Choices For Life – Georgia
Meet Our Staff
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.
Sara Riley, LPC, CPCS, RPT-S, NCC, MAC
President of Choices for Life Foster Care Inc.
Sara has been with Choices For Life of Georgia since 2009. Sara attended Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska, where she received her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology. Sara is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia, a Nationally Certified Counselor, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, Masters Addiction Counselor, Board Certified TeleMental Health Provider and a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPCS). She has obtained extensive clinical, assessment and forensic experience while serving a multitude of culturally diverse populations for over 20 years. Sara has a passion for focusing on the needs of the community and working together to provide needed services through systemic collaborations.
Mark has worked for over ten years in the human services field providing quality community service to children and families in South Georgia. Mark has been with Choices For Life of Georgia since 2012. He attended Valdosta State University where he received his Bachelor of Applied Science in Technical Studies. Mark also attended Liberty University where he graduated with his Master of Arts concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy. He has an extensive background in supervision and administration of social service programs. He has worked as a Medicaid eligibility specialist, social service case manager, social service supervisor and program administrator for the state of Georgia’s Department of Family and Children Services. Mark believes in providing consistent and quality services driven by the needs of the individual and family. “I truly enjoy helping others reach their goals.”
Qualynn “Q” Wilson, a native of Chicago, Ill. (#1 Bears Fan!) and graduate of the University of Phoenix, comes with over 10 years of executive administrative experience and knowledge. She is very passionate, caring and willing to provide excellent service(s) to the community and those that reside in it.
Foster Care Recruiter & Trainer
Katorah is a graduate of Valdosta State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She has over 10 years of experience working with children in the community and residential settings. Katorah also has seven years of supervisory and managerial experience working with private and nonprofit agencies. She is excited to combine this experience and help Choices For Life of Georgia continue to meet standards and serve the children and families in the community.
Dusty began her career as an office manager with Choices For Life of Georgia in June 2018. She is a graduate of Wiregrass Technical College with HIMT/coding diploma. She is happily married with four children. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling and attending her children’s sports/school functions.
Mariann received Associate’s degrees in Accounting and Business Administration from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming in 2001. Since then she has worked off and on in the banking world. Mariann is currently working towards a diploma in Health Information Management at Wiregrass Technical College in Valdosta, Georgia. She has been with Choices For Life of Georgia since October 2016.
Linda Jones was born in Texas and raised in the small town of Lovington, NM. She’s married to USAF Veteran. She has been married for 27 years and has two young adult kids. Being married to a military man took her to Guam in 1995 where they lived for almost five years. She is outgoing, friendly, and has a positive attitude. Linda recently joined the CFL team in early November of 2020. “This is something totally different than I’ve ever done before. It’s very interesting, I’m excited and happy to be a part of a team that brings positively to families, children, and the community.”
Human Resource Manager
Lisa was born and raised in North Florida and just recently moved to Georgia to join the team as the HR Manager, beginning March 2022. Lisa obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and her Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development and Management and Leadership. She has 5 years of experience in Social Work, 10 years in Management, and 6 years experience in Human Resources. Throughout her entire career, she has always worked in a social work-related field in various capacities. Lisa is an avid Elvis fan and dog lover. Her goal for Choices For Life of Georgia is to maintain an environment of empowerment of employees and bestow compassion for others.
Room Board and Watchful Oversight Staff
Foster Care Case Supervisor
Vivian graduated from Valdosta State University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology. She has provided over 10 years of services with helping families and children of Georgia. She believes to whom much is given, much is required. She truly understands that our greatest natural resource is in the minds of our children. She’s been with Choices For Life of Georgia since July 2016.
Foster Care Case Manager
Pam has been with Choices For Life of Georgia since 2009. She received a Master’s degree in Special Education – Mental Retardation/Early Intervention, Birth to Three Years in June 1997 from Valdosta State University. She has worked extensively with families and children who experience emotional behavioral problems, as well as special needs. Pam states, “I truly enjoy my job and look forward to coming to work every day.” Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Foster Care Case Manager
Ramada joined the Choices For Life of Georgia family in the Fall of 2018. She is a graduate of Georgia Southern University and came with ten years of child welfare experience. Ramada is actively involved in several community service organizations and prides herself in caring for and helping others. Ramada lives by the motto “service before self” and strives each day to make a difference in the lives of others.
