Charles F. Lester, Jr., Ph.D.

Dr. Lester was raised in rural Illinois and joined the Marines immediately after high school. After a four year enlistment, he attended Illinois State University, completing his bachelors and masters degrees in psychology. Dr. Lester earned his doctorate at the University of Northern Colorado.

Dr. Lester moved from Colorado to Alaska in 1986. He is an avid outdoorsman, who enjoys hunting, fishing, snow machining, etc.

Dr. Lester works extensively with individuals experiencing a wide range of behavioral and emotional challenges. He has served as a clinical and behavioral consultant for many different human service agencies and school districts throughout Alaska.

Dr. Lester is an adjunct faculty member for the psychology department at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and was founder of the masters degree program in counseling psychology at Alaska Pacific University.

Currently, Dr. Lester is clinically active in providing parenting support and individual psychotherapy for people experiencing challenges associated with Autism spectrum disorder, severe challenging behaviors, and developmental disabilities.

As well as providing clinical services at Psychology Resources, Dr. Lester is currently conducting research and program development in the area of occupational behavioral health for those who work within the human services field.


Cathy von Hippel, Ph.D.

Dr. von Hippel is a lifelong Alaskan and a licensed clinical psychologist. She earned a bachelors in English Literature at Dartmouth College, a masters in Fine Arts at the University of Michigan, and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.  Dr. von Hippel completed an American Psychological Association internship in child psychology and serious mental illness. She completed post-doctoral training in pediatric mood and anxiety disorders.

Dr. von Hippel specializes in mood disorders, anxiety disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and giftedness.  She works with children, adolescents, adults, and parents.  Dr. von Hippel conducts psychological evaluations, individual psychotherapy, group therapy and community training. She facilitates social skills psychotherapy groups for teenagers on the Autism spectrum. Dr. von Hippel incorporates cognitive approaches, art, humor, and play into her work with children.

Dr. von Hippel is an avid traveler and the proud mother of three.


Jennifer O. Spencer, M.S.

Jennifer moved to Alaska from Washington D.C. In Anchorage, she works at Psychology Resources, volunteers with children on the Providence Hospital pediatric unit, and rides dressage with her shiny stallion, Stella.  Jennifer is a special educator experienced in assessing students and generating and implementing strategies to support their learning.  Jennifer excels at helping students of all ages build on their strengths and develop strategies for success.  She assesses the achievement levels of patients undergoing psychological testing.  Additionally, she co-facilitates social skills psychotherapy groups and brings an educator’s perspective to skill development.




Karin Schaff, L.M.F.T, CDCII

Karin was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska.  She is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Chapman University in California, and returned to Alaska to obtain a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of LaVerne on JBER.  Her extensive experience includes working with adolescents, families and adults with mental health issues to include depression, anxiety and grief and loss.  Previous to joining Psychology Resources, Karin was the Vice President of Treatment Services at Volunteers of America.  At Volunteers of America she gained extensive experience and knowledge working with teenagers with co-occuring disorders.   She currently works individually with adults and teens facing these challenges, and is the Clinic Manager for Psychology Resources.

Karin enjoys skiing, mountain biking, being outdoors and spending time with her family.


Marie Priest, M.S., L.P.C.

Marie Priest was born and raised in Soldotna, Alaska. Her family is one of the larger homesteading families on the Peninsula. Marie is the youngest of five children.

Marie left Soldotna and earned a bachelors in Human Services at University of Alaska, Anchorage. During her undergraduate years, Marie worked for a Head Start Pre-school Literacy Program. Also she worked with severely emotionally disturbed children and adjudicated sexual offenders at Alaska Children’s Services.

Marie attended graduate school at the University of Laverne California College, where she earned a Masters of Science Degree in Counseling. Marie has worked in residential treatment as well as outpatient settings.

At Psychology Resources, Marie works with children, adolescents and families in psychotherapy.

Marie loves the outdoors and enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, skiing and running.  She is the sprinting mother of active twins.


