Behavioral & Mental Health Services Staff

Alexander Jewish Family Service has a diverse staff of licensed professionals who employ a variety of modalities in providing therapy.

Clinical and Community Intervention
Staff

Noa Ben-Yehuda, LCSW-S

Adult Program Lead

Noa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and board certified supervisor in Texas. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from Ben Gurion University in Israel, and a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Houston. Noa brings expertise in providing therapy services focused on recovery from mental illness and trauma. She is a certified provider of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for treating other psychological conditions. Her experience includes working with individuals, couples and groups, focusing on enhancing clients' strengths, as well as enabling them to be empowered, inspired, and create changes in their lives. Originally from Israel, Noa provides therapy and counseling services both in English and Hebrew.

Adult Program Lead
Noa Ben-Yehuda, LCSW-S
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Kedem Blatt, LMSW

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow

Kedem is Licensed Master of Social Work in Texas. Kedem received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Israel and her Master of Social Work from the University of Houston. Before joining Alexander Jewish Family Service, Kedem completed her internship at the Center for Success and Independence, working with children and adolescents experiencing emotional, behavioral and/or substance abuse problems. Kedem has experience in working with at risk youth and young adults and feels privileged to work with clients and assist them in finding their own unique way to overcome life challenges. Originally from Israel, Kedem provides therapy and counseling services both in English and Hebrew.

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow
Kedem Blatt, LMSW
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Katelyn Bleiweiss, MPH

Community Intervention Specialist

Katelyn Bleiweiss is a 4th generation native Houstonian who is proud to be serving her community in the Department of Behavioral and Mental Health Services at Alexander Jewish Family Service. After living in Israel for one year, she went home to Texas to receive her BA in cultural anthropology from UT Austin, followed by her Masters of Public Health in community health practice with a focus in program planning, implementation, and evaluation from the UT Health Science Center Houston. Katelyn did her intensive graduate school internship at Alexander JFS and was fortunate to join the team as a full employee after graduating. 

Katelyn is the only Sources of Strength suicide prevention program trainer for the Houston Jewish community and beyond, providing mental health and wellness presentations and programs. She believes that sharing stories of hope, help, and strength can counter the overwhelming negativity we are all exposed to daily. She encourages all who are reading this to send a thank you note to someone who has been helpful in life, as gratitude is a core spiritual practice. 


Community Intervention Specialist
Katelyn Bleiweiss, MPH
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Justin Cannon, LCSW BMHS

Case Management Specialist and Financial Stability Coach

Justin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Jackson State University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Houston. He has experience with Case Managment, individual and group therapy, and financial coaching. He believes in cultivating safe spaces for all individuals regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality. 

Case Management Specialist and Financial Stability Coach
Justin Cannon, LCSW BMHS
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Ada Cheung, Ph.D., LCSW-S, RPT, EMDRIA certified EMDR Therapist and Approved Consultant

Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. Cheung received her Doctoral and Master Degree of Social Work from the University of Houston. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and board certified Supervisor in Texas, a Registered Play therapist, and a certified EMDR therapist and approved consultant. She has years of experience working at various behavioral health, mental health and clinical settings serving children, adolescents, adults, and geriatric population for individual, couples, family and group therapy. She is an adjunct professor at University of Houston. She has also been selected as an outstanding field instructor by the University of Houston and Baylor University. In 2020, she has been selected as the Social Worker of the year from the National Association of Social Workers Texas Branch.

Chief Clinical Officer
Ada Cheung, Ph.D., LCSW-S, RPT, EMDRIA certified EMDR Therapist and Approved Consultant
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Gittel Francis, LMSW

Community Intervention Specialist

Gittel Francis is originally from Brooklyn, NY and relocated to Houston in 2016 with her husband and children. She attended Brooklyn College and received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, where she graduated sum cum laude and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Gittel received her Master of Social Work degree from New York University.

Gittel joined Alexander Jewish Family Service as a disaster case manager to help individuals and families affected by Hurricane Harvey. She also managed the yearlong Israel Trauma Coalition initiative in Houston. Gittel is currently a member of the Behavioral and Mental Health Services department. 

Gittel manages the community-wide Mental Health First Aid initiative and is a National Instructor of their adult and youth curriculum. In her role as Community Intervention Specialist, Gittel leads trainings on many topics related to mental health. The intention of these trainings is to decrease stigma and increase mental health literacy so people can notice signs and symptoms and connect to help when needed. She has provided lectures to a variety of community, national, and international audiences.

Community Intervention Specialist
Gittel Francis, LMSW
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Rafia Hameed, LMSW

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow

Rafia Hameed is a Master of Social Work Graduate Fellow at Alexander Jewish Family Service. Rafia holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree from the University of Houston and a Master of Social Work degree from National University. Rafia’s experience includes working with children on the Autism Spectrum and transitioning older adults into end-of-lifecare. Being a Houston native Rafia believes in community values and applies such when interacting with those around her.

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow
Rafia Hameed, LMSW
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Katie Harlan, LCSW

Psychotherapist

Katie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience working with children, adolescents, and their families.  Prior to joining Alexander Jewish Family Service, she worked in a residential treatment center for adolescents, in an intensive outpatient program, and within the school system. She has training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT).  She has a Bachelor of Social Work from Baylor University and a Master of Social Work from The University of Houston.  Katie is a member of the Children’s Mental Health team and enjoys working with children and their families.  She believes that children, teens, and their families are resilient and have the strengths within to overcome challenges.

