Our Team

Meet The Team
Our dedicated team of experts and the faces behind the success.
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Michael Villarreal

Owner

Michael Villarreal and his parents have worked closely together making each of their facilities feel like the home the clients deserve to be in.

The family’s familiarity and expertise stems from owning residential senior care facilities for over 20 years. Due to many years of experience in a residential care setting, they decided to branch their knowledge into a different demographic, yet similar setting and open what we know today as Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center. The Villarreal’s still collectively run several facilities.

Michael, himself, graduated from Cal Poly Pomona and started his career in their family owned business navigating all directions of the company. Some of these task’s include but are not limited to, facility compliance, day-to-day operations, staffing, and overseeing the different divisions of the company. He continues to pride himself on being very hands-on within the company and his management team to truly ensure the values that his family has set continues to be followed through the day to day operations.

Michael and his family truly believes in healing the mind, body and soul.

Dwight Dunagan

Program Director

Dwight originally started his career in the U.S. Army. He later worked for the San Diego Police Department as an officer and detective.Throughout Dwight’s past careers he frequently encountered people struggling with mental illness and mental health needs which has lead him to pursue his doctorate degree in applied clinical psychology. Dwight received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Chapman and Brandman Universities and has completed his doctorate from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Dwight believes there is a need for multi-disciplinary therapy to aid people in both of these areas. This means he encourages and trains the clinical team to use various modalities of therapy to include things like dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, psychodynamic therapy, and various other disciplines.

Much of what our patients struggle with is multi-faceted. Dwight connects the medical and clinical teams within the program to encourage collaboration and diversity of thought amongst our professionals. This involves evaluations of the patients bloodwork, medical and psychiatric diagnosis, and clinical diagnosis so the patient can receive a comprehensive individualized treatment plan. Dwight additionally provides psychological testing for the patients.

Niloufar Nekou

Clinical Director

Niloufar Nekou is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California with several years of experience providing psychotherapy to adults. Niloufar believes every individual is unique and it takes a very hands approach to working with each individual. Her specialties include working with depression, anxiety, all types of trauma, substance and alcohol abuse, cultural diversity, and handling life’s transitions. She has completed trainings in EMDR and uses this technique to supplement the talk therapy, as needed.

Modalities that guide her treatment are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and solution-focused therapy. Niloufar received her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of Charleston. Niloufar’s therapeutic approach is to create a compassionate and non-judgmental space to address the difficulties that bring clients to therapy.

Anthony Barrila

Director of Clinical Outreach

Anthony Barrila carries multiple years of experience within the field of substance abuse and mental health treatment.

This experience is coupled with a personal connection to the industry allowing him to develop a deep connection to every client or family he comes in touch with in order for them to easily navigate the decision to treatment with ease. Anthony ensures that every person who reaches out to Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center can, and will, receive the help that they need. This includes assisting our clients in finding excellent aftercare so we can ensure their support does not end upon completion of our program.

Anthony has a personal commitment to help every individual that comes his way with the hope that they too can find their own path to peace, freedom, and happiness.

Mabel Macias

Admissions Coordinator

Mabel Macias has been working for Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center since the start of the company in 2017 allowing her to truly understand and believe in the mission the company upholds.

As Admissions Coordinator, Mabel has a passion to help clients and families find the correct treatment the patient is needing. Mabel prides herself to being both the patient and their support system’s biggest advocate during the initial steps of the admission process and works closely with the clinical team to ensure a smooth transition both in and out of our facilities. Mabel strives to ensure each and every client who is seeking treatment receives the care they deserve.

Mabel is currently continuing her education to better serve the mental health and substance abuse population, as those are the two areas she focuses on.

Nicole Berg

Director of Operations

Nicole Berg graduated from California State University, Fullerton receiving a degree in both Public Relations and American Studies. Nicole started her career with a focus in hospitality and was able to gain an array of experience in corporate, social, philanthropic and educational event production and coordination. In a matter of two years, Nicole coordinated over 100 events streamlining the process for her clients. Through her time in the event production world, she found a passion for customer care service and making the needs of the clients and her third party vendors a priority through every detail of her work.

She then took this cultivated passion and wanted to implement this hospitality outlook to both the substance abuse and mental health industry. Nicole’s dedication, commitment and creative expertise are a few of the many qualities that aid her ability to plan and execute workflow enhancements here at Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center.

Medical Team

Doctor & Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Sanjai Thankachen graduated from Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medicine in 2000. He completed his residency on psychiatry in 2008 from CreedmoorPsychiatric Center in New York, where fifty percent of his rotations were at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. After his residency he worked at Ventura County Medical Centers in an adult out-patient setting and now lives in Orange County, California.

Dr. Thankachen is currently working with Pacific Neuropsychiatric Specialist in an out-patient practice, as well as working at multiple in-patient psychiatric and medical units bringing his patients the most advanced health care treatment in psychiatry. Dr. Thankachen sees patients with an array of disorders, including depression, bipolar illness schizophrenia, anxiety, and dementia-related problems.

Dr. Thankachen is also involved in professional organization and societies in good standing including the American Psychiatric Association, Indian Medical Association and the Karnataka Medical Association

Sean Leonard received his MSN degree from Walden University. He is currently board certified in adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. And, is also currently in the process to completing his post master’s degree as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at RMU. Sean is also working on his certification for addiction medicine nurse practitioner.

Sean focuses his experience with geriatric population and addiction medicine. He strives to understand the psychiatry for the populations in order to better serve those patients suffering from mental health and-or substance abuse disorders.