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Meet the Team!


COUNSELING MINISTRIES DEPARTMENT STAFF

Tom Laird, MABC - Director of Counseling Ministries

Tom directs the Counseling Ministries, which includes the Christian Counselors Collaborative and the Support Groups at ACAC.  He has been on staff at ACAC since 1999, and provides an extensive amount of counseling at ACAC.  His areas of specialty and experience include marriage counseling, depression and grief, addiction issues, and relational and spiritual struggles.  He received his Bachelors degree at U Pitt in '83, and his Masters in Biblical Counseling from Colorado Christian University in '90, where he studied under Dr. Larry Crabb and Dr. Dan Allender.  He worked on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Wisconsin for 6 years.  Tom is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.  Since 1991, he has provided Christian counseling in Pittsburgh and McKeesport.  Tom has attended ACAC since 1990.  He is a native of Pittsburgh, and has been married to his wife Jeanne since 1986.  They have 4 adult children.  

Priscilla Ortlip, MSW, LCSW-- Founder & Executive Director, Christian Counselors Collaborative

After 17 years on staff at ACAC as the Counseling Director, Priscilla has stepped down from that role (August 1, 2015), and from ACAC leadership activities related to that role, to focus on her responsibilities as the Director of the Christian Counselors Collaborative (CCC), a non-profit organization (www.cccpgh.org).  She developed the CCC from the ACAC counseling staff (1.5 counselors) to a dedicated group of Christian therapists (24 counselors and growing!) who provide affordable professional counseling integrated with Christian faith, at ACAC and at 9 other locations in the Pittsburgh area.   Priscilla graduated from Houghton College ('76) with a BA in English/Art, and from U Pitt ('86) with an MSW (master's in social work).  She worked in the mental health field at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic and Magee-Women's Hospital, before being hired at ACAC in 1998.  She has supervised master's level students in counseling and social work since 1987, and after mentoring 60 students over the years, she has stepped down from this too.  She is on the Supervisory Board at Geneva College for the MA Counseling Psychology Program, and she belongs to American Association of Christian Counselors.  Priscilla was trained in family therapy, and specializes in trauma and abuse, anxiety/depression, and relationship issues.  Priscilla has attended ACAC since '91.  She is a native of NJ and has called Pittsburgh 'home' since 1980.

Arlene Flowers -- Administrative Assistant

 

 

Arlene is the Administrative Assistant for the Counseling Ministries and the Christian Counselors Collaborative (CCC).  She has been on staff at ACAC since March 2016.  She has a passion for organization and beautification and considers it a blessing to be used by God in this capacity. 

CHRISTIAN COUNSELORS COLLABORATIVE THERAPISTS

Meredith M. Armbrust, PsyD

Meredith received her masters degrees from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Counseling (FamilyTherapy and Mental Health Counseling focuses) and Religion.  She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in Boston, MA.  She has worked with groups, children, adults, and families in settings such as community mental health centers, inpatient hospitals, schools, and she completed assessment and testing in a variety of clinical and work settings.  God has created each individual and family with purpose and potential but the path of life can be challenging.  The process of therapy is a special tool to work through obstacles, detours, and for refining God-given talents and resources.  Meredith is thankful for the CCC and is privileged to be part of the lives of people who seek help and support through it.

George Atkins, MDiv.

George received his BA in Philosophy (’91) from Ohio University with a focus in Ethics and continued on to complete his MDiv (’96) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. With 16 years of congregational ministry experience in the Chicago suburbs and most recently in Beaver country, George has served primarily in the area of Adult Discipleship. It is within this role that he developed a passion for conflict resolution, family systems, and navigating depression and anxiety. George's approach to counseling is to coach people towards personal transformation; providing tools and strategies to live faithfully in their relationships to each other and God. This passion prompted him to begin his pursuit towards becoming licensed as a Marriage & Family Therapist. George has been married since 1991 and has two children. In his spare time, he enjoys personal fitness and can be found participating in adventure/endurance events.

