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MEDICAL TEAM

Member of the willows staff and team

Brady Schroer, DO

Psychiatrist/Addictionologist

Dr. Brady Schroer obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology with an emphasis in Chemistry. He attended medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. After medical school, he completed his general psychiatry residency at an internationally known psychiatric clinic. Dr. Schroer later worked in a large hospital setting for five years as a psychiatric hospitalist taking care of geriatric patients, caring for patients with psychiatric issues on the medical floors and ICU (intensive care units), detoxifying clients from alcohol and benzodiazepines, ECT treatment for depression, and served as Medical Director and Chief of Psychiatry.

Dr. Schroer moved to Western North Carolina in 2007 to become the Medical Director of the inpatient psychiatric unit and the detoxification unit at one of the areas top hospitals and served for seven years in that capacity. Most recently, he has been seeing clients ages 15 and over in sober living environments, residential treatments, and other outpatient settings.

He has vast experience from all different perspectives of addiction treatment and knows what it is like to be a family member of someone struggling with addiction. Dr. Schroer views addiction as a poor coping mechanism for past emotional pain and believes that the emotional pain that breeds hatred, anger, and resentment is what keeps us sick and looking for substances and behaviors to “numb it”. He is extremely compassionate and prefers to educate clients about their illness. He has learned a lot from the clients he has treated and uses that knowledge to help others move into a peaceful life.

Dr. Schroer is a Christian, loves car racing, golf, photography, and being out in the great outdoors. He feels especially fortunate to call Asheville his home!

Jessi Herr

Jessi Herr, BA, BSN, RN

Registered Nurse

Jessi grew up in middle Tennessee and came to North Carolina when she attended Warren Wilson College, where she studied Plant Biology and Horticulture.  After graduating, she worked in Asheville at Beanstreets, Salsa’s, and Lark Books.  In 1999, she took a road trip and landed in Seattle, where she lived for five years.  In that time, she got married, became a mom, and became certified as both a postpartum doula and a Pilates instructor.  She returned to North Carolina in 2004 and started a small Pilates studio in 2005.  In 2018, Jessi started the accelerated BSN program at Western Carolina University and graduated summa cum laude in 2019.
Jessi was drawn to the work at The Willows because of personal experiences with loved ones struggling with mental health issues and addiction.  She feels humbled and grateful to be a part of clients’ recovery and healing.
She loves gardening, hiking, dinner parties, and reading.  She lives with her husband, an acupuncturist, her son and daughter, a goofy golden retriever and a bossy cat, and they might have every yard game and board game ever created.
Allison Porter

Allison Porter, RDN, LDN, RYT

Registered Dietician

A nomad by nature, Allison was born in Manhattan and lived in several major cities before settling in North Carolina. She currently resides in Wilmington and splits her time between the coastal region and Appalachia. Allison serves the clients at The Willows at Red Oak Recovery® and Red Oak Recovery® through virtual individual nutrition counseling sessions and also via occasional in-person visits. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 where she also completed UT’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics internship and a 200-hour teacher training in Integrative Yoga Therapy in 2013. Allison blends her knowledge of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness with her scientific background in nutritional biochemistry to provide customized integrative wellness coaching to her clients.

Allison began her career in addiction medicine at a well-known treatment center located in Wilmington, NC in 2016. She also worked as the dietitian at an acute care inpatient program in Black Mountain for three years, treating patients in acute detox and in rehab. Allison also has a small private practice where she offers one-on-one nutrition counseling and private yoga instruction.

Allison has a personal interest in working with the recovery community due to losing close family members and friends to untreated addiction and mental illness. Allison believes nutrition plays a huge role in emotional wellbeing and that this relationship is often overlooked. She loves educating clients on the roles nutrients play in neurotransmitter production, cognition, energy, relaxation, and sleep. She specializes in nutrition for eating disorders, autism/ADHD, depression, anxiety, and addiction.

In her spare time, Allison’s favorite hobby is belly dancing. She also enjoys wild mushroom foraging and herbal medicine. Allison lives with her boyfriend, a comedian, and they love to laugh and dance together.

Forest Smock

Forest Smock, BA, WFR, NREMT

Medical Services Coordinator

Forest was raised on a farm in southern Indiana by a family of doctors and nurses. Always around medicine and the microcosm of the cyclic nature of life that plays out on the farm daily, Forest was drawn to caring for all kinds of living being. The summer after his first year of undergrad at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, he became a certified Wilderness EMT through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). While continuing college, Forest worked as a first responder and also as a volunteer with search and rescue. He graduated in 2017 with a degree in Environmental Chemistry and Biology and moved to Asheville to work for the National Parks Services. Following his work with the National Parks Service, Forest began guiding for a wilderness therapy program taking men and women in early recovery into the backcountry. He fell in love with the work and transitioned to Red Oak Recovery® in November of 2018. While at Red Oak, he has held several positions with the company, including Medical Services Manager and Grounds Manager (for Foothills at Red Oak Recovery), clinical technician and Medical Coordinator (for The Willows at Red Oak Recovery®, and most recently has entered the role of Medical Services Coordinator for both Red Oak Recovery ® and The Willows at Red Oak Recovery®.

