Meet Our Staff

Home / Meet Our Staff

Meet the Staff of NorthStar

mike ferrell

MIKE FERRELL
President

Mike Ferrell has over a decade of experience in behavioral healthcare/substance use disorder treatment. Prior to opening NorthStar Transitions in 2012, Mike worked in direct care and managerial positions within several prominent substance abuse treatment facilities. Mike was inspired to pursue a career in behavioral healthcare through his own experience overcoming substance abuse and dependency issues. Having entered recovery at the age of 21, Mike now has almost two decades of sobriety. Mike is passionate about operating a treatment center that provides the opportunity for others to learn the skills they need to achieve long-term recovery and improve the quality of their lives. Mike earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and resides in Boulder, CO with his wife, two young sons and dog. In his free time, Mike enjoys working out, traveling and spending time with his family.

keenan van de boogaard

KEENAN VAN DE BOOGAARD
Executive Director

Keenan began working in substance abuse treatment after gaining his own sobriety in 2011. Keenan’s experience began in the non-profit sector working in vocational training and account management at Stout Street Foundation, where he continues to stay connected as Chairman of the Board. He then segued into the private sector in case management and accounting for Quiet River Transitional Recovery Community, before he started at NorthStar in 2015.
Operating as NorthStar’s Director of Admissions over the last three years has empowered him to step into the Executive Director position, where he currently uses his compassionate leadership style to lead NorthStar’s team. He believes in NorthStar’s cutting edge clinical programming and pragmatic approach to recovery, and strives to grow and sustain one of Colorado’s leading treatment programs.

FATINA CANNON, LPC, LAC, MAC
Chief Clinical Officer

Fatina guides the clinical team at NorthStar Transitions to deliver evidenced-based and somatosensory experiential learning approaches to addiction treatment. She is passionate about empowering people struggling with substance use and addiction based processes to integrate healthy skills and create a life in recovery. Fatina is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Addiction Counselor, and holds a Master Addiction Counselor and EMDR certifications. Fatina received her Master of Arts from Naropa University in Somatic Counseling Psychology. Finding inspiration through hiking, new installations at the contemporary art museum, and yoga, Fatina is delighted to call Colorado home.
 
CONTACT
fatina@nstprogram.com

dr. charles shuman, MD

DR. CHARLES SHUMAN, MD
Medical Director

Dr. Charles Shuman, M.D. is a psychiatrist specializing in addiction and complex mental illness, and is board certified in general psychiatry and addiction. Dr. Shuman has worked in the past as medical director of the Denver Health Addiction Recovery Center and as a faculty member of the University of Colorado and Eastern Carolina University.
 
Dr. Shuman has published, instructed, and presented in areas of addiction psychiatry and general psychiatry. His philosophy is to treat clients with compassion, from a holistic perspective, to determine the best and most effective means of treating mental health and substance abuse concerns. The goal of is to return clients to a life of health, productivity, and personal enrichment. Additionally, Dr. Shuman is the President elect for the Colorado Society for Addiction Medicine.

HILLARY SMYTH, PA-C
Deputy Medical Director

A New Hampshire native, Hillary Smyth, PA-C, MPAS, is a certified physician assistant in the state of Colorado and the state of Massachusetts. Hillary studied neuroscience and received her undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine. She then earned her Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in New Hampshire. Upon graduation, she found herself drawn to the field of addiction medicine and spent her first year as a provider managing opioid and alcohol dependence in an outpatient clinic in Massachusetts, specializing in Vivitrol treatment. As a physician assistant at NorthStar, Hillary is ready to guide more individuals towards sobriety through truly individualized care based on each client’s unique preferences and needs.

ALIX MOORE, CAS
Director of Admissions

Alix is a Certified Addiction Counselor level II who has found purpose through working with individuals in recovery. As someone who has walked along side both family members and friends who struggle with addiction, Alix has a dedication for supporting those in recovery to make positive, sustainable and long term life changes.
 
Alix is a Boulder native who believes strongly in investing in both physical and mental health through fitness, nutrition, music, and building a strong and supportive community.

Bre Wolta

BRE WOLTA
Director of Business Development

As a family member of someone in long-term recovery from substance abuse, and as someone in recovery of an eating disorder herself, Bre understands the personal and familial impacts of addiction. She has been passionately connecting people in the mental health and addiction community for over 5 years and is dedicated to continuing to educate people on the resources available that will aid them on their journey back to themselves.
 
Bre is a native to Colorado and has a background in psychology from CSU. She embraces strong self-care practices including fitness, yoga, hiking, meditation, journaling, self-discovery, and traveling the world.

