Alto Substance Use Disorder Program Staff Spotlight

One of the most important services Encompass provides is Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment and counseling. Our qualified and licensed staff help members of our community struggling with drug or alcohol dependencies recover and get their lives back. Encompass’ Alto Counseling Centers located in Santa Cruz and Watsonville provide trauma-informed SUD counseling, supporting clients to identify and achieve their goals of harm reduction, sobriety, medication assisted treatment, legal follow through, mental health linkage, medical needs, and more. They help clients sort out life stressors and determine what part substance use plays in them. Our counselors are trained professionals with knowledge of substance misuse and its impact. They offer in-person or counseling via Telehealth and provide coordination with clients’ medical providers and with their families, when needed. With therapy and support, our Alto team strives to make positive changes in the lives of our clients. 

The Alto team recently received an email from one of their clients explaining how their staff helped him recover. It’s comments like this that keep the team going. 

“My experience with Alto has helped me to achieve what I never thought possible: sobriety. My life has been completely changed through this continual process of recovery. Alto and Ricki Lee have been greatly responsible for bringing integrity, joy, peace and happiness into my life. A cliche, yes, but very true.”  

“My relationships with my daughter and friends have been transformed. I have a new love relationship in my life. I am calmer, more productive, more respectful to others……the list goes on. I look forward to every day now. Before, sadly, I simply wanted to not exist.”

“Thank you Alto and Ricki Lee, for the compassion and training you’ve given to me that I wouldn’t even give myself. You never gave up on me.” 

We recently interviewed the Alto team and asked them to explain their day-to-day work, what brought them to Alto, and what they love most about their jobs.  

ricki-lee-stautz.pngRicki Lee S., MSW, SUDRC | Program Manager and Clinician, Alto Adult Substance Use Disorder program 

A little bit about your job/what you do for Encompass 
I support our community contracts, referral and funding streams, chart requirements, and implementation of ever-evolving practices by guiding our incredible staff and maintaining communication with our partners and leadership.  

What made you want to work for Encompass and, specifically, the Alto SUD program? 
I am committed to the demographic we work with in Santa Cruz County and have so much reverence for the main principles of Encompass Community Services. The recognition of humanness and inherent value – from staff to client – that is endorsed at the non-profit level inspires and encourages me. I love that Alto is connected to so many internal and external programs and we intend to keep bolstering our bridges. This agency is chock-full of inspired, creative, compassionate providers and staff and it has been incredible to build professional relationships throughout my time here.    

What do you enjoy most about your work? 
I grew up in Santa Cruz and have a deeply rooted love for this community; it brings me joy working towards healing and community integration with clients. From our outpatient SUD population to our in-custody enrollees, supporting people’s understanding of local systems, opportunities, and their personal strengths and abilities means the world to me. I am lucky to have an extraordinary team of providers passionate about trauma-informed, equitable care who are flexible, curious, open-hearted learners. Meeting with my team, my supervisors, and my clients keeps me coming back to work with a smile- even on Mondays!

erin.pngErin S. | In-Custody and Outpatient Counselor, Alto Adult Substance Use Disorder program 

Tell us a little bit about your job/what you do for Encompass 
I facilitate SUD and Anger Management programming in the Santa Cruz Main Jail, and the Rehabilitation and Re-Entry Facility in Watsonville, serving groups of up to twelve adult men committed to improving their lives. I also counsel individuals and groups with ALTO’s Outpatient SUD treatment program, supporting clients to reach their self-identified treatment goals. In collaboration with my clients, we identify unmet needs that lead to substance use and develop sustainable, life-affirming ways to meet those needs.  

What made you want to work for Encompass and, specifically, the Alto SUD program?  
Encompass has a reputation in the community for maintaining high standards in its programs, which gave me confidence that they would help me build my counseling skills in the mental health field.  During the interview, I was asked the most thoughtful questions by the Program Manager and the Senior Manager, and the rigor of the selection interview process proved that this is an organization committed to excellence. That first impression has been validated throughout the year of working there, a commitment to professionalism, integrity, and quality service. I chose to work for the Alto SUD program because, at my previous position at a mental health residential facility, I recognized the prevalence of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders and wanted to become proficient with this population. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?  
Witnessing my in-custody clients make rapid transformations in the span of only 3-6 months has been profoundly satisfying. Building relationships with my clients and gaining their trust so they feel comfortable coming to me with their innermost truths and fears has validated my aptitude as a counselor. I am honored to witness the incredible people who sit before me every day, reflecting to them their inherent worth and helping them see that their mistakes do not define them. I also love my team that I work with at Encompass. My co-workers are incredibly supportive, and my clinical and immediate supervisor genuinely care about the clients, their well-being, and their long-term goals.   

J’ann R., LMFT  | Clinical Supervisor, Licensed Clinician, Alto Adult Substance Use Disorder program 

Tell us a little bit about your job/what you do for Encompass  
I have worked at Encompass for 26 years. I have served in many positions during my time here and have much gratitude for the support I received from Encompass to return to graduate school and attain my license as a marriage and family therapist. I continue to provide direct SUD services to our adult population and have the joy of providing clinical supervision to our amazing staff. I continue to be drawn to this hands-on work and maintain a passion to be present in serving our staff, the individuals we serve, and our community.  

