Meet Our Team

Through extensive diagnostic evaluations and holistic treatment, Omega Recovery is dedicated to enhancing wellness by offering clarity, direction, and results.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras | PH. D. | LCSW-R

Co-Founder | Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. Kardaras is an Ivy-League educated psychologist, an internationally renowned speaker, and one of the country’s foremost addiction experts. A former Clinical Professor at Stony Brook Medicine where he specialized in teaching the neurophysiology and treatment of addiction, he has also taught neuropsychology at the doctoral-level and has worked closely in developing clinical protocols with Dr. Howard Shaffer, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Director of their Division of Addiction.

He has appeared on ABC’s 20/20, Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, FOX & Friends, NPR, Good Day New York and has written about addiction for TIME Magazine, Scientific American, Psychology Today, Salon, The NY Daily News, and FOX News, and has been featured in Esquire, New York Magazine, VICE, and Vanity Fair. Considered a leading expert on young people and digital addiction, he is the author of “Glow Kids” (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), the seminal book on the clinical, neurological and sociological aspects of Technology Addiction (Smart Phones, Video Games, Social Media, etc.) and has clinically worked with over 1,000 teens and young people during the last 15 years. 

He has been active in advocating that screen addiction be recognized as a clinical disorder akin to substance addiction and has developed the most comprehensive treatment protocols to treat this emerging global problem.

Dr. Kardaras is also the author of “How Plato and Pythagoras Can Save Your Life” (Conari, 2011) and devotes his life to helping others find their path to recovery, healing and a life of meaning and purpose.

Dr. Kardaras is also the creator of Seahab, an intensive experiential form of nature immersion therapy. Based on the very successful evidence-based principles of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH), Seahab has proven to be very effective as an intensive intervention to help addicts shift out of self-destructive and toxic lifestyle patterns.

Dr. Kardaras has also, admittedly, lived a colorful life: he’s a former AAU National Karate champion, a recovering NYC nightclub owner and a coma survivor. Having once owned high-profile NY nightclubs where he had mingled with the likes of JFK, Jr., Uma Thurman and Tom Cruise, Dr. Kardaras emerged from that glamorous-yet-self-destructive world and discovered a healing path to his own recovery from addiction. 

He lives with his wife and twin sons between Austin, TX and Sag Harbor NY and is a frequent presenter and lecturer on the subjects of mental health, philosophy, and both substance and screen addictions.

Michael Smeltzer

Executive Director

Michael Smeltzer was born and raised in Austin, Texas. As a teenager, Michael was introduced to drugs and alcohol, and began drinking and using regularly. He noticed early on that his reaction to substances was abnormal. He was constantly thinking of the next high. Like so many addicts, he began to isolate, his relationships were strained, he resorted to crime, and his self-esteem plummeted. While studying business at Texas State University, his addiction reached the point of unmanageability.

For years, Michael was in and out jails and institutions. He tried programs, treatments, counselors, and medications, but to no avail. He was forced to drop out of school, he could not keep a job, and his family and friends began to lose hope. He felt hopeless and helpless until he was finally able to give himself completely to a simple program of action. Today, Michael has regained the trust of his family, is a productive member of society, and has taken an interest in spiritual philosophy.

At Omega, Michael uses his experience to encourage and inspire the next generation of recovering addicts and alcoholics. He considers it an honor and a privilege to pass along the essential tools, strategies, and attitudes that shaped his own journey in recovery.

Dr. Phillip Leon | MD.

Medical Director | Psychiatrist

Dr. Phillip Leon, MD, is a Psychiatry specialist in Austin, Texas. He provides psychiatric and addiction medicine services on-site at Omega Recovery. He attended and graduated from University Of Texas Medical Branch At Galveston in 2002, having over 18 years of diverse experience, especially in Psychiatry. He is affiliated with many hospitals including Georgetown Behavioral Health. Dr. Phillip Leon also cooperates with other doctors and physicians in medical groups.

Dr. Lance Carroll | MD.

Medical Director

Dr. Lance Carroll, MD is a Family Medicine Specialist in Austin, TX and has over 23 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from Loyola University Of Chicago/Stritch School Of Medicine medical school in 1997. He provides on-site medical services for our Omega Recovery clients.

Sarah White

Program Director | Clinical Coordinator

Sarah White is a Licensed Master Social Worker.  She was a Globe Youth Fellow and specialized in work with young adults, adolescents, and children. While participating in the Globe Youth Fellowship she was trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Brief Targeted Interventions. She began her career working with mothers suffering from addiction who were involved with child protective services at the Council on Recovery in Houston.