MONICA KNICKERBOCKER
Director of Human Resources

As our Director of Human Resources, Monica brings energy, enthusiasm and a deep commitment to addiction recovery. She has walked alongside a family member struggling with addiction, and knows it is one of the hardest things you can do. Seeing success in recovery is something she wants for everyone. She uses everyday at NorthStar as an opportunity to help change lives by bringing the very best people into the organization, partnering in their development, and building and enhancing the culture to help position NorthStar Transitions for growth. She is always open and excited to speak to potential new employees about NorthStar.
 
Monica is a Colorado native, holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, Human Resources and Organizational Development as well as certificates in Change Management and Lean Six Sigma.

SUSAN SMITH
Director of Operations

Susan earned her B.S. in Family and Child Development from Texas State University. Over the last four years, Susan has had the opportunity to specialize in mental health, addiction, adventure therapy and wilderness education.
 
Susan joined NorthStar Transitions to continue her passion to help others with an emphasis on assisting individuals struggling with addiction. Susan enjoys providing the clients with daily lessons on how to maintain recovery and enhance positive behaviors in order to become the “best version of you”. Susan combines her knowledge on DBT, CBT, mindfulness, conflict resolution, crisis intervention and other therapeutic practices to provide the best possible experience for the clients. Susan understands that sobriety can be an upward battle and her goal is to support individuals as they create their path within recovery.

KIRSTEN HARTZ, LPC, LAC
Assistant Clinical Director – Women’s Residential Program

Kirsten received a Master of Arts in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate and is pursuing a Licensed Addictions Counselor credential.
Kirsten has a strong orientation towards mindfulness-based and body-centered interventions, informed by her training in the Hakomi Method, and brings a somatic and trauma-informed mental health background to her work with addiction. She approaches the therapeutic relationship from a place of deep empathy, compassion, and a belief in every client’s intrinsic health. Using evidenced-based interventions, such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Kirsten takes a client-centered approach so that clients can identify and transform patterns and behaviors that no longer serve them.

BRYAN HANDWORK, PA-C
Physicians Assistant

Bryan got his undergraduate degree from CU Boulder in International Relations and Latin American Politics in 1992. After graduating, Bryan began working on an ambulance in Denver and found his passion for emergency medicine. Paramedic school followed, and after twenty years (and still passionate about medicine) PA school seemed like the best direction to grow his medical knowledge and expand his scope of practice.
Bryan attended Loma Linda University’s Physician Assistant program.  At NorthStar Transitions, Bryan is grateful to be able to practice medicine in a setting where he can build a relationship with patients over more than just a brief encounter, and to support them through the process of recovery.

Neeka Zarei

NEEKA ZAREI, MA
Residential Clinical Therapist

Neeka is currently completing her Masters degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. Neeka is passionate about her work and believes that each individual has the power to change their life by examining while remaining mindful of the underlying emotions behind their behavior.
 
Neeka is determined to to work alongside NorthStar’s clients and shine the light on their inherent map to find the path to their healing and recovery. Neeka believes that a supportive community and evidence based therapeutic practices can be the key that unlocks each person’s potential and shift of allegiance towards sobriety.

SEAN DODGE, CAS
Residential Clinical Therapist

Through his personal experience in recovery, Sean developed a passion for working with those in sobriety to help them establish their goals and focus their potential into a productive lifestyle.Sean employs an action based approach to his work with clients – operating on the belief that having fun and maintaining an active lifestyle are instrumental to success in recovery.
 
Sean has extensive experience in various industries. Prior to NorthStar he was working in the legal realm as an office manager, but left to follow his passion for helping others in recovery. He is in the process of furthering his education and becoming a certified addiction counselor.

ARROW ROJAS, MA
Residential Clinical Therapist

Arrow Rojas (pronouns: she/they) is a recent graduate from Naropa University’s Somatic Psychotherapy Master’s program in clinical mental health and dance/movement therapy. Arrow has a deep appreciation for the ways in which connection to self, environment, and community intersect to form a person’s world views and the concurrently developed survival strategies. Weaving together evidenced-based frameworks and somatic, nature-based, and creative approaches, Arrow guides NorthStar’s clients to identify ways to repair and nurture those primary connections. Arrow is dedicated to a trauma-responsive, strengths-based, and social justice orientation to recovery and self-discovery; holding in equanimity each individual’s uniquely embodied experiences.

SERENA KAUFFMAN
Certified Addiction Technician
Lead Residential Counselor

Serena started her career in the addiction treatment field specializing in the detox setting, and over time has expanded her skillset to work in residential programs. At NorthStar, Serena has experienced working at each of the residential facilities and continues to support clients on their path to recovery. She is a Certified Addiction Technician and is currently working towards her CAS.
Serena is a trained yoga instructor who enjoys bringing alternative healing processes to the residential space. Some of her favorite pastimes include art, cooking and outdoor activities, all of which she enjoys sharing with clients.

