Statewide Summit Speakers


Allison Vordenbaumen Benz, RPh, MS
Director of Professional Services
Texas State Board of Pharmacy
Ms. Benz‘ duties as director of professional services with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy include overseeing the operation of the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program, developing rules relating to professional issues and agency operations, and providing information services for the agency including responding to requests for agency records. Ms. Benz has been an employee of the agency since August 1994. She graduated from the University of Texas, College of Pharmacy in August 1988 and completed a Master of Science degree in pharmacy administration through the Option II program at the University of Texas at Austin in December 1994.  Following graduation from pharmacy school, she worked as a community pharmacist in California and Texas.


Katherine Brown
Diversion Program Manager
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Ms. Brown started out as a diversion investigator with the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1991. In January 2005, Ms. Brown was reassigned as a unit chief in the Office of Training, Diversion Operations Unit.  As the chief of the Diversion Operations Unit, she was responsible for developing, planning, coordinating, and directing entry-level, in-service, and specialized training programs of DEA diversion investigators at the DEA Training Academy. Ms. Brown remained in that position until February 2011, when she was selected as the group supervisor of the Houston Division Office Diversion Group where she is responsible for overseeing regulatory, criminal, and civil investigations conducted by a staff of eight diversion investigators.  In October 2015, Ms. Brown was selected as the Diversion Program manager where she has oversight of the overall operation of the Diversion Program within the Southern Region of Texas.


John Dyben, DHSc, CAP, CMHP
Clinical Director
Hanley Center, Origins Behavioral HealthCare
Dr. Dyben’s multi-faceted experience and leadership in the addiction field underscores Hanley Center’s focus on holistic substance misuse treatment. He brings the remarkable skill set of pastor, counselor, clinical manager, teacher, and respected expert to his position as clinical director. Dr. Dyben began his career as an ordained minister in a traditional church setting. He went on to work in community-based mental health and wellness fields which included therapeutic and administrative positions with Boys Town USA. His leadership is reflected in national presentations on a broad range of addiction, spirituality, and related topics. He is an adjunct faculty member at Palm Beach State College and a faculty member of the Addiction Professionals Training Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida.


John Eadie, MPA
Public Health & Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Project Coordinator
National Emerging Threat Initiative of the National High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA)
Mr. Eadie previously served as director of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Center of Excellence at Brandeis University (2010-15). For 44 years, Mr. Eadie has served in management, executive, and consulting capacities in the field of public health. As director of the Division of Public Health Protection in the New York State Department of Health (1985-95), he directed the state’s pharmaceutical diversion program, including the PDMP. He co-founded both the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs (ASPMP) and the National Association of State Controlled Substances Authorities (NASCSA). He has also served as president for both organizations and held other posts. Since leaving New York state service in 2001, Mr. Eadie has served as a consultant on PDMPs, including serving as the administrative reviewer for the Massachusetts PDMP. Mr. Eadie has published multiple articles, made numerous presentations, and served in many different arenas as an expert.


Marc L. Fleming, PhD, MPH, RPh
Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy
University of Houston
Dr. Fleming is a health services researcher with expertise in survey design and behavioral theory. Most of his research is focused on the prescription drug misuse epidemic, particularly examining the use of prescription drug monitoring programs by pharmacists and physicians. He is also interested in patient counseling and medication adherence.


Sonja Gaines, MBA
Associate Commissioner for IDD and Behavioral Health Services
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Ms. Gaines served as the first associate commissioner for mental health coordination with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission until recently when she assumed leadership responsibility for the policy and delivery of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and behavioral health within the HHS system as the associate commissioner for IDD and behavioral health services. During her short tenure at HHSC, Ms. Gaines has spearheaded the development of the first Texas statewide behavioral health strategic plan across 18 state agencies that receive $6.7 billion in state funding for behavioral health. She also led the implementation of the Texas Veterans and Family Alliance Grant Program and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA)-funded initiative for the development of certified community behavioral health clinics.  She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Texas Women’s University, a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from The University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from William Paterson University.  Ms. Gaines’ vision is to create a unified approach to behavioral health services that allows Texas to gain access to care at the right time and place.