Rachel K Becker, MSW, LSW

  Rachel is a Licensed Social Worker who works out of the Christian Counselors Collaborative in the northside and the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute Shadyside office.  Rachel loves walking with people through a journey of self-discovery that contributes to healing and positive relationships. She works especially in the areas of grief, stress, anxiety and depression.  Rachel grew up as a missionary kid in Brazil before attending Wheaton College. She got her bachelors in Sociology with a minor in Christian Formation and Ministry.  After college, she returned to Brazil to work extensively with inner city kids and self-care resources for pastors. She moved to Pittsburgh in 2010 and proceeded to get her Masters in Social Work from University of Pittsburgh, focusing on mental health.  Rachel interned at Mercy Behavioral Health’s New Lease on Life program, working with formerly homeless people who struggled with both addictions and mental health challenges.  She also interned at Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute and was hired by them upon graduating.  Rachel became a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in 2014 and is currently working on the hours necessary to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).  She is an active member at Church of the Ascension in Oakland. 

Kate Brainard-Lee, MA, LPC

Kate received her bachelors in Medical Technology from Eastern Mennonite Univ. ('88) and her masters in Counseling Psychology from Waynesburg Univ ('07).  Her career change is the result of lifelong joy in encouraging others through their life challenges, and she is honored to walk with others on their growth journeys.  She has a special interest in working with women's issues, and with recovery from trauma of all kinds.  She participates in the CCC as an employee of Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute, seeing PPI clients at the CCC site at ACAC.  Kate believes that God, our Creator, wants to heal all facets of us - body, mind, and spirit, and because of this, she has special training in Gestalt pastoral care.  She moved to Pittsburgh with her husband in 2000.

 

Allyson Entner, MA

After living in Chicago for 10 years, Allyson and her husband moved to Pittsburgh in 2010 where they happily reside with their daughter and Boxer dog. Allyson received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Christian Ministry in 2004 and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology in 2010 both from Trinity International University. Professionally, Allyson worked as a member of a church pastoral staff and served as a therapist at two university counseling centers and with adolescents in a non-profit setting. Allyson feels genuinely blessed to work with the Christian Counselors Collaborative as she seeks to walk alongside individuals in an effort to bring healing that releases people to more fully live in the manner they were originally designed by God.

Veta Farmer-McCoy, LSW, ACSW

Veta is a Licensed Social Worker.  She holds a Master in Social Work from the University of Maryland.  She received her Bachelors in Social Work from Norfolk State University and her post graduate family system training from the Western PA Family Center.  Her training also includes Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI).  She belongs to the Academy of Certified Social Workers through the NASW.  She has attended ACAC since 2000.  She believes that God works through individuals to bring love, hope and healing for His glory.  During the span of her career, she has worked in criminal justice, child welfare, mental health, and in the medical field.  She has supervised graduate level students over the years and is currently a field instructor for the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.  Her areas of specialty include trauma and abuse with families, women, teens, and children.  She also works with grief, depression, anxiety, anger, addiction, and role transition issues.  She is a native of Virginia and has lived in the Pittsburgh area since 1987.  She has a son and a daughter. 

 

Jessica Gage, MA, LPC, NCC

Jessica Gage was born and raised in Washington, PA. She and her husband were married in 2009 and currently live north of Pittsburgh. She received her Bachelor's of Science in Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies ('09) and a Master's Degree in Counseling ('11) from Geneva College. She is actively involved in Geneva College's chapter of an international honor society for professional counselors.  She is a National Certified Counselor ('11) and Licensed Professional Counselor (#PC007550) in Pennsylvania.  Jessica has a great passion for serving individuals, couples, and families, and believes God can use counseling in His timing to heal and give guidance. She has experience in a variety of areas including: communication and conflict resolution; couples counseling; sex therapy; depression; anxiety; premarital preparation; family counseling; grief counseling; counseling during structured marital separation; and marital enrichment. Jessica is honored to serve clients at ACAC and Allison Park Church!

 

Julie Gigliotti, MA, LPC

Julie is a Licensed Professional Counselor.  She earned her Masters degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Community Counseling after working with urban youth in the area.  Post graduate training in Christian Sex Therapy was provided at the Institute for Sexual Wholeness in Atlanta.  Julie's experience includes couples' sex therapy, sexual abuse and sexual addiction, anxiety work, play therapy, and bereavement counseling.  Julie has enjoyed involvement in Alliance missions since shortly after meeting the Lord as her Savior in 1986.  She is a member of ACAC.  Julie is married and has three adult children.

