Clinical and Care Management Staff:
Emily Balestra, M.Ed, M.A., P.L.P.C.
Ms. Balestra serves as a School Based Consultant for Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). She has worked with students in grades K-5 in both public and private school settings. In her current role, she mainly performs counseling on an individual basis, with some small group sessions on topics such as anxiety, divorce, emotion regulation, and social skills. Before she joined JF&CS, Ms. Balestra taught as an elementary school teacher. Ms. Balestra is working towards her certification in Play Therapy and uses play-based techniques in her work with children.
Julie Bertel, M.Ed., Ed.S.
Ms. Bertel is a School Psychologist who conducts comprehensive psycho-educational evaluations at Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JF&CS). She specializes in assessing and providing recommendations for children and adolescents with Specific Learning Disabilities, including Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia, and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Ms. Bertel obtained a Master of Education degree in Counseling Psychology and Master of Science Degree in School Psychology, prior to earning an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has 12 years of experience providing assessment services to children and adolescents in both schools and community agencies.
Heather Blome, Ed.S., N.C.S.P.
Ms. Blome graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with her Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology in 2012. She worked in a school setting from 2003 until 2014 when she joined Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). Ms. Blome has experience diagnosing dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other learning disorders. Since these disorders often take an emotional toll on children, especially when undiagnosed, she is accustomed to assessing anxious and depressive symptoms in children as well. Ms. Blome uses a variety of measures and observations to diagnose children displaying symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.
Aaron Cohn, Ph.D., LMFT
A licensed marital and family therapist, Dr. Cohn provides family therapy and psychological evaluations at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). As a therapist, Dr. Cohn combines Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and attachment-based approaches within a systemic integrative framework to treat families with a wide range of concerns. These concerns often include depression, anxiety, trauma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), relationship problems, and problems related to life transitions. He earned his Doctorate in Family Therapy from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, his Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Knox College.
Shelby Dersch, MSW
Ms. Dersch has worked at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) for nearly 10 years. She is the principal social worker for the Homemaker Program, and is responsible for in-home assessments, creating customized care plans, and on-going case management of clients. She also maintains collaborations with community vendors who provide supportive care for JF&CS clients. Ms. Dersch received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Social Work degree with a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology. Her areas of expertise are geriatrics and chronic disease care management.
Julie Diaz, L.C.P.C., L.P.C., N.C.C.
Ms. Diaz provides therapy services for children, families, individuals, and couples at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). She has been a licensed professional counselor for 18 years, providing therapy services for different populations using a variety of therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Play Therapy. She has enjoyed the opportunity to help families develop problem-solving skills and empower them to make positive changes in their lives.
Brad Dowling, Ed.S.
Mr. Dowling is a school psychologist who is credentialed to practice in Missouri and California. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Westminster College in 2007 and his Education Specialist Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2012. At Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS), Mr. Dowling specializes in conducting individual psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents.
Michael Faccini, LMSW
Mr. Faccini has served as the Jewish Community Mental Health Care Manager for Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) since 2017. Michael works with Jewish clients and family members to identify and connect with community resources related to mental health and substance abuse. Through his graduate training at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Michael has gained extensive knowledge and experience with crisis intervention and clients with severe and persistent mental illness.
Elisa Garland, M.Ed., PLPC
Ms. Garland joined the Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) staff in 2018 as the Jewish Disabilities Care Manager. She holds a Master of education degree in Mental health Counseling and is a Certified Special Education Teacher. Before joining JF&CS, she worked as both a special education teacher and a behavior specialist. She is currently pursuing her licensure for LPC. Ms. Garland has a passion for serving community members living with a disability and is happy for the opportunity to work on this exciting new program.
Jorie Gold, MSW, LCSW
Ms. Gold is a school-based consultant at Jewish Family & Children’s Service. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has been a licensed clinical social worker for almost 10 years working with children, youth and families in the St. Louis area. She is a rostered trauma therapist with training in Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Play Therapy techniques, currently working towards her certification in Play Therapy. In her current role, Ms. Gold provides individual clinical and psychoeducational group services to children ages 2-14 at schools in St. Louis County. This includes social and emotional support for students coping with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, trauma, grief or other social struggles.
Patricia Harris LMSW, C.F.S.W.
Ms. Harris assists clients and client families in the Jewish community who are facing financial struggles due to unemployment, underemployment, illness or other unexpected crisis situations. She assesses client’s financial situations and can offer funds to help with immediate needs. She also guides clients through the process of applying for public benefits and connects them with additional resources to help them attain financial stability. Ms. Harris received a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2011 and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Brown School at Washington University in 2013. She is also a Certified Financial Social Worker who has worked in the field for the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society, the Missouri Department of Senior Services, and the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging before her current role with JF&CS.
Erin Kirkpatrick, M.A., P.L.P.C.
Ms. Kirkpatrick is a school-based consultant and counselor at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). She provides clinical and psychoeducational services to children ages 3-14 at early childhood centers and elementary schools in the greater St. Louis area, including social and emotional support for students coping with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, grief and social struggles. Ms. Kirkpatrick graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2016 with a Master of Arts in Art Therapy Counseling. Her clinical training has provided her with the knowledge and skills to work as both a professional counselor and art therapist, utilizing art materials in her clinical practice to assist children with expressing what words cannot.
Beth Koritz, M.Ed, L.P.C., N.C.C.
