Contact Family First Adolescent Services
The trained and experienced team at Family First Adolescent Services has the clinical and therapeutic expertise necessary to treat teen behavioral and mental health issues. Our collective skill set is centered around treating teen substance use disorders, teen mental health disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
James McManus, LMHC, MCAP
As the founder and owner of Family First Adolescent Services, I’ve devoted my career to understanding and treating the unique circumstances of young people grappling with drug and alcohol addiction, mood disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I attended Florida State University, where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree, then a Masters degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University. I have extensive training through the University of Pennsylvania’s Head of Psychiatry, Edna Foa, in the use of Prolonged Exposure Therapy to treat PTSD. I also attended the world-renowned Beck Institute to study Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for suicide and depression in adolescents.
I began my career helping individuals and families at Caron Foundation’s Hanley Center. Through thousands of hours of individual, family and group therapy, I have designed treatment plans and programs that have become the basis of Family First Adolescent Services. I am truly passionate about helping young people and their families learn, grow, and recover.
Ben Cecil, BA, CAP
Chief Operating Officer
Ben obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and has more than fifteen years of experience in addiction treatment.
Ben was previously a counselor at the Center for Men’s Recovery at The Caron Foundation’s Hanley Center, and later Clinical Supervisor for Outpatient Services. Ben has also developed specialized programming and training for future addiction professionals.
Ben has been with Family First Adolescent Services since its inception in 2014 as one of its co-founders. His current focus is on the development and supervision of staff, as well as continuing to advance the program in collaboration with the leadership team. Ben aims to provide an environment of creativity and support for his staff as they bring new ideas to the company.
In his off time, Ben only hangs out with his daughter and wife. It's all he really likes to do.
Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez, MD
For over 16 years, Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez has been treating adults and adolescents for mental health and substance use disorders, both at his private practice in Delray Beach, Florida and as the medical director at several inpatient facilities. Dr. Rodriguez received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Florida International University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Dr. Rodriguez received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Upon graduating, Dr. Rodriguez served as chief resident in the Adult Psychiatry Residency Program at the University of Miami – Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Rodriguez is a Diplomate on both the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology, and the American Board of Addiction Medicine. Dr. Rodriguez is also a certified medical review officer, a certified TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) provider, and is intensively trained in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) by the Linehan Institute. Dr. Rodriguez is a member of a number of organizations, include the American Psychiatric Association, the Florida Psychiatric Society, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Dr. Rodriguez specializes in the treatment of complex and co-occurring mental health disorders, including substance use disorders, mood & personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and process addictions.
Dr. Vincent R. Kennedy, DO, MPH
Dr. Vincent R. Kennedy earned his bachelor's degree at Georgetown University and completed his Master of Public Health Degree at the University of California, Irvine. He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Western University of Health Sciences in Southern California. Dr. Kennedy brings several years of experience treating adolescent and co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder patients in a variety of settings, including inpatient, outpatient, and intensive outpatient programs. He is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the Florida Psychiatric Society, and the Florida Medical Association.
Dr. Kennedy takes a particular interest in the application of evidence-based psychopharmacology and other treatment modalities to help his patients, and his patients' families, achieve their goals.
Dr. Mohammed N. Ansari, D.O.
Dr. Mohammed Ansari earned his bachelor's degree in the study of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida. He then attended the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine to earn his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree. Dr. Ansari has been working with youth and adolescent patients for several years along with extensive experience in treating substance use disorders and mental health disorders as part of inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and intensive outpatient treatment programs. Dr. Ansari is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, American Osteopathic Association, and has served as the Resident Committee Chair for the Florida Psychiatric Society in the past.
Filippo Poma, M.A.
Filippo graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors in Social Work in 2015, and also graduated with his Masters in Applied Psychology at Lynn University in May 2017.
Filippo has worked with teenagers and older adults in several different clinical settings from sober living to acute psychiatric care.
Originally from Costa Rica, Filippo began his own journey of recovery at age 20 which has imbued him with experience and knowledge that he enjoys passing on to other young men in recovery. He strives to help the young men at Family First find a life of joy and purpose through hard work.
