Ryan Peterson MD
Triple Board Certified in Pain Management with the American Board of Pain Medicine, Anesthesiology, with the American Board of Anesthesiology and Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Addiction Medicine, Dr. Ryan Peterson completed medical school at George Washington University in Washington DC before completing his residency training at Cornell University in New York. Indeed, it is his predilection for pain management that makes Dr. Peterson a perfect fit for Westwind.
“After getting sober myself”, he says, “I saw things in a different light. I realized that both having pain and a drug problem can exist in the same person. One does not preclude the other, but they can both be real.” He discovered a higher sensitivity to look for in those patients and uses his expertise to help them manage that.
Eschewing opiates as a cure-all, Peterson believes that pain and discomfort should be taken seriously, and fervently listens to every client’s issues and concerns. Going through withdrawals can be challenging at best, but Dr. Peterson believes that, by keeping the patient as comfortable as humanly (and humanely) possible, those suffering from addiction can get to the root issues with individual psychotherapy, group therapy, exercise and meditation.
Although you’d be hard-pressed to find otherwise, it should be said that Dr. Peterson’s philosophy is more aligned with physician William Osler’s than any other who said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”
Mark Jaffe MD
Dr. Mark Jaffe graduated from UCLA cum laude in 1987. He attended the University of Southern California medical school and completed his internship and residency in psychiatry at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. He also completed two years of fellowship training at the USC Institute of Psychiatry and Law, where he is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry. He is board certified in general and forensic psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Jaffe is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine with a Certification in Addiction Medicine.
During his residency and fellowship training at the LAC+USC Medical Center, Dr. Jaffe was responsible for triage, evaluation, treatment, admission and disposition of emergent psychiatric patients in a 2000-bed facility. The medical center comprised the pediatric, women’s and general hospital departments and served the greater Los Angeles area.
Dr. Jaffe currently consults for the Los Angeles County Superior and Municipal Courts and is a member of the Expert witness Panel. He has provided consultations to various agencies including the Medical Board of California, the United Sates Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Postal Service, The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Long Beach Rapid Transit, and the Los Angeles County Mental Health Court. He has also performed evaluations for many various agencies, courts and attorneys on cases involving the use of drugs and alcohol during the commission of crimes or during employment.
His level of expertise, when coupled with both his empathy and ineffable charm render him a preeminent choice in the field, especially when running the gauntlet of psychiatric affairs both emotional and litigious.
Manny Alvano MHA, MSN, RN-BC
Manny began his career in mental health, addiction, and trauma at the age of 21 at a adolescent unit in an acute care hospital. Upon earning his registered nursing degree at Chapman University, he became the charge nurse of that very same unit. Three decades later, he maintains the same passion to help others. Manny’s vocation has expanded to top notch facilities including Cedars-Sinai and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA as a clinical nurse and educator. He has received excellent supervision from outstanding psychiatrists, addictionologists, psychotherapists, and psychiatric registered nurses which has translated to excellent patient care. Manny’s high standards brought him to Westwind Recovery® where personalized treatment and quality care are paramount. As a lifelong learner, he obtained master’s degrees in both healthcare administration and nursing (USF). He is also board certified by ANCC (American Nursing Credentialing Center) as a Psychiatric Mental Health/Addictions Nurse. His experience and education have led him to another one of his true loves which is teaching. Manny is currently a theory and clinical instructor at Mount Saint Mary’s University in mental health nursing and integrative theory and practice. Whether it is the clients he works with or students he teaches, he is committed to touching other’s lives in a way that is meaningful and uplifting.
Deena Manion PsyD, LCSW
Dr. Deena Manion is a Doctor of Psychology and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 1993. Dr. Deena is the Clinical Supervisor for the Westwind Clinical Staff. She provides her clinical expertise and guidance for top-notch clinical programming, as well as to the staff and clients for the best treatment outcome.
Dr. Deena has worked in the field of addiction and mental health since 1991. Prior to Westwind, she held the position as Chief Clinical Officer for a well-known recovery center in Los Angeles and she was the Clinical Director of a Malibu dual diagnosis treatment center from 2000 to 2018. She built that treatment center from a small 6 bed facility to a 40 bed facility. She worked as a Psychotherapist in a variety of settings including psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, homeless clinics, and public and private schools in both California and New York.
Dr. Deena has a private practice in Beverly Hills and Agoura Hills, both located in California where she sees a variety of clients with mental health and addiction issues. Dr. Deena has a broad range of clinical skills and has a stellar reputation in the mental health and addiction field.
