Meet the Team

At Banyan, we stand as a leader in providing growth through recovery by having only the most qualified team behind the mission. Our highly experienced staff know exactly how to treat each and every client because several key members of the Banyan clinical team have gone through their own personal trials of addiction and recovery. The Banyan tree not only stands as a symbol for us, but it is a philosophy. You are able to grow through your recovery process with a strong community set in place from our team here at all of our nationwide facilities.

Banyan Chicago Team

David Tews, Ed.D, LCPC, CADC

Executive Director
David Tews, Ed.D, LCPC, CADC

Executive Director

David Tews, Ed.D., LCPC, CADC has been in the helping profession for over 20 years. He has worked in a variety of settings specializing in the treatment of substance use disorders. Dr. Tews got his start as a volunteer at a community center in Sarasota, Florida providing pre- and post-test services for individuals interested in HIV testing. While working on his addictions certification and master’s degree he worked in halfway houses, recovery homes, treatment centers, and clinics. He has also taught addictions and other mental health courses at local colleges and universities. Dr. Tews serves on the Illinois Advisory Council on Alcohol and other Drugs while advocating for those in need of substance abuse treatment.

• Substance Use Disorders
• Mental Health Issues
• Community Outreach/Advocacy
• Public Relations

James Cunnar, M.D.

Medical Director
James Cunnar, M.D.

Medical Director

James Cunnar M.D. did his undergraduate training at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Illinois in 1990. He completed his medical education at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in 1994. His residency training was performed at Memorial Hospital, South Bend, Indiana, after which he became board certified in Family Practice in 1997. Dr. Cunnar’s clinical interests include adolescent care, adult wellness, and diabetes. Dr. Cunnar is actively involved within the greater community of family physicians on both the national and state level. Dr. Cunnar resides in Aurora.

Dr. Cunnar is brings an enthusiastic approach to the collaborative model of treatment Banyan champions.

Cheryl Zaabel, LCPC, CADC, CSAT

Clinical Supervisor
Cheryl Zaabel, LCPC, CADC, CSAT

Clinical Supervisor

Cheryl specializes in and has been working in the field of substance abuse and mental health disorders since 1993, earning her CADC from College of DuPage in 1996. Cheryl’s earned her Masters of Science in Human Services Counseling from National Louis University. She is trained and certified in Sex Addiction Therapy (CSAT) by Dr. Patrick Carnes from the International Institute for Trauma and Addictions Professionals (IITAP). Cheryl came to Banyan after working 5 years as Clinical Supervisor. Prior experience includes hospital settings, Intake and Emergency Department, Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Centers, Halfway House and 3/4-way house coordinator, and in private practice for 7 years.

Cheryl believes the basis for health and wellness is rooted in relationships. She is inspired by those who courageously share their stories individually, with their families or in a recovery group setting. Her goal is to hold space and develop a warm, safe, therapeutic relationship built on trust, congruence and compassion for those she is honored to serve.

• Substance Use Disorders
• Sex, Love and Relationship Addictions
• Gambling Disorder
• Mental Health Issues
• Family Systems
• Marriage/Couples Issues
• Community Resources
• Treatment Methods and Approach
• 12 Step Programs

Taylor Klutke, MA, LPC

Clinical Director
Taylor Klutke, MA, LPC

Clinical Director

Taylor is licensed as a Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Illinois. She earned her Masters of Arts (M.A.) in Forensic Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL. She earned her Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN.

Taylor has a wealth of experience in a variety of clinical settings, which includes counselor in an inpatient and outpatient programs at Linden Oaks Psychiatric Hospital, mental health professional at Kane County Adult Correctional Center, and crisis counselor at Swedish Covenant Hospital. She has experience working with both adolescents and adults on a group and individual basis. Taylor has had the opportunity to work with an array of clinical presentation, which includes substance use, eating disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar, and PTSD.

Taylor believes that treatment should be a collaboration between patient and counselor, which allows her to work closely with her patients in developing a healthier level of functioning.

• Addiction & Mental Health Issues
• Treatment Methods & Approaches
• Eating Disorders
• Type I Diabetes
• Criminal Justice System
• SMART Recovery
• 12 Step Programs

Jessica Gerke

Intake Supervisor
Jessica Gerke

Intake Supervisor

Jessica got her start in the field volunteering as an advocate and working with several foundations in the Midwest for drug addiction for the past 8 years. She has been a public speaker on public forums, schools, jails, and treatments centers throughout Illinois. Additionally, she has been running a small-scale sober home for the last 5 years.

