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Our Team

San Diego California's Premier Treatment Facility

Leadership

Phil Castagnola, Sudrc

Phil Castagnola, SUDRC

Program Director

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Jeron Jache

Director of Operations

Business Development

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Nina Cornejo

Admissions Intake and Business Development

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Jeanette Simoes

Business Development
Representative

Clinical Staff

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Kay Saffe LPCC

Clinical Director

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Jeff Swem

Case Manager

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Nick Sena

Alternative Healing Facilitator

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Valerie Grisham

Clinical Technician

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Grace Hanifin

Yoga Instructor

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Nina Cornejo

Admissions Intake and Business Development

Medical Staff

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Elias Garcia

Director of Healthcare

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Vanessa Vinci

Nurse Practitioner

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Sara Hensley

Medical Assistant

Support Staff

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Arlene Courtney, RADT

Lead Behavioral Health Technician

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Meghan O’Boyle, RADT

Lead Behavioral Health Technician

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Carmen Gonzales Mercado

Behavioral Health Technician

Dianne Sterward

Dianne Steward

Healthcare Technician/Patient Support

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Cassandra Poster

Behavioral Health Technician

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Sabrina Trevino

Behavioral Health Technician

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BJ Nard

Health and Wellness Coach

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Ari Wagner

Chef

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Natani Simmons

Behavioral Health Technician

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Hope Stoneking, RADT

Behavioral Health Technician

Our Team

Katie Czepowski

Behavioral Health Technician

Phil Castagnola, SUDRC

Phil Castagnola
Case Manager

 Philip was born and raised in San Diego. He grew up with parents who were functioning alcoholics /addicts. This led to adopting a faulty belief system from a very early age that using drugs and alcohol was an acceptable way to live. The belief system made it normal for him to begin using substances at the age of 15.

Philip has been a surfer his entire life and competed professionally for a few years in his 20’s. He has primarily worked in the surf industry. He eventually opened his own surf shop (Select Surf Shop) in the early 2000’s. His addiction eventually got the better of him and after losing his business and his family in 2006 he spent the next 3 years in and out of rehabs trying to recover. His substance abuse issues eventually landed him in federal prison. He used his time wisely and started working the steps of alcoholics anonymous and completing an 18-month treatment program. 

Philip was the primary caregiver for his mom who was permanently bedridden for the last 4 years. When covid hit he decided to pursue one of his goals and began going to school to become a substance abuse counselor.

After struggling with substance abuse issues for over 20 years philip now has 11 years of continuous sobriety and works a program of recovery giving back to other addicts and alcoholics through sponsorship in the program of AA.

Philip studied AODS at San Diego City College and he is now completing his internship here at Detox Center of San Diego.

Philip’s main passion is sharing his experience, strength and hope with others who struggle with substance abuse issues. Helping others through their journey of getting and remaining free of their bondage of addiction.

Jeron Jache

Director of Operations

Jeron Jache grew up in San Diego and attended St. Augustine High School where he was a three sport standout in football, baseball, and wrestling.  Upon graduation, Jeron accepted a football scholarship to University of San Diego where he only lasted one year before dropping out and going on a 12 year bender.  These years were marred with alcoholism, substance abuse, crime, and gang activity. During this hiatus Jeron was afforded the opportunity to visit numerous rehabilitation centers and prisons.  Jeron paroled for the last time at the age of 30 and two years later matriculated to Northwestern College in Orange City, IA where he walked-on to the football team and earned a scholarship. 

At Northwestern Jeron Jache played three college football seasons at 32, 33, and 34 years old.  He was a two-time Academic All-American, Special Teams MVP his senior year, and graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2016. 

Jeron has spent time working as an accountant, construction worker, tax preparer, bartender, and drug-dealer.  He brings a wide range of experiences, knowledge, and skill sets that he intends to utilize in the assistance of those struggling in the early stages of recovery.  He is currently managing a structured living environment named Sons of Recovery near San Diego State University and finds equanimity in the social connections made through helping others.

Nina Cornejo
Admissions Intake and Business Development

Nina grew up in San Diego and attended The School of Creative and Performing Arts where she was a triple threat ( Acting , Dancing & Singing ). Upon graduating high school at 16 Nina attended San Diego Mesa College for two years studying Abnormal Psychology and the Arts.

