Choices For Life

Our Staff

My staff and I are proud to play a much needed role in helping children in the Therapeutic Foster Care system reach their goal of adoption / reunification. The growing need in this area of specialized care cannot be ignored and it is our goal to find a healthy home for each and every one of these children under our care. I have a great team of trainers and counselors, and I trust in their ability to serve our dedicated Treatment Parents and children.

Doug Fellrath
 CEO/President | Choices For Life Foster Care 


Melanie has served in the counseling field since 1994. She has been with Choices for Life since 1998. She believes the future is richer with the work provided by the professional parents and staff that are dedicated to the efficacy of children that touch our lives. She received an Associates of Arts in Early Child Development at St. Gregory’s University, and her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Oklahoma in Sociology. Melanie holds a Masters in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Masters in Human Relations from the University Of Oklahoma. Melanie has her LPC, LMFT, and LADC. She is also a Certified Sports Counselor, Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor and Board Certified Professional Counselor through the American Psychotherapy Association. Melanie served as president of the Oklahoma Therapeutic Foster Care Association (OTFCA) and Chapter Chair of the Foster Family Treatment Association in Oklahoma. Melanie has presented at national seminars for FFTA as well as a national seminar in Oklahoma sponsored by Oklahoma DHS Licensing Division.

Melanie Johnson
 
LPC • LMFT (Executive Director)

WE HAVE STAFF FROM EACH OF THE RESPECTIVE OFFICES.  


Oklahoma

Dustin Newman (Controller) 
After growing up in rural Oklahoma, Dustin moved to Weatherford to attend Southwestern Oklahoma State University.  He graduated from SWOSU in December 2004 with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Accounting.  After college, Dustin began his career working in public accounting and internal auditing.  Dustin came to work as the Controller for Choices for Life in March 2011.
       
Leslie Yocham (Statewide Recruiter) 
Leslie is our Statewide Recruiter/Trainer.  She handles recruitment to bring in our treatment parents as well as providing their certifications and training.
       
Kara Howey (Oklahoma City/ Ponca City Office Supervisor)
           
Mary “Penny" Cooper (Checotah Office Supervisor)

Penny attended Connors State College in Warner, Oklahoma and received an Associate Degree in Business Administration in 2001. She transferred to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and pursued her Bachelors Degree in Social Work graduating in 2003. While there she was a member of the National Association of Student Social Workers (NASSW). Penny was accepted into the accelerated program at OU and began her Masters program in 2003. Penny graduated from OU in 2004 with her Masters in Social Work. She went to work for the Department of Human Services where she worked for 6 ½ years. She continued her involvement in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and served as a board member and branch chair in the Muskogee area for 2 years. During her tenure at DHS she worked in investigations, permanency planning and foster care. Penny joined the Choices For Life agency in April of 2011. She enjoys working with children and families and appreciates the opportunity to work in the new venue of the therapeutic area.


Kathy Trout (CQI Supervisor)
Kathy Trout joined CFL in November 2017. She began her career in the field of mental health in 1998. She was initially a counselor, and then became a foster parent recruiter and developer. Since 2002, she has worked as the Regional Quality Improvement in Oklahoma, Texas, and Ohio. She served as the Local Grievance Coordinator, assisted in as many as four COA reaccreditations and was previously a COA Peer Reviewer. Kathy has a Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and a Master's in Special Education from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is a member of the Down Syndrome Association of Oklahoma and served on the parent board at Special Care (a day care for children of all abilities).

Candace Tucker (Outpatient Clinical Supervisor)
Candace has over 13 years experience as a clinical director/supervisor in mental health and over 25 years in the mental health field as a therapist. Candace has advanced training in TF-CBT and works with children and adults with trauma along with other mental health issues like depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism, oppositional defiant youth, and has experience working with the geriatrics community as well.

