Next Step Staff
At Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, our treatment staff are known for their leadership and expertise in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of addictive diseases and psychological disorders. Learn more about the background and experience of each Next Step staff member by clicking on their image below:
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John Herrington, MS, LPC
John Herrington is a licensed professional counselor with the Next Step program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology and master’s degree in counseling psychology from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. John worked for five years with Pine Belt Mental Healthcare at Oak Arbor working with clients struggling with addiction. He has experience working with drug court, VA, and other local and state resources. John began his work with Pine Grove in March of 2011 working with the Next Step and Sober Living programs providing individual and group therapy for those struggling with addiction. He worked with Pine Grove’s Legacy program as a therapist and then as a Clinical Director for four years before returning to Next Step as Clinical Director.x
Russell C. Rainey, MS, LPC
Russell Rainey is the Administrative Director of Addiction Services at Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, where he works with Pine Grove’s chemical addiction treatment programs including Next Step for men, the Women’s Center, which also treats co-occurring eating disorders, and the Legacy program for men and women ages forty plus. Rainey completed his Bachelor's degree in Religion, Biblical Studies and Language before earning his Master's degree in Counseling Psychology at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Rainey holds a license in Professional Counseling and has nearly 15 years of experience in the addiction treatment field. Prior to his current role, Russell served in various capacities at Pine Grove including Director of the Legacy program as well as Clinical Director of Pine Grove’s Next Step treatment program for men. Rainey is nationally recognized for his lectures on spirituality and addiction treatment.x
Leah Claire Bennett, Ph.D.
Dr. Leah Claire Bennett is a licensed psychologist with Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, where she serves as the organization’s Clinical Operations Director. In this role, she provides clinical direction and supervision for Pine Grove’s addiction treatment programs including the Women’s Center, Legacy, Gratitude, and Next Step. Dr. Bennett also oversees Pine Grove’s professional treatment programs, including the Professional Enhancement Program, known as PEP, and Pine Grove’s Professionals Recovery Track, which is designed for the organization’s addiction treatment patients who hold a professional license. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Baylor University in Waco, TX and her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Counseling Psychology from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. Dr. Bennett has worked with the Professional Enhancement Program since 2005 where the focus is working with professionals with vocational and relational issues, maladaptive personality problems, addiction, disruptive workplace behavior and sexual issues. Dr. Bennett’s primary focus is to help patients who have struggled in a variety of ways live their lives in a manner where they are able to engage at their highest potential.x
Chaz Richardson, MD
Dr. Charles “Chaz” Richardson is a graduate of The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS where he also completed his psychiatry residency. Dr. Richardson completed his fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and is a member of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Association, and Mississippi State Medical Association. Dr. Richardson joined the Pine Grove staff in 2018 and currently evaluates and treats adult patients for Pine Grove's inpatient and residential treatment programs.x
Justin Defee, MS, LPC, NCC
Justin Defee earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The University of Texas in Austin, Texas. He later earned his Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. His university research background includes post-traumatic growth, childhood sexual abuse & trauma, and spirituality & psychology during disaster relief and recovery. Mr. Defee has previously worked in a community mental health setting with children and families in office, school, and home based settings. He also has experience working with patients experiencing chronic pain and has worked with patients in Pine Grove’s residential Legacy program. Mr. Defee incorporates an eclectic approach to counseling, focusing on cognitive-behavioral therapy, existential therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, and positive psychology.x
Michael Rieger, LMFT, CTTS
Michael Rieger earned his Bachelor of Science from The University of Southern Mississippi where he majored in Psychology and graduated with honors. While in his undergraduate he participated in a research lab focusing on social cognition and attitude. Rieger earned his Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy and is trained in multiple systemic forms of therapy. Rieger has experience working with children and families as well as providing couples therapy. He also has training in advanced alcohol and drug counseling and is certified as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.x
Jessie Kelly, LMFT
Jessie Kelly is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working as a primary therapist for Pine Grove's Next Step program. After graduating with her Bachelors in psychology, Kelly began pursuing a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from The University of Southern Mississippi. During her undergraduate and graduate training, Kelly completed internships at a nursing home, a school for intellectual and developmental disabilities, a psychosocial rehabilitation center, and at Pine Grove’s Gratitude program. In addition to having experience with family, couples and individual therapy, Kelly has experience working with adolescents involved in the youth court system, and with adult psychiatric patients in a hospital setting. She is also currently pursuing additional training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Kelly incorporates a systemic approach to help others increase their self-awareness and empower themselves to facilitate healing to live a fulfilling life.x
Lejejuande “LD” Magee is a Counselor at Pine Grove Next Step. She is a Licensed Social Worker and she received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from University of Southern Mississippi. LD joined the Pine Grove team in 2002 and has worked with different populations while in the Pine Grove system to broaden her scope of practice. While at Pine Grove, LD has worked at Pine Grove’s Child and Adolescent Day Treatment Program and Women's Center before coming to Next Step. She provides therapy for individuals, families, groups, and provides aftercare planning support for Next Step patients.x
Roland Johnson has worked for Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services since 1993. He currently serves as the Outreach Coordinator for Pine Grove’s REACH Program, which stands for Realistic Experiences and Challenging Horizons. REACH is an experiential therapy ropes course for Pine Grove’s residential patients. Each participant accomplishes key goals by pushing themselves past their personal comfort levels. This experience enhances the patients’ self confidence, communication skills, and self esteem while increasing their teamwork and trust building skills. After graduating from The University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in Coaching and Sports Administration, Johnson completed his certification as a ropes course facilitator and trainer. In 2012, Johnson received the "We C.A.R.E. Award" presented by Forrest General Hospital. This award recognizes staff members who make a positive impact on the patient’s experience.x
Ralph Carson, R.D. B.S., B.H.S., Ph.D.
Ralph Carson, R.D. B.S., B.H.S., Ph.D., is a nationally recognized clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist. Dr. Carson is a frequently requested speaker on a variety of nutritional topics for medical groups, pharmaceutical companies, universities, athletic training camps and corporations. He has a successful clinical practice as well as being a faculty member of The University of Alabama at Huntsville for over 20 years. Dr. Carson is also a nutritional advisor to numerous university athletic departments including The University of Tennessee National Basketball Champion Lady Volunteers. Dr. Carson received his B.S. from Duke University, his B.H.S. in pathology from Duke University Medical School, and his Ph.D. in nutrition from Auburn University.x
David Sellers, M.Div.
David Sellers served as associate pastor at Parkway Heights from 2005 to 2011. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, a member of the Order of St. Luke and part of SDI (Spiritual Directors International). He has over 20 years of experience in ministry as a youth director, retreat leader, hospital chaplain and church pastor. He received his M.Div. from Emory University with emphasis in Spiritual Formation. David facilitates group and one-on-one spiritual direction across all programs at Pine Grove.x