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The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center Team

The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center employs experts in the field of recovery.

Our broad range of addiction specialists is skilled and experienced in treating a variety of client issues, including drug addiction, alcohol addiction, process addiction, trauma, and related mental health disorders. Our treatment professionals operate with coordinated and integrated case-tailored teams to treat you, our valued client. To that end, we assemble the correct team of professionals and recovery field disciplines for your individual circumstances.

The staff at The Pointe Malibu also includes recovery experts who are adept at treating depression and anxiety. In conjunction, we treat the frequently associated dependence on drugs and alcohol as depression and anxiety coping mechanisms. Our recovery facility includes staff experienced with, and sensitive to, the unique challenges facing the LGBTQ+ affirmative community.

Quite simply, The Pointe Malibu offers the highest class of treatment professionals, clinical staff, and medical care in the recovery industry. This elite team focuses on individually personalized treatment solutions that address your unique needs.

Meet the Founders of The Pointe Malibu

Kimberly Gale James

Founder and CEO

The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center’s founder and chief executive officer is a hands-on leader with skills and experience in every aspect of behavioral care treatment center management, operations, administration, business development, and marketing.

Kimberly has built a national reputation through practical training and gained expertise by working in a broad variety of positions with nationally recognized chemical dependency treatment providers including positions with Cliffside Malibu, Director of Business Development; Summit Centers, Director of Admissions & Business Development; Cirque Lodge, National Director of Business Development and Passages Malibu, Director of Admissions & Business Development.

Though her reputation is based on her business acumen, Kimberly’s real passion is serving her clients and carrying the message of recovery. She is involved in every aspect of The Pointe Malibu Treatment Center’s daily operations, but Kimberly finds the most joy and satisfaction in providing support and guidance to residents, their families, referents, and staff.

Kimberly Gayle James CEO Founder The Point Malibu Recovery Center

Charles Bentz

Founder and CFO

Charles Bentz is the co-founder and owner of The Pointe Malibu Recovery Center. He graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. Charles began his professional finance career in New Jersey at Deloitte and worked as an executive on Wall Street for over two decades, most notably at BlackRock, Inc. and Prudential Securities. Charles co-founded Malibu Beach Sober Living in 2008.

He has been trained as an interventionist by Ken Seeley, John Southworth, Jane Mintz, Dr. Judith Landau, Bill Maher, Dr. Jim Tracy, and Jean Campbell. Charles has also participated in the UCLA Certified Addiction and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADAC) Program. He has been sober since 2001 and has mentored numerous individuals in recovery. He continues to work as a consultant in the financial services industry.

Chris Harmon

Founder and COO

Chris made his start with The Pointe Malibu during our first year of business in 2008, working as a volunteer after relocating to Malibu from Northern California.

Having extensive experience contributing to his family’s business in the assisted-living healthcare field and inspired by his natural ability to connect with those suffering from addiction and guide them into recovery, Chris made the decision to make a career change and permanently join the team at The Pointe Malibu in 2009.

Chris furthered his studies at Loyola Marymount, completing coursework on Substance Use Disorders in 2012.

As Chief Operating Officer, Chris has been able to assist in helping build and oversee all areas of operations and management at each of our locations.

Chris contributes as a member of our Executive and Ownership Committee and as our longest-standing employee is a connection to almost all of our Alumni!

Meet the Key Members of Our Staff

Executive & Medical Team

Clinical Team

Holistic Program

Nursing Team

Admissions Team

Operations Team

Culinary & Nutrition Staff

Jennell Maze, LCSW
Chief Clinical Officer

Jennell Maze is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and received her MSW from the University of Southern California. Her professional career has granted her the chance to be involved in promoting well-being as it relates to individuals, families, and communities. She has provided more than 18 years of comprehensive outpatient, residential, and field-based services. Her therapeutic practice has focused on trauma, mood, anxiety, relationship dynamics, personality disorders, substance use, and various addictions, as well as an extensive knowledge of co-occurring conditions. Her interventions are anchored in resilience and strength-based models, which foster hope and opportunity. Furthermore, her training and certifications include Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Trauma Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Structural and Strategic Family Therapy, as well as Crisis-Oriented Services.

