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Executive Team

Leadership

Ben Bobrow, MD

Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Ben Bobrow is a Distinguished Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Arizona College Of Medicine and has been practicing medicine and involved in public health for over 20 years. Having seen first-hand the devastating impact of the opioid crisis, he is passionate about the public health problem of chronic pain, and the closely-related problem of medication overuse, abuse and overdose. His focus is on helping people understand and utilize their enormous innate potential to “heal from within” using effective non-pharmaceutical approaches. Dr. Bobrow serves as the Director of Pain Management at San Carlos Apache Healthcare where he both learns from his patients and helps them manage their pain through culturally sensitive approaches. In 2016, he was named by Phoenix Magazine as one of the 25 most influential people in healthcare in the Valley of the Sun.

Dr. Barry Kerzin

Barry Kerzin is an Affiliate Professor at the Univ. of Washington Tacoma, a Visiting Prof. at Central University of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, India, an Honorary Prof. at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), and a former Assist. Prof. of Medicine at the Univ. of Washington. Barry is also a fellow at the Mind and Life Institute and consults for the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig on compassion training.

He is the founder and president of the Altruism in Medicine Institute (AIMI) https://altruismmedicine.org/  and the founder and chairman of the Human Values Institute (HVI) in Japan https://humanvaluesinstitute.org/

For 28 years he has been providing free medical care to the poor up to the highest lamas. Barry has completed many meditation retreats including a three-year retreat. His brain was studied at Princeton Univ. and the Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison as a long-term meditator.  He was ordained as a fully ordained monk by the Dalai Lama and combines his work as a monk and doctor, harmonizing the mind and body. He lectures around the world in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Russia, Mongolia, Europe, and North America.

For the (HVI) in Japan, Barry works in juvenile prisons and is developing a well-being curriculum. He teaches compassion to doctors at St. Luke’s hospital in Tokyo, and other hospitals in Japan and leads meditation retreats at Mt. Fuji. He delivered TEDx talks in Philadelphia and Taipei. For (AIMI), in June 2015 he gave a medical grand rounds lecture on compassion at the Stanford Medical School, and the Stanford CCARE, and in July lectured at Surgical Grand Rounds on the science behind meditation to the Ventura County Medicine Center, as well as lectured at the Univ. of Washington. In Spring 2016 he lectured at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and U.K. medical schools. Barry was the keynote speaker for the White Coat Ceremony for new first year medical students at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. In Fall 2016 he presented the plenary lecture to 800 Family Doctors at the Family Medicine Education Consortium in Pittsburgh. He has written Tibetan Buddhist Prescription for Happiness, and with the Dalai Lama and Prof. Tonagawa, Mind and Matter: Dialogue between Two Nobel Laureates, in Japanese. He will soon publish Nagarjuna’s Wisdom: A Guide to Practice, and No Fear No Death: The Power of Compassion. Barry has written many chapters for books and given many interviews for radio, and TV including documentaries on PBS New Medicine 2005, PBS Ethics and Religion 2015 and PBS NewsHour.

For reference:

PBS NewsHour 2015:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4BoSPSmWdo
Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Kerzin
Facebook:  Barry Kerzin
TEDx Talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7YskUbEyeY

Michael Munion, MA, LPC

Chief Psychology Officer

W. Michael Munion, MA, LPC, is a practicing psychotherapist in Arizona since 1979, and an activist in integrated primary and behavioral health care. He has been affiliated with the Milton H Erickson Foundation since 1980, and has provided extensive workshops on Ericksonian & Brief Psychotherapy in the US, Europe, and Mexico. He has taught about, and written, edited, and published books on Psychotherapy. His leadership in the state of Arizona includes: Member Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Counseling Credentialing Committee; Delegate for Arizona to the National Policy Academy on the treatment of Co-Occurring Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorders; and founding Member of the Pinal Gila Child Abuse Prevention Council / Multi-Disciplinary Team.

Beverly E. Thorn, PhD

Clinical Research Advisor

Dr. Beverly Thorn is is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Alabama, where she was on the faculty for 30 years, serving as Director of the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program for 15 years and Department Chair for a 5-year term. She is a licensed psychologist, and board certified in Clinical Health Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. She is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including Health Psychology, Pain, Journal of Pain, and European Journal of Pain and she has held research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as well as private foundations. She is currently focusing her research and clinical efforts on dissemination and implementation of cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic pain in low-income, multiply disadvantaged populations. She also consults with health care settings to help train behavioral health providers to implement cognitive-behavioral therapy for pain management.

