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Our Staff

Our Staff

Meet Our Staff

Amanda Boeke, PsyD

Amanda Boeke, PsyD


Dr. Boeke joined the Austin Lakes Hospital staff in November 2020. With over 16 years of clinical and administrative experience in Psychiatric Health, she brings a comprehensive understanding of practitioner and supervisory perspectives to the delivery of the behavioral health service continuum. Her background includes work in outpatient, acute and residential care, addiction prevention & treatment, and diverse therapeutic intervention. She holds great value in Leadership and finds it rewarding to work with the respected team of professionals at Austin Lakes Hospital.

Shiva K. Lam, M.D.

Executive Medical Director & Clinical Director For Adult Services

Dr. Shiva Lam graduated from Gandhi Medical College in Hydeabad, India with his Medical Degree. He completed his residency and fellowship at Austin State Hospital. Dr. Lam was awarded the Capital Area Mental Health Center Award for his outstanding service to the Austin Mental Health community. He has supervised Psychiatry Residents from the Austin Psychiatry Residence program since 1999 and also provides psychiatric services to a wide range of individuals.

Dr. Lam is a Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist, Board Certified in Psychiatry and has been an Attending Psychiatrist with St. David’s Pavilion since 1998. Dr. Lam is now the Executive Medical Director of Austin Lakes Hospital.

Vanajakshi Paturu, M.D.

Associate Medical Director

Dr. Vanajakshi Paturu began her career as a practitioner in general medicine and an instructor in the Dept of Pharmacology at Siddhartha Medical College University of Health Sciences & Research Institute in India. While earning her medical degree, Dr. Paturu also received a distinctive National Merit Scholarship. Her outstanding achievements have been noted in both her academic and professional endeavors working with adult and geriatric populations.

After moving to the United States, she performed research for Beth Israel Medical Center in NJ. Dr. Paturu then completed her residency in psychiatry at Bergen Regional Medical Center in NJ, and a fellowship in geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in NY. Dr. Paturu is Board Certified. Dr. Paturu joins Austin Lakes Hospital after being in private practice since 2001 and working in various health care settings.

Derrick Ouzts, MBA

Chief Financial Officer

Derrick Ouzts joined Austin Lakes Hospital as Chief Financial Officer in 2019 after completing the CFO In Training program with UHS. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Financial Management from Clemson University and his Masters of Business Administration from The Citadel. He started working in the healthcare finance field in 2012, and has since worked in Charleston, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and now Austin, Texas. His experience is in both financial analysis and accounting with physician practices, medical/surgical hospital accounting and behavioral health finance. In his free time, Derrick enjoys drumming, pulling for his Clemson Tigers and spending time with his family.

Dan B. Smith, B.A.

Human Resources Director

Dan has worked in behavioral health since the 1970s, initially as a Mental Health Worker and Center Supervisor. He received his degree from Southwest Texas State University in 1976. In 1983 he began his career in Human Resources and has served with various behavioral health facilities and corporations at the director level since 1985. In 2007, after a 14-month Human Resources/Management Consultant adventure working with a Department of Defense contractor in multiple locations in Iraq, he returned to behavioral health, participating in the opening of Austin Lakes Hospital.

Julie Cooper, CCA

Director Of Medical Records

Julie joined Austin Lakes Hospital in 2011 and currently serves as the Director of Medical Records. Prior to coming to Austin Lakes, Julie worked for a multi-physician private practice managing medical records and for a durable medical equipment company handling Medicare appeals. She has 11 years experience in the medical field and completed her Certificate of Medical Coding at Austin Community College in 2006. Julie is a Certified Coding Associate through the American Health Information Management Association since 2007. She began her career with Austin Lakes Hospital as a medical coder before becoming the Director in 2013.

