Rick Benson, CPGC, ICGC-II (Founder)

Rick Benson, CPGC, ICGC-IIRick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992 and has directed gambling specific, Algamus residential facilities in Florida, South Carolina, Quebec, and Arizona.

A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.

He currently serves as a clinical supervisor for the Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor Certification Board and as an International Compulsive Gambling Counselor Certification Board member. He has been an advisory board member of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, and a founding executive board member of both the North Carolina Council on Problem Gambling and the South Carolina Council on Compulsive gambling.

For more than 20 years he has been both a student and a facilitator in Bonding Psychotherapy, Holiotropic Breathwork, Primal Therapy, and the Enneagram. He is presently a member of both the Arizona Enneagram Association and the International Enneagram Association and is deeply involved in the Enneagram Prison Project. He is an executive board member of the International Primal Association. 

Rick now provides consulting services including admissions and network/marketing to Algamus Gambling Treatment Services.

Jody Pegram, ICGC-II (Executive Director)


Jody is an International Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and, in 2007, he co-founded the Algamus Recovery Center of Arizona after serving as the program director of Algamus of North Palm Beach, Florida. Jody entered into the addiction recovery field in the late nineties. Beginning in Palm Beach, FL, he was integral in the development of C.A.R.E. in southern Florida and was appointed associate director/founder in 1999.

His insight and creative ability have also earned him position in a broad range of capacities in the Behavioral Health field: Consultant/Therapist, Director, Executive Director of Addiction Management, and is responsible for developing and instituting extended care planning at notable addiction treatment centers around the country.

Scott Melissa (Group Facilitator/Alumni Coordinator)

scottScott is a holder of a BA from the University of Massachusetts. Prior to joining Algamus, He was an expert trainer in MA with the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling where he focused on problem gambling in the criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse communities. In this capacity as Director of Outreach and Training, Scott’s primary goals were to develop, enhance, and support partnerships with stakeholders in the problem gambling field.

He was also part of the leadership committee which managed the operation of state-wide helpline as well as coordination of supportive referrals and resources. Scott’s dedication has lead to the capacity building that has enabled more clinicians throughout the state to identify, screen, assess and treat disordered gambling.

As Algamus’ Chief Operating Officer, Scott’s mandate is to establish a network of aftercare resources for when clients graduate from our program. He  brings positive energy, and is held in the highest regard by those who have encountered him in the problem gambling community. The MA Council on Compulsive Gambling has a long tradition of being proactive, innovative and is a leader in the area of problem gambling support, advocacy and education. Part of their success is attributable to Scott’s hard work and dedication. He is warm-hearted, caring and empathic.

Jeff Trudgian, ICGC-II (Primary Counselor)

Jeff TrudgianJeff is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) since 2007. Originally from the Midwest, Jeff became a Primary Counselor at Algamus' Gambling Treatment Center in 2012.

Jeff is grateful to have over twenty years of recovery from his destructive gambling addiction. He’s worked as a counselor, trainer and educator in the Behavioral Health and 12-Step communities, helping to raise awareness and prevention around the emotional issues surrounding problem gamblers and their families.

Prior to coming to Algamus, Jeff was the lead therapist at a gambling treatment program in Illinois working with gamblers and those afflicted with chemical dependency, as well as their families, in a private setting.

He utilizes Psycho-Educational and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies in conjunction with an emphasis on spiritual principles. 

Marc Lefkowitz, ICGC-II (Group Facilitator)

Marc Lefkowitz, ICGC-I, NCGCMarc Lefkowitz is a California/Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor receiving his CCGC in 1999. He has facilitated multiple counselor and therapist certification trainings for the UCLA Gambling Studies Program and the California Council on Problem Gambling. He was an adjunct instructor in California teaching courses on problem gambling and addiction. He has a degree in Human Services and a certificate of Alcohol and Drug Studies from Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA.

Marc, a recovering gambler for more than 33 years, has extensive knowledge about Gamblers Anonymous and the 12-Step process. He has worked in the treatment/recovery field developing program content, and in case management, group facilitation, individual counseling, and group counseling with recovering gamblers and their families. He is a national lecturer on problem gambling and financial recovery for addicts.

In 2012, Marc received the California Council on Problem Gambling's Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with disordered gamblers and affected individuals.

Ryan Pienovi (Operations Manager)

Ryan Pienovi AlgamusRyan began his recovery at Algamus in North Palm Beach, Florida in 2006 and became a resident manager there late in 2007. In 2008, he relocated and became the lead resident/operations manager for Algamus Gambling Treatment Services in Prescott, Arizona.

Ryan is presently studying to become a certified gambling counselor and coordinates a variety of residential activities for our clients. 

Victoria Stallings (Primary Therapist)

Victoria StallingsVictoria has been a Primary Therapist and Case Manager at Algamus for the past two years. She facilitates individual sessions and group therapy on psycho-education with a focus on recovery and family systems.

For three years prior to joining the Algamus team, she managed the Neuro-Feedback Center and was a group leader at A Sober Way Home.

She earned her Bachelor's degree in psychology and is presently completing her Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. 

Brian Paneth, BA, LNHA

Screenshot_20190923-132328_Photos-1Brian has been a therapist intern at Algamus for the past year. He facilitates group therapy on the dangers of gambling. He also uses CBT to help clients change their thought patterns.

For ten years prior to joining the Algamus team, he ran a nursing home as a Licenced Nursing Home Administrator.

Brian earned his Bachelor's degree in psychology and is presently completing his Master's degree in Social Work at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Brittany Pierce, (Clinical Psychologist)

Brittany-Pierce-webDr. Brittany Pierce is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Pierce earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with minors in Addiction Counseling and Philosophy. She pursued her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and her Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology at Argosy University in Phoenix. Dr. Pierce has experience working in corrections, private practice, and inpatient psychiatric facilities assessing and treating a plethora of psychiatric illness including: Addiction, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, neurocognitive disorders, personality disorders, and trauma.  She also teaches a class in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Creighton University psychiatry residents and supervises their therapy services in an outpatient clinic. Dr. Pierce oversees all clinical services and ensures the highest standard of care for each client. 


Jacquie Arcand (Primary Therapist)

Jacquie Arcand Jacquie began working in the behavioral health field in 2002 in a variety of roles including program development, leadership, training, retreat facilitation and as a primary therapist. A master’s level Clinical Social Worker (New Mexico Highlands University), Jacquie specializes in the treatment of addiction, substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, trauma (adoption, rape, incest, violence, military) and family systems issues.

She has experienced first-hand the impact addiction has on both the individual and the family. Her deep understanding and experience integrates into her approach to therapy with clients; populations ranging from adolescent to adult clients in both residential and outpatient settings. She is a trained EMDR therapist.

As a contract provider, Jacquie brings her knowledge, enthusiasm and refreshing approach to psychoeducational and experiential group facilitation. “Witnessing individuals and families rise above seemingly insurmountable circumstances, embark on a journey of recovery, experiencing growth and renewal is the greatest gift and privilege of working in this field”.