Nina worked for the city attorney’s office criminal division from the age of 16 and decided to focus on a career in Law. Nina was accepted to USD , but never attended. At the age of 21 Nina’s “other life “landed her on the wrong  side of the law & prison where she spent most of her adult life. While incarcerated she decided to go back to school to become a Drug Counselor. Upon her release she was employed by a local detox and rehabilitation center, as well as opened several recovery residences locally. Nina thrives while helping others and believes her calling is to guide others to tap into their full potential. 

Jeanette Simoes
Business Development Representative

Jeanette, the Business Development Representative of Detox Center of San Diego, brings over a decade of experience in the Behavioral and Mental Health field. Beginning in 2012 as a behavioral health technician in medical detox, she has excelled in various roles. Her journey includes roles as a Case Manager, Clinical Outreach Representative, Operations Manager, Marketing Manager, Business Development and Admissions Coordinator, Account Executive, and private Recovery Specialist. Jeanette is dedicated to ethical practices and is a strong advocate for the recovery community.

Jeff Swem

First and foremost, I’ve been married to a wonderful woman, Lori, for about 23 years, and we have two awesome kids, Emily, 19, and Jonathan, 16 years old. We’ve lived in Chula Vista for 20 years but I grew up in Pacific Beach, actually lived my early teenage years about 4 blocks away from where the Detox is.

I was born in San Diego and have spent my life here. I dropped out of college very quickly after high school, and spent years running a business until I got the itch with home brewing to make beer professionally. So when Fall Brewing opened, I knew the guys doing it, and I followed my passion, learning the profession of brewing from the ground up. I spent the better part of a decade doing that until Covid hit and shut down the brewery I was working at, 32 North.

I’d known my drinking was a problem for a long time but felt even more stuck than I normally would due to the fact that it was how I fed my family. However, the covid shutdown gave me the out I needed to go to rehab, and July 27th 2020 was the last time I drank alcohol. After rehab, knowing there was no way I could go back to brewing, I spent time working in a warehouse and doing local deliveries while getting adjusted to my new life, and reached out to my good friend, Phil, who was in the process of completing the course at San Diego City College, on how I could get started on that path. I’m now in my fourth semester of school, and am working towards my AOD counselor certification. Currently, I’m stoked to be part of the Detox Center of San Diego team, putting the things I’m learning into action in my career. I feel drawn to helping people and am certain I’m on the right path in life right now. I have a ton of support from friends and family, and honestly when I step back, I can’t believe how lucky I am to have so much love in my life. I know that probably sounds cheesy, but it’s true.


I love kayaking, hiking, camping, bonfires, just being outdoors in general. On Tuesdays I have 2 hours between my morning class and afternoon shift, and you’ll always find me on my beach chair at different beaches or bayside spots eating my lunch during that break. I dig punk rock and love going to live music. Music has spoken to me through my life, and strengthens my sobriety. I’ve been a Padres fan through thick and thin, and really right now am focused on family, my sobriety program, school, work, and keeping the big picture of everything ahead of me moving towards a positive manner, and hopefully helping others do the same thing.

Nick Sena

Nick Sena

Alternative Healing Facilitator

Nick grew up splitting his time between San Diego and Los Angeles, graduating from Granada Hills Charter High School. Shortly after graduating, his addiction eventually landed him in prison. After his incarceration, still struggling with addiction, Nick began exploring various energetic healing modalities in the hopes of realizing his sobriety. After achieving his sobriety, Nick pursued certification and mastery in these modalities with the goal of helping others struggling with addiction. Nick is the owner of Nascent, an energetic wellness company, and is Master attuned in 2 lineages of Reiki as well as a certified Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and Deep Chakra Healing practitioner.

Valerie Grisham

Val grew up in Orange County CA as the fourth out of five children in her family. Facing many adversities in her life, Val states that her family was always rich with love. However, in order to cope with the many traumatic life events she experienced, she turned to substance. Val attempted to achieve sobriety multiple times throughout her life, particularly after the birth of her child, but unfortunately her disease had not yet been managed and eventually led to her incarceration. Eventually Val decided that enough was enough and she began dedicating her life to her recovery, and even began building a passion towards helping others do the same. Val has since gone to school for AOD’s, manages a sober living, and even worked for a period of time helping inmates at Donovan Prison. Currently Val is finishing her school to receive her AA, and hopes to one day become a Life Coach to continue with her passion of assisting others achieve their goals through her work.

Grace Hanifin
Yoga Instructor & Advocate for Sobriety

Grace Hanifin is a dedicated yoga instructor with a profound passion for guiding individuals on their journey to wellness and sobriety. With a background rooted in personal experiences and a deep understanding of the transformative power of yoga and mindfulness, she has emerged as a beacon of hope and inspiration within the sober community.

