For the past ten years the streets of Southern California have been a safer place due to Pej’s work, informed extensively by his own life as a practicing drug addict/alcoholic. After staying in treatment himself and working through his deep-rooted issues, Pej ended up attending Saddleback Valley College and finishing his drug and alcohol studies in the Human Services Department. Pej went on to work in the field of behavioral health with people from all walks of life, suffering not only from substance abuse but many co-occuring disorders related to mental illness. Pej has worn many hats in the field of addiction, including case management, sober coaching, group facilitating, and treatment and discharge planning. Pej previously moved to Los Angeles to open two structured sober living facilities where, as program director, he led the facilities to higher-than-average success rates. In more recent times Pej has worked as a recovery companion, life coach, and interventionist. He also works as a public speaker on substance abuse prevention and awareness. Through self-disclosing and sharing his experience, strength, and hope he connects with countless people who were once suffering and battling their demons, and he now has the pleasure of watching them transform into remarkable individuals. Pej sees the fruits of labor in his recovery on a daily basis, and sees Way Back Home as a natural continuation of that work.
Valory’s interests involve advocacy work for groups to bring about change and awareness, usually revolving around inequality and social issues. For several years she has been involved in gun safety prevention work on a local, state and national level. She also has experience with clinical research, pharmacy, and medical billing. Her personal mental illness struggles have made her more aware of the problems with stigma in our society. The idea for Way Back Home came about as a way to address that stigma and make the world a better place through continuing advocacy work.
Melissa is a physician who recently started her internal medicine residency in Oakland, CA. Her clinical interests revolve around the needs of the urban underserved, and include LGBTQ primary care, HIV management, and chemical dependency. She is originally from Seattle, WA and completed medical school at the University of Washington, where she had the opportunity to work closely with experts in chronic pain and chemical dependency. Prior to medical school she received her master’s degree in nutrition from Bastyr University, and explored her interest in the healing power of good nutrition through Bastyr’s nutrition research track.
As a provider in a community deeply affected by prescription opioid abuse, Way Back Home holds a special place in Melissa’s heart. Her aim with this project is to make information on safe, evidence-based use of opioids more available to physicians and patients, as well as to offer patients a view of chronic pain and chemical dependency management that acknowledges them as whole people and extends beyond the conventional medical model.
Before finding her home serving the public for various departments within the County of Sonoma, Jana has held diverse roles in the areas of advocacy, education, and healthcare. This includes extensive involvement as a Department of State ethical liaison for international students participating in stateside high school and college cultural exchange programs. Jana also copy-edits for elementary and middle school science publications and she is responsible for the testing and process improvements leading to improved storage and transport for the donated blood products sent from her local blood bank to the surrounding community hospitals.
Her true calling is teaching. A college life sciences tutor since 2010, Jana is in the process of obtaining her M.S. in Biology so she can reach more students on their paths toward health careers.
Way Back Home is dear to Jana because she is passionate about de-stigmatizing opioid addiction so those affected can receive the support they deserve. Jana believes accountability on the part of healthcare providers is key. WBH’s mission of advocacy and education aligns entirely with Jana’s vision of a fully educational medication prescription process from the doctor’s prescription pad all the way to the pharmacist’s bottle.
- Stephanie Allen-Stevenson
- Jill Morgenstein
Thanks for your wonderful additions to the website!