Elizabeth "Liz" Babb, LCSW

Director Of Clinical Services

Liz earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Social Work from Texas State University San Marcos. She joined Austin Lakes in 2014 as a Therapist and succeeded into other roles as Lead Therapist, Interim DCS, and Assistant DCS. Prior to joining Austin Lakes, Liz worked as a Case Aide for the Children’s Shelter in San Marcos, TX and as a direct care provider to adolescents at San Marcos Treatment Center. While obtaining her Bachelors, she interned at San Antonio State Hospital and volunteered at Austin State Hospital after graduating with her Masters. Liz has extensive experience working with abnormal psychology, crisis intervention, acute psychiatric care, case management, and discharge planning.

Miriam “Mimi” Nelson, RN, BSN

Director Of Utilization Review

Mimi joined Austin Lakes Hospital in January 2013. She graduated from the University of Texas School of Nursing in Houston, Texas. She has worked as a psychiatric nurse in multiple Texas and California facilities, ranging from a methadone clinic, chemical dependency units, intensive care units and inpatient psychiatric units with children, adolescents and adults. Additionally, she has worked as a charge nurse, house supervisor, nursing manager and Director of Nursing. Mimi’s current role involves oversight over clinical care coordination of patients, ensuring medical necessity criteria is met.

Sarah Edwards, LCSW

Director of Risk Management, QAPI & Compliance Officer

Sarah Edwards joined Austin Lakes Hospital in 2018 as the Director of Outpatient Services and shortly after transitioned into the role of Intake Director. Prior to joining the team, Sarah worked in public mental health for nearly 10 years. In this capacity she managed the 24/7 operations of a psychiatric crisis clinic, the crisis hotline and associated grants and contracts. Sarah spent years as a mobile crisis responder in Travis County, has worked in a local emergency department and also volunteered as a member of a sexual assault response team; all of which highlights her passion for the crisis services continuum of care. Sarah enjoys teaching and was certified as an instructor for Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid. Sarah earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work from Texas State University and is licensed as a clinical social work supervisor.

Adam Ramirez

Adam Ramirez

Director of Plant Operations

Adam joined Austin Lakes Hospital in 2020 as the Director of Plant Operations. Prior to joining Austin Lakes Hospital, Adam worked for Wellbridge Healthcare as Plant Operations and brings valuable knowledge of compliance and safe work practices in mental health to ALH. Adam started his career in facility management in 2005 with Mac-Gray, a commercial laundry company, and Travis County Sheriff’s Department which lead to his focus in the environment of care. Adam is a proud military veteran that served under two campaigns in the Middle East and has earned his Associates in Applied Science in Management from the Air Force University. Adam is currently working on completing his Bachelors of Arts and Applied Science degree from the University of North Texas (Go Mean Green!) Adam also incorporates his passion for golf as a member of the Pan American Golf Association which has allowed him to organize fundraisers for scholarships of graduating high school seniors since 2006!

Emily Vredenburgh, LMSW

Emily Vredenburgh, LMSW

Director Of Outpatient Services

Emily has been with Austin Lakes since 2014. Prior to transitioning into her role as outpatient director, she worked as a therapist at inpatient, and in utilization management. Emily attended Texas State University where she attained both her bachelors and masters degrees in social work. Emily began a career in social work in 2010 working at child protective services, then transitioned to a case management position for individuals diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the mental health authority of Comal County. She has previous experience facilitating groups for children, adolescents, juvenile probation, and co-facilitating substance abuse groups for both adults and adolescents in San Marcos, Texas. Emily has also worked as an emergency department social worker, and is experienced in crisis intervention. She is passionate about normalizing mental health with the goal of providing a safe and caring environment for the Austin community.

Valerie Slutz, LCSW

Director of Admissions

Valerie joined Austin Lakes Hospital in 2019 as an Intake Counselor before transitioning to the role of Director of Admissions. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Sciences from Texas Tech University, her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Lubbock Christian University, and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to relocating to Austin, she worked as a Social Worker at an acute inpatient behavioral health hospital as well as an outpatient behavioral health clinic in Lubbock, TX. Valerie further developed her passion for crisis intervention counseling while expanding her experience and volunteering with the Lubbock Police Department Victim Services Team. After moving to Austin in 2015, Valerie began working for the local mental health authority throughout the crisis division where she worked in residential units, a psychiatric crisis clinic, and helped to pilot the first Emergency Observation Unit in Travis County. She also has experience providing training to local law enforcement agencies on responding to behavioral health crises. Valerie specializes in providing comprehensive care and crisis intervention to adults with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse diagnoses.