Driven by a genuine desire to help others, Grace discovered the healing benefits of yoga during her own journey of personal struggle. Recognizing the profound impact that yoga had on her physical, mental, and emotional well-being, she was inspired to share this gift with others who were also seeking healing and recovery. Grace has been teaching at the Detox Center of San Diego for about six months, with a total of about a year and a half teaching experience outside of the center. She enjoys every opportunity she gets to share her love and passion for mindfulness, meditation, and yoga.

As a yoga instructor, Grace approaches her practice with authenticity, compassion, and a profound dedication to service. She creates a safe and supportive space for individuals of all backgrounds and experiences, fostering a sense of community and belonging that is integral to the recovery process. Through her gentle guidance and encouragement, she empowers students to connect with their bodies, minds, and spirits, facilitating a deeper understanding of themselves and their journey towards sobriety.

Through her unwavering commitment to service and her ability to lead by example, Grace continues to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of those in the sober community. She is not only a yoga instructor but also a mentor, friend, and source of inspiration for all who have the privilege of crossing paths with her.

In her pursuit of promoting healing, wellness, and sobriety, Grace remains dedicated to empowering others to discover their inner strength, cultivate self-love, and embrace the journey towards healing and transformation.

Elias Garcia

Lead Medical Assistant

After sixteen years of working in sales, Elias decided to pursue a career in the medical field in order to have a steady work environment to provide for his six children. Shortly after entering the field, Elias received a job working at a detox facility and decided that helping drug addicts and alcoholics is where his true passion was. Elias is currently attending school to complete his Associates in Nursing, and plans to continue working in detox to help those in need and watch as they succeed in life.

Sara Hensley

Medical Assistant

Sara is native to San Diego and graduated as a medical assistant in 2010. After graduation, she started working at the methadone clinic and began using drugs shortly thereafter. It did not take long before she was fully addicted to the substances she was using, leading to a life of crime. In 2017 Sara decided enough was enough, and she admitted herself into a rehabilitation facility. During her stay, she realized she wanted to give back and work in drug and alcohol treatment. Sara aims to help others in any way that she can in honor of all of the loved ones she has lost due to their disease of addiction.
Born and raised in San Diego, Arlene grew up surrounded by family members who struggle with substance abuse disorder. Watching everything her loved ones endured during their addiction and how hard they fought for their sobriety encouraged her to one day become involved in helping others also overcome their plight with drugs and alcohol. Arlene enjoys seeing other progress in their recovery and being a part of the process. Recently graduating from high school, she plans to remain in the healthcare field by furthering her education to become a nurse.

Meghan O’Boyle
Behavioral Health Technician

Meghan grew up in Massachusetts  and began abusing substances at age 11. Making her first attempt at sobriety at age twenty, she found herself continuously in and out of various different treatment centers. Only after facing an entire year of homlessness did Meghan decide she truly wanted to change her way of living, and began to accept the help and advice from others. Through individual and group therapy, yoga, AA meetings, and participating in active service work, Meghan has been able to obtain two years of continuous sobriety.

Carmen Gonzales Mercado
Behavioral Health Technician

Hi my name is Carmen and I grew up in San Diego, California where I started abusing substances at a very young age. At age 23 I started using heavier substances that lead me to being homeless for almost 5 years. At the age of 27 I tried to get clean to get my life back, but I couldn’t get it together and wasn’t ready to let go of my addiction. I went back out for another year. I lost a lot of friends, family and my kids due to my addiction. I became tired of being alone and feeling hopeless. My life truly became unmanageable. That’s when I decided to focus on myself and become serious about my recovery. I gained enough courage to ask for help because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Addiction is very hard but it is possible to recover!! That’s why I Love working at the Detox Center Of San Diego to help others on their journey to recovery!! We Do Recover!!!
Dianne Steward

Dianne Steward

Behavioral Health Technician

Born and raised in San Diego Diane has always been a high achiever. Whether it has been for the right reasons or the wrong reasons. She has always set her standards high. She has been to college for accounting and business administration and she has also been in prison. Due to the give-and-take of this she knows what it’s like to struggle with life as well as succeed in life.

Today Diane is in a place where she believes she will get the most fulfillment out of life by helping others on the path to be the best version of themselves.

