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Our Team

Kelly Stephenson COO
  • Kelly StephensonChief Executive Officer

    Kelly Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer of Cliffside Malibu, began her career in 2002 working in the health and human services field with mentally ill and substance dependent women.

    In 2007, after studying Business Administration at Ferris State University, Ms. Stephenson made the decision to move from Michigan to California to pursue a career in an industry she was passionate about. She has worked in Substance Use Disorder field for over 15 years, helping clients achieve long term sobriety and ensuring best practices and highest standards are met in all areas of the client care.

    Ms. Stephenson’s, passion and life’s work are in sync. She has a career she loves, leading staff and working with clients, all while increasing Cliffside Malibu’s national presence. She has been with Cliffside Malibu since 2015, starting as the COO and transitioning to CEO in July 2018. She thoroughly enjoys her role and is excited for the future of Cliffside and its Clients.

Dr. Craig Smith
  • Dr. Craig SmithMedical Director

    Dr. Craig V. Smith, M.D. is a former organ transplant surgeon, who now dedicates his practice to addiction medicine. He received his M.D. degree from the UCLA School of Medicine. Dr. Smith then completed his general surgical residency at Harbor-UCLA medical center and his multi-organ transplant surgical fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh medical center. He returned to UCLA medical center to start his career in academic transplant surgery, performing transplants, teaching students and residents while also conducting research on transplantation for the treatment of diabetes. During his academic career as an associate professor of surgery, Dr. Smith performed more than 500 organ transplants at UCLA, UC Irvine and the City of Hope National Medical Center.

    Since alcohol and drug use are leading causes of organ damage leading to the need for a transplant, Dr. Smith learned about addiction by listening to his patients. More importantly, since a requirement to receive an organ transplant is abstinence from using alcohol and drugs, Dr. Smith learned about recovery from listening to his patients. After listening over the years, pursuing self-study and continuing medical education in the field of addiction, in 2009 Dr. Smith decided to dedicate his career to addiction medicine.

    Dr. Smith is board certified in Addiction Medicine by both the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Addiction Medicine.

Karen Rubenstein LMFT - Clinical Program Director
  • Karen RubensteinLMFT – Clinical Program Director

    Karen Rubenstein, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC 43747) with a specialization in addiction and co-occurring disorders. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge and her Masters of Arts degree in Psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute.

    Karen has been with Cliffside Malibu since 2014. Karen’s work in bringing the clinical philosophy using the Stages of Change, Evidence Based Practices and the therapeutic alliance to life, goes unparalleled to any other treatment program. She works closely with the clinical team by guiding them towards utilizing a center of excellence philosophy and ensuring the clinical program at Cliffside Malibu is at the forefront of the industry.

    Karen has over 20 years of management experience and has been working in drug and alcohol treatment since 2004. She has extensive experience with managing and structuring clinical programs that best meet the needs of clients.

    Prior to her work as a Therapist, Karen was a Vice President and Operations Department Head for Nationwide residential lending at one of the largest savings and loans nationwide for 10 years. Her management experience spans over two decades.

    As a Clinical Director and Program Director, Karen managed the clinical teams providing adolescents, adults and their families` the necessary tools to effectively address mental health and substance abuse issues. Karen worked compassionately with staff, clients, and their families to foster a healing environment.

Juniper Lusk Milieu Manager
  • Juniper LuskMilieu Manager

    Juniper has been with Cliffside since 2017 and has worked in the field of drug and alcohol treatment for over 15 years. As Milieu Manager, Juniper works to maintain a positive therapeutic setting in which clients with substance use disorder feel safe enough to learn healthy interpersonal boundaries and behaviors. Her passion is being of service to people suffering from addiction. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, playing disk golf, and enjoying all the activities Southern California has to offer.

Mathew Malloy Sr. Lead RA
  • Mathew MalloySenior Lead Resident Advisor

    Matthew has been with Cliffside since January of 2015. He is a certified addiction counselor (CADC-II) and he manages the residential department. Matthew devotes most of his time and energy at Cliffside into staff development to ensure we provide the highest level of client care possible. Matthew spends most of his free time with his beloved Rottweiler.

Natalie Shorten LVN-Lead Resident Health Advisor
  • Natalie ShortenLVN – Lead Resident Health Advisor

    Natalie has been a member of the Cliffside nursing team since February of 2017. She co-manages Cliffside’s team of nurses and focuses in staff development and client care. Natalie enjoys building therapeutic relationships with our clients and loves Cliffside for its non-judgmental and openminded atmosphere. She loves to travel, spend time with family, and is a big-time animal lover.

Jackie Brown Client Care Asst.
  • Jackie BrownAlumni Coordinator

    Jackie has worked at Cliffside since February of 2015. Before launching Cliffside’s alumni program, Jackie worked in the residential and client care department. Jackie’s focus is to provide an added layer of support to our clients after they’ve discharged and keep them connected to the Cliffside community. Jackie is working towards completing her counseling certification (CADC-II) and eventually towards becoming a licensed therapist. Jackie enjoys hiking, meditation, working out, and spending time with friends (and alumni, of course).

Chelsea McElwain LVN-Lead Resident Health Advisor
  • Chelsea McElwainLVN – Lead Resident Health Advisor

    Chelsea has been a member of the Cliffside nursing team since November of 2016. Chelsea co-manages Cliffside’s team of nurses and focuses on staff development and client care. Chelsea is a licensed vocational nurse who is currently in school working to become a registered nurse (and eventually a nurse practitioner!). Chelsea loves watching clients grow and progress through treatment. When she’s not at work she’s most likely to be found either at Disneyland or snowboarding.

Tara Bordonaro LVN Medication Manager
  • Tara BordonaroLVN – Medication Manager

    Tara has been a member of the Cliffside nursing team since April of 2015. Tara oversees medication management at Cliffside and is also responsible for staff training and development. Tara uses her infinite patience not only as a great teacher for staff, but also helping clients navigate their way through treatment. Tara is a licensed vocational nurse who plans to continue her nursing education and become a registered nurse. She enjoys world travel, and spending time with her daughter and family.

Leanne Thomas LVN - Resident Health Advisor
  • Leanne ThomasLVN – Resident Health Advisor

    Leanne has been a member of Cliffside’s nursing team since May of 2018, and a nurse for over a decade. Leanne has experience working in many different areas of the nursing field and enjoys substance abuse specifically because it’s a cause close to her heart. Leanne loves the beach, working out and spending time with her family.