Dr. Deena has extensive experience in the entertainment field. She has appeared as an expert on Dr. Phil for sixteen seasons. She has also been an expert guest on Dr. Drew’s Life Changers, Face the Truth with Vivica Fox, Ricki Lake, as well as on Intervention on A&E. She has also appeared on various documentaries on Fox11 and local public and cable television shows. Dr. Deena’s ultimate goal has always been to combine her clinical background with the entertainment industry to help people on a bigger scale. Dr. Deena is personable, direct, charismatic and overall has a unique approach to helping people. Westwind always strives to better our program, so we feel very fortunate to have Dr. Deena as a part of this process.
Jessica Steinman LMFT, CSAT
Jessica is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a Master’s Degree from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena California, as well as a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT). She has been a long-time follower of renowned therapist, Dr. Patrick Carnes, who founded the Certified Sex Addiction Therapist certification through his organization The Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). Jessica Steinman has been working in treatment and in Private Practice since May 2014 with a passion for treating sex and love addiction. She believes that many people who struggle with substance use disorders or other addictions may have Sex and Love Addiction as a primary or co-occurring disorder. She believes they may end up using substances to escape their relationship and sexual compulsions. This is another reason it is vital to educate and work with people with sex and love addiction since it is a common cross addiction once someone becomes sober from substance abuse.
In addition to specializing in Sex and Love Addiction and Codependence, Jessica received exceptional post-graduate training at The Maple Counseling Center, a prominent low fee counseling center in Beverly Hills where she worked psychodynamically with individual adults as well as couples. Her work as a Supervisor and Research Associate for Teen Line (a program that provides crisis intervention and prevention, peer counseling, and referrals for young people) at The Center for the Study of Young People at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center makes Jessica uniquely qualified to administer care to a broad spectrum of adults; both the young and the young-at-heart.
Jessica Steinman’s incredible journey has led her through careers in Entertainment, Hospitality, Public Relations and Marketing and now to Mental Health and Recovery. Westwind Recovery® is very proud to have someone with such an eclectic, seasoned background running the show. Her diverse skill set and her ability to connect with people in a way that is not patronizing or insincere, is what sets her apart as a leader and is what makes Westwind proud to have her.
Randy Smith LMFT
Randy Smith hails from Austin, Texas where he earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He later earned a Masters Degree in Psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles. He received his training at a counseling center in North Hollywood for both individuals and families while working closely with at-risk youth at The Teen Suicide Hotline at the world-renowned Cedar’s Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills. In addition to his thriving private practice, Randy has also served as Primary Therapist for several dual diagnosis treatment centers in Los Angeles prior to joining the Westwind Team.
Prior to his work in the recovery field, Randy Smith worked in the Entertainment Industry as a Marketing Executive at Sony Pictures Entertainment and, later, a Vice President of Marketing at MGM, which makes Randy uniquely qualified to help professionals, who are newly recovering to be better prepared to handle the stressors and challenges they face on a daily basis while reintegrating back into the corporate environment. Randy Smith’s therapeutic specialties include addiction and recovery as well as working with couples. His work with the LGBTQ Community is bolstered by his robust Gay Men’s Therapy Group which he facilitates in his private practice.
“I feel my goal has always been to create a safe, non-judgmental environment where my clients can seek clarity to make the major changes needed for individual progress. And, I’m grateful to be able to help clients figure out what they really want from life and then be a compassionate, driving force that helps them achieve their goals.”
Samantha Wood LMFT
As a licensed therapist with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Phillip Graduate University in Chatsworth California, Samantha has been working in treatment and in Private Practice since May 2013. In her time at her master’s program, Samantha found her calling in co-occurring disorders, where she added course work to her already full learning schedule in order to better understand and eventually treat clients challenged by substance use disorders and underlying mental health concerns. Before Samantha’s journey into becoming a therapist, she worked with children from ages 2-17 who were challenged with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She worked with the children, their families, and teachers in order to help facilitate meaningful social experiences in the home, school, and community settings.
At Westwind, Samantha performs individual, family, couple, and group therapy. Samantha’s approach to her therapeutic work is deeply based in the use of compassion as a starting point to reduce shame, and to assist clients in the safe exploration of themselves, and the contributing factors to their current substance use disorder. Samantha does her best to address each of her client’s unique backgrounds by considering their culture, race, sexual/gender identity, and religious beliefs.
Grace O’Connor MA, AMFT
Proud to call Chicago her hometown (Go Bears!), Grace O’Connor has been in Los Angeles since 2001 specializing in providing council and support to the LGBTQ+ population, using her own experience as a launchpad toward healing and recovery. With 27 years clean and sober time herself, Grace is no stranger to the pitfalls many of her clients face and is a staunch believer in the ages-old axiom that adversity does not build character, it reveals it.
