Sonja A. Sutherland, PhD, LPC, NCC, CPCS is the Founder and CEO of the Legacy Consortium. Dr. Sutherland’s career as a Licensed Professional Counselors since 2001has encompassed the provision of therapeutic services in the private practice, psychiatric residential, in-home, and outpatient mental health settings, for adolescents and adults, through individual, group, couples, and family therapy. During that time, Dr. Sutherland has also been a Director of Mental Health and Clinical Services for mid – large sized outpatient mental health organizations providing therapeutic intervention in the Cobb, Atlanta, and Stone Mountain areas. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs for the School of Counseling at Richmont Graduate University in Atlanta, Georgia. She also serves as the Director of Institutional Effectiveness and an Assistant Professor of Counseling for the University. Dr. Sutherland's areas of research interest include family therapy, counselor supervision & development, and evidence-based treatment within residential models of care for at-risk adolescents (commercially sexually exploited youth, family relationship restoration, and integration of spirituality in treatment). An accomplished public speaker for the last 30 years, Dr. Sutherland continues to serve as a featured speaker for various professional, social, civic, educational and community organizations throughout the United States.


Lyresa McGriff, MA, LAPC, NCC is an Associate Professional Counselor who earned a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Richmont Graduate University. Lyresa is a practicing Psychotherapist who specializes in Trauma and is intensively trained in EMDR. Lyresa believes that everyone’s journey has a purpose and meets clients where they are with Grace, Love and Hope. Lyresa is in private practice at Legacy Changers Counseling Center and Integrated Partners in Development and she sees clients with Trauma at Richmont Traumatology Center. Specializations – PTSD/Trauma, Grief and Loss, Relationships and Marital Distress, End of Life/Transitional Care, Life Skills/Coaching, Personal Growth, Parenting and Caregiver Support to Individual’s, Couples, Veterans and Seniors. Lyresa is also a certified PREPARE/ENRICH therapist for pre-marital and couples counseling.


Juan L. Edgar, MAMFT is a graduate of Richmont Graduate University, where he earned his Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is currently working towards full licensure and his Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy. Prior to graduate school, Juan received his undergraduate degree of Bachelors of Science in Human Relations, from Point University and received his Associates of Arts in Counseling and Human Services from Atlanta Christian College. He has experience working with adolescents, individuals, groups, couples, and families and is open to working with all. He has a strong background in law enforcement and military services and is also open to working with first responders and military personnel on an individual, family and group level.


Katrina D. Wilson, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor with an M.A in Professional Counseling from Richmont Graduate University (formally Psychological Studies Institute). Prior to graduate school, Ms. Wilson received a B.A. in Sociology/African-American Studies from the University of Virginia. Ms. Wilson is currently a Certified School Counselor with Rockdale County Public Schools serving grades K-5th at Pine Street Elementary School. She also currently works as a Clinical Assessor with individuals experiencing mental health crisis situations at Summit Ridge Hospital. She has experience working with Children/Adolescents, Substance Abuse, Depression & Women’s Issues.


Annika Fairbairn, MA, LAPC began her training at the University of Hagen in Germany, where she obtained a B.Sc. in Psychology. She then completed her training at Richmont Graduate University, with an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. While at Richmont, she focused her studies on counseling children and adolescents. Additionally, Annika gained certification in equine-assisted psychotherapy which is a experiential approach to therapy and has shown great benefit in working with at-risk youth and trauma victims. For those who prefer smaller animals in their session, Annika offers her co-therapist Elsa, a Maltipoo and trained therapy dog to join in the counseling sessions. Annika has a passion for helping people become healthier, more complete versions of themselves and seeks to assist individuals in finding their voice and purpose in life.

Elsa is a Maltipoo (Maltese + Poodle) and is hypoallergenic and non-shedding. She enjoys belly rubs, treats, licking fingers, and doing her tricks. Elsa was adopted by Annika when she was 5 months old and no longer wanted in her original home. Time had come for Elsa to find a new purpose in her life and she is excited to be part of the Legacy treatment team! Including animals in therapy helps to improve the educational and motivational effectiveness for participants and studies have shown that the simple act of petting a dog can help lower heart rate, which in turn can decrease depression and anxiety.