WITT WELDON
Lead Residential Counselor

Witt moved to Colorado from his hometown of Atlanta to attend school at the University of Colorado Boulder. He found sobriety in 2017, and believes fully that an active lifestyle, pursuing passions, finding stability, and having structure in life are the keys to long term recovery. Previous to his role at NorthStar, Witt worked at a long term men’s residential program off the coast of Georgia and continues to absolutely love working in this field.
Witt was a state-ranked golfer, has surfed all over the world, and loves spreading hope in his message that life can get better no matter how bad things currently may be.

KIMBERLY B. KAUFMAN, MA, LPC, LAC
Outpatient Clinical Therapist

Kimberly received her Master of Arts degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Clinical Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and currently pursuing her credential as a Licensed Addiction Counselor. Kimberly has been in the field of mental health and substance abuse for over 10 years, utilizing a psychodynamic framework based in somatic practices, Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFST).  Kimberly’s approach is client centered and trauma informed, utilizing attunement, compassion and empathy to build trust and rapport with each client.  

Aaron Galloway

AARON GALLOWAY, MA, LPCC
Outpatient Clinical Therapist

Aaron received a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Addictions Counseling Graduate Certificate from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Aaron is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate, Nationally Certified Counselor, and is pursuing credentialing as a Licensed Addictions Counselor. Aaron has been working in the mental health field for the past 6 years, with experience in wilderness therapy, inpatient treatment for adolescents and adults with substance use disorders, and a college counseling center. Aaron utilizes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy to collaborate with people in identifying what unique values bring meaning and vibrancy to their lives while developing the skills to move towards those values. He enjoys a creative, experiential, and mindfulness-based approach to the healing process.

RUTH FAYE RANDALL, MA
Outpatient Clinical Therapist

Ruth received a Master of Arts in Mindfulness Based Transpersonal Counseling from Naropa University and is actively pursuing credentialing as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Ruth is passionate about helping clients build self confidence to navigate the challenges of addiction and recovery. To support this, Ruth uses evidence based modalities such such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Gestalt Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing (MI). Ruth encourages clients to build a relationship with creativity and is trained in facilitating art therapy exercises. She brings a mindfulness component to all aspects of psychotherapy.

CALEB SWIFT
Admissions Coordinator

As a person who has struggled with substance abuse and was able start a new life substance free, Caleb has dedicated his life’s work helping others find their path to recovery. His passion for this work comes from watching people start from the bottom and make the hard climb to getting their lives together again as he, and many of his family members have done. He has worked in a variety of treatment centers and positions in the field and is excited for his journey with NorthStar.

In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar and going on adventures with his wife and daughter.

ASHLEY SAKKER, MS, LPCC
Clinical Intake Specialist

Ashley is pursuing her LPC, after graduating with a Master’s of Science in Counseling in 2007.She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications as well as a certified Recovery Coach with CCAR.  When Ashley found recovery herself, it was very clear that she must help others do the same.   Ashley strives to provide safety and hope for clients when they first come to treatment.  Ashley brings a sense of humor, deep compassion, empathy and a belief that everyone deserves a chance to heal.

MATT DOWELL
Admissions Coordinator

Matt started his own recovery journey in 2017 and views his sobriety as a daily way of life.  He began his work in the vocational training department of the Stout Street Foundation where he helped other addicts develop positive life skills.  He believes in helping others become pro-social members of the community again through honesty, integrity, and a willingness to change. Matt received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and looks forward to growing a career in the recovery community.

CJ OLIVEIRA, BS, Certified Addiction Technician
Sober Living Housing Administrator

CJ earned his BS in psychology from Colorado State University and is currently a CACI. He comes from working in community mental health, serving the most underserved clients in Colorado. Being in recovery, CJ has years of both personal and professional experience in the mental health system and working through substance use disorder in particular. He believes in promoting personable accountability and responsibility in recovery. This belief allows him to meet clients where they are at individually in their recovery, and to help them identify and develop the tools which will most effectively allow them to become successful in life.

Kaeli Baker, Office Manager

Kaeli has always wanted to spend her life helping people and providing support. Growing up with parents who struggle with addiction, Kaeli was drawn to this field because of the personal connection she has with people who struggle with the battle. She is most passionate about helping people both personally and professionally, and strives to bring as much comfort and light as she can to the people she interacts with.
In her free time, she loves hiking, running, practicing yoga, and exploring Colorado with her husband and dog pack. She surrounds herself with animals, as well as loving and supportive people.

Jonathan Bjornstad, Operations Support Assistant

Jonathan graduated from Metro State University of Denver with a BA in psychology. He was called to join the addiction field to help support and learn from those navigating their way towards sobriety. He finds himself most passionate about helping people achieve their goals.
In his free time, Jonathan enjoys woodworking, drawing and antiquing.


close