Sally R. Lawes, LPC-S, joined The Oaks at La Paloma as CEO in December of 2018. She brings with her a wide range of experience in substance use and mental health disorder treatment, including her most recent position as executive director of Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge treatment center in East Tennessee. Prior to that, she served for nearly 15 years as a director, administrator and counselor with Bradford Health Systems.
Born in Houston, Texas, and raised in Cleveland, Mississippi, Lawes earned her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s degree in community counseling from Delta State University. She felt drawn to the world of behavioral healthcare because she is driven to make a difference, both for her staff and the individuals they treat. “If I’m successful in ensuring that the systems and processes at The Oaks work effectively and efficiently, then I contribute in a small way to more people getting better than I could ever impact directly,” explains Lawes.
As she guides the team at The Oaks in its mission to help people discover hope and build lasting recovery, Lawes finds motivation in her personal motto, as originally said by Helen Keller: “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Outside of her work, she enjoys spending time with her son, Jackson, and her two dogs, Bo and Dizzy.
Donna Rains, MS, RDN, LDN
A Registered and Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, Donna Rains joined the staff of The Oaks at La Paloma in early 2018. Born and raised in Nashville, she has called Memphis home for 20 years. Rains holds a BS in nutrition from Lipscomb University and an MS in Nutrition from the University of Memphis. She also completed a dietetic internship and residency at University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.
Rains got her start as a food and nutrition services director and clinical director, having worked in the mental health field at several psychiatric facilities in Memphis. She’s passionate about her work “because so many people need and want help, they just need someone to teach them how to put things together.” That’s why, she loves teaching people about food as fuel and how the human body responds it. “We ask a lot out of our bodies and brains and need the appropriate fuel for better performance. It’s not about weight or the scale, it’s about a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits most days,” she says.
Married with two sons in college, Rains enjoys spending free time with her family, powerwalking, at book club with friends, doing yoga, snow skiing, watching the Pittsburgh Steelers and any NFL game or taking in Broadway shows at the Orpheum. She completed the St. Jude half-marathon twice and makes it a goal get in one hour of some type of exercise every day.
Kerrel Ard, LMSW
From Pontotoc, Mississippi, Kerrel Ard became a primary therapist at The Oaks at La Paloma in 2015. Inspired by work that helps wounded people create the lives they hope for, Ard brings a wealth of diverse experience to his role. He earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Mississippi and a master’s in social work from the University of Memphis. Following 11 years as an inner-city social worker and 14 years in the corporate world, Ard became a licensed clinical social worker in 2015. Trained in EMDR therapies as well as Motivational Interviewing, DBT and ACT, he is also passionate about teaching LGBTIQ cultural competency to other clinicians in the mental health field. When he’s not working, Ard enjoys being active in his church, writing, hiking and horseback riding.
Rachel E. Pinter, MT-BC
Certified Music Therapist
Rachel Pinter received her bachelor’s degree in music therapy from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. As a board-certified music therapist, she has worked in the mental health field since 2006. At The Oaks, Pinter provides individual and group music therapy incorporating piano, guitar, vocal and percussion instrument skills. She employs lyric analysis, song composition and drum circles to teach clients how to use music as a coping tool.
Currently, Pinter is expanding her experience through The Blue Door Recording Studio on site at The Oaks to broaden the scope of treatment, allowing participants to increase positive self-esteem, self-expression and record original songs. The Blue Door also allows patients to experiment with musical techniques and jam with other musicians in a sober and safe environment. Pinter also helps with the art program and facilitates Adventure Challenge, The Oaks’ low ropes course. She has been trained and certified by an ACCT professional vendor member to use a different approach to provide, improve and utilize teamwork-building skills that are necessary to be successful in recovery.
As a music therapist, Pinter has the unique and rewarding opportunity of witnessing the positive effect music therapy has on patients. She has seen unique breakthroughs among individuals because music therapy is a non-threatening outlet for even those without musical ability or skills.
Prior to working at The Oaks, Pinter was a music therapist at two psychiatric facilities serving individuals in a residential and inpatient setting from ages 4 to 104. She has led national workshops teaching foster grandparents musical activities to be utilized with children with special needs. She has also worked with local HIV-positive individuals dealing with substance use disorders, served as a guest speaker in several community groups to advocate for music therapy awareness and volunteered as music therapist at a camp for children with autism.
Henry Isaac, MS
Henry Isaac earned a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Memphis and a BS in sociology and corrections from Mississippi State University. From an early age, he was inspired to make a difference in the lives of at-risk individuals who found themselves in and out of jail or struggled with substance abuse. Isaac possesses a strong knowledge and understanding of correctional rehabilitation and has worked with populations such as law enforcement, mental health and adolescents. He understands the relationship between repeat offenders and mental health and substance abuse and was able to use his gifts and talents to help enrich the lives of inmates in the penal and correctional institutes while addressing their underlying mental health issues as well with the hope of reducing high recidivism rates.
Isaac joined the team at The Oaks in 2015, serving as a residential therapist with responsibilities that includes facilitation of group and Individual therapy, and anger management and mental health group therapy. He is also trained in EMDR. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, spearheading church events, youth sports and working out.
Alumni Community and Events Coordinator
A graduate of the University of Memphis, Carol Ricossa received her master’s in counseling education. She put that degree to work as a therapist in the Memphis city school system until 2005. At that point, Carol decided to pursue her artistic passions, taking a giant leap of faith and opening a framing studio. While self-employed, she also facilitated several art shows, exhibiting her own work and the work of local artisans.
Carol joined the The Oaks at La Paloma staff in the fall of 2010. Her current responsibilities include planning events for The Oaks at La Paloma’s local alumni, collaborating with professionals in the community and leading the patients in creative arts. This wide range of duties taps into Carol’s versatile talents of teaching art, event planning and relationship-building.
A native Memphian, Carol spends her spare time cooking with friends, bicycling, working in her garden or painting. She is also a certified fitness instructor, teaching at the Nuber YMCA.