Our Team of Addiction Instructors
The Academy for Addiction Professionals has grown by leaps and bounds and we now boast 8 teachers and administrators. We encourage you to read their bios below and get to know them before you arrive at class.
Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP – Director
Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP is the CEO and Founder of Destination Hope, Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, The Academy for Addiction Professionals, and the founder of Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation. Ben holds a BS degree from Syracuse University and a Dual Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling and Family Therapy from Barry University. With more than twenty years of hands-on experience, Ben is a leading authority in the field of Substance Use Disorders and treatment protocols. He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addiction Professional, and Supervisor for licensure in the state of Florida.
As an entrepreneur, Ben established programs offering individualized care with a one-to-one ratio between patients and staff. He created the first gender-specific, age-specific, and mental health program in the field. These diversified programs attribute to a successful model that he even teaches to other treatment center owners who have adopted his methods for treating addiction. Ben’s growing success of Destination Hope is a testament to his genuine passion to help others.
He is a published author in the area of dual diagnosis and chemical dependency and trains others to be certified professionals in the field of addiction through his Academy for Addiction Professionals. His new book is slated to launch this year and will serve as a guide to become a professional in behavioral heath. Ben speaks at conferences, universities and colleges across the nation, discussing trends and issues affecting the mental health and substance abuse community. Ben’s programs have been featured in national publications including Addiction Professional, NBC, ABC, and FOX national news. He currently resides in Parkland, Florida with his wife Suzanne and their three children Abby, Jacob, and Eli.
Erik Hurvitz, Provost
Erik Hurvitz became the provost for the Academy in 2019. In his previous post as Education Liaison, he assisted students past and present and prospective, providing resource linkage and assistance when needed. In the field, Erik performs presentations and speaking engagements for prospective students and organizations interested in increasing their knowledge base in the behavioral health field.
An industry professional, Erik has had experience in many avenues in the field: Behavioral Health Tech, Career and Education Counselor, Community Outreach, and Crisis Support. His positions have led to national travel opportunities, speaking to groups and making presentations near and far
Erik received his Bachelors Degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2007 and continually endeavors to assist those interested in furthering their career, entering the workforce, and enhancing their education.
Kelly Hancock, CAP, CMHP, Instructor
Kelly Hancock is a Certified Addictions and Mental Health Professional who has been working in the field of addictions/mental health for well over 14 years. Kelly works full time as a counselor with a community based behavioral health center and has her own private practice. She has 22 years of personal recovery and has a passion for both the individual who struggles with substance abuse, addictions and mental health issues, as well as the families that are impacted.
Kelly has been with the Academy for over 6 years and enjoys teaching and empowering others to be counselors of excellence in the ever growing field of substance abuse/addiction treatment. Kelly has extensive working relationships with a wide variety of treatment facilities and programs within Broward and Palm Beach counties, so she is able to stay on top of the ever changing treatment industry and pass this along to her students.
Kelly is a native Floridian who is married for 17 years to her husband Scott Atwood. Both she and Scott are in recovery and share the same passion for helping the alcoholic/addict who still suffers. Her pride and joy are her children and her grandchildren, and she loves her alma mater, the University of Florida (GO GATORS!)
Keli Karbowski, CAP, LCSW, Instructor
Keli Karbowski is employed as the Compliance Officer at Destination Hope verifying that policies and procedures are maintained and comply with licensing and accrediting entities. Keli also heads the Internship program at Destination Hope where she continues to build relationships with various Universities and provides the student interns with clinical supervision. Keli enjoys teaching at The Academy for Addiction Professionals and with the student interns, as it is rewarding to watch the students grow and appreciates any knowledge the students offer as well. Keli brings over 18 years of experience in the behavioral health field working with adolescents and adults. Prior to joining Destination Hope and the Academy for Addiction Professionals, Keli fulfilled various leadership roles in the behavioral health hospital arena. Keli has experience with the Marchman Act process and the court system.
Keli holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from FSU and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from FIU. Keli is Licensed in Florida as a Clinical Social Worker and is a Certified Addiction Professional.
Tommy McGee, LMHC, CAP, Instructor
Tommy C. McGee, LMHC, CAP, has more than 16 years of experience in the mental health and addictions field working in supportive, clinical and administrative roles.
Tommy has spent 11 years of direct service to clients in a variety of human service related programs. This experience includes work in transitional living programs (1/2 way house) as a resident manager, substance abuse treatment as a support counselor, case-manager and clinical therapist and 6 years in a family services (community mental health) agency as a program developer/administrator of prevention and aftercare programming.
He also has worked as an educator with the Palm Beach State College teaching both in class and online, general psychology, and crisis Intervention. Tommy has also facilitated courses for professionals seeking certification with the state of Florida in addictions as an instructor for The Academy for Addiction Professional. He has taught treatment planning, psycho-pharmacology, and clinical evaluation.
Tommy holds a Bachelor of Science (Ministry) and Masters of Science degree in Counseling Psychology (with a specialization in mental health and marriage of family) from Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Addictions Professional.
Andrew Merker, CAC, Instructor
Andrew is yet another successful Academy alumnus who has come back as an instructor, training our next group of future addiction counselors. His time at The Academy for Addiction Professionals yielded a Certified Addiction Counselor designation from the Florida Certification Board.
Andrew has worked in the recovery field since 2007, during which time he has worked with those suffering from substance abuse and addiction issues in both adolescent and adult facilities.
Since 2010, Andrew has followed a path in admissions and today he is the Director of Admissions for Destination Hope treatment center in South Florida. The admissions process is particularly gratifying as he helps families navigate the process of entering treatment and makes sure each client meets criteria to help maximize their potential for recovery.
Andrew is a proponent of experiential training and his diverse background in the addiction field offers his students a wealth of practical and useful information to take with them to their own work every day.
Jon Waller, LMHC, Instructor
Jon Waller is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and started his work in behavioral health in 2002, providing care in a wide variety of settings including crisis stabilization, community mental health, and addictions. He is currently Lead Therapist at Destination Hope:The Men’s Program
Jon is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida, the state where he was born and raised. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Florida Atlantic University.
Through his experience in counseling, he developed specialties in trauma, men’s issues, and dual diagnosis, bringing knowledge and empathy for those suffering and in need of help to make the desired changes in their life.
Carlee Pollard, Instructor
My name is Carlee Pollard, I was born and raised in Southern Ohio and relocated to Florida 5 years ago. I have been in the behavioral health field for the past 4 years in a number of different positions. I have worked as a behavioral health technician on both the substance abuse and mental health units at Destination Hope and I currently work as a BHT in the medical department where I assist the psychiatric ARNP and nursing staff.
My father was in the field of behavioral health for over 40 years which played a huge role in how I chose my career path. My brother is also in the field and works as a case manager at a detox facility in southern California.
I am also a NASM certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and CrossFit coach. Health and fitness are very important to me and I enjoy being able to help others learn how to live a healthier life.