Mike Giresi, CAC, CTP, ICADC, NMP
Director of Clinical Development
Mike found his passion for helping others through his own journey of healing and recovery. He started his career in the mental health field working with adult clients who suffered from complex trauma and PTSD, as well as chemical and process addictions. He has since traveled to India to study and become certified in Yoga and Meditation. Mike is a Florida Certified Addiction Counselor and an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Mike is also a nationally Certified Trauma Professional through Spirit2Spirit Trauma Healing and a certified NeuroAffective Relational Model™ (NARM™) Practitioner, Consultant and Training Assistant through the NARM Training Institute. As a Training Assistant for the NARM Training Institute, Mike travels the country to help teach clinicians the NARM™ approach to working with issues stemming from developmental, attachment and relational trauma. In addition, Mike is a national speaker and educator on the topics of developmental trauma, addiction and adolescent treatment. Mike utilizes his extensive training and experience in the field of trauma, somatic psychology, interpersonal neurobiology, and addiction treatment to inform the creation of individual, group and family programming for our clients and their loved ones.
Graham Barrett, BA
Director of National Outreach
Graham graduated from Rollins College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. Graham has an eclectic background ranging from being featured in articles on topics such as marketing, banking and finance as well as having years of experience in the field of mental health and substance use treatment supporting people to find the help that they need. Graham has a passion for working with teens and families that comes from his personal experience as a struggling adolescent whose life was saved by an intervention. Fast forward from that fateful day and Graham now has a wife, two beautiful children, a college degree, a job that he loves, and he credits it all to the people who cared enough to get him the help that he needed. Graham’s approach with families is to share his experience, provide resources and help guide them to the level of care that their loved one needs with compassion and consistent support.
Nicole Seidman, MS
Nicole obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology with a specialization in Counseling from Lynn University. She completed her practicum experience focusing on adolescents and adults struggling with mental health issues at The Faulk Center for Counseling in Boca Raton, FL. Nicole also has extensive experience working closely with children and adolescents with Autism as well as facilitating group therapy within the Palm Beach County School District for a variety of different trauma related issues.
Nicole’s therapeutic approach has been greatly influenced by her unique experience as a Doula, where she has been trained to see things from a developmental perspective and approach clients with compassion and empathy. Her focus is to empower clients by guiding them to use their own innate creativity to recognize and heal the wounds that keep them stuck.
Claude Cayemitte, MSW, CCTP
Claude earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Communication and Master’s Degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University. Claude is an award-winning psychotherapist, receiving the Minority Fellowship Award from the Council of Social Work Education for his work with at-risk teens. Claude is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional through the International Association of Trauma Professionals and has extensive training in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution-Focused Therapy. Claude has experience facilitating workshops on mindfulness, meditation, and trauma-informed care. Claude believes in the majestic power of conversation, allowing him the privilege to help families overcome obstacles to being happy, healthy and connected.
Grisel Lopez-Escobar, MS
Grisel completed a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and her undergraduate degree from Trinity College of Vermont. Grisel is currently working towards her PhD in Counseling at Florida Atlantic University. Grisel has lived outside the US for many years and brings a multi-cultural viewpoint to the FFAS team. She has extensive experience working with young people in a university setting, during her time at the helm of an educational consultancy and as a teacher of courses on self-esteem, purpose and connection.
Grisel enjoys the challenges of working with teens and their families, and finds it motivating to connect with young people at such a pivotal stage in their development. Her approach is to give teens the space they need to develop new insight into their behavioral patterns and thought processes. She builds rapport through an empathic, and non-judgmental attitude anchored in curiosity and kindness.
Laura Sorte, MSW
Laura has experience working at a variety of levels within community mental health and substance abuse treatment settings. Prior to entering the mental health field, Laura pursued her passion for working in culinary arts because of the universal power that food has to bring people together cross-culturally and the benefits of having a healthy relationship with food. Laura then earned her Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science with a concentration in Sociology from Mercy College.
After that, Laura earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University and is currently in the process of pursuing licensure. Laura also has training and experience in Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Laura also has experience in helping to support homeless families to gain resources and placement into homes in order to set them up for lifelong success. Laura utilizes mindfulness-based approaches, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing with a strengths-based perspective to create a space of unconditional positive regard to foster hope and self-acceptance within adolescents and their families.
Intake / Alumni Coordinator
Kevin Johnson was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and has been working in the recovery field for three years. Kevin’s first two years were spent working with the adult population in early recovery. While serving as an active leader of the youth group at his church, Kevin found a passion for helping adolescents and has never looked back. Kevin is currently pursuing his CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) through the Florida Certification Board and intends on being a clinician in the substance abuse field. Kevin assists clients in developing life skills while in our program and plans outings for the group.
