Our organization consists of health and business professionals who are committed to the values and practices that naturally arise from an empowerment lens.
Omid Naim, MD
FOUNDER & DIRECTOR
As the founder of La Maida Institute, Omid is proud to share his vision of a “communal model for preventive health.” On a day-to-day basis, he moves between seeing patients in his clinic, Hope Integrative Psychiatry, and serving as the creative director of La Maida, supporting its growth and development through collaboration and teamwork. Omid created La Maida based on his 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.Learn More
Alexis D. Naim, LCSW
Alexis is deeply gratified to see her and husband Omid Naim’s vision for La Maida Institute come to life. She serves on La Maida’s Leadership Council and helps to define and curate the mission and values of the institute. Her particular clinical interest is nurturing secure attachment and authentic connection in relationships and family life. Alexis believes La Maida can make a profound impact by promoting this value through its programming and educational events.Learn More
Kelly Benshoof, MPH
Kelly works to build and strengthen La Maida’s operational infrastructure, develop programs and partnerships, and lead marketing, communications, and planning functions. Her goal is to help La Maida in achieving its vision of changing the way we define, address, and maintain health. Kelly has a passion for and deep knowledge of integrative, preventive approaches to health creation and is inspired to support their use, adoption, and acceptance in order to improve population health.Learn More
Nicholas Brüss, EdD, LMFT
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT
Nicholas serves on La Maida’s Leadership Council, identifying, welcoming and directing resources and opportunities toward realizing our communal vision for well-being. He also co-creates and co-leads transformational and preventive health programs core to La Maida’s mission. Nicholas’s leadership experience includes serving as a founding member on the strategic planning committee for the Trauma-Informed Task Force of Los Angeles, 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.Learn More
OPERATIONS & FACILITY MANAGER
At La Maida Institute, Julie supports the systems and operational structure so that our center can serve as a source of healing and transformation. Julie is also a yoga teacher and breathwork coach specializing in healing trauma. Yoga and breathwork are some of the powerful tools she uses to relieve and resolve the symptoms of trauma in the body and to help regulate the nervous system. Julie’s compassionate approach centers on recognizing the strength within ourselves and shedding the judgement, guilt, and shame that arises from unresolved traumas.Learn More
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS & EVENTS
Erin helps create and manage the yoga classes and events at La Maida Institute. She was introduced to La Maida and Dr. Naim by her good friend and mentor María Cristina Jiménez. Erin 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.Learn More
La Mer Barko
SOUND & SONG HEALING ADVISOR
La Mer nurtures the enrichment of music as medicine at La Maida Institute. She hosts monthly new moon sound bathing ceremonies to anchor the community with common purpose, offering space to renew and resound in rhythm with nature. A true believer in music’s capacity to connect, heal and transform, La Mer inspirits La Maida’s programs and teachings with sound’s inclusive power. Aside from offering weekly Nada (sound) + Yin (moon) yoga classes, Mer is available for individual and small group Sound Alchemy Sessions to support La Maida’s integrative approach to healthy living.Learn More
FAMILY PROGRAMMING ADVISOR
As the Family Program Advisor at La Maida, Laurie has the pleasure of co-developing several healing and wellness signature programs, such as the Mindful Daily Living for Teachers/Staff in local schools, and Healing Families Through Connection, where families come together with other families and heal core challenges through holistic, mindful and resiliency-based practices, and communal support.Learn More
Omid is a Los Angeles native, an alumnus of UCLA for undergraduate studies and USC for medical school, and 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, Omid worked for several years with the most “high risk youth” at Edgewood Center for Children & Families in the Bay Area where he 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 Omid how the foundational nature of the human spirit and the transformative power of community are essential to the healing process.
Dr. Naim integrated these philosophies into clinical care when he 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. Omid Naim welcomes you to join us.
Alexis is a licensed psychotherapist with 15 years experience working with individuals, couples and families. After completing her graduate and post-graduate education at UC Berkeley and spending years in private practice, she became a founding clinician and assistant clinical professor in the family therapy program at UCSF. It was there that Alexis began to develop her commitment to integrative approaches, incorporating work with attachment, mindfulness and somatic-based therapies.
In 2010, Omid and Alexis relocated to Los Angeles and began one of the most bountiful chapters of their married life. Arielle Ruby was born in 2011 to be followed in 2014 by Samuel Hope. The Naim Family grew, and with it the further inspiration to create this beautiful, healing space for our community.
Previous to La Maida, Kelly 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, she graduated from UCLA’s Fielding School with her Master’s in Public Health. The program strengthened her ability to create meaningful impact in the healthcare and wellness industries. Kelly’s studies focused on health policy and management and informed my knowledge of the health policy landscape and changing health needs of society.
Kelly has 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. She 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.
Existential curiosity led Nicholas 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. His own disconnection and suffering led him 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.