Sarah spent two years working in acute psychiatric hospitals and has extensive experience in assessing and treating severe mental illness. She graduated from the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social work with a specialization in clinical social work with academic honors as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She has led a team of therapists as the Clinical director in an acute psychiatric hospital and worked to coordinate services, care, and interventions in accordance with state regulations and best practices.

As the Clinical Director at Omega, she is using her extensive knowledge of addiction and mental health to lead our clinicians in offering exceptional evidence-based services. She coordinates with the entire Omega and Bridgeway team to provide clients with a unique experience, unlike other programs. Sarah is a lifelong learner who is motivated to continue to update the programs at Omega to reflect the most up to date evidence-based treatments while keeping sight of the client experience.

Caileigh Chadwhich

Therapist | LMSW

Caileigh uses an integrative style personalized to the unique needs of each client and is trained in therapies such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Solution-Focused Therapy. Caileigh works with clients using a trauma-informed and strength-based lens. She enjoys collaborating with clients to support them as they grow into the best versions of themselves.

Caileigh is a Licensed Master Social Worker and has experience working with survivors of domestic violence and treating co-occurring mental health and substance misuse disorders at a residential treatment facility. She previously worked as a researcher in the field of social work and uses her research skills to provide an innovative therapeutic approach with clients. 

Caileigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health and Substance Misuse from the Ohio State University. 

Natalie Short

Program Director

Natalie is from Houston, TX. I am in long term recovery and have worked for Omega for two years.Through my recovery I have found my passion in helping others, giving back what was given to me. After dropping out of college at LSU due to my addiction and struggle with mental health. I was able to return to LSU to complete my degree online and will be graduating with a bachelors in Sociology with a minor in Psychology in August 2021.

Alexandria McRae

Lead Recovery Specialist

 

Today, at age 25, she is 2 years sober and lives her life authentically full of joy and love. She is finally free from her addiction, anxiety, and depression which kept her in chains for so many years. She is studying psychology at Naropa University and as lead recovery specialist at Omega Recovery, she has found her life purpose and passion helping others with her experience, strength, and hope.

Born and raised in Houston TX, Alex grew up in a dysfunctional home. Childhood trauma haunted her into her teen years until finally, at age 14, she found a way to numb the pain of anxiety and depression with alcohol and drugs. Starting out with an occasional drink on the weekends, by 21 she found herself with an insidious heroin, meth, and Xanax addiction. On March 14th, 2019, after countless trips to jails, psych wards, and rehabs, she found herself on the floor of a prison cell for the last time.

Wesley Kerce

Operations Director

Wesley loves helping those who come to Omega with finding the joy in life and watching them carry on while implementing healthier strategies into their daily lives.

Wesley was born and raised in Jackson Mississippi. He grew up alongside his two loving older sisters making him the youngest. In his adolescence, Wesley was profoundly dedicated and hard working. In the years leading up to high school he became an Eagle Scout and was committed to his love of playing sports. Although determined, he experienced several highs and lows throughout his high school and college careers. Wesley soon realized he had the same drive for partying as he did playing sports, which was a recipe for disaster.

Wesley began using daily and barely scraping by in college. Although he received his degree in Psychology, it was not the easiest journey. He received two DUI’s, flipped his vehicle into a ditch, and was arrested more than once. He was unreliable, couldn’t keep relationships, and lost himself as he rapidly reached the depths of his addiction. With the help of his family and an interventionist Wesley realized he could no longer continue living the way he was and decided to seek treatment in Austin, Texas.

After completing treatment, Wesley felt his quality of life had improved, but something was missing. It wasn’t until Wesley discovered his passion for helping others by sharing his experience, strength, and hope that he felt complete. Helping others see the light at the end of the tunnel throughout the journey of recovery has given Wesley purpose and helps keep him sober. Wesley truly feels that through helping others we can ultimately help ourselves and that is the true beauty behind recovery.

Gene Kuntz II | LAc | LMT

Licensed Acupuncturist |Wellness Coach

Gene Kuntz has been in the wellness industry for 12 years. He is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, licensed massage therapist, and meditation, tai chi and qi gong instructor.