John Impavido, M.Ed, LPC, CAADC

John is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He received his Masters Degree in Counselor Education from the University of Pittsburgh.  He obtained his Bachelor Degree at Toccoa Falls College where he also  minored in Pastoral Ministries and Christian Education.  He is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He also has a Certificate in Competency to work with problem gamblers. John also has extensive experience with marriage counseling.  Other areas include depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.  John has more than 25 years of clinical experience.  He was part of a team which established the Living Sober Rehab program for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), and was also  the Program Coordinator for WPIC's Dual-Diagnosis Unit. 

Carol Landfried, MA

Carol graduated with a Master's in Professional Counseling from Liberty University.  She has also completed certified programs related to counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors and Emerge Ministries, and a certified course in basic critical incident stress  management, as well as studying to become a minister with the Evangelical Church Alliance, and was ordained in 1994.  In addition to formal studying related to counseling, Carol has several years of relevant experience.  She worked at Teen Challenge of Western PA, a Christian drug rehabilitation center, for three years; The DoorWay, a ministry to teens and adults in addiction for six years; The Network of Hope, a Christian ministry working within churches to promote lasting change, for six years; and several years of volunteer lay counseling through the church she attended.  Carol brings to the the counseling relationship the experiences of marriage, divorce, and living with a disability, as well as 33 years of being a Christian. 

 

Daniel McHugh, MA, NCC

Dan completed a Master's degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Counseling from Geneva College in 2015. He obtained his Bachelors in Psychology (Summa Cum Laude) from Liberty University.  He completed his graduate practicum and internship at the CCC and has continued here as a counselor in collaboration with the CCC. He also holds a certification in Pre-marital Counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors and a certification from a two-year lay-counseling training program from Allegheny Center Alliance Church. Dan has experience in lay counseling, and—along with his wife—has provided pre-marital and marital counseling through ACAC’s Couples to Couples program for the past 13 years.  Dan transitioned into the counseling profession after working for many years in technical fields, and he counts it a privilege to be a catalyst, by God's grace, for healing and growth in the lives of individuals, couples, and families.  Dan is a life-long resident of the Pittsburgh area and lives with his wife in the South Hills.

Donna McHugh, MA

 

Donna holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Point Park University. She has been in private practice providing counseling services to adult individuals and couples at the Upper St. Clair Alliance Church since 2000. Clients generally will seek her help in dealing with relational or personal struggles, which may include: anxiety/stress, depression, grief/loss, co-dependency, anger, abuse, spiritual concerns, poor self-image, and relationships (including premarital counsel). Along with her husband, Donna also works with the Couples2Couples ministry at ACAC, facilitating and providing premarital counseling. Now Donna and Dan are excited to be working together seeing couples at the USC location of the CCC. Prayer and the Word of God are integral parts of Donna's work with her clients as she partners with the Holy Spirit to minister healing and hope to hurting people.

Monica Monismith, MA, NCC

Monica received her Masters Degree in Counseling from Geneva College in 2012.  She developed an interest in the field of psychology in high school and obtained her Bachelors Degree from Penn State University in 1991. She then spent many years as a stay-at-home mom raising her three children.  Monica is a Pennsylvania Certified K-12 School Counselor and works at a K-12 Christian school in the Pittsburgh area.  She enjoys working with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.  Monica’s greatest passion in counseling is to help people develop a sense of life purpose and discover who they are created to be.  Her areas of special interest include depression, anxiety, women’s issues, domestic abuse, self-mutilation, sexual abuse, and relationship issues.  Monica is available to see clients at Crestmont Alliance Church and Aliquippa Impact in Aliquippa.

Sarah Nicholas, MA

Sarah was raised outside of Reading, PA, where she lived until August of 2012 when she moved to Pittsburgh, PA. In the years since moving to Pittsburgh, Sarah has began and finished her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Chatham University, and met and married her husband. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 2010. Sarah loves serving and caring for others, and knows of the healing power of God for all. Most recently, Sarah worked with trauma and abuse of children and adolescents, which lead to anxiety, depression, and other personality and mood disorders due to the abuse. Sarah currently resides south of Pittsburgh with her husband, and is available to see clients at ACAC.