Jennell has also worked as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck for nearly ten years, teaching courses in Human Behavior and the Social Environment. Her approach to being of service is driven by ensuring one feels a sense of belonging and connection. This collective approach has led to countless opportunities to witness and support individuals and families on their path to recovery, acceptance, and change.

Mel Pohl, MD
Senior Medical Consultant Pain Recovery Program

Mel Pohl, MD, DFASAM is the Senior Medical Consultant for the Pain Recovery Program at The Pointe Malibu. Dr. Mel was a major force in developing the Las Vegas Recovery Center’s Chronic Pain Recovery Program. He is a Family Practitioner, certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

He is the author of A Day without Pain, revised edition (Central Recovery Press, 2011) and The Pain AntidoteStop Suffering from Chronic Pain, Avoid Addiction to Painkillers, and Reclaim Your Life (DaCapo, 2015). Dr. Mel filmed a show for PBS on chronic pain, which aired around the country in 2016.

Stacy Cohen, MD
MD Psychiatrist

Stacy Cohen, MD, is a double-board certified general and addiction psychiatrist, licensed in both New York and California and based in Los Angeles. She completed her residency training at the University of Chicago and Rush University and her fellowship at UCLA Medical Center.

Dr. Cohen has served as medical director of several large addiction treatment programs in the Los Angeles area, which included all levels of care: detox, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient treatment. In addition to her work in addiction and general psychiatry, Dr. Cohen specializes in working with peripartum/women’s issues and LGBTQ patients.

Dr. Cohen has and continues to be involved in community education regarding mental health treatment and has published medical literature on a variety of mental health topics including Addiction in the Older Patient and Managing Unipolar Depression During Pregnancy. Dr. Cohen serves as a Clinical Advisory Board Member of Backline, a mental health organization for musicians, and was an accolade keynoted speaker at the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Les Aria Ph.D.
Pain Recovery Specialist

Les Aria, Ph.D., is a pain psychologist who has been practicing for the past 17 years with Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in Northern California, and he served as the Lead Pain Psychologist for Kaiser Northern California to help redesign the chronic pain workshop curriculum to incorporate modern pain science, mindfulness and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). Les specializes in treating psychophysiological disorders/persistent pain and medically unexplained problems. He is also part of the Opioid Safety Program (OSP) at Kaiser to help patients who struggle with opioid dependency and chronic pain to compassionately taper off their opioids. His passion for mind-body interventions promotes a unique style to help patients relate differently to their suffering, and thereby shift them into pain recovery and wellness.

Michelle Migliore
Chief Marketing Officer

Michelle graduated with a BA in Science and a double major in Policy Studies from UCLA in 2000. Although she was recruited through UCLA athletics, she focused on her studies and social work. It was through her Policy studies that she fell in love with social work and realized that working with people was her passion. From tutoring inner-city Latino kids in a second language to volunteering at MS clinics, to walking the streets of Ground Zero, she knew that being hands-on was her calling. These days, Michelle remains very active, as being involved in health and wellness is what keeps her anchored.

Morgan Stiles, ACSW
Clinical Program Director

Morgan Stiles earned her Master of Social Work from Arizona State University. Morgan has experience working with children and adults of all ages in private practice and has worked in residential treatment programs for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health issues for the past five years. Morgan uses her personal experiences with recovery to meet clients with compassion and provide a nuanced level of understanding that promotes an environment for change and a meaningful treatment experience.

Humanistic to the core, Morgan’s approach to clinical care centers around love and acceptance promotes a sense of safety within the therapeutic process. Morgan frequently utilizes interventions such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Relational Therapy, and Pain Reprocessing Therapy for individuals facing various challenges such as sobriety, anxiety and other mood-related disorders, and chronic pain. Morgan enjoys spending time in nature and developing a weekly ecotherapy hiking group that promotes connection to self, others, and the natural environment; she also co-facilitates our weekly DBT Surf group with our primary surf therapist. In her free time, you can find Morgan spending time with her family and dogs, Blue and Clyde.

Amanda Lehrer, LMSW
Chief Clinical Marketing Officer

Amanda is a seasoned professional at The Pointe Malibu, bringing with her over 25 years of clinical expertise and a profound understanding of the resources available to individuals grappling with mental and behavioral health challenges. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Mercyhurst University.

