Experts Guide

We are proud of our exceptional staff who stay current and are among the best within their fields of expertise. Monarch professionals have expansive knowledge in behavioral health and topics related to the long-term services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Experts Guide

If you need help identifying an expert, for media interviews or otherwise, please email pr@monarchnc.org.

Sharyn Comeau
Dr. Sharyn Comeau

Dr. Sharyn Comeau

Medical Director, Wake Behavioral Health Urgent Care, Raleigh Certified by the American Board of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology

Focus areas:

  • Mental health challenges of all ages
  • Focused interest in child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Autism and Women’s Health

With Monarch since January 2014, Dr. Comeau, a Pediatric and Adult Psychiatrist based in Mecklenburg County, has been practicing medicine for more than 22 years. She specializes in treating people with mental health challenges of all ages with a focused interest in children and adolescents.

Dr. Comeau welcomes the opportunity to provide her professional insight into assuring that all patients in crisis receive prompt and accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Education:

  • Doctor of Medicine from Ross University; Master of Arts from New York University; Bachelor of Science from Pace University.
  • Medical training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard University; general psychiatry at University of Connecticut / Institute of Living
Yashia Durham
Yashia Durham

Yashia Durham, LCSW, LCAS

Behavioral Health Therapist Certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist

Focus areas:

  • Complex Clinical Issues
  • LGBTQIA issues
  • Trauma and Crisis Intervention
  • Severe and Persistent Mental Illness
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Yashia Durham is a Behavioral Health Therapist primarily working in the Wake Forest, Cary and Zebulon outpatient sites. Her expertise is with children, adults, and families from diverse backgrounds in community-based and traditional office settings.

In helping people to live their best life, Yashia utilizes an eclectic approach to therapy which includes cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and relaxation skills, brief solution-focused therapy, client-centered therapy and strength-based perspectives.

Education:

  • Master of Social Work, Texas State University; Master of Arts, Cross-Disciplinary Studies with a focus on conflict resolution, Nova Southeastern University; and Bachelor of Social Work, University of South Florida.
Bill Garrot

Bill Garrot, LCSW, LPC, LCAS

Behavioral Health Therapist Certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Addition Specialist (LCAS)

Focus areas:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Substance Use Disorders
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Life Transitions

Bill Garrot, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), licensed professional counselor (LPC) and licensed clinical addictions specialist (LCAS), has worked in the behavioral health field for the past 25 years with over a decade of that focus on crisis services.

Serving as a crisis services supervisor and hospital liaison, Garrot has spent time as an outpatient therapist providing individual, group and family therapy to latency age children, adolescents and adults. For most of Garrot’s career, he has focused on working with individuals experiencing co-occurring disorders such as mental health issues with substance use disorders.

He is a certified forensic screener, working with local law enforcement to evaluate an individual’s capacity to proceed to trial.

Education:

  • Master’s degree in Agency Counseling and Bachelor of Arts in History, both from Louisiana State University.
Karen S. Holst

Karen S. Holst, EdD, MSW, LCSW

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor and Consultant Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Focus areas:

  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Stress Reduction
  • Mindful Leadership

Karen Holst is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a doctorate degree in Human Services Administration. Karen has attended key mindfulness training programs including the seven-day Mind/Body Medicine training under the direction of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., and Saki Santorelli, Ed.D., and the nine-day Intensive Residential Practicum in MBSR through the Center for Mindfulness. She completed the eight-week MBSR course through Duke Integrative Medicine as well as studied MBSR under the guidance of Certified Mindfulness Teacher Lindsay Bridges, MD. Karen has been a member of the adjunct faculty under the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, teaching a master’s level course on mindfulness and meditation.

Karen is authorized to teach MBSR pursuant to the guidelines from the Center for Mindfulness, provides instruction and guidance to individuals, groups and organizations and presents at various conferences. Karen maintains her own practice and attends silent retreats to deepen her practice, so she can teach from a place of authenticity.