Shay Morris (Director of Outpatient)  

Shay graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in December of 2012 with a Bachelors in Sociology and History; completed 18 hours of Substance Abuse Studies at UCO before transferring to Grand Canyon University, where she graduated in March of 2016.  She completed her internship with Beacon Pointe, where she spent 5 years as the Clinical Administrator and Director of Operations.  She has a history working as BHCM and BHRS, and is also a certified Advantage Case Manager.  She enjoys working with children who have been diagnosed with ODD, OCD and anxiety and mood disorders – as well as those on the autism spectrum. She began working for Choices in May of 2016.



Valdosta, Georgia


Sara Riley, MS, LPC (Executive Director)   Sara has been with Choices for Life of Georgia since 2009. Sara attended Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, AK where she received her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology. Sara is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Georgia, a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), Register Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S), Masters Addiction Counselor (MAC), Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH) and a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPCS). She has obtained extensive clinical, assessment and forensic experience while serving a multitude of culturally diverse populations for over 20 years. Sara has a passion for focusing on the needs of the community and working together to provide needed services through systemic collaborations.



Room Board and Watchful Oversight Staff


Vivian Mann, BA (Family Consultant Supervisor)    Vivian graduated from Valdosta State University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology. She has provided over 10 years of services with helping families and children of GA. She believes to whom much is given, much is required. She truly understands that our greatest natural resource is in the minds of our children. She’s been with Choices for Life of Georgia since July 2016.



Kimberly Copeland, BA (Family Consultant)    Kimberly has been with Choices for Life since 2008. Kimberly attended Valdosta State University where she received her Bachelor of Art in Sociology. She thoroughly enjoys working closely with children and families and feels she has made a lifelong commitment to helping families achieve success. Kimberly is rewarded by seeing the changes that can be made in the lives of a child through hard work and dedication.


Pam Brewer, M. Ed(Family Consultant)    Pam has been with Choices for Life since 2009. Pam received a Master Degree in Special Education - Mental Retardation/Early Intervention, Birth to Three Years in June 1997 from Valdosta State University. She has worked extensively with families and children who experience emotional behavioral problems as well as special needs. Pam states, "I truly enjoy my job and look forward to coming to work everyday." Life is not measured by how many breathes we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.


Andrea Dixon, BA(Family Consultant)  Andrea a graduate of Valdosta State University with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Anthology. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She has been serving families and the community for the last 4 years with the Department of Family and Children Services. She enjoys advocating, supporting, and providing support to children and families. She is excited to combine this experience to embark and embrace joy, positivity, and prosperity with Choices for Life. “Embrace the journey, with joy, prosperity, and love”









Child and Adolescent Outpatient Behavioral Health Staff


Mark Harper, MA, LAPC (Clinical Administrator)    Mark has worked for over 10 years in the human services field providing quality community service to children and families in South Georgia. Mark has been with Choices since 2012. Mark attended Valdosta State University where he received his Bachelor of Applied Science in Technical Studies. Mark also attended Liberty University where he graduated with his Masters of Arts concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. He has an extensive background in supervision and administration of social service programs. He has worked as a Medicaid eligibility specialist, social service case manager, social service supervisor, and program administrator for the state of Georgia’s department of family and children services. Mark believes in providing consistent and quality services driven by the needs of the individual and family. “I truly enjoy helping others reach their goals.”


Brantley(William) Wheeler, LCSW (Therapist)    Brantley Wheeler, LCSW is a native to South Georgia. Brantley received his Bachelors of Arts in German from Georgia State University and his Master of Social Work degree from Valdosta State University. He is also an alumni of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program for Young Professionals. Brantley spent 12 months living in Germany and completed internships working with low income families. Brantley has been a member of our team since 2012. Brantley has a passion to work with children and adolescents who have suffered abuse, trauma, loss and grief. “I never intended to work with children and adolescents when completing my master’s degree. My concentration practicum placement was at an agency offering services to children and teenagers who have suffered physical and sexual abuse. My view of the world was quickly altered and I found a new calling in life. I quickly changed plans from working in adult mental health to becoming an advocate for those who had no voice." Brantley enjoys time at the beach and traveling overseas. Future plans are to one day complete a PhD.


