We continue to provide our full, comprehensive program with care and compassion, following all CDC guidelines, and transitioning to in-person visits. LEARN MORE

Our Team

The team at Thelma McMillen Recovery Center is nationally recognized for their experience and multi-disciplinary approach to substance use, abuse and addiction treatment. The team of psychiatrists, psychologists, addictionologists, counselors and support staff share a commitment to the treat the whole individual with expert care and compassion to help them get clean and sober within the framework of their daily lives. Every treatment plan is personalized to the individual and informed by decades of experience and expertise. 

Moe Gelbart, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Executive Director Moe Gelbart, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, a graduate of the University of Southern California, and has been practicing since 1976. He has expertise in alcohol and substance abuse, is certified by the American Psychological Association in the Treatment of Substance Abuse, and was one of the founders of the Thelma McMillen Recovery Center.

He is presently the director of behavioral health at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Gelbart is a consultant to the California Medical Board Diversion Program and the California State Lawyers Assistance Program. He has wide experience in workplace violence and stress, managed care issues, chronic pain, and works with adolescents and adults, in individual, couple and group therapy. In addition, he treats anxiety, depressive disorders and relationships.

×

Donnie W. Watson, Ph.D., CCFE, CATC V

Program Director

Dr. Donnie W. Watson has over 25 years of management experience in directing programs that educate and treat both adolescent and adult substance abusers, and their families. He has expertise in evidence-based prevention and treatment interventions, respectively. He has over fifty (50) publications, articles and book chapters related to a variety of substance abuse issues. He has worked in academic, clinical, research and community settings over the course of his career while providing supervision and training to an array of health care providers who specialize in substance abuse treatment. He is also a certified medication-assisted treatment counselor.

Prior to coming to The Thelma McMillen Recovery Center, he served as a Senior Principal Investigator at UCLA's Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP). In this capacity, he directed an adult outpatient substance abuse treatment center, and managed several community-based grant-funded substance interventions for youth and their families. He previously directed the CORK Institute on Alcohol and Drug Abuse at Morehouse School of Medicine, where he was also an Associate Professor of Psychiatry. He completed an APA approved clinical psychology internship (with specialty in child and adolescent psychiatry) at Grady Memorial Hospital/Emory University School of Medicine. Upon completion of his internship, he served as Director of Child and Adolescent Research, Psychology Division at Emory University School of Medicine. He earned his B.A. from Saint Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota, and his doctorate from Vanderbilt University in Clinical Psychology with minor emphases in Alcohol Studies and Experimental Design.

He is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator with an emphasis on helping the caregiver maximize their potential in the workplace as well as being certified in the implementation of "Seeking Safety Treatment Modality for PTSD and Substance Abuse". Dr. Watson is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATC) V, a member of the California Association for Alcohol and Drug Educators (CAADE) and a member of The Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California (ACCBC).

×

Robert Swift, M.D. 

Medical Director 

Dr. Swift graduated from Georgetown School of Medicine in 1978, and completed his Family Medicine Residency at Georgetown in 1981. He has maintained certification by the American Board of Family Medicine up to the present. He grew up in Southern California, and graduated from Palos Verdes High School, and UC Santa Barbara.

Dr. Swift practiced full spectrum family medicine including obstetrics, pediatrics, surgery and emergency medicine in Las Vegas, New Mexico from 1981-1999 while he and his wife Barbara were raising three sons.Dr. Swift moved back to Southern California and joined the Torrance Memorial staff in 1999. He has been certified by the American Board of Holistic and Integrative Medicine since 2001 and the American Society of Addiction Medicine since 2009.

Dr. Swift is currently practicing adult outpatient medicine and uses a holistic, integrative and nutritional approach to prevent and treat chronic diseases associated with aging. He is also the Medical Director for the Thelma McMillen Recovery Center at Torrance Memorial.

Outside of work he enjoys hiking, skiing, surfing and family activities.

×

Jean Carfagno, M.A.

Utilization Review

Jean Carfagno has more than twenty-five years of experience as a therapist in chemical dependency inpatient, outpatient and private treatment settings. She has helped individuals, couples and families in dependent or addictive families. Carfagno serves as a primary therapist, alumni coordinator and utilization reviewer, and is one of the original founders of the outpatient chemical dependency treatment program at Torrance Memorial. In addition to her work at Torrance Memorial, Carfagno is an adjunct professor at Antioch University Graduate School where she teaches Addiction Courses. Active in community service, Carfagno is an elder in her church, a conciliator for the Los Angeles Center for Conflict Resolution and is a national director of alumni for the Mortar Board Honor Society. Carfagno holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Ohio State University; a master's degree in counseling psychology from Lindenwood University; and a certification in alcohol and drug counseling from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her honors include Phi Beta Kappa and Who's Who in America.

