About Our Staff & Executive Team

Jeff Chinn, Chief Executive Officer

Jeff Chinn has joined Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital with over 25 years’ experience in the healthcare field. Jeff first started his career after receiving his Bachelors Degree in Respiratory Therapy and then going on to receive his Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

Jeff and his wife started their careers in Southern California and after moving to Florida and Georgia where he advanced in hospital leadership, they found that their true home was back in California. After moving back to Northern California for a time, Jeff was recruited to work with a local hospital here in Bakersfield where he was able to apply his many years of healthcare experience and oversee multiple departments.

Jeff came to work at Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital back in 2018 as the Director of Quality and Risk Management and after a year with the hospital was then moved into the position of Chief Operating Officer. Jeff wholeheartedly believes in the vision statement of Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital which states, “To embark on a path with our community and to ensure compassion, acceptance, respect, empowerment, and sincerity with each step we take together” In March of 2020 when Jeff graciously accepted the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer, he realized that he would now be able to help Bakersfield Behavioral truly realize their vision statement by working diligently with his staff and community partners to offer excellence and exceptional care to Kern County and beyond.

Dr. Said Jacob, Interim Medical Director

Dr. Said Jacob, MD M.P.H is a Psychiatrist who has over 30 years post residency experience in mental Health. He specializes in the treatment of depression, affective/mood disorders, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, bi-polar disorders, anxiety, alcohol dependency, chemical dependency, and geriatric disorders. Including Alzheimer’s disease.

He is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine as well as a member of the American Psychiatric Program at Glendora Community Hospital in Glendora, CA., and current Associate Medical director at Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital’s sister facility located in Covina, Ca. Dr. Jacob practices in a multiplicity of treatment settings that include inpatient, partial day, outpatient and nursing homes.

Dr. Said Jacob is a welcomed addition to Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital and he, together with the senior leadership team, work diligently in providing excellent care to the community of Kern County.

Neil Lacanlale, Chief Nursing Officer

With more than 13 years’ experience as a registered nurse, Neil has occupied several positions both clinically and in the field of education. He has a strong background in serving people with developmental disabilities and populations affected with psychiatric and mental health disorders.

He finished his Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and was a consistent dean’s lister. Neil earned his Master’s in Nursing with concentration in nursing service administration which he received distinction - best in research study. He further pursued his doctor of education major in education management. Currently, he is finishing his psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner program at Regis College in Massachusetts.

Prior to joining Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, Neil built his foundations in accreditation and leadership through the years by certifying different care settings and ensuring compliance with various regulatory bodies. He has held several positions from staff nursing, nursing management, clinical instruction, graduate school teaching, medical information management, program recruitment and case management. Neil is proud to utilize his vast skill set to assist Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital achieve excellence in its care for the community.

Neil has lived in several countries and loves to immerse in different cultures. He and his wife enjoy traveling and dream of touring around the world.

Heather Starr, Chief Financial Officer

Heather Starr came to Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital in 2018 with over 14 years in Healthcare and accounting experience. Heather received her Bachelor’s in Accounting in 2003 from Indiana Wesleyan University where she then spent a few years utilizing her degree in the industrial field before coming to the healthcare field.

Heather is happily married to her husband of many years and they have two teenaged daughter and an awesome puppy – Peaches! Some of her favorite pastimes are singing, photography and spending quality time with her family.

Heather is passionate about mental health and our community and is proud to utilize her extensive financial experience in helping Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare hospital maintain a level of excellence and provide exceptional care.

Amber Smithson, Director of Business Development

Amber Smithson came to Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital in 2017 with over 15 years’ experience in Marketing, Public Relations, and Business Development and 8 years in the healthcare field. Amber worked diligently throughout her secular career in building relationships throughout Kern County, working closely with local schools and colleges, initiating safety and communication protocols as well as trainings for local hospitals, and even starting her own business.

Amber’s passion for mental health and addiction is what drew her to Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. She is proud to utilize her vast skill set and her passion for the mental health and addiction fields to further promote education, compassion, acceptance, respect, empowerment, and sincerity throughout her community.

As a proud community member of Bakersfield for the past 21 years, she has been privileged to be a part of this community’s growth and expansion, work shoulder to shoulder with outstanding business people, and take part in celebrating many grand openings of locally owned and operated businesses. Amber is a mother to four grown and wonderful children as well as a grandmother to two amazing grandsons!

River Navarro, Director of Clinical Services

River Navarro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with 12 years of experience in the behavioral health field. They are the Director of Clinical Services on the senior management team at BBHH. River enjoys providing clinical supervision to their staff and is proud of their decision to choose Themes of the Day for 2020 which guides the focus of all clinical programming within the hospital. River specializes in working with people struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues as well as people from the LGBTQ+ community.

River graduated from California State University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and in 2008 with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. In their spare time, River enjoys volunteering for the Bakersfield AIDS Project. This year, River is looking forward to returning as a student at California State University, Bakersfield to earn another Master’s degree in Health Care Administration.

Veronica Manriquez, Director of Human Resources

Veronica Manriquez joined Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital in 2015 with over 10 years of experience in the Human Resources field. In 2019, Veronica was promoted to Director of Human Resources here at Bakersfield Behavioral.

Throughout Veronica’s now 15 years of experience in various Human Relations roles, she has gained useful experience which enables her to help implement new policies and procedures while also staying abreast of current State and Federal Laws.

Veronica works closely with the Senior Leadership Team in order to create and maintain an environment for the all of the employees at Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital of compassion, sincerity, and above all safety.

Shannon Lauf, Director of Intake

Shannon Lauf is a Licensed Register Nurse with 5 years of experience in Emergency Rooms, Intensive Care Units, and Psychiatry. Shannon came to Bakersfield Behavioral in 2018 as she worked on the floor with those in need of psychiatric and detox services.

In 2019 Shannon was promoted to Director of Intake at Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital and as part of the Senior Leadership Team, assists the hospital and our community in providing excellent care to all those who are seeking assistance.

Shannon graduated with her Master’s in Nursing in 2016 and holds a Bachelors in Biology as well as a Master’s in Public Health. Shannon is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Nursing for her Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatrics and Critical Care. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering for the Red Cross and spending quality time with her husband and children.