Cathy Burks, AS
Foster Parent Recruiter/Trainer
Cathy has worked in the field of advocacy and social services for more than 20 years. She is very passionate about working with children and families, with an emphasis on education and recruitment. Cathy’s passion developed after becoming a foster parent over 30 years ago, and eventually an adoptive parent. She has since worked in numerous positions assisting foster and adoptive families throughout the state of Georgia. Cathy has also shared her wealth of knowledge and experience through the development of workshops, which she has presented all over the United States. It is her goal to recruit foster parents that are willing to provide a temporary home for children experiencing instability and life’s uncertainties. Cathy believes that every child deserves a safe and loving home.
Outpatient Behavioral Health Staff
Brantley (William) Wheeler
Brantley Wheeler is a native to South Georgia. Brantley received his Bachelor’s of Arts in German from Georgia State University and his Master of Social Work degree from Valdosta State University. He is also an alumni of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program for Young Professionals. Brantley spent 12 months living in Germany and completed internships working with low income families. Brantley has been a member of our team since 2012. He has a passion to work with children and adolescents who have suffered abuse, trauma, loss and grief. “I never intended to work with children and adolescents when completing my Master’s degree. My concentration practicum placement was at an agency offering services to children and teenagers who have suffered physical and sexual abuse. My view of the world was quickly altered and I found a new calling in life. I quickly changed plans from working in adult mental health to becoming an advocate for those who had no voice.” Brantley enjoys time at the beach and traveling overseas. Future plans are to one day complete a PhD.
Emma was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C, and her Bachelor of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from Valdosta State University. Emma is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). Emma has experience providing therapeutic services to individuals, couples, families, and adolescence on a variety of issues such as grief, depression, parent-child relationships, anxiety, and more.
Jana is a native of South Georgia. She attended Valdosta State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Masters of Social Work. Jana has worked with adults with developmental disabilities for seven years, children and families for nine years and four of those were with children and adults in crisis. Jana is trained in TF-CBT therapy and takes great pride in working with children and families. Her goal is to promote change within the family unit to prevent generational cycles and help children become strong, confident individuals.
Shayla is a native to the Valdosta area and graduated from Valdosta State University with a mixed degree in Psychology, Sociology, and Religious Studies. Shayla has been working with Choices For Life Of Georgia since 2015 and has been working in community services for over ten years. Shayla currently trains and supervises Community Support Individuals to teach coping skills and provide resources to families in the community. Shayla has a passion for helping others in this community and believes that it is needed to make a difference.
Project Training Coordinator
With a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and previous experience as a lead educator for a family-focused nonprofit, Ayana is a passionate therapist who celebrates diversity by connecting with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds and life experiences. Through her experiences, she has strengthened her ability to engage children, adolescents and entire families in ways that are positively meaningful. As a therapist, she utilizes a holistic approach to capture the experiences of the individuals and families she works with in order to empower them in all the areas of their lives. She strongly believes that working from a collaborative stance promotes the values and goals of those that she provides services to. She strives to foster renewed hope for the future by highlighting client strengths and resilience throughout treatment.
Jessi Salas, M.Ed.
Riahna graduated from Valdosta State University with her BA in Sociology and Masters in Social Work. Riahna has been working with children of all ages for most of her life in many different fields of work. She has completed both of her internship years at Choices for Life in the Behavioral and Mental Health services, as well as in Foster Care. Riahna’s passion is to work with children and adolescents who are in need of guidance, structure, and support. She has worked with children in all types of economic statuses, family dynamics, behavioral/mental problems, and overall environmental stressors. Riahna’s dream is to, one day, run a non-profit for children and adolescents with special needs who are not receiving adequate care or resources.