Lisa Knapp, M Ed
Director of Education
Lisa graduated from the State University of New York College at Brockport with a BA in Health Science before moving to Florida to complete her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University.
Prior to her career in education, Lisa worked as a Health Fitness Specialist for Florida Power and Light, performing health education responsibilities for company employees. Most recently, Lisa has spent 12 years working with students and families in Florida school districts where she served as a Physical Education and Science Teacher. She has represented as facilitator for Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support teams, leading schools to Gold Model status. Lisa was also actively involved in district STEM initiatives and represented her home district as a presenter at multiple Florida State Science Conferences. She is a published lesson plan writer for Florida’s educational collaborative platform, CPALMS and certified as a Clinical Education Instructor.
In partnership with EdOptions faculty and staff, Lisa is delighted to have the opportunity to help each student and family at Banyan Academy develop a personalized education plan based on their unique circumstances and needs.
Kristi Riley, BS
Kristi earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and is currently finishing her pre-med requirements to attend medical school. Kristi has over 10 years of experience working with teens and young adults in high school and college settings as a tutor, mentor and educator. While finishing her undergraduate degree in psychology, Kristi began to find understanding and compassion for herself, her family and the daily struggle for adolescents and their loved ones who are dealing with mental health issues and relationship problems. Kristi has a gift for helping clients feel safe, understood and accepted with a presence of love and positivity that permeates throughout the classroom.
Chris Guerra, BS
Chris graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering. Chris currently teaches Biology and Math at the high school level and provides one-to-one tutoring in Math, Spanish and Chemistry for students ranging from elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Chris also specializes in helping adolescents prepare for the ACT and SAT test, having supported many students achieve scores that they did not believe was possible for them. Chris provides opportunities for adolescents to exercise their imagination and creativity in as many varied ways as possible as they navigate their educational goals. Chris believes that each person has the right to self-development and realization of their own potential, therefore, having a teaching method that is grounded in self-reflection, noticing how different approaches impact the individual needs of each person is crucial to overall performance and successful outcomes.
Meredith Slater, BS
Meredith graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Zoology from Palm Beach Atlantic University. Meredith is also currently working toward her Masters in Education in Higher Education through the American College of Education. Before coming to FFAS, Meredith worked for several years as a high school science teacher with the Palm Beach County School District. Meredith also has a passion for service work with animals, volunteering for 5 years with the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue league in the rehabilitation room. Working as a high school teacher gave Meredith a front row seat into the lives of teens and their families at home. Though she was able to provide mentorship to my students, Meredith believes that she was limited in my ability to make an impact on my students’ lives due to the political nature of the school district. At Family First, Meredith is passionate about the opportunity to be more involved in the process of changing the lives of at-risk teens. Meredith’s mission here is to utilize her role as an Education Coordinator to help our adolescent clients and their families feel more comfortable with the education process as a whole – paying attention to each client’s specific learning styles and needs in order to better tailor learning to the individual.
Director of Support Services
Tucker Powers has chosen a career path in helping teens through the challenges of having a substance use disorder and the early recovery process. He is currently pursuing his CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) through the Florida Certification Board as well as continuing his education in addiction studies. Tucker’s positivity and overall demeanor help our clients feel safe and supported when they are dealing with the emotional and behavioral struggles that occur in the treatment process.
Lead Counselor Assistant
Robert Smith is very passionate about mind-body health and dedicated to helping teens in the early recovery process. He began his personal recovery journey as a young adult and finds purpose in helping teens as they begin their own journeys at such a young age. Rob spends his free time volunteering in various environments like elementary schools and foster care programs. Along with his passion for helping others, Rob has extensive experience as a personal trainer and training director, focusing on physical health as a means to promote well-rounded living. Rob believes that communicating strong boundaries with love and compassion can provide consistency and stability for teens during and after their treatment process. Rob is also currently pursuing his certification as a CAC (Certified Addictions Counselor) through the Florida Certification Board.
