Our Team

Meet Our Team

We’re here for you.

Our team is made up of highly-qualified mental health professionals that are kind and compassionate.


Michael I. Montgomery


Michael is an Independent Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with Supervision distinction (IMFT-S) with over 20 years experience working with individuals, couples and families. Therapy with Michael is marked by a non-pathogenic view of the individual. Symptoms are most often seen as plausible reactions given one’s personal frame of reference and contextual circumstances. Michael has experience treating Disorders of Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, and Behavioral Disorders, while also working with ethnically diverse populations, and LGBTQ populations. 

His treatment approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy (assessing and changing environmental triggers and thoughts contributing to a problem) and family systems therapy (assessing and changing family dynamics). Michael believes good therapy involves change on the part of the individual, couples and families as well as the clinician. His clients consistently report that he has a non-shaming, empowering, effective therapeutic approach. 

Michael received his undergraduate degree from Metropolitan State University and his Master’s Degree from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Nadege Howerton

Clinical Director

Nadege is an Independent Licensed Marriage and Family therapist with 20 years experience working with individuals, couples, and families through school-based therapy and outpatient settings.

Nadege views therapy as a joint venture where shared knowledge and skills are combined to create solutions. Nadege works from a collaborative, strength-based approach, assisting and supporting clients to be the author of their own lives. She works with clients experiencing anxiety, depression, disruptive behaviors, relationship challenges, family changes, parenting, self-esteem, trauma, and is LGBTQIA+ friendly. 

Nadege received her undergraduate degree from SUNY Albany and her Master’s degree from Hofstra University. 

Jaizane Russell

Mental Health Professional

In her practice, Jai strives to develop a safe and trusting relationship as it’s the foundation of successful psychotherapy. Jai takes a holistic approach to working with her clients in the therapy room. Jai practices from a strengths based framework and knows that one cannot be treated in isolation, but rather within the family and environmental systems they engage with every day.

Jai begins her work with clients by meeting them exactly where they are at, showing empathy and compassion and providing a non-judgmental space for them to process through their experiences. Jai has extensive experience working with adolescents in a school-based setting.  

Jai brings over 5 years experience conducting diagnostic assessments, treatment plans and administering psychological assessment tools to children and adolescents. Jai received her undergraduate and graduate degree from the University of Akron.  

Julia Watkins

Mental Health Professional 

With over 20 years dedicated in the mental health field, Julia is experienced in various capacities of mental health including, community mental health, crisis counseling, and individual therapy. Creating a warm, validating and safe environment that makes clients feel comfortable is a high priority for Julia. She collaborates with clients to identify goals and address barriers to change.

She utilizes an integrative approach to counseling using a variety of therapy techniques such as client-centered, CBT/DBT, developmental, and holistic approaches. A large portion of Julia’s work has been with adults experiencing serious mental illnesses including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD/complex trauma, and anxiety.

Julia received her undergraduate degree from Hiram college and her Master’s degree from Malone University. 

Felicia Daniels

Mental Health Professional

Felicia graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a Masters of Science in Social Administration with a trauma certificate.

She has experience working with adults, families, and teenagers with a variety of presenting mental health concerns. She has experience working with trauma, depression, and anxiety. She works with her clients to process relationships and communication barriers and specializes in increasing their distress tolerance. Felicia uses Mindfulness and CBT techniques. She is a trauma-informed clinician with a focus on cultural competence and cultural humility. 

Jayma Gill

Mental Health Professional

Jayma is a licensed Social worker with 9 years of experience working with youth and families in school-based services. Jayma is committed to providing the best quality of service to individuals, couples and families. Jayma utilizes a client-centered approach to therapy, she believes in providing a strength based approach that focuses on self-determination and
resiliency. Jayma has experience working with anxiety, depression, disruptive behavior, self-esteem, grief, ADHD and ODD. Jayma utilizes mindfulness, CBT and SFT techniques.

Jayma is empathic, passionate and determined to assist youth and adults reach their goals. Jayma has experience in community based mental health services and group therapy. Jayma has extensive experience working with diverse populations.

