A pioneer, visionary, and innovator in the substance use disorder treatment field, Faith Peterson, Beacon Center’s founder and president, has been on the cutting edge of prevention and treatment since 1983. A graduate of the State University of New York at Fredonia and of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership through the University at Buffalo, Ms. Peterson earned her Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) in 1985, she also received a Gambling Specialty Designation for the treatment of compulsive gambling. She began her career in the substance use disorder treatment field as a prevention educator and a counselor, but rapidly rose to a supervisory position and was subsequently sought out to lead progressively larger agencies.
Throughout these experiences, recognizing the uniqueness of each person served, Ms. Peterson longed to offer patients treatment that was especially designed to meet their needs. With that vision, the idea of Beacon Center was born, and Ms. Peterson opened the first agency location in suburban Buffalo in June of 1990. Since that time, Ms. Peterson has expanded Beacon Center to encompass nine outpatient substance-abuse treatment facilities. In 2006, after extensive renovations, her vision of opening the Albert O. Nichols house, a community reintegration home, came to fruition. Over the years, Faith Peterson’s vision and responsiveness to the community have been instrumental in making Beacon Center one of the premier providers of substance-abuse services in New York State.
Beacon Center is truly fortunate to have a Medical Director with Dr. Nathaniel Webster’s storied history on our treatment team since 1995. A graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Webster also worked on obtaining a Master of Science degree in Embryology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. prior to entering the Army. He holds licenses in New York, California, and Georgia, in addition to licensure from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
He has had a private family practice in Buffalo, New York since 1963 and, prior to assuming the Medical Directorship of Beacon Center, he served as Medical Director for several substance-abuse treatment units in the Greater Buffalo area at various levels of care. The author and co-author of, and contributor to, several publications, he is also certified as a Suboxone® provider and specializes in the use of laser therapy in pain management. Some of his contributions have been to the publication Desk Reference on Drug Abuse (Second Edition) and to the film What Did You Take (The Drug Abuse Emergency).
MBA, RN, CASAC
Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline West has been widely recognized by her peers for her intelligence and her vast working knowledge of all aspects of the substance use disorder field for many years. From personnel matters to treatment services, Ms. West is well versed in all facets of operating a successful patient centered treatment program. She received her bachelor’s degree in Social Science from Medaille College in Buffalo, New York.
She subsequently obtained her Master of Business Administration degree from St. Bonaventure University. As Chief Executive Officer, she oversees all of Beacon Center’s clinical, financial, and personnel matters. Ms. West brings to Beacon Center a unique blend of clinical as well as administrative experience and, in addition to holding a CASAC credential, she is a Registered Nurse. Actively involved in the community, she has served on the Niagara County Community Services Board and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Western New York Chemical Dependency Consortium.
As Director of Clinical Services for Beacon Center, Carolyn Grisko has been a consummate professional as both a counselor and clinical supervisor for years. Ms. Grisko began her career at Beacon Center in 1992 as a Substance Use Disorder counselor, subsequently receiving a promotion to Clinical Supervisor in 1994. Ms. Grisko received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The State University of New York at Buffalo and received Master of Science degrees in both Counseling Education and Mental Health Counseling from Canisius College. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC). She holds a gambling specialty designation for the treatment of compulsive gambling.
Widely recognized in the community for her expertise and commitment to quality care in the substance use disorder field, Ms. Grisko continually presents to organizations throughout Western New York. Additionally, Ms. Grisko acts as the Drug Court Coordinator for the Town of Clarence.
Michael DeJesus Jr.
Michael DeJesus, Jr., M.D., is the Medical Director for Beacon Center’s Central New York locations. He began with Beacon Center in 2009 and has continued to work to provide oversight in the development of procedures to ensure quality care for all of those receiving services at our outpatient locations. He is also responsible for prescribing buprenorphine as well as naltrexone (Vivitrol ®). Licensed to practice medicine in the State of New York, he brings with him over 30 years of experience as a family physician and holds certification from the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. DeJesus has special expertise in diabetes, diabetes complications, heart diseases, heart failure, and stroke.
He has also achieved recognition in the NCQA Heart/Stroke Recognition Program as well as the NCQA Physician Practice Connections-Patient Centered Medical Home. A graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert W. Johnson Medical School, he received his residency training at Somerset Medical Center and has extensive experience in treating a vast spectrum of medical conditions found in every age group.
Richard L. O’Brien
Dr. O’Brien has been providing expert and compassionate care to Beacon Center patients for over five years. As a full time Clinic Physician, he is responsible for providing medication supported recovery to our patients. This includes prescribing buprenorphine, naltrexone (Vivitrol ®) and methadone at our newly certified Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) in Rome, NY. He is licensed to practice medicine in the State of New York and is Board Certified in both Family Practice Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulation. He earned his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, New York. He completed his residency in Family Practice at Millcreek Community Hospital in Lake Erie, Pennsylvania.
He is the author of two medical school reference guides and was an instructor at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. He worked in private practice in Utica, New York until 2010 when he joined Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, New York to practice at one of their primary care clinics. He resigned that position in 2015 and began working full time at various Beacon Center locations throughout Central New York.
