House Program Directors:
What is something you do for your health and well-being?
I started boxing about 3 years ago and fell in love with it right away. I find boxing to be a great outlet for most of life’s stresses. We try to get the Yale guys involved with it a few times a week with the opportunity to do some very light sparring down the line if they show interest. Mostly, we do it for a great workout.
What is something unique about your particular house?
The Yale house is not only in close proximity to the beach, but is also centrally located between a lot of the young people’s AA meetings on the Westside. Because our home is surrounded by so many cool restaurants, shops, and sporting stores, our guys are able to get jobs in a field that interests them if employment is one of their goals. Also, most of the staff at the Yale house are musicians and we have daily jam sessions to keep the vibe fun and energetic. It’s great when we get the guys to perform solo or together during a Friday night music meeting. Between the livelihood of Santa Monica and the high energy of our home, I’m proud to say we spend a lot of time just laughing and having fun together!
An important aspect of the Transcend philosophy is building strong bonds within one’s community. We are proud to have Elliot as a longtime family member of ours. As an alumnus of Transcend, he was able to experience all the program has to offer. While in the house, Elliot decided at some point that he wanted an opportunity to work with others and give back. Elliot found his strength in leadership and mentoring. He became inspired to serve and support others through their hardships as he had been. Elliot thrives at helping clients harness their potential and act on it. He approaches each new resident without judgement and with an open mind, and knows that every person’s needs are unique to their recovery. Having grown up in Los Angeles, Elliot understands the opportunities the city provides for self-discovery and exploration. From boxing to surfing, Elliot helps our clients uncover their passions and have fun in recovery.
What is your favorite part about working in the field?
My favorite part about working in this field has to be when a client obtains meaningful sobriety by pursuing passions that may have been lost long ago as a result of alcohol and drug use.
How do you maintain balance and good health?
Now that I live in NY, I love running through Central Park. Surfing/Boxing/Tennis are also great outlets for me.
Anthony Junger currently serves Transcend clients at our Manhattan home, but it was in California that he found his passion for helping people. Before moving to New York, he joined the Transcend family as a member of the support staff team at one of our men’s sober living locations in Los Angeles, Ca four years ago. Prior to working in treatment Anthony used his creative talents to compose television commercials in the Los Angeles area. While music composition is a passion of Anthony’s, he was inspired to work in recovery after his personal experience living in a sober home. Anthony credits the structure and accountability of the sober community he had to saving his own life. He now hopes to pay it forward, to share the inspiration and guidance he was given in his recovery, and help every Transcend resident effect positive change in their own lives. He firmly believes that all people can recover and change every aspect of their lives for the better. Anthony is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Ca where he received training and certification as a drug and alcohol counselor.
As Program Director of the Men’s Venice house, Mike brings years of both personal and professional experience in the recovery field. After working in film and television, he sought a career in which he could help others through their own recovery and joined the Transcend family in 2015. Mike was quickly recognized for his ability to connect with clients and their families and now serves as both a mentor and Recovery Coach in addition to his Program Director role. With a bachelor’s degree in English from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a professional background in creative writing, he finds that writing allows him to practice and maintain balance in all areas of his life- spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Mike’s goal is to help clients understand that recovery is an opportunity to have more out of life, despite the hesitations or fears they may have in the beginning of sobriety. He is inspired to help every client find the motivation and purpose to live a fulfilling and passionate life.
What is something you do to practice self-care?
Surfing is my go-to activity when I need to unwind and recalibrate. It is something I’m passionate about, and like to also share with my clients as well. Since our house is literally steps from the Venice ocean, I’ll take them out for a surfing session individually or as a group. It’s a great opportunity to have a new meditative experience in early recovery.
What do you find purposeful about your work?
When I was in early recovery, I needed a lot of support from others to help me find true meaning and fulfillment out of life again. I now pass on those insights and principles of recovery to help others gain a life filled with meaning and intrinsic satisfaction. Being in a position to do that provides me with ultimate purpose.
Jon is a native of the Washington D.C. area and earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. After working in film and marketing for a few years, he moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to seek a more rewarding career. During that time he volunteered with several organizations supporting at-risk and homeless youth and soon realized his purpose was to serve others and make a long-lasting positive impact on their lives. Jon came to Transcend in 2015 as an intern, working in the houses to complete the necessary hours for his drug and alcohol counseling certification through UCLA. Upon the completion of his training, Jon joined the Transcend team at our men’s Verve program. We are grateful to have Jon serve as a leader of our men’s program, as well to the greater Los Angeles recovery community! He says, “It’s funny, back in school they taught me how to construct a narrative. Today, I get to show others how to change the narrative of their lives.”
