Who We Are

Omid Naim, MD, Founder & Director

As the founder of La Maida Institute, I am proud to share our vision of a “communal model for preventive health.” On a day-to-day basis, I move between seeing patients in our clinic, Hope Integrative Psychiatry, and serving as the creative director of La Maida, supporting its growth and development through collaboration and teamwork. Conceptually, I created La Maida based on my belief that community is the key element missing in our society. Community is the link to cultivating and maintaining health, and without it, we experience illness and isolation.

I’m a Los Angeles native, an alumnus of UCLA for undergraduate studies and USC for medical school, and I am deeply attached to the innovative spirit of our great city. Upon completing training in general adult psychiatry and a fellowship in child & adolescent psychiatry at UCSF, I worked for several years with the most “high risk youth” at Edgewood Center for Children & Families in the Bay Area, where I helped design programs that fostered skills to empower youth and families in healing trauma without over-reliance on medication. This work illuminated a shift in narrative from loss and trauma, to dignity and self-reliance; it showed me how the foundational nature of the human spirit and the transformative power of community are essential to the healing process.

I integrated these philosophies into clinical care when I founded Hope Integrative Psychiatry, a multimodal group practice, in 2010. Further education as a fellow and Bravewell scholar at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine under the leadership of Dr. Andrew Weil lead to a deep commitment - to design and create a preventive, communal model for health. La Maida is this model, where inner resilience blossoms through consciousness and community. I welcome you to join us.



Alexis D. Naim, LCSW, Co-Founder

I am deeply gratified to see our vision for La Maida Institute come to life. I serve on La Maida’s Advisory Council and help to define and curate the mission and values of the institute. My particular clinical interest is nurturing secure attachment and authentic connection in relationships and family life. I believe La Maida can make a profound impact by promoting this value through its programming and educational events.

I am a licensed psychotherapist with 15 years experience working with individuals, couples and families. After completing my graduate and post-graduate education at UC Berkeley and spending years in private practice, I became a founding clinician and assistant clinical professor in the family therapy program at UCSF. It was there that I began to develop my commitment to integrative approaches, incorporating work with attachment, mindfulness and somatic-based therapies.

In 2010, Omid and I relocated to Los Angeles and began one of the most bountiful chapters of our married life. Arielle Ruby was born in 2011 to be followed in 2014 by Samuel Hope. Our family grew, and with it the further inspiration to create this beautiful, healing space for our community.

 

Kelly Benshoof, MPH, Executive Director

In my role at La Maida, I work to build and strengthen the organization's operational infrastructure, develop programs and partnerships, and lead marketing, communications, and planning functions. My goal is to help La Maida in achieving its vision of changing the way we define, address, and maintain health. I have a passion for and deep knowledge of integrative, preventive approaches to health creation, and am inspired to support their use, adoption, and acceptance in order to improve population health. 

Previous to La Maida, I served as co-founder and co-owner of InYoga Center, Inc., a well-respected and influential yoga and teacher-training center established in 2010 in the heart of Los Angeles. In June, 2016, I graduated from UCLA's Fielding School with my Master's in Public Health. The program strengthened my ability to create meaningful impact in the healthcare and wellness industries. My studies focused on health policy and management and informed my knowledge of the health policy landscape and changing health needs of society.

I have a background in advocacy, public relations, public affairs and corporate communications at large and boutique communication agencies. Clients served were large and small; from not-for-profit organizations, to countywide public health departments, to consumer goods brands. I brought a detailed and thoughtful approach to addressing client’s communications needs. These needs typically involved message development, crisis response, brand identity, reputation management, community relations, digital strategy and media relations.

 

Nicholas Brüss, EdD, LMFT, Director of Strategic Engagement

I serve on La Maida’s Advisory Council, identifying, welcoming and directing resources and opportunities toward realizing our communal vision for well-being. I also co-create and co-lead transformational and preventive health programs core to La Maida’s mission. My leadership experience includes serving as a founding member on the strategic planning committee for the Trauma-Informed Task Force of Greater LA, as a past board member for the Gestalt Therapy Institute Los Angeles, and as the founder, director and guiding teacher of Compassion LA, a Los Angeles­-based nonprofit.

