Our Goal Is to Empower Moms
and To Help Babies Thrive

The Mommy Center Family

Cristina Gamarnik

Founder, Mommy & Me Educator, SLP, Parenting & Relationship Coach

Cristina Gamarnik, M.A., CCC-SLP
Founder, Mommy & Me Educator, Speech and Language Pathologist, Parent and Relationship Coach

  • B.A. and M.A. in Communicative Disorders 
  • Licensed Speech and Language Pathologist
  • Published Author of The Articulation & Phonology Video Assessment Tool 
  • Infant Care Specialist & Childcare Specialist
  • Positive Discipline Educator
  • Couples Coach (Using Gottman Principles)

Cristina is a mom to two boys. Before becoming a mom, she worked as an SLP in the schools and private clinics. After having her son, Cristina experienced the struggles of motherhood. Through her journey in counseling, spiritual and self-growth, she realized that her calling was to create a community for mothers who may be going through the same. She is an infant care specialist as well as a positive discipline educator. She also is trained in couples coaching through the Gottman Institute. She developed this community to be able to provide mothers with the education and support so they can be the best mother, wife and woman they desire to be.

Michelle Smith

Mommy & Me Educator, Sleep Consultant

Michelle Smith
Mommy&Me Educator, Sleep Consultant 

  • Infant specialist 
  • Baby Sleep Training Specialist
  • Baby Nurse For 15 Years 

Michelle Smith is a certified infant specialist with a background in nursing who believes in empowering the new mom with education, validation and support. She understands that the first year and beyond of motherhood is beautifully challenging.
Michelle has been leading mommy and me groups for the past 5 years and has a passion for newborns. Some of her favorite topics to educate new Moms on include sleep, breastfeeding, postpartum, baby safety, and relationship challenges. Michelle has 3 children under the age of 8 and resides in Ladera Ranch.  Prior to becoming a Mama herself she helped countless families in the postpartum adjustment process and specialized in multiples. She has a passion for helping families achieve the most amount of peace and sleep in the early months. She is a wealth of knowledge in the infant and newborn stages of life. 

Leora Robles

Lactation Consultant

Leora Robles, B.S, IBCLC
Lactation Consultant

  • B.S. – Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development
  • IBCLC – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Leora is a mom to three boys.  She founded The Breastfeeding Center of Orange County with a mission to provide compassionate, evidence-based breastfeeding support to all families regardless of their infant feeding goals.  As a mother herself who experienced an array of breastfeeding challenges, it was important to Leora to provide support and encouragement to the families she works with, ensuring they feel heard and supported along their breastfeeding journey.  The Breastfeeding Center of Orange County provides private lactation consultants, prenatal classes, and educational opportunities through an array of offerings. 

Leora lives in Orange County with her three boys and husband, Adam.

Elizabeth Pluskalowski

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Elizabeth Pluskalowski, MS OTR/L, SWC, CLEC, Pediatric Occupational Therapist

  • MS and BS in Occupational Therapy, University of New Hampshire
  • National Board Certification in Occupational Therapy
  • California Board of Occupational Therapy Advanced Practice Swallow Assessment, Evaluation, or Intervention
  • Certified Lactation Educator Counselor
  • California Children’s Services (CCS) paneled Occupational Therapist

Lizzie has been a practicing occupational therapist since 2010 and solely dedicated to pediatrics since 2011.  She has experience working in a variety of settings including major children’s hospitals (inpatient and outpatient), acute rehabilitation, early intervention programs, private practice, and school systems. Over the years, Lizzie has taken numerous advanced training courses, including: pediatric feeding/swallowing, tethered oral tissue (TOTS), neurodevelopmental treatment, sensory processing disorders, breastfeeding, upper extremity splinting/rehab, and myofascial release. Lizzie is originally from New York and studied in New Hampshire. Following grad school, she has lived/worked in Washington DC, Virginia, and Chicago before relocating to the west coast in November 2015. She is happy to now call Mission Viejo “home” where she lives with her husband Brett and one-year-old son Ari.

Emily Varon, M.S.