Grace acquired her degree from the prestigious Antioch University and received her training at a LGBTQ Youth Counseling Center before setting her boots on the ground at a LGBTQ recovery center from 2018-2020. Then, enamored by the opportunity to help even more men and women, Grace heroically transitioned to Westwind where her penchant for “digging deep” (coupled with her verve) has rendered her beloved amongst our clients and cemented her place amongst our staff.
Sean Feig CADC II
Fast approaching five years of clinical experience, Sean Feig remains a formidable agent for transformation here at Westwind. Specializing in walking our clients through the transitional phases of their recovery, Sean’s ability to guide his wards is couched in a belief that every one of them steps into his office trailing wisps of glory. His penchant for preparing them for true independent living while helping them implement 12-step models to ensure long-term sobriety is born from his own eclectic background. Sean Feig, himself, was torn from his disparate drug-addicted life the moment he checked into a long-term treatment facility and began the arduous journey that would get him off of the streets and into a home and career of his own. While working as a technician at a dual diagnosis treatment center in Los Angeles, Sean quickly worked his way up to Case Manager. His past experiences having rendered him uniquely qualified to avail clients to resources they’d hereto for never considered. Life Goals are the main focus in every session Sean has with his clients, mostly because he believes with every fiber of his being that everyone can build the life they want so long as they have someone who believes in them. And Sean believes in everyone.
Feig is currently acquiring his Associates Degree in Psychology at L.A. Valley College and is fast-tracked to transfer to California State University where he will pursue his Masters in Social Work which, he believes, will aid him in his calling. Until then, he plans to continue his work here at Westwind where his “boots on the ground” ethic serves our clients in a way that is both compassionate and inspiring.
Max Bird-Ridnell RAC #14562
Max is a graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute where he got his Masters in Counseling Psychology with a focus on Jungian Depth Psychology. He wrote his thesis on: “The potential for human connection in group psychotherapy, as practiced in the treatment of addiction”. The thesis focused on how group therapy can be utilized to promote a sense of connection, support and encouragement among clients, and explored how the relationships developed between them are a fundamental healing mechanism. He will soon be an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and Max firmly believes that community is the most powerful tool the recovering addict can have. This sense of community is one of the foundations of Westwind Recovery® and Max believes it is a well-balanced mix of structure and love the way it sets our culture apart. Originally from London, England, Max came to Los Angeles to pursue acting and had a recurring role as Milos, the insane Czech gangster, on the CW’s “Jane The Virgin”, as well as directing and acting in numerous plays. He also opens the batting for Pickwick Cricket Club.
Priya Martindale MBA Healthcare
Director of Operations & HR
Born and raised in the Fiji Islands, Priya migrated with her family to America when she was 12 years old but made a conscious decision to maintain her sense of practicality throughout the process of her Americanization. Supported by friends and family, she aggressively pursued her Bachelor’s in Accounting and then her Master’s in Healthcare Administration while working as a contract manager at a local hospital. She ultimately started working for an umbrella corporation as Director of Human Resources. “Healthcare is where I found my calling”, Priya explains. “I’ve been doing this since 2010 and I honestly feel as if this is where I can do the most good.” At one point, Priya was an advocate for almost 100 employees, overseeing everything from Payroll and Benefits to providing guidance on general human resources compliance issues as well as managing policy and procedure implementations and updates for her company. Her secret passion is food! As self-proclaimed “foodies”, Priya and her husband are constantly on the lookout for new and exciting dining experiences, be it leisurely drives to 5-star restaurants or weekend excursions to hunt down the best food trucks in LA. “It’s all part of a well-rounded life,” Priya says. “You learn early on that it is important to enjoy the little things in life and take care of yourself, so that you can be fresh and ready to take on the obstacles that life throws your way.”
Rebecca Boswell RAC #14563
When you hear the words, “ROLL TIDE!”, chances are you’re thinking football and the Alabama Crimson Tide – but, for us here at Westwind, Roll Tide takes on a different, special meaning.
Hailing from Alabama, Becky Boswell is best known for her rich, southern accent and warm ineffable charm. An interventionist in her own right with a CCMI accreditation, Becky first came to Westwind in 2017 where she served as house manager for our delightful Sycamore House. Her spiritual practices of Buddhism, Meditation and Yoga have held her in good stead during the past four years of her recovery from drugs and alcohol, but it is her continuing education in addiction studies that separates Becky from her classmates and makes her a genuine diamond in the rough.
