Faculty

Eric Bailly
Business Solutions Director, Anthem, Inc.

Eric Bailly is currently a Business Solutions Director at Anthem, Inc. In his 12th year at Anthem, his role is focused on the enterprise substance use disorder strategy, with recent emphasis on the enterprise opioid strategy.

Bailly earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN in 1993, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver in 1996.

Bailly is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the states of ND and CO, and is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the state of MN. He has worked as a behavioral health clinician in several settings including Outpatient Substance Use Disorder treatment services at both Kaiser Permanente and the Jefferson County Department of Health and Environment, both in the Denver, CO metro area.

In addition to Bailly's current position supporting the Substance Use Disorder strategy at Anthem, Inc. he teaches healthcare information systems to undergraduate students at Concordia College, Offutt School of Business, in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Dexter W. Braff
President, The Braff Group

Dexter W. Braff, MBA, MS, is the president of The Braff Group, one of the nation’s leading healthcare merger and acquisition (M&A) advisors according to Thomson Reuters. Celebrating its 20-year anniversary last year, the firm has completed over 330 healthcare deals and is the publisher of marketWATCH, marketALERT, viewpoint, and BRAFF onPOINT. With over 30 years of experience representing healthcare service companies, Braff is a recognized industry expert in healthcare M&A. He has written and contributed to feature articles in numerous healthcare industry publications and has a chapter in the Handbook of Business Valuation published by John Wiley & Sons. He is frequently interviewed on healthcare M&A by news outlets, including Bloomberg News, CNBC, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The Palm Beach Times, and numerous healthcare sector journals. Braff has presented seminars, moderated discussion panels, and has been the keynote speaker on various issues regarding healthcare M&A and finance at conferences across the country. He holds an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Science from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University, and he received the Vincent W. Lanfear Award for academic achievement.

Anthony Camaerei
Chief Operating Officer, AION Health Group

Anthony Camaerei, MBA, is Chief Operating Officer at Aion Health Group, a four-location addiction treatment program in South Florida, who has more than ten years of behavioral health and substance use field experience. Driven by providing evidence-based results, Camaerei takes pride in both compliance and client experience. With a strong background in business administration and leadership, Camaerei turned his passion for helping others and upholding a high level of ethical standards and client care into a lifelong pursuit of establishing and maintaining compliance, corporate oversight, and leadership across multiple organizations. Previously serving as a successful finance manager, Camaerei dedicated himself to be an advocate for behavioral healthcare after his brother experienced substance use issues.

Zac Clark
Co-Founder, Release Recovery

Zac Clark is an addiction recovery expert with nearly ten years of personal and professional experience. Clark is the co-founder of Release Recovery, a full service recovery organization located in New York, and The Release Recovery Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing scholarships to individuals who suffer from mental illness and/or drug addiction. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Trustees for Caron Treatment Centers, an organization that has been a leader in addiction treatment for the past 60+ years.

Dan Gemp
President and CEO, Dreamscape Marketing

A nationally recognized speaker on ethical healthcare marketing, Daniel Gemp maintains a year-round speaking schedule, forecasting digital marketing trends and delivering the strategies to capitalize on them. His unique perspective, at the intersection of business, digital marketing, and healthcare, has positioned him as a thought leader and go-to contributor to many healthcare podcasts, webinars, and publications, including Bloomberg and The New York Times. Gemp is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Dreamscape Marketing, a full service digital marketing agency, based in Columbia, Maryland, serving the healthcare industry. Since 2005, he has made it the company’s mission to provide executive-level healthcare decision makers a trusted strategic partner in planning and executing digital marketing campaigns that achieve their business development goals.

David Harder
Founder, Co-CEO, Atma Journey Centers

David Harder is co-CEO and co-founder of ATMA Journey Centers. He has worked full-time for the past 5 years in researching, advocating and moving the work of non-ordinary state therapy and psychedelic medicine forward in Canada. He co-founded and led Catalyst Presents, a Psychedelic Research Conference, and SYNTAC Institute, a Canadian non-profit dedicated to bringing psychedelic-assisted therapy to Canadians which was successful in achieving one of Canada’s first modern legal exemptions to undertake psychedelic-assisted work. With a master’s degree in religious studies and having been both a college professor and international humanitarian relief worker, Harder has always dedicated himself to the service of others. He brings a deep experience and reverence for psychedelic medicine and believes that it will play a key role in bringing healing to humanity.

