Choices For Life – Oklahoma
Meet Our Staff
CEO - President - Choices For Life Foster Care
My staff and I are proud to play a much needed role in helping children in the Therapeutic Foster Care system reach their goal of adoption or reunification. The growing need in this area of specialized care cannot be ignored and it is our goal to find a healthy home for each and every one of these children under our care. I have a great team of trainers and counselors, and I trust in their ability to serve our dedicated Treatment Parent Specialists and children.
Kara has been with Choices For Life since 2017. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and LPC Board Certified Supervisor. Kara graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Criminology and a Master of Education in Community Counseling from the University of Oklahoma. Kara has provided individual, family and group counseling in both private practice and agency settings. She has advanced training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a Trust Based Relational Intervention Practitioner, and is nationally certified in Parent Child Interaction Therapy.
Statewide Trainer & Recruiter
Crystal has been working with Choices For Life since December 2013. She handles all of the training, recruiting and certifications for the state of Oklahoma. Crystal graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications from Southwest Baptist University. Prior to coming to Choices for Life she worked as a high school teacher and in sales. She loves working with families to get them through the training and certification process and loves that her job involves doing a lot of different things and that every day looks a little different. Crystal is a newlywed and lives in Norman, Okla., with her husband and two puppies, JB and Molly May.
John attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., and graduated with a Master’s in Social Work in 2018. While there, John began to work toward social causes whose goals were to help people and better lives. During his Master’s program, John interned at the Homeless Alliance of Oklahoma and the Diversity Center of Oklahoma, where he was a case manager and therapist. For a year after graduating, he worked with a consulting firm that provides information, including client voices, to communities fighting to resolve homelessness. John conducted research, staffed client focus groups and organized presentations. John joined Choices For Life in 2020 and enjoys working to help people, raise awareness on LGBTQ+ rights and work to help children have better futures.
Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Supervisor
Kathy joined Choices For Life in November 2017. She began her career in the field of mental health in 1998 as a counselor and then a foster parent recruiter and developer. For the past 16 years she has worked in Regional Quality Improvement in Oklahoma, Texas and Ohio. She served as a local grievance coordinator, assisted in as many as four Councils on Accreditation (COA) reaccreditations and was previously a COA peer reviewer. Kathy has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and a Master’s in Special Education from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is a board member for the Down Syndrome Association of Oklahoma and has served on the parent board at Special Care, a day care for children of all abilities.
Mary “Penny” Cooper
Clinical Supervisor – Checotah & Tulsa
Penny attended Connors State College in Warner, Okla., and received an Associate Degree in Business Administration in 2001. She pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work graduating in 2003 from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla. While there she was a member of the National Association of Student Social Workers. Penny was accepted into the accelerated program at the University of Oklahoma and began her Master’s program in 2003 and graduated in 2004 with her Master’s in Social Work. She went to work for the Department of Human Services (DHS) where she worked for 6½ years. She continued her involvement in the National Association of Social Workers and served as a board member and branch chair in the Muskogee area for two years. During her tenure at DHS she worked in investigations, permanency planning and foster care. Penny joined the Choices For Life team in April 2011. She enjoys working with children and families and appreciates the opportunity to work in the new venue of the therapeutic area.
After growing up in rural Oklahoma, Dustin moved to Weatherford to attend Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He graduated from SWOSU in December 2004 with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Accounting. After college, Dustin began his career working in public accounting and internal auditing. Dustin came to work as the Controller for Choices For Life in March 2011.
Office Manager/Accounting Assistant
Linda has been with Choices For Life since November 2011. She graduated from Southeast High School in Oklahoma City and went to Oklahoma City Community College where she has the equivalent of an Associates in Mathematics.
Office Manager - Checotah
Reba has been with Choices For Life since September 2000. Her and her husband will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this December. They have two children and four grandchildren. Reba’s hobbies are watching HGTV, sewing and shopping. She loves decorating her home, but most of all she loves being Nana to her grandchildren and taking them places. Reba enjoys the everyday duties of her job and loves meeting the children when they come to the office. Her goal is to help them feel welcome. Reba is so happy to work for an agency that helps place children in loving homes, if only for a little while.
Office Manager – Ponca City
Angela was raised in a small rural Oklahoma town, attending school there from start to finish. She started her journey into the foster care field in 2001, joining the Choices For Life team in 2008 in the Ponca City office, as office manager. Angela enjoys being outdoors, gardening, fishing or simply relaxing on the deck appreciating nature. Her favorite times are family gatherings, enjoying each other’s company and being grateful for each moment shared together. “I will always do what I can to make a positive difference in the lives of children.”