Throughout her career, Amanda has ventured into diverse clinical settings, where her expertise has made a significant impact. She played a pivotal role in designing curriculums for disaster mental health preparedness and response, demonstrating her commitment to addressing mental health needs during critical events. Amanda’s dedication also led her to develop and deliver mental health training programs for clinicians, further enhancing the competence of professionals in the field.

Amanda’s expertise extends to counseling adolescents and families, and she has done so in both residential and community settings. Her therapeutic support has been instrumental in helping individuals navigate complex challenges. Amanda’s career path also includes serving as the Mental Health Content Specialist for Region II Head Start Programs, underscoring her commitment to early intervention and child well-being.

Her career journey took her into roles in Clinical Outreach and Business Development, where she applied her marketing and clinical skills to organizations such as PCH Treatment Center, CRC Health, Constellation Behavioral Health, and Ellenhorn. In these positions, Amanda contributed to the growth and success of these institutions while continuing to champion the cause of mental health.

Amanda’s guiding philosophy revolves around the advocacy of individuals facing mental health and substance abuse issues. She firmly believes in fostering a partnership between clients and professionals throughout the recovery journey. Amanda’s attraction to The Pointe Malibu stems from her belief that “not all who wander are lost.” She emphasizes the importance of considering the full picture of an individual’s life and struggles, recognizing that every experience contributes to their current state.

A passionate activist and advocate for the voiceless, Amanda carries her commitment not only into her professional life, but also shares this energy and enthusiasm with her four children.

In her clinical practice, Amanda’s approach is rooted in psychodynamic and relational therapy. She places paramount importance on the therapist-client relationship as the cornerstone of psychotherapy. She views life experiences as shaping an individual’s present, working from a strength-based perspective through a trauma-informed lens.

Her expertise spans a wide spectrum, including LGBTQIA issues, substance misuse, and families experiencing psychological and related behavioral concerns, among other areas.

Amanda Lehrer’s extensive clinical background, profound empathy, and dedication to advocating for those in need make her an invaluable asset to The Pointe Malibu and the broader community.

Judy Ho, Ph.D.
Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist

Judy Ho, Ph.D., ABPP, ABPdN is a triple board-certified and licensed Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist, a tenured Associate Professor at Pepperdine University, and a published author, most recently penning “Stop Self-Sabotage,” published by HarperCollins in August 2019; a book detailing a scientifically-driven six-step program which has been translated into seven additional languages around the world. Dr. Judy maintains a private practice in Manhattan Beach, CA, where she specializes in comprehensive neuropsychological assessments and expert witness work. She regularly appears as an expert psychologist on television, podcasts, and radio, and contributes to other media including print and electronic periodicals. She is a co-host of the syndicated daytime television talk show “The Doctors,” co-host of CBS’s “Face the Truth,” and host of The SuperCharged Life podcast produced by Stage 29 Podcast Productions.

Dr. Judy Ho is an avid researcher and is a two-time recipient of the National Institute of Mental Health Services Research Award. She hosts an active research program to improve mental health care for high-need populations and is the chair of the Institutional Review Board at Pepperdine University. Her treatment approach integrates the scientific principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She often speaks at national and local events including research, clinical, and corporate conferences and workshops for organizations and schools.

Dr. Judy received her bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Business Administration from UC Berkeley and her master’s and doctorate from SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She completed a National Institute of Mental Health-sponsored fellowship at UCLA’s Semel Institute.

Whitney Nuhn, LMFT, Restoration Therapy Level II Certified, EMDR Practitioner
Clinical Supervisor

Whitney Nuhn is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with 9 years of experience partnering with adults, families, and couples facing mental health struggles relating to trauma, addiction, and spiritual issues. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Wheaton College, IL, and received her Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fuller in Pasadena, California. Her experience in addiction spans the spectrum from working with incarcerated and homeless populations to holistic concierge rehab facilities.

She has a special interest in the clinical treatment of Personality Disorders within the addiction treatment context, utilizing the science of attachment. She focuses on forming a strong therapeutic relationship with patients through the psychodynamic therapeutic approach. Together, they explore patients’ core conflictual relationship themes and how this impacts their addictive behaviors.

