homeless shelters, and prisons.  She has multiple certifications in yoga, meditation, yoga for trauma, and Tai Chi Qong.  The power of yoga has helped her grow stronger emotionally, physically, spiritually, and artistically.  Her care filled, balanced teaching style allows students to release tension and anxiety and open up to the knowledge, wisdom, and creativity that is already inside each of them.  


Marlee Simon, MT-BC is a Board-Certified Music Therapist in Los Angeles, CA. She has been with us at Valley Recovery Center since we opened our Newhall residential care facility in 2015. Music therapy allows clients to explore their recovery process in fun, safe, noninvasive, and motivating ways through music. At Valley Recovery Center, clients participate in therapeutic, music interventions—such as receptive music listening, songwriting, lyric analysis and discussion, instrumental improvisation, and music and meditation—to express themselves, connect with peers, and develop coping techniques and transferable skills for recovery. Music therapy is an accessible modality of treatment for all ages and abilities; no prior music experience or skill is necessary to participate. “Music is a universal language that be used purposefully to motive, connect, heal, and inspire people. I am passionate about helping people to discover and actualize their fullest potential. It is my passion and purpose in life to provide opportunities for people to explore their sense of self and to enhance their quality of life with music.” Marlee received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy with a minor in Psychology from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and received her Associate’s Degree in Psychology from College of the Canyons in Valencia, California. For more information about Music Therapy, visit melimusicllc.com (Meli Music LLC – Los Angeles-based music therapy services) and musictherapy.org (American Music Therapy Assocation).


 Dr. Akira Funahashi, OTD, OTR/L, is a breathwork facilitator on the Breathwork for Recovery team, an occupational therapist, turntablist, and healer. Breathwork is instrumental in Akira’s healing journey. Grateful for what breathwork provides her, Akira is inspired to share the power of breathwork with others who are open and ready to heal. As a transgender female, Akira has particular interests in helping others in the LGBTQ community, as well as individuals who struggle with childhood and sexual abuse trauma. Akira earned an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from the University of Cal Poly Pomona and a Master’s and Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California. She has over a decade of experience as a clinical and school-based occupational therapist, specializing in pediatrics. With over 20 years of professional and competitive DJ experience, Akira is deeply passionate about turntablism and devotes her life to the DJ arts. She is driven to fuse her love for DJing and her experience as an occupational therapist to develop new forms of expression and healing. Akira is currently completing David Elliot’s, Healer Trainings, certification program. Her core values are education, awareness, and empowerment.


Jason Harper came to us in 2016 with 12+ years of experience working in the alcohol and drug dependency profession. Jason’s passion is working with individuals beginning their journey with recovery. He shows empathy and compassion to all he comes in contact with his goal to make our clients feel safe and welcomed. Jason has the ability to calm all around him, especially in the time of need or in a crisis situation. Jason continues his education in Addiction Studies at Glendale and he himself has 16+ years of sobriety.


My passion for food began at the age of 15 and progressed to the chef I am today. I would describe myself as a passionate, confident, and creative chef who can skilfully prepare outstanding food and deliver the best quality of service for our clients. Working at VRC, has giving me the chance to expand dietary options to which we will accommodate our clients special needs to best serve their time in our program.


Dr Sirisat Khalsa is a board certified Addictionologist with over a decade of experience as a specialist in detoxing and treating patients with alcohol and substance use disorders. As a graduate of USC medical school and Harbor UCLA residency, she spent 10 years a Family Practitioner before discovering her passion for caring for patients struggling with addictions. Her approach is to safely detox patients as comfortably as possible and to then focus on caring for the anxiety and depression and other mental health issues that typically accompany substance use disorders while simultaneously crafting plans to sustain long term sobriety. Dr Khalsa has extensive experience working with patients at all levels of recovery from detox, residential and outpatient.


Jared is a dedicated substance abuse counselor with over five years of experience in providing support and guidance to individuals struggling with addiction. With a deep passion for helping others, Jared has developed a compassionate and nonjudgmental approach to counseling, creating a safe and trusting environment for his clients. In addition to his direct work with clients, Jared actively collaborates with other healthcare professionals to promote holistic approaches to addiction recovery. Jared is dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of individuals and families affected by addiction and is honored to be a part of their journey to recovery.


Kim has 28 years of nursing experience in all types of medical specialties. Started with General Practice, Cardiology, Urology, Urgent Care and now Recovery. She is well versed regarding withdrawal, recovery and medication management. Enjoys teaching recovery education in regards to Acute & Post withdrawal symptoms, Medication Management, Anxiety & Depression. Enjoys the caring atmosphere we provide clients and loves being part of the team. Also, enjoys her large family, reading, gardening and traveling with her husband.


As the Case Manager at VRC’s Newhall location for the past 2 years, I am most proud of the care, efficiency, and compassion with which I address the individual needs of our clients. Here at Valley Recovery Center I have the opportunity every day to get to know our client’s on a personal level. Developing and cultivating this connection allows me, as their advocate, to assess their needs, develop and personalize aftercare plans and coordinate and ensure that they have access to adequate resources and services upon discharge. It is as a survivor of substance abuse myself that I have developed a passion for Case Management. After 9 years of sobriety I have found tremendous reward in being able to use my knowledge and experience to improve retention outcomes in treatment, and impact life altering change in the lives of our clients.


Emily Skelton (she/her/hers) is a LMFT, Board-Certified Art Therapist and the Owner & Clinical Director of The Artful Healing Center. Emily provides inclusive, affirming, and creative counseling, with a focus rooted in the power of expression, neuroscience and the mind-body connection. Emily incorporates Art Therapy, her background in both EMDR and Trauma-Focused CBT, mindfulness, and somatic approaches to support clients in their healing process. Emily is a contracted art therapist with The William H. Hart School District, Valley Recovery Center, and Ascend Healthcare and provides trainings on LGBTQ+ affirming mental health.


My name is Michael Flesher. I am a Group Facilitator and Sobriety Coach at Inneractions IOP. I have a Masters Degree in Education from University of California Santa Barbara, and an RADT. My goal is to meet you wherever you may be in your journey and first and foremost, listen to you. I have struggled with Addiction in the past, and I was even a client at Inneractions. In other words, I’ve been there. I will collaborate with you, utilizing innovative strategies from a variety of therapeutic modalities, to design a personalized plan of action to help you stay sober for good.


Everyone at Valley Recovery Center knows that they are part of a team working together to provide our patients with the care and support they need to achieve sobriety. We are all deeply interested in the health and the success of our patients, and we take tremendous pride in the work we do. It truly feels great to see our patients return to their families and communities and enjoy a lasting recovery.


Our staff includes many other professionals, including hypnotherapists, art therapists, music therapists, and pet therapists, to name just a few. They share our commitment to providing patients with personalized care, and they give patients options to find treatment programs that they can really connect with. We know that each patient is unique, so we don’t expect that the same treatment will work for everyone. Instead, we provide patients with many options, so they will be able to find the treatment that works for them.

If you think you are ready to make Valley Recovery Center the right solution for you, have one of our specialists contact you today.

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