What are you most proud of during your time at Encompass? I am most proud of being the treatment provider on the Drug Court Team program for 8 years. I loved developing a sense of family for clients. I am also proud of my clinical work managing the federal contract providing SUD and mental health services to pre-trial and probation clients. At one point in my career, I was on the administrative track, but chose to change course and remain true to myself by working to become a licensed clinician. Completing the Mindfulness Teacher Training is something I really appreciate, as I love integrating specific practices into the workplace and acknowledging the importance of self-care our staff so genuinely deserve. I really appreciate Encompass for recognizing and taking action to support staff in this way. As service providers, our own self-care is essential for us to be able to provide safe, trauma-informed services to our clients.  

What’s the best part of your job? My current role as a Clinical Supervisor is one the most rewarding roles right now. I enjoy supporting the growth of staff. I receive so much inspiration from the wisdom and enthusiasm of the staff I enjoy supervising.  I also really enjoy my continued direct clinical services as I love being able to provide a safe place for individuals to share their stories and emotions and feel valued and cared for. It is so rewarding to witness their increased self-awareness and growth. 

anjuli-corzine.pngAnjuli C., MA, SUDRC | Clinician I, Alto Adult Substance Use Disorder program 

Tell us a little bit about your job/what you do for Encompass 
I primarily see clients for one-on-one sessions to address ongoing substance use disorder and other co-occurring diagnoses, as well as working with the probation success center to provide anger management classes. I have worked for and alongside several mental healthcare agencies in Santa Cruz prior to beginning at Alto.  

What made you want to work for Encompass and, specifically, the Alto SUD program? 
What always stood out to me was the dire need for services for our houseless populations, and all of the various barriers they faced in seeking the desperately needed mental health care. Encompass has been one of the prominent organizations that has provided access and space for individuals who traditionally struggle with finding programs to take them in with limited resources and funds, and I have turned to them for client placements more times than I can count. Alto was a specific interest to me due to my previous work with substance use disorder, and the limited amount of outpatient SUD services available in the county.  

What do you enjoy most about your work?  
The work is often difficult but is very rewarding, I have learned so much from the clients that I work with and feel that I have grown tremendously as a clinician with the help of our team. 

amanda.pngAmanda G. | Intake Counselor, Alto Adult Substance Use Disorder program 

Tell us a little bit about your job/what you do for Encompass 
I manage the referral tracker and schedule clients for intakes. I also manage caseload, provide individual and group counseling. I provide care coordination and wrap-around services to link clients to Medi-Cal, doctor appointments, and legal support. I meet with clients bi-weekly at our residential site for care coordination and linkage to outpatient services.  

What made you want to work for Encompass and, specifically, the Alto SUD program? 
I wanted to work for Encompass based on meeting my program manager, Ricki Lee Stautz. She was so warm and sincere and showed me that Encompass is a versatile, client-centered organization that appreciates its employees, and has a data-driven and goal-oriented approach. Alto is the best agency I have worked for in the SUD field. I feel appreciated, supported, and heard. Alto is trauma-informed and client-centered keeping with the Carl Rogers approach of maintaining an unconditional positive regard for clients and staff.   

What do you enjoy most about your work? 
What I like most about my job is the time I spend with my clients and getting to hear their stories. I enjoy working one on one with clients guiding them through stages of change to elicit behavior change.  

danni-doran.pngDani D., SUDRC | Clinical Counselor for Outpatient and In-Custody, Alto Adult Substance Use Disorder program 

Tell us a little bit about your job/what you do for Encompass 
I am a new hire here at Alto, so I'm still getting oriented. I have been lucky enough to shadow some In-Custody groups and even lead a few. Soon, I will begin to see individuals for outpatient counseling.  

What made you want to work for Encompass and, specifically, the Alto SUD program? 
Initially, I heard about the Alto SUD through the Youth Services program (with whom I am interning this year), and I was very interested in the work that they have to offer. I am deeply passionate about helping facilitate meaningful clinical relationships with clients to assist them in reaching their goals.  

What do you enjoy most about your work? 
I have developed a profound respect and interest in the insight that clients have to offer. I am consistently humbled and becoming more and more eager to learn from clients. There are so many impactful nooks and crannies in this work, and I experience a great sense of gratitude because of it. 

If you or a loved one needs SUD services, call the screening team today at 831-226-3728. We offer services at NO COST to Medi- Cal beneficiaries and on a sliding-scale fee for those with private insurance. We offer services in English and Spanish and we are CARF Certified and licensed by DHCS.  

If you are a referral source looking to place clients in SUD treatment and counseling programs, call us at 831-226-3728 or email [email protected]. We accept referrals from medical providers, legal teams, and behavioral health specialists. 

A big thank you to the Encompass Alto team for their tireless work helping our most vulnerable community members. Keep up the great work!