Andrea Dressler, Director of Outreach
Andrea has a passion for ensuring behavioral health services are readily accessible for individuals that are seeking care. She comes to Akua Behavioral Health with twenty plus years serving in Healthcare with a graduate degree in Nursing from Washington State University. She worked as a Behavioral Health clinician and community outreach advocate. She is proud that she assisted in bringing services to the Washington State Prison population to ensure a successful and safe transition back into the community for those suffering with behavioral health issues. Andrea passionately believes it takes a village to care for one another and is excited to support all those in need by being part of an outstanding team of Directors, Clinicians and Technicians that make a difference in every Akua client’s life.
Kelsie Barnes, Admissions Manager
Kelsie Barnes is a dedicated and passionate member of the AKUA family. Coming from a family of addiction professionals, Kelsie was naturally drawn to helping others find a new way of life, her passion for the Behavioral Health industry has been a steadily growing one ever since her teen years. Kelsie’s love for aiding in the recovery process led her to become a nationally certified interventionist. Her knowledge of intervention techniques made her the perfect candidate to help those in the very early stages of the recovery process. For the last two years, Kelsie has been an incredible asset to the admissions team, working hard every day to ensure admissions run smoothly and her team is readily available to assist clients seeking recovery. Her drive to help people enter Substance Abuse and Mental Health treatment is evident in the way she leads the Admissions Team. Kelsie believes this work to be of the utmost importance.
Dan Paulsell, Outreach Specialist, Orange County
Dan has earned a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with majors in Management, Human Resources, Marketing and supporting emphasis in Psychology and Sociology. He is currently working toward the completion of his Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor designation. He uses a caring and practical approach to assist in transitioning clients thoughts, actions and perspective into a new way of life, emphasizing the necessity of a new design for living. His ability to connect with clients through respect and empathy, is an invaluable asset to those struggling with addiction and trust barriers. His approach to a 12 step lead spiritual experience is accessible and inspiring.
Amy Palguta, Outreach Specialist, San Diego
Amy graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in School Psychology. She has been in the behavioral health field since 2018, working in-home and in school with children with developmental disabilities and behavioral issues. She worked on the development, implementation, and evaluation of an integrated treatment approach for youth at risk. She has built numerous relationships between families and resources in the San Diego Community. Amy is excited to provide resources and support to the recovery community.
Stephen Swanson, Outreach Specialist, Sacramento
Stephen graduated from The College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Philosophy and has many years of experience in sales, marketing, and customer service. Also, a guitarist and vocalist, he enjoys connecting with people through his live performances throughout the Sacramento Region. An avid promoter of 12step recovery in his community, Stephen spends much of his free time in the service of others who seek real, lasting change in their lives. He believes in treatment that is holistic, and that clearing the mind, strengthening the body, and nurturing the spirit are all essential and indispensable to recovery. He is passionate about reaching out and supporting those who are just beginning their journey toward a new freedom.
Christie Cook, Outreach Specialist, Sacramento
Christie graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BA in Communications. She is originally from the Bay Area and has spent most of her life in Northern California, living the last 15 years in the greater Sacramento Area. Christie’s entire career has been dedicated to helping people navigate some of life’s most important decisions. Christie loves to work with people and brings an energetic enthusiasm to her career working with them. A family tragedy refocused her career efforts towards supporting those who deal with mental illness, substance abuse and addiction. This event has given Christie the opportunity to connect people with the services offered at Akua Mind & Body. Christie is passionate about working in the healthcare industry and is excited to use her ability to build relationships and community connections.
Jacqueline Stewart, Community Outreach Specialist, Orange County
Jacqueline is a Southern California native who is passionate about helping people and giving back. With over 5 years’ experience in the substance abuse and mental health field, holding positions in clinical, outreach, and operations, she truly understands what it takes for someone to create a healthy state of mind and lifestyle. Jacqueline completed her drug and alcohol counseling course in 2016. She values creating the best care for clients to have a fulfilled and balanced life, including finding healthy hobbies, financial management, and establishing and executing goals. She has background in mixed martial arts, leadership development training, and enjoys pushing herself in all aspects of life to become better every day. Jacqueline knows how vital it is for alumni to have a strong support network after they leave treatment. She is excited to leave a footprint in a safe and lively atmosphere for the Akua alumni to stay connected.
Camille Parsons, Community Outreach Specialist, San Diego
Camille graduated from Western Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in business and is currently enrolled in the Alcohol and Other Drugs Studies program in pursuit of the CADC II certification. Camille has been working in the drug and alcohol recovery field since 2016 and her passion for helping others through the addiction cycle is undeniable. Camille’s ability to connect to a diverse group of people, while aiding in the transition period, promotes Akua’s family culture. Through her case management experience, Camille has been able to develop close relationships with numerous other facilities in the San Diego area. Her vast resources aid our clients for ongoing support post treatment in hopes of lessening relapse potential. Camille’s vision is to provide encouragement, unity, and greater integration throughout the entire continuum of care. Camille is very excited to lead the Alumni program for the San Diego facility.
Lance Carson, Community Outreach Specialist, Sacramento
Lance Carson’s dedication and commitment to the AKUA Alumni stems from over 20 years of service with the Sacramento County Sherriff’s department. During his career with the sheriff’s department, Lance worked in corrections, patrol, special assignments, and detectives. After 20 years of working in the Sheriff’s department, Lance needed specific treatment for PTSD and alcohol consumption. Lance made the decision to seek assistance at AKUA. In 2017 Lance completed a 45 day stay at AKUA for his PTSD and alcohol issues and “it transformed my life”. Lance returned to the sheriff’s department for another year before officially retiring. After retirement, Lance came back to AKUA to volunteer. Lance was hired on as a clinical tech due to his firsthand experience of treatment and being a First Responder. Lance worked for over a year as a tech and was naturally keeping in touch with the alumni as they left. As of June 1st, 2020, Lance was brought on as the full-time alumni coordinator for the Sacramento Region program. For Lance this is a true passion and feel’s it is his duty to assist people with the help they need. Lance is excited to continue the work with the alumni and assist in their on-going treatment. Lance has the commitment to make the alumni program a community that people can feel safe in and be a proud member of.
Carl Lemos, First Responders Outreach Specialist, Sacramento County
Carl’s dedication and commitment to the First Responder’s program at AKUA stems from his 11 years of personal dedication to the fire department. Carl personally struggled with addiction due to an injury sustained while working as a firefighter in 2008. Carl struggled through 4 years of surgeries and complications which led to his addiction struggles. Carl personally completed a First responders treatment track and has now dedicated his life to helping first responders with the same struggles. Carl is very proud to represent the First Responders Program at AKUA Mind and Body Sacramento.