Behavior Specialist

Emily Varon, BCBA
Behavior Specialist 

  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst 

Emily Varon is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with a dedicated focus on sleep-related behaviors. She has worked in the field of behavior analysis since 2000 and has devoted her practice to improving the sleep habits, and related behaviors of children since 2010. Emily’s unique style of supporting parents with developing healthier support systems for their families has resulted in hundreds of success stories over the years. She is dedicated to maintaining an individual family’s values, through the process of evaluating the most appropriate strategies for a child. Her focus on sustainability of skills, versus “good” or “bad” habits, offers families a broader, long-view perspective of sleep, child development, and behavior, resulting in more sustainable results over time.

With a background rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis and child development, Emily deeply values science and research to support the strategies she offers families, and will only recommend protocols that are valid, proven methods. Emily resides in Irvine California with her husband and two tweens who delight, challenge and entertain her all day long

Carmen Stramara

Mommy & Me Educator

Carmen Stramara
Mommy & Me Educator  

  • Postpartum Doula
  • Infant Specialist
Carmen is a postpartum doula and parent of two wonders who absolutely loves to read, enjoys deep conversation and is convinced she is solar powered. Her life’s journey has had her move 8 times in the past 12 years which helped to refine the skill of finding and creating community wherever she lands. Carmen believes supportive community is the key to wellbeing and hopes to positively impact those around her. Her philosophy is that there is not one right way to parent and she enjoys lifting others to help find the right way for them. Carmen is driven to help heal the world by helping heal families in the postpartum period. 

 

Outside of reading in the sunshine, her favorite activity is having her whole family (including Happy, the dog) piled on the couch together while laughing at AFV.

Nadine Durbach

Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist

Nadine Durbach, LCSW
Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist

  • Master of Social Work from University of Toronto 
  • Gottman Level 1 Trained
  • CBT Certified
  • DBT Certified
  • Over 25 years of experience

Nadine’s mission is to support individuals, couples and families to cope with the challenges found in relationships, effective communication and healthy parenting. Her passion is empowering her clients to be their authentic and fully expressed selves. Additionally, her interest lies in supporting women to adjust to the role that Motherhood brings, and in guiding couples to healthier and happier relationships. Having raised 3 kids to young adulthood, Nadine emphasizes progress over perfection and values the kitchen table as a no-tech zone!
When not working or volunteering in the community, Nadine loves spending time with her family of 5 humans and 2 Goldendoodles. Her free time is invested in cooking, entertaining, walking at the beach, arranging flowers, traveling, and getting lost in a great book with an almond milk latte in hand. 

Nicole Zahiry

Behavior Specialist

Nicole Zahiry, M.A, BCBA
Behavior Specialist 

  • B.S. Psychology, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO) 
  • B.A. English, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO) 
  • M.A., Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), Chapman University  
  • Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) 

Nicole is a Mama to three children (13, 7, and 3) and a strong supporter of community, early intervention, and advocacy/inclusion. She has been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) since 2012 and has worked in private clinics and educational settings for nearly 15 years. She has worked closely with the autism community throughout her career providing families with evidence based behavioral assessment and treatment, access to community supports, and collaboration with school-based special needs teams to identify appropriate placement and functional goals. She is passionate about infant/toddler play (and educating new Mamas on how to incorporate it into their daily routines!), helping parents navigate challenging behavior (including sibling interactions) and supporting Mamas of children with special needs (from the initial diagnosis and beyond).  Have questions about behavior? Biting? Hitting? Tantrums? Toilet-training? Play? Nicole is our go-to gal and has you covered!

Tiffany Guardado

SLP and IBCLC

Tiffany Guardado, M.S., CCC-SLP
Bilingual SLP & IBCLC

• B.A in Communicative Disorders
• B.A. in Spanish
• M.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders
• IBCLC – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
• California Children’s Services (CCS) paneled speech-language pathologist


Tiffany has been practicing as a speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatrics since 2014. She has spent the last 8 years working with children and families from a variety of backgrounds and with various levels of needs r
elated to the feeding and swallowing process – from complex medical conditions to selective/picky eating in both a medical setting and private practice. In addition to her work as a speech-language pathologist, she became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2021 to expand her clinical practice to include specialized lactation support. She formed Tree of Life Feeding, LLC in 2020 to serve and provide families the tools necessary to begin a healthy and happy relationship related to feeding from breastfeeding and beyond. Tiffany continues to practice speech and language therapy at a major children’s hospital where she has the opportunity to work in early intervention and cognitive & communicative rehabilitation. Tiffany lives in Long Beach with her husband and two year old son.http://www.treeoflifefeeding.com

Gina Guerrero

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Gina Guerrero, M.A. 
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Masters in Arts in Psychology with an emphasis of Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University
  • Certified Gottman Level 1 and 2 

 Gina is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that has been providing service for over 16 years.  She currently see individuals, couples, families, young adults, and adolescents in her private practice.  In addition, she facilitates psycho-educational and support groups.  Her specializations are working with couples, and families faced with postpartum related depression/anxiety, infertility, loss, and families with a child with Autism.