Education:

  • Doctorate in Human Services Administration from Nova Southeastern University; Master of Arts in Social Work from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Hanover College.
Jude Johnson

Jude Johnson, MA, LMFT

Mindfulness Instructor and Consultant

Focus areas:

  • Stress Management
  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual and Group Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Mindfulness and Meditation

Jude Johnson is a licensed therapist that specializes in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness meditation. Since 2011, Johnson has been teaching regular mindfulness-meditation groups and providing training to health care providers and businesses. Jude teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and trained at Omega with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli.

Johnson became interested in mindfulness while working in an alternative school with at-risk youth. There he developed a passion for mindfulness and meditation because of the positive transformations he experienced personally and that he observed in the participating youth.

He completed specialized training in MBSR through the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Johnson reaches even more people through his holistic health service A Keen Mind, which offers programs and tools designed to help reduce stress and cultivate mindfulness.

Education:

  • Master of Arts in Counseling with a focus on Marriage and Family from Webster University and Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology from the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) extensive training, Center of Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Mary Locklear
Mary Locklear

Mary Locklear, CCS, LPC

Behavior Health Therapist Certified as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist

Focus areas:

  • Substance Use Disorders within adults, adolescents and children
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Psychotherapy
  • Case Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Life Transitions

Mary Locklear has served as a therapist at Monarch since 2015, also having worked in the Robeson County Public Schools and in the therapy field for private organizations, as well as self employed as a licensed therapist.

Her career focus has been to treat, as a professional counselor, mental illness and substance abuse with the adult, adolescent and children populations. She participates with and advocates for community coalitions and collaborations dedicated to Recovery. She has extensive training and expertise in substance abuse education and treatment.

Education:

  • Master’s degree in Service Agency Counseling, Master’s degree in Public Administration, Bachelor’s degree in History, University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Amanda Matthews

Amanda Matthews, M.A., LPA, HSP-PA

Staff Psychologist Board Certified Telemental Health (BC-TMH) and Clinically Certified Sex Offender Treatment Specialist (CCSOTS)

Focus areas:

  • Works with individuals who maintain intellectual and/or developmental disabilities diagnoses

As a psychologist at Monarch, Amanda Matthews actively supports, educates and empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Her knowledge and expertise have provided her the opportunity to be a frequent presenter at numerous professional conferences including the NC TIDE Conferences, National Adolescent Perpetration Network (NAPN) International Conference, and Spring North Carolina Juvenile Services Association (NCJSA) Conference. She has also authored numerous publications in multiple fields.

She is a board member as well as Membership Chair of the North Carolina Association for the Management and Treatment of Sexual Offenders (NCAMTSO), on which she has served since 2013.

Education:

  • Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, University of Notre Dame
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychological and Brain Sciences, graduating Summa Cum Laude, Dartmouth College
Dr. Robert McHale

Dr. Robert James McHale, M.D., M.Sc., DFAPA, ABPM, FASAM

Medical Director, Psychiatrist Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Certified by the American Board of Preventative Medicine in Addiction Medicine.

Focus areas:

  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment for patients of all ages
  • Psychotropic Medication Management
  • Interest in Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacokinetics of Psychotropic Medications
  • Evidence-based mental health care
  • Individual and Family Therapy
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Life Transitions

Since 2010, Dr. McHale has held the position of Monarch’s Medical Director. He provides supervision and oversight for the behavioral health services working with people of all ages dealing with mental illness and substance use disorders. He has a special interest in intellectual disabilities and general medical conditions of the people we serve.

Prior to entering medical school, Dr. McHale worked as a biochemist at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in the Department of Biochemistry and has co-authored over 30 scientific publications and abstracts. He was also involved in research and study of Sleep Disorders at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry’s Sleep Disorders Center.