Ms. Koritz holds a Master of Counseling from the University of Missouri – Saint Louis with postgraduate studies including certifications in Body Positive Psychology, Thought Field Therapy, and Clinical Trauma. She specializes in quieting the critical inner voice, body and food issues, coping with illness and injury, and working through depression, anxiety, trauma, and phobias. She works with each client to create solutions and opportunities and to help them cultivate self-compassion.
Dr. Lisa Liggins-Chambers, Ph.D.
Dr. Lisa Liggins-Chambers is a Cleveland, OH native, but has resided in the St. Louis area for several years. She has a Missouri School Psychologist certification with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Liggins-Chamber is employed as a School Psychologist for the Learning & Diagnostic Center at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS), where she focuses on mental disorders affecting school-aged children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Her research interests include metacognition, learning styles, ADHD, and reducing the minority achievement gap in education.
Dr. Steve Meinert, Ph.D., L.P.C.
Dr. Meinert holds a Doctorate in Counseling and Family Therapy from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Missouri, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois, Board Certified Counselor, and American Psychotherapy Association Fellow. Dr. Meinert has served as a therapist at Provident, a school counselor for Catholic Children’s Home, a clinical consultant and psychometrist for adults and children in residential agencies, an administrator at St. Mary’s Children’s School, and a Unit Director for Beverly Farm Foundation. He has completed certification for Cognitive Enhancement Therapy administered to adolescents and national training for board certification in tele-mental health. His areas of specialization include: delivering psychotherapy to children, teens, and families; providing psychological testing; offering supervision; and advancing the implementation of tele-mental health.
Jenna Moll, Ed.S., N.C.S.P.
Ms. Moll is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist who completes psychoeducational evaluations at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). She graduated from the University of Missouri- Saint Louis with an Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology and a Master of Education in Educational Psychology. Ms. Moll completed undergraduate work at Truman State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology as well as a Bachelor of Science in Justice Systems.
Rochelle Novack, M.Ed.
Ms. Novack is the Coordinator of Intake Services at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). She earned her Master of Education from the University of Missouri – St Louis in 1976 and has been working for JF&CS since 1980. When she first joined the staff, Ms. Novack was the Coordinator of Psychiatry Services through the Family Mental Health Collaborative (FMHC). During her time at JF&CS she has been responsible for credentialing the social work staff to become Medicare providers, assisting with the completion of the Agency’s first Council on Accreditation self-study, establishing the Agency’s first Management Information System, serving on the Agency’s Record Review Committee, and providing on-site counselor services for the JCC pre-school. Ms. Novack’s areas of expertise include: intake assessments; risk assessments; triage management; quality assurance; and accreditation compliance.
Dr. Susan Randich, Ph.D.
Dr. Randich, Psychiatric Testing Supervisor, holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. She completed postgraduate training in family systems at the Menninger Clinic in St. Louis and in mission leadership at the Aquinas Institute of Theology. She is a licensed psychologist in the state of Missouri. Dr. Randich has over 35 years of clinical experience, including work in private practice, St. Louis City Family Court, and St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf. Her areas of expertise include: psychological and psycho- educational evaluation; psychotherapy; abuse, neglect, foster care and adoption; and children with hearing loss and their families.
Melani Saito, M.A.
Ms. Saito is a School Based Counselor with Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). She received her Master of Arts Degree in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor with the State of Missouri. In addition to her position at JF&CS, she works in private practice, counseling families and children of all ages. Ms. Saito is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).
Esther Scharf, MSW, L.C.S.W.
Ms. Scharf is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). She earned her Master of Social work from Washington University and has been working with adults at JF&CS since 1995. Ms. Scharf has also led Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Groups and was a DBT Therapist for six years. She holds a Certification in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment, as well as training in mediation, mindfulness, and stress management. Ms. Scarf often works with clients who cope with anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Ken Schwartz, MSW
Mr. Schwartz received his Master of Social Work from Washington University in 1982. Since 2014, he has served as the Elderlink Outreach Specialist for Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JF&CS). In this role, he is responsible for locating and identifying isolated and vulnerable seniors who may be in need of assistance. In addition, he serves as one of the Financial Assistance Social Workers in the agency and works with Holocaust Survivors. Prior to his role at JF&CS, Ken worked in the Jewish community for 31 years, including positions with the Jewish Community Center and United Hebrew Congregation.
Peter Walker, MSW, L.C.S.W.
Mr. Walker earned a Master of Social Work from Washington University in 1980 and has worked for Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) since 1981. He serves as a member of the on-site psychosocial team and provides a variety of services to children and adolescents at community schools. His areas of expertise include: trauma treatment using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); work with adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents; child and adolescent psychopathology with specialized training in Emotion-Focused Family and Couples Therapy; and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) consultation.
Evelyn Young, MSW, L.C.S.W.
Ms. Young earned her Master of Social Work from St. Louis University in1976 and began working for Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) that year. Since then, she has held a number of positions including Coordinator of the Homemaker, New American and Financial Assistance programs. Ms. Young currently works with older adults and their families on issues related to independence, psychosocial functioning, and problems with everyday living. Her areas of expertise also include counseling Holocaust survivors, and adults coping with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and illnesses. She has advanced training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and emotion focused therapy.
Lori Zimmerman, MSW
Ms. Zimmerman is a licensed clinical social worker and received her Master of Social Work degree from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. She most recently worked at Magellan Health Services where she led a team of consultants in providing guidance and professional advice for families struggling with caregiving needs. She has extensive experience in consulting with callers on a wide variety of parenting, special needs and eldercare issues. Ms. Zimmerman has also worked with low-income families locally to help them care for their families and to find needed assistance.