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Staff Bios

Dr. Christopher Grala, Executive Director

Dr. Grala is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 30 years experience providing direct care and senior management services within residential, inpatient, and long-term care settings. Dr. Grala’s previous positions have included Clinical Director of two psychiatric hospitals in the Philadelphia area, Administrator of a residential treatment facility in Ephrata, PA, and Regional Director for a behavioral health management company overseeing the operations of five mental health agencies in the Central and SE regions of PA. Dr. Grala most recently served as Clinical Director of Spirit of Gheel and Regional Clinical Advisor for a national geriatric health care company providing psychological services to long-term care facilities. Dr. Grala is the author of published papers in two professional psychology journals, and is a Member of the American Psychological Association. He is currently Certified as a Personal Care Home Administrator in the Commonwealth of PA.

Vanessa Perez, Director of Operations

Vanessa Perez is the Director of Operations at the Spirit of Gheel. She has a social work degree from Cabrini College and extensive experience working with those struggling with serious mental illness. The settings where she honed her clinical skills include experiences in an emergency inpatient psychiatric hospital and community psychiatric residences where she was as a program manager.

In addition to her experience with those struggling with serious and persistent mental illness she also has expertise in dealing with individuals dually diagnosed with substance abuse disorders and mental illness. Throughout her career, Vanessa has focused on promoting personal recovery through assisting individuals in crisis to begin the process of initiating trusting, reparative relationships with others. Vanessa is currently Certified as a Personal Care Home Administrator in the Commonwealth of PA.

Jake Talley, Clinical Director

Jake Talley is a licensed clinical social worker with a Masters degree from Widener University. He has been providing compassionate care to the “Friends” at the Spirit of Gheel in many capacities since 2004, most recently as Social Worker.

Since 2009, Jake has also been on the staff of a local community mental health organization, providing psychotherapy to individuals, families, couples and students on a part time basis. Jake earned a certificate from Bryn Mawr College after completing extensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a concentration in Mood, Anxiety and Personality Disorders; Obsessive Compulsive and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders; Children, Adolescent, Couples, Family and Sex Therapies. Jake is currently Certified as a Personal Care Home Administrator in the Commonwealth of PA.