Leslie "Danielle" Davis, MS, LPC (Therapist)    Danielle is a native of South Georgia. Danielle attended Valdosta State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Science in Clinical Counseling Psychology. Danielle has been with Choices for Life of Georgia since 2012, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Danielle takes great pride in working with Children and Families in the community she has always known as home.


Kiarra Morton, MS (Therapist)    Kiarra is a thoughtful and creative therapist with a passion for seeing family’s restored. Kiarra graduated from Valdosta State University with a BA in Sociology in 2015 and a MS in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2017. With over 5 years of experience working with children and families in rural and urban communities, Kiarra is committed to helping families heal and flourish.


Jenny Jolly, MS (Therapist)    Jenny is a native to the Greater Lowndes County area. She obtained a Master's degree from Valdosta State University's Marriage and Family Therapy Program. She takes pride in having the opportunity to work alongside children and their families in discovering the knowledge and strength gained through life experiences. She views her opportunity to work with each family as a true honor.



Lauren Clarke, MS, LPC (Therapist)    Over the past 10 years, Lauren has worked with children, adolescents and adults with a broad range of mental health and substance abuse concerns. Lauren has worked in multiple settings including outpatient clinics, group home facilities and residential settings. Lauren provides services where the focus is on the individual, the family and supportive resources. Lauren has specifically worked with adolescent substance abuse and women's depression groups as well as provided individual, group and family therapy. Lauren is trained in Applied Behavior Analysis therapy focusing on children with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome and is currently working toward certification as a Registered Play Therapist.


Bina Gobler, MsEd, LPC (Therapist)    Bina graduated from Valdosta State University with a Masters Degree in School Counseling and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership. After 31 years of being a teacher, school counselor, and assistant principal, Bina has always been concerned and involved with children and their emotional health in all of her roles in the school system. She has been with Choices for Life since 2011 serving the needs of the children and families in our community.




Angel Jones-Taylor, MS, LPC (Therapist)


Amy Owen, MS, LAPC (Assessor/ Therapist)   Amy graduated from Richmont Graduate University with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and has been with Choices for Life of Georgia since 2016 as an Assessor/Therapist. She has experience working in inpatient settings, private practice, and intensive outpatient settings addressing a variety of issues ranging from substance abuse and mental illness to changes in current life circumstances. Amy strives to create a comfortable and safe environment where families can express themselves and their goals freely and learn about the options available to them at Choices for Life. As an assessor, it is her goal to make sure each individual receives the best treatment he or she can.


Jana Tullock, MSW (Assessor/ Therapist) Jana is a native of South Georgia. She attended Valdosta State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Master of Social Work. Jana has worked with adults with developmental disabilities for 7 years, children and families for 9 years and 4 of those were with children and adults in crisis. Jana is trained in TF-CBT therapy. Jana takes great pride in working with children and families. Her goal is to promote change within the family unit to prevent generational cycles and help children become strong, confident individuals.



Psychiatric and Nursing Staff


Dr. Nitin Patel, MD    Dr. Patel has over 25 years working in adult and child psychiatry. Dr. Patel has been with Choices for Life since 2011. Dr. Patel is Board Certified with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Patel provides psychiatric evaluations, assessments and medication management to children and youth during after-hours clinics held at the office.

 Raven Boyd, BSN, RN    Raven is from south Georgia and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Valdosta State University in 2012. Raven loves working with children and in her spare time loves spending time with her family.

 Robyn Mosteiko-Jalbert, RN    Robyn is a Baltimore native who moved to South Georgia over a decade ago after serving in the United States Air Force. Looking for another career equally as fulfilling as her time in the military, she went back to college graduating with an Associate’s degree in Nursing from Abraham Baldwin College in 2012. After graduating she began full time employment in the Emergency Room at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, GA. Robyn has pursued other opportunities in nursing which include lifelong passions such as becoming a Sexual Assault Examiner for adults and adolescents and contracts with The Haven in Valdosta. She maintains multiple certifications in Critical Incident Stress management (CISM), and is a member of the Georgia CISM response team. Recently Robyn furthered her education scope in Sexual Assault examination to include pediatrics, a rare skill set in the area. While managing to raise two beautiful and active children, Robyn continues to seek new and exciting methods to learn and help others.


