Board of Directors



Executive Council


Kara McDaniel – President

Over the past 19 years, Kara has worked in a variety of clinical, healthcare, and academic settings. In September 2014, Kara became founder/owner of her own private practice, Lifescapes Counseling Services, LLC, which is located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Additionally, Kara teaches clinical courses within the master’s level Marriage and Family Therapy Programs at both Mercer University and Northcentral University and provides post-graduate supervision for those seeking licensure as a MFT and/or LPC. Since 2016, Kara has been actively involved with GAMFT, serving as both Elections Committee member and currently, Elections Committee Chair. In her spare time, Kara enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and playing tennis.

Elizabeth Bizzell – Vice President

Elizabeth Bizzell is a LMFT and AAMFT Approved Supervisor. She is Clinical Director and COO of Dynamic Interventions, Inc in Warner Robins, GA. Elizabeth graduated from Mercer University School of Medicine in 2005 with a Masters of Family Therapy. Elizabeth practices with an emphasis on children and adolescents and on parent-child attachment.

Ashley Quamme – Treasurer

Ashley is a Marriage and Family Therapist in the Augusta, GA area. She has over 10 years of experience and presently maintains a private practice specializing in the treatment of couples. While Ashley works with all couples, her specialty is treating military couples and families and the unique issues that they experience. Along with being a therapist, Ashley is also a wife and mom of two.



Committee Leadership


Abby Culin – Public Relations Chair

Abby Culin graduated from Atlanta’s Mercer University School of Medicine MFT program in 2019. She has been a GAMFT member since 2017 and joined the board in 2020 as PR Chair. With experience in both the medical and social services systems, Abby values and prioritizes collaborative care. She believes in providing accessible and supportive mental health care and currently works for inclusive and affirming mental health practice that welcomes clients from all walks of life.

Andrea Meyer-Stinson – Composite Board Liaison

Dr. Meyer is the Assistant Program Director of the Master of Family Therapy Program  at Mercer University’s School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. She is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the medical school. Dr. Meyer received her Ph.D. from Florida State University, M.S. from Purdue University, and her B.S./B.A. from the University of Georgia. Dr. Meyer is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. She has worked therapeutically with children, couples, and families since 2001. Dr. Meyer is a Clinical Fellow of AAMFT and a member of the National Council on Family Relations and the Collaborative Family Health Association. Dr. Meyer has participated on marriage and family therapy boards in both Florida and Georgia.

Dan Upshaw – Legislative and Governmental Affairs Chair

Dan is the founder and lead therapist of his practice in Midtown Atlanta, Atlanta Family Therapy. He is also a senior mental health therapist at Grady Memorial Hospital, where he has served for 8 years, and currently provides in-house therapy to Grady employees in the Employee Resiliency program. Dan has participated in GAMFT activities since 2014 and January 2024 marks beginning of his sixth year of participation on the GAMFT Legislative Committee. Along with his experience as an AAMFT Family TEAM leader since 2018, in 2024, Dan is serving as the AAMFT Ethics Committee chair person for the last year of his three-year nomination.

David Blanchard – Legislative and Governmental Affairs Co-Chair

David Blanchard is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. He graduated from Atlanta’s Mercer University School of Medicine MFT program in 2018 and has been a GAMFT since 2016. He joined the Board in 2017 and then again in 2020 as Legislative Chair. He works in a private practice in the Atlanta area for Couples Counseling, ATL, specializes in working with couples.

Arielle Sanders Blum – Approved Supervisor Chair

Dr. Arielle Saunders Blum is the owner of a private practice, Revive Therapy and Consulting. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving adult residents of Georgia and Florida, and she is passionate about using telehealth to increase access to quality mental health care for individuals, couples, and families. Arielle is also a part-time faculty member in the Master’s Marriage and Family Therapy program at Capella University. As an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, Arielle provides post-graduate supervision for licensure in Georgia and Florida, as well as at the master’s level for various universities in Georgia and across the country. Dr. Blum received her Ph.D. in Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in Florida and her MS in MFT from Harding University in Arkansas. Her primary research interests involve the systemic training of marriage and family therapy students, as well as the implementation of technology into therapy and supervision.

Jeff Bickers – Continuing Education Chair

Jeff Bickers, LMFT, has been in private practice in Valdosta, Ga, since 2000.  Previously, he worked at Greenleaf Center, Valdosta and Charter Augusta working with children and adolescents.  He has been licensed since 1996.  Jeff has served on the GAMFT Board in different capacities since 2007.


Ryan Schwarzmann – Ethics Committee Chair

Ryan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a master’s degree from Loyola University in Maryland and a Certificate in Marriage and Family therapy from Mercer University School of Medicine. Ryan has over 15 years of experience treating children, couples and families using an integrated approach focused on helping clients develop an understanding of their relationship patterns and use this awareness to adapt to their present circumstances. Ryan is currently the owner of Adaptive Therapy Counseling Group in Alpharetta and Lilburn. He served as the Student and Associate Chair of the GAMFT from 2009 -2012 and is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.