Jenny is a native to the Greater Lowndes County area. She obtained a Master’s degree from Valdosta State University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program. She takes pride in having the opportunity to work alongside children and their families in discovering the knowledge and strength gained through life experiences. She views her opportunity to work with each family as a true honor.
Mason hails from South Carolina and comes to Choices for Life with a bachelor’s in Psychology from Clemson University and a Master’s in Marriage and Family therapy from Valdosta State University. Mason is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has worked with families and children in South Georgia since 2017.
Monica is the school counselor for Berrien Elementary School. She received her National Certification in Counseling in 2013 and her State License in Counseling in 2014. She has enjoyed helping and seeing smiles on other people’s faces for over twenty years. Monica recently joined Choices For Life of Georgia as a part-time therapist/assessor. She is excited to be a part of a wonderful team and looks forward to the experience in her role. Monica’s purpose as a counselor/therapist is to assist in overcoming barriers in order to become healthier socially, emotionally and cognitively.
Stacie is a native of South Georgia. She holds a BA in Sociology and is currently finishing up her Masters in Social Work from Valdosta State University. Stacie began her career in 2009 working with adults suffering from severe and persistent mental illness. More recently, she has gained experience working with children, teenagers and families dealing with the effects of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. “After working directly with children who have been victims of abuse for almost a year, I can say I have become very passionate in my work with individuals suffering from the effects of trauma. I am constantly trying to expand on my knowledge in regard to trauma and how it affects the mind and body.” Stacie will soon begin working towards becoming certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Play Therapy.
Nyesia an Army Vet, is currently licensed as a Licensed Master of Social Work and a Certified Addiction Counselor. Nyesia recently joined Choices for Life and is new to the family. Nyesia has a diverse background in the helping profession. Nyesia has worked in Outpatient Services, Residential, and Inpatient. Nyesia has served Adults and Adolescents who suffer from Co-Occurring Disorder as well as severe and persistent mental illnesses.
Cindy Perryman (Cynthia Shepard Perryman), LCSW, joined the team at Choices for Life, Inc., as a therapist in the Winter of 2020. She graduated from Valdosta State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1992 and a Master’s in Social Work in 1998. She went on to complete requirements for a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Cindy has over 22 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults, families, and substance abuse populations in both inpatient and outpatient and school settings. She has provided therapy services in community mental health settings and in a private practice setting in several South Georgia counties. The majority of her professional life to date has been in public school settings as the school social worker for Berrien County Schools. Cindy is passionate about helping individuals to heal, improve and achieve.
Dillon graduated from Valdosta State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is experienced in working with diverse client populations through individual and family therapy. Dillon takes a collaborative approach in therapy where he works with clients in developing goals and treatments relevant to the clients’ lives. He has worked with a variety of treatment issues such as substance abuse, anger management, and grief counseling. Dillon is committed to helping families retain the hope and confidence to create change in their lives.ll as severe and persistent mental illnesses.
Priscilla has obtained both her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and Master’s of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy at Valdosta State. She has previous social work experience connecting with people from all walks of life. Priscilla endeavors to collaborate with youth and their families to help foster hope, understanding people as individually unique and valuable. She gravitates towards a person-centered approach while considering the context and relativity of human experiences. Priscilla is grateful to be a part of the Choices team and to have the opportunity to help serve the community.
Cody was born and raised in Tifton, Georgia, and moved to Valdosta in 2019. He received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Georgia Southern University in 2019 and is currently in his final semester of his Master of Social Work Degree (MSW). Cody is passionate about the success and wellbeing of the child & adolescent population as well as challenging the mental health stigma in our community. In his free time, Cody enjoys traveling and spending time with his family. His primary goals are to be an advocate for the children and adolescents he serves as well as offer evidence-based care to the community.
