Chris Johstoneaux

Executive Director


Jake McNelley

Residential Director


Josh Nordean

Clinical Director

Chris Johstoneaux

Chris has 22 years of experience working with adolescents in residential treatment, therapeutic and boarding school settings.

Having worked as a Therapist, Administrator and Program Staff, Chris specializes in building appropriate relationships with students and families and the clinical assessment and treatment of a wide variety of therapeutic challenges. Chris has consistently and successfully worked with students, parents and professionals to support families and change lives.

Chris earned his Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of Utah, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in several states.

When Chris is not working, he and his wife are busy with their five boys. He is an avid sports fan and is often found enjoying the outdoors and watching soccer.


Contact: chris.johstoneaux@embarkbh.com

Josh Nordean

Josh Nordean joined Embark at The Forge as the Clinical Director after serving at Calo since 2016 as a therapist, Program Director and Director of Clinical Services. Since 2001, Josh has worked with young men and their families in a variety of settings as a teacher, coach, youth pastor, case manager, crisis intervention specialist and therapist. Josh graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma State University with an M.S. in Community Counseling. Josh has a heart for providing a CASA experience for young men and their families and serving as a mentor on the road towards healthy manhood. Through his years of experience working with boys from a variety of socioeconomic, racial and cultural backgrounds, Josh has come to believe that boys need specific mentors and role models to show them how to harness and focus their strength into productive rather than destructive ventures. He is excited to be a part of a team who aims to set a new standard in boy specific treatment. When not working, Josh enjoys anything related to sports and being outdoors and loves spending time with his wife, three sons and two boxers.

Contact: josh.nordean@embarkbh.com

Jake McNelley

Residential Director, Jake McNelley, manages all aspects of the milieu with a smile.

Working as Assistant Residential Director from August 2021- September 2022, Jake has a withstanding history of excellence in leading and developing teams. He brings these skills to the Residential Department alongside his steady and secure therapeutic relationships with both our staff and students.


Contact: jake.mcnelley@embarkbh.com


Kristen Thompson

Enrollment Director

Nurse Nat

Natalie Powell, RN

Nursing Director


Dr. Cassandra Simms


Natalie Powell, RN

Natalie Powell is the Nursing Director and head of Health Services at Embark at The Forge.  Natalie brings years of experience from working as a nurse in Emergency Departments across the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida as well as experience in Inpatient Behavioral Health.


Natalie enjoys helping, teaching, and encouraging others to take care of their physical and mental health for overall personal well-being.  As a mother of three children, she stays very active.  When not working, you will find Natalie hiking, camping, whitewater rafting, or relaxing with her family at the lake.


Contact: natalie.powell@embarkbh.com

Dr. Cassandra Simms

Dr. Cassandra Simms is board certified in Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.


Dr. Simms received her medical degree from the University of Kentucky in 1999. She completed her Psychiatry Residency and Child/Adolescent Fellowship at the University of South Carolina. During her residency, she served on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Residency Selection Committee, and was chosen to be Chief Resident for the Child & Adolescent Fellowship Program.


In May 2004, Dr. Simms moved to Chattanooga Tennessee with her family where she started her professional career with Focus Psychiatric Services, Inc. and Parkridge Valley Hospital treating children and adolescents in an outpatient and inpatient setting until August 2012.


In August 2012, Dr. Simms took a position with Community Health Systems via Skyridge Medical Center now known as Tennova Healthcare in Cleveland Tennessee. She provided outpatient care to adults and children at Behavioral Health of Cleveland and inpatient care to adults at Pineridge Treatment Center (Tennova Behavioral Health) via acute hospitalization, inpatient consultation and intensive outpatient programs until August 2015.


It was in August 2015, Dr. Simms transitioned to her outpatient private practice as a co-owner of Comprehensive Psychiatric Care, PLLC in Chattanooga Tennessee. She has been joined by several therapists and a Nurse Practitioner to provide services to our beloved community. Dr. Simms collaborates with Healthconnect of America to provide supervision to nurse practitioners in the surrounding area and with Allied Behavioral Services, Inc. to provide consistent medication management services to their clients.


In November 2020 while continuing her outpatient services, Dr. Simms was thrilled to join the Embark Behavioral Health’s newest program, Embark at The Forge, a behavioral residential treatment center for boys in Benton, Tennessee. She will serve as the Psychiatric Service Director to oversee and provide the psychiatric care to the residents referred to the facility.


During her 17 years as a provider, Dr. Simms has also found a passion for teaching students through her clinical experiences. In 2009, Dr. Simms became a faculty member with the University of Tennessee School of Medicine where she briefly served as preceptor for medical students for a portion of their psychiatry rotation. In 2012, Dr. Simms contracted with Lincoln Memorial University’s Physician Assistant program providing their behavioral health clinical experience. Dr. Simms hopes through her current clinical experiences that she can continue to educate upcoming providers and provide them with a thorough clinical psychiatric experience. This is with the hope to make upcoming providers aware of the need for good psychiatric care in our communities and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

Kristen Thompson

Kristen Thompson joined Embark at The Forge in February of 2021.  She has a foundation in purpose-driven work.  Her background includes experienced work as a Marketing Coordinator with a demonstrated history of working in both print and digital media, and social media marketing.   In addition, Kristen has been working with children in and out of the school system for nearly a decade.  She has a longstanding education in Cultural Studies, and it is the combination of these varying backgrounds which led her to her current role at The Forge.


As the Enrollment Director, she has the integral opportunity of supporting families through the emotional road of finding the right care for their child. Within this role comes marketing and meaningful content development.  Providing a consistent and clear message to educate families is organic to this process.  She believes the best way to approach life is to show up with an open mindset and she structures this into her engagement with the families that Embark at The Forge supports.


Contact: kristen.thompson@embarkbh.com