Additionally, Whitney is an EMDR practitioner and a Level II Certified practitioner in Restoration Therapy. Traumatic events can create harsh and unsafe core messages about the self. During the session, Whitney works with patients to identify their “Pain Cycle.” In dismantling unhelpful core messages, clients have the opportunity to internalize new, more adaptive messages about themselves and create a “Peace Cycle.”

Whitney identified herself as an insatiable learner, keeping up to date on academic psychology. She is currently involved in research publishing with professors at Pepperdine University.

In her free time, Whitney enjoys time with her church community, backpacking with her husband and dog, and running half-marathons.

Arthur J. Margulies, JD, CADC-II
Lead Case Manager

Art is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and SMART Recovery Facilitator. He began his education at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Sociology and Economics. Art earned his Juris Doctor degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City. He graduated from law school cum laude and was employed as a commercial litigator at the New York office of a large international law firm. After moving to Malibu, Art earned a Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling, which was awarded with distinction by the University of California in Los Angeles. Art leads the 12 Step and SMART Recovery groups at The Pointe Malibu and works closely with clients to develop holistic continuing care plans that help ensure long-term freedom from addiction.

Patrick Kenney, LPCC
Primary Therapist

Patrick holds a BA in Psychology from Cal State University, Channel Islands, and an MA degree in Clinical Counseling from Concordia University in Irvine. Patrick is currently credentialed as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor as well as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC-II, CATC-III). Patrick’s approach focuses on identifying and uprooting the narrative, or story, that underlies dysfunctional thinking and behavior. Because these painful stories have a traumatic origin, he uses interventions aimed at helping clients to finish processing these deep wounds, allowing them to find their best possible story as a result. Patrick is trained as an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist, which is a powerful tool in the treatment of trauma.

Because of his history of depression and substance abuse, he is well-acquainted with the mindsets that accompany them, as well as what is necessary to fully vanquish them. Patrick takes great pleasure in helping people find the inspiration to “reinvent” themselves so that things like depression, anxiety, regret, and addiction no longer belong in their story and are replaced instead by gratitude, peace of mind, and abiding joy.

Sam Sachnoff, MSW, ACSW
Primary Therapist

Sam holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Santa Cruz and completed his Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California with a specialization in adult mental-health and wellness. He is currently credentialed as an Associate Clinical Social Worker and trained in EMDR and trauma-informed care.

Sam draws from existential, behavioral, and psychodynamic approaches to treatment to foster a safe and trusting relationship where clients can explore new ways of thinking and being in the world through recovery. His work focuses on identifying maladaptive beliefs, resolving unconscious conflicts, and is anchored in the belief that all people deserve and are capable of living meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Sam has experience working with children and adults of all ages as a primary therapist in crisis residential programs, intensive outpatient treatment centers, and private practice.

Ben Perkins, ACSW
Clinical Therapist

Ben is an Associate Clinical Social Worker and received his MSW degree from Arizona State University. He is proud to have worked in the mental health field for over seven years when he partnered with individuals, families, and communities. Ben’s therapeutic approach is informed by various interventions which include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Crisis-Oriented Therapy, Wellness Centered Care, Ecotherapy, and Internal Family Systems. Ben provides client-centered and strength-based therapy to ensure that everyone’s route to wellness is both dynamic and unique to the individual. He is passionate about surfing, hiking, and meditation and integrates elements of ecotherapy and mindfulness throughout his care.

Jeffrey Gross, BA, CADAC
Case Manager and Senior Resident Advisor

Jeff is a certified addiction counselor who specializes in working with individuals and families coping with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Jeff received a BA from Arizona State University and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADAC) from Sober College School of Addiction Studies in Los Angeles. Jeff holds a graduate certificate in systemic family counseling, and he is working on a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Jeff has worked as a case manager for residential treatment and intensive outpatient throughout the Los Angeles area. He has a passion for helping others and devotes time to working with the Los Angeles homeless population and the recovery community at large. He utilizes a compassionate and comprehensive mind-body-spirit perspective with an emphasis on evidence-based practices. Jeff graduated from The Pointe in 2020 and blends his own experience in treatment and recovery with his wide range of clinical skills. His hobbies include fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness practices.