Diana (she/her) received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Valdosta State University in 2019, and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2021. She also received a Diploma in Neuroscience and Psychopathology in 2018, and a Diploma in Psychoeducational intervention in children with special needs in 2020. Diana is passionate about working with children and adolescents, social justice, equality, and mental health. As a counselor, I assist people through personal challenges, help ease emotional burdens, and empower them to achieve mental wellness. The best thing about being a counselor and working with children is that you have the opportunity to be a part of a child’s life in such a powerful way.
Diana nacío y creció en
Kaycee was born and raised in Florida and moved to Valdosta in 2017. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Valdosta State University in 2020, and is currently in her final year of pursuing her Masters of Social Work Degree (MSW). Kaycee is passionate about working with children and adolescents through their various developmental stages as well as working to provide a solid support system for each child in order for them to succeed. In her free time Kaycee enjoys living an active lifestyle, and loves working with children and adolescents because they keep her on her toes in the best way. One of Kaycee’s main goals is to implement increased education of mental health in schools, with parents, children, as well as the community.
With a Master’s degree in Sociology, Raschard is a native of the great state of Alabama(WAR EAGLE!). Raschard has worked with adults and adolescents for 10 years and has an extensive background in human relations. Raschard takes pride in connecting families and providing youth with the tools to be productive in their most formative years. His goal is to leave any situation better than he entered.
Ashli received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in May 2003 from Valdosta State University. She has worked as a contractor through DFCS doing wrap-around and homestead services, visiting clients (adults, adolescents and children) in their homes to provide Parent Aide services for a variety of life issues including educating individuals about appropriate parenting practices, and supervision of parent/child visitation for the last eight years. Ashli has completed CCFAs in addition to parental and adolescent fitness assessments. Ashli has been working as a paraprofessional for Choices For Life of Georgia focusing on the children and adolescents, addressing skill building, behavioral management and adaptive functioning skills since 2009. Ashli works closely with community partners to help develop and link youth and families to additional services, programs, and/or collaborative and natural supports that will assist children and families in our community.
Kellie is currently obtained her degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology from Brandman University. She has been working with Choices For Life of Georgia as an intern and has loved the time that she gets to spend here. She has over 20 years of experience working with families, adults, children and special needs. She has a passion for helping people overcome obstacles, difficulties and making the most of themselves. Her goal is to form a positive and constructive relationship with her clients and their families. When not working with clients and their families, Kellie volunteers at a local animal rescue where she has a passion for saving animals, rehabilitating them and finding them a home.
Latreece is a graduate of Valdosta State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She has over 10 years of experience working with families, adults, children, and special needs. Latreece has been with Choices for Life since 2019. Latreece believes that you can have a significant impact on people’s lives in different, but meaningful ways. She has a goal of changing a child’s reality one day at a time.
Martrika was born in Rantaul Illinois. She moved to Valdosta Georgia at the age of 6. Martrika attended Wiregrass where she received her diploma in Medical Assisting/certificate in Esthetics. Martrika attended Georgia Military College then Capella University where she received her bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology. Martrika is excited to link families to community resources while encouraging the use of coping and behavioral skills to improve the families/ children’s progress in the community, home, and school.
Tori was born and raised in Michigan and recently moved to Valdosta in 2020. She received a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology & Communication Sciences and Disorder from Western Michigan University in 2019. She has worked as an RBT(Registered Behavior Tech) previously, working with children and adolescents in a clinic or home. She enjoys working with children and making an impact on their life. Tori is passionate about making a difference and strives to encourage everyone to be the best version of themselves. In her spare time, she takes pleasure in hiking with her dog, reading, and traveling. Her goal is to help build confidence and provide support to children and adolescents in the community.
YaLonda is an optimistic, compassionate, and motivated individual who loves to work with children and young adults to strengthen their minds and overall well-being. She is a native of the South Georgia area where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology from Valdosta State University in 2017. She has over ten years of experience in customer service and believes everyone deserves respect and equality. YaLonda has worked with children for over ten years and seeks to be an advocate and trusted supporter to them. Her motto every morning is, “Great things are happening today!”.
