StaffYou are here:
You can trust our dedicated substance abuse counselors at our Lancaster facility to help you free your life from addiction to drugs and alcohol. All of our addiction counselors in Lancaster have been exposed to the addiction world before working at Design for Change. Also, all of our certified Addiction Treatment Specialists have been through the recovery process. We believe that having had their own journey on the road to recovery, they can better understand and relate to the problems of alcoholism and addiction to any substance, from alcohol to heroin or crack rehab. We provide one counselor for every four patients, so contact us today to make an appointment.
In our relationships with our clients, we have realized that “no one cares how much we know…until they know how much we care!”
Dagmar Liepa. MD
Dagmar Liepa, an innovator and leader in treating addiction, has been assessing and overseeing clients as an addiction medicine specialist physician at Design for Change since 2020. She began practicing medicine in 1982 and dedicated herself to helping thousands of patients with addiction problems. Realizing that resources were scarce for providing medication-assisted treatment, Dr. Liepa has been working on improving addiction treatments through research and innovation. She was one of the founding physicians of a medical detoxification program in the Mission Community Hospital in 1998. Over the years, Dr. Liepa has implemented and developed protocols for detoxification from opiates, alcohol, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Dr. Leipa is also committed to understanding new medication treatments; she ensures that they are incorporated into her hospital inpatient detox programs and her private practice. Additionally, she is the study physician in a NIDA trial comparing treatment using Suboxone vs. Vivitrol for opiate dependence. She is affiliated with Mission Community Hospital, Encino Hospital Medical Center, Southern California Hospital at Van Nuys, and Sherman Oaks Hospital.
Jennifer Leavenworth, LMFT
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” — Anaïs Nin. Maybe you are a Highly Sensitive Person because you are an artist, an intuitive, an empath, or someone with esoteric spiritual practices. Or perhaps you were born into a family with issues of addiction, and you would like to live more from your vision of what is possible, rather than living out of fear of the past. Or maybe you would like to improve your experience of dating and intimate relationships.
Adam LaVallee, CATC I
Adam is certified in addiction counseling (CATC-I) and intensive care management through the DHS (Department of Health Services). He has been working in the human services field since 2016 and has been serving diverse populations that include, but aren’t limited to individuals who have suffered from homelessness and co-occurring disorders.
Due to what he learned through his life experience and recovery, Adam believes that addiction can be an excellent catalyst for genuine change. After he graduated from our residential and outpatient programs, he attended Glendale Community College to obtain his certificate in addiction counseling and pursue a career in this field. He says, “Addiction has allowed me to begin with a brand new canvas in life, and the counselors of this program showed me a path I never thought possible.” His favorite quote is “The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance of all physical action” Bruce Lee.
Nicholas Medici, CATC I
Nicholas’ addiction to drugs and alcohol began when he was in his early 20s and suffered from addiction for over a decade. After graduating from the recovery program at Design for Change, he found his passion to use his experience, strength, and hope to save the lives of others who suffer from the disease of addiction. Nick became an employee at the facility and pursued his career in this field. He completed a Substance Use Study and obtained his Addiction Counselor certification.
Nicholas focuses on client-centered care, emphasizing the personal goals and long-term success of the individual. He has trained in a multitude of various therapeutic orientations: cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, medication-assisted therapies, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, motivational interviewing, psychoeducational groups, solution-focused therapy, and twelve-step facilitation. Nicholas collaborates with physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, licensed marriage and family therapists, nutritionists, and wellness and fitness specialists to ensure a multidimensional approach to help support various aspects of the recovery process.
Tiffani Whitebread, CATC I
Tiffani Whitebread, a native of Denver Colorado, is a dedicated substance use disorder specialist with a passion for providing treatment and supporting those who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. After personally grappling with and overcoming her own addictive disorder, she developed a unique perspective and believes in a compassionate approach to the recovery process. Due to this philosophy, Tiffani is adept at helping clients address serious issues in their lives that have negatively impacted their personal relationships. She is trained in relationship coaching where she supports individuals and couples in understanding themselves and their relational patterns. Tiffani’s holistic approach enhances each client’s capacity to achieve full transformation in the physical, emotional, and spiritual body. She nurtures clients toward reaching the deeper soul, where true healing happens.
Robert Ormsby, RAS
Formerly a substance abuse Counselor and a Registered Addiction Specialist for Los Angeles County’s Dept. of Public Health and other treatment centers, Bobby O. has worked in the addiction field for over two decades. He has also been a professional musician and music teacher for over forty years. His music career began when he studied at the California Institute for the Arts, School of Music.
Bobby O. has worked closely with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences MusiCares/Musicians Assistance Program, receiving and referring clients for recovery Services. Bobby O. directs the Music Therapy Program and facilitates the Beginners Music Appreciation Workshop. All Programs provide an environment that teaches balance of mind, body, and spirit. Through the healing power of music and by nurturing each individual’s inherent spiritual creativity, Bobby O. helps clients in their recovery process. His programs focus on having creative fun while remaining alcohol and substance-free.
