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The Clinic Staff

Peter Van Houten, MD founder of Sierra Family Medical Clinic.Peter Van Houten, MD, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry from Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1973. He graduated magna cum laude ("with high honors") and Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated from UCSF Medical School in 1978 with honors and finished his residency training in general medical practice at San Joaquin Medical Center, the county hospital in Stockton, California, in 1980.

After founding the Sierra Family Medical Clinic as a private practice in 1982, he served as owner and medical director until 1994. At that point he donated the Clinic to the newly formed non-profit that has overseen its development since then. He has long championed our Clinic as a way for all the residents of this unique area to work co-operatively to improve access to medical and dental care for all. The opening of our new Clinic building in 1997 was the first major step in this process. Dr. Van Houten has served as the Clinic's Medical Director continuously since its opening in 1982.

Dr. Van Houten's approach to medicine emphasizes regular preventive care as well as integrating mental health care into the primary care setting. He believes that medical care should always be delivered with kindness and respect while maintaining the highest level of quality.

He has lived locally at Ananda Village since 1978 and enjoys growing roses and landscaping. He is co-author of several books on the use of yoga for health problems, and he lectures frequently on the effects of relaxation and meditation on the brain and behavior.


David Kessler, DODavid Kessler, DO, received a B.S. in Biology in from Drexel University in 1972 and he graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1979. After completing a rotating internship in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he worked as an emergency room physician in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. David worked on several Indian reservations in South Dakota, Montana, and Arizona on his way to California. He was a dedicated, full time physician at SFMC from 1982-1995. In 1995, he started a private practice in Grass Valley and from then on worked at SFMC as needed. He has one daughter. His interests are preventive medicine, spinal manipulation, behavioral medicine, golf, and meditation.


Clair Leve, MDClair Leve, MD, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Humboldt State University with a BA in Holistic Health in 1982. After graduation she worked in a rural health clinic as a Perinatal Educator, Health Educator, and Hospice Coordinator. She completed her medical training at the University of Nevada School of Medicine in 1996 and did her residency in Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Gynecology at the University of Hawaii. She had a private practice in Auburn for many years and currently works at SFMC in primary care and women’s health. She completed a five year course of post graduate medical training in Anthroposophical Medicine through the Medical Section of the Goetheanum in Arsleheim Switzerland. Dr. Claire’s philosophy is to work with the whole human being: including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well being.


Laura Herman, RN, FNP, BSNLaura Hermann, RN, FNP, BSN received degrees from the University of Missouri at Columbia and Sonoma State. She has worked at the Auburn Pain Rehabilitation Medical Clinic for 6 years. She worked at SFMC in the 1980's and now returns as our Pain Management Coordinator.





Tiara R. Burks, PA-CTiara R. Burks, PA-C graduated from UC Santa Barbara with majors in communication and psychology. She attended Stanford University’s Primary Care Associate Program and graduated in 2010. Previous medical experience includes EMT, MA, and mental health technician.





Michael Johnson, PhD, LCSWMichael Johnson, PhD, LCSW graduated from San Diego State College and UC Berkeley and has been a clinical social worker for over 40 years. He teaches graduate courses at CSU Stansilaus and most recently worked as a behaviorial health therapist at Chapa De.





Alyse Stukin, LCSWAlyse Stukin, LCSW has worked in a variety of settings, including the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health and Department of Children and Family Services. She has experience as a school intervention counselor and has been a family care court mediator in Nevada County. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and California State University, Long Beach.

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Bozhidar Popov, DMDBozhidar Popov, DMD was trained and practiced dentistry in Bulgaria until 1982. He completed advanced studies for foreign trained dentists at UCLA in 1985. He has been in private practice in America for 17 years. His specialties include general and children’s dentistry.





David Fraser, D.D.SDavid Fraser, D.D.S. graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry in Dental Surgery. He did an externship in community dentistry at Shasta Community Health Centers. He completed a residency in Advanced General Dentistry, becoming accomplished in implant placement and restoration, surgical extractions, molar endodontics, removable prosthetics, periodontal surgery, and pediatric dentistry.



Richard DicKard, D.D.S.Richard DicKard, D.D.S. has been in private practice in Nevada County for 36 years. He is now retired and a part-time volunteer dentist at SFMC. He was instrumental in starting many new dental programs to benefit children and adults throughout the years, including the start-up of SFMC’s dental clinic.





15301 Tyler Foote Rd. Nevada City, CA 95959 - Phone: 530 292-3478
Fax: 530 292-4296 - Non-secure, non-confidential email: info@sierraclinic.org