Having worked her way up from House Manager to Technician to Director of Operations, Becky has recently taken on the impressive mantle of Program Director for Westwind’s Outpatient Center, which places her in charge of our PHP/IOP programming, including the supervision of all technicians and overall program management. Her innate ability to lead with a steady hand while lending a deep compassion for our clients’ daily struggles make her the standout candidate for ensuring every need gets met with a love and guidance you will not find at any other program -at any price.
Kathryne Hall RADT
Kady is one of the first persons that a client will talk to when they call Westwind Recovery®. As the admissions coordinator, she is the voice of reason and security. At the recommendation of Westwind’s Clinical Director, Kady has worked with the company since 2018 as a med tech at the detox and outpatient centers. She received her training under the health care director.
After excelling at her role, Kady was promoted to the admissions coordinator position. Kady can relate to clients with ease and comfort. As a child of an addict and in recovery herself, she empathizes with clients and what they’re going through. Her approach to helping people go through the recovery process is made with a lot of insight, love, and utmost care. Because of personal life experience and clinical work, Kady can easily talk with someone who is going through addiction and seeking help.
Kady knows first hand the love and care that is shown from the therapists, doctors, and other staff to clients at Westwind. The help provided to each client is not just from the start and end of the program but beyond. Kady’s pride and joy is her dog, Nova. She and Nova spend their time hiking, hanging out, and going to the beach.
Michael Shahin RAC #14556
Housing and Alumni Officer
Like many of our staff, Michael Shahin is, himself, in recovery. Having been clean and sober since 2013, Michael can soulfully attest that the foundations for his recovery were built during his own time spent residing at a Sober Living. There, his colorful career in the Entertainment Industry as a producer and production coordinator eventually gave way to a 2-year stint as a mentor at a prominent treatment in Los Angeles where he cultivated his gift for helping others find their way back to sanity and fully came into his own. He then segued into his role as Technician for Westwind while juggling his duties as House Manager for Westwind’s Houdini House when it first opened. His commitment to making sure that no client “fall between the cracks”, when coupled with his eye for detail, propelled him through the ranks with ridiculous ease. Today, Shahin oversees all of Westwind’s housing managers, operations supervisors, and technicians, making sure all of our sober living homes are running smoothly.
In addition to all of this, Michael is currently in school earning his Nursing license at Los Angeles Community College while also working toward acquiring recovery credentials in case management and intervention.
Michael’s long-term goal is to work in the recovery field at the medical level.
Alexandro Hernandez EMT, RAC #14505
Inpatient/EMT Client Coordinator
Having lost his sister to addiction, Alexandro is no stranger to fighting the good fight in the trenches. With 6 years experience as an EMT, and 3 years working in recovery, Alex comes to us with a verve and passion for healing that renders him uniquely qualified to usher new clients into the era of transformation they’ve been longing for.
Alex’s long history in the medical field and lifelong personal relationship with caring for addicts and loved ones fuels his need to show up for those struggling in early recovery.
“It’s just nice to see the recovery take hold in people, “ he says. “With every passing day, you see their confidence build up, and it’s great to feel like you’re a part of that process; that no one is going through it alone”.
Alex is currently pursuing his nursing license at Santa Monica College and plans to further his career as an RN.
Gerardo Aguiar RADT
Lead Technician Inpatient
The detox process can be grueling, but men and women like Gerardo work feverishly to keep our clients as comfortable as possible during this phase of their recovery. Working in tandem with our doctors and nurses, Gerardo brings a level of compassion to the job that helps our clients reinforce the values they came to us with when they’d decided it was time for a change.
And this is why they stay.
Born and raised in East Los Angeles, you need only sit across from him for five minutes to recognize that this is a man completely dedicated to being of service to his fellows by being there for them when they need him most: at the beginning.
Stephanie Karling RAC #14523
Client & Financial Coordinator
Growing up in Ketchikan, Alaska, Stephanie Karling watched cruise ships drift lazily by, always dreaming of a bigger and better future for herself. This was, of course, before she succumbed to addiction. It was Westwind’s own Jessica Steinmen who made possible Stephanie’s admission into Westwind Detox in 2018, heralding a return to the life Stephanie had only ever dreamed about.
Once clean and sober, Stephanie quickly chose a life path that would bring her the most joy, first by serving as House Manager of Westwind’s Sycamore Sober Living House, and then, later, as a Technician at Westwind’s Residential Facility nestled deep in the Hollywood Hills.