Mr. Vasquez, after working 35 years as a graphic artist, retired and is now a full-time artist living in the high desert of California. Mr. Vasquez attended California State University, Los Angeles, and the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Vasquez conducts Plein Aire classes during the summer months where he teaches the principles of good painting and the representation of space and light.
Mr. Vasquez strongly believes there are benefits to using the arts as a creative outlet in one’s life. He states, “If it helps to draw and paint one or two days a week, it’s therapy. ‘Art washes away the trials of everyday life,’ Picasso said.” Mr. Vasquez has started a new chapter in his life, teaching art to recovery clients. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of art with these new students, some of whom have never taken art classes before. The positive responses he receives have enriched his life too.
Khalil who means true friend is the owner of Code Blue Fitness. Khalil became a certified Trainer in 1998. He is also a marathon runner, weight trainer, and Certified Nutritionist. He started work with our client in 2010. His deep knowledge and understanding of the recovery process and fitness classes help clients to develop and maintain a new sober lifestyle effectively.
His nutrition classes are designed to teach clients not only a healthy eating style but also how to overcome cravings and maintain recovery. Khalil enjoys helping people overcome their objectives and limits when it comes to weight and fitness. “Strengthening Bodies and Changing Lives” is his Motto.
Vi & Darrin Davis
Both Vi and Darrin are 200Hr certified yoga instructor and holds several related certificates. They also have experience in teaching Reiki Healing, personal private yoga, and cycling fitness. Vi and Darrin established Yoga in Quartz Hill & Healing Arts Studio and opened their own studio as a place to connect with the community, to bring mindfulness and a variety of yoga teachings in Quartz Hill CA in The Antelope Valley. They have a passion for their chosen professions and love to “nurture” people’s journey to well-being for Body, Mind, and Spirit. They believe that yoga and meditation will be helpful and effective for individuals who are in the recovery process. They feel humble and honored to share this meditation and healing techniques with others.
Tracy James, D.D.S., LAADC, CADCII, CET II
Dr. Tracy has been conducting Professional and Family Interventions for over 20 years. He is a nationally recognized speaker and educator in the areas of Impaired Health Care Professionals, Family Treatment, Opiate Addiction secondary to Chronic Pain, and Systemic Family Interventions. He is an expert in providing extensive monitoring services and family case management. He has experience in program development and facilitating family programs for some of the most respected treatment centers in the country. Dr. Tracy’s career in Interventions began through his own personal struggle with addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol. He originally became involved in conducting peer interventions on other addicted dentists after he began his own recovery program in 1988. He soon realized that an intervention would have saved his family from years of suffering. He then became determined to help other Health Care Professionals find relief from that same suffering.
For nearly 20 years Dr. Tracy has had the distinguished honor to be directly involved with some of the top Treatment Programs in the Country. At Design for Change, Jim facilitates family workshops and counsels the clients’ families as a family-care consultant.
Joseph is a professional interventionist and counselor in substance abuse and addictive behaviors with over a decade of practical experience assisting patients and families suffering from alcoholism, drug, and other addictions and co-dependency. After experiencing his own intervention in 2003, his passion for helping others and working in this field was ignited. Joseph is deeply committed to guiding others to reclaim their lives by restoring their dignity and enhancing their freedom. As an outgrowth of his personal recovery, his desire and capacity to be of service to others continue to grow. He strives always to be a man for others.
Georgi Manker Stokes, CADC_CAS
Director of Operation
Prior to Design for Change, Georgi Manker-Stokes was Director of Operations at DFLRS for the past five years has worked her way through the ranks. Georgi is a Registered Addiction Counselor for the state of California and a Certified Nurses’ Assistant. Previous to working in the AOD field, she has spent over 15 years in the hospitality industry and finance industries.
Georgi was born in Japan, has traveled the world, and is fluent in English, German, and some French. She believes that through her travels early on in life, she now possesses a deeper understanding of the many different cultures and traditions that each ethnicity holds. Georgi is truly a care advocate for each of her clients and always makes her available not only for the client but for their family as well. Georgi has made helping her fellow addict/alcoholic her life’s work.
Milagro Barillas Cisneros, RADI
Milagro Barillas Cisneros is an admissions specialist at Design for Change. She will be your first point of contact. She is registered with the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California. She has gone to school to become an Administrative Medical Assistant and has experience in the medical field. Milagro’s compassion and empathy are reflected through her work; her whole life has been driven by helping others.
Although she has been a resident of the Antelope Valley for 17 years, Milagro is originally from El Salvador and is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her children, taking them to the beaches, camping, and on hikes.
Joseph Hunter, M.A., LAADC_CA
As a Master level Marriage Family Counselor, one of Joseph Hunter’s passions lies in guiding clients and their families to healthy solutions in dealing with issues related to substance abuse. With over two decades of own recovery experience as well as working with hundreds of individuals and families who struggled with addictions, he dedicates himself to working with clients and training staff daily.
His passion to learn new things and devoting his knowledge and experiences to the community has never been unabated. He has been working on being a psychodrama specialist for nearly a decade. Also, he recently obtained certifications for positive psychology and EMDR therapy. Mr. Hunter travels across the country to facilitate psychodrama base family workshops and 12-Step workshop.