Executive Council Bios

We invite you to meet the members of our Executive Council. Included are our Officers, Councilors, Representatives, Advisors, and our Executive Director. To meet our Society's Committee Chairs, please continue to the next page.

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» Officers

Alexis Seegan, M.D.

Bio coming soon

Gemma Espejo, M.D President Elect

Dr. Gemma Espejo earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She completed her general psychiatry residency at Washington University in St. Louis, where she served as chief resident. Following this, she relocated to New York City, where she worked as an inpatient attending at Bellevue Hospital while completing a public psychiatry fellowship at NYU. During her time at Bellevue Hospital, she was the unit chief for the residency training unit. Subsequently, Dr. Espejo joined Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx as an inpatient attending and took on the role of site director for the psychiatry clerkship.

In 2022, Dr. Espejo moved to Orange County where she is currently an outpatient attending, supervises residents, and maintains her own faculty practice. She is also an assistant professor at UCI School of Medicine, where she also serves as the course director for behavioral health courses for first- and second-year medical students.

Dr. Espejo's primary interests include severe mental illness, psychopharmacology, and medical education. She is also a member of the American Society for Clinical Psychopharmacology and the Association for Academic Psychiatry. She wholeheartedly recognizes the unique significance of the early career phase for psychiatrists and is enthusiastic about working with OCPS members and others to enhance the experience and opportunities available to those in the early stages of their careers.

Daniel Cho, M.D.

Bio coming soon!

Ben Nguyen, M.D.

Ben Nguyen, MD earned his medical degree at the University of California, Irvine - School of Medicine. He went on to complete his residency training in psychiatry at the same institution, serving as chief resident during his final year of residency. Dr. Nguyen has been involved in OCPS since his first year of residency training. He has participated in the statewide Advocacy Day event in Sacramento, has been involved in the Government Affairs and IT Committee and now currently serves as Treasurer. He has a particular interest in public and community psychiatry.

Roula Creighton, M.D.
Immediate Past President
Representative to CSAP Board

Dr. Roula Creighton completed her medical education at the University of California San Diego. She completed her internship and residency training in psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.  She is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.  Dr. Creighton established her private practice in Irvine soon after completion of her training. She has cared for the community in a variety of settings including emergency room consultation, inpatient care, rehab facility support and is now focusing primarily on outpatient care.

Dr. Creighton’s growing practice was recently rebranded as Irvine Psychiatry and TMS.  Her practice specializes in treatment resistant mood disorders. She is excited to offer specialized treatments for her patients, including Spravato and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

Dr. Creighton has been a member of the American Psychiatric Association (APA)/Orange County Psychiatric Society (OCPS) since 2008. She has held several positions on the OCPS Council since 2010. She has also been an active participant in the development of our new state advocacy organization, California State Association of Psychiatrists (CSAP) and has been a Board member since its inception in 2021. She looks forward to continuing to support OCPS for the 2024-26 term as immediate past President!

More information can be found on her website at www.irvinepsychiatry.com


» Councilors

Robert Bota, M.D.

As a psychiatrist, I have always focused on understanding the interplay between psychiatric illnesses and medical conditions and on developing innovative ways of addressing the whole spectrum of psychosomatic needs in patients with complex presentations by using my broad background in diagnosing and treating mental illness. Before my residency, I had designed and conducted neuro-imaging research at UCLA and USC focused on correlations between structural brain changes, depression and adiction. During my residency, I became interested in the interplay between medicine and psychiatry, especially the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric conditions in medically ill patients – who present unique challenges due to their multiple comorbidities and the high risk of drug interactions.

My professional path gives me a deep understanding of both academic and private psychiatric practices. Between 2014 and 2019, I was a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCI where I ran the medical psychiatry inpatient unit, developed the first UCI Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation clinic, and was involved in the teaching of medical students and residents. Though I decided last year to move into private practice, I also have committed to a part-time position with UC Riverside to continue my passion for resident training.

My efforts in private practice are focused on developing novel concepts for psychiatric care.  My psychiatry group - BrainHealth Solutions (BrainHealth-Solutions.com), practices in a dedicated clinic in Costa Mesa, and offers Psychiatric Second Opinion Clinics as well as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation clinics for the three FDA indications- depression, OCD and Smoking Cessation. My translational research interests have flourished. As part of CITrials, I am the Principal Investigator for over 12 psychiatric clinical trials. I serve on the executive board of multiple insurance companies, I run the consultation liaison program for one hospital and have helped and supervised the opening neuromodulation clinics at three medical groups, amongst other activities.

