David Semanco, MS, MAC, CAADC, CSAC, CAC-AD – Clinical Director
David Semanco is a Master Addiction Counselor specializing in the application of complementary therapies to enhance the addiction treatment and recovery process. He transitioned into the addiction treatment field in 2002 following successful careers in information technology and music. He continues to incorporate technology and music into clinical practice as evidenced by his work with neurofeedback and music therapy. He is dedicated to minimizing the stigma of addiction and is an ardent proponent of innovative treatment methods which are underutilized in conventional treatment settings but which have demonstrated success through evidenced-based research. David has worked in a hospital, residential, and outpatient settings providing direct care, leading clinical teams, and developing programs for adolescents and adults.
David is President of the Virginia Association of Addiction Professionals (VAAP) and has served on the Board of Directors of VAAP since 2010. He also is a member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Summer Institute for Addiction Studies (VSIAS), one of the premier training venues for addiction professionals in the Mid-Atlantic, and served as Chair of that organization in 2015 and 2017. He also sits on the Board of Directors for NAADAC, the international Association for Addiction Professionals and for the R1 Foundation, which provides financial assistance for recovery learning and technology tools, community connections, and housing scholarships.
As a noted speaker, David has presented training sessions and workshops for a variety of organizations, including United Airlines, West Virginia Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, Virginia Counselors Association, George Washington Center for Integrative Medicine, Chesapeake Health Education Program, George Mason University, and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. David holds a Master of Science in Human Services with an emphasis in Addiction Treatment. He has studied under neurofeedback pioneers Sue and Siegfried Othmer of EEG Info (Woodland Hills, CA), Dr. Richard Soutar of the New Mind Center (Atlanta, GA), and Bill Scott of BrainPaint (Pacific Palisades, CA).
“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
Dr. Mark Illumanti, MD – Medical Director
Mark joined the medical team at The Freedom Center in September 2018 as the Medical Director. He received his medical degree in Mexico with further certification from Rutgers Medical School in New Jersey. He then attended New York Medical College for his residency training. Prior to being hired at The Freedom Center, he spent over twenty years working in the field of addictions treatment, and has been involved in nearly every treatment setting, from outpatient to residential to maintenance management.
As the Medical Director, Mark works with the staff to coordinate the appropriate level of care for each individual client. He works directly with the clients on management of medical issues both related to and separate from their addiction, ensuring comprehensive health care plans that ensure our clients’ chances at recovery. What he has found to be most rewarding about working in the addictions treatment field is being able to help suffering addicts and alcoholics to realize their fullest potential.
Sherry McAtee, MHA, MS, BSN, CRNP- PMH – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Sherry joined the medical team at The Freedom Center in September 2018 as the centers Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy with a concentration in Nursing. Prior to working with The Freedom Center, Sherry spent years working in addiction treatment and has a professional military education and worked at the Air Force Medical Operations Center.
As the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Sherry works with the clients to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications to dual diagnosis clients in the intensive outpatient program and aftercare groups. In addition, she manages Vivitrol clients and works with The Freedom Center team on the management of clients’ medical issues related to addiction.
Vanessa R. Hill, CAC-AD, Clinical Supervisor – Primary Therapist
Vanessa is certified in addictions counseling by Maryland’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, with credentials as a clinical supervisor. She comes to The Freedom Center with over 14 years of direct experience in residential and outpatient treatment between the private and federal sectors.
In addition to helping those suffering from addiction, Vanessa has dedicated part of her career to “helping the helper.” In 2015, she began working in a Training and Career Development Center coordinating substance abuse trainings for other clinicians. Her experience in behavioral health training, program development, and organizational leadership lead her to pursue a certification as a Project Management Professional in 2018. Vanessa also holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Behavioral and Social Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master’s of Business Administration-Human Resource Management from Columbia Southern University.
Vanessa is a Montgomery County native who spends her free time traveling with her daughter and volunteering in the community.
Anya Kholodnov, LCSW-C – Group Therapist
Anya is a licensed clinical social worker who holds a Master of Social Work with a clinical concentration, mental health specialization, and substance abuse sub-specialization. She graduated from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and has years of experience providing direct services to individuals and groups with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders. Anya is dedicated to building rapport with clients and establishing a relationship of trust.
Anya treats clients using a holistic approach incorporating experiential, cognitive, behavioral and psychoanalytical theory and modalities. Anya keeps a strong focus on addressing triggers, underlying issues, building and accomplishing goals, addiction education and connection to supports. She brings experience in working with addiction, trauma and LGBT issues with an individual, group, and families.
James Scribner – Executive Director, Co-Founder
James Scribner holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. His career began working in the accounting industry as a financial auditor. In that role, James audited a national trade association with over 1,300 member companies that sell health insurance coverage to more than 200 million Americans. He also conducted official financial examinations of various non-profit organizations and for-profit corporations. This experience allowed him to learn the inner workings of almost any aspect of a company. It also taught him the value of building meaningful relationships with clients and having a strong ethical framework.