Valerie Kading, DNP, MBA, MSN, PMHNP-BC
Group CEO, Sierra Tucson

Dr. Valerie Kading is the CEO of Sierra Tucson, where she provides the strategic vision to ensure that the facility’s patients and their families receive the most innovative, compassionate, and leading medical and psychiatric treatment for trauma, addiction, and other mental health conditions from a world-class staff of clinicians and behavioral health professionals. Dr. Kading joined Sierra Tucson in 2015, where she rose to become chief medical operations officer, then interim chief medical officer, chief operations officer, and ultimately Group Chief Executive Officer for the entire 258-bed Sierra Tucson Group – Sierra Tucson in Arizona, along with Sierra by the Sea and Sunrise Ranch in California. Kading brings to Sierra Tucson a special interest in women’s mental health including perinatal mood disorders, maternal well-being, and postpartum depression. Dr. Kading has written articles for multiple professional journals. Dr. Kading graduated with honors from New Mexico State University at Las Cruces, New Mexico, with a doctor of nursing practice degree. Her doctoral studies focused on optimizing healthcare systems, translational methods, and evidence-based practice, healthcare organization innovation, epigenetics, utilization of informatics in healthcare, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Dr. Kading graduated with honors from the University of Arizona with a master’s degree in nursing, a bachelor of science in nursing, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Dr. Kading also received her MBA from the University of Arizona. She has received recognition with honors and awards throughout her career, including most recently “Leaders to Watch in 2021” by AZ Business, “The 10 Most Admired Women Leaders in Business, 2020” by CIO Views and the “Advocate State Award for Excellence” from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Tim Kowalski
President and CEO, FinPay

Tim Kowalski is the president and chief executive officer of FinPay, the leader in patient financial management for behavioral health. In his role at FinPay, Kowalski focuses on company vision, sales, marketing, partner development, and investor relations. FinPay provides a fully managed technology solution for admissions enablement, census growth, and optimizing net patient revenue.

Deepti A. Loharikar
Director, Regulatory Affairs at the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness

Deepti A. Loharikar is the Director of Regulatory Affairs for the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW). She joined the organization in January 2020. ABHW is the national voice for specialty behavioral health and wellness companies. ABHW member companies provide services to over 200 million people in both the public and private sectors to treat mental health, substance use and other behaviors that impact health and wellness.

Deepti brings over 12 years of legal and policy experience in the healthcare industry. Prior to joining ABHW, Deepti was the Director of Federal and State Public Policy at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and also previously worked on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at HHS. Before shifting her focus to health policy, Deepti practiced law, focused on civil litigation, insurance defense, and health law.

Deepti received a B.A. in Genetics and Philosophy from Rutgers College in New Jersey and a J.D. from University of Maryland with a concentration in Healthcare Law and Policy.

George Maney
President, Chief Financial Officer, Meadows Behavioral Healthcare Centers

President and Chief Financial Officer George Maney joined Meadows Behavioral Healthcare in June 2019.  Maney brings extensive experience in finance, operations, and business development. A proactive leader with a focus on building strong teams, strategic partnerships and lasting business relationships, Maney has a deep understanding of critical business drivers in diverse markets.  Maney did his undergraduate work at University of Notre Dame followed up with an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin.

Brian Mears, CRNA
Founder, President, CEO, Alleviant Health Centers

Brian Mears, CRNA, is the founder, president, and CEO of Alleviant Health Centers, and has been an avid and well-established clinician since 1997. He thoroughly enjoys all aspects of patient care and the business of medicine. He has owned, operated, managed, and consulted in numerous successful entities. He became attracted to anesthesia-based procedures for chronic mental illness in 2014. Since then, he has devoted his life to improving access to mental health providers, shortening appointment wait times, improving treatment protocols with a focus on integrative and holistic care, and improving quality of life for all those suffering with mental illness and chronic pain. Mears has extensive experience in both academic and private practice settings. He has served in the United States Army Reserves for 22 years and is a veteran of Operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom Sentinel.

