The 449 Recovery Team
Vito Tassone, Co-Founder/ CEO
Vito graduated from ITT Technical College in 1993 with BA and AA in Electronics Engineering. He worked as an A+ PC repair instructor and was voted BEST instructor 1999. Since graduating, he has worked in Technical Sales. He has been considered a top performer at every company he has worked for. He has been working in customer service for over 25 years.
“I would say that my strongest characteristic is my compassion with potential clients that call. I LOVE what I do, and have dedicated my life to trying to help the people that call us, to follow thru and get help.” He believes sobriety is a commitment to oneself. “Once you can commit to yourself, then you commit yourself to the people in your life.” Vito has been very committed to the people in his own life. He has 2 kids, one dog and a “beautiful, compassionate, considerate, and understanding wife.
Catherine Tassone, Chief Financial Officer
Catherine received her Bachelor’s Degree from McGill University in Education. As an instructor of cosmetology and business owner she has always exceeded expectations and sold her business at the height of its success. She worked for Airgas safety an executive account manager and has been honored as the top national sales person several times. While always excelling in her professional endeavors, she has also owned and managed several properties around the world for the past 50 years. Her high level of integrity and honesty has always made her a property owner that tenants appreciate. Having a loved one in recovery, and going through the trials and tribulations that are associated with it, she has a passion to help residents receive a high level of care, in a living environment that promotes happiness, love and safety.
Andrew Maloof, Chief Marketing Officer
Andrew Maloof’s life experiences led him to the recovery industry in 2014 where he began his career providing direct client care as a drug and alcohol counselor. He is a proud graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management.
Andrew’s career path has taken him through multiple departments to enhance and further expand his knowledge in the behavioral health industry. He found his true calling as Director of Business Development, working directly with the teams who assist clients in their greatest time of need. Andrew has a true passion for recovery and is grateful to be a member of the 449 Recovery team.
Barek Sharif, Clinical Director
Barek Sharif is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and joined the 449 Recovery family as the acting Clinical Director. He has been working in the field of dual diagnosis for 9 years helping individuals, couples, and families heal from their mental health, relational, and substance use disorders. Barek is also a board approved supervisor, and utilizes the Developmental Narrative Model for the supervision process. Aside from his roles as Clinical Director and supervisor, he maintains a small private practice in Orange County.
Barek obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Vanguard University in 2005 as well as his Master of Science in Clinical Psychology in 2013. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Alliant International University pursuing his Psy.D in Couples and Family Therapy – completing his dissertation on the topic of social media and substance abuse. He has also taught several workshops ranging in topics from: working with families, attachment injuries, role of spirituality in sobriety, and the role of trauma in relationship development. Barek has also taught courses in Law and Ethics and MFT Theories at Alliant International University.
The belief that relationships are at the core of our search for purpose and meaning is the foundation of Barek’s approach as a clinician. The importance of developing and maintaining authentic relational interactions with others is what drives his passion to provide support to individuals who seek it. This is displayed through his knowledge and use of Collaborative Language Systems and Attachment Theory. In 2018 he completed his EMDR training which reflects his trauma informed interventions to assist individuals in achieving post-traumatic growth. One of Barek’s favorite quotes that encapsulates his clinical and leadership style comes from the humanistic theorist Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
Outside of his professional life, Barek enjoys spending time with his loving wife and 2 children. He also enjoys camping/hiking, reading sci-fi and fantasy novels, watching movies, listening to 90’s grunge/alternative rock, and playing video games.
Jacquelyn Gurrieri, Therapist/Assistant Clinical Director
Jacquelyn has a BA in communication Journalism from the University of Hartford as well as her Drug and Alcohol Counseling certification from Saddleback College. Jacquelyn has been working in the field of addiction for 4 years starting as a support staff and working her way up to case management and addiction counseling. Jacquelyn specializes in eating disorder education, experiential counseling, life skills and crisis management. Jacquelyn has always been passionate about helping those in need and has become more engaged through her own recovery journey.
In her spare time, Jacquelyn enjoys dancing, musical theater, starting rock bands, creating improv comedy shows, attending Disneyland, playing and watching sports and learning about the simple things in life from her cat, Rajah. Jacquelyn is very enthusiastic to be a part of the 449 family and hopes to continuing working in the addiction field for many years to come.
Sedona Lazaro, Director of Admissions
Sedona has been working in the treatment industry for the past 4 years. Sedona started her career as a Support Staff, providing direct client care and gaining her foothold in the treatment field. Sedona has held numerous positions including Lead Tech, Facility Supervisor and Marketing Representative, all which led her to her current role as Director of Admissions. Her passion for helping addicts comes from her own personal recovery and relationships with family who struggle with addiction. Her fierce devotion to reaching people who need help and strong faith in God allow her to touch the lives of so many to help them find their path to healing and recovery.
Cynthia Tassone, Compliance Officer
Cynthia has been a key member of the 449 Team since its inception. As a founding partner and person who has been personally touched by addiction, she has passion for her work which, continues to fuel her desire to help every client have the best experience possible at 449 Recovery.
It is this passion that drives and motivates her as our Compliance Officer. Working closely with CARF International since 449 was accredited in 2015, she works tirelessly to ensure that 449 provides the best possible client centered care that CARF requires. Through her efforts, 449 has changed and implemented countless policies and procedures that directly impact every client that arrives and stays at 449 Recovery, while holding the entire organization to rigorous standards in order to comply and exceed every regulation required.