“I like getting to know the clients and really connecting with them. Because, without the connection, they can’t hear me”, Stephanie reports, “It’s the best way that I know to really make a difference: when the heart speaks, the heart listens.”
Stephanie is currently preparing to go back to school to get her CADC in drug addiction and hopes to someday hang a shingle and become a therapist in her own right.
East House Manager
West House Manager
Director of Admissions
A business owner in his own right, it can often be said that Oren Pius is not, “in it for the money”. Clean and sober himself since 2004, Oren has been in the trenches since his first job as a Graveyard Tech at a well-renowned rehab when he was only three months off of heroin.
His passion for helping people propelled him throughout his career as he climbed the ranks in the industry from Tech to Operations to Residential Supervisor before branching off into Insurance Billing and Business Development. In the time he’s been working in treatment, however, Oren’s primary joy still stems from serving as the first point of contact for the men and women seeking to transform their lives and the families that support them. Indeed, it is Oren’s love for the struggling addict and his ability to educate families on what is happening with their loved ones that makes him such a vital component of Westwind’s team when it comes to welcoming new clients into our care.
Director of Business Development
Dave BiFulco’s career began while working in the Labor Union field on the East Coast in 2007, which comes as no surprise when you take into consideration Dave’s devotion to fighting for others. In 2016, Dave stood tall and proud with the owners of Westwind when they opened our doors and reached out to help those suffering from addiction, because he himself had survived his own addiction.
As Director of Admissions, Dave was the first person every client encountered when calling the center; every one of them felt cared for and supported as they struggled with the first stages of the intake process. And every one of them felt – intrinsically – that they were not just another revenue stream; Dave helped them feel as if they mattered, and as if this huge vital step was one that they didn’t have to take alone. BiFulco eschews “cookie cutter” programs and firmly believes that every case is different, every client unique. Because it’s true.
In his role as Director of Business Development, Dave takes things one step further while going back to his roots to advocate for easier access to substance abuse programs for unions, underserved communities, as well as large corporations. Dave BiFulco’s main reason for existing nowadays is to ensure that no one falls between the cracks, and that everyone receives the compassionate help they deserve.
Phillip Stevens, CADC-I
“The process of recovery takes consistency. It is a continuous process of growth and is available for anyone who seeks it. All it takes is one foot in the door to begin a life changing process.”
By the time Justin was 18 years old, he’d already earned his Associate’s Degree and, by 2009, he’d made a concerted effort to reshape the landscape of the treatment world by introducing the idea that, in a 21st century economy, what the market valued was the ability stay on course through to the completion of one’s goals. And this meant becoming part of a company whose main focus was the newcomer.
When a doctor or lawyer or other professional finds themselves losing everything they’ve worked for, they haven’t lost everything they’ve learned. People have value. Clean and sober people have skill sets and knowledge bases that they can still harness and use to successfully rebuild their lives – and, in some cases, make those lives richer and more robust than ever imagined. This can also be said about the occasional young person or housewife; everyone has value. No matter how far down the scale they have fallen, Justin White believes that everyone who comes to Westwind wants the same thing that he wanted when he, himself, opted to get clean and sober. Justin’s eye on the financial arm of Westwind’s services and his finesse with utilization review and compliance is a vital component in ensuring client success. Add to that his passion for cooking and spending time with his fiancée, and what you wind up with is a well-rounded individual who is ready to show up for anyone who asks for help.
Because everyone wants to build a legacy.
And, having built one of his own, Justin White is here to help.
After numerous attempts to get clean and sober at various treatment facilities and programs that began during his high school years, Zack finally found success while running sober living homes in 2014 while simultaneously pursuing a Bachelors degree in Addiction Studies at Pepperdine University. His light, positive, high energy personality lends itself to the camaraderie experienced at Westwind, and his passion for creating an atmosphere of community and – more importantly – family through fun, social, sober events fosters a sense of “all-inclusiveness” amongst our clientele. This buoyant charm enables Zack to not only serve as the chair for the AALA Roundup, an LGBTQ nonprofit that serves to bolster communities through Crisis Intervention, Mental Health leniencies, as well as Alcohol, Drug and Substance Abuse awareness, prevention and treatment while continuing his addiction studies in clinical psychology at Antioch University.
Zack’s indomitable will and dogged determination are infectious, and he instills this spirit in every client he encounters while tempering it with a passion and zest for life that propels everyone toward a greatness he feels is the birthright of every broken man and woman who walks through our doors.
“You can’t fake sincerity”, Zack says. “Our clients know right away who is all about saving their lives and who isn’t. That’s why our team works, and why our program is one of the best that I know of; because we care about what we do and who we do it for.”