Meet the Team
At Banyan, we stand as a leader in providing growth through recovery by having only the most qualified team behind the mission. Our highly experienced staff know exactly how to treat each and every client because several key members of the Banyan clinical team have gone through their own personal trials of addiction and recovery. The Banyan tree not only stands as a symbol for us, but it is a philosophy. You are able to grow through your recovery process with a strong community set in place from our team here at all of our nationwide facilities.
Banyan Palm Springs Team
Paul was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts and graduated from Bryant College in Smithfield, RI with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Finance. Paul moved to Southern California in 1990 and spent the early part of his career as CFO of an acquisition-based magazine publishing group. He began his own recovery in 2009, with a 60-day treatment stay, which not only changed the trajectory of his life, but also of his career. He was hired as Business Manager of a dual-diagnosis Intensive Outpatient Program in Palm Springs, CA and later became the program’s director. Prior to working at Banyan Palm Springs, Paul was Director of Operations of a 120-bed residential treatment facility. In combining Paul’s passion for business and recovery, he is committed to providing his patients with the same opportunity he was given, as a result of having had access to a clinically proven, well-managed treatment program, to find, and live, a purpose-driven life.
Elizabeth Ross, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Ross is the Clinical Director at Banyan Palm Springs. She is a licensed clinical psychologist. Elizabeth has been working in the field of addiction and mental health since 2004. The journey that lead her to become a psychologist includes the desire to help support those suffering with dual diagnosis. Working as a psychologist has never been a job, it is her life passion. The best part of her position as a clinical director is supporting an environment where patients can get the best care possible with a team of compassionate staff all with the same goal to provide patients the families an opportunity for life changing growth.
Elizabeth completed her BA in psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then attended the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, where she obtained her Master’s and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Her doctoral dissertation focused on exploring self and the perceived stigma of individuals in treatment for substance related disorders. Elizabeth has research interest in perceived social stigma in relation to treatment-seeking behavior. Elizabeth brings this knowledge and experience to patients and families through empathy and nonjudgmental compassionate care.
Keerthy Sunder, MD
Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished Physician with extensive experience as a clinician, researcher, administrator, teacher, and lecturer. He is also author of the Amazon International Best Seller book “Face your Addictions and Save your Life” and the creator of an online meditation program for health and wellness (www.tunemybrain.com) and for PTSD among returning war Veterans (www.beatptsd.com).
Dr. Sunder holds Diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He is also a Diplomate of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in London, England and certified as a Credentialed Menopause Practitioner by the North American Menopause Society. He served his Ob/Gyn residency at James Cook University Hospital in England. He served his Psychiatry residency at the University of Bristol, England as well as Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a Member of the Credentialing Committee for the American Board of Addiction Medicine and a Life Member of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine. He is currently on Clinical Faculty with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Riverside School of Medicine and an Adjunct Professor at Southern California University of Health Sciences. He has worked as an Investigator on over 30 Research Protocols focused on Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Substance Use Disorders, as well as a Research Psychiatrist or Co-Investigator on NIH studies related to Pregnancy and Postpartum disorders.
Dr Sunder has obtained extensive training in the practice of Mind -Body medicine and Integrative approaches including, Meditation, Neurofeedback and NuCalm to address health and wellness. The “Sunder Method” is at the forefront of utilizing cutting edge diagnostic tools, brain mapping and sophisticated technology including custom smart nutraceuticals to assist with healing complex Neuropsychiatric Conditions, Gut Brain Dysregulation and to optimize human performance.
Born in Endicott, Steve grew up in a small town in upstate New York known mostly as being the birth place of IBM in 1935. Growing up in a small town showed him the importance of family and a strong work ethic...attributes he’s carried with him throughout his life.
Steve’s education included a BS in Marketing from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a Masters in Business Administration from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
Following a successful corporate career in financial services marketing, Steve turned his focus to health care, with the desire to help others, working in patient relations and project management at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, California. He then became the Operations Director for Desert Palms Recovery, the predecessor of Banyan Palm Springs. With gratitude for 28 years of sobriety, Steve wants to give back to others by helping them in recovering from addiction and trauma.
In his role as Operations Director he wants to ensure Banyan Palm Springs is a safe environment for patients and staff, with healthy food and nutrition programs, clean and operational facilities, and most importantly a team of Behavioral Health Techs that focus on the patients by helping them to realize the gifts recovery can bring.
Steve is publishing a book titled “The Spirit to Play” which is a summary of all that he’s learned in recovery, healing, and in his spiritual journey. The spirit to play encompasses peace, love, joy, happiness, gratitude, child-like innocence, and service to others. And it reminds us that there’s a kid in all of us regardless of our age that always wants to play and love.
Derek Townsend was born and raised in the Bay Area and had made his home in Scottsdale, AZ, NYC and now is a permanent resident in beautiful Palm Springs, CA. His own personal struggles with alcohol and drugs started at the age of 12 and continued throughout his adult life, complicating relationships, work and the inability to cope with life on life’s terms. Being an accomplished chef for 15 years brought Derek around the world and exposed him to a long list of amazing experiences. Derek also understands the importance of self care and a healthy balance to life.
Recovery landed Derek in Palm Springs in 2015, where he started working as a house manager at a sober living. He quickly moved up to intake coordinator and being a leader in the community. Eventually, Derek worked his way back to school. Upon completing his education, Derek continues to motivate himself to remain teachable, always wanting to expand his knowledge in all aspects of the recovery field. Derek is known as the jack of all trades being the fix it and go to person for his peers and team.
What Derek loves most about his position as an Intake Coordinator is the impression he is able to make as the first person to greet and welcome any new patients to the facility. The importance of recovery, and severity of this disease, are held close to his heart and he is reminded daily, to stay in gratitude for life and loved ones.
National Director of Patient Accounts
Lauren was born and raised on Long Island in New York. She attended community college, as well as business school and majored in Business Administration. Lauren began her career in New York City in 1994 where she worked as a Financial Analyst for two of the largest NY Direct Marketing agencies for over 20 years.
In 2013, Lauren relocated to Wellington, FL and pursued a career in the treatment industry. Since 2015, Lauren has been the Director of Finance at Banyan Treatment. Lauren works with the clients and their families to help create affordable payment plans for treatment. She assists with cash or self pay clients and helps families navigate through the financial process to ensure they understand their payment options and what is best depending on their situation.
Ed Cueto was born in Cuba and was raised in Spain. In his early teens, Ed and his family moved to the United States and settled in Torrance, California. Ed attended California State University at Long Beach and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Ed worked for Wells Fargo Bank for twenty years. Ed’s last promotion within Wells Fargo Bank was to Vice President and Regional Marketing Manager for the Real Estate/Private Banking Division. In 1993, as a result of the passing of a loved one due to addiction and alcoholism, Ed decided to change his career focus, to help others less fortunate than him. He moved to Palm Springs, CA and went to worked for the Desert AIDS Project as the Director of Case Management, Education, Prevention, Testing and Outreach. After eight years, Ed worked as Director of a non-profit organization, which provided services to the Latino population, suffering from HIV/AIDS. Ed took three years off and traveled through Central and South America, as well as Spain. In 2011, Ed went to work for a treatment center in Palm Springs, as a Patient Care Coordinator. Ed retired in 2019, but when the opportunity to work at Banyan Palm Springs presented itself, Ed’s passion to help others caused him to end his retirement and join a staff of familiar faces, as well as to be a part of Banyan’s Mission and Values, which very much aligned with his own.