Northbound's leadership team has over 200 years of combined experience working in behavioral healthcare. We are dedicated to providing the best possible care to our clients and helping them to achieve long-term recovery from alcoholism and addiction. We are passionate about creating an organization focused on exceptional organizational health. Senior leadership developed a system of top-down transparency, authenticity, and honesty that has served as the solid foundation Northbound is built upon. At the heart of Northbound’s success are the people who make everything possible, and the culture that prioritizes the health of the organization and therefore all of the clients that Northbound is honored to serve.

Paul Alexander

President and Founder

Northbound’s founder, Paul Alexander, has been at the helm leading the organization since its inception in 2008. An astute clinician, conscientious businessman, and compassionate leader, Paul has shown willingness to take risks both personally and professionally in the service of developing a treatment environment where clients and staff alike can truly thrive. He believes wholeheartedly in transformative leadership, and ensures that his fellow leaders at Northbound are empowered to bring transparency and collaboration into all aspects of their professional lives. Paul excels in his ability to inspire and coalesce groups of individuals into action oriented, effective teams. Paul believes that recovering addicts are best equipped to succeed when exploring and embracing their spirituality, and when enhancing their self-efficacy. To ensure the latter, Paul has been instrumental in the development and oversight of Northbound’s occupational and collegiate services – innovative programs that empower clients to work or participate in school while in the supportive treatment environment. Paul received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, summa cum laude, from the School of Social Ecology at University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. Paul lives in Orange County with his wife and their young son, Noah.

Michael Neatherton

Chief Executive Officer

Mike Neatherton is an industry leader with a career spanning more than 30 years. When Mike joined Northbound he immediately began to transform the corporate culture by building on the transformational leadership principles of transparency, authenticity, and collaboration. Mike believes that successful leadership requires not only vision, but the ability to gain the agreement and commitment of all of the other people in the organization. As President and CEO of Northbound, Mike’s passion for treatment is founded upon the belief that all individuals can recover. Mike maintains a solid 12-Step program as the foundation for treatment at Northbound, informing all aspects of treatment, and serving as the core philosophy for the organization. Mike embraces the challenge of providing superior treatment services to the entire family system impacted by drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness. He cites his strong spiritual values and the ability to find balance in his personal life as the keys to his professional success. Prior to Northbound, Mike served in various executive positions at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage California, where he worked for more than 20 years. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a master’s degree from Indiana State University in Terra Haute, Indiana. He is a member of both the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Addiction Treatment Administrators. Mike and his wife, Maria, have 3 daughters, and they reside in Newport Beach, California.

Dr. Edward Kaufman

Medical Director

Dr. Kaufman brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff and has been practicing psychiatry in the behavioral health field for over 40 years. He blends his knowledge of psychology, family systems and psychopharmacology to address a wide array of disorders and meet our client’s individual needs. His commitment to helping those struggling with co-occurring disorders reinforces Northbound’s vision for providing quality care in an environment that’s conducive to recovery. He received his medical training from Jefferson University, USC and Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has previously served as the president of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, the editor of American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the Director of Psychiatric Services at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Kaufman has authored 3 books, edited 5 more and contributed over 200 articles on addiction, mental health disorders and family therapy.

Illana Zivkovich

Chief Clinical Officer

Ilana Zivkovich joined Northbound in January 2015. An experienced clinician, executive, and clinical development officer, Ilana celebrates and emboldens Northbound’s renowned focus on fostering a flourishing and healthy organizational culture. Trained in positive psychology, Ilana believes in the strengths and potential of every client and team member she has the opportunity to work with. She utilizes her signature strengths of curiosity, love, and honesty to help others identify and build upon their unique set of strengths to live within the upper reaches of their potential. In recovery herself since the age of 16, Ilana is grateful for the opportunity to help young and emerging adults develop a fulfilling lifestyle of recovery. In her role as Northbound’s Chief Clinical Officer Ilana oversees the clinical service development and delivery, and does her part to ensure that Northbound’s ethos of transparency, authenticity, and collaborative leadership are able to flourish. Prior to joining Northbound Ilana held a variety of leadership roles within the addiction field, most recently serving as the Executive Director for Promises Austin. Ilana holds a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), and a Certified Daring Way Facilitator Consultant (CDWF-C). Additional areas of clinical specialization include shame resiliency, dual diagnosis, family of origin and family dynamic issues, and positive psychology.

