The Summit Malibu Team

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William Oswald, Executive Director and Founder

Over the past 30 years William Oswald has established himself as a pioneer in the alcohol and addiction recovery field. At the Adult Substance Abuse Program of Southern California (ASAP) he was one of the first to expand the scope of addiction treatment into mainstream medical facilities. In 1988 he founded Avalon Treatment Centers at Van Nuys Hospital, the first center to provide a broad range of social and therapeutic treatments that significantly reduced relapse rates. In the 1990s he established Lumax Mental Health, a company specializing in day treatment programs for dual diagnosis patients at area hospitals, and went on to direct business development for New Seasons Behavior Health Center, one of the first centers to utilize neurocognitive treatment for addiction. Mr. Oswald was also instrumental in creating Cocaine Anonymous, a 12-Step fellowship that has helped thousands.

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Steven Booth, Finance Director and Founder

Steven earned his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Economics. Before helping to co-found Summit Malibu Steven worked in both private and public accounting. Like many others, Steven has seen first hand the destruction that addiction can inflict on family and friends. He has also witnessed the extraordinary changes that can be made when addicts receive the necessary treatment.

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Shahla Modir, M.D., Independently Affiliated Physician

Dr Modir is one of the most recognized and respected physicians in the addiction recovery field, and is known for the effectiveness of her holistic approach to treatment. She completed residency training in Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and sub-specialty training in Addiction Psychiatry at the UCLA Medical Center. Dr Modir is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for Addiction Psychiatry, and has extensive training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Dr Modir is also a licensed buprenorphine provider.

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Richard Sandor, M.D., Independently Affiliated Physician

Richard S. Sandor, M.D, received his undergraduate degree at Yale in 1968 and his medical degree at the University of Southern California in 1972. After working as an emergency room physician for several years, he completed post-graduate training in psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute in 1980. He was Board certified in psychiatry in 1985 and was certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine in 1986.
In 1982, Dr Sandor became the founding Medical Director of the Redgate Memorial Recovery Center. He went on to serve as the Chief of the Chemical Dependence Treatment Programs at the Sepulveda VA Medical Center, the Medical Director of the Betty Ford Center outpatient program in Los Angeles, and finally, as the Medical Director of Saint John’s Hospital Chemical Dependence Center in Santa Monica. He has lectured and written widely on the subject of addiction, has served as an expert witness before the California State Bar and Medical Board of California, and was President of the California Society of Addiction Medicine from 1993 to 1995. Dr Sandor is the author of Thinking Simply About Addiction, published in March, 2009, by Tarcher/Penguin.

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Lisa Benya, D.O., Independently Affiliated Physician

Dr Benya is a 1995 graduate of the Ohio University College Of Osteopathic Medicine. She is an nternal medicine doctor that has serviced the Malibu community for over 10 years. Her caring and compassionate approach combines both eastern and western medicine and has earned her a great reputation and a lot of respect in the community. In addition to her regular medical practice, she also offers top of the line spa treatments at her CURE Spas, located in Malibu, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Also, she has recently began a Concierge based medicine practice, offering personalized medical care 24/7.

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Becca Zimble, Director of Marketing/Admissions/Utilization Review/Aftercare Planning

Becca is an LA native.  She is passionate about helping people see a new way of life.  She studied Psychology, Communication and Biological Sciences in college and takes her own experience in recovery into the field when communicating the benefits of treatment for long term success with families and clients. She works in congruence with the Clinical and Medical departments to ensure stellar client care and aftercare. She knows that each individual’s recovery looks different and the road to self-discovery is inevitably the most powerful one of all. Her experience in the marketing field coupled with her ability to relate to each step of the treatment process gives her a unique perspective on the ever changing recovery world, the difficult stigma’s surrounding medication and dual diagnosis, and the evolving therapeutic and holistic techniques associated with addiction. She is the direct liaison between clients and the insurance, which gives her a direct connection to their length of time at Summit. As the aftercare coordinator, Becca works closely with therapists to devise a strategic plan for next step in clients’ recovery and works with several outpatient programs to ensure a cohesive clinical and structural continuation of the foundation created at Summit. Becca also oversees the Yoga and Meditation program at Summit involving special events and weekly practices. Becca enjoys spending one on one time with clients and believes in the power of community to heal our past and move confidently into the future. Becca is also a Yoga and Meditation instructor outside of Summit and loves all ocean activities.