Lenore Jackson is a native of Florida. She moved to Valdosta from Lake Wales, Florida, almost fourteen years ago to obtain a bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University, specializing in Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Paralegal. She attended Liberty University, where she received a Master of Arts – Human Services Counseling: Marriage and Family; a Master of Science – Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D.: in Higher Education Administration: Student Affairs. She is passionate about continued growth and has certification in Prepare-Enrich Facilitator – Remarriage and Marriage Counseling, Liberty University, Certified Public Management, Florida State University, Certified Supervisory Management, Florida State University, and Aggression Replacement Training (ART). She is a Veteran and has over 14 years of Military service in the Navy, Navy Reserves, and the Florida National Guard. She includes the Air Force as part of her duties because her son is a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force. She must stay from the words of her song “The World Greatest Air Force!” She expresses a deep miss for her military life and family. Her lifelong experience includes Therapeutic Manager/Case Manager; Out-Patience Adolescent Counselor, Child Welfare Child Investigator, Child Welfare Case Manager/Supervisor, Substance Abuse Counselor, Correctional Officer at a maximum-security prison for males; Detention Deputy, and a Drill Instructor at a Juvenile Boot Camp for females and males. She is married and has a blended family. She enjoys collecting vintage dolls, learning new things, and having peaceful Sunday afternoons.
Psychiatric and Nursing
Dr. Cheryl Gatewood Tolliver
Board Certified Pediatrician
Cheryl Gatewood Tolliver is a board-certified pediatrician. She has been practicing medicine for over 20 years. She attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and received a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering Degree. She also attended the University of Southern California and received a Masters of Science in Systems Management. She received her Doctorate of Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA followed by her Residency in Pediatrics at Orlando Regional Healthcare System in Orlando, FL.
Dr. Tolliver is married to Kevin Tolliver and is the mother of 4 adult children, Kevin Paul, Nicholas (deceased), Destiny, and Taylor. She has one Grandchild, Russell Tolliver. She enjoys running, reading, gardening, and spending time with her dog, Zandy.
Zakiyyah Weatherspoon, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC
DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC
Zakiyyah Weatherspoon, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and is the current residing president of the South Georgia Association of Nurse practitioners, a member of Georgia Nurses Association, American Nurses Association, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, Sigma Theta Tau nursing fraternity, National Council of Negro Women, and United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.
Born and raised here in Valdosta, she graduated from Valdosta High School in 2001. From there she went on to Statesboro, GA where she attended Georgia Southern University. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in 2005. She worked as an ER nurse for 6 years and part-time at a nonprofit inpatient hospice facility and volunteered her time as a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE nurse) all while she pursued her Master of Science in Nursing with an emphasis in family practice. She obtained her MSN degree in 2011. She obtained her Doctorate of Nursing Practice and the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Degree in May 2021 both from Georgia Southern University. She was then employed at Valdosta Family Medicine from January 2012-December 2017. While working full-time there, she started her mental health role at Peaceway Counseling and Mediation Services, serving child and adolescent patients there in 2014. She then worked full-time at the local emergency department in her advanced practice role. She then started working with her love for mental health at Legacy Behavioral Health Services and sporadically filling needed shifts at South Georgia Medical Center’s Youth Care department both in Valdosta Georgia. She is now full-time with Valdosta Children’s Healthcare.
She was recently named Georgia’s state representative for AANP’s nurse practitioner of the year for 2019 for her community service involvement here in our community where she received this prestigious honor in June 2019 in Indianapolis, IN. She was also inducted into the Class of 2019 40 under 40 for Georgia southern University Alumni out of 210,000 alumnae that are under the age of 40.
Tara McLeod, LPN
Tara is a native of Valdosta. She moved back to Valdosta in 1998 after her husband retired from the Navy. She is a 1988 Graduate of Valdosta Technical Institution’s LPN diploma program. She has over 33 years’ experience in the Mental Health field. She has worked with children as well as adults. She has 3 adult daughters and 3 Grandsons. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking and investing in stocks. “I am so happy to be a part of the Choices For Life team. I hope to make a difference every day.
Bio to come.
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Choices For Life of Georgia