Eric Balvantin, MBA

Director Of Business Development

Eric Balvantin joined Austin Lakes Hospital in 2011. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Arlington 2009 and began his marketing and communications career early on with some direct marketing and business-to-business sales. He worked his way through many roles at Austin Lakes Hospital, beginning as a Driver for the Outpatient Services Department, Mental Health Technician, Patient Advocate for ALH, Outpatient Liaison, Community Liaison, and now the Director of Business Development. He acquired his MBA from Bellevue University in 2019. Over the last decade, Eric broadened his professional experience within the healthcare field in roles spanning from marketing and sales to operations management. Eric is a board member for the Greater Austin ROSC. In his free time, Eric enjoys working out through kickboxing and smoking Texas BBQ for friends and family.

Jessica Welker

Senior Business Development Representative

Jessica Welker joined Austin Lakes Hospital in 2020. She earned her Master’s Degree in Music Education from Pensacola Christian College in 2009. Through her role as a Military spouse, she has learned the importance of community and outreach. She has been involved in marketing and community engagement from being a college recruiter to working in the Dallas area as a Physician Liaison for a large Orthopedic Doctor group. Her passion is to provide the best level of care for the community and to promote Austin Lakes Hospital so people know where they can go in a time of crisis. In her free time, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 kids through BMX biking, outdoor activities and finding new places to explore.

Amber Wilson

Community Liaison

Amber Wilson graduated from Texas State University with her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. She has been working in the mental health field for 8 years now. She has worked with wide range of patients including Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, addiction and alcoholism, sexual assault victims, and has been a MHT and case manager for an adult and geriatric psychiatric hospital in San Marcos, TX. During this time, she was also a teaching assistant at Texas State for a forensic psychology class. Through her prior experiences, she has developed a passionate drive to bring awareness to mental health issues and to help the community obtain resources for their path to recovery in moments of crisis. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband and son, hiking, swimming, reading a good book, going to concerts, and watching Netflix until it asks, “Are you still watching?”

Lori Elder

Community Liaison

Lori Elder brings 5 years of expertise in the senior living industry with a focus on memory care. Prior to that, she built her career in the home health, hospice, and pharmaceutical healthcare industries. Her compassion for helping others has influenced her career since graduating with a Bachelors of Art in public relations and sociology from Texas State University. Lori enjoys spending time with her two children. She is an avid animal lover, and volunteers her free time in helping the many animal organizations in town.

Nakisha Winterringer

Nakisha Winterringer, MSN, RN

Nakisha joined Austin Lakes Hospital as Director of Nursing in 2021. Prior to joining the team, Nakisha worked as a Director of Assisted Living and Nursing Director specializing in geriatric Healthcare in the Austin Area. She began working in behavioral and mental healthcare as a Nurse and Supervisor at the San Marcos Treatment Center in 2013, where she worked with children and adolescents. Nakisha earned her undergraduate nursing degree from Lamar University in Beaumont, TX in 2011, and her Masters of Science degree in Nursing Administration and Management from Aspen University in 2020. She has a strong passion for quality patient care and nursing advocacy. As an Austin native, Nakisha enjoys being outdoors and listening to live music. She loves spending time with her husband and cats, as well as playing her flute, traveling, and playing tennis.

We’re Here to Help

Talking with one of the mental health professionals at our treatment center could help answer your questions. Our team wants to identify how we may be able to help you or your loved one improve daily life with our mental health services. We offer no-cost, confidential assessments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 512-544-5253.

Our inpatient and outpatient programs can help individuals deal with mental illness or behavioral health issues whether they’re suffering from depression, anxiety or other disorders. If you are currently experiencing an emergency, please dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.