Sober Living San Diego

Staff - Substance Abuse Professionals

Mindi Levins Pfeifer
Just as some people are born to become athletes or use music to speak to others, Mindi Levins-Pfeifer found her calling in life at a young age. She was born to instill hope in young people, even in the most dire of circumstances. It is a passion that has driven her throughout her career: A career that now spans more than two decades and has been singularly focused on helping youth in crisis. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from UCLA, Mindi spent more than a decade working with street kids as a case manager and director at the Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN). Following that important work, Mindi returned to school to gain a Master’s degree in Social Work at Cal State Long Beach and began consulting for Free Clinics throughout the greater Los Angeles area. It was during this time – after spending years of working for others to help underserved youth – that Mindi and her husband, Robert, discovered a bigger dream. One only they could fulfill. Recognizing a need for creating a different kind of treatment program for young adults struggling with addiction, they utilized their unique expertise and resources to open Sober College’s doors in 2005. And in doing so, they effectively redefined rehab for young people and their families. Since then, and as part of her work at Sober College, Mindi has been dedicated to helping clients conquer their addictions. But she does more than that. She is also tireless in her endeavor to help her young clients rediscover the joys in life and redefine life’s limits. And when she’s not helping the young people on Sober College’s campus, Mindi is at home, enjoying life with Robert and their children, Ben and Sarah.
Chief Operating Officer
Liz Gomez received her undergraduate degree in social work from Syracuse University in New York, and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, Long Beach. Before coming to Sober College, Gomez served as a consultant for youth programs across the country. Her experience in providing training and technical assistance and expertise on trauma informed approaches to working with runaway and homeless youth; the operation of a transitional living and independent living programs; and on administrative operations for programs providing services for youth – expertise she gained through serving as Executive Director of Los Angeles Youth Network (LAYN), a position she held for 17 years. She joined the LAYN staff in 1989, bringing with her nearly 10 years of experience working with juvenile offenders, homeless youth and other high-risk youth populations. She has served on the boards of the California Coalition for Youth, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; the advisory board of The California Wellness Foundation’s Violence Prevention Initiative. In addition to working at Sober College, Gomez currently serves as a board member for The California Wellness Foundation and has been actively involved in the leadership of numerous youth-serving, philanthropic, civic and community organizations. Gomez shares, “What drew me to Sober College was their niche in serving young adults seeking recovery. Through my work over the years with this population of young people, it is clear they have unique needs and not everyone is equipped to provide quality services for them as Sober College is.”
Associate Executive Director
Oriana has shown passionate dedication to those who struggle with addiction issues through her extensive studies and over 12 years of experience in the fields of addiction and mental health treatment. Not only did Oriana earn her Masters of Social Work from the University of Southern California, but also completed a Masters of Arts in Psychology with a specialization in Addiction and Certification as a CADCII Counselor. She has experience working in all aspects of the field, both inpatient and outpatient settings, and is well known and respected in the Southern California recovery community. Over the past couple years Oriana has changed her focus from direct client care to programmatic oversight. She was promoted in 2015 from Director of Recovery Services to Associate Executive Director. Oriana supervises the team of directors, the counseling department, oversees communication and coordination of care with families, and is responsible for ensuring quality services in the Sobriety Component of Sober College’s Five Core Competency Model.
Vice President of Academic Affairs

M.A. Sociology, San Diego State University; B.A. Sociology, minors in Applied Psychology and Education, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Rachel developed the Drugs and Alcohol in Popular Culture course specifically for the Sober College student. It is Rachel’s goal to help students develop a sociological perspective on drug and alcohol use and addiction through the study of American popular culture. In this course the student is the expert; they are hugely familiar with both the culture they live in as well as with their personal experiences surrounding drug and alcohol use. We use this expertise to critique and analyze the beliefs surrounding drugs and drug use in our society. Students will discover how beliefs are transmitted to the general population and how in turn those beliefs continually influence our understanding of drugs, alcohol and those that use.

She enjoys introducing new material in innovative ways and showing students how sociology is a part of their everyday lives. The aspect that Rachel loves most about teaching is the interaction with the students. Rachel adds, “Developing a rapport with students is very important to me. Receiving positive feedback from students about my ability to maintain a safe and fun classroom environment is very rewarding and one of the reasons why I love what I do. As a teacher within a therapeutic community, it is perhaps most rewarding to see the positive effects in their own lives as a result of the study of sociology. It is amazing to watch student’s process the academic information presented in class and, in turn, transmute it to tangible and identifiable action and positive change in their search for recovery.”


Michelle Kemmer, CPA, joined the Sober College team in 2015 after serving as our trusted business advisor for several years. She began her career in the music business working for companies such as William Morris Agency, Borman Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Records. After several years in entertainment, Michelle shifted her focus to the field of accounting. She has over 17 years of experience in business management, from operating her own bookkeeping business, to serving as accounting manager for a local CPA firm. Michelle has extensive knowledge of financial statement preparation, variance analysis, and preparation of budgets and financial projections. Her knowledge and skills are crucial to the management and future growth of Sober College.

Michelle has been the Treasurer of the not-for-profit organization, Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, since 2008. This organization is dedicated to establishing and maintaining the trail system in the Santa Monica Mountains for all user groups to enjoy, through partnerships with local agencies and landowners.

When not working, Michelle enjoys everything having to do with the outdoors – from riding her horse, hiking, backpacking, canyoning and rock climbing, to just sitting and meditating in nature. Her favorite places are anywhere in the Sierra.

lela welch sober living manager
Sober Living Manager
Lela began working at Sober College in July of 2015 as a Mentor in the Women’s Program and was quickly promoted to the position of Women’s House Manager. Before coming to Sober College, Lela had worked in positions ranging from Intern for the Fashion Editor of Swindle Magazine in New York, to Design Manager for a small business in Paso Robles, CA. She’s also worked on TV and film sets in the Art Department as a Set Dresser, Prop Master, and Set Decorator. Currently, Lela is working on getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Design from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Lela brings versatility and creativity to the Women’s Program. Paired with her own experience in recovery from addiction, Lela serves as an amazing example for the young women at Sober College. A strong woman and a firm believer in education, it is no surprise that Lela found an immediate connection and love for Sober College. Lela explains, “I’m interested in using my own experience to help guide the way for these young women. I want to help build them back up and then teach them how to do it themselves.” She continues, “I hope to show them that a new way of life is possible. Sober College is an unique program that utilizes integral components of a successful life. It then pairs those Core Competencies with a fervor for education. That recovery model is sui generis, unexampled and effective.”
Billy Giorgi sober living
Lead Mentor
Billy has worked as a resident manager since January of 2016. He is currently enrolled in the alcohol and other drug studies program to obtain his counseling credentials. Through his leadership, passion for growth, compassion, and his ability to create safety and connect with clients he was soon promoted to the mentor position. During his personal experience with addiction and the recovery industry, he felt like there was something missing. He believes that recovery is not about resisting drugs and alcohol. He believes that recovery is about connection and nurturing the qualities inside every individual that will inspire and empower them to live the rich, abundant and full life that THEY WANT.