Education, Awards, Experience:

  • Chief Resident, Residency training in Psychiatry, University of Kansas – Wichita School of Medicine; Doctor of Medicine, Saint George’s University School of Medicine; Master of Science in Biology, University of Missouri; Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, Saint Louis University, Missouri.
  • Study physician and sub-investigator, Clinical Research Institute, Kansas, researching depression, psychotropic medications and drug interactions.
  • Member of the American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Medical Association, North Carolina Psychiatric Association and North Carolina Medical Society.
  • Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
  • Awarded the Excellence in Service Award from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness); the Laurie Coyner Award: Excellence for Psychiatric Inpatient Care at the University of Kansas; and the Saint Louis University Undergraduate Research Award.
Sarah O'Horo-Nash

Sarah O’Horo-Nash, LCSW, MSW

Behavioral Health Practice Administrator Certified by the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board

Focus areas:

  • Intensive In-Home Therapy
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Family Therapy
  • Case Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Life Transitions

Sarah O’Horo-Nash MSW, LCSW, holds the position of practice administrator for Monarch’s Lexington office, at which she manages outpatient services for individual, group and psychiatric services along with peer support.

In 2010, O’Horo-Nash joined the Monarch team that same year as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) bringing her expertise as an intensive in-home team leader while providing services to children and adolescents at risk of out-of-home placement. She has also worked as an outpatient and day treatment therapist. Prior to her current role, she was the supervisor for three intensive in-home teams; an in-home team, peer support and outpatient services.

Through the North Carolina Child Treatment program, O’Horo-Nash serves as a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) clinician through the North Carolina Child Treatment program. She is also certified to provide treatment and assessments to children and adolescents with concerns of harmful sexual behavior.

Education:

  • Master of Social Work, Winthrop University; Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, SUNY Potsdam in New York.
Dr. Jacqueline Smith

Dr. Jacqueline Smith

SECU Youth Crisis Center Associate Medical Director, Mecklenburg Clinic Lead Psychiatrist Board Certified in Adult, Child-Adolescent and Forensic Psychiatry

Focus areas:

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Cross Cultural Issues

Dr. Jacqueline Smith is based in Mecklenburg County. She provides care to children, adolescents and adults in the outpatient clinic and at Monarch’s Youth Crisis Center. She collaborates with community partners, supervises nurse practitioners, meets regularly with staff and teaches physician assistant students.

Before arriving at Monarch in April 2016, she completed all psychiatric training at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While in training, she worked at a state prison, a state mental health hospital, and a county crisis clinic. She also co-founded a free mental health clinic at a women and children’s shelter in Chapel Hill. She has provided expert advice to writers and contributors for The Grio, MSNBC and NBC’s Today.

Education:

  • Residency and Fellowships, UNC Hospitals; Doctor of Medicine degree, UNC School of Medicine; Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology, Chemistry and Psychology, UNC Chapel Hill.
Dr. Alexandra Spessot
Dr. Alexandra Spessot, MD

Dr. Alexandra Spessot, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and member of the American Psychiatric Association

Focus areas:

  • Psychiatric principles, models of behavior, and psychopathology
  • Evidence-based treatment for mental illness, including psychopharmacology and psychotherapy
  • Organizational leadership

As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Alexandra Spessot works to ensure that Monarch’s behavioral health services are consistent with best practice standards and meet the diverse needs of the people we support. With the support of her clinical leadership team, Dr. Spessot provides oversight and direction for all the prescribing providers and psychotherapists in Monarch’s Behavioral Health division.

Dr. Spessot provides medical leadership, on behalf of Monarch, at the community and state levels. She establishes positive relationships with local stakeholders, legislators, potential donors, payors, and physician groups, as pertains to Monarch’s behavioral health services.

Prior to joining Monarch, Dr. Spessot was the Director of Psychiatric Emergency Care at the Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, NC.

Education:

  • Psychiatry Residency Program focusing on General Adult Psychiatry, Duke University School of Medicine; Doctor of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; Bachelor of Arts, International Studies and Sociology, John Hopkins University.
Brandon Tankersley

Brandon Tankersley, BSBA, MEd, CPSS

Director of Peer Services Certified as a Peer Support Specialist by the North Carolina Certified Peer Support Specialist Registry

Focus areas:

  • Motivational Presentations
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • The Dangers of Impaired Driving
  • Peer Services

Brandon Tankersley has held the position of Director of Peer Services with Monarch since 2014 where he specializes in evidence-based practices such as the Wellness Recovery Action Plan and Whole Health Action Management.

