Benjamin A. Levenson – Chief Executive Officer
As co-founder of Origins Recovery Centers, Ben Levenson brings the strategic vision and executive leadership to the Origins organization. Ben’s deep love for recovery and compassion for those with addictive illness and their families was born out of his own harrowing battle with and recovery from chronic addiction. Through Ben’s extraordinary recovery experience, he launched Origins Recovery Centers as an enduring beacon of hope to those afflicted. Ben has charged Origins with a legacy to continually develop, improve and provide highly-effective systems of comprehensive addiction treatment. Ben’s passion keeps him on the ‘front lines’ where he speaks publicly on addiction treatment issues and lobbies for improvements in quality and availability of treatment. Ben’s passionate advocacy for recovery extends globally as he works with governments and programs internationally for the advancement of the treatment sciences. Ben actively serves on numerous distinguished boards, including, but not limited to, C4, a global non-profit corporation set to help improve the effectiveness of substance abuse prevention and recovery services, the Center for Students in Recovery at University of Texas at Austin Campaign Advisory Council, the South Padre Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce. In his personal time, Ben takes pleasure in being with his family, playing golf, fly fishing and traveling abroad.
Michael J. Levenson – Co-Founder
Co-founder Michael Levenson is one of the primary people responsible for making Origins Recovery Centers a reality. He has over thirty-five years of experience in business, including being the president of a bank at only twenty-six years old and eventually the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company. He has vast experience in other industries as well. Michael takes great pleasure assisting Origins clients in learning about financial responsibility, job resumes, career choices, how to interview for a job and more, all as part of The Origins Experience™.
Dr. Alex Kudisch, MD., DFAPA – Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Kudisch serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Origins Recovery Center. Dr. Kudisch is Board Certified in Psychiatry with a specialty focus in both adult and child psychiatry. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and is professionally affiliated with numerous hospitals in Texas. Dr. Kudisch has extensive experience treating the chemically dependent and dual diagnosed patient in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Psychiatry at San Antonio. In addition, he holds Appointments at the Texas Medical Association Committee on Medicaid and the Uninsured, also the Department of Family Health Services Ad Hoc Committee on Psychotropic Medications Oversight in the Foster Care System, and the Commissioners Round table. He is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Tropical Texas Behavioral Health. Dr. Kudisch maintains a private practice in McAllen, Texas and is passionate about spending time with his family, traveling abroad, exercise, art and golf. Professionally, he advocates strongly for increasing Mental Health Care Access in South Texas.
Robert Park, LCDC – Executive Director
Rob has been involved with the field of addiction recovery in a variety of capacities for most of his life. From working as a Director of Admissions to being more directly involved with patient care as a Case Manager, he embraces a holistic approach to healing both mind and body and believes strongly in the Origins Experience. Being a recovered addict/alcoholic himself, Rob understands that personal experience is an essential part of someone’s ability to help others achieve sobriety, that you cannot transmit something that you, yourself, do not have. This belief is continued through his work with mindfulness, psychospiritual and experiential based therapies, which include the concepts of wholeness and acceptance of the disowned parts of the Self as a strong base from which someone struggling with addiction can embrace the process of recovery. He fosters the concept that awareness itself promotes wholeness and healing. As a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and a Certified Holotropic Breathwork Facilitator, Rob combines his years of experience at other prominent treatment and recovery centers with his hands on work helping addicts find their own path to recovery, to create an unsurpassed system of Organizational Health. Being the Executive Director, his passion for helping others and his expertise at making systems and departments work together cohesively give him the opportunity to optimize fluidity and enhance overall patient care here at Origins. He continues to further his education and feels driven to learn more about himself and the world around him. In his personal time he loves to play golf, travel, listen to live music, outdoor activities, and eat well.
Mandy Baker, MS – Executive Program Director
Mandy Baker joins the Origins Team after spending ten years at the nationally-recognized Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery at Texas Tech University. With her colleagues at Texas Tech, Mandy managed the development of multiple recovery support systems at colleges and universities across the nation. Her deep understanding and study of the 18-25 year old demographic has resulted in numerous publications in academic journals, books, curricula, and popular press outlets. In addition to her professional connections in clinical and academic settings, Mandy also draws upon her own experience as a recovered woman in her work with alcoholics and addicts. In her spare time, Mandy is completing her doctoral dissertation using data from MAP Accountability Services and spending time with her family.
