Staff Bios


Charles Smith, LCSW — Executive Director

Charles received his Master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. He has more than 12 years experience as an administrator and therapist, including work as the Director of Outpatient Services for a large non-profit providing individual and group therapy to adolescents in Chicago’s juvenile justice system.

As Haven’s Executive Director, Charles is responsible for ensuring that Haven provides quality, evidenced-based programs to youth and families in the communities it has long served. Charles continues to assess evolving community needs and looks for solution-focused interventions to best meet the challenges families face today. Charles currently serves on the Housing Commission for the Village of Wilmette.


Katie McCarthy, LCPC, ATR-BC, CADC — Clinical Director

Katie is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Board Certified Registered Art Therapist and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and has served as Haven’s Clinical Director since the Spring of 2012.  As Haven’s Clinical Director, Katie provides clinical supervision and training to staff and interns, as well as therapy services to families and teens.   She also assists with Haven’s grant-writing, marketing, program development and general oversight.  Katie brings to Haven experience providing therapy to clients with eating and mood disorders at Insight Behavioral Health Centers, supervising therapists in Chicago Public Schools, a clinical internship at Hazelden Chicago, advocacy in the domestic violence arena and experience as adjunct faculty at the Adler School of Psychology.  Katie received her Masters of Counseling Psychology: Art Therapy in 2005 and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling in 2007 from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.  Katie is also a Certified Yoga Instructor.

Katie’s clinical areas of expertise include disordered eating and body image, substance abuse, mood disorders, and using art and yoga in therapy. 

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Nina Esshaki, LPC- High School Outreach Worker & Clinician

Nina completed her MA in Community Counseling at National Louis University in 2015 and did her third year internship here at Haven. Nina is a long-time Chicagoland resident and very familiar with the community. She is involved in outreach work at New Trier High school and provides individual, family, and group therapy. Prior to pursuing graduate work in counseling, Nina spent nearly 20 years working in Marketing. Nina is a graduate of Northwestern University, with a Bachelors degree in English and a Masters in Marketing.


Joan Madsen, LPC- Middle School Outreach Worker & Clinician

Joan Madsen is a Licensed Professional Counselor and provides therapy to teens, families and groups, as well as outreach services to area schools.  Her practice emphasizes a holistic approach to health and well-being through creative and proven therapies.  Her strengths-based work with clients includes coping with anxiety and depression, family systems, women’s issues and finding success in life transitions.  She holds a Masters’ Degree in Community Counseling from National Louis University, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design from Miami University.  Joan pursued her clinical training through an internship at Haven, where she strengthened her connection to the community and the families they serve.  Prior to her career in the social services, Joan had a long career as an interior designer, manager and consultant.  Today, she along with her husband, enjoy raising their teen daughters, volunteering in community and church settings, world travel, experiencing nature, the creative and performing arts and walking her Wheaton Terrier.

Joan’s clinical interests include anxiety and depression, adolescent transitions, adoption triad and family dynamics, parenting, women’s issues, as well as spirituality and mindfulness.

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Ellen Switalski, AMFT  — Middle School Outreach Worker & Clinician

Ellen provides informal counseling and support services to students at Marie Murphy School.  Ellen graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and Human Development & Family Studies from Michigan State University.  She then completed her Master’s of Science in Marriage & Family Therapy from Northwestern University while undergoing clinical training at The Family Institute.  Ellen provides individual family, and couple’s therapy at Haven.  She seeks to support the individual on a social, emotional and cognitive level, as well as incorporate the family environment to explore their structure, narrative and beliefs in regards to their presenting problem.

Ellen’s clinical interests include identity development, transitions across the lifespan, family dynamics and transgenerational constraints.


Kate Versage, MA — Part-Time Clinician

Kate recently completed her Masters in Mental Health Counseling with Specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy at Lesley University.  She has over 15+ years of experience as an artist, graphic designer, DJ, and stage performer. Kate incorporates the creative arts in her work in order to help others build self-confidence, foster self-awareness, increase self-esteem, and work through social, emotional, physical, and psychological issues.  She is invested in helping her clients discover what lies beneath the surface of their emotions, and leave with the knowledge that they do not need to be professional artists, musicians, writers, or performers in order to create, grow, and heal.  Kate completed her MA level internship at Haven in 2016.

Lauren Spehr- Part-Time Clinician

Lauren is currently a student at Loyola University Chicago in the Masters of Social Work program.  She received her bachelors at the University of Iowa in the Child Life Program and is a certified Child Life Specialist.  Lauren has six years experience in the hospital setting where she used play, expressive arts and leisure interests to help youth express emotions and learn coping skills.  In the days she is not at Haven, Lauren works as the Child Life Coordinator for NorthShore Hospice, supporting youth with a family member in the hospice program.  She completed her first year internship at Haven in 2017.

Job Openings:

Haven is not currently hiring.  Please check back in the future.


Haven typically accepts one summer bachelors-level intern, and 2-3 masters-level interns during the school year.

Our internships for the 2017 summer and 2017-2018 academic year are filled.  Please contact us in winter 2018 with interest in an internship for the following year.