James began his personal recovery journey in 2010. Throughout that process, he learned the importance of helping others and living by spiritual principles. Throughout his recovery, James has used his personal story to help make a difference in the lives of others. Over the years he grew into becoming an advocate for people in recovery or seeking recovery from substance use disorders. James is a CCAR Recovery Coach and believes in developing meaningful relationships, and providing highly individualized therapy and client care. In 2017, James had the opportunity to combine his business experience and passion for recovery to start The Freedom Center.
Being born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, it was always a dream for James to start a program where he began his own recovery journey. Having faced addiction in his own life, and having worked through recovery, James truly understands what it takes to get sober and stay sober. James now has the opportunity to do what he loves and help others achieve long-term recovery. James works alongside the clinical director and administrative team to help ensure that every client benefits from a customized treatment plan and holistic approach that offers freedom from the grips of addiction.
“Never lose hope. Recovery is possible!”
Matthew J. Hayden – Operations Manager
Matt Hayden is a long-time active member of the Maryland recovery community who has a head for business and a heart for helping others. His professional background is in administrative systems and operational development. While living out west in Scottsdale, Arizona Matt had harnessed his business skills in both the construction and automotive industries. Throughout his career, during those years Matt worked primarily on corporate-based expansions and local community developments. Upon his return to the east coast, where Matt was born and raised on Long Island, New York he set his sights on achieving his degree in business administration. This milestone in Matts life was successfully completed back in 2016, accompanied by a high honors accreditation from his alma mater.
By combining his passion for helping those battling with addiction & his expertise in the business world Matt has found his true fulfillment in life. As he has said many times, “the joy of being able to watch the lights come on for someone who has been stuck in the darkness for so long, through the amazing services we can provide to them are the priceless gifts of my career.”
Before joining The Freedom Center family, Matt built up and operated a small family owned outpatient treatment center in his direct community of Frederick, Maryland. During his tenure at that facility, he was able to interact directly with the clients and clinical staff giving Matt the unique ability to formulate a cohesively administered yet individualized protocol for addictions treatment. The idea of meeting the client where they are at and helping to guide them on the journey of recovery & set them onto the road of life is a process that Matt is passionate about. He believes that no addict ever needs to feel hopeless or lost, because we are here to show them that the light has existed within themselves all along. This approach to recovery work has enabled Matt to be a perfect addition to our team here at The Freedom Center. We look forward to working with him on battling the epidemic of addiction as well as breaking through the stigmas attached to it.
“The Light Exists within you – We will find it Together”
Corey Hassett – Director of Community Outreach, Co-Founder
Corey Hassett is the Director of Community Outreach at The Freedom Center and is responsible for the business development and social media management of the organization. Born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Corey attended Quince Orchard High School and after graduation, he pursued a degree in Professional Golf Management at Coastal Carolina University. He previously worked as an Outreach Coordinator for a full continuum of care and spent time developing close community ties to various addiction advocacy organizations.
After finding recovery in 2014, Corey became very involved in the diverse recovery community, and in doing so it opened Corey’s eyes to the innovative drug and alcohol treatment programs that were lacking in Maryland. Starting in the field a Behavioral Health Technician and Recovery Coach, Corey worked directly with patients suffering from alcoholism and substance use disorders. With Corey’s passion and drive he saw a vital piece was missing from most treatment programs, and that is the importance of a family component.
Corey’s treatment philosophy is focused on treating the family unit while keeping the client’s best interest a top priority. Corey is a dedicated family man to his wife, Laura, and son, Noah. While he’s not working he enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf, watching D.C. sports team, and volunteering for local non-profits.
“Let go, and let God”
Jessica Jeffery – Director of Aftercare
Jessica Jeffery is a Montgomery County native, born and raised in Germantown, MD. She began working in the substance abuse field in 2015 as an Outreach Coordinator for Serenity Acres Treatment Center. It was then she realized her passion for working directly with clients and their families. She loves being out in the community working with local non-profits, advocacy groups, and other local treatment providers. She works tirelessly to build relationships in and around her community to be able to provide resources that best match an individual’s personal needs.
Jessica volunteers her time with Speak Up, Save a Life in Montgomery County. Speaking to adolescents in Montgomery County Public Schools, as well as other community organizations sharing her personal recovery story to bring education and awareness on the topic of Addiction. Jessica’s currently in the process of becoming a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist in the state of Maryland. At The Freedom Center, Jessica continues to perform community outreach, as well as working directly with alumni of the program.
Behavioral Health Technicians (BHT)
The Freedom Center BHT staff provide support to clients, help with day-to-day living, and maintain the community at The Freedom Center. The behavioral health technicians assist clinical and administrative staff in providing a safe, relationship-based, therapeutic enriching environment for the outpatient program.
Aftercare staff are available to offer encouragement, guidance, and support as you begin your journey at The Freedom Center. Aftercare staff maintains ongoing communication with clients for a period of time to support them in their transition into a recovery-oriented lifestyle. Aftercare staff will coordinate weekly onsite aftercare meetings and opportunities to connect with other people in recovery. Aftercare support is very beneficial for clients sustaining long-term recovery.