Mike Ferrell is the founder and Executive Director of NorthStar Transitions. Mike founded NorthStar Transitions in 2012 after recognizing a need for highly individualized substance abuse treatment services – a service that wasn’t being met by most treatment centers. When clients left treatment, they had no job, were not set up to enroll in school, and knew no one in the recovery community outside of their peers in treatment. In effect, clients were getting sober in a vacuum, and when they left treatment, they left every support system they had behind.
Recognizing these deficiencies in the “traditional” treatment center, Mike developed a program that focused on both the clinical issues facing clients with substance use disorders as well as the practical life skills clients need to be successful not only in recovery but in life. By pairing group, individual and family therapy with up to 6 hours of one-on-one case management per week, Mike developed a program that addresses the complete needs of the client. One of the top priorities of NorthStar is to introduce clients to the community supports they will need to continue utilizing post-treatment while they are still in treatment.
Mike was also inspired to start NorthStar as a result of his personal experience overcoming a substance use disorder. By the age of 16, Mike had dropped out of high school and was fully immersed in his addiction. After several treatment episodes, Mike entered long-term recovery at the age of 21. After entering recovery, Mike obtained his GED, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder and attended the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College.
Now over a decade in recovery, Mike is happily married, has a handsome young son and black lab named Scarlet. In his spare time, Mike enjoys exercise, good food and traveling.
DR. CHARLES SHUMAN, MD
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.
PARKER SMITH, CAC II
Director of Operations
Parker is a graduate of Regis University in Denver and has been part of the NorthStar team since June of 2014. He has clinical experience and education, holding a CAC II and a background in sports as a collegiate athlete. Parker is passionate about meeting people where they are at in the process of recovery and utilizes motivational interviewing as a platform to build therapeutic relationships on.
KEENAN VAN DE BOOGAARD
Director of Admissions
Keenan began working in addiction rehabilitation after gaining his own sobriety in 2011. He has worked in the non-profit sector in career development and vocational training at Stout Street Foundation, as well as in the private sector where he worked in case management at Quiet River Transitional Recovery Community.
Through his professional background in client management and marketing, and his unique experience in the substance abuse field, Keenan has developed a pragmatic approach to recovery that is rooted in self-realization, mindfulness, professional development and community engagement. He endeavors to aid his clients in realizing and harnessing their potential, empowering them to lead confident and successful sober lives.
FATINA CANNON,LPC, MAC, CAC II, R-DMT
Clinical Director, Outpatient Program
Fatina came to the addiction field by way of trauma research and a desire to empower others who were self-harming through substance and addiction based processes. Fatina is a Licensed Professional Counselor, holds a Master Addiction Counselor and Certified Addiction Counselor II certifications, and is a Registered Dance Movement Therapist with the American Dance Therapy Association.
Fatina is committed to guiding the therapeutic team at NorthStar Transitions to deliver cutting edge and client centered addiction treatment. She is active in the capoeria and samba community.
CRAIG SALERNO, MA, LPC, LAC
Clinical Director, Residential Program
Craig is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) in the state of Colorado. Graduating from Naropa University with a Master of Arts in Contemplative Psychotherapy, Craig strives to merge evidence-based practices with the art and discipline of mindfulness. Craig has worked extensively in the field of addiction counseling and is passionate about building a strong therapeutic alliance to support clients and their families.
Craig draws from education and training in both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to assist clients in the development of insight, awareness, and skills necessary to move towards increased health and wellbeing. Craig believes in a holistic, creative, and dynamic approach to therapy.
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.
HILLARY SMYTH, PA-C
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.
KATE FERRELL, LCSW, LAC
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Kate graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a bachelors degree in History and from the University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Social Work Degree with a concentration in clinical social work. Kate is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC) in the state of Colorado.
Kate’s approach to psychotherapy is dynamic and solution-focused. Kate draws on her background in evidence-based treatment modalities such as Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy while using a psychodynamic approach. Each client has individual needs and Kate strives to take the most effective approach for each individual. Kate’s primary practice area is substance abuse treatment.