Nicholas is a Certified Mindfulness Facilitator through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and he teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs through InsightLA. With the Center for Compassion, Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine, he is a certified teacher of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). With a presence-centered and body-based approach that grows clients’ attunement with their inner knowing, Nicholas practices as a licensed psychotherapist and is a leading Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist in LA.
Her 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 Anjali’s work. Through self-care practices, she strives to help people find their inner harmony and resilience.
Anjali works 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, she is able to practice Ayurveda in a comprehensive manner, tailoring it to current-day needs. Visit www.rootedrasa.com for updated workshops, classes and clinical hours.
Julie’s 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. She works closely with Dr. Naim and an incredible team of practitioners at Hope Integrative Psychiatry, and also at the LA Resiliency Center. She is currently attending Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing training, and has 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. Julie is also trained in Outreach Yoga with Yoga Gangsters and Dynamic Mindfulness with Niroga Institute.
Julie serves 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 Julie and her practice, please visit www.mettahealingarts.com
Erin’s journey to La Maida is unique. She spent many years working in television, and then her career turned towards health and wellness through fitness instruction. This path eventually led Erin to InYoga Center where she helped build and manage an incredible yoga program with the best teachers in town. During that time, she 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, Erin learned the power of community and felt a huge loss when its doors closed in 2016. Erin is grateful for this opportunity to help shape La Maida, to promote self healing, and be part of the paradigm shift in personal healthcare.
Raised in North Texas, Jena graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film & television. After working in entertainment for several years, her heart was telling her to explore a different career path. Jena quit her job at a major talent agency and took a leap of faith by accepting a job at a Medical Marijuana Dispensary where her love of helping others and integrative medicine really blossomed. Seeing first-hand what a difference cannabis made in the lives of cancer, trauma, MS, and many other patients was indicative of integrative medicine’s efficacy. Jena is passionate about removing the negative stigma surrounding marijuana by educating patients about the many uses and medical benefits of cannabis in all its various forms. Jena is honored to be part of such a dynamic, unique team, and she is excited to help this one-of-a-kind space grow to its full potential.
She has a degree in theater studies and photography from Emerson College in Boston, where she also trained in Afro-Cuban percussion and voice at Berklee School of Music. Her love of world culture brought her studies to Spain, South Africa and Ghana where she learned Ewe drumming and dance.
While the first part of Mer’s career was spent as a touring musician and theater artist in NYC, she utilized space in between performances to pursue an education in the healing arts, attaining advanced certifications in Prana Vinyasa Yoga, Yin, Ayurvedic lifestyle counseling, and voice work. Upon returning home to Los Angeles in 2014, La Mer wrote and released her second solo album with Grammy award winning producer Andy Kravitz. Since then her desire to bridge sacred ritual with performance and healing art encouraged a shift toward the yoga of sound and cultivation of music as medicine.
Mer’s work now centers around group experiences that strengthen collective intuition and embody conscious community, weaving sound and rhythm into the heart of every offering. She is elated to have found a home base at La Maida, where she is developing a course and training program that bridges ancestral wisdom traditions with the evolving science of sound.
Visit www.lovelamer.com for more information on classes, group events, and private sessions with La Mer.
Laurie Cousins has a B.A. in Psychology and is a mindfulness educator and mind-body practitioner. She is trained and certified in multiple mindfulness-based programs through UCLA & UCSD. Laurie enjoys being a lead teacher for Susan Kaiser Greenland’s Inner Kids curriculum and brings mindfulness into schools for students, parents, and teachers throughout the Los Angeles area. Since 2014, she has been a research associate and mindfulness facilitator for UCLA’s Child & Adolescent Mood Disorders Program and co-creator of the Mindful Parent Support program.
Through Laurie’s own personal journey in recovery and healing of trauma, she is able to draw from personal experience, as well as professional training, when working with people who are struggling with substance abuse, addictive behaviors, disordered eating, and unprocessed trauma. She uses different healing modalities, such as somatic processing from the Trauma Resiliency Model, Self-compassion, and Mind-body-spirit practices. Laurie is a second-degree Traditional Usui Reiki and Rainbow Reiki practitioner.
Visit http://www.healingwithmindfulness.com for more information on upcoming workshops, classes, and private sessions with Laurie
Hope Integrative PsychiatryIntegrative Clinic
La Maida’s model of clinical recovery integrates insights from ancient wisdom and traditions with modern science to empower people in uncovering their innate capacity to heal.
Yoga & MeditationStudio
Contemplative sciences such as yoga and meditation are practices that support our path toward self-actualization.
Open Platform SpaceCommunity Gathering
Sacred space for retreat and healing encourages self-care communities to form and promote resilience & preventive health.
Integrative Health AllianceAlliance
An essential component of La Maida’s mission is to promote the core principles of Integrative Health beyond the walls of our institution.