Meet the First Step Recovery Staff

Our highly experienced staff has more than 125 years working in the addiction treatment field.

Our staff includes trained addiction counseling professionals, many of whom are also licensed professional clinical counselors with experience working in the mental health field. In addition, our on-staff registered nurses and a consulting Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Psychiatry help with referrals related to physical and psychiatric disorders. Our family therapist helps family members and significant others deal with issues related to loving an addicted person.

Michael Kaspari, RN

Agency Director

Co-Founder of First Step Recovery in 2000. As Agency Director, Michael is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the agency. In addition to his administrative duties, he also completes nursing intakes, facilitates referrals to the medical community, and is available for community education. Michael has been licensed as a Registered Nurse in North Dakota since 1984.

Judy German

Office Manager

Judy has worked at First Step Recovery since 2005. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University-Long Beach. She has over 35 years of experience in office administration. As office manager, Judy is responsible for scheduling intakes, accounts payable and receivable, and numerous other duties that help with the operation of the agency.

Patti L. Senn, MS/LPC/LAC

Clinical Director/Primary Counselor

Patti has worked at First Step Recovery since 2003. She received a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from Minnesota State University-Moorhead in 1999. She has worked in the addiction field since 2002. In addition to facilitating primary treatment, Patti is also responsible for the supervision and training of clinical staff. Patti is the President of the Fargo Addiction Counseling Training Consortium and is a past member of the ND Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners.

Pam Erickson, LSW/LAC

Licensed Addiction Counselor

Pam joined First Step Recovery in 2013 after working at a local human service center for over three years. She completed the Matrix Clinical and Supervisory Training in 2009 and has experience in facilitating primary treatment and women’s aftercare programming.

Donita Kaspari, RN

Registered Nurse

Donita has over 27 years of experience in the medical field. She served as a critical care supervisor at a local hospital, where she oversaw nursing care and a staff of over 120 nurses and aides. She assisted with quality improvement, budgeting, and infection control standards. She wrote an application for a national award recognizing excellence in critical care services (Beacon Award), which recognizes exceptional leadership qualities and outcomes. She also won the 2013 Florence Nightingale Award.

Mary Jo Hansen, M.Ed/LPC/LAC

Licensed Addiction Counselor/Licensed Professional Counselor

Mary Jo has worked at First Step Recovery since 2012. She received a Master’s Degree in Counseling from North Dakota State University in 1986. She has worked with adults and adolescents in inpatient and outpatient programs. She currently provides educational lectures, program development, and facilitation of individual and group therapy for patients and their families.

Adam Priebnow, BA/LAC

Licensed Addiction Counselor

Adam is a primary counselor in the Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Moorhead, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. In addition to being the IOP group facilitator, he also sees patients on an individual basis, provides educational lectures, and completes chemical dependency evaluations. His work experience also includes being a house supervisor at a residential treatment facility.

Carrie Simonson, RN

Registered Nurse

Carrie joined the First Step Recovery team in July 2015. She has been in the nursing field for over 20 years. Her prior work experience includes being the Nurse Coordinator for Child and Adolescent Maltreatment Services at a local hospital. Carrie’s primary duties at First Step Recovery include providing nursing services for the Intensive, Outpatient Treatment Program, facilitating educational lectures, and overseeing the drug screening process. She is also the nurse liaison for the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) at The Village. In this role, Carrie helps coordinate care for all patients treated for substance use disorders and mental health issues through the CNS.

Becky Elbert, MSN, CNS

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Becky Elbert is a Clinical Nurse Specialist with First Step Recovery. She received her Master’s degree as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Mental Health from the University of North Dakota. She has extensive experience working in the psychiatry department at a local hospital prior to joining The Village. She has been with The Village since 2013 and moved her practice to the First Step Recovery offices in 2016. She assesses and treats patients for a variety of mental health issues. She also provides Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for patients involved in outpatient chemical dependency programming.

Peggy Stenehjem-Titus, M.Ed/LAC/LPCC

Licensed Addiction Counselor

Peggy has worked at First Step Recovery since 2001 and has been a Licensed Addiction Counselor since 1991. Her primary responsibility is to provide chemical dependency consult services for a local hospital. She is responsible for making recommendations and coordinating referrals for individuals in the hospital setting. She also oversees the chemical dependency consult liaison service for a local medical facility.