Desert Star

Addiction Recovery Center

Established in 2009
Locally Owned and Operated

Awaken to Healing in the Desert

Successfully Treating Drug & Alcohol Issues, Mental Health Disorders, Eating Disorders, Sex Addiction & Relationship Issues

Call for a free consultation

Our staff is effective, knowledgeable, highly trained, and adept at working together as a team. And because many members of our core staff have been working together for many years, we have stability and consistency as well. We know our programs, and we know what works.

LBGTQIA + Allied experience.

Richard J. Poppy, MA, LISAC, Owner, Executive Director

Richard PoppyRichard Poppy is the founder of Desert Star and a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University. He is a Licensed Substance Abuse Counselor in the State of Arizona and has been involved in substance abuse and mental health treatment in a variety of settings since 1993.​

Mr. Poppy’s professional involvements include advocating for mental health and addiction treatment at the local, state and national levels.  Mr. Poppy’s past involvements include NIDA’s clinical trials network, NIDA’s blending/steering committee, the ATTC (Addiction Technology Transfer Center), adjunct professor at ASU School of Social Work, co-founder and president of TPAA (Therapeutic Practitioner’s Alliance of Arizona), a nonprofit advocacy group that worked with community stake holders, and the BBHE to bring about legislative changes for Arizona state mental health professionals licensing requirements.


Amy Tilley, PsyD, Clinical Director

Amy TilleyAmy Tilley graduated from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2007, and has 20 years in the mental health and addiction recovery field.  She is the Clinical Director at Desert Star and has worked at Desert Star for 12 years. She trained in inpatient and outpatient settings in Chicago, IL, working with children, adolescents, families, and adults, and completed her pre- and post-doctoral internship in Tucson, AZ. She is skilled in utilization review and coordinating with insurance companies to ensure coverage for client’s treatment. Dr. Tilley’s clinical interests include working with young adults and adults diagnosed with co-occurring conditions, in outpatient settings, running psycho-educational and process groups, as well as working with clients who have a history of trauma.


Nicole Velasco, PhD, Clinic Manager

Nicole PetersonNicole Velasco has been with Desert Star since 2014. Nicole has held various positions while at Desert Star. Currently she has administrative and clinic management responsibilities, along with insurance billing for Desert Star.  Nicole has been working with insurance companies and billing since 2015, when she began to specialize in the field of Behavioral Health. She received her PhD in Business Administration in 2018 and continues to pursue ways of advocating for clients with insurance companies.


James “Jim” McShea, Peer Support, Business Development

Jim McSheaAfter retiring from forty years of service as a law enforcement commander, Jim still values finding ways to help people. Jim’s career spanned many years as a first responder, hostage negotiation supervisor, major offenders unit supervisor, and numerous other assignments as an officer and supervisor. He also worked as a commander for seventeen years of his career in many areas, including several sensitive administrative and specialized assignments.

With a special interest in helping public safety personnel and other professionals obtain treatment, Jim believes that careers, lives and families can be saved and thoroughly enjoyed.  Jim knows that confidentiality is vital to first responders and others, and he enjoys assisting people in getting the help they need while alleviating their confidentiality fears. Jim is currently pursuing Substance Abuse Disorder and Employee Assistance Professional certificates.


Judy Hileman, NP, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Judy Hileman draws from a vast and varied experience to improve the mental health and functioning status of Desert Star’s clients. Attending both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, Judy became a nurse practitioner in 1987, before many in the state had ever heard of the profession. She worked and taught in the medical area until 2000, at which time she completed her post master’s degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, and has been working in mental health ever since.


Kelly Linebaugh, DNP, Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Kelly has been a psychiatric nurse practitioner since 2002, and received her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2013. With 16 years of practice in various inpatient and outpatient mental health settings, Kelly approaches mental health care by seeking to fully understand a person’s past and current cumulative stress load (physical, spiritual, and mental) and how this impacts their mental health and ability to cope with stress. From there, she forms collaborative relationships with clients to support and guide their journey to improved mental health.


Marla Perry, Ph.D, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

​Marla is a Rehabilitation Ph.D. and board certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who utilizes trauma-informed approaches. She practiced in general psychiatry, residential and out patient addiction recovery settings, and previously served as faculty at University of Arizona, College of Nursing. Marla studied Buddhist Psychology in Bhutan and India, and loves to garden and feed carrots to her neighbor’s burros.


Liz Canterna Douglass, PhD, Psychologist

Liz Canterna is a clinical psychologist. She has over 25 years of experience in the field of recovery stemming from her work as Director of the Inpatient & Outpatient chemical dependency units at St. Joseph’s hospital in Burbank to being staff psychologist and coordinator of the Assessment and Diagnostic Program at Sierra Tucson Hospital for 15 years. She also has a private practice in Tucson. Liz currently works as a Clinical Psychologist and therapist at Desert Star for all programs.


