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About Us

Stars Training Academy

Stars Training Academy, a division of Stars Behavioral Health Group, (SBHG) collaborates with community agencies across North America to provide enriched training and customized consultation to achieve high fidelity and sustainable implementation of evidence-supported and evidence-based practices. The Stars Training Academy serves as the purveyor of the Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Model.

The Stars Training Academy functions are as follows:

  • Provides intensive training and consultation for implementation
  • Builds site capacity for sustainability
  • Collaborates with systems of care to build local youth and young adult empowerment
  • Provides tailored technical assistance on systems, policy, and evaluation issues

National Network on Youth Transition (NNYT)

The National Network on Youth Transition (NNYT) is a semi-autonomous entity that is under the SBHG umbrella. NNYT is responsible for defining and applying fidelity and certification standards for the implementation and sustainability of the TIP Model.

NNYT Functions are as follows:

  • Certification of TIP Model Site-Based Trainers (SBT)
  • Certification of TIP Informed Sites and TIP Model Sites
  • Managing and conducting TIP Model Fidelity Assessments of Sites
  • Conceptualizing, conducting and collaborating with evaluation and research on transitions topics

Senior Leadership

Joseph Solomita, LCSW, is the Managing Director of the Stars Training Academy and Dr. Hewitt “Rusty” Clark serves as the Director of NNYT and chairs the NNYT TIP Model Certification Board.

Core ValuesStars Behavioral Health Group

We offer a full continuum of community and facility-based programs, as well as special education in public and nonpublic schools.  We deliver a complete array of therapeutic services — including outpatient, Day Treatment Intensive, and acute and sub-acute inpatient treatment — all of which are grounded in clinically sound, best practices.  We provide our services through contracts with county mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice departments, as well as with public school districts.  We employ evidence-based and other research-backed program models, and monitor client/family member satisfaction. We are innovators in using comprehensive Total Quality Management to support collaboration in day-to-day program management and service delivery throughout our organization. Together, these initiatives make us leaders among behavioral health-care providers.

Visit our website: Stars Inc.

Our Team

Lorne Wood

Christine Graham, LCSW

As Vice President and Chief Clinical Services Officer of Stars Behavioral Health Group and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Christine Graham oversees the design, implementation and sustainment of high quality clinical care throughout the SBHG family of companies. This includes supervising program development, staff training, and compliance, as well as, partnering with program medical directors to support their delivery of high quality medical care.

In her over 15 years with SBHG, she has served in many capacities including supervising direct care staff and peers, managing day to day operations of clinics, and developing and implementing new programs. Her current efforts include development of a companywide suicide prevention protocol, working to improve services to transition age youth within SBHG service sites, and supporting the multiple Evidence Based Practices that SBHG utilizes across the state.


Joseph Solomita, LCSW

Joseph Solomita is the Managing Director of Stars Training Academy, a division of Stars Behavioral Health Group. Mr. Solomita is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 35 years’ experience working with children, adolescents and families in a variety of residential, educational and clinical settings. Over the past ten years, Mr. Solomita served as Clinical Director of both SBHG’s Star View’s Adolescent Center, an inpatient treatment facility, and of Star View’s TEAMMATES Program, a community-based Wraparound Program. In addition Mr. Solomita recently was the the Clinical Training Director for SBHG and its’ family of mental and social services programs which serve over 20,000 people across California.


Hewitt B. “Rusty” Clark, Ph.D., BCBA

Dr. Hewitt B. “Rusty” Clark is the Director of the National Network on Youth Transition for Behavioral Health (NNYT) and is a Professor Emeritus at the Department of Child & Family Studies, Florida Mental Health Institute, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, University of South Florida. Dr. Clark has developed and researched various innovative programs and has published extensively, with five books and more than 125 professional publications to his credit. He is the lead-editor of the book entitled: Transition of Youth and Young Adults with Emotional or Behavioral Difficulties: An Evidence-Supported Handbook. His commitment to young people and their parents is reflected in his having them serve as co-authors for each of the chapters. Dr. Clark is also the developer of the Transition to Independence Process (TIP) model. He served as the Lead Guest Editor for a Special Issue on Transition to Adulthood Research, published in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research (October, 2008). Recently, he was also distinguished with the CFS Outstanding Achievement Award.