I am pleased to serve OCPS as the President and look forward to the opportunity to serve our members as a voice for psychiatry on behalf of physicians and an advocate for increased awareness of mental health issues both locally and statewide. Improving our networking will improve our access to several important career development resources. Therefore, I would like to start the Networking Committee for our members, including residents, focused on creating opportunities and collecting information to support our members’ practices and career plans. In this committee and others, we ask that our members suggest activities beneficial for them or their colleagues, such as lectures on topics of interest, networking opportunities, and resources. As we look toward the future, mentoring residents and early career psychiatrists will help strengthen our organization for the benefit of both members and patients.

Laura Dardashti, M.D.

Bio coming soon!

Douglas G. Kahn, M.D.
Co-Chair, Investment Committee

Upload: November 2, 2016Douglas G. Kahn, M.D., D.L.F.A.P.A., graduated Tulane University cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1968. He received his M.D. from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1972 and completed an internship in medicine and psychiatry there at Jackson Memorial Hospital in 1973. He graduated his psychiatry residency training at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut in 1976, serving as chief resident during his final year of residency, and was awarded a Falk Fellowship by the American Psychiatric Association during that year. Rare among psychiatry residency training programs, the Institute focused on long-term intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy of patients, who came to live there for months and years at a time, and were seen three to five hour-long sessions per week in individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy.

After serving one year on the faculty of the Institute he moved to California where he established his private practice of psychiatry in 1977 in Huntington Beach, moving his office to Newport Beach in 1983 where he been in full-time private practice ever since.

Dr. Kahn has served as an elected member of the Council of the Orange County Psychiatric Society every two years since 1982, and is a past President of that Society (1986-88).

He trained with Habib Davanloo, M.D. in the technique of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy from 1988 to 1993, and was a founding member of the California Institute for Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (with Noel Drury, M.D., David Davis, M.D., and Gary Crouppen, Ph.D. in 1990). Dr. Kahn served on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Short-Term Psychotherapy from 6/90-6/95. He was a Member of the Board of the International Institute for Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy during that same period, and served as Vice-President of the International Institute for Teaching and Research in Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy from 7/92 to 7/94.

Dr. Kahn is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, U.C.I. College of Medicine since 2001 (having begun there as an Assistant Clinical Professor in 1979). He teaches a weekly “case on videotape” psychotherapy seminar for the PGY3 (third year psychiatry) residents. He has been awarded “Teacher of the Year” five times since 1999 for that course.

Charles Nguyen, M.D.

Bio coming soon!

Thomas Okamoto, M.D.

Tom Okamoto, M.D. is a Board Certified Adult Psychiatrist in private practice. He was previously an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine as well as Medical Director of the Minirth-Meier Clinic West Adult and Adolescent inpatient and day treatment programs.   He has participated in clinical research trials, trained medical students, psychiatric residents, physicians as well as church leaders and pastors.

He has served on various committees of the Southern California and Orange County Psychiatric Societies and various Southern California hospitals and has served on the Board of Directors for para-church organizations and counseling services. He currently serves on the OCPS Governmental Affairs/Public Affairs committee.

He has spoken and written for both scientific and general audiences on various topics in psychiatry, mental health and the Church.

He is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine in Irvine, and practices psychiatry in Santa Ana, California. He also enjoys a position as Adjunct Faculty of Talbot School of Theology's Institute of Spiritual Formation and Marriage and Family Therapy Programs. He is the former chair of the Psychiatry Section of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, a national physician organization, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

David Safani, M.D., MBA

Dr. Safani earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at UC Irvine School of Medicine and his Masters in Business administration at the Paul Merage School of Business. He completed his residency in psychiatry and his fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at UC Irvine. He is triple board certified in child and adolescent psychiatry, general adult psychiatry, and clinical informatics.

Dr. Safani is currently Volunteer Faculty for the UC Irvine School of Medicine. Prior to becoming volunteer faculty, he served 8 years at UCI, with his last years serving as an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry. He served as Medical Director of Ambulatory Clinical Operations including as Medical Director of the adolescent intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs (IOP and PHP). He was also a clinical informaticist and had been the Medical Compliance Officer for all of UCI Health/School of Medicine. He has provided numerous presentations on a variety of topics including ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and career development.

