Our Staff

Our clinical team brings a wealth of experience to treatment services

  • Years of serving those without resources
  • Staff who teach in the addiction field
  • Staff with personal recovery experience
  • Experience serving the toughest addiction cases
  • Staff who care about you


Joel Stiles, Ph.D.


Dr. Joel Stiles is a licensed clinical psychologist who currently serves as the CEO of New Life Community Services. He began his career at New Life in 2001 as an addiction therapist and later completed his Bachelors at Bethany College. In 2006 he obtained his masters in Marital and Family Therapy from Western Seminary with an emphasis on integration of Psychology and Christian faith.  He then ventured to Palo University and completed a masters in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. with an emphasis in Forensic Psychology. He is overjoyed to be involved in supporting New Life in delivering cutting edge services.

As a Clinical Psychologist Joel works for Santa Cruz County Integrated Behavioral Health delivering services in a primary care setting and providing consultation with medical providers. He previously worked for the Monterey County Children’s Behavioral Health where he provided evaluations and reports for the Dependency Court followed by recommending and providing treatment for families torn apart by drug addiction and abuse. Beginning in 2013 he worked with the Juvenile Court system evaluating and treating youth charged with sex offenses.

Stacey Palau, MA

Executive Director

Stacey Palau brings year of experience in non-profit administration and a passion for serving those who are disenfranchised, specifically those in the recovery community.  Stacey has served as the Director and Case Manager for the Salvation Army Transitional Housing Program in Watsonville, CA during it’s inception following the Loma Prieta Earthquake. In 2004, Stacey and her husband, George, moved to Tijuana, Mexico.  George and Stacey were the founders and directors of Grace Children’s Home, an orphanage established in conjunction with local authorities and continues to actively serve children.

After a decade of service in the Children’s Home, Stacey and her family returned to Santa Cruz when they were introduced to the recovery community and principles.  Stacey also completed the Addiction Studies program at William Jessup University and worked as an Intern at New Life.

Stacey possess a Master of Arts in Education and currently teaches in the Addiction Studies program at William Jessup University. She also brings bilingual and bi-cultural expertise to support the participants of New Life.

Gina Wilhelm, CATC-III

Deputy Clinical Director

Elisa Dakiwag, LMFT

Gemma Program Director

"What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" - Mark 8:36

"The program gave me the opportunity to find recovery - With support from the staff and the classes at New Life, God changed the course of my life"

"The length of the program was designed to give me the long-term support I needed - I loved my counselor"

"The outpatient services were great, allowing me to work in the community and get the treatment I needed"