Tom Nowak, MA, NCC, CCDP, LPC

Tom is a Licensed Professional Counselor.  He received his masters in Counseling from Regent Univ. ('94) and his bachelors in Social Work from U Pitt ('89). Tom is called to help people discover their true values and beliefs, and find courage to change, or accept what they cannot change.  He has experience working with issues of anxiety, depression, addictions, serious mental illness, and marital discord.  He is trained in psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral therapies, as well as Theophostic Prayer Ministry.  Tom participates in the CCC as an employee of Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute, and as an independent therapist.  He was born and raised in the Crafton-Carnegie area of Pgh, and lives there still with his wife and children.

Rosemary Rush, MSW, LCSW

Rosemary earned her MSW degree from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work in 2005. She received her undergraduate degree from Duquesne University, graduating with honors in 2003. Rosemary is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has several years of experience in community based mental health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. She specializes in working with adolescents and families, as well as those suffering with addiction. Rosemary's background and clinical training also includes marriage counseling, abuse, trauma, conflict resolution, anxiety, depression, and psychiatric issues. She is passionate about pointing others to God, His truth, and to healthy community in the counseling process. Rosemary resides in Beaver County with her husband Andrew and their son. She is an active member of First Presbyterian Church of Beaver.

Dr. Cathy D. Sigmund

Dr. Cathy Sigmund is Professor of Psychology, Counseling & Human Services at Geneva College and Visiting Professor, Bishop Stuart University, Mbarara, Uganda. Dr. Sigmund entered the mental health field in 1983 and has served as a licensed psychologist since 1999. She specializes in treating within, developing and evaluating culturally congruent behavioral health services to minorities and other underserved groups, including children and families victimized by violence and other crises, as well as refugees and immigrants of various diaspora. Dr. Sigmund is published, has developed curricula, consulted and provided training in a variety of settings including public health and human service systems, national and international church entities and victim advocacy/service organizations. Dr. Sigmund also serves as a licensed Chaplain with the Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA).

Amanda Spiker-Stepleton, MA

Amanda serves with the CCC at satellite sites in Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties.  Prior to moving to New Castle PA, Amanda was a member at ACAC and served on staff in various roles.  Amanda received her Bachelor's Degree in 1999 from Geneva College.  A variety of life experiences helped her redefine her career goals; in 2001 she received her Master's Degree in Counseling from Waynesburg University.  Her areas of interest include women's issues, grief, depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol.  She is married to Jeff and they are working on blending their three children and two dogs. Amanda is available to see clients at Neshannock Alliance Church in West Middlesex, Community Alliance Church in Butler, and First Alliance Church in New Castle.   

Rev Dr. Robert Titus, MA, MDiv. D.Min

Bob received his bachelors in English ('80) from the Virginia Military Institute, and then served 3 years in the US Army Infantry as an officer.  He served 3 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, East Africa, and then worked for the federal government for the following 6 years.  Bob received his masters degrees in Christian Education, from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, and in Divinity, from Union Theological Seminary in VA ('96).  He has served as a pastor of a number of Presbyterian congregations in NY and DE, and has been serving as the Senior Pastor of a church in West Mifflin in the South Hills since 2002. He received his Doctorate degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in marriage and family counseling in 2009.  He is currently working on becoming  a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, which he hopes to complete within the next year. Bob believes that just as Christ came as the Wonderful Counselor, the Spirit of Christ works to heal those who are suffering emotional or mental distress. His areas of interest and training include marriage and pre-marital, family, individual, and psycho-educational counseling as a means of spiritual growth. Bob has been married since '89, and has 4 wonderful children.

Amy Volstad, MA, NCC

Amy holds a Masters from Waynesburg University in Clinical Counseling '13 and a Bachelors from IUP in Elementary Education '01. Amy has experience working with issues of abuse, addiction, depression and life transitions as well as marriage counseling. Amy has been involved in ministry for many years as a mentor and worship leader sharing her story of overcoming through Christ, empowering others to know their true identity. Amy is also trained in Sozo inner healing ministry and offers these one time sessions as well.  Amy is married to Bruce and they reside on the Northside with their 3 boys.