Community Support/ Paraprofessional Staff


Ashli England, BA (Paraprofessional)   Ashli received a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology in May 2003 from Valdosta State University. She has worked as a contractor through DFCS doing wrap-around and homestead services, visiting clients (adults, adolescents, and children) in their homes to provide Parent Aide services for a variety of life issues including educating individuals about appropriate parenting practices, and supervision of parent/child visitation for the last eight years. Ashli has completed CCFA’s in addition to Parental & Adolescent fitness assessments. Ashli has been working as a Paraprofessional for Choices For Life of GA focusing on the children and adolescents, addressing skill building, behavioral management, and adaptive functioning skills since 2009. Ashli works closely with community partners to help develop and link youth and families to additional services, programs, and/or collaborative and natural supports that will assist children and families in our community.

Shayla Watson, BA (Paraprofessional)   Shayla graduated from Valdosta State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Art with a mixed degree in Psychology, Sociology, and Religious Studies. Shayla has been working with Choices for Life of Georgia since 2015. Shayla works to connect families with resources in the community and apply behavioral modification within the home and school. Shayla helps build skills for families to use daily for behavioral progress at school and home.


Toshia Williams, BS (Paraprofessional)   Tosha is from Crestview FL, and holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management. She is currently working on her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. Tosha has been a resident of Valdosta GA for 9 years and been with Choices for Life of Georgia since July 2017. While being married and raising her children in the Lowndes county school system Tosha remains focused on helping families and children by preparing them for tomorrow by doing their best today.  Tosha continues to seek helpful information, tools, resources, skills and support to all families in need in her community.

Shana Banks, BS (Paraprofessional) 

She enjoys helping families reach their goals in promoting growth in their lives. Her grandparents have been an active part in her desire to work with families, as they are foster parents themselves. Shana desires to care for her clients as her grandparents care for their foster children- with care and determination to help them move toward a bright future.




Administrative Staff


Dusty Hill, (Office Manager) Dusty began her career as an Office Manager with Choices for Life of Georgia in June 2018.  She is a graduate of Wiregrass Technical College with HIMT/coding diploma. She is happily married with four children.  In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling and attending her children’s sports/school functions.

Mariann Shova, AA (Billing Specialist)   Mariann received an Associate’s Degree in Accounting and an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming in 2001. Since then, she has worked off and on in the banking world. Mariann is currently working towards a Diploma in Health Information Management at Wiregrass Technical College in Valdosta, GA. Mariann has been with Choices for Life of Georgia since October, 2016.

Dorrissa Sirmans (Office Assistant)  Dorrissa is a true country girl who is from the great state of South Carolina. She moved to Valdosta over five years ago and is happily married with a two-year-old daughter. She is currently working towards her Associates in Applied Science for Optician (eye glass technician). She has been with Choices for Life of Georgia since December 2017. She focuses on making her surroundings reflect that of positivity and smiles and leads with the saying, “Attitudes are contagious, make sure yours is worth catching”.

Katorah Garrett, BS (Quality Control)  Katorahis a graduate of Valdosta State University with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She has over 10 years of experience working with children in the community and residential settings. Katorah also has 7 years of supervisory and managerial experience working with private and nonprofit agencies. She is excited to combine this experience and help Choices for Life of Georgia continue to meet standards and serve the children and families in the community.


Adrian Rivers, MS (Program Development Coordinator) 

Adrianis a native of Valdosta Georgia. He graduated from Valdosta State Universitywith Bachelor of Arts and from Grand Canyon University with a Master ofArts.  He has provided over 9 years of services within the community andwith the Department of Family and Children Services in Georgia. He believesthat a healthy community must be filled with healthy people, and furtherbelieves that healthy people make a stronger more sustainable community. He has been with Choices for Life since 2018.

 



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