SMART Recovery USA Central Office Leadership


As Executive Director (ED) of SMART Recovery USA, Mark Ruth oversees operations, fund raising, finances, technology and other support roles. He works with the Board of Directors to achieve it’s 5 Year Strategic Plan and manages the Central Office staff to support USA operations and the many volunteers that are critical to SMART’s services.

Ruth has leadership experience with non-profits as a member of staff and as a volunteer. Prior to SMART, he served as ED of Western Reserve Counseling Service. WRCS provided general counseling to support various forms of addiction including sex, drugs, alcohol and others, family and children behavior and parenting problems, divorce and relationship problems, domestic violence and sexual abuse and other mental and behavioral health issues. Ruth also served as Director of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Ohio to expand their donor base, increase their corporate sponsorships, and increase the volunteer base of adult Bigs.

Ruth also has extensive entrepreneurial experience in IT and management consulting, helping businesses and organizations to improve profitability, streamline operational inefficiencies, leverage technology and build effective an effective team.


As Assistant Executive Director, Christi Alicea supports the work of the Executive Director and oversees the Central Office staff and all office operations, including HR and oversight of staff training and development. She also facilitates internal and external communications in close collaboration with the Executive Director, Board chairs and volunteers of SMART committees. In addition, she offers on-going support to SMART Recovery volunteers and uses her facilitation skills to resolve problematic behavior if it arises. She selects and edits content for SMART’s online quarterly and weekly publications; oversees the Training Coordinator and related activities, and supervises SMART’s Onsite Training Team and Program, while providing associated assistance. Treatment center sponsorship equally falls into Ms. Alicea’s purview.

Prior to joining SMART Recovery, Mrs. Alicea served as the Mental Health Ombudsman for NAMI Lake County (OH) and participated in several community coalitions, including having served on Lake County Family and Children First Council for 12 years. Mrs. Alicea has completed an unusually high number of professional training courses—17 in all—including Family-to-Family Facilitation, NAMI Basics, Medical Complications of Addictive Diseases, Mental Health First Aid, Trauma response Team Training, and many more.

SMART Recovery USA Board of Directors



JOSEPH GERSTEIN, MD, FACP, President, a retired Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine from Harvard Medical School, introduced Rational Recovery into the greater Boston area before becoming the founding president of the new nonprofit entity, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Self-Help Network, Inc., d.b.a. SMART Recovery, in 1994. He is now reprising his role as president for the term beginning in 2017. Dr. Gerstein is responsible for the widespread penetration of the Massachusetts medical environment by the SMART Recovery program. He has personally facilitated over 3,000 SMART Recovery meetings, almost 800 of which were held in prisons, and he has invented tools currently used in the program. Dr. Gerstein has delivered approximately 100 lectures and workshops on SMART Recovery, including those at Harvard Addiction Symposiums, the International Association of Addiction Medicine meeting in Helsinki, and other national and international venues. Dr. and Mrs. Gerstein introduced SMART Recovery into Great Britain (UK) and Australia (AU). The former professor served on the Board of SMART Recovery UK and AU, and helped grow the former to its present sponsorship of almost 500 weekly meetings, over 80 of which take place in prisons. He is also responsible for the introduction of the SMART program into Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and South Africa.


BRETT SAARELA, Vice President, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) by the State of New York, is a mental health professional.  She received her BA from Carleton College and her Master of Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work, City University of New York. She practiced for ten years as a psychotherapist in New York City (NYC) specializing in mental health and addiction treatment for older adults in psychiatric in-patient units and out-patient clinics.  She further focused her practice by combining a variety of motivational and cognitive-behavioral techniques to treat often- home-bound elderly adults with co-occurring mental health and addictive disorders.   She has been actively involved in SMART Recovery in the United States since 2001 and was a founding member of the NYC Chapter.  Ms. Saarela was nominated for an Emerging Social Work Leader award by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in 2007 for her work with the older adult population and for a Social Work Image award in 2012 by the New York Chapter of NASW for her work with SMART Recovery NYC.  A board member of SMART Recovery since 2009, she became vice president in 2011.   After relocating to London in 2014, Ms. Saarela became a SMART Recovery UK trustee.


