Program Instructors

All of our programs incorporate class instruction by professional speakers from throughout Orange County.   

  • Orange County Sheriff Department Deputies
  • Mission Hospital - Emergency & Trauma Room Nurse
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Orange County District Attorney

Peter Hilen,LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Clinical Facilitator

Brian Nissen

Orange County Sheriff's Deputy (Ret.)

Drug Recognition Expert


Parent Impact Speakers

The incorporation of parent impact speakers is just one of the many things that sets CYS apart.  An integral part of many of our programs involves parents that share their personal stories of struggle and ways they have coped with a child struggling with addiction and/or the passing of a child as a result of drug abuse.  Each parent has a very different story but all with a common theme: a life taken too soon and a family forever changed.  


Gil & Flo Mulhere (Kevin Mulhere)

After we lost our son Kevin to a drug overdose on February 2, 2003 , we sought ways that we could help other parents and adolescents deal with the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Although this has been a very difficult journey , we have been immensely rewarded by the opportunity to be part of California Youth Services (CYS). We do this to help prevent the pain, destruction, lost potential and even death, that substance abuse and delinquent behavior may invariably bring to a youth and their family. We know that we are making a difference in many lives . This is our commitment to work with CYS in memory of our precious son Kevin who we love and miss so much.

Debi Ellis-Escalante (Michael Escalante Jr.) 


Michael's smile and energy lit up a room. He was intelligent, articulate, hysterically funny, passionate, sweet and drop dead gorgeous. He excelled in football, baseball, basketball, wrote songs and poetry, and loved his big brother, family and friends with a fiery passion. To know him was to love him and so many people did. There is no pain or loss that will ever come close to the loss of my youngest son Michael to the ravages of drug addiction. Michael had just been released from a local hospital with medications recalibrated to treat his bi polar disorder. 10 days later, on November 10th, 2004, he was found dead, his heart twice the size of a normal heart. Cause of death Hypertrophic Heart Disease, a direct result of continued abuse of prescription and street drugs. He was a ticking time bomb and we had no idea. I began working with CYS and JADE after speaking at length with Flo Mulhere a few months after Michael died. I truly did not think I would survive the loss of my son and she told me that helping others would help me to make more sense of Michael's death. Our collective story could help others. She was absolutely correct. I speak because I know it saves lives and is unique in that it allows me to reach both parents and children, each in a different and profound way. I know that Michael is very proud that his story is helping others and he stands very near me every time I speak. I wish there had been a CYS available to my family many years ago. I truly believe my story might have been very different.

David Hungerford (Shanon Hungerford)  


Since we lost Shanon to a drug overdose the sense of loss and sadness we feel is beyond words. How could such a beautiful, bright and popular young girl fall victim to drug abuse? Her tragic story illustrates that no young person is safe from the potential destruction of drug abuse. Upon her death I made a vow that Shanon would not just be buried and forgotten. I knew that her life had meaning and her life had a purpose. I felt that if her story could help other young people her short life on this earth would have a positive lasting legacy. Since becoming involved in CYS I have spoken to many young people and their parents. I know in my heart that Shanon and I are helping save other young lives and she is proud of the work we are doing together.

Peter & Delita Kiggen (Karla-Rae)


The loss of our precious daughter Karla-Rae to a drug overdose has been absolutely devastating to our family. The continual deep pain and sense of loss is never ending. Karla was an outstanding student at school and college, she always performed at the highest level and for her to choose to take a drug cocktail at a camping party is very difficult to understand and accept. Once we came to realize the escalating dangers of substance abuse to our youth we searched for a community based program whereby Karla could tell her story through us to her friends and larger peer group. We subsequently joined CYS as it gave us the forum to address both parents and children at the same time thus ensuring that the family listen to Karla's story and hopefully gain the strength needed to fight this scourge. We know that Karla is with us every day to help us in the fight to save lives. To see her story go to and search for KARLA-RAE DELITA KIGGEN


Survivor  Story Impact Speakers

There are many misconceptions regarding drug and/or alcohol overdose and one goal of our Survivor Story Impact Speakers is to demonstrate that overdose does not always result in death.  Our speakers share their personal stories of poor decision making, drug & alcohol use, overdose, and ongoing recovery.  Each with a different story, they openly share about their personal struggles with overdose and rehabilitation while placing a large emphasis on the fact that it only takes one poor decision to change the course of your own life and those around you


Matthew Thomas

At nineteen Matt was fresh out of high school with a football scholarship to Brigham Young University (BYU). He was living on his own, and living the dream with a job at Candid Camera. In 1991, he made the decision that landed him in in critical condition in coma and left with just a 5% chance of living.  Matt spent three months in a coma and approximately four months in the hospital.   Matt’s recovery was tedious and he spent 12 months in an in-house head injury program near Northridge Hospital called the TGI Care House. At the time, he still could not read, write, shave, shower, or dress on his own. These were all skills that he had to re-teach himself.

Matt became an advocate for not only the consequences of intoxicated driving, but also the support that disabled people need in order to improve their quality of life. Matt enjoys giving presentations about the consequences of drinking and driving at several of our programs and trying to get through to people before they could potentially make the same mistakes he did. Matt's story touches the hearts of those around him as his amazing presentation is filled with a level of caring and compassion for traumatic brain injury victims that only one who has lived through the experience can provide. In 2011, Matt decided to put together Positive Matters, a foundation that encourages disabled people to physically push their abilities further through recreation.



On August 2, 2013 Byron was a passenger in an auto versus tree accident. He was in the car with a drunk driver and they had run into a tree driving down Crown Valley in Laguna Niguel. When the paramedics came to the scene both the driver and Byron were unconscious and the car was wrapped around the tree on the passenger side.  Byron sustained multiple brain injuries, an occipital bone fracture, and a right clavicular fracture. Byron has always been extremely musically inclined. The bleeding Byron sustained to the temporal lobe of the brain (the portion of the brain in charge of sound and music recognition) has had serious long-term implications. Since there was additional bleeding on the left side of the basal ganglia, the right side of his body has suffered levels of paralysis.  Physical therapy over the years has started working but it has been a long and difficult road; one that has affected him and his whole family.