Joining Beacon Center in 2011 as a Substance Use Disorder Counselor in the Utica office, Helen Burdick took on a role of counseling women. Her empathy and comprehensive knowledge of the substance use disorder field moved her in facilitating women’s recovery groups that included promoting women’s preventative healthcare, empowering women to take care of themselves using a holistic approach, which is a fervor of Ms. Burdick’s.
In 2013, Ms. Burdick was promoted to Clinical Supervisor of the Herkimer outpatient clinic and in 2015 she was promoted again to Director of Program Operations. Due to her dedication and commitment to patient care and her consistent approach in directing the staff she is responsible for overseeing the outpatient clinic as well as Albert O. Nichols House, our 15 bed men’s Residential Reintegration facility in Herkimer. A Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor through the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), Ms. Burdick is a liaison of Herkimer County Drug Treatment Court, DSRIP, LCHP, Herkimer County Prevention Council through Catholic Charities of Herkimer County, Mohawk Valley BHCC, and is on the Board of Directors for the Mohawk Valley Regional Planning Consortium.
Admira Spahic started her career at Beacon Center as the Clinical Supervisor in the Utica, NY office. While Clinical Supervisor, she implemented a wide range of programs and treatment options to meet the diverse needs of Beacon Center’s clients. Mrs. Spahic’s expertise, along with a vast knowledge base of clinical and administrative procedures quickly earned her a promotion to Director of Program Operations. In this role, she has been successful in expanding Beacon Center’s services by opening the latest outpatient clinic in Rome, NY.
Mrs. Spahic received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University at Buffalo. She then went on to obtain her Master’s Degree of Social Work from University of Albany. In addition to being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), she also possesses a Certified Alcohol Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) credential. Mrs. Spahic is very committed to quality service delivery and treatment.
From a young age Ms. McGinley possessed a strong interest to work with individuals who have been impacted by substance use disorder. Ms. McGinley obtained her Associates Degree in Applied Science with a concentration in Chemical Dependency Counseling through Finger Lakes Community College in 2010. Ms. McGinley continued to further her education in Chemical Dependency through State University of Brockport where she graduated in 2012, Cum Laude, with her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. She joined Beacon Center in 2013 where she continued to pursue her passion of working with individuals by providing individualized care to all she interacted with. In 2015 she obtained her Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) through the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Through her dedication and work ethic in 2015 she was promoted to Associate Director of Program Operations.
Danielle Spain received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science with a concentration in Substance Abuse Counseling through the State University of Brockport in 2013. She then completed her Master’s Degree through Utica College in Health Care Administration in 2015. In addition to her degrees, Danielle is a Certified Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) through the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).
Danielle began her career with Beacon Center in 2015 as a Counselor in the Utica Office. Her dedication and commitment to treatment of substance use disorders earned her a promotion to Clinical Supervisor in 2016, to supervise the opening of our Cortland office.
As the Clinical Supervisor she worked hard to increase patient access to medication assisted treatment in both Cortland and Rome offices. She has most recently been promoted to Associate Director of Program Operations.
Danielle is determined to offer quality service to all patients and provide an opportunity for recovery from substance use disorders. She is committed to increasing education and awareness in the field of substance use disorder within the community, which has been proven through her experiences with Beacon Center.
Mrs. Witchley started her career with Beacon Center as a counselor in the Utica office in 2012. In 2015 she was promoted to Clinical Supervisor of the Utica office.
Mrs. Witchley received her Associates Degree as a Chemical Dependency Practitioner with Mohawk Valley Community College in 2009, her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services with Cazenovia College in 2010 then went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Counseling with Capella University in 2012. She obtained her Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) through the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in 2015.
Mrs. Witchley’s therapeutic style stems from the existential approach, which places emphasis on the human condition as a whole. Mrs. Witchley is a very motivated, empathetic and compassionate individual that loves to assist others in living a life free from substance use disorders.
Danielle joined Beacon Center December of 2013 in the Lockport office as a Chemical Dependency Counselor. Since beginning her career, she has been promoted to Senior Chemical Dependency Counselor and then to Clinical Supervisor in October of 2015. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Canisius College in Psychology and Criminal Justice, with a minor in Forensic Psychology and Adolescent Psychology. Mrs. Newton then went back and obtained her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Canisius College. While being employed with Beacon Center, Mrs. Newton obtained her Certified Alcohol Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) and Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). Mrs. Newton is a liaison on Lockport Treatment Court, and has worked closely with community to expand knowledge of opioid awareness.
Shannon started her career with Beacon Center in 2013 as an Administrative Assistant in the Niagara Falls office. While in that role, she found that she had a passion for working in the Substance Use Disorder field and helping others. She was promoted to Office Manager in 2015 and then to Compliance Manager in 2016. Since beginning with Beacon Center she has obtained her Chemical Dependency Counselor certificate from Niagara County Community College in 2017 and her Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) through the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) in 2018. While working full time, Shannon has continued attending school and is planning on continuing her education to obtain her Master of Business Administration (MBA). Mrs. DeSantiago is committed to ensuring all Beacon Center locations and programs are in compliance with all operating regulations set forth by New York State OASAS.