What is something fun you do in your free time?
I love to get out of the city and exploring the outdoors. I help coordinate an annual camping trip and outdoor excursion that is primarily for people in recovery. I don’t care if it’s climbing a mountain or swinging in a hammock, spending time in nature has a profound effect on my overall well-being.
What is something that supports your recovery?
For me, first and foremost, it’s service. It is absolutely crucial for me to live beyond my own self-interest, to make this world a little better for someone else. Come to think of it, recovery is a lot like climbing a mountain. Nobody is going to carry you to the top of Everest, but the right guides can definitely help you get to there. It’s important to have the support and insight of people who support your journey.
After a period of disillusionment with real estate and investment, Asher sought to do something more meaningful for others and himself.
In following suit with his desire for fulfillment, Asher decided to create a place where people could be “heard” and could receive help to improve their lives. Asher has maintained this commitment and has sought teaching from some of the best and brightest in the field of recovery to provide optimum care for our clients.
Aside from a wife and five children, Asher has always considered the Men and Women of Transcend as his extended family.
“At Transcend we believe the Road to Recovery is based on connection.”
Adam has the honorable distinction of being Transcend’s fourth client. Adam began as a Program Director for Transcend and then took on the role of CFO after his first year at Transcend. Now Adam oversees all design of administrative policy and procedure and is an integral part of creating the administrative structure for all of Transcend’s developing programs. Adam also attended FIDM Los Angeles for graphic design and has worked alongside the Transcend team lending his expertise.
“I knew I could stay sober when I saw that being sober and having fun weren’t mutually exclusive”
The growth and development of people, companies, and the operational systems that support both, are the foundations of Christian’s professional journey. Behind the P&Ls, balance sheets, and quarterly operational plans, are people- their stories, their experiences, and their beliefs in the companies we lead. After a life of rich experience and lessons learned, Christian has found that by focusing on the human-element of business, success can be found on a variety of levels.
Before starting as one of the first employees of Transcend Recovery Community, now an industry leader in the young adult behavioral health space, Christian’s journey took him from the warmth of the Pacific Palisades, CA, to the adventure of Rio de Janeiro, to the beaches of Australia, on through the hospitality of Asia and beyond. While his path has had plenty of amazing ups, and eye-opening downs, he is grateful for every lesson learned as they have helped shape him into an effective communicator in both his corporate, and personal, roles. Leadership requires experience, empathy, and an ability to meet employees where they are. Christian’s mix of corporate and personal experience provides him with a unique approach to leadership that has allowed him to grow companies, teams, and bottom lines.
Joni Ogle, LCSW, CSAT leads Transcend Texas as its Executive Director. Joni brings over 25 years of clinical experience, management, and leadership in working with adults and young adults suffering with addiction and trauma. She is licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex addiction therapist with additional training in Recreational Therapy, Pia Mellody’s Post Induction Therapy, and Dr. Brene Brown’s The Daring Way Shame Resilience curriculum.
Born and raised in Mexico, Ely Velázquez Pugh found herself in the lone star state in the late 90’s after her mother re-married. With a broad range of interests and intellectual curiosity, she earned a dual-degree in Human Resources and Organizational Management from Ashford University. Throughout her studies, she gained experience in various areas in Human Resources, Office Management, Marketing and Program Accreditations in industries in the Energy sector, Healthcare, and Oil and Gas.
With her love for HR, she found a home in Transend and provides support to the organization as the Director of Human Resources. Ely has a natural ability to connect with those around her and remains steady and assured even in the most stressful of situations. Sometimes she enjoys her job way too much… a passionate HR gal, that is for sure!
Originally from Garden City, New York, Chris came to Los Angeles in 2016 as a client of Transcend. After completing his recovery program Chris began coaching a local Los Angeles lacrosse team. With a passion for helping others and creating community, Chris serves as our Transcend Alumni Program Director. Each day, Chris strives to connect our growing network of alumni in their life long journey of recovery. He studied Business Administration with a minor in Finance at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. After regaining his love of health and fitness in recovery, Chris loves to exercise and explore the outdoors in his free time. His family is of the upmost importance to him and says his mother is one of the most important people in his life. Though he loves the community he has built in LA, he loves to go home to NY where he can play with his two nieces! When he isn’t at one of the amazing Alumni events, you can find him at Soulcycle or at one of the many Italian restaurants in Los Angeles!
