FAITHS TEAM

Who We Are

Christopher Vallejo, M.S., AMFT

Co-founder and Executive Director of Operations

Educational Background: Christopher has a graduate degree in psychology with an emphasis on clinical counseling from the California State University of San Bernardino where he also acted as an adjunct professor in the psychology department for five years. Beginning as an intern in 2013, Christopher Vallejo has served and guided the various iterations of the FAITHS Throughcare Program over the years before becoming the Executive Director of Operations.

Why this population: The psychoeducation implemented in the FAITHS Throughcare Program is dear to Christopher beyond its research-based efficacy. The curriculum Christopher employed at the practicum site for both the interns and the justice-involved individuals is based on the material Christopher was exposed to during his educational journey, changing Christopher’s and his children’s lives and ultimately leading him to this career path. The content shared with him through the process in which his mentors delivered it, gave him an opportunity for a real chance at life he didn't know existed...having seized the opportunity, Christopher wants to pay what I was given forward and offer a second chance to others.

Fun Fact: Christopher withstood a 7 g-force maneuver while flying an aerobatic stunt aircraft over the Mojave Desert without passing out!

Evan Thomas, DSW, MSW, ASW

Co-founder and Director of Reentry Operations

Educational Background: Evan received his Doctorate in social work from California Baptist University. He has a BA in psychology, he received his MSW from California Baptist University where he also was the recipient of the outstanding graduate student award. Before beginning as an intern in the past iteration of FAITHS, Evan has worked with at-risk youth, lower SES families, and individuals living with Autism.

Why this population: Evan’s passion for the justice-involved population comes from a deep belief in the power of second chances due to personal experience of what someone can rise from with genuine support. Evan also has a strong drive to address the environments of the justice-involved population in tandem with micro-level support to remove as many systemic challenges and barriers as possible because as he says, “You can teach someone how to swim, but it won’t matter if they exist in an environment devoid of water.”

Fun facts: Evan is a huge Marvel fan, he used to breakdance, trained for several years under his father in mixed martial arts, and he used to be in a quintet singing group.

Dr. Russell McCloud, LCSW "Dr. Ben"

Clinical Service Manager

Educational Background: Dr. Ben received his BA in Psychology from the University of Maryland, his MSW from Florida State University, and his PhD in Clinical Social Work from Sanville institute (formerly California Institute of Clinical Social Work). With a rich professional career of more than 50 years, his experience includes working with children, adolescents, and families through medical social work as well as part-time teaching bedside manner at UCR’s School of Medicine in a program called Doctoring.

Why this population: Dr. Ben believes that many people who are incarcerated deserve another opportunity to do their lives differently and that too much human potential in our culture is locked up in jail. Dr. Ben feels the need to use our skills to get them back into society as contributing citizens and he is pleased to work with incarcerated people who are woefully underserved.

Fun Facts: Dr. Ben is a person who loves to laugh and have fun with others, including his dogs. Travel is one of his top interests and on his bucket list is Scandinavia. Sailing and music are also leisure activities for which he makes time along with gardening.

Amy Maddigan, LCSW

Clinical Service Supervisor

Educational Background: Amy has received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Michigan State University and a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Amy has been working as a therapist in the field since 2001 with diverse populations.

Why this population: As a clinical social worker Amy understands the importance of working collaboratively with clients and also with systems clients are involved with. Amy was drawn to work in mental health because of her interest in human behavior and the impact of relationships in helping people to make changes in their life.

Fun facts: When Amy is away from work she loves to take her dog to the dog beach and spending time relaxing on her hammock.

Gabby Garcia, AMFT

Clinical Service Practitioner

Educational Background: Gabby has her BA in Psychology from California State University San Bernardino and her MS in Counseling Psychology from California Baptist University.

Why this population: Gabby always felt that she had the heart to work with an underserved population. Having formally incarcerated family members and seeing how incarceration impacted their lives really pushed Gabby to want to work with justice-involved individuals and help provide therapy inside and outside of custody.

Fun facts: Gabby received red belts in Hapkido, Judo, and Taekwondo when she was 16 years old and enjoys singing.

Brittany Leary, AMFT

Clinical Service Practitioner

Educational Background: Brittany has her BA in Psychology and a minor in English from California Baptist University along with her MS in Counseling Psychology from California Baptist University.

Why this population: Serving this population calls to Brittany because of how much overlooked potential she sees in them, she enjoys getting to see how much a little encouragement can motivate a person to transform his or her life.

Fun facts: Brittany enjoys collecting novelty handbags.

Stephanie Rocha, AMFT

Clinical Service Practitioner

Educational Background: Stephanie’s background includes receiving her B.A. in Criminology, Law, and Society with a minor in Psychology and her M.S. in Counseling Psychology with a forensic psychology concentration.

Why this population: Steph has had a desire on her radar to support an underserved population since early on in her educational career.

Fun facts: Stephanie likes to travel, take care of plants, and visit museums.

Marilyn Lanting, AMFT

Clinical Service Practitioner

Educational Background: Marilyn received both her Bachelor's in Psychology and her Master’s of Clinical Psychology from California Baptist University.

Why this population: Marilyn was drawn to the justice-involved population because it is a severely underserved population. She believes that there is a huge need for programming and transitional assistance in San Bernardino County and the opportunity to do valuable, life-changing work with this population has been a passion of Marilyn’s ever since she started with the former iteration of FAITHS in the spring of 2020.

Fun facts: Marilyn really enjoys being out in nature and the mountains are her happy place. She likes hiking and camping and hope to eventually visit all the national parks at some point.