×

Katie Saemann, R.N.

Clinic Nurse

Katie Saemann has held the position of Clinic Nurse at Thelma McMillen Recovery Center for several years. She is proud to be part of a dedicated team of professionals who work cohesively and strive to provide excellent and compassionate care for our patient population. Katie is a Registered Nurse, and recently attained her Master of Science Degree in Nursing, with the goal to update knowledge and skills to best serve our esteemed adult and adolescent clients.

×

Becky Ackerman

Counselor, Adult Program

Becky Ackerman has worked in the field of recovery services for more than 17 years. Becky attended California State University Dominguez Hills and is a certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor as well as a Registered Addiction Specialist. Becky's experience includes service to a variety of populations including adults, adolescents, pregnant and parenting women and dual diagnosed. Becky is a passionate and committed professional, dedicated to fostering hope in those that seek help to change.

×

Terese Lang, CADC-II, CATC III, RAS

Intake Specialist, Adult Program

Terese Lang is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC-II), a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor III (CATC III), a Registered Addiction Specialist (RAS), has an International Certification as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) and a member of NAADAC, the National Association for Addiction Professionals. She has a Bachelor's Degree from California State University Long Beach and a Drug and Alcohol Certificate from California State University Dominguez Hills. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Drug and Alcohol Certification Program at CSUDH. Terese has extensive studies in Dual Diagnosis.

×

Jodie Marholz, CADC IV, LCSW

Adult Program

Jodie has been working in the field of alcoholism and chemical dependency for over 20 years. Jodie is experienced in multiple modalities, demographics, cultural aspects and educational components of addiction. Jodie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and provides comprehensive consult assessments in chemical dependency and mental health. Jodie presents educational presentations, group therapy and individual sessions currently at Thelma McMillen Recovery Center.

×

Barbara Mignosi, M.Ed., M.A., MFT

Adult Program

Barbara has been working in the field of substance abuse treatment for over 15 years. She is licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in treating the entire family system. She also presents workshops for health care professionals, and has a private practice in Torrance. In addition to her work in the substance abuse field, she has master's degree in educational administration. She has taught in the school system for almost 30 years. She has expertise in cross-cultural aspects of family dynamics. She is a passionate professional who excels in delivering psycho-educational presentations to clients and their families. She is very active in the community as illustrated by her positions as a Past President of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, and a Past Vice-President of the Long Beach/South Bay California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

×

Kevin Brown

Primary Counselor, Adult Program

Kevin Brown has worked in the mental health and addiction fields since 2006. He has been a counselor with the Thelma McMillen Recovery Center since 2014. His professional background includes extensive work with children, adolescents and adults with developmental, behavioral and mental health problems. He has spent significant time working in academic, correctional and rehabilitation facilities providing a wide range of services to both underserved and underperforming populations. Areas of specialty include Clinical Psychotherapy, School Social Work and Addiction Medicine with an emphasis on child and adolescent development and family dynamics. Mr. Brown offers both a professional level of intervention and personal dedication to those affected by substance abuse issues. He believes that by using a holistic and strengths-based approach, meaningful and lasting recovery can be obtained by both patients and their family members. Mr. Brown received his Bachelors in Psychology and Masters of Social Work degrees from California State University Long Beach. He is currently licensed by the State of California as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

×

Chris Gentry

Primary Counselor, Adult Program

Chris Gentry has worked in the field of recovery services for more than 13 years. In addition to being a primary counselor, Chris does lectures, facilitates groups and performs utilization reviews. Chris has the privilege of having contact with all new patients; day and night. Chris has a Bachelor's Degree from California State University Long Beach and a Drug and Alcohol Certificate from Loyola Marymount University.

×

Dan Gibson, D.Min., M.Div., CADC I

Primary Counselor, Teen Program

Dan Gibson is a certified chemical dependency counselor through CCAPP (California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals). Dan is a Southern California native who finds healing and joy from the sun, surf and homegrown/west coast music, all of which find expression in his passion for recovery and spirituality. As the former Director of Spiritual Care for the Haven, USC, Dan endeavors to come alongside others in their journey from brokenness to wholeness; seeks to help them discover the blessing of healthy community; and offers them tools to gain a fuller sense of peace and purpose in their lives.