Mariko Ghanem, Primary Therapist
Mariko received her Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology with Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology from California State University Fullerton, and Associate of Arts in Psychology from Saddleback College. Mariko is also a certified Domestic Violence Counselor with experience in trauma-informed care. She has a deep passion for helping people which is also evidenced by her certification as an Emergency Medical Technician lending to the understanding of physiological processes, effects of medications, and exposure to medical trauma. Her approach to therapy is strengths-based and multi-faceted, drawing on techniques from Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, Attachment Theory, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy to provide a customized yet flexible approach to each client. Mariko has a vested interest in furthering the goal of 449 Recovery to build authentic relationships focused on helping our clients maintain a quality life free from maladaptive coping skills such as addiction.
Anushri Parikh, Therapist
Hi! I am Anushri. My journey of empathy and compassion for helping people began when I was thirteen. I used to catch people’s awkward feelings of helplessness, bewilderment and insecurity. I would keep my conversation in such a way that they can get validations for their emotions and feel heard. I realized this quality of mine through the beautiful period of embracing motherhood and working as a parent volunteer in my children’s school. This led me to pursue graduation in the MFT program from Brandman University which serves as a stepping stone towards following my dedication to this work. Through my life experiences I have built a passion for giving people an outlet through which to rest their burdens. My active counseling can help clients to relax and de-stress from the demands of their lives. Looking forward to seeing you at 449reocvery taking the ride of recovery to new milestones. Thank you.
Jamie Davis, Primary Counselor
Jamie is working on his AA and Alcohol Counseling certification from The CCAPP Academy. Jamie has been working in the field for 1 ½ years, starting as a house manager, and also worked as a crisis interventionist for approximately a year. Jamie is currently in case management and addiction counseling. Jamie specializes in experiential counseling, crisis management, and life skills. Jamie knew he would be working in recovery when he first got sober and wanted to help men and women on their road to recovery while following his own path of recovery.
Jamie is proud to be a part of the close-knit 449 Family and hopes to continue his path in the field of addiction for many years to come.
Erica Jackson, Primary Counselor
Erica has over 3 years working in behavioral health and is a Substance Use Disorder Registered Counselor who is a motivated team member who supports those struggling with substance abuse, alcohol dependency, and co-occurring disorders.
She utilizes her own recovery experience, with a strong foundation in 12-step concepts and relapse prevention to help clients find support in their early recovery from addiction. In her free time, Erica enjoys spending time with her family, her puppy, and being of service.
Melissa Prokop, Business Development
Melissa Prokop is a valuable member of the business development and marketing team. Melissa completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Science from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Her personal experience led her to call Southern California home where she began working in the treatment industry in 2017. As a member of the business development and marketing team, it gives her the opportunity to utilize her wide skillset that she cultivated over her years of working in sales, substance abuse, and mental health. She is always working with her team on creative ways to work more efficiently and to be as adaptable as possible in a field that is always evolving. Her personal experience as 449 alumni gives her an inside perspective as to what is important to the teams working with clients and their families. If you can’t find Melissa working or at the gym, she’s with her most loyal companion, Lyla, her 4-year-old Jack Russel mix. Mel truly loves what she does—helping people find sobriety. She connects with them on a personal level to help them find hope again, showing them that they are not alone, and recovery is possible.
Luke Cuccia, Alumni & Community Outreach Coordinator
Luke is a dedicated member of our business development and marketing team. As a member of the recovery community, he works diligently to help those in need by selflessly giving his time and efforts. Luke has devoted his career to helping addicts both in and out of recovery. He is currently leading our alumni outreach program to ensure that 449 Recovery provides the highest level of care during and after treatment. Luke is an integral part of the 449 family, both as a staff member and alumnus. He is an amazing example of what 449 is, and of what can be accomplished when the desire for recovery is your primary focus.
Joe Hunn, Lead Technician
Joe was born and raised in Orange County. His Native American Heritage is deeply rooted in his ethical standards. With 25 years of sobriety, Joe feels blessed for the opportunity to serve and give back. Joe is passionate about helping restore hope, strength and dignity to those in need.
Admitting & Attending
Warren Taff, M.D.
Dr. Warren Taff MD, graduated from the University of Birmingham, England School of Medicine, with a BA from Rutgers University. He then went on to UCLA School of Public Health in Los Angeles Health and Human Services and received an MPH. He also attended an internship in internal medicine, with the Veterans Administration. Dr. Taff’s residency includes General Psychiatry at USC, with elective residencies at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and Royal College of Psychiatry. Board certifications include American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Taff has extensive experience in both psychiatry and addiction medicine, extending from 1979 to present. He has held professional titles that include Chief of Staff and Medical Directorship in both hospitals and private sectors.
Mike Kelly, D.N.P.
Dr. Michael Kelly graduated with a BS and Master’s degree from Long Beach State University of California. He later graduated from Chapman University with a Doctorate, DNP. He received Board Certification in Psychiatry from the AANC in 2015. Dr. Kelly held the High Honors Award at the Master’s level and Dean’s List at the Doctorate level. Dr. Kelly has over 25 years of psychiatric clinical experience, providing general psychiatric and addiction medicine services. Specialty areas include: private practice in general psychiatry, acute inpatient psychiatry, partial hospitalization, residential detoxification, sober living psychiatric consultation, and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Further, Dr. Kelly holds affiliation with hospital-based settings, providing acute in-patient patient psychiatry, emergency room psychiatric triage, and psychiatric consultations.