Our Team

Our Team


Medical Director

A member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, Dr. A. Patrick Brooks has served as the Medical Director of Serenity Grove since March 2017.

Dr. Brooks received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1976 from The University of Georgia. In 1980 he earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia.  Dr. Brooks completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Brooks has practiced at Athens Internal Medicine since 1983, where he is the founding partner. An avid Georgia Bulldog alumnus, Dr. Brooks became the team physician for The University of Georgia football team in 1989 and served in that capacityfor a number of years.


Founder &Administrator  

Jay Veal, MS, APRN, CARN founded Serenity Grove in 2016.Mr. Veal is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), holds a Bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of Georgia, anursing degree from Athens Area Technical College, and a Masters of Science degree from California University of Pennsylvania, with a specialty certification in nurse anesthesia from The Washington Hospital in Washington, PA. Jay is as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) since 1999. Mr. Veal first entered the field of addiction care by founding and operating a sober living community in 2009. In 2014, Jay collaborated with Karen Skinner, MED, GCADC III to co-found Athens Addiction Recovery Center (AARC), a licensed partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient treatment center, accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Mr. Veal is honored to hold the designation of Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN) from IntNSA, a specialty organization founded in 1975 for registered nurses committed to the prevention, intervention, treatment, and management of substance use disorders. In addition to his specialty experience as an advanced practice registered nurse, with specialties both in anesthesia and the care of clients with substance use disorders, Mr. Veal has met all requirements to sit for the Advanced Alcohol & Drug Addiction Counselor examination in 2018. Jay’s vision for Serenity Grove is better access to care for clients through easily accessible, state-of-the-art outpatient facilities, anchored by the flagship residential addiction treatment center headquartered in Athens, GA. In his leisure time, Jay enjoys international and domestic travel, motor sports, and most of all, spending time with his sons Max & Clark. Jay has passionately supported causes such as The Victory Junction Gang Camp, Heart Ministries, Penfield Christian Homes, & The Atlanta Union Mission. Jay and his sons reside in the heart of The Classic City.


Clinical Director

Serenity Grove was founded in Athens, Georgia. Our treatment center was born under the clinical direction of certified addiction counselor, Karen Skinner, MED, GCADC III.With over two decades of experience in the field of substance abuse counseling, Karen is well respected among her peers in the addiction treatment community. Over the years, Karen has helped hundreds of hurting and hopeless individuals and their families find hope, behavioral change and lasting recovery.  


Clinical Supervisor, Clinical Social Worker, & Master Addiction Counselor  

Tommie L. (Larry) Walton, III has worked in behavioral healthcare, consultation, and training since 1973. He serves as the Clinical Supervisor for the Serenity Grove counseling staff and maintains his primary office at the Athens, GA treatment center.

During his tenure in the Behavioral Health Care field, Mr. Walton has created successful and innovative programs in both the public and private sectors. In addition to his involvement at Serenity Grove, he has a thriving private practice in psychotherapy and addiction treatment (www.recoverycafe.com) where he uses daily the methods he teaches. Serenity Grove and Recovery Café enjoy a collaborative affiliation, often working together to provide clients’ services and options unavailable at more traditional treatment programs. Larry is also a co-founder of The In House Group (www.in-house-group.com), a concierge practice taking recovery to people where they live and travel, a unique option in the field of dual-diagnosis addiction treatment and the ultimate in personalized care.

Larry alternates time between Georgia, Idaho and Wyoming and is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in those states. He has attained certification as a Master Addiction Counselor and Clinical Supervisor. As a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers he is trained as a trainer in Motivational Interviewing and as a Motivational Interviewing supervisor.

Larry breeds, trains and competes Catahoula Leopard Dogs (six national championships). As a National Outdoor Leadership School Graduate and Leave No Trace Trainer, he delights in being outdoors.




Dr. Mark Brechtel, a licensed psychologist, earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Florida in 2003 and now has over a decade of experience in evidence-based dual-diagnosis addiction treatment therapies and modalities.  He has been with Serenity Grove since our beginning.

Dr. Brechtel believes, first and foremost, that individuals are unique. His philosophy is based on the primary premise that there is no single approach that is 'correct' for everyone. He adapts his work to each client's unique personality, goals and needs. Dr. Brechtel does not expect the client to come to fit into any pre-existing theoretical mold. Secondly, Dr. Brechtel understands that each individual possesses a diversity of characteristics - thoughts, feelings, beliefs, behaviors, relationships, histories, goals - and that these cannot be meaningfully separated in therapy any more than in life. States Dr. Brechtel, “When I work with you, the goal and approach is to understand who you are and how you live, where you come from and where you'd like to go - how you think, feel, believe, act, and interact with others, and to find the best way I can help you live the best life possible with the challenges that come with substance use disorder.”  Dr. Brechtel can assist individual clients, couples, and families with a broad spectrum of mental health issues.

Dr. Brechtel is a lover of nature.  In his spare time, he enjoys travels to remote places, and photography of the cultural aspects and natural wonders each locale presents.  He has a particular fondness for SCUBA diving and underwater photography.


Licensed Professional Counselor

Kendall P. Weinberg holds a master’s degree in Community Counseling from the University of Georgia. Kendall is the past WRC Director at MARR Women’s Recovery Center. Kendall enjoys working with groups, individuals, and their families to facilitate empowerment, incorporate the principles of recovery, and create a balance in physical, spiritual and emotional health. Kendall has fifteen years of experience helping others discover or rediscover the innate strengths that will allow them to align their beliefs, emotions and values for a more fulfilling life. She has a calm, centered demeanor, which creates a space for openness and acceptance. In her spare time, Kendall enjoys reading, watching college football, freshwater fishing, writing, and traveling with her husband.  She also participates in local women’s book and writing circles.  She has been a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia since 2006 and maintains membership with the Licensed Professional Counselor Association of Georgia.


Certified Addiction Counselor  

Mike Bowden has been involved in substance abuse recovery and counseling for over a decade. During that time he has assisted clients in developing strategies to manage stress, identify values, set goals, and achieve their full potential. His approach to counseling is collaborative and strength-based, employing modalities from CBT, Motivational Interviewing, and 12-step programs, incorporating community resources whenever beneficial and feasible. His breadth of experience as a counselor has given Mike strong interpersonal, motivational, and behavior change skills. 

Mike loves living in the northeast Georgia area. States Mike, “There is nothing better than Saturday afternoon in Athens watching college football with family and friends, and being a part of an incredible recovery community.


Amanda Coan bio here.


Registered Nurse 

Bio coming soon.


Licensed Practical Nurse & CADC - T

Bio coming soon.


Addiction Counselors

Bio coming soon.


Recovery Coaches  

John Marr, with 35 years of personal sobriety, is no stranger to helping others both find a path to sobriety and learn to live useful and happy lives without a need for mood-altering chemicals. John has completed the education & training for Certified Addiction Counselor I, and also successfully completed trainings for Level I & and Level II of the evidence-based Prime Solutions recovery curriculum. 


Peer Support Specialists

Bios coming soon.