Existential curiosity led me to a masters of arts degree in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and a doctorate in education in Higher Education and Social Change from the Western Institute of Social Research in Berkeley. My own disconnection and suffering led me to consciousness-oriented studies by way of multi-month meditation retreats in the US and abroad, multi-year group explorations into individual and social suffering, and the use of traditional and contemporary vehicles toward well-being and awakening, via Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Dedicated Practitioners Program and Heavenly Messengers Program.

I'm a Certified Mindfulness Facilitator through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and I teach Mindfulness-­Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs through InsightLA. With the Center for Compassion, Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine, I’m a certified teacher of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). With a presence-centered and body-based approach that grows clients’ attunement with their inner knowing, I practice as a licensed psychotherapist and am leading Internal Family Systems therapist in LA.

 

Anjali Deva, Director of Culture

I am the director of culture at La Maida Institute, a NAMA-certified Ayurvedic practitioner, and a yoga teacher. I have been greatly fortunate to have been introduced to Ayurveda and yoga at a young age by my father, Arun Deva. My familial lineage is rich with the desire to preserve and maintain these healing arts. I studied at the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, at Loyola Marymount’s Yoga and Healing Sciences Program, and with teachers both in the United States and in India. My journey began in the kitchen with a desire to understand how the food we eat influences our bodies and minds. This passion has now grown to include helping people find their inner wisdom, clarity and health through the lens of Ayurveda. Similarly, women’s health and hormonal balance is a pillar in my work. Through self-care practices I strive to help people find their inner harmony and resilience.

I work with a team at Hope Integrative Psychiatry that understands the importance of wholeness and well-being as integral to the human experience. Through working closely with Dr. Naim, I am able to practice Ayurveda in a comprehensive manner, tailoring it to current-day needs. I invite you to visit Rooted Rasa for updated workshops, classes and clinical hours.

 

Julie Fernandez, Operations and Facility Manager

At La Maida Institute, I support the systems and operational structure so that our center can serve as a source of healing and transformation. I am also a yoga teacher and breathwork coach specializing in healing trauma. Yoga and breathwork are some of the powerful tools I use to relieve and resolve the symptoms of trauma in the body and to help regulate the nervous system. My compassionate approach centers on recognizing the strength within ourselves and shedding the judgement, guilt, and shame that arises from unresolved traumas.

My experience comes from working in domestic violence shelters, rape and sexual assault crisis centers, eating disorder and mental health clinics, as well as inner-city schools, with at-risk teenage girls and disadvantaged youth. I work closely with Dr. Naim and an incredible team of practitioners at Hope Integrative Psychiatry, and also at the LA Resiliency Center. I am currently attending Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing training, and have studied Trauma-Informed Yoga with its leading teachers: Jenn Turner at the The Trauma Center, Hala Khouri and Kyra Haglund in Santa Monica, and Lisa Danylchuck at Yoga 4 Trauma. I am also trained in Outreach Yoga with Yoga Gangsters and Dynamic Mindfulness with Niroga Institute.

I serve as the Southern California Program Manager for Exhale to Inhale, a non-profit organization which empowers survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to reclaim their lives through the healing and grounding practice of yoga. For more information about me, please visit Metta Healing Arts.

 

Erin Hoien, Studio and Events Manager

I have the honor and privilege of helping create and manage the yoga classes and events at La Maida Institute. I was introduced to La Maida and Dr. Naim by my good friend and mentor María Cristina Jiménez. I was immediately drawn to the vision of community and self healing through empowering people to find optimal health by using a combination of alternative and traditional means.

My journey to La Maida is unique. I spent many years working in television, and then my career turned towards health and wellness through fitness instruction. This path eventually led me to InYoga Center, where I helped build and manage an incredible yoga program with the best teachers in town. During that time, I became a yoga teacher, with keen interest in anatomical studies, self care, and therapeutic approaches to biomechanical healing. As a teacher and manager at InYoga, I learned the power of community and I felt a huge loss when its doors closed in 2016. I am grateful for this opportunity to help shape La Maida, to promote self healing, and be part of the paradigm shift in personal healthcare.