Review Dr. Clark’s Vitae
Review a more complete Biographical Sketch
View other photos of Rusty
Professional photos for use in programs


Elijah McCauley, MA, CRC 

Elijah is the lead Clinical Training Specialist at Stars Behavioral Health Group. He is a dynamic Clinical Trainer with 20 years experience in training and delivering therapeutic group services to youth with Emotional & Behavioral Difficulties (EBD). His expertise lies in Evidence Based Practice implementation and effective methods for dealing with difficult and resistant youth with EBD. He currently holds an M.A. in Health Science - Rehabilitation Psychology.

Elijah holds certifications as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRCC), Certified Trainer of Aggression Replacement Training/ TPS (CA Institute of Mental health), Certified Trainer of Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescence Responding to Chronic Stress (North Shore Jewish Hospital), and Certified Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Model Implementation Consultant. 

Coral Huntsman, LMFT

Coral Huntsman is the Clinical Training Specialist for Stars Behavioral Health Group. Coral received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology with an MFT emphasis from Pepperdine University and is currently a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. Coral has over 18 years of Human Services experience including 7 years working as a Wraparound Facilitator and Clinician delivering community-based services to youth and families in Los Angeles County. 

As a Clinical Training Specialist with the SBHG Stars Training Academy, Coral specializes in creating and delivering interactive clinical trainings on various evidence-based/evidenced supported practices. She is a member of the Certification Board for the National Network on Youth Transition (NNYT), Certified Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Model Consultant, Certified Pro-Act Instructor and is certified by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Adele Aparicio, MA, LMFT

Adele Aparicio is a Clinical Training Specialist for Stars Behavioral Health Group. Adele received her BA in Psychology from New York University and her MA in Clinical Psychology with an MFT emphasis from Pepperdine University and is currently a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. She has 16 years of experience working with children, adolescents and young adults as both an educator and a provider of intensive community-based mental health services to youth and families. Adele has also provided clinical supervision and consultation over the past 5 years and taught Developmental Psychology at Santa Monica College.

As a Clinical Training Specialist with the SBHG Stars Training Academy, Adele specializes in creating and delivering interactive clinical trainings on various evidence-based/evidenced supported practices. Adele is trained in multiple assessment and treatment models, serves as a NNYT Certified Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Model Consultant and is certified by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Lorne Wood

Lorne Wood

Lorne was promoted to Peer Training Specialist last year after working as a peer mentor for two years at Star View’s Transition Age Youth Drop-In Center, the Tay Hot Spot. Lorne’s story is unique because he actually first became involved with Star View as a client. He was referred to Star View Community Services and their TEAMMATES Program as a young teenager, and through their services, learned tools to deal with some of his challenges and eventually graduated high school and enrolled in college. Today, he travels throughout the country alongside the same mentors who helped him, training those who work with young people and teaching them how to better engage transition age youth.

Monique Cando

Monique Cando, M.A.

Monique is a Clinical Training Specialist for Stars Behavioral Health Group. Monique earned her MA in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles, where her area of study was focused on cross-cultural research and ethnic minority mental health. Monique has 12 years of experience working with children and adolescents with severe emotional disturbances. She has worked directly with children and families for several years, specializing in crisis prevention and crisis management. Recently she worked as the Training Manager of a large group home in Los Angeles. Monique also has experience providing human resource, crisis management, trauma informed care, and clinical trainings for early education, residential, mental health, school and community-based staff.

Shannon Doty, MFT

Shannon Doty, MFT

Shannon has worked for over 15 years with high-risk children, adolescents and transition age youth in community-based and residential programs.  She is a native of San Jose and currently holds the position of Director of Training for Starlight Community Services in San Jose.  Shannon earned her BA with a focus on child development and psychology from Sarah Lawrence College in New York.  She earned her MA with a focus on feminist clinical psychology from New College of San Francisco.

Karyn Dresser, Ph. D.

Karyn Dresser has been the Director of Research and Program Practices at SBHG for 6 years. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley (BA Psychology), UC Santa Cruz (Ph.D. Social Psychology) and UC San Francisco (Post Doc Clinical Services Research). Her graduate focus was on organizational studies and institutional analyses. She has worked on large scale funded research grants and contributed expert testimony on the need for children’s mental health systems of care to the U.S. Congress. Over a professional career spanning thirty years, Dr. Dresser has worked primarily at organizational and institutional levels to affect the overall policies, quality and outcomes of human services. Her style is to build integrative approaches to organizational leadership of effective service delivery by coupling quality improvement with program evaluation and consumer outcomes using facilitative methods of participatory decision-making. In her work with the STARS Academy for TIP, Dr. Dresser helps with developing fidelity and evaluation methodologies and conducting program reviews for site certification.