Dr. Safani has served 10 years on the Executive Committee and over 14 years on OCPS Council. He served as President as well as two terms as Treaurer. He was an appointed voting member of the Membership Committee of the American Psychiatric Association. He was a two-time recipient of the biannual OCPS award for Outstanding Resident of the Year and served as the Area 6 Resident Fellow Member Representative to the APA Assembly.

Jonathan Serrato, M.D.

Bio coming soon!

Nicolaas-John van Nieuwenhuysen, M.D.

Bio coming soon!

» Representatives & Advisors

Carolyn Cookson, M.D.
Early Career Psychiatry Representative

Bio coming soon!

Vivien Chan, M.D., DFAACAP, DFAPA
APA Assembly Representative

Vivien Chan, M.D., DFAPA, DFAACAP(she series pronouns) is honored to represent our district branch at APA (American Psychiatric Association) Assembly. Her duties in this role are to represent our district branch nationally by attending governance meetings; reviewing action papers; collaborating within Assembly and with our elected OCPS Deputy Assembly Representative; notifying and soliciting feedback from OCPS Executive Committee and Council who also represent you, on these activities in the tradition of our past Assembly Representatives while bringing fresh perspective, representation, and advocacy to the Assembly.

In her role as chair of the child and adolescent committee, as a longtime advocate in the field of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, she has collaborated locally, regionally with The Southern California Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (the representing American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry district branch), and nationally. In her role as Chair of the Orange County Child and Adolescent Committee, she has advocated continuously for Orange County to have a sustained presence, local forum, and representation regionally/nationally.  She also originated the format for local MOC-specific Journal Club discussion and support to members.

As a proven and reliable leader locally and nationally, she understands psychiatric issues individually and organizationally. Her history of professional duties include academia/public sector (University of California Irvine and UCI Health, UC San Diego Health, UC Office of the President Health), Medicaid (county contracted agencies, Orange County Health Care Agency), as well as private practice, research (UCI Department of Pediatrics), publications, and teaching/education. She has a history of recognized service to OCPS.  In OCPS, she has served on Council, Membership and Distinguished Fellow Committees (chairs), Asian American Issues Committee (sunset), Education Committee, and Executive Committee as past Treasurer. She has represented OCPS at the state level specific to Child & Adolescent psychiatry matters and regularly attempted coordination of these efforts with OCPS Government and Public Affairs committees (respectively).  At APA, she has been a member of the College Mental Health Task force (sunset) and Disaster Response training.  Her service has been recognized by being awarded distinguished fellowship at APA, and also at AACAP. She has presented regularly at AACAP's national annual meetings, and her many peer-reviewed publications, including her involvement of 3 subject matter expert books can be found at her UCI faculty profile.  She has attained the rank of Professor (volunteer clinical track) with UCI's Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior based on her years of teaching, supervisory activities, and scholarly contributions.

Dr. Chan earned her Doctor of Medicine allopathic degree as a 6-year accelerated B.S./M.D. program at NEOMED (Northeast Ohio Medical University), formerly known as NEOUCOM (Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine). She has been licensed as a Physician & Surgeon in the state of California since 1999.  She completed her residency in the specialty of Psychiatry and the subspecialty of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of California Irvine and has been continuously board-certified in both her specialty and subspecialty since 2004 by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology.

Jeffrey Glass, M.D.
Representative to CSAP Board

Bio coming soon!

Alex Wang, M.D.
Resident/Fellow Representative

Bio coming soon!

» Administration

Pam Reed Presnall
Executive Director

Pam Reed Presnall has been involved in Orange County’s social services community since 2003. She began her part-time position at OCPS in January 2022 and has been the Director of Development and Outreach at 2-1-1 Orange County since January 2021. Previous to being at 211OC, she worked for 8 years at the Mental Health Association of Orange County. A native of Southern California, she has a Bachelor’s Degree from Biola University where she studied counseling and political science. Her passions are social and economic justice, mental health, and ending homelessness. As a volunteer, she oversees operations of a twice weekly food pantry in Orange. Ms. Presnall is married with two adult daughters. She enjoys traveling and wine tasting.

Next - Committee Chair Bios »

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