×

James Ludka, M.A., SUDCC-IV

Primary Counselor, Teen Program

James Ludka holds a Master's Degree in Counseling and is certified through CADTP as a SUDCC IV. A former educator and administrator, James holds a distinction of working with both adult and teen populations in our recovery based therapeutic setting.

×

Christina Corona-Salinas

Primary Counselor, Teen Program

Christina has been working in the field of mental and behavioral health for several years. She has a passion for providing the utmost quality of service to individuals struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. Christina holds a master’s degree in Psychology and is currently working on completing a second graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Alliant International University. She is a certified Substance Use Disorder Registered Counselor, as well as a Registered Behavior Technician. Christina has worked with children, teens, and adults in multiple settings including behavioral health agencies and within multiple school districts. Christina provides individual and group sessions on the Teen Side of the Thelma McMillen Recovery Center.

×

Barbara Karst

Counselor, Teen Program

Barb has been working in the recovery field for over 10 years. Barb earned her bachelor’s degree from Ohio Dominican University and her master’s degree from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a Master of Arts in Counseling with a concentration in addiction studies. Barb is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor ll, in the state of California, and holds an International Certification as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Barb is licensed in the state of Ohio as an Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor. Barb has worked in residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and individual levels of care. Barb has had experience with all populations in recovery. Barb enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with her children

×

Joe Sandoval

Counselor, Teen Program

Joe Sandoval graduated with a bachelor’s in communications studies, from California State Long Beach in 2007. After graduating in 2007, he began working with Northrop Grumman as a Buyer In El Segundo, California. At that time he knew he wanted to give back to society but didn’t’ know what he wanted to do. He enrolled at Cal State Dominguez Hills in their Drug and Alcohol Counseling program, and continued to receive his Master’s Degree in 2017. He has worked for the Latino Family Center and Chacada in East Los Angeles as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. Joey enjoys working with people and assisting them with overcoming their addictions and behavioral issues. In his spare time he walks and swims on the weekends. He has also written some children’s books under the pseudonym of Joey Dilon such as, A Flower from Heaven, Daisy is Green and, The Royals in We Persevere , all available via Amazon.

×

Karen Thompson, M.S., AMFT, M-RAS, SUDCC-IV

Teen Program

For over 17 years, Karen Thompson has provided compassionate care to those suffering alcoholism and addiction exasperated by comorbid psychological diagnoses and other clinically relevant issues or emotional distress.  Since 2016, she’s worked at TMRC’s Intensive Outpatient Rehab Adult & Teen Programs, presenting educational PowerPoints, conducting lectures; facilitating process groups; and counseling individuals, couples and families.  Karen gained practical experience in various treatment settings, including another local Hospital’s Dual-Diagnosis Intensive In-Patient Chemical Dependency Unit, a Women’s Eating & Psychological Disorders Residential Treatment, DUI Program and Drug Diversion Program.  Karen is a Marriage Family Therapist Associate, Nationally Registered Addiction Specialist, and State Certified Masters Level Substance Use Disorder Counselor.  She was professionally recognized for extensive study of Co-Occurring Disorders as well as Negotiation, Conflict Resolution & Peace-Building Mediation.  For her outstanding academic achievement at UCLA, CSULB & CSUDH, Karen is honored in Who’s Who in American Universities.

×

Lee FitzGerald, CAADAC, CIP

Communications Manager

Lee holds a certificate from UCLA in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, was a Board Member of the Association of Intervention Specialists and has managed interventions since 2005. She is the founder of East Coast Recovery Services’ The Strathmore House transitional living for men in Boston, MA, and has been a leader in the treatment field since 2004. She has been featured on the Emmy Award winning show, Interventions. She was Executive Director of Western and international at Caron Treatment for 4 years and Executive Director at Promises Treatment in Los Angeles for 10 years, and is currently on the board of The Haven at College and Miriam’s house for women and children in LA. Lee pioneered and continues to work with a not-for-profit treatment center for women in Nepal and began the first Women’s Narcotics Anonymous meeting in Kathmandu. Lee’s unique skills and efforts have demonstrated her talent and dedication to advancing recovery both on a local and international level.

×

Jamie Gelbart

Event Coordinator 

 

×

Liz Lam

Account Specialist

 

×

Patty Galindo

Program Assistant 

×