ROBIN KLEISLER, LPC, LAC, MAC
Robin is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Addiction Counselor, and is nationally certified as a Masters Addiction Counselor. She received a Masters in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. Robin began her career in the field of wilderness therapy and has worked with young adults in community mental health, public schools and private residential programs for the past decade.
She specializes in developing program specific addiction curriculums and adventure therapy experiences. Robin also practices EMDR, an advanced therapeutic method for the treatment of trauma and drug and alcohol cravings. She works with clients to challenge negative beliefs, discover their passions, and build a solid foundation for a long and healthy life.
GEORGE MCILWINEN, LPC, CAC I
George believes that healing happens when we are in relationship with others, ourselves, and our environment. He works with individuals and groups on cognitive, spiritual and somatic levels to deepen therapeutic effectiveness by engaging the whole system in the healing process, drawing upon 11 years of training in Psychology and psychotherapeutic technique.
George grew up in North Carolina and Georgia, eventually moving to Boulder to obtain his Master’s Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. He holds certifications in Gestalt and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy Addiction’s Counseling, Personal Fitness Training and has received specialty training for the treatment of trauma, as well as developmental and attachment issues from the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute.
George created CBST™ (Characterological Based Strength Training) a method combining Psychotherapy, movement and Fitness Training. CBST™ is the first method that combines Psychotherapy and Fitness Training.
CHRISTINA SWIFT, MA, LPCc, CAC II
Christina is a graduate of Naropa University and holds a Master of Arts in Contemplative Psychotherapy and is currently pursuing her Certified Addictions Counselor II certification.
Christina’s approach to the recovery relationship incorporates evidence based practices such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), mindfulness, empathy, and an understanding that intrinsic healthiness exists within all. She works with clients to increase self-worth, identify patterns and behaviors that prevent lasting sobriety, and practice skills to achieve effective change.
TUESDEY SPANGLER, MSW, LCSW, WFR
Residential Clinical Therapist
Tuesdey earned her B.S., of Physical Education/Teacher Education, as well as a Master of Social Work from The Ohio State University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LSCW) and working toward her CAC credential. Tuesday discovered her love and passion for addiction and wilderness therapy through personal (family) and professional exposure to addiction. Tuesdey’s approach to therapy includes holistic, experiential, adventure oriented, client centered, and strengths based. She utilizes a variety of evidenced-based modalities within a natural setting in order to help client’s connect in nature in order to heal.
Tuesdey has over 9 years experience in combined classroom teaching, adventure education facilitation and wilderness therapy within in both outpatient and residential treatment settings. Tuesdey has been an active member of the Association for Experiential Education and the Therapeutic Adventure Professional Group since June 2010. For the past 2 years she has co-convened the TAPG pre-conference for the AEE international conference. In 2018 Tuesdey will become the International Conference Convener as she earned a 3 year position on the leadership council thru the TAPG organization.
Lead Case Manager
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.
JAKE WADDELOW, CAC 1
Jake discovered a passion for working with those in recovery after battling through his own addiction and achieving long-term sobriety. He is pursuing his Certified Addictions Counselor level II certification and uses his personal experiences in addiction and recovery in his work with clients.
Jake takes an active approach to recovery through physical fitness, snowboarding, and hiking, and spends his free time with family and friends.
ASHLEY SAKKER, MA
Ashley Sakker came into the addiction field after finding recovery herself. Ashley has her Masters in Counseling and is a certified Recovery Coach through CCAR and Life Coach through Coach Training Alliance. For several years, Ashley has coached in various environments as a Career Coach, Life Coach and TED speaker Coach. Ashley thrives on watching clients come into their own authentic self. Ashley embraces the mind, body and spirit connection as integral part of recovery. Ashley is grateful and honored to be a part of the NorthStar team.
Zoë hails from Boulder, but she also grew up partly in Mexico learning how to dance kumbia while solidifying her Spanish fluency. Zoë then spent three years in Manhattan getting her degree in Forensic Psychology and studying the subway system. After mastering the latter, she moved to sunny San Diego but realized that she missed having seasons and found her way back to Colorado to do a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology and to become a Certified Addictions Counselor I (CACI). Zoë is currently working towards her CACII and is using her experience with populations of all ages and backgrounds to offer trauma informed care relating to addiction, mental health, and more. She has a deep and unabashed affinity for popsicles, unicorns, cats, Batman, and writing.