Christine Sims, MA is a graduate of Richmont Graduate University where she earned her Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Children and Adolescents. She is also a certified Prepare/Enrich therapist for premarital and couples counseling. Christine has a background working within the educational systems with youth from various socioeconomic backgrounds. She also has experience working with families, couples, groups, and adults with a wide range of needs. She offers services from a Christian perspective. Christine’s style of therapy is warm, innovative, safe, fun, and interactive. She welcomes the opportunity to join you alongside your journey to wellness!


Katie McCreary-Lee, MAMFT is a graduate of Richmont Graduate University where she earned her M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in Counseling and Spirituality. Her specialty is counseling individuals struggling with depression. While utilizing various empirically researched techniques, Katie counsels with a “positive regard” for clients. If you are depressed, discouraged, stressed or just need someone to talk out your problem...come to counseling. Katie's specialty is to help individuals who suffer with depression and low self-esteem. With a Marriage and Family Therapy focus, she utilizes Solution Forced Brief Therapy and counsels from a goal-directed collaborative approach. Cognitive Behavior Therapy can help you explore the relationship of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Together we can work to help you learn to maintain and live a quality life.


Vanessa Edwards-Benjamin, MA, LAPC, NCC, RN is a graduate of Richmont Graduate University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Prior to graduate school, Vanessa received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Howard University. She is a registered nurse meeting patient’s needs on the behavioral health inpatient unit and working as an intake clinician for the unit. She also has experience conducting mental health assessments for individuals seeking care in the emergency department. Vanessa has facilitated group and individual counseling with children, adolescents, and adults. Vanessa’s goal is to offer compassion, hope, and support as she joins her clients along life’s journey. Her desire is to equip them with tools necessary to cope and manage challenges in a healthy manner. Specialization: Child and Adolescent Counseling; Cognitive Behavioral Play Therapy (CBPT). Prepare-Enrich Certified - enhancing relationships of premarital couples.


Renee Bryan, M.Ed, MA is a well-rounded professional with an extensive background in the field of education. She obtained a Masters of Education degree from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. She also received a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Richmont Graduate University. Some of her interests include women’s issues, navigating singleness, community education, developmental training, group counseling, and multicultural issues. Her international exposure and life experiences have caused her to develop a deep level of compassion for people from all walks of life. Her passions have been the heartbeat and the pathway that led her to the field of counseling. Renee believes that her call to counsel and educate is both a great privilege and responsibility to be stewarded over with diligence. Her most recent counseling experiences have allowed her to work in a community counseling center as well as with women in a residential setting. Her work on the mission field, both international and stateside, have also afforded her the opportunity to work with people of all ages surrounding various issues such as identity, self-esteem, diversity, spiritual issues, depression, anxiety, and complex trauma. Renee perceives untapped potential in every person and believes in the importance of discovering meaning and purpose in life. Renee also takes delight in creating a warm atmosphere that is integrative and individualized depending on personal goals, interests, and needs. She looks forward to taking the journey to wellness with you as well as bearing witness to your growth, both individually and relationally.


J. J. Widener, LAPC, LAMFT, CAADC inspires individuals, couples, and families to improve their lives and relationships using clinically tested and evidence-based interventions. Prior to coming to Legacy, he spent 4 years in outpatient substance abuse treatment, the last 18 months as clinical supervisor of Woodstock Treatment Center. Believing his marriage and family to be his greatest blessings, his passion for working with couples and families is unmistakable. His support, sincerity, and understanding has empowered countless individuals struggling with addiction, anger, aggressive/violent behavior, and trauma. J. J. is licensed by the State of Georgia as both an associate professional counselor and as an associate marriage and family therapist. He is certified as an advanced alcohol and drug counselor through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia, and serves on the board of directors. He holds a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Richmont Graduate University and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University.


Paula Bridgeman, MA is a graduate of Richmont Graduate University where she earned her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Child and Adolescent psychotherapy. Prior to graduate school, she received her B.S. in Human Relations from Point University. Paula is passionate about promoting and educating the African-American community on the importance of mental health. She believes that there are special challenges that people from the African descent experience throughout life: identity concerns, racism, stereotypes, biases, economic challenges and many others. She will dedicate herself to being a person who provides encouragement, hope and understanding but also education on the importance of mental health in the Black community. As an ordained minister, she will integrate psychological and spiritual competence into the counseling experience. Paula’s goal is to inspire individuals, couples, & families through clinical practice, education, and advocacy to fully embrace their power, their purpose, and their presence.