About Maya


As the women’s specialist for the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (IDASA), Maya was appointed to First Lady Hillary Clinton’s committees on families that enhanced treatment and recovery, and improved outcomes for pregnant and parenting addicted women and their children. Maya managed the award-winning Project SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) a federally funded program that achieved phenomenal outcomes and expanded from 4 pilot sites to 95 sites across Illinois; and spread to other states. Project SAFE and Maya were featured in the Bill Moyers PBS TV series titled “Close to Home” on the power of collaboration to restore families ravaged by addictions.

As a contractual consultant for SAMHSA/CSAT, Maya presented regional trainings across the U.S. to state directors of substance abuse and child welfare on the key components of Project SAFE, an evidence-based model. Maya designed and delivered inter-agency collaborative cross-trainings, conducted in-depth reviews of policies and client files, wrote corrective action plans, provided technical assistance and trainings to improve outcomes for pregnant and parenting addicted women.

Maya is a seasoned clinician, masterful at designing experiential skill building exercises for professionals in the fields of addiction, trauma, child welfare, criminal justice (judges, drug/family court, parole/probation and corrections), domestic violence, sexual assault, child development, public health and family caregiving. Maya’s leadership style includes a large body of evidence-based strategies on engaging and retaining clients, group dynamics and stage-appropriate addiction and trauma techniques to foster healing.

Maya facilitates teams to create a collective achievable vision, performance measures and action plans that empower agencies to become self-directed Recovery-Oriented-Systems-of-Care (ROSC), i.e. learning environments beneficial to clients and staff alike.

Maya is highly regarded by co-workers, colleagues and clients as empathic, articulate, respectful and witty, with a keen ability to identify, engage and empower the champions in systems.


Maya meeting Hillary Rodham Clinton

Author & Specialist

  • The Author of If Only I’d Had This Caregiving Book
  • Former coordinator of volunteers for Midwestern States for National Family Caregivers Association
  • Authored content development for interactive website for family caregivers
  • On Chicago Mayor’s Daley Caregivers Advisory Council.
  • Has trained for the Illinois Council of Case Coordination Units, Area Agencies on Aging, Pioneer Networks, and conducts workshops on her book, including
  • Communicating Effectively with Health Care Professionals
  • Conquering Your To-Do List


  • Earned a B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University

  • 48 master level credits from DePaul University & Governors State University

  • Certifications in addictions

  • Certifications in group dynamics

  • Certifications in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

  • Excellence in communication and leadership/mentoring programs.

Inter-Agency Collaboration: Project SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment)

Project SAFE is in the federal data base of evidence-based models. As director/supervisor of Project SAFE at two treatment agencies and statewide manager of SAFE as the women’s specialist for IDASA, Maya created the following collaboration-enhancing products.

  • Cross training materials
  • Addiction screening tool for child welfare staff
  • A women’s training manual
  • Training curriculum on engaging and retaining women in treatment
  • Inter-agency agreements
  • State contracts, forms, policies & procedures
  • Status reports for SAFE families in criminal justice systems

Maya established performance measures, collected and analyzed data and cross trained professionals on best practices in addiction treatment and recovery, child welfare, domestic violence, and criminal justice. After the cross trainings, child welfare staff began communicating more effectively with clients cognitively impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs and trauma.

Sharing new frames of reference about addictions, child welfare, child development and domestic violence staff became vital participants in weekly inter-agency case reviews hosted at treatment agencies.

As a result of Project SAFE’s exceptional outcomes, the Illinois Conference of Women Legislators (ICOWL) lobbied the governor to increase funding. The Governor doubled Maya’s Project SAFE budget from $6.7 Million to $13.4 million to expand Project SAFE across Illinois. Here are a few excerpts from the three-year evaluation:

  • Eighty-five percent of Project SAFE moms completed treatment and remained abstinent.
  • The children’s issue from the investigation were resolved; the kids healthy and happy.
  • SAFE families, followed for 3 years, had only 6.25% subsequent reports to child welfare.
  • Under Maya’s leadership, Project SAFE grew from 4 pilot sites to 95 Project SAFE sites across Illinois.

Project SAFE proved to be amazingly cost effective. Treatment services for moms and children were a fraction of the costs of care for a drug-affected infant, children in foster care, or supervising families in child welfare and family/drug courts. Along the path of self-directed recovery Project SAFE families were preserved or reunited, with a diminishing need for treatment services. The human tragedy prevented by Project SAFE is priceless.

Intra-Agency Collaborative Project: Cook County Jail Women's Justice Services (CCJWJS)

Having trained thousands of staff in addictions, child welfare, and criminal justice, Maya was hired contractually in 1999 by CCJWJS to co-author a skill building manual to train correctional officers, counseling staff, case managers, and administrative staff to work more effectively with addicted with women in CCJWJS services.

After meeting with WJS administrative staff and the advisory committee, Maya conducted three separate focus groups: 1) counselors/mental health staff, 2) officers and 3) female detainees in CCJWJS, Maya created experiential skill building exercises based on sharing from the focus groups. After the curriculum and training were completed, Maya designed a training of trainers (TOT) for officers who were natural leaders, who perpetuated the competencies in the jail treatment program. The basic, advanced and the TOT was adopted by the academy for orientation of future officers. Here are a few highlights from the evaluation:

  • Administration said officers took fewer sick days; there was greater cooperation between officers, counselors and detainees, and improved outcomes for women in CCJWJS.
  • Incidents (such as threats, shoving, or fights) in the trained units went down to zero.
  • Officers said their jobs were less stressful once they understood the neuroscience of addictions, mental health, the psychology and plight of female addicts and the use of stage-appropriate interventions.
  • Women detainees said they knew which officers had been trained. The trained officers looked them in the eye, listened and responded respectfully.