William Warren Prater, MD – Utilization Review Manager
William attended the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, receiving his M.D. Degree in 1979, following undergraduate work at Abilene Christian University. Immediately following his residency training at St. Paul Hospital in Dallas and Lubbock General Hospital, he embarked on a distinguished career in Addiction Medicine. He was one of the original group certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine in 1987, and has over 25 years of experience in the field. He has been Medical Director of Adult Addiction Disorder at both Charter Hospital of Dallas and HCA Willow Park Hospital at Medical Center of Plano, supervising the Chemical Dependency Program and providing daily group psychotherapy sessions. While in Plano he directed the Prater Group, an outpatient Chemical Dependency Program utilizing a 12-step program in addition to psychopharmacology, EEG biofeedback and holotrophic breathwork. This program was also a TCADA approved training center, supervising and training many interns while it was in active practice. He also has been a Medical Director for Horizon Hospital, an adolescent chemical dependency program in Dallas, and worked as a staff Addiction Medicine physician for several years at La Hacienda Treatment Center in Hunt, TX, where he managed the inpatient detox unit, as well as at Starlite Village Hospital In Center Point, TX. He also practiced in the Prudent Opiate Pain Program dealing with pain management, and has been a frequent guest lecturer at several Texas colleges and universities. Addiction medicine has been Dr. Prater’s passion for the majority of his years of practice, helping patients cope with their chemical addiction from both the physical and psychological perspective. With his dedication and experience to the field of Addiction Medicine he has served as a patient advocate and Utilization Review Manager here at Origins since January 2011.
Beverly Skloss, RN, MSN – Director of Nursing
Prior to becoming full time at Origins, Beverly was our Senior Nursing Consultant, and brings to us a wide range of experience and training. She completed her graduate work at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, earning a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty in psychiatric nursing, mental health, and substance abuse. She has over 24 years of dedication to nursing, with extensive experience in administration, leadership, and management. This includes 12 years in Behavioral Health/Addictive disorders involving detoxification and other inpatient and outpatient services for those with dual diagnosis. She served 17 years of this time at Valley Baptist Health System with her most recent experience being Director of Education. In addition to her work here at Origins, Beverly serves as Adjunct faculty for the Professional Nursing Program at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen, and has recently served 6 years on the Texas Board of Nursing Advisory Committee for Education. She continues this role as a nursing school survey consultant. Beverly is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing as well as being the President of the Board of Directors for the Rio Grande Valley Council, a non-profit agency that provides substance abuse education, prevention and treatment services for schools and communities in South Texas. In her own words “Living on South Padre Island, working for the ultimate addictions treatment center, and working in the field I love the most is my life’s dream that has become reality.” Beverly loves walking on the beautiful South Padre Island beaches, boating, and spending time with her family.
Staci Levenson – Director of Operations
Staci transitioned to Origins from the innovative MAP program where she was part of its successful introduction and implementation. Now, as our Director of Operations, Staci is responsible for oversight of all the behind-the-scenes details necessary to keep a Recovery Center running smoothly and efficiently. From procedural policies to the financial operations, if it happens at Origins then Staci has a role in it. She first became involved in drug and alcohol recovery early on when family members developed problems with addiction, needing the help and support of those closest to them. This brought her into the recovery community, and from that introduction she has continued to do volunteer and service work in support of others needing help. Now that Staci is directly involved with all facets of recovery, she can watch the patients grow and has come to understand not only their challenges, but the rewards they realize when they graduate addiction free. She especially enjoys family week, when families are reunited with their loved ones who, after more than a month of recovery work, appear happy and excited about their lives, often for the first time in many years.
Jaime Loera, BA – Director of Alumni Services
Jaime Loera earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He has been an active member in the recovery community for over twelve years and remains dedicated personally and professionally to helping those afflicted with chemical dependency. Jaime has worked for a number of the most prominent drug and alcohol treatment providers in both Texas and Nevada. He has had the honor of working with his fellow members of 12 Step Fellowships to create a passionate recovery community in Austin, Texas. Jaime enjoys spending his personal time with his family, loves nature and distance running.