Alix is a Boulder native who has been working in administrative and office management roles for several years. She provides support to the clinical team and works with the Admissions Department to aid in new client intakes. She is passionate about being involved in a company that assists those on the road to recovery.
Clinical Therapist Intern
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.
DAVID LOCK, CAC II
David began working in the addiction counseling field in 2014 and has two years of experience working in a withdrawal management unit assisting clients through the withdrawal process and focusing on fostering motivation for change. He also has one year of experience in middle management within withdrawal management for the same organization before starting with NorthStar, with a total of 4 years experience in the addiction recovery field. His professional background lies primarily in working with people who are in the beginning stages of change.
Through his training in motivational interviewing, personal experience with recovery, emotional intelligence, meditation, and yoga; David aims to help individuals gain insight into their development and identify a strong desire to change.
Michael began working in addiction rehabilitation after gaining his own sobriety in 2013. He has worked as a recovery coach/sober companion at Treatment Center XL, as well as client liason at New Beginning’s Recovery Center prior to joining Northstar Transitions team at the Residential Treatment Center.
With his personal and professional experience working with addiction and in the rehabilitation field, Michael is passionate about helping addicts in early recovery in choosing their path to maintain sobriety after their stay in treatment.
SANDRA SCHULZ, CAC II
Sandra has been on her recovery path for over fourteen years and began working in the addiction over three years ago. Sandra is a residential counselor with NorthStar and she is currently pursuing her graduate degree in social work and her Certified Addiction Counselor II status. Her passion is helping people find their path to a healthy and happy life.
Brian began working in addiction treatment and recovery in 2014, after gaining his own sobriety in 2012. He has worked for Pacific Hills/Covenant Hills in San Clemente, CA and is working towards his CAC II certification after recently completing his CAC I.
Brian is one of the Leaders/Founders of the Restore Ministry, a Christ-centered, 12-step recovery ministry in Fort Collins. Brian has been a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist since 2015. Brian’s personal experience has fueled his desire to pass on the gift of sobriety to others, by helping them build a new life around a healthy, active community, with a strong spiritual foundation.
Taylor earned his BA in psychology from Bethany College in 2012 and is now obtaining his master’s in couple, marriage and family counseling from Walden University. Taylor began working for Northstar transitions in February 2017 and after obtaining his master’s, Taylor aims to work with families of addicts and alcoholics. Taylor has his own experience with recovery and has been sober since 2013. His passion for family and addiction recovery stems from his own experience.
Eugene has a BA in Psychology from The University of Massachusetts -Amherst, and three years of experience working in residential, community mental-health settings. Eugene is passionate about supporting clients in the process of recovery from addiction and growing in the areas of individuation and self-awareness. In working with clients, Eugene draws on the principles of trauma-informed care and person-centered counseling to provide a safe and supportive environment in which clients may focus on moving towards greater autonomy, health, and well-being.
Technical Support Staff
Derek has extensive experience working in healthcare, and from his personal journey in finding sobriety he has discovered a passion for working in the recovery field. Derek is currently working on furthering his education in substance abuse treatment by gaining his CAC certification. Derek’s positive attitude, caring personality and teamwork approach all contribute to the substantial amount of support he provides at NorthStar.
Sharla has worked in multiple healthcare and wellness settings and has discovered that she is most passionate about working in the substance abuse treatment field. She began volunteering with Celebrate Recovery in 2015 while obtaining her HHP certification and joined the NorthStar team in the summer of 2017. Sharla’s approach to recovery is grounded in both nutrition and wholistic medicine with the intention of finding a specific plan tailored to each individual. Sharla’s effective communication skills and teamwork approach provide both clients and staff with the best opportunity to succeed.
Sharla hopes to obtain her CAC and continue on the path of helping others find health and happiness.