Big Cassandra Image

Cassandra Poster
Behavioral Health Technician

Cassandra Poster was born and raised in San Diego, growing up in a large family with five sisters. She attended high school El Capitan in Lakeside, CA. Shortly after graduating from high school Cassandra began to experiment with drugs, which led to many traumatic experiences. These experiences propelled her drug addiction until it spiraled out of control in a whirlwind of abuse, destruction and despair.

Today Cassandra embraces the opportunity to grow and empower herself through fulfilling work in the treatment industry. It’s a journey of continuous improvement, where every step in sobriety brings her closer to a healthier life.

Sabrina Trevino
Behavioral Health Technician

Hi! I’m Sabrina! I was born in Houston Texas but raised here in San Diego. I enjoy boogie boarding at the beach, playing pool and drawing. I also like to volunteer for the Victory Outreach because I have been in those same shoes. I want to give back to my community as my community has been there for me in times of need. I have put myself through rehab multiple times and finally after my third run, self referred, I was able to pull myself out of homelessness and my drug addiction. If there’s a will, there’s a way! I came to work at Detox Center of San Diego to help those who are struggling. Every person that comes through these doors, I genuinely care for and will do everything in my power to help in any way.

BJ Nard
Health and Wellness Coach

🔹 NSCA CPT
🔹 NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist
🔹 Professional Cupping Therapy Massage
🔹 BS in Sports Management from Cal Poly University

Seasoned recovery specialist renowned for his transformative work with athletes, gym enthusiasts, and individuals managing chronic illnesses. Through a tailored approach combining assisted stretching, cupping therapy, and specialized bodywork techniques, BJ has become a trusted ally in the pursuit of ultimate rejuvenation. Beyond the physical benefits of reduced inflammation, profound relaxation, improved blood circulation, and the effective flushing out of toxins from the body, BJ’s holistic approach extends to mental well-being. By fostering a sense of harmony between mind and body, BJ’s methods have been lauded for their ability to uplift one’s mental state, promoting a deep sense of inner peace and balance. Clients attest that the transformative effects of BJ’s work go beyond the physical realm, resulting in a profound change that resonates throughout their entire being.

Detox Staff Photo
Ari Wagner
Chef

Ari has a strong passion for food, which has been prevalent throughout their life. They started exploring culinary interests at a very young age and began practicing that professionally for the last 10 years. Their addiction began at the age of 12 and continued for approximately 14 years. Surprisingly, they were unaware of the severity of their addiction, despite witnessing their extended family’s struggles with similar challenges. It was only when they encountered fellow individuals in recovery that they realized there was a healthier and more fulfilling way to lead their life.
With a decade of professional cooking experience under their belt, Ari has successfully operated a personal chef and meal planning business, organized catering ventures, and worked in various restaurant establishments. Their culinary talent and expertise have led to multiple invitations from casting directors to participate in popular cooking shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef. However, Ari recognized that the demanding nature of the industry was contributing to their addiction, and they knew that progress would be unlikely without embracing sobriety. Volunteering and supporting others has always held great importance in Ari’s life. Thus, the opportunity to pursue their passion for cooking while aiding others in finding inner peace has been an absolute dream come true. Their primary goal is to create nourishing and wholesome meals, promoting wellness and a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, Ari aims to offer guidance and assistance to individuals seeking support in their own journey toward serenity.

Natani Simmons
Behavioral Health Technician

Born in 1973 and raised in San Diego, CA, my journey with addiction started at 16. In 1998, at 26, I made my first attempt at getting clean, unaware of what being an addict truly meant. After several failed attempts and time behind bars, I finally acknowledged my addiction. Now, one year sober, I credit staying connected, working the steps, and embracing my powerlessness for my progress, supported by my group.

Hope Stoneking
Behavioral Health Technician

Hi my name is Hope StoneKing, I was born and raised in San Diego California. As a child I was raised with addict parents in a very chaotic home. At the age 13 I was in a accident and that is when my addiction started, by the age of 17 I was living a full blown addict lifestyle dropped out of high school ran the streets for the next 20 years. My addiction ran rampant until I was arrested and was about to lose my children. Since then I’ve come to find that I have a heart for people who have been hopeless and didn’t know how to get out of that lifestyle. I am working on going back to school to become a drug and alcohol counselor and love my life in recovery.

Katie Czepowski
Behavioral Health Technician

Katherine , originally from Des Moines, Iowa, faced tough times after turning to drugs and alcohol at 14. College dreams were dashed by addiction, leading to homelessness, jail, and rehab cycles. Three years ago, she moved to San Diego for a fresh start. With determination and support, Katie’s now on a path of recovery, reclaiming her life.

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