Penny M. Brewer, CPA – Controller
Mrs. Brewer is a CPA with over 17 years experience in industry and public accounting. She is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Tyler where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and graduated Cum Laude. She has worked for the founders of Origins Recovery Centers for many years in their varied interests. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and most of all watching her two sons play sports.
Bo Claypool – Director of Multimedia Marketing
Bo is a talented web marketer whose experience with Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing pre-dates even the existence of Google itself. While he maintains a parallel career as a physician recruiter, and is educated and experienced as a physician group practice consultant, Bo’s primary strategic initiative is to increase awareness of the Origins brand through various channels, inclusive of the Origins web presence. Bo is passionate about his position with Origins and he wishes to always make it easy for prospective patients and their families to learn about Origins online, as he knows Origins provides life-saving care with an unsurpassed degree of compassion and an unwillingness to provide anything but total dedication to the the recovery process.
TJ Howard, BS, LCDC-I – Admissions Specialist
TJ is a Certified Criminalist and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Texas, where he worked as a teacher and a private tutor. TJ also did his post-graduate work in the biology and chemistry fields at the University of North Texas. He is dedicated to helping and working with other alcoholics and addicts. TJ, personally in recovery from addiction, has been a strong member of twelve step community in Dallas Texas. In his personal time he enjoys sports, reading, and spending time with his family.
Todd Benedict – Admissions Specialist
Todd brings a variety of education and experience to bear as an Admissions Specialist here at Origins. Prior to coming here, his work in recovery facilities took him from internship to Assistant Director of Intake, as he is always striving to learn more. Being an Admission Specialist, Todd has the unique perspective of dealing firsthand with those just beginning their treatment program, often at the lowest point in their lives. As a recovered addict himself, he understands the difficult emotions and confusion a newcomer goes through in their first days. By incorporating his experience of those same struggles with an encouraging and positive attitude, clients are introduced to their new recovery environment with hope that they can overcome their pain and become strong, independent and vital individuals. He loves working with new clients and their families as they learn about this terrible disease and the solutions Origins provides.
Chad Cromer – Admissions Specialist
After recovering from active addiction, Chad joined Origins in 2012. He left a 20 year career to be a part of the altruistic movement that saved his life. A former educator, he uses his skills and experience in delivering the message of hope and possibility of life to those who are seeking desperately to recover and find peace in a life lost to addiction. To better serve those that suffer from the disease of addiction, Chad has chosen to further his education and career in the treatment field. Close friends, family and the seasonal climate on South Padre Island occupy his time outside of work.
Katie Sherman – Admissions Specialist
Originally from Lake Jackson, Texas, Katie has lived in a number of recovery communities throughout the state. Early on, she struggled with her own addiction issues, relapsing many times before finally finding peace in Kerrville, Texas, and has been a happily recovered woman ever since. Katie absolutely loves working with family members hoping to find a solution for a loved in desperate need of the type of help the Staff at Origins cam bring to someone struggling with addiction. Originally, Katie worked at our Hannah’s House facility, where she worked daily with the women who are overcoming this debilitating disease and finding a new, rewarding life just as she did. As an Admissions Specialist, she helps desperate family members as they try to find their way through the maze of considerations and decisions necessary to get a loved one started on their journey to becoming recovered adults. Her own recovery allowed her to rediscover a bond with her parents she thought was forever lost, a joy she hopes to bring into the lives of those she now helps to recreate a connection they have lost. Katie considers herself a die hard Dallas Cowboys fan, and loves enjoying all the outdoor activities South Padre Island has to offer with her dog, Charlie.
Jody Guerra – Community Relations Representative
Jody has been in the field of alcohol and drug abuse/recovery counseling for more than 20 years, with much of that time practicing as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADAC) as well as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He has been involved in a variety of capacities, including both nonprofit and private practice counseling, Program Director for an outpatient 12-step program, Marketing and business development, as well as work in adolescent leadership development for over 15 years. This diversity of involvement in the industry is an example of his dedication and true passion for the Ministry of saving lives, and the depths he has gone to provide a means for people to overcome the disease of addiction from both a professional and personal directive. It has been his calling, and he is proud to be part of this altruistic movement to help people help themselves beyond the adversity of addiction, to lead fulfilling and productive lives. Being born, raised and still living in nearby McAllen, the Valley has been Jody’s home his entire life. He has been happily married for 20 years and has 2 great kids.
