Meet Our Qualified Staff
Connections Addiction Treatment Center, “No games, just hope”
Connections Addiction Treatment Center retains a highly-trained staff of therapists, counselors, and behavioral health technicians. The center offers an intimate staff to patient ratio, that allows for individualized quality care. Combining education with experience, our diverse team of professionals includes individuals who have also overcome addiction, adopting a 12-step recovery program as a way of life.
We at the Connections Addiction Treatment Center believe it is never too late and never too early to address issues associated with addiction and all its co-occurring challenges.
Dr. Sanchez, Psy. D., MS, MA, L.H.M.C., C.A.P.
Co-Founder / Chief Executive Officer
As both Founder and CEO of Connections Addiction Treatment Center, Dr. Sanchez draws on more than 25 years of diversified leadership experience spanning multiple industries across four states. The tactical oversight he provides at The Connections Addiction Treatment Center ensures that we are providing the best quality of boutique style empirically validated behavioral health care services possible for the patients we serve. Dr. Sanchez brings enthusiasm as well as many years of experience in the addiction treatment field serving as a clinical director, an executive director, and as a chief executive officer in many facilities over the years. He has also served as an expert consultant in many substance abuse facilities in Florida. Dr Sanchez has also worked as an expert consultant in forensic settings in Florida, New York, California and in Texas in courtroom settings, in jury research and for the federal and state corrections departments. He also studied and trained in multiple addiction treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, residential settings, community mental health centers, and private practice settings in South Texas, South Florida, New York and in California. Dr. Sanchez brings a well-rounded and eclectic approaches as a clinical and behavioral health care expert and is an asset to The Connections Addiction Treatment Center. Dr. Sanchez believes it a great honor and privilege to oversee the day to day operations, medical, clinical, and ancillary/direct care services of the patients and who are treated here at The Connections Addiction Treatment Center.
Dr. Sanchez earned his Associates Degree in 1989 from Del Mar College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Texas in 1992. He then earned his Master of Science in Counseling from Texas A & M in 1995 and his non-terminal Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology in 2003 from Albizu University. Dr. Sanchez completed his Doctorate in Clinical and Forensic Psychology from Albizu University in Miami in 2008.
Dr. Kelli Malkasian, PsyD, CEDS
Dr. Malkasian has worked within the field of recovery from substance addictions and eating disorders for the past 12 years of her career. Prior to starting her career, she attended Michigan State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a special focus on feminist psychology and women’s studies. Dr. Malkasian later earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Her passion and dedication to clients who struggle to navigate recovery and life after treatment is what sets her apart from others. Dr Malkasian believes that change is possible and anyone can move beyond the addict and patient identity.
Find inner beauty, find resilience.
“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become” – Carl Jung
What do enjoy about your job?
I most enjoy seeing clients move beyond the identity of their addiction it being a patient, to become something or someone they had never before dreamed possible.
ShaRone S. Kushnir, MS. IMH. CPLC
ShaRone is a registered intern in mental health counseling, a certified professional life coach, and a doctoral candidate in clinical neuropsychology. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, ShaRone has background in film and the theatrical arts, and as a world-class concert pianist, performs regularly all over the world. Clinically, ShaRone specializes in spiritual psychology fused with evidence-based cognitive-behavioral interventions specializing in substance abuse as well as other related addictive disorders. ShaRone has accumulated practicum and professional clinical experience conducting group and individual counseling as well as conducting comprehensive psychological and neuropsychological evaluations in various settings across a diverse population. ShaRone’s success in group as well as individual therapy is primarily owed to his genuine care and love for all individuals, but more so, his passion to instill hope, inspiration and above all, joy in all lives reaching to triumph over life’s growth-spurting challenges.
Jessica Willis LPN
Jessica started her medical career as a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy. She attended LPN school in 2009. She presently is studying to become a RN and will be graduating RN school at the end of 2017. She has worked in many specialties including cardiology, internal medicine, substance Abuse, Detox, Psychiatry, Mental Health, Pediatrics, Urgent Care, and the Emergency Room. She has now devoted her career to the field of chemical dependency and recovery, she has found a deep rooted passion to help clients with the first step in their transition to recovery. She now works closely with our clients and treatment team to ensure that each aspect of our client care is unified in promoting the best possibility of a successful recovery for every client.
Bianca recently began her career in substance abuse when Connections ATC first opened in 2016. She held the position of HR/ Admissions Coordinator and has recently taken on a new role of Program Coordinator. Bianca is a graduate of Florida International University with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Business. Bianca’s passion and care for helping others has recently led her into the field of substance abuse. Her education and skills will help to improve the lives of others in their journey to recovery.
“Nothing worth having comes easy”
What do enjoy about your job?
I have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions of people. Helping patients earn sobriety is worth more than a paycheck.
Kelly Garcia is currently pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology for where the ultimate goal is to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Kelly gained experience as a Recovery Coach at another treatment center in Florida. She began as a Behavioral Health Technician at Connections Addiction Treatment Center, LLC and received a promotion to hold the title of Case Manager. She brings a wealth of personal experience and a true passion for substance abuse recovery. Having been in recovery herself for 4 years, Kelly has vast experience with different aspects of the recovery process. In her supportive role, Kelly works closely with our clients encouraging and guiding them in all areas of their lives, in order to help them learn the skills necessary for long-term recovery from substance use disorders and mental health issues. Kelly is a caring and compassionate guide that focuses on her clients’ strengths to empower and support them to make their own positive and healthy lifestyle choices. Kelly greatly values her own loving and supportive family so she strives to help others establish meaningful relationships in their own lives. Kelly enjoys many amazing and new experiences as a result of the gifts she has received in her personal journey of recovery.
Life is like soccer. You need goals!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
What do enjoy about your job?
I enjoy giving direct support to our clients in a way that really makes a difference. The contribution I make is vital to their ability to make key, life changing decisions which ultimately influence the overall success of their recovery process.
Patient Service Care Coordinator
Van has spent the last 8 years working in the field of addiction treatment in various facilities throughout the South Florida area. He currently works as the Patient Care Services Coordinator where he is responsible for maintaining the quality of patient care, in accordance with the organization’s objectives and policies through planning, coordinating, implementing, and evaluating the services provided patients and families here at the Connections Addiction Treatment Center. Van, who is in recovery himself, understands the personal challenges patients are battling and uses his own experiences as a guide to help steer patients in the right path towards sobriety.
“We do recover” – The Big Book
“It keeps getting better”
What do enjoy about your job?
Van enjoys this field because it has taught him how to get sober and allows him to share that experience with others.
Assistant Patient Services Coordinator
Michelle Ortiz is the assistant patient services coordinator here at Connections ATC. She has 2 years experience in the substance abuse field where she worked as the lead Behavioral Health Tech in previous facilities. Michelle has 10 years personal experience which allows her to be extremely understanding with our patients and their personal struggles. She is passionate and dedicated to helping improve the lives of our patients one day at a time because she does believe everyone can achieve sobriety.
Dietitian & Nutritionist
Lauren is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist. She graduated with a Bachelors in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida State University and continued her education at Florida International University with a Masters in Dietetics and Nutrition. Lauren is published in the Open Journal of Preventative Medicine for her work with Diabetes and Weight control and has over six years of experience working in the Nutrition field. Lauren is passionate about nutrition and the role it plays in recovery. She provides a hands-on, holistic approach to recovery providing clients with healthy recipes, grocery lists and meal plans. Lauren also focuses on medical nutrition therapy and control/management of chronic disease to ensure every client gets an individualized nutrition experience.