Melissa Bauman – Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair

Melissa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AAMFT Approved Supervisor. She received her Master of Family Therapy degree from Mercer University School of Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Idaho. Melissa has experience providing mental health services in a wide variety of settings including private practice, integrative community-based clinics, DJJ detention facilities and schools. She specializes in working with LGBTQ+ adolescents and those with co-occurring mental health, substance use diagnoses, and complex trauma. Melissa is passionate about reducing barriers to community resources and high-quality, trauma-informed services for our most vulnerable and under-served communities. She has been with CHRIS 180 since 2018 and currently serves as a Director of the School-Based Mental Health division.

OPEN POSITION! — Personnel Committee Chair

Tommy Hampton, IV – Elections Committee

Tommy Hampton, IV; LMFT; CFVIPF is a native of Valdosta, Georgia. In 2021, he earned a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy-MFT from Valdosta State University-VSU. During his Master’s program, he worked as a graduate assistant for the Office of Student Diversity & Inclusion. While enrolled, he also completed an internship and practicum at the VSU FamilyWorks Clinic. Tommy currently works as a full-time therapist and group facilitator at PeaceWay Counseling-Mediation Services Inc. in Valdosta, GA. There, Tommy facilitates a plethora of groups including anger management, women family violence, men family violence, parenting, and shoplifting. He specializes in an array of therapeutic modalities and systemic approaches. He also works part-time as a therapist and group facilitator through the Strengthening Families Program-SFP, a national outpatient program that partners with the local juvenile justice system and the families affected. He currently volunteers with the Valdosta chapter of the 100 Black Men of America and other local outreach programs and initiatives. Tommy has served as a member of GAMFT and the GAMFT Legislative Committee for the past four years and the GAMFT Elections Committee for the past year. While continuing membership in the Legislative Committee, he will serve as the 2024 GAMFT Elections Committee Chair.

Drew Phillips — Membership Committee Chair 

Graduating from Fuller Seminary in 2015, Drew has operated his own private practice since 2018 in Atlanta and currently is a part of Midtown Psychotherapy Associates. He has been a GAMFT member since 2018 when he moved from Pasadena to Atlanta. The GAMFT connections with members were a vital part of Drew’s relocation back “home” to the south. Drew also provides post-graduate supervision for clinicians seeking MFT licensure. His clinical focus is children 8+, men, couples, and groups (parenting/ men/ social skills)- he’s also been known to host an epic Dungeons and Dragons game. When not in session, Drew loves playing basketball in the front yard with his 3 kids, nerding out on video games, or feeding his extroverted self with a rousing conversation.

Shirley Shani Ben-Zvi – Mentor Program Chair

Before moving from Israel to Georgia, Shirley was an NLP master practitioner for ten years. She also served at a suicide prevention hotline as a volunteer and as the volunteers’ training manager. She has been involved with GAMFT North Metro Chapter since 2016. Shirley holds a Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University. She can be reached by phone at 770.846.2595.

OPEN POSITION! — Communications Committee Chair


Chapter Leadership

Ashley Thwaites — Middle GA Chapter Chair

Ken Cross – North Metro Chair

Rev. Ken Cross, M. Div., LMFT, is the Pastoral Therapist and Director for Christian Counseling Services. He graduated from Bradwell Institute in Hinesville, GA and then went on to get his Bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia Southern University. In 2002, he graduated with his Masters of Divinity from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and is an Ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church. Ken has worked in church ministry for over 20 years. He has served on staff with churches in the Atlanta Marietta District including Bethany UMC in Smyrna and Marietta First UMC in Marietta. He began his work with Christian Counseling Services in January 2009. Ken is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and has finished his post graduate work in Marriage and Family Therapy with Mercer University. He is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Georgia.

Leah McMillan – South Georgia Chair

Leah McMillan, DPA, LMFT, EMDR Trained is a native of Miller County, Georgia. Dr. McMillan moved to Valdosta to attend Valdosta State University where she obtained her B.A. in Criminal Justice (2000), her M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy (2004) and her Doctorate in Public Administration with a concentration in Higher Education (2011). While enrolled in the master’s program she completed an internship and practicum at the Moore Street Clinic, a community mental health center through Valdosta State University’s MFT program and an internship and practicum at The Haven Rape Crisis Center in Valdosta, GA. After completing her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, Leah worked as a full-time Child and Adolescent therapist at Behavioral Health Services, a local community mental health service board, facilitating an intensive Day Treatment program for emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children and adolescents. Previously, she worked for over 9 years at the Valdosta State University Counseling Center; the university’s mental health clinic as a Senior Staff Counselor, then as an Assistant Director, and last the Interim Director. Currently, Dr. McMillan works full-time in private practice at EnSpire Counseling & Wellness, LLC (founder/owner) in Valdosta, Georgia. She has worked in private practice for over 5 years.

Ashley Moore — Coastal Georgia Chapter Chair

Jennifer Gonyea — Northeast Georgia Chapter Chair 

Brandon Coussens — East Georgia Chapter Chair 

Open chapter positions: 

  • Metro Chapter Chair
  • West Georgia Chapter Chair
  • Southwest Georgia Chapter Chair

Please reach out to if you are interested in joining the board.