He supervises Monarch’s Peer Support Specialists under the following areas: basic Peer Support, Tenancy Support, Individual Placement Support (IPS), Transitional Care Team (TCT) and Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT). These programs assist individuals in their various stages of recovery to identify and reach their goals.

Tankersley is known for his motivational presentations after having suffered and sustained injuries from a tragic car accident. He often is asked to speak to schools, organizations and community groups about being focused, doing your best, the dangers of drinking and driving, and not giving up in the face of adversity.

Tankersley was appointed by former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to be a board member on the Brain Injury Advisory Council (BIAC). On this board, he works with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to help contribute toward the definition of brain injury, promoting inter-agency coordination of efforts, studying the needs of persons with brain injuries, coordination of prevention efforts and make recommendations to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Tankersley was also appointed to the North Carolina Consumer Family Advisory Committee (SCFAC). The SCFAC advises the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) and the General Assembly on the planning and management of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.

Education:

  • Master’s in Special Education with a courtesy of a scholarship from the Ohio Vocational Rehabilitation from the University of Cincinnati; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Information Technology courtesy of a scholarship from the Office of Disability Service, the Ohio State University.
Dr. Peggy Terhune

Dr. Peggy Terhune is the CEO of Monarch and The Arc of Stanly County since June 1995.Under her leadership, Monarch has moved towards evidence-based and best practice in all areas, successfully added services, enhanced community integration, improved customer satisfaction, reduced turnover and successfully developed programs to serve consumers with multiple disabilities. She has worked with and advocated for people with disabilities for more than 40 years.

Niah White
Niah White

Niah White, LCSW

Behavioral Health Therapist Certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Focus areas:

  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • Mood Disorders
  • Women’s Issues

Niah White’s professional experience spans across 10 years, and centers on collaboratively working with community partners, facilitating coordination of care, and delivering integrated behavioral health care services. Niah’s experience features working within a variety of settings including outpatient community mental health, enhanced mental health services, and the non-profit sector.

Her ongoing interest centers around the delivery of trauma informed and trauma specific services. Niah’s therapeutic approach focuses on increasing self-awareness, implementing boundaries, and building capacity to live well. Niah is active in her church, enjoys dance, and has a passion for self-care and self-discovery.

Education:

  • Doctor of Philosophy – PhD, Rehabilitation Counseling and Counselor Education, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Master of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Bachelor of Social Work, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Mary Beth Young

Mary Beth Young, LCSW

Behavior Health Therapist Certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Focus areas:

  • Complex Clinical Issues
  • Trauma and Crisis Intervention
  • Severe and Persistent Mental Illness
  • Clinical Supervision
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Mary Beth Young has been the Assertive Community Treatment Team Lead (ACTT) for Davidson and Rowan counties from 2016-2019. She recently transitioned to serving as a therapist on this ACT team due to her desire to work directly with individuals.

Young worked for Monarch from 2007 to 2010 as a Clinical Program Manager and then as a therapist. In 2008, Monarch honored her with the Eula B. Cranford Professional of the Year Award. In 2016, Young returned to Monarch to serve with the Rowan/Davidson ACT team.

As a clinical social worker for over 22 years, Young spent the first half of her career working with children and adolescents who experienced trauma and displayed severe emotional and behavioral issues. Since then, she has focused on being an administrator and working with individuals who have complex clinical issues.

Her volunteer experience includes training caregivers in Senegal, Ukraine and Haiti on ways to work with young people who have experienced trauma.

Published pieces authored by Young include two chapters appearing in, “Healing for Hurting Hearts: A Handbook for Counseling Children and Youth in Crisis.” These two chapters are entitled “Basic Counseling Skills” and “Healing Through Focused Play.”

Education:

  • Master of Social Work, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; Bachelor of Social Work, University of North Carolina – Greensboro.