Mary Palko, MS, LPC, CDCII

Mary grew up in a military family which traveled around the world and eventually settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mary’s travels taught her respect for cultural diversity and travel.

Mary moved to Alaska in 1998, where she earned a masters degree in counseling psychology from Alaska Pacific University. She has worked in residential, outpatient, and group home settings providing mental health and substance abuse treatment to children, adolescents, and adults. Mary specializes in challenges faced by children and young adults, including AD/HD, Autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, and friendship and relationship issues, as well as more adult issues such as divorce. She provides specialized therapy for deaf clients and is currently among the only two licensed professional counselors fluent in American Sign Language in the state of Alaska.

Mary has volunteered as an adaptive ski instructor for many years. She also volunteered at Camp Erin, a grief camp for children. She spends as much time as possible outdoors, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, ski mountaineering, and cross country and downhill skiing. She also enjoys gardening, walking her husky, and learning to play the guitar.


Melissa Tourtillott, M.S., L.P.A.

Melissa grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Anchorage in 2001 where she completed her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  Melissa has experience providing psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and adults. She conducts individual and group psychotherapy with an emphasis on anxiety and mood disorders, family and relationship concerns, as well as AD/HD, and social skill training. Her approach to therapy includes cognitive, behavioral, and play.

Melissa loves the outdoors, particularly hiking, gardening, snowshoeing, and bicycling. She enjoys traveling and has a special interest in nutrition.  Melissa is the mother of Simon, a toddler who laughs.


Samantha Bacon, Ph.D Intern

Sammy completed her masters degree in Clinical Psychology at UAA and is a Licensed Psychological Associate.  She is in her final year of her doctoral program and will earn her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UAA.  Sammy’s roots in the field of psychology are in Applied Behavior Analysis and working with children who experience Autism Spectrum Disorder.  She has also worked with adolescents and adults in residential and clinical settings who experience mood, anxiety and personality disorders.  Sammy conducts psychological evaluations, individual psychotherapy and co-facilitates social skills groups for children.  She incorporates elements of motivational interviewing, CBT and mindfulness into her work with children and adults.

Sammy is a lifelong Alaskan and enjoys playing in her Alaskan backyard. Camping in Prince William Sound, backcountry skiing in Turnagain pass and hiking in the Chugach are among her favorites.   She is often seen in the outdoors with her 75 pound husky-malamute, who listens approximately 50% of the time.


Susan R. Scott, M.S., L.M.F.T.

Sue grew up in Boise, Idaho and moved with her family to Alaska in 1966. Her extended family worked in the reconstruction of the Seward Alaska airport after the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake.

Sue has worked in a variety of fields – in medical practices, on fishing boats, in engineering firms, and in vocational rehabilitation.  She attended Boise State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.  In 1993 Sue obtained a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Alaska Pacific University.  Since then, she has worked in residential, outpatient, hospital, and private practice and management settings with both adolescents and adults. She has taught various psychology courses at the graduate level and supervised clinical interns since 1990. Sue has extensive experience in adolescent and family problems, college anxiety, marital problems, career change, substance abuse, and trauma. Her career interests include adolescent and adult group psychotherapy.

When not at work, Sue relaxes with her four dogs and two cats. Her hobbies include gardening, music, fishing, animal rescue work, watercolor painting and photography.


Tad Sumner, LCSW, CDCI, MAC

Tad was born and raised in Alaska. He grew up near Girdwood and commercial fished in Kenai during the summers.

Tad has over fifteen years of experience working with both adolescents and adults with a wide range of issues including: depression, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, stress, behavioral problems, emotional management, anger management, life transitions, Autism, men and women issues and substance abuse.  He also facilitates social skills groups for teenagers who experience Autism.  Tad is also an adjunct professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  Prior to joining Psychology Resources, Tad was the clinical director of the Volunteers of America ARCH residential program for teenagers with substance addictions and mental health issues.

Tad enjoys the Alaskan outdoors and believes it is an important part of his own mental health. He enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, riding his motorcycle, rock climbing, snowmobiling, traveling and spending time with his family, young (strong willed) daughter, and dogs.