Our Staff

Jon Kerschner, MA
Executive Director

Jon holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. He came to Sierra Family Services in 2000 versed in both the clinical and administrative aspects of mental health. He has over 23 years experience in substance abuse treatment and mental health services in residential, outpatient and private practice settings. Management of multiple mental health and substance abuse offices while with The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center rounds out the experience Jon brings to Sierra Mental Wellness Group. Jon enjoys scuba diving and tactical training in his off time.
Mary O'Mara, MBA, SPHR
Director of Finance and Human Resources

Mary is an experienced business professional with a solid background in managing all aspects of the business environment – finance/accounting, operations and human resource management. To her vital role at Sierra Mental Wellness Group she brings over 20 years expertise in financial reporting, budgeting and contract negotiations, as well as managing payroll and benefits administration.  During tax season, Mary volunteers to prepare tax returns, and she also enjoys hiking, swimming and spending time with family year round.
Kathryn Taylor, LMFT
Clinical Director

Kathryn is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist with a Master’s degree in Art Therapy. She has over 28 years of experience providing therapy to children, families and adults dealing with mental health, addiction and co-occurring disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including schools, outpatient clinics, residential settings and private practice as a clinician and as a clinical supervisor. Kathryn enjoys skiing, traveling, gardening, art and cooking.
Nicole Vanneman, Functional Family Therapist Nicole Vanneman, MFT
Operations Manager

Nicole is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been with Sierra Mental Wellness Group since 2008. As Operations Manager, Nicole is responsible for supervising and coordinating the programs and clinical services offered by the agency, including oversight and program functions, intake, client services, regulatory compliance and quality assurance, identification and development of new programs and coordination with providers in the community. Nicole enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with her friends and family.
Ixel Morell
Contracts Manager

Ixel is an experienced health care professional with over 14 years in the public and private sector. His experience includes program, operations, personnel, budget and contract management. In addition he possesses a healthcare Business Development acumen. Ixel directly handles the contracts for the crisis and mental health services provided by Sierra Mental Wellness Group. When not working he enjoys coaching his children’s sports teams, attending sporting events and spending family time in the great outdoors.
Lexie Sandwell
Operations Coordinator

Lexie is an exceptional addition to the SMWG team, having joined us in the fall of 2013. Lexie has extensive customer service and administrative experience which helps her excel in our office. Her cheerful and sociable demeanor, in addition to her thorough scheduling and professionalism, make Lexie a perfect fit for the vital role of supporting our staff clinicians and serving our clients and community. She is currently in school pursuing her psychology degree and has a passion for helping people. On her free time, Lexie enjoys trying new restaurants, listening to music, reading and spending time with loved ones. 
RyanBioPic (2)Ryan Walsh
Crisis Services General Manager
Ben Lopez, LCSW
Crisis Services Director

Ben is a LCSW and has worked in mental health services for 35+ years. He has been with SMWG for 24 years supervising crisis services. His clinical background involves crisis services, private practice, inpatient and social rehab. Management, training, consultation, and supervision are ongoing in various clinical settings. Personal interest is anything outdoors away from a desk and phone.

Roseville Office

Lynne Thomson, LMFT
Staff Clinician

Lynne is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been with Sierra Mental Wellness Group since 2010. She sees clients in the Roseville and Auburn offices, providing therapy to adults, adolescents, children, and families. Lynne believes that individuals have their own best answers within them and she works respectfully with clients to support them as they discover these answers. Lynne has many areas of interest, including anxiety, depression, attachment issues, trauma, domestic violence, grief, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. She enjoys music, theater, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Jaime Graves, LCSW
Staff Clinician

Jaime has over 10 years experience helping children, families, and individuals build healthy coping skills to address many of life’s challenges including anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, anger issues, school challenges, behavioral problems, parenting and co-parenting issues, and adjusting to various life transitions. She is dedicated to helping you understand the challenges you or your loved one are facing and to developing a plan of action to better support you through these challenges. Jaime enjoys spending time with her family and friends, doing anything related to the outdoors, and watching a great movie.
David Rogers, MFT-Intern
Staff Clinician

David holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. David
believes his job with clients is to work himself out of the job. He uses creative, yet scientifically sound, treatment modalities custom tailored to client’s needs. David’s interests include communication, spontaneity, hypnosis, intimacy, emotion, self concept, mindfulness and occupational identity. David is currently researching common factors or mechanisms of change that cut across all effective therapy models. He enjoys travel, Japanese culture, art, toys, music and spicy food.
Melissa Freitas, MFT-Intern
Staff Clinician

Melissa has been with Sierra Mental Wellness Group since 2011, starting as a student trainee. After completing her school practicum requirements and earning Intern status, Melissa became a permanent part of the SMWG team. Melissa enjoys facilitating the Parenting Group. She also works with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. As a therapist, Melissa seeks to join with clients in a respectful way that acknowledges their own wisdom through practical, supportive, and empathetic connection. She recognizes the unique challenges of each individual and seeks to integrate their emotions, thoughts, and actions to enable fuller, happier lives. Melissa enjoys cooking, playing with her Schnoodles and gardening.
Arturo Rangel, MFT-Intern
Staff Clinician

A native of Mexico City, Arturo holds a Certificate in Addiction Studies, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Behavioral Sciences, and a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Therapy. He is presently working on accruing the required 3,000 hours of experience to apply for state licensure. Arturo began working with Sierra Mental Wellness Group in May 2014, and works part-time at the Roseville office. Arturo finds joy in working with adolescent and adult males for he believes that, quite often, the psychological and emotional needs of these two specific cohorts are ignored and/or minimized. Being bicultural and bilingual is one of Arturo’s main strengths as this ability has helped him relate to the Hispanic population and their needs.
JulieJulie Fernando, MFT-Intern
Staff Clinician

