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St. Charles inpatient team

Rae Andrews

Rae Andrews

Alumni Coordinator for St. Charles

Rae graduated in 2012 from Mercyhurst University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in criminal justice. As a full-time student, she also worked full-time at a MAT clinic where she was promoted to an MAT counselor and held that position for several years. Since then, she has worked in the drug and alcohol field as a drug and alcohol counselor at various agencies including a women’s state prison and on a drug court team. Rae also spent time in the mental health field serving as a case manager assisting with crisis intervention as well as reintegrating people back into daily living from residential. In April 2022, Rae joined the Alumni Team at RCA putting her passion for helping individuals with substance use disorder not only find recovery, but love life in recovery. In her personal time, Rae enjoys playing basketball, hockey, fishing, hiking, doing puzzles, and anything involving Star Wars.
In your opinion, why do you believe an alumni program is so important for those who want to achieve long term recovery?

I believe an alumni program is important for long term recovery because it helps cultivate those long-term relationships with sober friends doing sober activities that can be difficult to find and achieve. We want to give people safe places to go and have safe activities to do with people they feel close to and can build long lasting supportive relationships with, and alumni program helps you achieve all of that.

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What is your favorite quote, and why?

“You have seen my decent, now watch my rising” – Rumi. This is my favorite quote because it delivers a powerful message – no matter how much we’ve been through, no matter what we have come from we can still rise, we can still overcome.

What are the major driving forces in your life?

The major driving forces in my life are the people that are personally affected by addiction as well as my personal drive to want to eliminate deaths from overdose. Addiction has personally affected those very close to me and unfortunately, I have lost loved ones. So, if there was ever a reason to get up every morning, this is mine – to fight to end overdose and to bring awareness to addiction and the disease. Another driving force is my determination. Coming from so little, to be here today means a great deal to me.

If you could send a message to family, friends and loved ones of those with a substance use disorder, what would it be?

Have patience, be kind, be mindful, ask for help, and educate yourself on the disease of addiction. Having an understanding of substance use disorder will allow you to better understand your loved ones and the struggles they are going through.

Why do you choose to work as an Alumni Coordinator for RCA?

I chose to work as an Alumni Coordinator for RCA because I wanted to assist in building those lasting relationships in recovery. I wanted to know what happens after inpatient and see where I could make a difference in building a safe and stable recovery network for people.

Katie Andersen

Katie Andersen

Interventionist

Katie Andersen is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and a Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC) She has spent over 10 years in mental health and addiction industry. Katie graduated from Aurora University with a Master’s degree in Social Work. Her passion for athletics and wellness led her to work in collegiate athletics and coaching prior to entering into the mental health and addiction field. Katie’s compassion and caring nature for helping individuals and families struggling with mental health and/or addiction lead her to the intervention team at Recovery Centers of America. The presents of addiction within her own family system motivates her to continue educating families about the disease of addiction. Her goal is to coach families to understand that recovery is possible and they can calm the noise and chaos of their loved ones addiction.

Karen Wolownik Albert

Karen Wolownik Albert

Chief Executive Officer, RCA at St. Charles

Karen Wolownik Albert, LCSW joins RCA with over 20 years of experience in progressive behavioral health leadership. As a frequent public speaker and advisor regarding local, state, and federal behavioral health issues and initiatives, she is also a subject matter expert on in substance use issues and treatment, juvenile justice and child welfare, therapeutic intervention, and case management.

Karen was the recipient of the 2018 Dr. C. Vincent Bakeman Memorial Award presented by the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health for her work in connecting patients to treatment and improving the system of care for persons struggling with Substance Use Disorder. Karen serves on the Board of Directors of the Lake County Opioid Initiative and Live4Lali.  She worked on the core team of Task Force members in the development and launch of the nationally recognized A Way Out Program, a law enforcement deflection program for persons seeking Substance Use Disorder treatment.

She looks forward to expanding addiction treatment in Illinois and continuing RCA’s mission of saving one million lives, one neighborhood at a time.

Dr. Stephen Holtsford

Dr. Stephen Holtsford

Medical Director

Dr. Holtsford holds an MD from the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he also completed a residency in emergency and internal medicine (EM/IM). In addition to his EM/IM board certification, he has been board certified in addiction medicine since 2019.

As Medical Director at RCA, Dr. Holtsford oversees the medical care of patients, including withdrawal management, chronic medical conditions and any other medical issues that arise during their stay at RCA.

Dr. Holtsford’s interest in addiction treatment and advocacy comes from his time as an ER physician, witnessing the ravages of drugs and alcohol on people in the community. Since obtaining board certification in addiction medicine, he also trains other providers, advocates for better care of OUD patients in the ER and works toward getting care to patients in the criminal justice system.

Prior to RCA, Dr. Holtsford was a full-time ER Physician. He continues to hold positions as a part-time ER physician at Northwestern Delnor Hospital in Geneva; the Medical Director of Lighthouse Recovery, an outpatient SUD clinic in St. Charles; the Illinois Medical Director of Bright Heart Health, an OUD treatment provider via telemedicine; as well as a member of the Kane County Opioid Task Force.

Mark Zissman

Mark Zissman

Clinical Director

Dr. Mark Zissman is a licensed clinical psychologist and joined Recovery Centers of America at St. Charles in August of 2020. Dr. Zissman has over 10 years of experience working in various clinical and leadership positions in the field of addictions, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Northern Illinois University, and completed his graduate training at Adler University, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Zissman’s professional interests include the treatment of co-occurring disorders, as well as the integration of evidence-based treatment and recovery practices. He feels particularly passionate about helping individuals discover their own unique motivations for creating lasting change.

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