In her spare time Jayma likes to write poetry, journal and spend time with family and friends. Jayma earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Akron in 2014 and her Masters degree from Capella University in 2022.

Takisha Strowder

Mental Health Therapist

Takisha is an authentic, sincere and empathic therapist who seeks to assist clients with their mental health challenges.  Takisha brings lived experience in the areas of homelessness, grief and loss, and unemployment.  Takisha has experienced first hand the destruction of the family due to mental health and addiction.  

Takisha is a community liaison and seeks to help others overcome barriers to mental health.  Takisha brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her time as a case manager for various organizations.  Takisha received her B.A. from Central State University in 2012 where she was also a member of Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology.  She is a recent graduate of the University of Phoenix.  In her spare time she enjoys shopping, event planning and playing with her dog.  

“My overall goal is to remove barriers and stigmas associated with mental health, normalize seeking mental health services and continue to spread awareness of mental health.”

Desiree Scott


Desiree is a Social Work Graduate student with Case Western Reserve University. Desiree’s work in mental health began with Substance Abuse Counseling. Desiree believes in compassion, empathy, and providing a safe space for her clients.

Desiree’s passion for helping began at a young age. Desiree wants to work to change the stigma associated with mental health and substance abuse by providing education and resources. Desiree has experience working with adolescents and adults. She has experience in group therapy, diagnostic assessments, treatment plans, and individual sessions. Her background includes working in private practice as well as some non-profit work. Desiree hopes to be able to serve you, to meet your needs, effectively and efficiently.


Sarah Montgomery

Office Manager

Sarah oversees the day-to-day administrative functions of Empower operations and serves as a liaison with the company’s office services, human resources, information systems, accounting, records management, and marketing departments. She assists in the development and implementation of Empower’s policies and procedures; works with outreach, recruitment and marketing. 

Sarah develops and maintains effective relationships with community partners including for profit and non-profit organizations, churches, and community groups. Sarah is the first point of entry and her warm and friendly approach lends itself in helping clients feel welcome, safe and valued.

Raymond Williams

Financial Consultant

Ray has over twenty years in the financial industry. Ray started in the field of finance with American General Life and Accident Insurance Company. He rose through the ranks at AGLA and was inducted into the National Leaders Club and was a 1999 Trophy Campaign Recipient. Ray was recruited to First Union Bank as a licensed banker where he received his series 6, 63 and life insurance designations.

Ray continued to put the customer first and was rewarded for his efforts by being promoted to Financial Specialist where he was responsible for growing and maintaining assigned books of business for small businesses and he focused on identifying holistic solutions to address the changing needs of the small business owner.

Currently, Ray is the Relationship Manager at Quaint Oak bank in Philadelphia, PA managing  loans, investments and deposits. Ray is a huge advocate for financial literacy in public schools, business communities and he volunteers his time to local businesses and nonprofits through various boards.

Gia Bell

Marketing/Outreach Consultant

Gia D. Bell is a passionate servant leader, who is frequently called upon for her advocacy for Autism and underrepresented populations. Gia was recently awarded the Women’s Network Leadership Institute Laura Allio Emerging Leaders award at the Greater Akron Chamber. She was also the recipient of the 30 For the Future Award through the Young Professional Network. Gia has received Congressional Recognition from her work on Autism. She led the project at Cleveland Clinic Akron General to designate Cleveland Clinic the first Adult Autism Friendly Hospital in the nation. 

Gia serves on the following boards:

  • United Way of Summit and Medina County
  • Women’s Network Leadership Institute Leadership Council
  • Fund Development Task force at the Akron Urban League Young Professionals
  • Ohio Gap Closers

She is a member of the Autism Society of Greater Akron, ATHENA Women and Leadership, Women’s Network Leadership Institute, Change Direction Committee, and the Greater Akron Chamber. Gia received her undergraduate degree from Kent State University.

Interested in joining our team?

If you value culture, authenticity, and the ability to bring your whole self to a company and position, then Empower Counseling Services is the place for you.