This is a  staff list for Growth Extended in Van Nuys and Los Angeles, CA

(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)


We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at Growth Extended.  For information on your rights and how to take action, visit  If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Growth Extended, you have the right to take action. 


If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Growth Extended, please contact if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.  This will help!   Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.


HEAL is currently investigating Growth Extended.



Additional Information
Hiruy Gessesse  (MD) Medical Director Gessesse has been licensed to practice medicine in California since 2007.  His license # is: A 101106 and you can file a complaint against him here: (Choose medical board from menu)
 Jonathan Bach (LMFT) Clinical Services Mgr. Bach appears to be a licensed marriage and family therapist since 2011.  His license # is: 50320 and you can file a complaint against him here: (choose California board of behavioral sciences from menu)
Suji Lee  (MFTI) Primary Therapist Lee appears to now be a licensed marriage and family therapist though at time and on the current (March, 2019) Growth Extended website it shows Lee is an intern (MFTI) and not fully licensed.  So, we found now Lee is fully licensed though the employer claims otherwise on their site.  And, that license # is: 108607, however the new name is Suji Lee Akhtar and there was a name change so it may be a different person and if so, Suji Lee of Growth Extended holds no licenses.  If Suji Lee Akhtar is the correct Suji Lee working at Growth Extended, you can file complaints here: (choose California board of behavioral sciences from menu)
Sandra Fetherolf  (MFTI) Group Therapy Fetherolf is licensed solely as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and has been since 2014 in California.  The license # is: 78854.  You can file complaints here: (choose California board of behavioral sciences from menu)
 Jeanette Vazquez Medical Assistant If the spelling of the first and last name are correct (and that was what was provided by Growth Extended), then Jeanette Vazquez is no a licensed medical assistant/physician's assistant/nurse/etc in California.  So, this would suggest false advertizing regarding qualifications of staff.  Source:
Richard Garcia (CMA) Medical Assistant There are too many "Richard Garcia"s with various professional licenses and disciplinary actions for HEAL to effectively identify the one working for Growth Extended without further information like a middle name and/or specific license type to verify.  If you have that information, let us know.
Lauren Schmitt Lead Dietician It does not appear that dieticians are required to be licensed in California.
 Brooke Horn DeKofsy Dietician It does not appear that dieticians are required to be licensed in California. 
Laura Kellingsworth Director of Operations Adult Program 
Daniel Avila (LMFT) Program Manager The only licensed marriage and family therapist named Daniel Avila is Daniel Paul Avila and his license # is: 84769.   You can file complaints here: (choose California board of behavioral sciences from menu)
(Growth Extended, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices.  Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience.  Thank you for your help.)


All segregated congregate care providers, including those on our watch-list, are welcome to contact us to correct any information or provide additional data that may assist with delivering the whole truth to the public.  We've found in many cases where this offer has been abused or resulted in revealing additional basis for our concerns. For some examples see: and  Now, we are willing to look at the facts and may have questions or require documentation backing up any claims.  We do verify licensing, academic backgrounds, and other qualifications when investigating and researching programs on our watch-list to assist consumers seeking additional information on such programs or victims requiring assistance with getting corroborating evidence of their claims.  We do that in order to make sure the information we provide is accurate and verified and cite our sources.  In the event any information we've posted is in error, we're happy to make a correction.  And, for information on how such requests are handled and have been resolved historically, see:

HEAL does not support segregated congregate care for many reasons which include that many such facilities are abusive, exploitative, fraudulent, and lack effective oversight often as a result of fraudulent misrepresentation coupled with the ignorance of those seeking to enroll loved ones in such facilities, programs, schools, or centers without a valid court order and involuntarily.  In the United States such involuntary placements done without a court order are apparently illegal as they either violate the Americans with Disabilities Act community integration requirement or due process rights of those involuntarily placed.  Now, in regards to parents, in the United States parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children.  See for more information.  Now, most facilities on our watch list include waivers, indemnity clauses, and sworn statements parents must sign assuring the program that the parents have the right to make the placement involuntarily and without due process in a segregated congregate care environment, however, California and federal prosecutors as well as settled law appears to suggest that is not the case.  In fact, in the David Taylor case found at, Taylor sued Provo Canyon School and his mother as co-defendants.  His mother was found liable for 75% of the damages awarded to Taylor as a result of multiple complaints including false imprisonment, while the program was found only 25% liable because the mother owed a duty of due diligence to investigate anyone to which she would entrust care of her child and she failed to do so. 

Now, HEAL opposes segregated congregate care and we find most placements are happening illegally in the USA which if the youth understood their rights would result in unfortunate outcomes for the parents, particularly when they don't exercise good judgment and support the fraud and abuse rather than their own children when they need remedy and justice.  And, HEAL supports all victims of fraud and abuse in seeking remedies at law for any crimes or torts committed against them.  And, that's true whether or not the program or victims are in the USA. 

HEAL has a 5 point argument against segregated congregate care we'd like you to consider:

a.  Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation.  It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment.  For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at  Or, see:  which includes in part:    "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.  In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."

b.  Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive.  Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights.  Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at  "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)."  (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)

c.  Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children.  Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family.  Source:       

d.  Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful.  Best source on this currently is:

e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression.  Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments.  Sources: and

Beyond the above arguments against segregated congregate care, we have reports from the NIH, Surgeon General, Yale University Studies, and much more showing the methodologies of behavior modification are damaging, harmful, and ineffective.  You can request these documents via e-mail.  In addition, for such programs offering academic services or claiming to offer diplomas, certifications, or the like, it is important to check to see if it is a diploma mill with no accredited academic services.  Please see: for important information on how to avoid education/training scams.

If you'd like to see what HEAL suggests rather than segregated congregate care (i.e. committing a crime or tort against your child if done against their will without a court order), please see:

Now, we have many programs on our watch list including this one and we do our best to update the site regularly with any new information.  And, we appreciate public participation in information gathering and your support.

If you have a complaint against this facility, please file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency or your home state's attorney general.  For reporting resources see:  If you have not yet entrusted care of a loved one to this facility, consider the above information and be patient as we are awaiting FOIA requests regarding complaint histories from the authorities.  If you have entrusted care of a loved one to this facility, please consider bringing them home because even in the "good ones", it causes anxiety and depression to be segregated. 

HEAL received a request from a family to investigate this facility in April, 2018 and it is an ongoing process.  This is where we are at with the investigation right now and if you have additional information on this facility, please let us know.  You can e-mail with additional information for us on this program.


 Last Updated: March 21st, 2019

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