Ashleigh Abramovici
Holistic Program Manager

Ashleigh manages the dynamic holistic program The Pointe Malibu offers and passionately brings together a team of world-class specialists and instructors. The diversity of holistic offerings creates a safe space to facilitate healing, growth, and recovery. This includes meditation, yoga, movement, energy healing, sound healing, equine therapy, art therapy, and beyond. Ashleigh is a 500-hour Certified Yoga Instructor, has Sound Healing training certification, 20 years of meditation and yoga practice, and is currently in pursuit of an MA degree in psychology. She is dedicated to guiding clients to integrate holistic practices into their treatment experience. This includes creating space for meditation, creative expression, self-care, retreat, and movement. She works with individuals seeking to cultivate and nourish these practices in their lives, using practical methods and steps to integrate spirituality into day-to-day living.

Bat El
Massage Therapist

Bat El is a certified massage therapist who’s trained in a variety of modalities: Qualified Massage therapist in Oncology massage, Burn & scar massage, and compassionate healing touch. All are approved by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork(NCBTMB). She values people who bring integrity, professionalism, and compassion to all aspects of care. Bat El is compassionate about healing and believes in respect, dignity, and quality care at all times.

She wants her clients to feel better! It sounds simple, and for some, it may be. Massage therapy may be needed to relieve the stress and tension that day-to-day life brings. Strain and pressure can cause havoc on the body’s muscles and structure. Bat El’s goal is to help each client form an individualized and balanced treatment plan, based on their particular needs.

Bridget Baca-Rodriguez
Admissions Director

Bridget serves as our Admissions Director here at The Pointe Malibu. She is driven by a passion for helping people battling addiction and mental health issues. She is truly dedicated to assisting others discover their path to recovery.

Bridget brings with her a wealth of knowledge, compassion, and wisdom. She uses her personal experiences in recovery to connect with clients and their loved ones seeking support throughout the treatment process.

Renai Cariker Clark
Program Manager

Renai has worked in the health and wellness industry since 2009, and has been at The Pointe Malibu since 2017, where she now functions as the Program Manager. Renai works closely with the clinical team and assists with administrative needs to ensure a positive and productive programming experience for each client. Always looking to bolster her educational prowess, Renai has received education in Insurance Utilization Administration and Clinical Documentation Compliance since joining The Pointe. A Malibu native, Renai is proud to serve her community while working in the wellness and recovery field.

Sal Savo, MFA, RADT
Resident Advisor

Salvatore Savo is a Resident Advisor at The Pointe Malibu, providing logistical and emotional support to clients as they progress through recovery. Sal received his Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College in Economics and Philosophy before earning his Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University. Sal has served as a writer for the USA Network’s Emmy-Award-winning show “Monk” and received an Emmy nomination for his work on the Discovery TV game show “Cash Cab.” He has also written for Fox’s hit game shows “Spin the Wheel” and “Mental Samurai.”

Kia Brown
Resident Advisor
Dino Haynes
Resident Advisor
Shardonaye Moyes
Resident Advisor

Shardonaye is currently studying for her Bachelor’s Degree at Arizona State University. She studied abroad at the University of London, Birkbeck, and has an Associate’s Degree from Moorpark College. Her positive energy is pivotal to creating safe, welcoming spaces for clients throughout their treatment experience. In her free time, you can find her reading on the beach, watching spooky movies with her dog, or writing her next novel.

Sasha Melkonian
Resident Advisor

[email protected]

Miles Newby
Resident Advisor

Miles is a dedicated and compassionate resident advisor. He brings a deep commitment to helping individuals on their journey of self discovery. Having overcome personal challenges related to addiction, Miles understands the struggles that residents face and offers unwavering support, empathy, and guidance.

As a resident advisor, Miles plays a pivotal role in the healing process, providing support and being a beacon of hope for those on the path to recovery. His dedication to helping individuals rediscover their potential and build a brighter future is truly inspiring. Miles is well versed in the principles of recovery. Outside of work, Miles is a creative soul. Delving into the arts, he spends his time creating art through mixed media and writing music.

Emily Kinni
Resident Advisor