Gene pursued his Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with a focus in Medical Qi gong. Early in his TCM practice, Gene worked along side practitioners at Seton McCarthy’s Community Center to develop “living well with pain” and “living well with stress.” It was there that he began to see the astounding benefits that meditation practices and acupuncture can have on one’s well-being. Through group participation in Qi gong and NADA protocol, also known as auricular acupuncture, patients who were completely desperate and hopeless due to their chronic pain were astonished and empowered when they found themselves pain free using these practices.

Gene now uses acupuncture and his experience in meditation to assist Omega clients to achieve their health and recovery goals.

Lucy Rojas Kardaras

Yoga Instructor | 12-Step Coach

Lucy is a certified yoga instructor who was trained by Rodney Yee and his wife Colleen SaidmanYee at Yoga Shanti in New York. She earned her B.A. in English from Syracuse University and an M.S. in Education from Hunter College.

Her love for yoga inculcated a deep appreciation of the physical, mental and spiritual benefits that yoga can provide in the modern age. In her classes, she combines the principles and ideas of 12 step programs with the benefits of yoga. Yoga helps alleviate some of the modern afflictions many of us suffer from: overworked, poor posture, text-neck, anxiety, addiction and over-stressed bodies, minds and spirits. She combines many aspects of Hatha Yoga and the deeply calming and relaxing benefits of Restorative Yoga in her classes.

Her deepest desire is to impart a life-long love of yoga, foster a joie de vivre–that zest for life–and to inspire hope in people’s lasting journey of recovery. Lucy has experienced the gifts of the 12 Steps over the last 18 years of her sobriety. She is forever grateful to 12 Step fellowships as well as to her amazing yoga teachers, Rodney and Colleen, whose expertise continually guide her. Some of the wisest words ever uttered by Rodney continue to echo in her mind today, “Don’t get weird” he once said…except… if you’re in Austin!

Shea Gilchrist

Office Manager/ Human Resources/ Compliance Office

Shea grew up in rural East Texas with her three sisters, brother, mother, and father. She was a straight A student, played team volleyball and basketball at school, and then went on to study English Literature at University of Texas at Tyler, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2007. A year later, Shea moved to Japan and taught English as a Second language for a year and a half, and then backpacked parts of Asia for almost a year, returning to the states in 2011.

Shea always had a fondness for alcohol, and it also got her into a lot of trouble. Though things weren’t bad yet, alcohol definitely wasn’t adding any ease to her life. She jumped jobs and tried relocating, thinking those were the problems that was causing the dissatisfaction she was feeling.

Eventually, her alcohol use got the better of her, having mishaps causing hospital visits, a car wreck, two DWI’s, and in time, the loss of her job.

She attended her second treatment program, sober date 4/10/2018, completed successfully, and moved to Austin into a sober living home associated with Omega Recovery. Some months later, she was asked to manage the sober house and she also found a position as an Administrative Assistant at a furniture manufacturing company. Wanting to be a part of something bigger and aid in helping others, she joined the Omega team as Office Manager in 2019. Today, she wears many hats at Omega as Office Manager, Human Resources, and Compliance Officer.

Gabriella Jeffords

Admissions Director

Gabi has worked in the recovery field since 2012. She was previously the Assistant Director of sober living at Hickory Wind Ranch and has a strong background in addiction and eating disorders. Gabi has a bachelor’s in English from Colorado College and graduate-level coursework in counseling at St. Edward’s University. Originally from New York but a Texan transplant for almost 20 years, she brings her heart, intelligence and passion to ensure individualized care for every Omega Recovery client.

Shane Cunningham

Director | Business Development

Shane was born in Anaheim, California and spent 6 years of his life in Germany. His family settled in Arizona where Shane attended high school. Freshmen year he suffered a sports injury which required multiple surgeries and multiple prescriptions for painkillers. Shane was only 17 when he graduated from high school and obtained the rank of Eagle Scout within the Boy Scouts of America. While his potential looked endless, Shane was battling an addiction to black tar heroin. With multiple failed attempts trying his own way, Shane finally moved to Austin, TX for drug treatment. That was back in 2012 and has remained sober since.

Jina Arandela

Insurance Specialist

After overcoming years of suffering from addiction, I found a spiritual path to healing that introduced me to a life full of heart and meaning through helping others. I decided to go back to school for insurance billing and coding, graduating with the highest distinction, and have found work I’m truly passionate about. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to bring my experience and knowledge of the insurance industry to Omega Recovery, helping clients to utilize their insurance benefits as much as possible in support of their healing process.

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