Forest spent 2020 building a tiny house on wheels which was a great adventure and huge undertaking. Now that it is done, he can be found mountain biking, cooking delicious food with his longtime partner, and enjoying all the incredible local music Asheville has to offer.

HOLISTIC SERVICES TEAM

Suzanne Pazandak Pic  1

Suzanne Pazandak

Shiatsu Therapist

Originally from Vermont, Suzanne left home to study social work in North Carolina. After graduating, she set out to live overseas where she spent many years exploring and learning more about what she really wants in life. It wasn’t until she became very committed to her own healing journey that she found shiatsu. Very quickly she learned how much it helped her and years later went on to study over 2,000 hours at the Shiatsu School of Canada. Suzanne is honored and passionate to offer her support and continues to be amazed every day about how healing touch can be on so many levels.

Kathie Miller

Kathie Miller, MS, L.Ac.

Licensed Acupuncturist

Kathie holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and earned her Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, CA. Currently in private practice in Asheville, Kathie is board certified by the National Commission for Certification in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine since 2000 and holds licensure in North Carolina by the Acupuncture Licensing Board since 2007.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture in assisting the recovery process. Specifically, research shows acupuncture’s ability to decrease anxiety, stress and insomnia and reduce cravings during the withdrawal process.  Kathie’s treatments focus on improving the body /mind/ spirit connection within an individual, and she is passionate about assisting clients in their deepest discovery of compassion and harmony within themselves and expanding that to others and the environment around them.

Kathie has been living with her family in West Asheville for the past 15 years, raising two amazing sons, mountain biking the local trails, sitting on mountaintops, and taking in the natural and cultural beauty of Asheville.

Stephanie Royal

Stephanie Royal, MA, BA, CPT, FA-CPR-AED

Group Fitness Instructor

Stephanie was born and raised in Massachusetts and spent most of her life there. She moved to North Carolina 22 years ago when she met her husband. In the time before she transitioned to working in fitness, Stephanie spent many years working with disadvantaged teens, substance abuse, mental health, and medical administration.

Stephanie’s fitness journey and path to self-improvement started at home and during some painful and private struggles, when she found her passion for fitness and inner calling to help people unlearn their own toxic beliefs and behaviors to find their truth by empowering themselves through fitness.

As the new Group Fitness Instructor at The Willows at Red Oak Recovery®, Stephanie hopes to foster a sense of community at the gym which is a key component to client retention. Being able to acknowledge a job well done when helping clients begin their fitness journey is critical to their success, physical and mental health.

For personal recreation, Stephanie enjoys weightlifting, running, outdoor activities, traveling, baking, and cooking. The best part of her job is the ability to work with diverse populations, skills, abilities, levels, and a variety of class structures. Stephanie alternates her career work schedule working with young adults and senior population as well as personal training on occasion.

Stephanie earned a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University in Psychology and a master’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania in Exercise Science Fitness and Wellness. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer AFAA and a Certified CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor.

Stephanie’s philosophy as a trainer is that fitness is not about aesthetics but rather health. Exercise is not a punishment but rather a tool to care for and strengthen it. Through exercise Stephanie has not only discovered her strengths and weaknesses, but a whole new level of appreciation she can bring to those clients she works with.

CULINARY TEAM

Matthew Vassal

Matt Vassal

Chef

Matthew Vassal is the head chef at The Willows at Red Oak Recovery®. He brings 31 years of cooking experience to The Willows, with 14 of those years as an executive chef. Matthew grew up in Chicago, IL and started cooking in a restaurant in 1991 at the age of 11. After graduating high school he attended culinary school at Grand Rapids Community college in Grand Rapids, MI and received an associate degree in the culinary arts. He has worked at many restaurants across the country including restaurants in Seattle, WA Denver CO, Boulder CO, Crested Butte, CO and Detroit, MI.

Matthew has lived in Asheville for five years and has been the executive chef of three restaurants: Wicked Weed, Burial, and The Waterbird. He was also the Sous Chef at Lexington Avenue. He annually competes and places in national BBQ competitions every summer. Eventually, his culinary career took him down a different path. Looking to put his culinary passion towards something he was more personally invested in, he pursued a career in the private sector at The Willows.

At The Willows, Matthew and the culinary team are in the daily pursuit to cook the highest quality meals. The team uses the best local ingredients, vegetables, and herbs from the campus garden to create healthful, uplifting, and comforting food for the clients. In addition to all this, the kitchen also teaches a weekly cooking class, that includes cooking skills and practical life applications. They tie working in the community garden and harvesting vegetables to what is served on the plate, connecting nature to what they eat. The team also teaches clients about the diverse culinary scenes of the world, where food comes from, and why it is so important – bringing people, family, and cultures together at the same table.

Matthew describes the mission of the kitchen has brining a daily sense of accomplishment, involvement, education, and connection into the culinary culture of the Willows. They strive every day to cook delicious, nutritious, diverse, wholesome, and comforting food for the clients and to fulfill their dietary needs and expectations. The most important goal is to be a part of the healing process through nourishment, care, and their love of food.

When he isn’t cooking you can find Matthew on the ski slopes, skateboarding swimming pools, mountain biking in Western North Carolina’s beautiful outdoors, or taking in a local concert.