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Meet Our People

The Retreats Staff

For the first eight years of its existence, the Freedom Model was operated entirely by volunteers highly committed to helping others achieve sobriety. Because of its success and growth, the Freedom Model now employs highly dedicated professionals who share that same commitment to service. As a result, the Freedom Model has helped thousands of individuals to overcome their substance use problems. Our proven record of success is the envy of addiction programs as none has been able to match it. We are proud of the success of our guests and encourage you to contact any of us with your questions about the Freedom Model Retreats or about our personal experiences helping people with the Freedom Model Program. These are just a few of the caring professionals at our Retreats

Mark W. ScheerenMark W. Scheeren Chairman and Co-Founder Mr. Scheeren is the Chairman and co-founder of Baldwin Research Institute, Inc., the alcohol and drug research company that is the original creator of the non disease, non 12-Step model of alcohol and drug education. For over two decades, Mr. Scheeren has researched hundreds of different methods, facilities, and cultures worldwide in an effort to discover the many keys to improving the quality of one's life. Out of this research, the most effective residential program in the world was created: the Freedom Model Program.

Gerald J. Brown Gerald J. Brown Co-Founder & Senior Director of Research and Development & Senior Research Fellow Mr. Gerry Brown is a co-founder of Baldwin Research Institute, Inc. He is also BRI's Senior Research Fellow. Throughout his entire career, Gerry has been a researcher, whether it was with General Electric Co., or with one of the several privately owned and publicly traded companies. Gerry has served as chairman of several national computer conferences.

Michelle DunbarMichelle Dunbar Executive Director Michelle Dunbar joined The Freedom Model Retreats in 2002 as a Family Consultant. She brought with her more than 10 years of experience helping people to overcome substance use problems. Mrs. Dunbar attended the State University of College at Cortland and SUNY Empire State College studying psychology and mathematics. Since joining The Freedom Model Retreats, Mrs. Dunbar has continued her education, and has taken an active role in researching and developing The Freedom Model approach.

Ryan SchwantesRyan Schwantes PresidentMr. Ryan Schwantes joined Baldwin Research Institute, Inc. in 2001 with an expertise in finance. Since 2001, Mr. Schwantes has managed several aspects of the businesses including Human Resources, Finance, Technology, and Management Training. In 2006, Mr. Ryan Schwantes was elected to Baldwin Research Institute, Inc., Board of Directors and was promoted to Chief Financial Officer of the company. He was named President of the company in December 2008.

Richard SantelliRichard SantelliDirector of Career and Academic Advisement Mr. Santelli is the Career and Academic Advisor at the Freedom Model Retreats, as well as the Director of Future Planning. He has been with the company since April 2004. Mr. Santelli was a Principal at Johnstown High School and Superintendent at Wheelerville Central School District. Mr. Santelli holds a Master in Science of Education Administration from SUNY Albany and a Master in Science of Education from the College of Saint Rose. He is also a New York State Certified Teacher, School Administrator Supervisor, and School District Administrator, also a Veteran of the United States Army.

Gene TwardzikGene TwardzikDirector of EducationMr. Gene Twardzik is the Director of Education at the Executive Retreat. He has been with Freedom Model since October 2006. Mr. Twardzik started his career as the Director of Social Programs and an instructor for our Future Planning program.


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