RANDOLPH (RANDY) C. LINDEL, Treasurer, holds a BA from Harvard College and an MBA from the University of Washington. In his twenty-five year advertising agency career, Mr. Lindel worked with the J. Walter Thompson and McCann-Erickson agencies, was a founding member and director of account services for the Backer & Spielvogel agency, and was COO of Bates Worldwide before becoming a marketing consultant. His specialties include competitive positioning, communications strategy, agency selection, and planning facilitation. His association with SMART Recovery began in 2009 as a program participant. Mr. Lindel then became a meeting facilitator at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2010, a member of the SMART Board of Directors in 2015, and treasurer in 2017. He has participated in drafting the current editions of the SMART Handbook and SMART Facilitators Training Manual. He regularly contributes to the marketing, communications, and website needs of the organization.


WILLIAM (BILL) STEARNS, Secretary, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and holds an MS in Corrections from Xavier University in Cincinnati.  He has a JD from Salmon P. Chase School of Law at Northern Kentucky University.   Mr. Stearns has been an attorney in his own general practice law firm in the greater Cincinnati area for 44 years.  For some 30 years, he served as a part-time magistrate in a local juvenile court that he helped establish and over which he presided.  He became actively involved in SMART Recovery in January 2011, beginning as a participant then moving on to become a meeting facilitator.  He has facilitated at least two meetings per week for the last four years, including the first in-jail meeting in the State of Ohio.  In January 2015, Bill was elected to the Board of Directors of SMART Recovery and currently holds the office of secretary.



ROXANNE ALLEN graduated from University of West Florida summa cum laude with a degree in accounting, and became a licensed CPA. She worked for many years as an auditor, accountant, and a treasurer with firms in New York City and Charleston, South Carolina. While raising her family in Virginia, Ms. Allen became an active volunteer in numerous education-related projects, facilitating and enhancing communication between faculty/staff and parents, serving as supervising volunteer for scholastic chess, and earning numerous recognition awards in the process. In 2010, she became involved with SMART Recovery as a meeting facilitator and continues in that role today. She developed the training course for the Family & Friends program, served as Family & Friends coordinator from 2013 to the present, meeting facilitator, and also editor of SMART Recovery’s Family & Friends Facilitator’s Manual and Handbook. A member of the SMART Recovery Board of Directors since 2014, Ms. Allen now chairs the SMART Recovery’s Fundraising Committee and Strategic Planning Committee, and devotes some 20-30 hours each week to the organization, including its social media outreach efforts.


ELAINE APPEL hails from the greater Boston area and graduated from the New England School of Art and Design. She also attended Boston College, taking courses in Business Administration and Psychology before becoming a sales executive. This background, along with her personal history of recovery, enabled her to become a volunteer, a meeting facilitator, and SMART’s first regional coordinator in New England, all in rapid succession. She served as regional coordinator for ten years and become a member of the Board of Directors in 2004. Ms. Appel later relocated to Columbia, South Carolina where she continues to bring to the SMART Board of Directors outstanding experience in community organization, activism, and charitable work. She has particular expertise in the formation of nonprofit organizations, including the drafting of operational documents such as bylaws.


Michelle ElkinsMICHELLE ELKINS received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Pepperdine University located in Malibu, California. Ms. Elkins held various roles of increasing responsibility at a large multinational conglomerate, her last role as Director of Information Technology. Her expertise stems from over twenty years of experience in all aspects of information technology, including executive decision support, large-scale project management, continuous process improvements, disaster recovery, business continuity, P&L control, budgeting, vendor contracts, and staff management. She has consistently applied her focus on technology innovation and best-practice operational structures to contribute significant value and ROI in key leadership roles. She became involved in SMART Recovery in December 2013 and then became a SMART online facilitator. In addition to facilitating weekly meetings, she is helping SMART improve their technology platforms in order to better serve the SMART online community.


TIMOTHY (TIM) EDDY earned his PhD in Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany, specializing in comparative and evolutionary psychology. He is currently an  associate professor of psychology at Salem State University in Massachusetts where he teaches introductory psychology and evolutionary psychology. Dr. Eddy has published articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has current research interests in the interactions of humans and animals. He also has served as a reviewer in academic journals including Behavioral and Brain Sciences, published by Cambridge University Press and Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science. A participant in SMART Recovery since 2012, Dr. Eddy quickly became a volunteer as well. He now facilitates two meetings per week and frequently fills in for others when facilitators are unavailable.