Gina has been happily married for over 13 years and has an 11-year-old son.  Her son is on the Autism Spectrum, which provides her with a deep understanding of what families who have a child with special needs go through.  Gina and her husband been together for 20 years and have continued to grow deeper in love.  Their journey through health issues, infertility, loss, and raising their special needs son has been met with so many challenges.  They put their marriage first and continue to nurture and prioritize spending time together.  Her professional and personal experience adds a deeper level of understanding, and empathy for her clients. 

Malaika Clelland

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Malaika Clelland
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Certified Perinatal Mental Health Therapist
  • Registered Play Therapist
  • EMDR Trained
  • Bringing Baby Home Trained: Education for expectant and new parents to help in the transition to parenthood.
  • Trained in TBRI (Trust Based Relational Therapy) geared towards adopted children who have had difficult early life experiences

 Malaika’s years of experience as a mom and therapist have given her a lot of insight into the challenges of motherhood and parenting. She holds her certification as a Perinatal Mental Health Therapist which means she is specifically trained (and tested!) to work with women and moms in the perinatal period and beyond. In addition, her specific training in EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) is an amazing tool to help work through a difficult pregnancy, miscarriage, NICU and /or birth trauma.

Malaika offers therapy sessions in her Mission Viejo office and online therapy for moms and parents who live anywhere in California. Beyond working with moms and growing families, she loves coffee, cooking Thai food, travel, exercise, and playing in the sun with her beach-loving family. 

Sally Morcos

Physical Therapist

Sally Morcos, PT, DPT, PCS
Pediatric Physical Therapist

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California
  • Board certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist 

Sally has been practicing pediatric physical therapy since 2006 and obtained her PCS in 2011. She worked at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for 10 years where she gained extensive experience in the management of high-risk infants and developmental delay. Over the years she has developed expertise in infant movement and development. She has been an assistant lab instructor in pediatric courses in the physical therapy programs at USC and APU. In 2016 she transitioned into private practice where she primarily treats infants and toddlers with developmental delay and torticollis. She strives to use her knowledge and experience to help parents promote the development of gross motor skills through play.
Her passion for helping children move extends beyond the clinic. Sally is one of the co-founders and current president of Red Star Riders, a non-profit organization that provides adaptive tricycles to children with special needs and physical disabilities.

Sally lives in San Dimas with her husband, who is also a Physical Therapist and owner of MOTUS Specialists Physical Therapy, and their 3 children ranging in age from 10 years old to 2 years old.

 

McKenna Curtiss

Chat N' Play Teacher

McKenna Curtiss, B.S. 
Chat N’ Play Teacher 

•Bachelor of Science in Child Development

McKenna is a boy mama of two. Easton is 3 and Jett is 8 months. Her, along with her boys and husband, are from sunny Orange County, CA! While she has her degree in child development, she is currently enjoying every moment of being a stay-at-home-mama and raising her boys. She loves everything about littles + mamahood, and since becoming a mama her passion has grown even more! She loves connecting and engaging with other mamas! You can find her and her boy crew at the beach, park, or adventuring somewhere fun! She loves planning activities for her babes, going all out for all holidays, and just celebrating life REAL BIG! She’s so happy to be part of the team!

Mike Lerner

M.A., LMFT

Michael Lerner, M.A., LMFT #120263
Owner Five Star Marriage and Family Therapy

  • B. S. in Clinical Psychology & M.A. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Currently finishing a Psy.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Trauma informed therapist

Mike hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and has been in Southern California since 2006. After spending four years at the University of Oregon running triathlons, and finishing with degrees in psychology, special education, and substance abuse counseling, he moved to Thousand Oaks to pursue a career in Marriage and Family Therapy. Mike’s background is in community mental health, as well as addiction work where he worked at many rehab clinics in LA and OC, as well as time spent at the west LA VA. Mike currently owns and operates a private practice in Tustin. Mike loves sports, especially ice hockey, which he enjoys both watching and playing.