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Kristin Robert, Program Director

Kristin has been a part of Summit Malibu since January of 2014. In that little time Kristin has propelled herself into several leadership roles due in large part to her decisiveness and ability to understand and effectively communicate client needs to all staff and medical personnel. Kristin trained under Dr. Mohammad for 4 years through various facilities before coming to Summit. Her treatment experience combined with her desire to serve those in need have given her a perspective that is valued among the staff here at Summit. Kristin oversees several departments at Summit Malibu including but not limited to Medication Protocol, Staffing, Appointment Scheduling as well as being the primary liaison between Management, Physicians, Clinical Team and staff. Kristin leads a staff of over 25 individuals each day with honesty and integrity.

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Christian Savala, Director of Operations

Christian is passionate about watching the light come on in individuals who reinvent their self worth by eliminating mind altering substances and coming clean about their struggles.  He knows that a strong community in many areas of life can be the turning point to reconnecting with self.  Christian is in the process of obtaining his CAADAC to further his knowledge of the psychology and science behind addiction and treatment.  He has been sober since 2013 and began his days at Summit doing overnights.  He transformed into a Lead Technician through hard work and dedication to client needs and attention to detail from medication to new admit pick-ups and communication with the clinical team.  He eventually found his niche in the operations department as he found that he was able to share time with the clients alongside making sure the facilities are up their world-class status and keeping clients and staff safe.

 

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Rosalia Sandoval, Director of Residential Facilities

Rosalia has been a member of Summit’s all star team from day 1. She is committed to world class service on every level of the program.  From facility cleanliness to client care.  She enjoys interacting with clients and staff and is present every day to welcome clients with a fresh breakfast and warm smile.  Her immense gratitude for her own family and life shows through her energy and dedication to the Summit Team. She inspires the team to do their best work and has left an impression on every client that comes through Summit.

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Jason Batanides, MFTI, Primary Therapist

Jason Batanides is a registered Marital and Family Therapist Intern. He received a BA from Pepperdine University and a Master of Arts degree in Psychology from Phillips Graduate University. Jason has significant experience working in the field of addiction and recovery in residential treatment settings for the past four years. Jason provides therapeutic services for clients using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Schema Therapy, Relapse Prevention, and Mindfulness. Jason works with the client to create a treatment plan that will work best for them. Jason creates a therapeutic alliance with the client of warmth, empathy and genuine regard to better assist the client on their journey to recovery.

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Virginia Conesa, MFTI, Primary Therapist

Virginia Conesa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Intern.  Virginia has worked in mental health beginning at Family Services of Santa Monica, where she worked with individuals, families, and couples. Following, she worked with a school-based therapy program providing psychotherapeutic services to underserved parts of our population.  Most recently, Virginia worked as a psychotherapist intern at the C.G.Jung Institute of Los Angeles.

With a diverse background that includes a career as a commercial and fine art photographer, Virginia attended Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Following her work as a photographer, Virginia received her Masters of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. Her clinical experience includes work in community, school and outpatient settings with adults, couples, families, adolescents and children. 

Virginia is trained and certified in several evidenced based practices related to trauma, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.  She has trained in Jungian psychology and sandplay therapies.  Virginia brings an imaginal approach to psychology.

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Julia Alperovich, MFTI, Primary Therapist

Julia Alperovich came to Summit with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Florida State University, a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Seton Hall University, and 7 years of clinical experience in various mental health settings. Julia uses a systemic and strength-based approach to helping clients strengthen their natural supports and gain insight about their capabilities during their recovery. Julia went into the mental health field after several years of working in the legal industry and running operations in tech start-ups in Silicon Valley. She is heartfelt in her work as a therapist and is passionate about helping people with their various addictions.

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Maria-Flora Miller, Alumni Coordinator and Business Development

Maria-Flora (Monkey) became a client liaison for Summit in October 2014 and is now the Alumni Coordinator and a crucial figure in Summit’s Business Development. She works in congruence with the Marketing/Admissions  department and hosts Alumni events and meetings. She is known for her bright spirit and deep understanding of the recovery process through community. Monkey understands the unique power of an Alumni program to keep connected to the place where client’s began their recovery journey and is passionate about creating a space for graduates to share their spirit, strength and hope. She is the mother of five incredible kids and has lived in Malibu for the past fifteen years. Maria-Flora has been an active volunteer with the PTA and Booster Club. She is also the co-founder of A Safer PCH and an active member of the Malibu community, including being the music supervisor for the Kiwanis Club musical festival and chili cook off.  Maria-Flora has been sober for 26 years and loves the beach, music, and traveling.