Psychotherapist
Katie Harlan, LCSW
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Sofia Heyl, MT-BC

Music Therapist

Sofia Heyl is a board certified music therapist who has experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in a variety of settings including schools, private practice, hospitals, and telehealth. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Sofia studied classical voice and also plays guitar, piano, and ukulele. She completed her clinical internship in Dallas with a music therapy private practice working with children and adults with developmental disabilities. She also currently works as a music therapist for Harris County Department of Education, serving the Houston Independent School District and Spring Branch Independent School District. In addition to music therapy, she also loves to teach music lessons. She is passionate about using the power of music to connect with others and help to foster growth through creativity and compassion.

Music Therapist
Sofia Heyl, MT-BC
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Carol Laufer, LCSW-S

Psychotherapist

Carol is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a board-certified Clinical Social Work supervisor, a master’s level intern supervisor, a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers and a Mind-Body Skills group facilitator. She embodies a collaborative style and utilizes values-centered interventions including Motivational Interviewing and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with her clients. She enjoys group work and is working toward becoming a Certified Group Psychotherapist.

Her work is informed by a respect for, and acceptance of, her clients and learners; recognizing the inherent value of all, regardless of station, race, religion, sexual orientation, sexual identity, ability or circumstance. She believes in the power of community and the responsibility of each to do what they can to repair the world as we know it. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Vassar College, her Master of Architecture degree from Rice University and her Master of Social Work degree from The University of Houston.

Psychotherapist
Carol Laufer, LCSW-S
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Angelica Peña, LMSW

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow

Angelica Peña is the Master of Social Work Post Graduate Fellow at Alexander Jewish Family Service. Angelica received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Houston. Angelica’s experience includes working with children and adolescents on different issues. Before joining Alexander JFS, Angelica completed her internship at Texas Children’s Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic and provided individual therapy to children diagnosed with depression and anxiety under the supervision of her field instructor. Angelica previously worked at a residential shelter with unaccompanied minors and at the Houston Area Women’s Center with children who have been sexually abused. She also has experience facilitating groups with girls involved in the juvenile justice system. Angelica believes it is a privilege to work together with clients and is passionate about empowering others.

Social Work Post Graduate Fellow
Angelica Peña, LMSW
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Raymond Saucillo, LMSW

Clinical Case Manager

Raymond Saucillo, LMSW, is a third-generation native Houstonian; his grandparents migrated from Mexico. After a 30-year career in the field of architecture, he returned to school earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Spring 2021) and a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Houston (Spring 2023). He is proud to be serving the community at Alexander JFS. His non-traditional path, education, and clinical experience provide him with a broad toolbox from which to work. Raymond strives to cultivate psychological flexibility within himself and with his clients; to live life consciously, to be open to one’s experience while acting on one’s values. In this way, we are empowered to live our lives doing what is meaningful and embracing each moment. Raymond’s work is guided by the social workers’ belief in the dignity and worth of each person, the right to self-determination, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity.

Clinical Case Manager
Raymond Saucillo, LMSW
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Nancy Tipton, LPC-S

Psychotherapist

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor who received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Houston, Master of Arts in Counseling from Houston Baptist University, ABD (all but dissertation) in Management and Policy Science from University of Texas School of Public Health, and Certification from a 2 year post-grad program at the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute.

She has over 32 years of experience working with individuals, couples, families, and groups at various behavioral health and clinical settings, including inpatient and outpatient facilities, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, and a behavioral health clinic serving the community.

Nancy brings expertise in Neuropsychological testing, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), Chronic Pain Management, Rehabilitation for COPD, Biofeedback, Geriatrics, Drug and Alcohol Treatment, and Women’s programs.


Psychotherapist
Nancy Tipton, LPC-S
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Emily R. Van Laan, LCSW-S, RPT

Children's Program Lead

Emily R. Van Laan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist who has experience working with children, adolescents, and families in settings including children's hospitals and schools. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Emory University and received her Master of Science in Social Work degree from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Emily has experience working with a variety of populations, including children with neurological differences. She is passionate about helping all children and adolescents overcome their challenges, and she supports them to identify strengths and tools they need to succeed.  Emily feels lucky that she gets to work with children and teens, as they are always teaching her different ways to think about the world.  They are also constantly teaching her new games and phrases she has never heard of!


Children's Program Lead
Emily R. Van Laan, LCSW-S, RPT
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Judy Young, LMSW

Clinical Case Manager

Judy is a Licensed Master Social Worker in Texas, working towards her LCSW licensure. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Houston. She has experience with Motivational Interviewing and the Transtheoretical Model of Change. She believes in utilizing culturally competent care and a trauma-informed approach to engage with clients toward empowerment and healing. She is our BMHS clinical case manager, and be responsible for intakes, and taking on clients.

Clinical Case Manager
Judy Young, LMSW
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We are here to help.

Our clinical professionals are trained in a variety of modalities to ensure evidence -based healthcare for our Behavioral and Mental Health Services clients. Our intake specialist will help you find a therapist who can help you on your wellness journey.