Jessica first came to Banyan Treatment Center in May of 2016 as an Admissions Coordinator. After showing her dedication and strong work ethic, Jessica was given the opportunity to take training courses in Recovery Coaching. Jessica was recently promoted to Chicago’s Intake Supervisor, which allows her to fulfill her passion by helping individuals and families who suffer from drug addiction through the admissions process.

• Sober Coaching
• Public/ Motivational Speaking
• 12 Step Programs
• Sober Homes
• Family Correspondents
• Community Resources

Vanessa Whitnell, M.Ed, LPC

Therapist
Vanessa Whitnell, M.Ed, LPC

Therapist

Vanessa has had a long standing passion for the study of addiction and addiction treatment, stemming from her days at the University of Missouri, Columbia where she earned her Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology. During her senior year, she completed an internship at a residential addiction treatment center for men, while simultaneously assisting with a research study on alcohol use behaviors among sexual minority women. Vanessa completed her own research study entitled, “Drug-use Behaviors among Sexual Minority Women: Vulnerabilities associated with Negative Mood and Cognitions and Protective Effects Afforded by Internalized Homophobia”. She presented these findings at Psychology Day in May 2012.

Vanessa went on to earn her Masters of Education (M.Ed.) in Community Counseling at DePaul University in 2015. During this time, Vanessa completed her graduate student internship at an outpatient treatment center for adults and adolescents with substance use disorders. Concurrent with her clinical internship, Vanessa gained experience working with the eating disorder population within a residential treatment setting.

Presently, Vanessa is licensed as a Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Illinois. She recently became a published author who assisted in writing a chapter within the Handbook of Strengths-Based Clinical Practices edited by Jeffrey K. Edwards, Andy Young, and Holly J. Nikels (2016). Over the course of her education and professional career, Vanessa has gained knowledge of the etiology, presentation, and treatment of mental, behavioral, and personality disorders. She believes in utilizing principles of DBT, Motivational Interviewing, and Strength-Based Counseling to assist her patients in making sustainable changes and integrating coping skills to help them live life on life’s terms.

• Addiction/Mental Health Issues
• LGBTQAI-Specific Issues
• Eating Disorders
• Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
• Bio-Feedback Therapy
• 12 Step Programs
• SMART Recovery
• Treatment Methods & Approaches

Kent Wohlrabe, LCPC, CADC

Therapist
Kent Wohlrabe, LCPC, CADC

Therapist

Kent is licensed as a Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and is certified as an ADOC counselor (CADC) both in the state of Illinois. He earned his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychology from Eastern Illinois University, in Charleston, IL.

Kent has experience in a variety of clinical recovery treatment settings, including Senior counselor at Interventions for adolescents where he also helped set up the first state funded Recovery home for adolescent males in the state of Illinois. Kent also was Clinical Supervisor of three half-way houses for males, women, and a MISA (Mentally Ill Substance Abuse) houses in Aurora for Community Counseling Center of Fox Valley and Gateway Foundation. He has worked as Senior counselor for Presence Behavioral Health Outpatient programs in Evanston, Ill. and Lake Bluff, Ill. Kent has recently worked Ben Gordon Community Counseling in DeKalb, Ill. Kent also oversees mental health services in DeKalb County jail.

Kent believes that successful recovery is a collaboration between patient and therapist. A collaboration that works best with trust and respect for each other.

• Addiction/Mental Health Issues
• Trauma
• CBT, DBT, REBT
• Legal & Incarceration
• 12 Step Programs
• SMART Recovery
• Refuge Recovery
• Treatment Methods & Approaches

Heidi Wagner, APN, FNP-BC

Nurse Practitioner
Heidi Wagner, APN, FNP-BC

Nurse Practitioner

Heidi was born and raised in the Chicago area and recently started with us in the nurse practitioner role. She graduated with her Masters of Science degree in nursing from the nurse practitioner program at Lewis University in 2015. Prior to becoming a nurse practitioner she worked in a variety of nursing fields including medical-surgical, home health, hospice, case management and behavioral health nursing.

Prior to coming to Banyan Treatment Center, Heidi worked as a nurse practitioner in a long-term care behavioral health facility where she cared for many dual diagnosis patients. Heidi performs medical and mental health assessments and treats immediate problems that arise with patients while in treatment. Heidi has always been interested in the sciences and in helping people.

• Medical Nursing 30 years
• Mental Health care provider 8 years
• Education of staff, patients and families
• Discharge planning and case management
• Medical and mental health referrals

Don Mitckess

Director of Business Development IL
Don Mitckess

Director of Business Development IL