WILLIAM (BILL) GREER, earned a BA cum laude from Lawrence University and an MSJ from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Bill has forty years of leadership and communications experience in the nonprofit sector as a communications executive for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and SmithBucklin, North America’s largest nonprofit association management firm. He authored the FMI Communications Manual and chapters on communications and information technology for SmithBucklin’s Complete Guide to Nonprofit Management. As regional coordinator for the Washington, DC to Virginia corridor, he has promoted the SMART program at Veterans Administration and other military facilities, prisons, drug courts, and high schools. He has facilitated SMART meetings for people recovering from addictions, Family & Friends meetings, and InsideOut meetings for correctional facilities. Mr. Greer has served on SMART’s Court Outreach Committee since 2013. He has provided communications counsel to the national office to spotlight meeting growth and promote SMART programs. He joined the SMART Board of Directors in 2017 to elaborate strategic communications policy and assist in the development of communications practices to support, sustain, and accelerate meeting growth.


THOMAS (TOM) HORVATH, is a founding board member of SMART Recovery. A graduate of St. Johns College, he went on to earn a PhD from the California School of Professional Psychology at San Diego. After serving as an active duty Navy psychologist for three years, he established a practice as a clinical psychologist. In 1985 he founded Practical Recovery, which offers a self-empowering alternative to 12-step and disease-oriented addiction treatment. Dr. Horvath is past president and fellow of the San Diego Psychological Association. In 2015 he received their Distinguished Contribution to Psychology award. He was appointed by Speaker Willie Brown in 1992 to the California Controlled Substances Prescription Advisory Council, which produced recommendations regarding California’s triplicate prescription program for controlled substances. Dr. Horvath was elected in 2016 as a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA). He is a past president of the APA Society of Addiction Psychology (Division 50), the world’s largest organization of addictive behavior psychologists. He has taught graduate school substance misuse courses since 2010 and is the author of Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions.


ROBERT MCDONOUGH is the Senior Research Manager of Angel Oak Capital Advisors, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor with over $7 billion in assets under management. He leads the Advisory Services practice which serves the investment, risk management, and capital markets needs of financial institutions. He manages client engagements which include investment portfolio risk and performance assessments. Rob coordinates Angel Oak’s research and publication activities on a variety of financial and risk management topics. He also develops and delivers technical training and executive education. He has over 25 years’ experience leading risk management consulting engagements and delivering training seminars for financial institutions, central banks and government-sponsored enterprises around the world. Rob founded Strategic Financial Solutions, Inc., a risk management consultancy, in 2001. He previously was a senior manager with Andersen Consulting’s Financial Services practice. He also served in the Federal Reserve System for 12 years in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Rob earned an M.B.A. in Finance and Economics from Georgia State University and a B.B.A. from Emory University. His personal recovery journey gives him a passionate desire to give back to the recovery community in a variety of ways. In addition to his Board responsibilities, Rob brings to bear his financial and investment experience on the SMART Finance Committee. He also co-facilitates a SMART meeting in Atlanta.


International Advisory Council


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Aaron Beck, M.D.
Dept. of Psychiatry
University of Pennsylvania

Carlo DiClemente, Ph.D.
Dept. of Psychology
University of Maryland at Baltimore

Albert Ellis, Ph.D. (1913-2007)
The Albert Ellis Institute

Frederick Glaser, M.D.
Greenville, NC

Nick Heather, Ph.D.
University of Northumbria at Newcastle Centre for Alcohol & Drug Studies

Reid Hester, Ph.D.
Checkup & Choices LLC

Harald Klingemann, Ph.D.
Institute for Social Planning & Social Management (ISS)
University of Applied Sciences Berne

Richard Longabaugh, Ed.D.
Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies
Brown University

Alan Marlatt, Ph.D. (1942-2011)
Addictive Behaviors Research Center,
University of Washington

Barbara McCrady, Ph.D.
Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse & Addictions,
University of New Mexico

Maxie C. Maultsby, Jr., M.D. (1942-2011)
Dept. of Psychiatry, College of Medicine,
Howard University

Peter Monti, Ph.D.
Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies
Brown University

Stanton Peele, Ph.D.
Fellow, The Lindesmith Center

Linda Sobell, Ph.D., ABPP
Nova Southeastern University
Center for Psychological Studies

Mark Sobell, Ph.D., ABPP
Nova Southeastern University
Center for Psychological Studies

William L. White, MA
Chestnut Health System

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