Dezi Abeyta, RDN, Nutritionist

Dezi is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works with clients in the Mesquite Program and Food for Thought groups to develop healthier, happier relationships with food. In addition to working at Desert Star, Dezi is a passionate entrepreneur and has his own consulting practice, Foodtalk Nutrition. He is also employed as a consulting dietitian to the Milwaukee Brewers.


Norma Vazquez, BA, Administrative Assistant

Norma VazquezNorma Vazquez received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from the University of Arizona and is currently working on her Masters in Counseling from Grand Canyon University. Norma has worked in multiple eating disorder treatment facilities including Desert Star’s meal tech for 4 years. Norma has now joined the administrative team as well and can usually be found at the front desk, offering compassionate guidance and assistance to clients and staff members. In her free time she continues to work on furthering her career goals.

Devyn Van Ardoy, BS, Meal Tech and Administrative Assistant

Devyn is a graduate of the University of Arizona and studied Nutrition with an emphasis in Dietetics. She is currently working towards her credentialing as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has a special focus in eating disorders and how diet can improve mental health. Born and raised in Tucson, Devyn enjoys working at Desert Star on the administrative team to help heal the community.

Susan O’Day, MS, ICADC, CMKP, Therapist

Susie O'DaySusan O’Day has a Master of Science Degree in Psychology with a specialization in addiction from Capella University.   Her special areas of interest are sexual addiction and the ways in which addressing childhood abuse can contribute to recovery from addictive disorders.  She started working in this field in 1989, and joined Desert Star after many years of working in residential settings.  She also assisted South Pacific Private in NSW, Australia with program and staff development.  Susie is experienced in the practice of equine assisted therapy.  She has been with Desert Star since 2010, and currently works as a therapist in multiple programs.


Rose Chaboya-Balboa, M.Ed., B.C.C., Therapist

Rose Chaboya-BalboaRose brings her passion and experience working with individuals in early recovery to Desert Star! Rose holds a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies from the University of Arizona and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Rose blends her bi-cultural heritage and experience in substance abuse treatment and prevention as well as behavioral and mental health diagnoses to the groups she facilitates.


Tony Redhouse, Native American Practitioner

Tony RedhouseA consultant to Native American communities as well as behavioral health organizations, Tony brings traditional healing such as sound-guided meditation, drumming, and creative arts projects to Desert Star’s gender-specific Friday night groups.



Calley Steel, MA, LPC, NCC, Therapist

Calley is a therapist with diverse experience and a special interest in the treatment of eating disorders. Bringing energy and focus to Desert Star’s Mesquite program, Calley also runs groups in other Desert Star programs and provides individual counseling. Additionally, she teaches yoga in the Tucson community.


Caila Lipovsky, LAC, Therapist

Caila LipovskyCaila earned her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She has a background in the arts and working in the nonprofit sector, including work as Creative Programs Director for I Grow Chicago, a grassroots organization providing job training, restorative justice, and a holistic response to needs in the Englewood community. She runs a supervised private practice with a strengths-based, feedback informed approach. She co-facilitates the Tucson Therapy Fund, a project which provides free, culturally competent therapy to Pima County’s BIPOC community. As a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner in training, she integrates SE™ techniques into her practice, providing a body-oriented approach to assist with healing trauma and other stress-based disorders.

Arturo Torres, MA, Therapist

​Arturo Torres is bilingual in English and Spanish. He has a bachelors in psychology and a masters in addiction counseling from Grand Canyon university. Arturo is also a former Paralympic Athlete whose focus is on the importance of staying physically active to improve mental health. He has mentored kids and adults with disabilities, addictions and in gang prevention. Arturo has also volunteered with the university of Arizona wheelchair youth sports program.

Michael Dues, Recovery Coach

Michael DuesMichael Dues, PhD, was a college professor for 45 years, the last 20 the Department of Communication at The University of Arizona. Much of his study and teaching over his career has focused on how communication affects personal and work relationships. His “Great Courses” lecture series, “The Art of Conflict Management,” has sold more than 80,000 copies. In recovery for 33 years, he is especially interested in the daunting challenge of communicating in recovery. He loves working with people who are new in recovery.

Community Feedback

“The organization has a clear and unwavering commitment to dong the right things for clients.”

“The clinical synergy reportedly experienced by the various referral sources is described as eclectic, individualized, and by no means cookie cutter in design.”

“Without promptings, clients interviewed consistently shared, ‘if it were not for Desert Star, I’d be dead.'”

“The organization’s staff members demonstrate professionalism and pride in the work they do.”

Read more about what the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) has to say.