Meet Our Team
Townsend’s team represents the highest level of professional expertise and personal dedication to addiction treatment. This is why they deliver exceptional care every day to our patients.
Howard Wetsman, MD Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Howard Wetsman founded the Townsend outpatient addiction centers of South Louisiana, where he is currently the Chief Medical Officer. At Townsend, Dr. Wetsman has been developing a pharmacogenetic sequencing algorithm to increase scientific accuracy, provide better individualization, and yield better outcomes in the treatment of addiction.
The author of three books, including QAA: Questions and Answers on Addiction, Dr. Wetsman began his career as a naval medical officer. He rose to the role of Medical Director for the Naval Medical Center’s Crisis Intervention Unit in Portsmouth, Virginia, where his exemplary service earned him a Meritorious Service Medal.
Dr. Wetsman is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and certified in Addiction Medicine by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He maintains duties as a Clinical Assistant Professor at LSU School of Medicine and lectures frequently on topics related to the Neurobiology of Addiction, including the latest developments in Genetics and Addiction.
You can read his leading edge discussions about addiction treatment and genetic testing at addictiondoctor.org
Michael Handley Chief Executive Officer
Michael Handley is an elected member of the American College of Addiction Treatment Administrators. Previously, he was an executive in the software and technology industry before his own personal battles with alcoholism lead to his current career in addiction treatment. He serves as the head of Townsend Press, a publishing company specializing in literature about the disease of addiction. Mr. Handley has given keynote addresses to organizations including The Economist, Alabama Council of Community Mental Health Providers, and the Louisiana Association of Substance Abuse Counselors and Trainers. He actively advocates for making addiction treatment more accessible and affordable in the United States.
JJ Fletcher Executive Vice President and General Counsel
JJ brings a unique blend of legal and addiction treatment management experience to Townsend. Prior to joining Townsend, he worked for Liskow & Lewis and Fisher & Phillips where he practiced in the areas of employment law, business law, and commercial litigation. He graduated magna cum laude from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Prior to attending law school, JJ was the operations manager for an addiction treatment facility.
Jeb Bird Vice President of Clinical Services
Jeb has over 35 years’ experience working in the addiction treatment field. He has served in numerous capacities, from counselor to executive director and quality management director. Jeb completed his graduate studies at The Pennsylvania State University, and post-graduate training at the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Philadelphia.
Melissa Richardson Vice President of Human Resources
Melissa brings 15 years of “hands-on” human resource experience including benefits administration, employee relations, performance management, strategic planning, and compliance with state and federal regulations. She has used her extensive knowledge of HR best practices and employment law to create and implement HR policies and procedures for multiple companies. She has earned three national HR certifications – Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and Physician Recruiting Consultant (PRC). Melissa is a summa cum laude graduate of Western Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communications, focusing on organizational and human resource management.
Natashia Cheatham Director of Operations
Natashia joins Townsend as our Director of Operations bringing with her several years of experience in the healthcare industry. She has served in a multitude of capacities throughout her career. Natashia specializes in logistics and operations management, industrial and organizational behavior, patient relations, and strategic and organizational planning. She is also trained in conflict management, team building, and personnel development.
Natashia received her Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University and her master’s degree in Health Services Administration from Mississippi College.
Kristie Guidry Manager of New Site Development
Kristie began her career with Townsend in 2007. She has worked in several different capacities including provider relations, insurance verification, utilization review, intake and admissions, finance and has assumed the role of Manager of Decision Support Team in 2011. Kristie and her team are responsible for removing barriers that would otherwise limit an individual’s ability to enter into treatment. She has a background in nursing but it was not until she was introduced to the field of addiction that she found her calling. Kristie is passionate about being of service to our patients and their families and making a difference.
Kennon Wilson Manager of Patient Finance
Kennon began working with Townsend in 2011 as Account Manager of Billing. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A native of Lafayette, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and golf.