Executive Team

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.

Suzanne Garafolo, LCSW

Clinical Director

Suzanne is a licensed clinical social worker and has been practicing in the mental health sector for almost 15 years. Before moving to California, Suzanne had worked for a decade as a program therapist treating adolescents and families in an inpatient hospital setting in Chicago. Her clinical background includes crisis intervention, private practice, utilization review, quality assurance, and trauma informed program development. She believes strongly in building collaborative relationships with the community and education to combat the stigma of mental illness. Suzanne earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration on Mental Health Practice and Policy from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She enjoys exploring the great outdoors, running, and cooking.

Todd Arvidson

Crisis Services General Manager

Todd Arvidson was born in Wiesbaden Germany and raised in a military family. His father was a photographer in the Air Force which brought his family to Beale AFB in the early 70’s. He grew up hunting, fishing, and playing sports in Nevada County. Following high school graduation he traveled for a while and attended Sacramento State University. Eventually he moved to Illinois and finished his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. While earning his degrees, Todd was privileged to work in residential treatment for adolescents in the Chicago area. Todd and his family moved back to northern California in 2003. Since 2004 he has worked as a crisis worker for Sierra Mental Wellness Group, Heritage Oaks Hospital, and Nevada County Behavioral Health. When not working with a fantastic team of clinicians and other staff he enjoys spending time with his family, cycling, and rooting for the Chicago Cubs!

Ryan Walsh

Crisis Services Director

Bio Coming Soon

Roseville Office

Lisa Williams, MA, AMFT

Staff Clinician

Lisa is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who is working to gain her hours towards licensure. She earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from William Jessup University in March 2020. She has experience working with children, teens and adults in a variety of settings including schools, outpatient offices and homeless programs. Lisa has training and experience using a wide range of therapy modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), and Motivational Interviewing (MI). She uses her calm demeanor, non-judgmental approach and authentic interest in the human experience to connect with clients and meet them wherever they are at on their journey towards wellness. Having grown up in Placer County, she is grateful for the opportunity to give back to her community. In her free time, Lisa enjoys swimming, cuddling with her cat, sipping good coffee and watching true crime shows.

Lauren Lorge, ASW

Staff Clinician

Lauren is an Associate Social Worker working toward her hours for licensure. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Lauren uses a client-centered, non-judgmental, and genuine approach that focuses on addressing the issues that are getting in the way of clients being able to live the life they want to live. Lauren promotes a growth and empowerment mindset within clients and believes that clients already have the capacity within them to heal and be the best version of themselves. She also worked over 2 years with SMWG to provide crisis intervention services to individuals in the area. In her free time, Lauren loves being outdoors, spending time with her dogs, baking, reading, and watching live music.

Cynthia Bowman, MS, LPCC

Staff Clinician

Cynthia is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and earned her Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Walden University. She worked in both private practice and crisis residential settings before joining Sierra Mental Wellness as a staff clinician. Cynthia’s approach to counseling is founded in a strong therapeutic alliance between client and clinician. She employs treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, person-centered approach, mindfulness, empathetic listening, unconditional positive regard, and collaboration toward reaching a client’s unique goals. Cynthia has experience in treating symptoms of anxiety, depression, substance use, anger, trauma, grief, and severe persistent mental illness. She plans to become certified in animal assisted therapy as she recognizes that human-animal interactions can have a positive impact on social, emotional, and cognitive function. Cynthia enjoys travel, music, camping, volunteering as a 4-H leader, and spending time with her family, horse and dogs.

Alexa Sierra, APCC

Staff Clinician

Alexa is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor working toward her licensure. She holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Alexa has experience working with mandated clients as well as domestic violence survivors. She practices a solution focus, person-centered approach. In a judgement free space, Alexa uses a non-authoritative approach that allows clients to take more of a lead in discussions so that, in the process, they can discover their own solutions. She is a compassionate facilitator, listening and acknowledging the client’s experience. Alexa is present to encourage and support the client and to guide the therapeutic process without interrupting or interfering with the client’s process of self-discovery.

Linda Nielsen-Weulfing

Domestic Violence Batterer's Treatment Facilitator

Linda joined Sierra Mental Wellness is 2008 as our Domestic Violence Batterer’s Treatment Facilitator. Linda is a certified Domestic Violence Facilitator overseeing our Batterer’s Treatment Groups and representing our agency at community resource fairs and events. Linda has taught psycho educational classes, DUI, parenting and batterer’s treatment groups for over 17 years. She completed her BS in Criminal Justice at California State University, Sacramento. She has worked with criminal justice clients since 1990 working as an investigator in Sacramento County, and as a probation, and drug court case manager for Salt Lake County Criminal Justice Services. Linda has also worked in victim offender mediation serving as a mediator and trainer. Linda enjoys spending time with her family, playing tennis, reading, and volunteering at a local elementary school. Linda helps clients work through their challenges and issues, encouraging clients to be their best self through self- awareness, accountability and education.

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!

Laynie Velez

Operations Coordinator

Laynie previously served the agency as our Scheduling Secretary, supporting the staff and clients alike. As the Operations Coordinator, she ensures our high quality services through efficient execution of policies and procedures. 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.

Miss Daisy

Roseville Mascot

In addition to being cute, Daisy enjoys the role of maintaining calm and order in the clinic. Using her herding skills, she ensures staff are on time for appointments and generally keeps us where we need to be. She possesses a natural intuitive side which permits her to show up with love at just the right moment. After leaving the practice squad in Cleveland, she is now a card carrying member of the Dawg Pound.

She enjoys long walks in the woods, morning runs and skunks. 

Christy Bandy

HR Generalist

Christy graduated from Walla Walla University in College Place, WA where she earned her B.S. Degree in Mass Communication Public Relations and Journalism. She is a California native but lived in the state of Washington for over 10 years moving back to California 7 years ago. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and has worked in multiple areas in the HR world, primarily benefits administration and leave of absences. When Christy is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her two young sons, singing and traveling to the beach.

Auburn Office

You could be here

Staff Clinician

Lauren Lorge, ASW

Staff Clinician

Lauren is an Associate Social Worker working toward her hours for licensure. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Lauren uses a client-centered, non-judgmental, and genuine approach that focuses on addressing the issues that are getting in the way of clients being able to live the life they want to live. Lauren promotes a growth and empowerment mindset within clients and believes that clients already have the capacity within them to heal and be the best version of themselves. She also worked over 2 years with SMWG to provide crisis intervention services to individuals in the area. In her free time, Lauren loves being outdoors, spending time with her dogs, baking, reading, and watching live music.

Cynthia Bowman, MS, LPCC

Staff Clinician

Cynthia is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and earned her Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Walden University. She worked in both private practice and crisis residential settings before joining Sierra Mental Wellness as a staff clinician. Cynthia’s approach to counseling is founded in a strong therapeutic alliance between client and clinician. She employs treatment modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, person-centered approach, mindfulness, empathetic listening, unconditional positive regard, and collaboration toward reaching a client’s unique goals. Cynthia has experience in treating symptoms of anxiety, depression, substance use, anger, trauma, grief, and severe persistent mental illness. She plans to become certified in animal assisted therapy as she recognizes that human-animal interactions can have a positive impact on social, emotional, and cognitive function. Cynthia enjoys travel, music, camping, volunteering as a 4-H leader, and spending time with her family, horse and dogs.

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.