Peter has been in the behavior health profession for 20 plus years. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Psychology from the University of Memphis and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. He has been a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in the state of Texas for 18 years. He is an Internationally Certified Prevention Specialist and a Certified Designated Employer Representative Trainer (CDERT). As a CDERT he educates business owners, managers, Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), Employee Assistance Professionals (EAP) and HR and Safety Professionals on implementing workplace strategies for addressing employee substance abuse. Peter is currently works for Symetria Recovery where he is the Program Director.
Nichole Parker is the Manager of Business Development at Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center (PaRC) where she has worked for close to 7 years. She has been in the field of mental health since graduating with honors from Baylor University. After graduating and moving back to the Austin area, she went to work for a facility that specializes in child and adolescent treatment where she completed neuropsychological testing and eventually went into national marketing.
Nichole helped to create and later formalize a group called Greater Houston Area Treatment Providers (GHATP), one of the largest independent behavioral collaborative organizations in Houston. Nichole has served on the Houston Chapter of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP) Board of Directors for close to six years, previously as the Chapter Secretary and currently as President-Elect. In 2014 she was the recipient of the Houston Chapter Jim Keesey Volunteer of the Year Award and also received the Texas Houston Chapter TAAP Member of the Year Award.
Nichole has a passion for recovery and mental health and truly believes that recovery is possible. She is personally motivated to help this cause having lost her mother to alcoholism.
Immediate Past PresidentEllen Kirby-Joe is currently the CEO of Passages – Treatment for Women. She has served as CEO since 1990 and recently celebrated 25 years of service with Passages. She previously worked for Volunteers of America in their addiction and human service programs where after 17 years retired as a minister of VOA.
Ellen was selected as a recipient of the Sierra Tucson Compassion Award and was awarded Addiction Professional of the Year in 2010 by the Houston Chapter TAAP. In 2016, Ellen received the Hall of Fame award for Houston Chapter of TAAP as well as named one of the 50 Influential Women by Houston Woman Magazine.
Ellen currently holds a BLS and is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, Certified Employee Assistance Professional, Substance Abuse Counselor and Certified Life Coach. Ellen has worked tirelessly and diligently in the substance abuse field for over 40 years.
Financial OfficerSandy Olson is a native Houstonian. She holds a doctorate in public health from the University of Texas School of Public Health. She is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and is both a Certified Prevention and Certified Health Education Specialist. From 1986 to 2003, Sandy worked in mental health and intellectual & developmental disabilities program management. Since completing her doctorate in 2006, she has been with the Coalition for Behavioral Health (CBH) and serves as their Executive Director. CBH has received local honors and national attention for its prevention work in Houston. As a person in recovery and on behalf of the CBH, Sandy advocates for improved drug prevention and long-term recovery outcomes for the local community, and she has been significantly involved with the Houston Recovery Initiative coalition since its inception in 2010. Sandy has been an active member of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals, Houston Chapter, since 2011. In 2017, she was named state “Addiction Professional of the Year.”
Helena Washington, a licensed clinician, as well as a full-time Professional Relations Officer with Origins Behavioral Healthcare. Helena has dedicated her career to assisting others reach their best potential and improve their quality of life. This Business Development Professional, mental health, addiction, and life improvement specialist has been in the field for over 25 years, working with adults, children/adolescents, and family systems. Upon obtaining Bachelor Degrees in both Psychology and Sociology, from Grambling State University, she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Bowling Green State University, graduating with honors. In addition, Helena received extensive specialized addiction training through the Medical College of Ohio, in 1996.
Xavier Barron- LCDC-I, CSAT-C, ICPS
DirectorXavier Barron is a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Intern (Graduate), Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Candidate (Level 4), and an Internationally Certified Prevention Specialist. Xavier attended the Institute of Chemical Dependency Studies and is currently obtaining his Undergraduate Degree at Springfield College. Xavier entered the helping profession in 2015. He has worked extensively with children, adolescents, and adults, offering substance abuse prevention, intervention, and counseling to thousands of people in the Greater Houston Area. Xavier specializes in helping teenagers and young adults who suffer from substance abuse as well as problematic sexual and pornographic behavior. Xavier uses aspects of several different therapeutic modalities in his practice such as Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Person-Centered Therapy, Experiential Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. Xavier is an ally to the LGBTQ+ community and has a wealth of experience helping teens and adults who identify as LGBTQ+.