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Tom Drennon, Clinician Assistant and Group Facilitator

For the past 31 years Tom has been helping individuals seeking recovery from addiction. He’s retired now from a 40 year career creating iconic images for the entertainment industry. As an Art Director, Illustrator and Graphic, Designer, he has had the privilege to work with such artists as Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, Kansas, George Duke and REO Speedwagon to name a few. Tom’s movie poster projects include Pretty Woman and Home Alone. He feels his greatest accomplishment Is an on going series of books for The Betty Ford Center with his friend Jerry Moe, the National Director of Children’s Programs. Tom and Missy are retired and living in Malibu, where he now works exclusively for Summit Malibu as their biofeedback and Music Vibration Therapist. Tom also creates art and music programs for his clients.

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Anthony Loupe, Admissions Coordinator

Anthony is a born and raised Los Angeles native. He is a dedicated team player at Summit Malibu and really enjoys interacting with clients. Assisting the Director of Admissions and Marketing has given him a deep sense of the importance in understanding the pre-admission process and the detail oriented necessity behind a decision to go into inpatient treatment.  Anthony is always helping out any way possible. Surviving the streets of Los Angeles, Anthony has overcome the temptations of gangs and drugs to become the strong independent gentleman he is now. You can always find him at the beach with his family showing his positive mental attitude.

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Scott Newlin, Lead Clinician Assistant

Scott has experience in the recovery world since moving to Los Angeles in 2013.  He has a passion for helping people who struggle with addiction and has experience working in multiple areas of the mental health industry. Scott has a bachelor’s degree in business, and is currently earning his JD from Pepperdine University School of Law.  He plans to pursue a career as a human rights attorney and continue to practice his compassion to help make a positive difference in the world.

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David Doudoumian, Lead Clinician Assistant

David has been sober since 2013 and is involved in both AA and NA. David has a background in banking and finance but since becoming sober has had a passion for helping other addicts and alcoholics achieving a new life in sobriety. He has worked in treatment for over two years and plans to take his new journey in recovery to newer heights with Summit.

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JoJo Neely, Lead Clinician Assistant

Jojo is originally from Kentucky. He came to California to find a new way of life. He found a community and realized quickly how important human connection and supportive leadership is  to success.  Jojo enjoys working with clients in all aspects, be it personal conversations in the evenings, to early morning intakes and community events.  He is a team player who has worked in both the outpatient sober living environment and has now found his niche in the residential inpatient world. Jojo is forever grateful to the chance he was given and only hopes to help clients find the same opportunities. He loves shoes and sports, and is always smiling.

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Steven Buchan, Medication Room Supervisor

Steven has been sober since 2013 and is very active in his AA community in the San Fernando Valley. He’s strives daily to work a strong program, sponsoring men in AA & teaching them how to stay sober. In under a year & a half, Steven has propelled himself through the ranks of Summit with hard work, from a tech, to a lead tech, to now being the medication room supervisor. His passion for helping alcoholics and addicts as well as leadership skills has made him a vital member of the Summit team. Steven was in and out of treatment for over a decade himself and was unable to stay sober until he surrounded himself with a strong community. This gives him a unique perspective and knowledge of relapse prevention and the struggles associated with the treatment and recovery process. Outside of Summit and AA, Steven’s other passion is surfing. You can catch him on the weekends making his rounds up and down the coast of California competing against some of the best longboarders in the world.

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Scott Naslund, Lead Clinician Assistant

Scott is a graduate of UCLA and has been working at Summit Malibu since its inception. His experience in recovery has been both challenging and rewarding. The challenge has lied in helping people through the throes of addiction by being supportive. The reward from witnessing people heal through Summit’s therapeutic process and rekindle their fire for life. His passion for learning has helped him realize the importance of helping people and the value of sobriety.

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Jeff Moreno, Clinician Assistant

Jeffrey is coming up on three years of sobriety in July. He has replaced his old addictions with new ones: exercise and healthy eating. However, he still indulges in his favorite past time, which is a delicious in n out burger. He enjoys helping others who suffer from addiction to find a new freedom away from drugs and alcohol.