Kelly Petrovski

Photographer
Kelly Petrovski
Photographer and Postpartum Doula

Kelly is a professional family photographer, postpartum doula and serious ice cream lover. She grew up with sandy shores and sun kissed days. She is a mama to 4 wild littles, and yes, spontaneous identical twins! She is married to her best friend. She has a deep desire to connect with this world around her. Photography is her passion! It gives her the satisfaction of just that without losing sight of the little things. You can find her watching the sunset, taking pictures, sea shell hunting and spending time with the ones she loves.
Her passion beyond her family is capturing beautiful moments and turning them into images for other people; images that demonstrate the very unique bonds shared between family and lovers. She specializes in newborn, maternity and family photography. Motherhood. The belly laughs, the sweet kisses, the glances between soulmates, the giggles between siblings, the happy tears, and to be real…sometimes it’s a beautiful mess. She is here to capture these candid moments and create memories of these special times.

Cami Leenstra

Labor and Delivery Nurse

Cami Leenstra, RN, BSN
Birthing Class Educator 

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing University of Rochester
  • BS Psychology Cal Poly SLO
  • Labor & Delivery RN for 5 years
  • Perinatal Diagnostic and Treatment Center RN for 2 years
  • Baby Friendly Training Certified
  • Advanced Fetal Monitoring Certified
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certified

Cami is a Registered Nurse specializing in the areas of high risk pregnancies in the antepartum period, Labor and Delivery, postpartum, and recovery. She lives in Mission Viejo and has two kids under 3 years old. Cami believes every woman should be fully educated and have the ability to have true informed consent during one of the most incredible yet vulnerable times in a woman’s life during labor. Cami is straightforward and likes to keep it real, and no question is off limits for her to answer!

Whitney Sippl, DPT, WCS

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

Whitney Sippl, DPT, WCS
Physical Therapist

  • Women’s Health Physical Therapist
  • Board Certified Women’s Clinical Specialist

Dr. Whitney Sippl is a mama of two little ones.  She treats women in their homes throughout Orange County and at a clinic in Costa Mesa, CA through her company Restored Physique Physical Therapy.  She’s passionate about promoting awareness, well-being, and healing with a goal of empowering women during the prenatal and postnatal periods to address discomforts or concerns.  Many women are told that symptoms such as incontinence, painful intercourse, scar pain, pelvic or back pain, pelvic pressure or abdominal separation (diastasis) are normal during pregnancy or after having a baby; however, though COMMON, these conditions are not “NORMAL” and there are many ways to address these concerns.  Whitney loves teaching women ways to take care of themselves during pregnancy and how to get their bodies back after childbirth and she is also the mom of two little ones.

In addition to treating the moms, Dr. Whitney also treats kids with pelvic symptoms such as constipation, urinary leaking, bedwetting, bowel leaks, abdominal or pelvic pain, and painful periods.  She also works with families for potty training and addressing potty training difficulties.

Dr. Calahan

Pediatric and Perinatal Chiropractor

Dani Calahan, D.C
Pediatric and Perinatal Chiropractor

  • Doctorate of Chiropractic, Southern California University of Health Sciences
  • Pediatric and Prenatal Trained Specialist
 

Dr. Calahan was born and raised in Long Beach, Ca. She is a part of the third generation of her family to graduate from Wilson. While at Wilson, she led her soccer team to a CIF, State, and National Championship her senior year. she went on to play division one collegiate soccer for the University of San Diego, where she obtained her BA in Sociology. Dr. Calahan has come to appreciate over the years the importance of spinal health and its link to the prevention of injury. She has been trained to provide service to all individuals just born to the elderly. 
In her free time, Dr. Calahan loves spending time with her husband, Mike, and son, Jack (16 mo). They spend a lot of time going for walks in our neighborhood and hanging out at coffee shops. They love coffee and cooking meals together.  She is also an avid reader and loves going to bookstores to pick out new books for herself and for Jack. 

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