Brad Compton was raised in Nashville, TN and relocated to South Florida in 2014 to start his own recovery journey. Since then, Brad has found a career working in the mental health field, and now a home here at Family First. Brad leads our teenagers in many of our experiential activities such as the ropes course, wake-boarding, paddle-boarding, and deep-sea fishing. Being an active member of his recovery community, Brad speaks at meetings, conventions and takes young men who are newly sober through the 12 steps on a regular basis. In 2016, Brad began pursuing a degree in Social Work and plans to continue his education in this field. He is also in the process of obtaining his CAC (Certified Addiction Counselor) designation through the Florida Certification Board. Brad believes that being a big kid at heart while maintaining professional boundaries allows him to connect with our teenagers in a way that is non-threatening, non-judgmental, and supports their learning and growth.
Neal Hoontis has 6 years of experience working in the recovery field. Neal’s experience started as a Resident Manager of a local 501(c)(3) Aftercare Center here in Florida and continued to progress as a Client Services Coordinator, Admissions Specialist, as well as a Program Director. He has extensive experience assisting families with identify appropriate and feasible treatment options for their loved ones. Neal currently is pursuing a bachelors in Social Work as well as a Certification in Addiction Counseling. During Neal’s downtime he enjoys hobbies such as golfing, painting, and working on Bonsai Trees.
Megan Norquest, CAC, ICADC
Megan obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and another in Women's and Gender Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Megan is a Certified Addiction Counselor in the state of Florida and an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Megan is currently completing her final requirements toward a Master of Social Work Degree from Florida State University. Megan has worked for multiple years in the mental health field in various roles including case management, recovery/life coaching and alumni relations. Megan chooses to work with teens and their families because of her own experience with needing support as an adolescent and not having the proper resources available. Megan’s mission is to support healing for teens and their families in a way that she didn’t find until she was an adult. Megan takes a person-centered approach to understanding and supporting the resolution of ambivalence around painful areas in their lives utilizing Motivational Interviewing and CBT.
Michael Hill, BA
Lead Counselor Assistant
Michael obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Neuropsychology and minors in Business Administration and Spanish from the University at Albany. Michael has years of experience working in the mental healthcare field, providing a range of human services for children and families with issues of abuse, neglect, homelessness, mental illness, and behavioral disorders. With years of volunteer tutoring, Michael is highly skilled at developing relationships with children and teens conducive to learning and growth. Michael is currently working toward completing his required hours and training to become a Certified Addictions Professional by the Florida Certification Board. Michael believes that no matter who you are or where you come from, everyone needs support, especially as a developing teenager. Michael’s approach is to provide a neutral, calm and empathetic presence to instill hope and insight to teens and families in need of reverence, support, and understanding.
Katie Buckner, MA
Katie earned her Master of Arts Degree in Professional Communications and Leadership from Armstrong State University and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation & Sports Management with a minor in Coaching. Katie has years of experience working with adolescents and young adult in various roles ranging from an assistant college basketball coach, academic tutoring and individual mentoring. Katie also has experience working with student-veterans as a research assistant, providing case management services that included setting up financial aid, vocational placement, time management and scheduling. Katie believes in the process of guiding adolescents on the path to self-discovery through curiosity and self-reflection, providing open lines of communication and supporting families to find compassion and forgiveness for one another.
Director of Business Development
Michaela provides resources and support for Family First nationally to both families and professionals navigating the landscape of adolescent treatment and recovery. She spearheads the continual priority efforts of Family First to maintain and develop strong relationships with other quality providers and resources in the field of behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment.
Michaela came to the team with over a decade of professional industry experience specializing in business development and operations, and a commitment to a standard of excellent and ethical care. Michaela is passionately in alignment with the organization’s mission, vision, and values, and she brings her enthusiasm for Family First’s trauma informed and cutting edge therapeutic modalities in adolescent treatment to her role of fostering the program’s continued growth.
Mitch Maffeo, RN
Mitch obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee and before that served as a US Navy Corpman/Pharmacy Technician. Mitch has been in the mental health field since graduating from college both in addiction, behavioral health and dual diagnoses treating children, adolescents, adults and seniors in a variety of settings from PHP through inpatient crisis units. Behavioral health has always been one of his greatest passions. Working with adolescents is especially important to him because of his own recovery and having a son in recovery. The challenges facing families and adolescents hit close to home and the recovery process is amazing to watch as it unfolds. Mitch has found that working in an environment that focuses on developmental trauma and stresses a non-shaming and nurturing approach has been most successful with adolescents and his my own family.