Advisory Board

Kathleen Bartolomei is a visionary and strategic development practitioner. She founded UrbanLab, LLC to expand her ideas to improve quality of life and wellness in urban Phoenix, Arizona. Academically trained in early childhood development, she has spent the past 30 years harnessing collective wisdom and creating healthy, prosperous communities. She is currently testing the effectiveness of contemplative strolls in nature to improve healing, focus and well-being.

Shefali Ghandi, PsyD, is a Licensed Psychologist in the State of Arizona specializing in care for patients coping with anxiety, depression, grief, sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, PTSD, Autism, Asperger’s, poor social skills, poor anger management skills, parenting difficult adolescents and children, attachment issues, identity development and the LGBT population. Shefali also treats disruptive behavior disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder. She is the Clinical Director of ChildHelp Children’s Advocacy Center of Arizona. ChildHelp responds to the overwhelming needs of abused children with community partners: the Phoenix Police Department, the Office of Child Welfare Investigations, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office

Carl A. Hammerschlag, MD, is a master storyteller, an internationally-recognized  physician, author, and humanitarian clown. A Yale-trained psychiatrist, he has spent much of his professional life working with Native Americans; a transformational journey that moved him from doctor to healer. He has described that transformational journey in his many books. A faculty member of the University of Arizona Medical School in Phoenix; a leading proponent of the practical applications of the science of Psychoneuroimmunology (mind-body-spirit medicine), a healer who inspires hope.

Adam R. Pasciak, PhD, LP, is a clinical psychotherapist, researcher and 23-year police veteran serving on patrol, in narcotics, as a patrol sergeant and as a violent crimes/homicide detective. He received numerous commendations including several unit citations and a departmental purple heart following involvement in an on-duty shooting incident in 1998 that left him injured and the assailant dead. He is a member of the Oakland County Critical Response Organization (OCCRO), a volunteer organization that responds to locations where traumatic events have occurred and provides debriefing. He created the online community woundedbadge.com, which supports and serves police officers.

Robert Scaer, MD, is Board Certified in Neurology, and has been in practice for 33 years—20 of those as Medical Director of Rehabilitation Services at the Mapleton Center in Boulder, CO. His primary interest and expertise is in brain injury, chronic pain and the study of traumatic stress and its role in physical symptoms and diseases. He has lectured nationally and internationally on these topics, and has published several articles on somatic syndromes of traumatic stress. He has published The Body Bears the Burden: Trauma, Dissociation and Disease, a book presenting a new theory of dissociation and its role in many diseases. A second book, The Trauma Spectrum: Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency, explores the insidious spectrum of culturally-based trauma that shapes our lives, and how transformation and healing may still take place.

Matthew Carlson, LPC is a family man and specialist in emergency responder health and wellness. As a prior firefighter-EMT, he received numerous commendations for valor and life saves, battled through posttraumatic stress and addiction, and has dedicated his career to helping police, fire, and EMS thrive in the areas of health and wellness. He is nearing completion of a PhD in Advanced Human Behavior at Capella University, where he has been researching the relationship between affiliative humor and resilience among firefighters with post-traumatic stress. He’s dually licensed in mental health and addiction counseling, as been awarded for counseling excellence by his alma mater, serves as adjunct faculty in the areas of counseling and psychology with Cornerstone University Professional and Graduate Studies and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, has co-founded www.BuildingWarriors.net, an organization dedicated to mental wellness of police, fire, and EMS, and is often on an adventure in the mountains surrounding Winter Park, Colorado.

Russell Gilbert, M.D. is an Insomnia Specialist and has practiced Sleep Medicine for over 20 years. He has been the Medical Director of three Sleep Clinics and was the Medical Consultant for the creation of a Sleep Center for older adults in the Phoenix area. He obtained his Board Certification in Sleep Medicine in 1998. In 2008, Dr. Gilbert was Certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine and remains one of only a handful of physicians in North America with this Certification. He has had a private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona focusing on Insomnia and its psychological and behavioral causes. This clinical practice has also concentrated on patients who have both pain and sleep disturbance.  Over the past 10 years, Dr. Gilbert has become an expert in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). He is one of few physicians able to offer this treatment in a medical physician practice setting and is a regular consultant for other physicians and therapists seeking medication-free treatment for their patients with sleep related issues. He continues to see patients in his Scottsdale office and via telemedicine to patients in Canada and the U.S. through live web-based video at scottsdalesleep.com.

Supporting Leadership

Tim Riester

Business Operations Director

Tim is a noted advertising executive who has managed contracts with national, regional and local clients as well as federal and local governments. He has worked closely with a variety of organizations including the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona, among others. Tim is considered a knowledgeable source in the advertising field and has been featured by MSNBC, Fox, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and was a marketing expert for the National Academy of Science in Washington DC. He also served on a panel for the Boston University Medical Center that established guidelines for national tobacco prevention programs. His awards include being named an Honored Entrepreneurial Fellow by University of Arizona in 1999, a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2000 and “Ad Person of the Year” in 2005 by the American Advertising Federation’s Phoenix Chapter. Tim is a lifetime member of the Camp Colley Foundation board of directors, and serves as a board member for the MaxInMotion Foundation and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University endowment board of trustees.

