Passing the Torch: Hidden River’s Leadership Team

Jennifer Vargas Guerra | October 10, 2022

Life at Hidden River is especially busy right now! We are excited to announce three significant updates within our leadership team. 

Dr. Ken Willis, Founder – Chief Medical Officer Emeritus

Following several decades of providing care, our Founder Dr. Ken Willis has transitioned into a new role as our Founder – Chief Medical Officer Emeritus. Dr. Willis is well known for his commitment to patient care and service to the professional community. His vision has truly culminated in creating a special treatment center set in a serene environment allowing young girls and women to begin their healing. Being an exemplary professional with a big heart, the time has come for Dr. Willis to enjoy the fruits of his career by pursuing a different balance in life. It is with a deep sense of gratitude for his foundational work at Hidden River that we celebrate this new season with him.

Dr. Mariam Bekhit, Chief Medical Officer

We are pleased to announce Dr. Mariam Bekhit as the new Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Bekhit has a successful history of leadership in mental health care. She joins the Hidden River team from her recent role as the Chief Medical Officer and Director of Child Services for Summit Oaks Hospital. Prior to these positions, she was the Medical/Clinical Director at Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital. Dr. Bekhit is credentialed with the American Board of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and as a Diplomat with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. 

James “Buck” Runyan, MS, LMFT, LCP, CEDSS, Executive Director

James is well known within the professional arena for eating disorder treatment. Since 1994, he has developed eating disorder treatment programs throughout the country. His many roles have included Executive Director, Chief Operations Officer, Clinical Director, Program Director, and Therapist. Additionally, he has been an expert consultant for several treatment centers and has provided private practice care to clients with eating disorders, self-injurious behavior, and bariatric surgery. 

Philanthropic involvement has been an important feature of James’s work. He has been a prolific public speaker on multiple subject matters related to eating disorders, self-injurious behavior, bariatric surgery, family treatment and multiple other mental health subjects. Additionally, he has been involved with the International Association of Eating Disorder Specialists for nearly two decades and is an International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp) Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Supervisor. He founded the first iaedp chapter in California and several more chapters throughout the nation. He was actively involved with the Certification Committee, having jointly written and taught the overview session for several years, the Chapters Committee, and the Senior Advisory Counsel. James also served on the iaedp Board of Directors from 2010 through 2016 and as a past President for the Board of Directors. 

A Warm Welcome to the New Members of the Hidden River Leadership Team!

Please join us as we celebrate these changes to Hidden River’s leadership team! We congratulate Dr. Willis on his well-earned and respected role as the new Chief Medical Officer Emeritus and welcome Dr. Bekhit with the warmth and appreciation for taking on her important roles. We also embrace James as he begins his position as Executive Director and welcome his knowledge and experience to guide the future of Hidden River.


Visit our website to learn more about eating disorder treatment at Hidden River.


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Director of Outreach & Admissions