Gary Mendell, MBA
Founder and CEO, Shatterproof

Gary Mendell is the founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in the United States. After losing his son Brian to addiction in 2011, he founded Shatterproof to spare other families the tragedy his had suffered. Since founding Shatterproof, Mendell has been recognized as a national leader in the addiction space, working to transform how opioid and substance use disorders are treated. His priorities include advocating for state and federal policy change, ending the harmful stigma of addiction, and supporting and educating our communities. Mendell has testified in front of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, and his opinions are frequently reflected in the media. He also serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, is a member of the National Quality Forum's Technical Expert Panel for Opioid and Opioid Use Disorder, and is an advisory member of The Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Before Shatterproof, Mendell spent decades as an entrepreneur. He founded HEI Hotels & Resorts, a multi-billion-dollar company that oversees a portfolio of approximately 70 first-class hotels. Mendell received his BS from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and his MBA with distinction from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cory Mertz, M&AMI
Managing Partner, Mertz Taggart

Cory Mertz, M&AMI, is a Managing Partner at Mertz Taggart has a track record of successful transactions within the rapidly changing healthcare industry. Coupled with a wide variety of experience including business development and operations management, Mertz’s skill set has helped many healthcare entrepreneurs realize their exit planning goals. Mertz began his career at Jabil Circuit, where he was instrumental in the hyper-growth of the Fortune 500 electronics manufacturing services provider.

Mertz held several leadership positions while at Jabil, including managing the transition of multiple international acquisitions across Europe, South America, and Mexico. This experience taught him the skills to quickly recognize opportunities, skillfully negotiate solutions, and successfully close transactions. In 2006, Mertz joined Stoneridge Partners, an M&A advisory firm that specializes in home care and hospice, as a dealmaker. While at Stoneridge, Mertz had the opportunity to forge relationships with several industry leaders and private equity groups, having closed over 50 healthcare transactions nationally.

Mertz has been an invited speaker at several regional and national healthcare conferences on topics ranging from maximizing value of a company to the processes and pitfalls of selling a healthcare company. Mertz holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering, magna cum laude, from the University of Florida.

Doug Nemecek
Chief Medical Officer, Evernorth (Cigna)

Doug Nemecek, MD, MBA is the chief medical liaison for behavioral health integration, quality and clinical operations. He helps ensure network access and availability, patient safety, compliance with clinical guidelines, customer and provider satisfaction, and utilization management. Additionally, he works directly with customers and clients to mold operations and provides clinical expertise in new and existing behavioral health and integrated program development. Nemecek also leads Cigna’s national Coverage Policy team, responsible for developing policies and tools that are used to interpret standard medical, behavioral, and pharmacy benefit plan provisions. Additionally, he helps to coordinate Cigna’s national medical cost trend analysis and initiatives to address major medical cost drivers for our clients.

Parker Polidor
Co-Founder, CaredFor

Parker Polidor is based in Nashville and is the co-founder and CEO of CaredFor, the leading provider of patient, family, and alumni engagement tools serving 200+ treatment and behavioral health organizations. In this role, Polidor is focused on sales and marketing, company vision, market expansion, culture, and investor relations. Prior to CaredFor Polidor successfully co-founded, grew, and sold two companies.

Bradley Sorte, MSW, MBA
President and CEO, Caron Treatment Centers

Brad Sorte is the President & CEO of Caron Treatment Centers following his previous role as Chief Strategy and Growth Officer and Executive Vice President. Sorte is active in the Young Presidents Organization, and is a member of both the Philadelphia and Palm Beach chapters and serves on the board for Palm Beach. Sorte has master degrees in both social work and business administration from Florida Atlantic University. Playing a significant role in addiction and behavioral healthcare, Sorte speaks at conferences in the United States and abroad on topics ranging from family recovery and young adult addiction to the changing landscape of behavioral healthcare. He has been featured in The New York Times and Miami Herald as well as various media and industry publications.

Kevin Taggart, CM&AP
Managing Partner, Mertz Taggart

Kevin Taggart, CM&AP, is a Managing Partner at Mertz Taggart. Prior to co-founding Mertz Taggart, Taggart founded a land development and home building company. He gained invaluable experience running all aspects of the business, including raising money, negotiating and purchasing land, planning and rezoning, permitting and building infrastructure (roads, sewers, water, pool, clubhouse, etc.), building houses, and putting together and executing a marketing plan. Taggart has also been a co-owner of a home care company. As an owner, he increased volume through managing and measuring processes and systems and increased the EBITDA through topline growth and stringent cost controls. Taggart understands all aspects of running a healthcare company and brings a unique perspective to his clients. As a former agency owner with almost 200 employees, he has firsthand knowledge of the concerns owners face today which, in turn, better assists him in helping them and prospective buyers by implementing a truly client-focused strategy. After successfully selling that company to a large publicly traded company in 2010, he has been selling healthcare companies. Taggart has been invited to speak at several national and regional healthcare conferences with topics ranging from the process of selling a healthcare company to maximizing value prior to a sale. Taggart graduated from the University of Georgia with a BBA and majored in finance.