Wayne Munchel, LCSW

Wayne Munchel is a consultant for TAY (Transition Age Youth) Services at Stars Behavioral Health Group. He has over 25 years of experience working in the mental health field and was one of the founders of The Village, an innovative recovery model program serving adults with severe mental illnesses. He received his Masters in Social Work from UCLA in 1986.

Mr. Munchel was also the founder and Director of the Mental Health Associations’ Transition Age Youth (TAY) Academy from 2000 to 2009. The model program helps young adults (ages 18 to 25) with psychiatric disabilities obtain housing, employment and educational opportunities and learn independent living skills. The TAY Academy serves 100 young adults in the Long Beach community and was identified as a promising practice by the Department of Labor.

Marc Fagan

Marc Fagan, Psy.D

Marc Fagan is a Certified Consultant for NNYT, and provides training and technical assistance in the TIP Model and Associated Practices. Specializing in issues related to young adults, child welfare, mental illness, trauma, and organizational change, Dr. Fagan’s creative and engaging approach to training has attracted audiences locally and nationally.

Dr. Fagan is also the Associate Director for the Youth Programs at Thresholds in Chicago, the oldest and largest mental health agency in Illinois. He oversees comprehensive services for young adults with mental illness and traumatic histories who have grown up in the child welfare system. His programs, featured in the Clark & Unruh (2009) Transition Handbook, include residential and apartment programs, therapeutic schools, and services for teen parents, homeless families, and young children. Dr. Fagan participates in numerous studies and state workgroups dedicated to improving the outcomes for transitioning youth and for young people in the child welfare system. Dr. Fagan recently spoke at a Congressional Briefing in Washington DC in support of the Healthy Transitions Act for youth with mental health needs. Additionally, Dr. Fagan is a Master Trainer in Aggression Replacement Training (ART®) and an Associate Trainer in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI).

Patrice Fetzer

Patrice Fetzer, LISW-S

Patrice Fetzer is a National Network on Youth Transition (NNYT) Certified Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Model Consultant. She has over 20 years of experience in developing and implementing quality and innovative programming, cross- system collaborations, and system change efforts at the local and state levels that engage and empower individuals and families with mental, emotional, behavioral, and societal challenges. She has been a strong advocate for better services and supports for youth and young adults in transition within the behavioral health system from her years of experience as an independent living facilitator, case manager, supervisor, agency administrator and now as a board administrator. She provides local, state, and national presentations and consultations on best practices for serving the youth and young adult population and has co-authored a chapter entitled “Driving the System Through Young Adult Involvement and Leadership” in Transition to Adulthood: A Resource for Assisting Young People with Emotional or Behavioral Difficulties, Clark, H.B. & Davis, M. (2000). She co-authored a position paper for the Ohio Department of Mental Health entitled, “Paving the Way for a New Day for Young Adults in Ohio’s Mental Health System” (2008) and worked with a team of partners across the state of Ohio to build the consensus and capacity necessary for system change to better support this population. She is the Manager of Service Delivery for the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Stark County and resides in North Canton, Ohio.

Nicole Deschénes, B.Sc., M.Ed.

Nicole Deschénes is a Senior NNYT consultant at SBHG. Nicole is also a faculty member in the Department of Child and Family Studies, at the Louis de La Parte Florida Mental Health Institute in Tampa, Florida. She holds a bachelor degree in nursing from the Université de Moncton, Canada and a master’s degree in Education from the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

Nicole has more than 30 years of experience as a community mental health nurse, educator, consultant and researcher. Throughout her career, Nicole has assisted local, national and international organizations in developing improved supports and services for individuals with emotional and or behavioral issues. She has learned from and consulted with a multitude of organizations addressing youth development, community development and the promotion of mental health. She has served on a variety of task forces in government and the nonprofit sectors and is the author or coauthor of various publications and reports. Her current interests and efforts focus on developing effective transition models for youth in transition.