CEO And Founder
Juan E. Lesende established Adaptive Center and its parent company Dylus, Inc. He is the driving force behind both.
Born in Cuba, Lesende first realized he wanted to study psychology while sitting in detention in his high school library. A book on careers pointed him in this direction. Though he felt lost up to that point in his life, he had the very deep feeling that he, one day, wanted to practice psychology. Following the advice of influential male figures in his life, he attempted to study business. After a failed attempt to do so, he dropped out. Juan later went back to school to follow his correct path.
In a beginning psychology class, he was introduced to Gestalt Therapy. He asked the professor if anyone locally practiced it. He was directed to John Heider, a student of the founder of Gestalt, Fritz Perls. “He was the first man I met that I really, really wanted to be like,” Juan says. “He was like nobody else that I’d met before. He was liberal, open-minded, and centered.” Heider introduced him to the Human Potential Movement and the Esalen Institute. Located in Big Sur, California, and established by Michael Murphy and Dick Price, the Esalen Institute informs much of the Adaptive Center’s approach to healing and life. Price and Murphy invited Zen maters, yogis, other spiritual leaders, scientific experts, and academics to teach alternative practices and philosophies to the curious.
The philosophy of Esalen is simplistic. Like the Adaptive Center’s approach, they focused on the intersection of psychology and cutting-edge spiritual practices. The main message is: “Everyone is welcome, but no one takes the flag.” Not one teaching holds the ultimate truth. Juan has a master’s degree in psychology. When registering for the last course of his doctoral program, he was told that he had reached the limit of his financial aid, and could not complete the program. Adaptive Center is a living manifestation of the doctoral dissertation that he never had a chance to present. Juan has been in the field over 25 years, and worked in many treatment centers in South Florida.
Program DirectorEva Ugarte was born and raised in Spain. She moved to Germany in 2007, and then to Miami in 2012, a city she loves. Eva has been working in the mental health field since 2000. Her background is in trauma work and domestic violence. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida, a Certified Addictions Professional, a Certified Traumatologist, and Certified Sex Therapist. She formerly worked as a therapist until she transferred over to handle administrative duties in 2009. She held several positions in executive management at different organizations, both nonprofit and for profit.
Case Manager and Program CoordinatorRaquel Valls is a South Florida native. She has earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Central Florida and a Masters in Social Work from Florida International University. Raquel’s passion lies in helping others in the community setting. She came to Adaptive with many years of case management and aftercare planning experience. Raquel has worked with victims of domestic violence, patients with HIV/AIDS, and participants with severe and persistent mental illness.
Admissions CoordinatorJustin is a psychology student making his way into the field. He studied at Florida State University before transferring to Florida International University in order to work at Adaptive Center and learn from the clinical staff.
Admissions CoordinatorTravis was born in Maryland. He has been working in the field of recovery since 2015. Travis is working towards becoming a certified addiction professional.
Office ManagerJune was born in New York, and has lived in Miami since a very young age. Being surrounded all of her life by family members and friends suffering with addiction/alcoholism, she has developed an understanding and compassion for all who suffer with this disease. She is passionate about continuing to learn about addiction. June has been connected to Adaptive Center’s family support since 2012 and feels very fortunate to be working as part of the team since 2015, with staff that truly cares about their clients.
Medical DirectorDr. Adalgisa De Los Angeles is a medical doctor licensed in the state of Florida. She has practiced psychiatry in various facilities throughout South Florida and has completed an Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship program at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School/Jackson Memorial Hospital. In addition to her work as a psychiatrist, Dr. De Los Angeles has also conducted valuable research in the field of addiction treatment.
TherapistDr. Francesca Vazquez is a licensed psychologist in the state of Florida, originally from Puerto Rico and fully bilingual. She completed her internship training in behavioral medicine and rehab psychology at Jackson Memorial Hospital/University Of Miami, where she worked in the Orthopedics, Neurology, Neurosurgery and Rehabilitation departments. She then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Health Psychology at UF Health Cancer Center, where she primarily worked with oncology patients. She has worked in both hospital and outpatient settings, in the treatment of psychological conditions that negatively impact health and recovery. In addition to her work as a psychologist, she is the founder of a health and wellness website, a contributing writer for prestigious health websites, and a certified yoga instructor.
TherapistAlexandra "Ali" Owoc was born and raised in South Florida. Growing up, Ali watched her family members and loved ones struggle with addiction and mental health issues. It was during her upbringing that she realized her passion for helping others. Ali received her B.A. degree in psychology at Florida Atlantic University, and attended graduate school at Nova Southeastern University, receiving her M.S. degree in Mental Health Counseling. Ali strongly believes in the healing power of connection and the importance of having a strong therapeutic bond and alliance with her clients. Ali easily connects with her clients through her natural compassion and caring for others. She believes in meeting clients where they’re at in their recovery process, and utilizing motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy to assist clients in reaching their personal treatment goals, and also believes in empowering clients to make their own choices and decisions, fostering growth and independence. Ai comes to the Adaptive Center with experience working at other treatment centers, and has served different populations ranging from men and women of all ages, pregnant woman, veterans, and clients with criminal background/history of defiance towards authority. Ali specializes in trauma and working with those who have co-occurring disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders.