polaris medical team francine park

JESSICA MEYER, MA

PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Jessica Meyer is a mental health professional who has spent over eight years working in various roles in this field. She holds a BA in Psychology and earned a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Jessica has worked with various populations of young people ranging from two years old to 18 years old. Jessica has experience managing caseloads of youth in treatment foster care, working closely with psychiatrists, therapists, lawyers, and families. In her work in New Mexico, she received training in DBT and CBT and has also received training in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in her work with autistic children. Additionally, Jessica has experience and has been trained in various types of de-escalation techniques and crisis management.

Not only has Jessica worked in the treatment field, but is in personal recovery herself. Because of this, she has empathy and compassion for those who are in treatment and who have their own struggles. Jessica works very hard in her own 12 step program and has a deep passion for being of service to others. She especially loves teenagers, with deep compassion for all their struggles and strengths.

briana esparaza education director

BRIANA ESPARAZA, BA

EDUCATION COORDINATOR

Briana is a teacher with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Antioch University. Her BA degree was in television production where she began working in casting with child actors and then shifted to her passion for education. Once at Antioch she developed her teaching philosophy of promoting social justice and specialized teaching for the individual.

Through her experiences of teaching at various schools in the Los Angeles area, Briana became skilled at helping children with not only their academic goals, but in focusing on social and emotional learning as well. Briana has worked with children and adolescents with many different types of special needs, disabilities, and emotional challenges.

Briana’s main goal is to facilitate a comfortable environment where children’s needs will be heard. She is consistently focused on assisting young people in their academic needs to stay on track, as well as acquiring the tools to work through any issues so they are enabled them to develop the best version of their true selves.

Stephanie Guttierez Residential Program Manager

STEPHANIE GUTTIEREZ

PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Stephanie is a certified nursing assistant and is working to pursue her Bachelor of Science with a Major in Nursing. In 2014 Stephaine started working children and teens. With an interest in the medical field and a desire to work with young people, Stephanie began her career working in treatment for rehabilitation with young adults.

Following her passion in 2019, she transitioned into working with teens in the mental health field and joined Polaris as a Program Aide. As an integral part of the Polaris team, she was promoted to Lead Program Aide and eventually to Residential Supervisor, in which she co-supervises all floor staff. Working for Polaris, Stephanie has been able to witness the positive impact and change the program and staff have on the teens and their families.

Jocelyn Zepeda Polaris Teen Center

Jocelyn Zepeda, BA

RESIDENTIAL MANAGER

Jocelyn Zepeda is a Cal State Long Beach alumni with a Bachelors in Social Work and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Social Work. She has worked with children of all ages in different settings. She worked with children in a foster/adoption agency as a case manager and then moved on to work for an after school organization in the role of classroom assistant. Jocelyn is passionate about working with children to ensure their well being and wants to be an advocate for all children. She started as a Program Aide at Polaris and is now a Residential Manager. Her different experiences have taught her about mental services and mental health, which is a pathway for her career.
Sandra Ramirez Polaris Teen Center

Sandra Ramirez, BA

RESIDENTIAL MANAGER

Sandra earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminology in 2016. She has worked with multiple populations of at risk youth ever since, including those in the correctional system and those experiencing homelessness. She then entered the mental health field through Polaris as a Program Aide. Through hard work and dedication she was promoted to Lead Program Aide and now holds the position of Residential Manager.

Sandra has a strong passion for rehabilitation and helping all youth recognize their full potential. She finds it rewarding to work as a team with all Polaris staff to help guide and support youth as they navigate through their treatment.

Betty Tores Polaris Teen Center

BETTY TORES

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Betty has worked in the mental health field for 4 years as an ABA Behavioral Technician a Lead Program Aide. She has always had a passion for working with children & young teens. Her goal is to help teens find their own identities by increasing their self-awareness, and self-love. Working at Polaris has been a rewarding experience for Betty, as she gets to be part of each teen’s journey to growth.
Ai Kusuhara

AI KUSUHARA, MA, LMFT

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER

Ai Kusuhara is a mental health professional, parenting educator, & child and adolescent advocate, currently in the role of Human Resources Director. Ai has been working at Polaris from the very first day of operation. Earning her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute with emphasis on Depth Psychology, Ai brings her clinical expertise in assessments and intake throughout the admission process. Prior to Polaris, Ai Kusuhara has worked with children, adolescents, individuals, and families providing culturally sensitive social services both as a therapist, case manager, and parenting educator at the Little Tokyo Service Center (CDC), as well as a psychotherapist, seeing individuals at Coldwater Counseling.
Britanny Guiterrez Residential Program Manager

ROBERT BRACALIELLO, BS, AA

EXECUTIVE CHEF
Robert Bracaliello began working in treatment in 2001 as a counselor for at risk youth after earning his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Rutgers University. He went on to earn Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in 2004. Robert has served as a restaurant consultant, personal chef, food judge, sous chef, and executive chef/owner of Residential Dining Solutions. We are excited because of the insight he brings to the position bridging the world of food service and treatment. His multi-faceted experience translates to a better experience for our residents and guests.
Amy Hager Polaris Teen Center

AMY HARGER, BA

ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATOR

Amy Harger has worked with children, adolescents, and young adults for many years in various employment and volunteer roles. She began working at Polaris as a Program Aide and now serves as Administrative Coordinator. Throughout this time, she has enjoyed working directly with teens and getting to see their growth. Amy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in criminal behavior from California Lutheran University. She is currently working towards receiving her Master’s in Social Work from California State University – Northridge.
Lisa Hitchell Polaris Teen Center

LISA HITCHELL, MEd

TEACHER

Lisa has over ten years’ teaching experience in various academic settings. She holds a master’s degree in Education from Sierra Nevada College and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UNLV. Her classroom experience began as an ESL (English as a second language) instructor in Las Vegas helping international students, both teens and adults, become acclimated to the English language and American culture. This transitioned into Lisa earning her state teaching license in secondary education, with which she taught middle school ELA for over six years. During that time, she developed skills and delivery approaches to help students of various backgrounds and challenges, including physical, mental, and emotional, to succeed in their studies.

Lisa enjoys working with students in smaller groups settings or in a one-to-one situation so that she can tailor the content delivery to that student’s specific needs and learning style. She is able to apply those skills in a one-to-one setting with the students here at Polaris to facilitate their continuing educational progress during their stay.

Sarah Granados Polaris Teen Center

Sarah Granados

Residential Manager

Sarah Granados has an Associates of Occupational Science Degree in Surgical Technology and is working towards a Bachelors in Nursing. She spent eight years in the military, first as a Sergeant in the US Army and then working as a civilian contractor for the Department of Defense in Human Resources and Payroll. After her time working for the military, Sarah found that she had a passion for wanting to help others. As a compassionate and empathic person, she worked first as a community facilitator and caretaker for autistic teenagers. She then joined Polaris as a Program Aide 2021. Sarah was soon promoted to Lead Program Aide and then Residential Manager.

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