Julie is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. She received her M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Davis. She has experience working with individuals, couples, families and adolescents dealing with life transitions, anxiety, depression, anger, self-harming behaviors, substance abuse, loss and grief, relationship complications, self-discovery, LGBTQ matters, and other life challenges. Julie also currently facilitates the Parenting Enhancement group at the Roseville office. She values honesty, drive and creativity, and her relaxed approach allows an authentic, therapeutic relationship. She believes that with the right kind of support anyone is capable of creating the change they desire. She personally has witnessed beautiful joys, painful losses, and can appreciate the process that clients experience while in therapy. It can be quite the journey, and she is honored to be alongside with you on your path. In her free time, Julie likes to exercise, read and watch movies.
Sandra Toste
Technical Services Specialist

Sande is a vital member of the SMWG team who prepares billing, accounts payable, gathers statistical information, tracks grant funding and usage, and ensures quality assurance of client files. Sande loves Golden Retrievers and volunteers for Homeward Bound and enjoys travel and reading. Sande has worked for SMWG for over 30 years!
Tammy Crosthwaite
Office Assistant

Tammy is one of the welcoming faces you will first see at SMWG. Tammy serves the agency as an integral office assistant, supporting the staff and clinicians with various administrative needs, providing excellent customer service to clients and serving in any capacity needed. Outside of work, Tammy enjoys spending time with family and friends, scrapbooking and photography.
Laynie Feldhege
Scheduling Secretary

Laynie serves the agency as our Scheduling Secretary, supporting the staff and clients alike. She has an extensive background in Customer Service, Hospitality, and Health Care Administration. Outside of work, Laynie enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and relaxing at home with her two little dogs.

Auburn Office

Lynne Thomson, LMFT
Staff Clinician

Lynne is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been with Sierra Mental Wellness Group since 2010. She sees clients in the Roseville and Auburn offices, providing therapy to adults, adolescents, children, and families. Lynne believes that individuals have their own best answers within them and she works respectfully with clients to support them as they discover these answers. Lynne has many areas of interest, including anxiety, depression, attachment issues, trauma, domestic violence, grief, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. She enjoys music, theater, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Tahoe Office

Paula Lauer, MA
Staff Clinician – Bilingual/Bicultural Therapist

Paula obtained her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology in 2000 from Universidad de Belgrano, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Paula joined Sierra Mental Wellness Group in June, 2011 as the bilingual and bicultural therapist working directly with the diverse population of North Lake Tahoe. Paula works with children, adolescents, adults and families. She has experience with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, parenting and relational problems. Paula is dedicated to serving the community where she lives and believes everybody deserves to have a balanced, joyful and fulfilling life. She enjoys skiing, camping, water activities and playing field hockey.
Nancy McDonald, MFT
Staff Clinician

Nancy has a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. She has worked in the Adoption and Foster Care field for 10 years and her specialties are in the areas of grief and loss, attachment, childhood trauma and LGBTQ issues. Nancy feels honored to be able to work with clients and help them lead more fulfilling and productive lives. Nancy has raised 6 children who are all adults now and sees them as her proudest achievement. She enjoys reading, running and gardening.
Shelby Singer
Staff Clinician

Shelby has her Master’s Degree in Social Work and has over ten years experience helping children, adults, and families. Shelby has worked with youth in the foster care system, specifically teenagers who are transitioning into adulthood. Shelby also has over four years experience working with the Wraparound Program where she assisted severely emotionally disturbed children and their families build healthy coping skills in and around dealing with depression, anxiety, and behavioral challenges. Shelby’s calm demeanor, kind nature, and nonjudgmental attitude are utilized in her work with youth and adults. Shelby enjoys backcountry skiing, running, reading and spending time with her family.
Jaena Bloomquist
Office Manager

Jaena is pivotal in managing contact with clients, referral sources and staff clinicians to meet any administrative or scheduling needs with excellence. Jaena's exceptional work ethic, organization and attention to detail are essential to the functioning of not only the Tahoe City office, but to SMWG as a whole.
AmyeAmye Cole, M.B.A., M.A. in progress
Case Manager

Amye has worked with youth and young adults in formal and informal education settings for over fifteen years. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Counseling & Educational Psychology with emphases in both School Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy as well as coursework for Alcohol and Drug Counseling at the University of Nevada, Reno. She also holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management. One of her favorite experiences with young adults has been leading a study abroad trip with seven college students to the remote Himalayas of northern Nepal, trekking over 200 miles and delivering medical supplies to women and young mothers. She has been an active member and community volunteer and currently serves on a board of directors for three local non-profit groups. Amye’s passion resides in forming collaborative partnerships and serving the community, and she believes in providing nonjudgmental and compassionate space for clients. You’ll often find her mountain biking, backcountry skiing, road biking, listening to audio books, quietly paddle boarding, or just breathing deeply in the outdoors.

Functional Family Therapist

Megan Heath, MFT-Intern
Functional Family Therapist

Megan completed her Master's Degree in Marriage Family and Child Counseling in October 2012. She has experience working with people of all ages with developmental disabilities, specifically children with autism. Megan likes to mix behavioral techniques from her previous career experience along with a well-rounded family systems approach to help clients get the specific help they need. Megan is also bilingual, has experience working with Spanish-speaking clients, and has lived in Spain and Mexico.