Kevin McCauley

Senior Recovery Advisor

Kevin McCauley, MD graduated from Drexel University Medical School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1992. He entered the United States Navy and received his Naval Flight Surgeon training at the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola, Florida, serving with Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 363 at Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin, California and Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 101 at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California.

From 2009 to 2013, Kevin McCauley was the Director of Le Mont, a sober living/recovery management program in Sandy, Utah, and he was president of the Utah Association of Recovery Residences. At Northbound, Kevin has been working with our clinical team in our monthly four day onsite family program for the past five years, and also concentrating his efforts in performing addiction education, developing clinical program enhancements, and assisting with family support and interventions.

As Co-Founder of the Institute for Addiction Study, Dr. McCauley wrote and directed two films: “Pleasure Unwoven” about the neuroscience of addiction, and “Memo to Self” about Recovery Management in commercial airline pilots and professionals with substance use disorders. “Pleasure Unwoven” won the 2010 Michael Q. Ford Award for Journalism from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.

Devon Wayt

Vice President of Operations

With more than a decade of experience in managing behavioral health treatment facilities, Devon Wayt’s expertise ranges from quality and compliance, to operations and change management. He graduated from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management in Southern California where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management and a Master of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in global business. Devon’s leadership philosophy is based on the understanding that leadership itself takes practice. He believes that everyone can be a leader, but leadership would not exist without ethical utilities such as honesty, authenticity, transparency, integrity, a commitment to self-respect, and leading by example. He believes that determination ultimately leads to spiritual, physical, and monetary success, through leadership, for organizations, and those within the organizations. Inspiring creativity and innovation while honoring the freedom to make mistakes sharpen the ability to achieve organizational goals and win. Devon’s leadership philosophy also entails the fact that he has inherited energy to help and inspire others. It is through healthy relationships with his family, business, and friends, combined with a spiritual consciousness, that his whole-heartedness can ultimately inspire others to effect change.

Ray Pacini

Chief Financial Officer

Ray Pacini joined Northbound in June 2013 after a 30 year career in various roles with publicly traded companies. Ray has been a board member for three public companies during the last 17 years, served as the CEO for a residential developer for 13 years and as the CFO for a commercial and residential developer for six years. He also spent three years with a Fortune 500 conglomerate and seven years as a CPA with a Big 4 public accounting firm. Ray is utilizing his financial management and strategic planning experience to help Northbound continue to grow and provide cost effective services to clients and their families. Ray earned his BA from Colgate University and his MBA.

Dustin Frei

Vice President of Business Development

Over the last 20 years, Dustin has worked in several clinical and business development roles within the behavioral healthcare field. He started his career as a case manager in 1999 and has since worked as an Admissions Director, Program Director and Director of Marketing and Business Development.

Throughout his career, Dustin has managed several large-scale projects, including rebranding, brand development and operational restructuring. He has also helped with developing church-based recovery programs and non-profits that provide mental health and addiction treatment for military and low-income families.

Dustin currently oversees our marketing projects, admissions, public relations and utilization review. His unique perspective, extensive experience and passion for recovery serve as a priceless asset to Northbound. He currently resides in Tustin, California with his wife and three children.

Emily Bielen

Vice President of Referral Relations

Emily has returned to Northbound as the Director of Referral Relations after a year as an independent behavioral healthcare consultant. She entered the behavioral healthcare industry as an academic director for two programs, including Northbound’s Collegebound, where she designed and implemented unique academic curriculum for clients to engage in their educational journey while in treatment. In her most recent role at Northbound, Emily helped to develop the Referral Relations team and looks forward to working with them again. Emily’s work as both an academic program director and a marketing manager within the addiction treatment industry prompted her to start a marketing consulting and academic advising practice. Emily has extensive experience in marketing and finance in both the private and public sector and brings to Northbound a comprehensive skill set. She attended Colgate University and New York University and went on to graduate school at Columbia University School of Social Work. Her educational background and personal journey in recovery motivates her to collaborate with programs and individuals to expand the opportunities available to clients of all ages and walks of life. Emily is also the mother of four children and enjoys spending time with her growing family.

Sharmin Ashtaputre

Vice President of Strategy

At Northbound, Sharmin serves in the corporate development function, business process improvement and managed care operations. She has previous experience working with private equity clients and leading post-merger integrations.

Sharmin’s professional experience includes mergers and acquisitions, operations management, and strategic planning and analysis. Sharmin has significant experience with both public and private companies with a heavy emphasis on healthcare provider organizations and systems.

Sharmin earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration from University of Texas at Dallas and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. She currently lives in Dallas with her husband and daughter.