The Staff at Sunstone
Manager of Resident Programming
Hometown: Trenton, Ohio
Family & Personal Life: Kelli has two children and a bunny who runs around the house like a dog. Her favorite way to spend time is doing anything outside, especially her evening bike rides. Kelli says she is an All-American girl and nothing beats a good burger, fries and macaroni and cheese. Kelli is in long-term recovery and was recently able to take her kids on an amazing vacation to St. Petersburg, Florida. She looks forward to visiting other beach destinations in her future.
Sunstone Life: Kelli struggled with substance use disorder for nearly 20 years. She explains that “after many times in treatment I finally found recovery in August of 2015 and my life is now beyond my wildest dreams.” In 2018, she became certified as a peer recovery supporter and chemical dependency counselor assistant. Kelli’s career in helping others began at BrightView. She says that “helping others navigate through their recovery journey gives me so much fulfillment. Using my experiences to be a light of hope gives me so much joy.” Kelli states that “recovery housing is so important for those in early recovery. Safe and supportive housing has always been a huge barrier. Everyone deserves to have their basic needs met.”
Favorite Quote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
Director of Communications and Engagement
Hometown: Fairfield, Ohio
Family & Personal Life: Amy lives with her husband, little girl and their dog. They love to check out new restaurants, live music and fun parks. Their favorite restaurant is Biagio’s Bistro in Clifton. Amy’s favorite place to travel is Los Angeles, California and suggests everyone drive up the Pacific Coast Highway once in their lifetime.
Sunstone Life: After 20 years of heroin addiction and a dangerous lifestyle, Amy found recovery in 2012. She took time to heal and began building her career in the recovery arena. After developing the clinical peer recovery supporter program at BrightView in 2017, she continued to advance her career. She tirelessly worked to identify process gaps and make lasting systemic improvements for those with substance use disorder throughout the continuum of care. Amy shares her story through many platforms including the Dr. Phil Show, CNN, A&E’s Addiction Unplugged and the Pulitzer Prize winning piece Seven Days of Heroin. Her life’s mission is to decrease stigma around the disease of addiction and to educate society to stop using the word “addict” and use person first language instead.
Amy believes that the old model of recovery housing doesn’t work for everyone and it’s time to create a new approach. She states that “recovery housing should be available to anyone with substance use disorder who is rebuilding their lives, regardless of the medications they are on. We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, with realistic expectations and opportunities to thrive in a recovery house setting.”
Favorite Quote: “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
Hometown: Springdale, Ohio
Family & Personal Life: Vivian is the mother to Ronnie and Alicia. She also has two dogs, Alex and Andi. When Vivian is not at the Sunstone office, she loves to be poolside or at the beach. Seafood is a favorite and you can catch her at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen with Mike, her husband of 34 years. Vivian’s favorite travel destination is Puerto Rico, the beaches are beautiful.
Sunstone Life: Vivian says she entered the field of addiction because “I have seen substance use disorder affect so many of my friends and loved one’s lives. I felt the need to learn more about how I could help them. I started working for BrightView in 2015 and saw first-hand the pain that the disease of addiction was causing the patients. It was my mission to make sure every patient at BrightView was treated with the dignity and the respect they deserved.”
When Vivian chose to become the Executive Director of Sunstone, she knew this would be the opportunity of a lifetime. “Safe housing increases the chance of successful, long-term recovery for those with substance use disorder. I believe that if a person doesn’t have stable housing for 90 to 120 days while engaging in MAT treatment, their chance of success will decrease significantly. I’m proud to be the Executive Director of Sunstone and excited to deliver a new approach to recovery housing. It is my mission to ensure each resident achieves their goals and finds lifelong successful recovery.”
Favorite Quote: “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle
The Founders of Sunstone
President, Board of Directors
Hometown: Stamford, Connecticut
Family & Personal Life: Ray is married to his wife Cindy and lives with their two dogs, Benny & Timmy Tiger (a.k.a. Sweet T). Ray loves live music and soccer. Vietnam is his favorite travel destination. Here in the states, his favorite restaurant to visit is the Little Pearl in Key West, Florida.
Sunstone Life: Ray’s background in addiction treatment and recovery is versed. As he was volunteering with Lighthouse Youth Services in 2013, he saw the impact the opiate epidemic was having on the young adults of Cincinnati. As he looked for treatment resources for these young people, he realized that there was no standard of care for outpatient addiction treatment in the United States.
As a medical professional, he could not stand idly by and made it his purpose to help establish a comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment center. This is what we now know as BrightView.
His compassion for helping those with the disease of addiction originates from the impact it has had on his own family. Ray said, “I have had numerous family members suffer from substance use disorders and never met my maternal grandfather before he passed away due to his struggles with alcohol. I have seen firsthand the emptiness and sorrow that this disease leaves in its wake and I am honored to be a voice for change and compassion in hopes that other families can navigate their way to a more positive outcome than mine experienced.”
Ray further explains that “people deserve access to recovery housing and it is a critical component of care that is neither funded appropriately or adequately available. Providing evidence-based, outpatient addiction treatment without regard for the patient’s living environment is ignorant at best. We as a society must do better.”
Favorite Quote: “Perspective is everything.” – Ernest Hemingway
Secretary, Board of Directors
Hometown: Born in Macedonia, Yugoslavia and immigrated to the USA with his family as a child. He has called Cincinnati home since 1977.
Family & Personal Life: Ilijia has been with his wife of over 22 years and is a proud father and grandfather.
His favorite way to spend downtime is at home with his wife. You can also find him attending lots of Cars and Coffee shows during the summer months. Mexico is still the winner of his favorite places traveled to.
Sunstone Life: Ilija decided to be part of this journey with Sunstone, because he would rather make a difference than to sit and watch on the sidelines.
Vice President, Board of Directors
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Family & Personal Life: Anne moved frequently as a child. With her family, she lived in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Cleveland, Ohio before landing in Cincinnati to raise her own family. She has four children, their four spouses, fourteen grandchildren and four grand-dogs. Her family all remain in the Cincinnati area. Anne says that family is everything and she feels so lucky to have all of them.
Anne’s idea of a good time is to “just put family or friends around the table and I’m happy”. When Anne is not running her CPA firm, Zimmerman & Co, she is traveling, biking, painting and reading. Barcelona, Spain is Anne’s favorite travel destination and she loves to be near the water and enjoys the warm weather.
Sunstone Life: Anne is a champion in the world of addiction and recovery. She’s been part of many efforts to create major change. Anne states, “I’ve been through some recovery journeys with family and friends – some wonderful people who worked so hard to be who they are today. We have to get this right together! It truly does take a village.”
Anne believes that recovery housing is essential. She explains, “how could anyone hope to recover from any disease without a roof over their head and without being treated with dignity? It’s a journey and I’m honored to be able to help even a little for those who have chosen to work through this chronic relapsing disease.”
Favorite Quote: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you’ll ever know.” ~ Christopher Robin (from Winnie the Pooh)