Alan Perkel

Technology Director

Alan has a depth of strategic experience in e-commerce, customer relationship management, user-centered design and mobile technology. He has developed many successful customer and business digital recruitment campaigns for clients in healthcare such as Blue Cross of Idaho, Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona, Gilead Sciences, Medicis Pharmaceuticals (now Valeant Pharmaceuticals), MedWeb360, Text2Floss and Zeltiq. Alan built his expertise while at the Fortune 10 financial services company CitiGroup, where he served as Senior Vice President of Web Strategy and Design, and since then, has built and led one of today’s most formidable and forward-thinking digital departments. He has managed digital marketing campaigns for large regional and national clients, including Hormel, LT Foods, Aramark Parks & Destinations, MidFirst Bank and Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Alan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Visual Communication & Graphic Design from Northern Arizona University where he graduated with honors. He is an expert skier and volunteers as a member of the National Ski Patrol.

Tom Ortega

Communications Director

Tom is an award-winning advertising expert, having led many successful campaigns from concept development to launch. He leads a creative team of designers, copywriters and production crew, and has been awarded both “Copywriter of the Year” and “Creative Director of the Year” by the Phoenix Chapter of the American Advertising Federation. His experience spans many industries leading campaigns for clients such as Gilead Sciences, Arizona Department of Health Services, Arizona Early Childhood Development Board, Gold’s Gym International, McDonald’s, Nationwide Insurance, Utah Office of Tourism and Wholly Guacamole. Tom’s career in advertising began in 1982 while still earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Advertising from Texas Tech University. He worked as an art director and copywriter in Texas before moving to Phoenix, and during those years worked for such clients as the regional Furr’s grocery store chain, A Pea in a Pod, American Express, Safeway, PetSmart and Doubletree Hotels.

Bernadette Smith

Digital Strategist

Bernadette has a specialized talent for healthcare strategy and digital marketing. She is well-versed in many aspects of healthcare, having worked on developing content and lead-generation campaigns for clients such as Blue Cross of Idaho, Arizona Department of Health Services, Gilead Sciences, Medicis Pharmaceuticals (now Valeant Pharmaceuticals), MedWeb360, Text2Floss and Zeltiq. She started her career as a medical writer for LabTestsOnline.org, and is honed in writing for all things digital, including websites, online advertising, email marketing and social media. She has written educational sites for many clients, such as MidFirst Bank, Herdez, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Rocky Mountain Power and others. Bernadette holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities from the University of San Diego. She also loves swing dancing and is an advocate for the disabilities community.

Leslie Sonnenklar

Media Relations Director

Leslie supervises public relations, media relations and promotions for The Pain Project. She has extensive experience in all facets of PR, including earned media, corporate communications and crisis communications management. In addition to managing public relations support in the healthcare industry for clients such as UnitedHealthcare and OptumCare, Leslie has successfully launched new national products and brands for clients such as HERDEZ, Idahoan Foods and Nationwide Insurance. Leslie has 22 years of experience in public relations and marketing, including owning her own firm for more than 11 years and serving as Director of Marketing for national sports venues. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing from Arizona State University.

After 13 years of debilitating back pain, I am living proof that The Pain Project method for chronic pain really works. I've never felt better.

-Steve - Washington,DC

I suffered from recurrent, severe headaches ever since law school. My Pain Project therapist helped get me back in control of my headaches and most importantly my life.

-Melissa - Philadelphia, PA

After a sports injury, I had back surgery which did not help me and in some ways made me worse. The Pain Project was the only thing that cured my back pain.

-Blake - Neward, New Jersey

I was actually scheduled and pre-oped for surgery when a friend referred me to The Pain Project. After my first session I quickly improved and subsequently cancelled my surgery and it was the best decision I have ever made.

-Tanya - Miami, Fla.

I had horrific neck and shoulder pain for years and had tried pills and steroid injections several times without relief. After my Pain Project therapist helped me change how I thought about my pain and overcome my fear, I improved immensely. Now I can definitely manage my own pain, my way.

-Mark - Portland, OR

I used to wake up every day wondering, "How much knee pain will I have today?" The Pain Project tele-therapy allowed me to unlearn my chronic knee pain from the convenience of my home. If you have long term pain, I highly recommend you try The Pain Project before any other unproven treatments or procedures.

-Jordan - Phoenix, AZ