Discovery Behavioral Health Names Growth, Strategy Exec; Equip Hires First President

Equip hires its first president

Equip, a virtual, evidence-based eating disorder treatment company, appointed Nikia Bergan as its first-ever president.

Bergan will report to co-founder and CEO Kristina Saffran and serve as an observer on the Equip board of directors.

For nearly 20 years, Bergan worked at the Advisory Board Company, part of Optum. Optum announced the acquisition in 2017. Previously, she held the roles of president and chief revenue officer at Bethesda, Maryland-based Get Well, a digital patient engagement company.


“Her growth-oriented expertise will help us further extend our reach to the hundreds of millions of people who are not served by the current care ecosystem and need access to Equip’s trusted care,” Saffran said in a news release.

Since launching in 2019, Equip is now available in all 50 states and is in-network with many insurance providers.

In March, Saffran highlighted the potential of value-based care in addressing the “hidden costs” of providing eating disorder therapies at Behavioral Health Business’ VALUE conference.


Aware Recovery Care names new CFO, CMO

Aware Recovery Care named George Merhi its new chief financial officer. He will report to CEO Dr. Brian Holzer, helping to oversee the growth of the company and its financial operations.

Merhi’s 30-year career spans several industries, and both public and private companies. Starting in 2005, he was CFO at two outpatient physical therapy providers — IvyRehab Physical Therapy and Excel Physical Therapy — as well as the addiction treatment provider Lakeview Health.

Aware Recovery Care also named Dr. Laruen Grawert as its new chief medical officer. It made the announcement in April. She oversees the company’s medical affairs organization and the daily clinical operations.

Aware Recovery Care recently raised a $35 million Series B funding round, according to public documents.

Founded in 2011, Aware Recovery Care offers a rarely seen in-home treatment model; the norm in addiction care is facility-based care or virtual treatment.

The company operates in 10 states. It plans to add New York and Georgia. It also intends to expand in five existing state markets.

Modern Health hires new top doc

Dr. Neha Chaudhary is now the chief medical officer of business-to-business virtual mental health provider Modern Health.

Chaudhary, a double-board-certified child/adolescent and adult psychiatrist, will lead the company’s clinical team, according to a news release. Previously, she was chief medical officer of virtual youth mental health startup BeMe Health.

“An escalating mental health crisis means that people leaders and managers are expected to be culture-transformers and mental health first responders, even if they lack expertise, insights, and resources in these areas,” Modern Health CEO Alyson Watson said in the release.

Chaudhary holds other roles as well. She is on faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is also the co-founder of Brainstorm, Stanford’s Lab for Mental Health Innovation.

In a previous interview, Watson told BHB that Modern Health’s mental health services are delivered with an eye toward whole-person care.

Brightline’s chief technology officer leaves for role at Hopper Health

Jonathan Simon, now ex-chief technology officer for Brightline, has taken a similarly titled role at the New York-based company Hopper Health. He announced his departure from Brightline on June 2 via a LinkedIn post.

Brightline is a Palo Alto, California-based virtual youth and family mental health care provider. It has recently undergone a series of layoffs. Hopper Health is a digital primary care company focused on serving neurodivergent adults.

With Hopper Health, Simon is tasked with overseeing the company’s digital infrastructure, product expansion and patient acquisition.

He is also now listed as a co-founder of the company, according to a news release.

“With his (Simon’s) expertise, we will be able to quickly accelerate our mission of providing accessible, affordable, and inclusive primary care for neurodivergent folks, empowering them to lead healthier lives,” Hopper Health CEO Katya Siddall-Cipolla said in the release.

Discovery Behavioral Health brings on new strategy and growth exec

Discovery Behavioral Health hired Shelley Plemons as senior vice president of strategy and growth; she reports directly to company CEO and president John Peloquin.

“Shelley has a passion for developing best practices through implementation of processes and systems,” Peloquin said in a news release. “She is a dynamic trainer, bringing new skills and innovation to the sales and admissions team.”

She brings 30 years of experience in the behavioral health industry to the role, having held executive and independent consultant roles at organizations that provide mental health, addiction treatment and eating disorder treatment services.

Plemons was previously the chief operations officer for Clearfork Academy, a Christian-oriented residential addiction treatment center for youth in Fort Worth, Texas.

In May, Discovery Behavioral Health named Christian Losch as CEO of Casa Palmera, a residential and outpatient behavioral health treatment center located in Del Mar, California. In April, it named Sharon Zimbler as regional vice president of the Discovery eating disorder division

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