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Ben Hess, Clinician Assistant

Ben is an LA native, growing up on the hard streets of Chatsworth. He is currently working and is almost finished with his Bachelors degree in Psychology at CSUN. He finds joy in helping out others which he carries out with his work at Summit in hopes of furthering his career in the field.

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Suzy Davis Mantee, Clinician Assistant

Suzy is a California native dedicated to living a healthy and productive lifestyle. She has spent years gaining extensive experience assisting others with overwhelming life challenges, giving her the compassion and strength to assist clients during the early stages of recovery. Suzy brings a positive, compassionate, and harmonious energy to all that she encounters.

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Jerry Spates, Clinician Assistant

Jerry has a long standing dedication to the recovery process. He brings his knowledge and experience to the program at Summit and goes out of his way to inspire the clients and help them realize life outside of mind altering substances. He enjoys going on adventures of all kinds with clients but leads an in house meeting that clients speak of long after they graduate from Summit. How he relates to clients is unmatched and nothing says more than a staff member who will go out of their way to make a client feel heard and safe. Jerry brings an energy to recovery without a forceful and aggressive manner.  He lives locally and has an amazing wife who he is proud to say has walked this journey with him for more than two decades.

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Alfred Tower, Clinician Assistant

Alfred found his love in recovery the moment he stepped foot onto Summit’s property.  His story holds some valuable lessons for all clients and staff alike.  He is more than willing to drop everything to assist someone in the first steps of their journey, but nothing makes him happier than seeing someone leave healthy and happy. Alfred is originally from the east coast and spent ample time in Miami Beach before landing in LA. He feels that a program and a support network is the most meaningful part about choosing to make a change in your life. That when we are out in the world we find ourselves alone, in recovery this is never true.  He has an incredible dog named Henry, and can’t get enough of road trips and new exciting cuisines.

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Marissa Aversa, Clinician Assistant

Marissa hails from the Jersey Shore. She enjoys working with people, with a background in customer service. Alumni of Summit Malibu, she moved to California to start her recovery. Since moving to California, she has helped to run multiple sober livings. She decided to return to where her sobriety began, as an employee. Her goal is to assist others on their journey in recovery, here at Summit Malibu.

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Jacqueline Marshall, Clinician Assistant

Jaqueline “Jaq” Marshall came to California to conquer her addiction. When she decided to not return to Florida, she knew she would do whatever it took to work on her recovery. After striving in Sober Living, she landed a job working in a restaurant. Jaq wanted to give back, so she searched for a job in recovery. She loves to give back, be of service, and help anyway she can.

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Marlene Salangsang, Clinician Assistant

Marlene became a part of Summit because she wanted to expand her horizons in the health and wellness world.  She finds that living with good intentions along with safe practices around lifestyle and diet, exercise and self care are essential to long term productivity.  She is social and thinks making a decision to change your life is both courageous and daring, but can be the most important decision of one’s life. Marlene enjoys yoga, running, spinning, spending time with friends and anything outdoors. She hopes to help clients find self acceptance and positive thought processes. She is inspired by the healing process and passionate about learning new ways to manifest goals.

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Richard Kantor, Boxing Coach

Richard is a life Coach and Personal Trainer who works with people with and without addictions helping them to transform their lives. He uses boxing training as a vehicle to get back in touch with our innate power that has been lost to addiction. He also uses techniques known to combine mind, body and spirit. The stand he holds for his clients include radical self expression, freedom to find and be fully themselves, love and courage. Knowing addiction and recovery first hand, experiencing at times the seemingly impossible physical and emotional climb- it’s seeing the light come back in his clients eyes that makes what he does so very rewarding.

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Tom Hart, Honorary Team Member– Posthumously

Tom was born in Hermosa Beach, attended High School in Redondo Beach, and studied at UCLA. Tom worked in the Treatment field from 1983 until his death in 2016. Tom’s greatest strengths were his genuine interest in his peers, his innate ability to uplift those in need, and his contagious laugh.
Tom left a mark on all that interacted with him. He had the ability to make everyone feel important, loved, and heard. There isn’t a staff member at Summit without a funny story involving Tom. He was a rock for both the clients and the staff.
His values and the way he loved are living inspirations to the entire staff. He may be gone physically, but the lessons he taught us all still influence the energy and spirit of Summit’s community.