Intensive Treatment Family Care (ITFC)
Ashley grew up in the Oklahoma City area and graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2007 with a Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on Early Childhood Education. After teaching for seven years, working with children faced with poverty, trauma histories and behavioral problems, she went back to school to obtain her Masters. In addition to teaching, Ashley also enjoys working with parents as an instructor for Smart Start’s Early Birds program and has been an instructor since 2010. Ashley taught for an additional two years before receiving her Master’s in Education with a focus on Professional Counseling from Oklahoma City University in May 2016. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Oklahoma. She joined Choices for Life in August 2016 as a counselor working with children in Therapeutic Foster Care and foster families. Ashley enjoys working with this population and is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as several assessments.
Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC)
TFC Therapist – Oklahoma City
Melanie has been on her counseling journey since 2012 and has been with Choices For Life since October 2018. Her love for helping others has always been at the forefront and after choosing psychology courses during her electives, she decided that counseling was that path she wanted to take. Melanie was in the foster system at a very young age and was blessed to be adopted by loving parents who proved that good people exist, as well as taught her morals and values. As a child, she had wished she had someone to talk to who had similar experiences and presently she feels blessed to be that person for others. Melanie received her Associates of Arts in Business at the University of Phoenix, her Bachelor of Science in Management at the University of Phoenix, a Masters in Mental Health Counseling at Capella University, and she is currently completing the dissertation phase of her PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior at Capella University. While working on her undergraduate degree and some of her Masters, she was employed at a local substance abuse agency where she provided group and individual counseling and assessed individuals using the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) and the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI).
TFC Therapist – Sapulpa
Carol has been with Choices For Life for since June 2016. She has two children and five grandchildren and her hobbies include camping, traveling, gardening and cooking. She loves to spend time with her family and any day spent with her grandchildren is a great day! Carol loves working with children and one of her greatest feelings is seeing their hope restored.
Clinical Director and Supervisor, Outpatient Program – Oklahoma City
Candace is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with an educational background in Mental Health. Candace graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sociology with an option in Chemical Dependency from the University of Central Oklahoma and a Master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. Candace has been an LPC since 2005 providing individual, family and group counseling with young children, adolescents, adults and elderly with a variety of mental health issues. Candace has advanced training in Trauma Focused- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has specialized in Play Therapy and trauma. Candace has been a clinical director with supervisory experience since 2005 in Therapeutic Foster Care and Outpatient Behavioral Health. Candace is also an LPC Board Certified Supervisor.
Director of Outpatient Operations – Oklahoma City
Brittany graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology-Human Services in 2012. Through her internship she found a passion for the counseling field and helping others. She has worked as an administrator in this field for seven years and is always striving to learn more. She credits her skills to those who have mentored her and guided her along this journey. Brittany is married with a small farm of dogs and cats as part of their family.
Kerris is a Licensed Professional Counselor candidate who also has years of experience as a Case Manager and Rehabilitation Specialist. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in the Sciences while minoring in English Literature, then later acquiring a Master’s Degree in Human Relations-Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Kerris provides services such as individual, family and group counseling with children, adolescents, adults and the elderly who face mental health issues. She is dedicated to serving her clients and helping them with the necessary redirection they are needing to regain functionality in their lives.
Melissa is a Licensed Professional Counselor Under Supervision with an educational background in mental health counseling and the law. Melissa graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Legal Studies from East Central University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma, a Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University School of Law, and is finishing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Meridian University. Melissa provides mental health counseling to children and adolescences. She also specializes in forensic counseling and assessments for civil and criminal cases. Melissa has experience providing sentencing mitigation in death penalty and juvenile life without parole cases. She has provided expert testimony and consulted on incompetent-to-stand-trial cases and not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity cases. Additionally, Melissa has experience with the mental health court and drug court programs.
Chanika is a candidate for Licensed Marriage and Family. She received her Master’s in Marriage and Family at Capella in 2013 and also completed her Bachelor’s at University of Central Oklahoma. She is currently finishing up her licensure while also obtaining her certification in Play Therapy, TF-CBT and exploring ways to become Bilingual to provide services for our Spanish community. She has worked at CREOKS Behavioral Health Services for three years as an outpatient mental health therapist and at Choices for Life Foster Care for two years. She specializes in individual, couple and family psychotherapy and strives to encourage everyone to bring out the best version of themselves.
Lavone is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Oklahoma. She received her Master’s degree in Counseling from Mid-America Christian University in December 2014. She was inspired to pursue a career in mental health while getting her Bachelor’s degree in Health Administration. After doing a presentation on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder she discovered that many of her friends were active in the recovery efforts at the Murrah Building in 1995, and were still having issues dealing with the aftermath over a decade later. Lavone decided the best way to help her friends and others like them was to become a counselor. Lavone has supplemented her training as a therapist by volunteering with emergency management agencies. She successfully completed Camp Inferno in October 2015. Also, Lavone is currently the Historian and Trainer with the Oklahoma City Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a Strategic Liaison with the Oklahoma County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and a Team Leader with the Oklahoma Stress Response Team (SRT). She is also active in the Mid Del Amateur Radio Club where she assists with communications during severe weather, and other community events, including the Oklahoma City Marathon, Edmond’s Freedom Fest, and the Midwest City Veterans Day Parade.
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