Dr. Alyssa Cohen, Psy.D
Executive Director

Dr. Cohen has been with New Start from the beginning. She currently focuses on developing staff and maintaining the highest standards in our industry through strict compliance with treatment accreditation bodies like Joint Commission and CARF. She holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University.

Christian Butler, M.S., MFTi
Program Director

As our main program directors, Christian provides one-on-one counseling for all of our clients and oversees their individual treatment plans with great care and attention to detail. He regularly joins our clients at Phoenix Multisport to model the importance of fellowship through fitness. Christian earned his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at California Baptist University.

Paul Garcia, CATC I
Director of Admissions and Outreach

Paul started with New Start 3.5 years ago as a case manager. After moving from operations to admissions, he formed our alumni program and now oversees program outreach. He acts as the main coordinator for our monthly Serenity Sunday event, our weekly Tuesday open fellowship meetings, and our Wednesday alumni meetings.

Sara Tousi, M.S.W., ACSW
Clinical Therapist

Sara earned her MSW in Clinical Social Work with an Emphasis in Children and Families from CSU Long Beach. She worked in Sweden for six years helping refugees through crisis therapy. Sara also has an extensive history in suicide prevention and grief, loss, and trauma counseling. She finds fulfillment in her work by helping others navigate through the loss and trauma that drives their substance abuse.

Patricia Contreras, M.A., MFTi
Clinical Therapist

Patricia acquired a Masters of Counseling from University of Phoenix in 2013. She was drawn to those suffering from substance abuse because she felt that is where she’d have the most impact in helping someone overcome obstacles that prevent them from becoming happier, healthier individuals. Patricia specializes in and is motivated by helping others who are dealing with traumatic events-past and present. Her approach is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and EMDR.

Jeff Clay, i-CATC
Operations Manager

As overseer of both detox and residential care, Jeff spends a lot of one-on-one time with all of our clients. He enjoys being able to assist them to find a path that works for their unique situation, and he models how to achieve that path. He is inspired to create a safe and comfortable environment for clients and staff. Jeff is also an avid golf player and surfer.

David McRill

David McRill, M.A., CATC IV
Case Manager

David has earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is currently working towards an MFT/LPCC. As a recovering alcoholic of many years, he has a passion for helping others overcome addiction and achieve their potential. David has studied and practiced meditation techniques for years and loves teaching mindfulness and meditation to others. “Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow and character, and you reap a destiny”. – James Allen

Jacquiline Vital, M.A., MFTi
Case Manager

Jaquiline comes from a background of counseling for couples, women’s shelters, and substance abuse problems. Her bright and bubbly demeanor helps our clients feel truly welcomed and cared for. She’s passionate about instilling hope and optimism into the lives of individuals and families, and is inspired by the struggle and growth of each client she works with. Jackie holds an MA in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University.

Basharat Khan, M.A., MFTi, PCCi
Case Manager

Bash knows that walking in through the doors of New Start allows him to play a significant role in guiding our clients through each tactic they form in battling their addiction. The idea of aiding an individual in grasping the necessary tools to live and enjoy life provides Bash with an indescribable feeling of reward; one that constantly motivates him to continue working with this population and giving it all that he’s got.

Cindy Alvarez

Cindy Alvarez, B.A., i-CATC
Case Manager

Cindy is an Orange County native who now lives in the rural city of Lake Elsinore. She earned her BA in Human Services from CSUF, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in social work. As a mother of two boys, she loves being able to help others.

Ana Barragan, B.A.
Case Manager

Ana recently graduated with her B.S. in Human Services from CSU Fullerton. She started as an intern in January 2016 and found her passion in working with detox clients and likes to be able to walk them through the detox process. She is inspired by clients’ willingness to be receptive to help during their most vulnerable times. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time dancing and hiking.

Michael Mencer, B.A.
Case Manager

Michael has a BA in Clinical Psychology from the University of San Francisco and is currently in CSUF’s Higher Education Masters Program. He is passionate about issues of social justice, and he believes that creative expressionism and art therapy have an important role to play in sobriety.

Christina Mills
Case Manager

David Marks

David Marks
Case Manager

Greg Shelton

Greg Shelton
CATC I Case Manager

Greg has been in recovery for 14 years and is an active participant in the AA community. He brings over 10 years of treatment experience to the table and is an important fixture for clients in our residential care program.

Jeff Robinson
CATC I Case Manager

Jeff currently has thirteen years of sobriety, and he has been with New Start for the last three of those. Jeff does his best everyday to try and remember to enjoy the journey. He sees it as an honor and a privilege to be actively working in the recovery community. “The inspiration and joy I get from seeing people recover is priceless.”

Joey Chile

Joey Chile
i-CATC Case Manager

Joey utilizes a 12 step approach when working with clients and uses a strength based approach with criminal justice based clients. He is driven by being able to work with and mentor addicts and alcoholics who are still active in their disease. As a counselor, Joey is very easy to talk to because of his down-to-earth demeanor and high level of professionalism.

Heidy Hunter-Cooksey
Support Staff

Amber Burbage
Admissions/Outreach Coordinator

Amber’s experience in healthcare began as an EMT in 2001. She has worked in emergency rooms, trauma centers, and neuro ICU. Amber derives an immense sense of reward from assisting individuals who struggle with addiction because of her own personal experience in recovery. As a loving mother of three children, Amber’s personable demeanor and naturally warm language makes her a pleasure to work with for both New Start’s clients and our staff.

Cassandra Anderson
Admissions Coordinator

As a former case manager and magnetic extrovert, Cassandra has a great way of connecting to our clients and reaching out to them in human terms they can appreciate. She now works on our admissions team to help people get the help they need.

Devani Hubbard
Outreach Coordinator

Doug Smith
Admissions Coordinator

Doug pours a level of heart and dedication into his work that truly inspires all of us. He has been with New Start since the beginning and currently works as the senior admissions coordinator.

Jamie Strassenburg, B.F.A.
Web Content Specialist

As a designer, web developer, editor, and recovering alcoholic of three years, Jamie considers herself to be a Renaissance woman of sorts. She earned her BFA in Illustration from CSULB and enjoys sharing her experience in recovery through blog writing. Jamie also handles the development, design, and content of our website.

Kate Vickery, B.F.A.
Web Content Specialist

Kate was born and raised in New Hampshire. She graduated Colby-Sawyer College with a BFA in Graphic Design and decided to move to California! She’s the gal behind New Start’s social media, but she also writes articles, does design work, and manages our online chat.

David Clymer
Support Staff/Driver

Jan Courier
Support Staff/Driver

Cindy Gutierrez
Support Staff

Najeh Sarhan
Chef

Lupe Salinas
Chef

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