Sean Hanna, LAc, MAOM
Senior Director of Veteran Engagement
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
After serving eight years as a hospital corpsman for the U.S. Navy, which included deployment in Somalia, Mr. Hanna attended the Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin (AOMA), where he earned a Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree. In December 2016, he joined the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute as senior director of veteran engagement. Previously he served as director of the Veterans Mental Health Program for the Texas Veterans Commission for slightly over two years. He also spent five years as statewide coordinator of the Military Veteran Peer Network. He came to the commission from the Samaritan Counseling Center, where he was the director of the Hope for Heroes program, and as executive director of Stage Seven, the Austin-based non-profit he founded to provide integrative medicine and peer support to underserved combat veterans struggling with reintegration issues.


Faith G. Harper, PhD, LPC-S, ACS, ACN
Private Practice
Dr. Harper is an LPC-supervisor who maintains a private practice in San Antonio, Texas, and a consulting business providing clinical training and consulting throughout the state. Additionally, she serves on the boards of the Pride Center of San Antonio, the Texas Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling, and the Sagata Thera Foundation.


Jason Howell, MBA, PRS
Executive Director
Recovery People
Mr. Howell is a person in long-term recovery from mental health and substance use issues. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from Texas A&M University and is a peer recovery specialist and state approved trainer.  Mr. Howell is the executive director of SoberHood, a recovery community organization that administers the Texas Recovery Oriented Housing Network, which is the state Affiliate of the National Alliance of Recovery Residences, as well as two SAMSHA supported initiatives: RecoveryPeople, the statewide peer recovery network; and Texans for Recovery and Resiliency, a collaboration between the statewide peer recovery and the youth and family mental health networks. He is also a founder and the former Board president of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR). Mr. Howell is a national speaker and has co-authored several journal-published articles including Maximizing social model principles in residential recovery settings. In addition, he participated on two SAMHSA-supported expert panels: Accreditation for Peer-run Programs, Recovery Community Organizations, and Peer-Delivered Services; and Recovery and the Affordable Care Act: Accomplishments and Opportunities. Mr. Howell is a member of the Texas Health and Human Service Commission’s Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, and serves on the Block Grant Committee.


John Ingham
Student Engagement Coordinator
University High school
Mr. Ingham has experience providing support with drug and alcohol recovery, support with HIV and other STI health issues, mental health support, grief and loss support, and support for children in families affected by substance use disorders.  John managed Austin Turning Point Sober Living and has volunteered with Phoenix House adolescent treatment center, The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, Infinite Recovery, CRI-Help, and other organizations supporting young people’s recovery. Mr. Ingham is currently attending Austin Community College, majoring in psychology and planning to transfer to the University of Texas to complete his Bachelor of Science degree.


Patrick Knue
PDMP Training and Technical Assistance Programs
Mr. Knue was employed with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for 30 years; 28 years in the Narcotics Service as a crime analyst, crime analyst supervisor, and program manager; 18 years specializing in prescription abuse; and nine years as program manager of the Texas Prescription Program.  Since his retirement from DPS in January 2012, he has been working with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) through a Bureau of Justice Assistance grant with Brandeis University. He was made director of PDMP TTAC mid-2016. Mr. Knue graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983.


Lauren Lacefield Lewis

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Behavioral Health Services
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Ms. Lewis has 15 years of state level experience in public mental health and substance misuse service delivery, operations, and policy development. She serves as deputy associate commissioner for behavioral health services at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She leads the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division which oversees the community-based substance misuse and mental health service delivery system and the 11 facilities operating as part of the state hospital system. She began her career in the local mental health authority in Austin, which is now Austin Travis County Integral Care. She received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and attended the LBJ School of Public Affairs.