Xavier takes a compassionate, understanding, and unique approach with each of his clients as he believes that no two people’s lives are alike and therefore treatment must be tailored to the uniqueness of each of his clients. Additionally, Xavier offers lectures and presentations on a wide range of behavioral health topics to schools, businesses, and other organizations by request. He enjoys spending his free time with loved ones, volunteering, and traveling the world.
John C. Cates MA, LCDC
DirectorJohn Cates is an expert at helping to cope, heal, and recover from substance abuse problems. John is world renown as a therapist, author, speaker, and designer of successful inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.
Recipient of multiple awards, the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) named John Counselor of The Year for the United States in 2001. Having has a Masters Degree in Counseling; he is the co-author of “Recovering Our Children”, and founder of Lifeway International, a substance abuse (APG) Alternative Peer Group program serving families across the nation for over 30 years.
Founding the first free standing recovery school in 1976, John has specialized in creating sober schools, offering students a safe place to learn and heal in a chemical-free supportive environment.
One of the most influential therapists in his field, John is a recovering heroin addict. Married for 36 years with 2 children, he has been clean and sober for forty years and knows first-hand what it takes to live a successful drug free life.
Don Hall, LCDC
DirectorDon Hall, LCDC, is a person in long-term recovery, which to him means that he has not had a needle in his arm for recreational purposes for over 30 years. Since the initiation of his recovery, he became a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in 1995 and has spent most of his career working with substance using homeless, indigent, criminal justice, and mental health individuals, as well as working for many years with opiate abusing individuals seeking medication-assisted treatment. He is active in the community in the Houston Chapter of Texas Association of Addiction Professionals, The Houston Recovery initiative of Recovery Oriented Systems of Care, and is chair of the Advisory Committee of the Human Services Technology School at Houston Community College, Coleman Campus. He is currently employed at SEARCH Homeless Services and at Adult Rehabilitation Services in Houston, Texas. He will also be graduating from Springfield College Houston this summer with a B.S in Human Services, with a Chemical Dependency Speciality.
DirectorAmelia Murphy is a person in long term recovery for 28 years. She is a Trainer of Trainers for both Medicated -Assisted Support Services (MARS) and Recovery Coach 46-hour Course for the State of Texas. She has served on the Peer Support Stakeholder Workgroup Committee for Medicaid House Bill 1486 for Texas Health and Human Service Commission. Amelia has also completed Texas Certification for Peer Recovery Support Specialist and International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium. Amelia is pursuing her BA in Social Sciences with University of Houston Downtown. Amelia has been employed with Santa Maria Hostel, Inc as Senior Director of Recovery
Support Services. She manages Certified Recovery Coaches assigned to local correctional facilities, including treatment & housing services. She is also involved with many recovery-oriented organizations as a volunteer. Amelia has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, notably The Houston Chapter of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals Distinguished Advocate Award. She has presented with Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale, Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS) with SAMHSA and Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC).
DirectorKaren Villarreal is the Manager for the Satellite Intensive Outpatient Programs at Memorial Hermann Prevention & Recovery Center (PaRC). She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). She has worked in the addiction treatment and behavioral health fields since 1993. She has provided services in residential, outpatient, hospital, and private therapy settings.
Karen has volunteered many years on the TAAP Spectrum committee and was the Volunteer Chair on the TAAP Spectrum committee for the last 3 years. She has also served on a local committee for Run for Recovery, an annual fun run each September to commemorate Recovery Month.
Karen is a native Houstonian, with three grown children, and three grandchildren.
Houston Chapter TAAP
PO Box 131924
Houston, TX 77219-1924