A native of Los Angeles, Ashley received her BA in Psychology from UCLA, and her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California. Her education and training have focused on the relationship between trauma and substance abuse. She completed her practicum training at the CLARE Foundation in Santa Monica, a residential substance abuse facility, where she received training in psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and 12-step oriented treatment. Previously, Ashley served as the Counseling Director at Beit T’Shuvah for five years, a residential substance abuse facility in Los Angeles, where she was responsible for the supervision and training of all substance abuse counselors, and coordinating and overseeing the clinical care of clients and their families. Ashley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving as the Director of Mentoring and Family Programming at Transcend, where she oversees case management services for a diverse array of clients and their families. Ashley believes in the sanctity and power of the therapeutic relationship and in the ability of every person to recover and transform through mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Emily began working for Transcend in November 2014 as a driver at our Harvard house. She quickly moved up to the lead evening manager, and from there, became the Assistant Program Director. Soon after, Emily became the Assistant Director of the Mentoring and Family Program where she has helped people transition from sober living and treatment back into their everyday life with the recovery tools and support to help them flourish. Emily joins her passion for helping people and being an active member of the recovery community into her work with the mentoring department. She helps carry the message of recovery through her love and compassion for helping people.
A New York native, Roya came to Los Angeles in 2016 to begin her own journey towards recovery and healing. She joined our Admissions team to help others find their own path in recovery, and ultimately, reinvent themselves as she did. Roya is passionate about helping people connect with their inner spirit & reignite their purpose in life. She believes this to be the essence of human crystallization. In addition to helping others gain access to treatment services, her interests include pilates, reading, and spending time with family. Roya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from NYU and is currently completing a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.
Originally from Boston, MA, Sean came to Los Angeles in 2012 as a client of Transcend. Upon completing his recovery program, Sean began working as a driver for the houses, and eventually as a weekend manager. After years of helping men find and work their own recovery program, Sean joined the Admissions Department of Transcend in 2016 to help others take their first step in their commitment to recovery. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Health form Worcester State University in Massachusetts. Sean combines his passion for both motorcycles and recovery as a proud member of Messengers of Recovery MC, a motorcycle club here in Los Angeles. He is an Officer of the club, whose goal is to have fun, help others, and carry the message of recovery through motorcycling.
Ryan Leaf is a graduate of Washington State University where he was also a standout quarterback leading the Cougars to the 1998 Rose Bowl. Ryan went on to play professionally in the NFL but injuries cut his career short. Now author and motivational speaker, Ryan shares his message of perseverance, gratitude, and hope. His motto of “Focused Intensity” is helping mentor young athletes on the high school and collegiate levels. Ryan serves as a guest analyst on numerous national radio shows while writing and speaking nationwide.
Ryan currently serves as the Program Ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community and its Mentoring Program. Given his personal growth and road to recovery, Ryan is extremely passionate about helping young adults manage the stress and difficulty of high school, college, and the transition to adulthood. Whether he is conducting assemblies at local schools, or speaking directly to students in a classroom, Ryan Leaf is dedicated to helping young adults reach, and maintain, their potential.
With a true passion for life and learning, Dean serves as Program Director of our men’s beachside home in Santa Monica, CA. He holds a bachelor’s in Communication Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently working towards his certification as a drug and alcohol counselor. Practicing wellness & self-care are integral to Dean’s recovery and overall well-being today and says that taking care of mind, body, and spirit are crucial to his long-term sobriety. Dean enjoys an active lifestyle and spends his free time practicing yoga, taking boxing classes, playing tennis & beach volleyball, and studying Kabbalah. Through his own recovery journey and his work to help others, Dean has finally been able to bridge the gap between the theory of spiritual principals and the action behind them. He has made it his life commitment to help people overcome the disease of addiction, and teach clients the life-skills necessary to rediscover their true selves in recovery. His ultimate mission is to show individuals that they can have a beautiful & full life without the use of substances. Dean is fascinated and passionate about music, art, sports, and the human connection we all share.
What about working in the field of recovery inspires you?
Seeing somebody come back to life from the grips of a deathly disease is one of the most inspiring and fulfilling things that I have ever been a part of. Seeing the lights come back on and the transformation that can take place when a client is open-minded and willing is truly miraculous.
What do you think makes Transcend unique?
I believe the thing that makes Transcend special, and separates us from other programs out there is the community aspect. We get all of the houses together for pool parties, beach days, surfing, yoga, and BBQs. At the Seaside house, our backyard is the ocean. It is a meditative place where clients can relax, self-reflect, or just enjoy the view!