Jane Maxwell, PhD
Research Professor
Addiction Research Institute at the UT Austin School of Social Work
Dr. Maxwell has been a member of the SAMHSA National Advisory Council, a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration, and a member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Community Epidemiology Work Group and National Drug Early Warning System. She has over 40 years of experience monitoring changes in drug use patterns in Texas, in the U.S., and internationally. She has been an investigator studying patterns of methamphetamine use in the central Texas area, routes of administration of heroin, dependence on methamphetamine, and is now principal investigator on a grant from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse to study factors in recidivism for impaired driving offenders who have been in substance misuse treatment.


Ian R. H. Rockett, MA, PhD, MPH
Professor, Department of Epidemiology
School of Public Health, West Virginia University
Dr. Rockett is professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University. He holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario, a PhD from Brown University, and a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard. He is a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, and a faculty affiliate of West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center, the Suicide Research Group at the Medical University of Vienna, and the Tobacco Control Research Center in the School of Medicine at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. His publications have appeared in such journals as Addiction, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Affective Disorders, and Social Science and Medicine. One current project is a multilevel analysis of medicolegal and forensic determinants of suicide case ascertainment. Another involves the application of a novel concept, death from drug self-intoxication (DDSI), to an enhanced category of self-injury mortality. Dr. Rockett’s past research includes a statewide hospital emergency department study of unmet substance misuse treatment need.


C.M. Schade, MD, PhD, PE
Private Practice and Founder
RSD (CRPS) and Back Pain Treatment Center
Dr. Schade has been practicing pain medicine and addiction medicine for 40 years.  He is in private practice in the Dallas Metroplex, and is representing the Texas Medical Association Special Task Force on Behavioral Health.  Dr. Schade is a TMA delegate and the senior member on the TMA Interspeciality Society Committee.  He is a past present of the Texas Pain Society and serves on their Board of Directors, is ABA board certified in pain management, and is a fellow of the Interventional Pain Practice. Dr. Schade has a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from Stanford University and is a registered professional engineer. He also served 10 years with the US Air Force as a flight surgeon and served as the US Air Force surgeon general’s consultant in chemical warfare.


Kasey Strey, ACPS
SPF-Rx Project Director, Substance Abuse Prevention Program Specialist
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Ms. Strey, a Substance Abuse Prevention Program specialist, joined HHSC in 2015 after working six years in the nonprofit sector of substance misuse prevention. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin from the School of Social Work, and is an advanced certified prevention specialist. Ms. Strey is the project director for the Strategic Prevention Framework for Prescription Drugs (SPF-Rx), a five year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant.


Douglas C. Throckmorton, MD
Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Presentations, Food & Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services
As deputy director for regulatory programs, Dr. Throckmorton shares the responsibility for overseeing the regulation of research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription, over-the-counter, and generic drugs in the United States. He is committed to ensuring that the benefits of approved drugs outweigh their known risks. Prior to coming to the FDA in 1997, he conducted basic science research and practiced medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, and Augusta Veterans Administration Hospital. He is a board-certified physician.


Carlos F. Tirado, MD, MPH, FABAM
Medical Director and Director of Clinical Innovation
The Right Step Hill Country.
Dr. Tirado has conducted health disparities research on Hepatitis C treatment in U.S. veterans and adolescent addiction supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas, and his Master of Public Health degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health, also in Houston. He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and his fellowship in addiction psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Studies of Addiction in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Stephanie Weiss, CAS
Addiction is a family disease known all too well by the Weiss Family. Stephanie Weiss knows firsthand how addiction takes over the lives of families. Her personal family situation began when her son began using as a 17-year-old. Ms. Weiss’ quest to learn as much as she could about addiction lead her to knock on the doors of local school districts and the local city council to discuss the looming numbers of local teens who were using not only prescription drugs, but all drugs. After meeting with attitudes of “not in our backyard” and deaf ears to the increasing number of teen prescription drug users across the country, Ms. Weiss became affiliated with Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation that addiction causes families, and is now a Shatterproof ambassador. She knows prevention works; treatment is effective and recovery is possible for everyone. She holds a certified addiction specialist credential in California and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of San Francisco in the areas of behavioral organization, training, and development.