Rick Hubbard – Community Relations Representative
Rick represents Origins as the Community Relations Liaison for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He comes with a background rich in managerial and community relations experience. Having studied Finance while at college, Rick’s early career in that field culminated with his founding Revere Mortgage Banking Corp., and functioning as its CEO until 1999. It was at this time that Rick starting working in the recovery industry, where he has worked at both The Watershed of the Palm Beaches, and Serenity Foundation of Texas as the Community Relations Director for many years. Rick brings his years of experience to Origin’s in order to cultivate our presence within the Dallas/Ft. Worth community, to better serve their recovery needs and be a resource for those chartered with helping people caught in a battle with addiction. In Rick’s own words…
“It is an honor and a privilege to join an organization as well managed and as highly regarded as Origins Recovery Centers. I have observed the deliberate structuring of a high quality administrative, clinical and recovery support team at Origins over the past few years, and I am impressed with the sophisticated nature of the programming offered to the patients and families finding recovery here. I am proud to represent Team Origins as a member of the Community Relations department, and I look forward to a long and fulfilling career with this organization.”
Cara Holbrook – Wellness Chef
Cara has always had a passion for preparing and eating great food, in all its wonderful forms and with all of its geographic and ethnic variety. After a personal experience left her unable to eat most of her favorite foods, she realized that relearning what she thought she knew about food was necessary to accommodate her newly discovered appreciation for proper diet and nutrition. This turned her attention and considerable talents toward creating and preparing meals which are designed to fit the requirements of different ailments and physical demands. Through her studies in Macrobiotic cuisine in Austin, TX after college, she learned about how food is broken down in the body and how to properly cook for the varying nutritional and digestive demands required by different physical conditions and circumstances. She began applying this knowledge working on the opening team of the Austin My Fit Foods, where she created two of their specific diet lines as well as managing the kitchen team. Following that experience she went to the downtown Austin Whole Foods Market and worked on their healthy eating program, helping to create some of the meals and foods that are now sold nationwide. This success was rewarded by a promotion to Venue Supervisor, managing three different restaurants inside the store and allowing her the pleasure of cooking for several celebrity guests. Cara loves to study nutrition in her spare time and is always looking to educate and instill passion in other people to love healthy eating as she does. Not a believer in fad diets or celebrity endorsed weight loss pills, Cara prefers wholesome, made from scratch cooking with natural flavors and lots of variety. For our clients in recovery she makes every effort to create tasty yet easily digestible food by using naturally sweetened, low sodium, low allergen, and high fiber foods. Quoting from Benjamin Franklin, Cara sums up her philosophy on food as “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”
Amanda Armstrong – Executive Assistant
Having graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a minor in Psychology, Amanda brings her exceptional organizational and communication skills to the complex world of recovery here at Origins. While not in recovery herself, she understands first-hand the effects of alcoholism and the destruction it can create within a family. Personally, she has great admiration for individuals who have gone through the recovery process and rebuilt strong and happy lives. In her spare time Amanda enjoys working creatively, target shooting, taekwondo and playing with her dog, Ziggi.
Rich Whitman – Advisor to the Executive Committee
Rich Whitman brings to Origins a wealth of experience and knowledge in all phases of recovery and treatment. Highlighted by his serving nineteen years at La Hacienda Treatment Center as its Chief Operating Officer, Rich has spent his career managing extremely high-quality milieus offering both psychiatric and addiction treatment. Rich is known industry-wide for his passion for recovery, advocacy for meaningful advancements in treatment and his first-rate administrative and leadership skills. He also brings a great deal of compassion for those who suffer from chemical dependency, including family members and those close to someone suffering through the pain of this disease. In his personal time, Rich enjoys spending time tinkering on one of his Harley Davidson motorcycles, fishing, golfing and traveling.