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FRESNO STAFF

Jerome Piper

Executive Director (SUDCC)

Jerome Piper is a Bakersfield native who has been in the alcohol and drug counseling field since 2017. Having struggled with substance dependence himself, Jerome has always had a passion for helping others in recovery. To this end, he graduated from the Drug & Alcohol Studies program in 2019 and the bachelor’s program in 2020 from Cal State University, Bakersfield.

He currently holds the title of Substance Use Disorder Certified Counselor (SUDCC) under the California Association of DUI Treatment Programs, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor 1 (CADC I) under the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, and an Associates of Arts degree from College of the Sequoias in 2001. Jerome did his internship at Clinica Sierra Vista Ebony counseling center, working with diverse populations in individual and group settings in an intensive outpatient treatment center before joining the Aspire team in 2019.

In his free time, he enjoys participating in community self-help groups, being of service to his community, and spending time with his two daughters and his son.

Yessica Avancena

MBA, LMFT, Division Chief Executive Officer

Yessica Avancena, MBA, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in children, adults and blended family structures. She is also the current Division CEO of Aspire Behavioral. Her work experience includes both private clinical practice and County Mental Health/Hospital roles where she was in leadership and management. She is a psychotherapist that is UCLA-trained in Mindfulness Application Practices which have been shown to be effective to treat ADHD, Anxiety and Mood Disorders as well as overall stress reduction. She has received additional training in the areas of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which utilizes awareness and mindfulness concepts along with progressive relaxation and guided meditation techniques for symptom reduction. Trained in alternative healing methods such as guided meditation, essential oils, and Reiki healing energy, she uses an empathetic and client-centered approach to change which meets the individual where they are for a holistic approach to healing. She is bilingual in Spanish/English and bi-cultural with extensive knowledge of Hispanic culture.

Rachel Lanier

Clinical Manager M.S., AMFT, APCC

Rachel earned two baccalaureate degrees in Psychology and Religious Studies, followed by a master’s in Counseling Psychology from California State University, Bakersfield. She is currently working towards an additional degree in Philosophy. Rachel has provided services to children, adolescents, and adults focusing on the utilization of evidenced-based practices and explorations in existential and mindfulness concepts.

Tommy Stokes

Registered Addiction Counselor

Tommy Stokes is a resident of Fresno CA, and is currently attending Fresno City College. Tommy is a registered SUD Intern majoring in Human Services. Having dealt with his personal struggles, Tommy is an ex-convict and an ex-addict who is dedicated to helping those in need of substance abuse treatment. His passion and focus consist of helping to counsel juveniles and adolescents. Tommy wants to guide adolescents and help them understand that they could have a better life if they chose to. Tommy strongly believes that we must start with the youth if we want a better future.

Charissa Phené

Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC-II)

Charissa Phené is a Fresno native who is currently a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (CADC-II) through the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals with a Certified Co-Occurring Disorder Specialist certificate from the Breining Institute College for the Advanced Study of Addictive Disorders. Charissa has been counseling for four and a half years and has been certified as a counselor for two and a half years. 

 She has associate degrees in Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counseling and Sociology from Fresno City College and has been accepted to CSU Fresno to pursue her Bachelor’s in Sociology with plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling so she can truly help those with co-occurring disorders. She has a passion for helping others and always goes above and beyond in everything she does. Charissa interned at Fresno New Connections, where she facilitated both adolescent and adult groups. She worked with clients with mild to severe mental health concerns needing substance use disorder counseling in both individual and group settings before becoming a part of Aspire Counseling Service Fresno in 2021. 

 Charissa is very open-minded and keeps a multifaceted perspective to the needs of those she is trying to help in being successful in recovery. She uses mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and other exercises, and helps with the development of meaningful activities and relationships to help establish a strong foundation for long-lasting recovery.

Alexandra Smith

AMFT

Alexandra D. Smith, MS, AMFT is an associate marriage and family therapist who is dedicated to empowering clients throughout their journey of growth and self-healing. Alexandra has worked with patients from diverse backgrounds and her clinical experience includes individual therapy, couples therapy, and child therapy. Alexandra focuses on adults and young adults with depression, anxiety, personal life-transition challenges, bipolar disorder, and adjustment disorder. 
 
Alexandra believes each individual has the potential to learn, grow, and heal when provided a safe space that facilitates empowerment, support, and education. She believes that the exploration of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and how they may be related to our current difficulties is essential in reaching one’s fullest potential.
 
Alexandra received a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling with Distinction from California State University, Fresno. She additionally graduated Summa Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Fresno, and has an Associate Degree in Social Science from Porterville College

Dr. Ramar Henderson

Ph.D. in Rehabilitation, Behavioral Health Interventionist

Dr. Ramar Henderson holds a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, M.S. in Sport Psychology from California State University Long Beach, and B.A. in sociology from California State University Sacramento. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Rehabilitation Counseling Program at California State University Fresno. Previous academic appointments include Dr. Henderson’s two-year fellowship as the first ever postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern Indiana, which included both academic and clinical responsibilities.
 
While earning his Ph.D. Dr. Henderson interned as a psychometrician serving persons with disabilities in Southern Illinois. Dr. Henderson has provided services to children, adolescents, and adults using evidence-based modalities. Dr. Henderson has also worked with student athletes. Dr. Henderson’s desire to help heal people stems from a place of wanting to help people become autonomous and navigate life as the best version of themselves. Dr. Henderson’s mantra is “life is not lived in a vacuum”, and his goal to help clients navigate personal and emotional trauma so that they do not feel like they are living on an island.
 
Dr. Henderson enjoys working out, spending time with loved ones, and consuming a great plant-based meal.

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