Addiction Specialist Staff
John W. Tucker
John Tucker studied psychology and philosophy at Denison University in Ohio. He studied law at Cornell Law School for a year then decided to pursue his PhD in Philosophy at SUNY Stony Brook. Always drawn to the mountains and transformative power of the wilderness, John moved to Idaho to become a Field Instructor at SUWS, one of the original and most respected adolescent wilderness treatment programs in the United States. During his six-year tenure at SUWS, John became Field Supervisor, then Field Director. In 2001 he left SUWS to help found the Wisdom Ranch School in Idaho, an alternative boarding high school for boys in a ranch setting. He wore many hats at Wisdom Ranch, from academic director to admissions director. John enjoys mountaineering, golf, skiing, Ohio State Buckeye Football, and spending time with his wife, Brandie, and their young daughter, Riley.
Elizabeth S. Baer, LISW, BCD
Elizabeth Baer brings twenty-seven years of substance abuse and mental health experience in residential, inpatient-acute, outpatient, and private practice. Her background includes working with individuals diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illness as well as short-term reactive patients at Springfield Hospital Center, Sykesville, Maryland. Elizabeth served as Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, Field Instructor/Faculty and has served as an Adjunct Professor and Field Instructor at New Mexico Highlands University. She presently serves as a Field Instructor at New Mexico State University. Additionally, Elizabeth developed and implemented the Intensive Outpatient Program for New Mexico Highland University.
Elizabeth is a Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (BCD), and is certified in Motivational Interviewing. Advanced trainings include the Intensive Family Therapy Program at the Family Therapy Institute of Washington D.C., evidence based substance abuse treatment, sexual abuse/trauma, motivational interviewing, attachment disorders, mental illness, victimization and clinical hypnosis, cultural diversity, and clinical supervision. After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont, she earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Community Planning with a specialization in Employee Assistance Programs.
Daniel Clothier, LADAC, LPN II
Daniel began his work in the field of behavioral health as a nurse in Michigan. He was a social living instructor for Job Corps in Colorado for one and a half years, working with court-ordered youth. Daniel became a nurse in 1972, and was one of the first Emergency Medical Technicians in Arizona. He later assisted in the implementation of a paramedic program in San Diego, California, where he taught and supervised new medics and other agencies, created specialty teams and was one of the first flight medics to fly in the Lifeflight Program in San Diego. Daniel graduated with honors in the field of Addictionology, using his skills to create programs with “at risk” high school students. He continued his work with youth in New Mexico at a transitional program for youth, serving as supervisor, counselor and assistant director. Daniel conducts basic life support and first aid trainings. He currently runs the family program at Vista Taos Renewal Center where he facilitates the healing and rejoining of families.
Elin M. Ritchie, MD, ABAM
Elin M. Ritchie, MD; Medical Director, has been a Family Practice physician working in Addiction Medicine since 2000. She graduated from the University of Manitoba Medical College in 1992 and completed her Family Medicine residency program in 1994. Dr. Ritchie is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Practice is a member in good standing of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She trained in Acupuncture with the Academy of Pain Research in 2001 and employs both acupuncture and herbal and natural therapies with her patients. Dr. Ritchie became a licensed Massage Therapist in 2008. Dr. Ritchie is an approved prescriber of Suboxone for the management of pain and opiate dependence. She is recognized by the American Heart Association an an Acute Cardiac Life Support provider. She is a member of the New Mexico Medical Society.
Ed Cardenas, LCSW
Ed Cardenas is a New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board Provider. He is also a certified trainer in Colorado. Vista Taos Renewal Center is fortunate to have him as a Family Week lecturer and facilitator of Grief and Loss groups for our patients. Ed has a Master's Degree from the University of Denver where he received the Dorthea Spellman Award for his creativity in working with groups. He is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from Metro State College. He was trained as a facilitator/trainer at the Grief Education Institute in Colorado, as a Substance Abuse Counselor Trainer at the Colorado Department of Health and as a Rehabilitation Specialist Trainer. Ed has authored books on substance abuse, culture, character development, parental school involvement and has written a manual on grief work.
Julia Dougherty-Hanna has been practicing massage therapy since her graduation from the Institute of Natural Healing in 1997. Julie has witnessed, in her three years on staff at Vista Taos, the therapeutic benefits of massage and healing touch. Clients appreciate how much massage can ease stress, decrease anxiety, relieve physical pains, and provide additional support to the process of recovery.
Cynthia Freeman-Valerio, MA, LPC
Cynthia ‘Cindy’ Freeman-Valerio received her B.A. from Columbia University, studied psychology at The New School and received her M.A. from the University of New Mexico. Cindy brings 30 years of experience in interactive psychodynamic therapy specializing in experiential ‘action methods.’ Vista Taos has had Cindy as our psychodrama therapist since 2006. In addition to working for Vista, Cindy provides services for local mental health agencies and family programs, as well as serving as a director for local theater projects. Her energy, enthusiasm and dedication to the healing and performing arts is truly a statement to her commitment with helping others heal, grow and thrive; Vista is fortunate to have her as part of our clinical team.
Patrick is an American Indian from Taos and the Jemez Pueblo. He is a professional musician who practices his music as part of hismeditation practice. The session is called ‘Soul Healing’ as he performs with native flutes, a didgeridoo and percussion instruments grounded in the native culture. The combination of his musical skills and adept ability to connect with patients is truly unique to Vista Taos and integral to Vista’s holistic treatment approach. Patrick’s focus and goal is to help our patients open their mind, body and spiritual souls to find enhanced strength and to diminish any weaknesses. Music holds the potential to re-open doors to places that addiction has closed. Patrick’s music and spirtitual guidance assists paitents to reconnect with aspects of themselves that were lost. His practice with patients at both Vista Taos and Casa Feliz helps to guide them into healing as a means to resolve and heal deep hurts which are vital to stimulating recovery.
Ed Thomas, MBA, MSc/MHC, LMHC
Director, Business Development
Ed Thomas, Director of Business Development, holds two Master’s degrees. The first is Master of Business Administration and the second is Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling. Ed is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of New Mexico.
After completing his internship program in Albuquerque, Ed became a Mental Health Counselor and Quality Assurance Director at A New Awakening Counseling in Albuquerque. The primary client population served at A New Awakening is comprised of persons on probation or parole that have substance abuse or co-occurring diagnoses. After leaving this position Ed served as a Mental Health Counselor at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center. Prior to re-careering into the substance abuse/mental health field Ed owned a manufacturing business with operations in three states.
Marty joined Vista Taos Renewal Center in 2011, with tremendous experience in behavioral health care. After many years with FedEx, he transitioned into human services work and completed a number of trainings specific to substance abuse treatment and behavioral health. He completed course work with White Bison, Medicine Wheel & 12 Steps for Youth Training with The Wellbriety Training Institute in addition to being a Certified Peer Support Specialist. For the past 5 years he has had unwavering energy and enthusiasm helping people in need of treatment acquire essential services. Marty has worked for Optum Health and Life Link of Santa Fe as well as being a personal trainer. Marty brings his 24 years of recovery to Vista Taos Renewal Center, and along with his experience, strength and hope he has an established reputation for tireless service to those seeking help.
Nicole Jackson, Administrative Director, joined Vista Taos in 2000. Nicole has been a vital member of Vista’s growth and expansion over the years. She has provided invaluable information for our patients; she has professionally managed patient accounts patients, their families and third party payors. Nicole has been trained in addictions treatment, co-dependency and the impact of addiction on the family members. Nicole is a native to Taos and provides all of us with a wealth of information regarding community, state and regional resources.