MDFT International Board of Directors

MDFT International is overseen by an experienced Board of Directors with expertise in state-level administration of child and family services, community-based substance abuse and mental health services, juvenile justice, treatment research and development, and implementing evidence-based approaches in community treatment settings.


Howard A. Liddle, EdD, ABPP (Chair)

Professor, Departments of Public Health Sciences, Psychology, and Counseling Psychology, and Director, Center for Treatment Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Liddle has been a faculty member at Temple University, the University of California, San Francisco, Director of the Family Systems Program at the Institute for Juvenile Research in Chicago, and Director of Training at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA.

A board-certified diplomate in Family Psychology (American Board of Professional Psychology, ABPP), and family therapist, Dr. Liddle's research focuses on the development, testing, implementation, and dissemination of treatment for adolescent substance abuse and delinquency. Developer of Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), Dr. Liddle’s work has been recognized with awards from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Family Therapy Association, the Hazelden Foundation, and the American Psychological Association. He has been a principal investigator on NIH-funded studies since 1985, and has authored or co-authored more than 200 publications.


Henk Rigter, PhD

Rigter studied psychology at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, from 1965 to 1971, and pharmacology at the University of Utrecht, from 1970-1973.

He specialized in neuroscience and psychopharmacology and wrote a PhD thesis on amnesia. After having led a laboratory in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years, he took a position with the Netherlands Council for Science Policy, advising the government on priorities to be set in health (biomedical, clinical, and health services) sciences in the Netherlands. In 1983, he was appointed director of the Health Council of the Netherlands, an advisory body issuing reports on which the Netherlands government often bases its policy decisions. In 1989, Rigter was appointed professor in "social aspects of medical technology" at the Erasmus University (Medical School) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In January 1993, Rigter took the position of director of the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health in Utrecht. After a merger in September 1996, this institute is now called Trimbos Institute (Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction). Rigter was general director of this 200-staff research and documentation centre until February 2003.

He is still associated with the Erasmus University (Department of Public Health) but presently also with Curium (Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Centre), where he is in charge of national and international (Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, USA) research and implementation projects in the field of treating adolescents with (multiple) problem behavior. One of the transnational research projects has been INCANT, a randomized trial comparing MDFT (Multidimensional Family Therapy) with active comparison treatment in adolescents with cannabis use disorder.

Rigter has served as a member or chair on numerous national and international (advisory) committees devoted to science and social policy, ethics, technology assessment, neuroscience, and mental health. For 15 years, he has been the Chair of the Population Screening Committee, which advises the Dutch Government from a scientific point of view on permits to be granted to or to be withheld from parties and organizations wishing to implement screening programs for instance in the field of cancer or genetics. This work involves very thorough ethical, legal, medical, psychological, and social assessments, and evaluation of health claims. The Committee helps in improving proposals. Its role is constructive, rather than just critical.


Cynthia Rowe, PhD

Research Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Center for Treatment Research on Adolescent Drug Abuse (CTRADA). Dr. Rowe received her PhD in clinical psychology from Temple University. Since 1994, she has been instrumental to the Center’s work, focusing largely on refining, testing, and disseminating family-based interventions for adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems, delinquency, and substance abuse.

An MDFT trainer, Dr. Rowe works actively with her colleagues to promote the translation of research findings into practice, and to train providers throughout the U.S. and in other countries to implement Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) in diverse clinical settings. She is currently PI of a grant from NIAAA to conduct a randomized clinical trial of two innovative family interventions for youth identified with alcohol problems in the emergency department. She has also been PI and Co-PI of several NIDA grants, including the Florida Research Center of NIDA’s CJDATS collaborative, which tested an innovative cross-systems version of MDFT with integrated HIV prevention delivered to youth in detention and as they transitioned home. Dr. Rowe was also integrally involved in the research and clinical activities of a multisite randomized controlled trial of MDFT in five countries in Western Europe.

She has been a regular reviewer of health services research grants with NIDA and NIH since 2006 and has authored peer-reviewed research articles, clinical publications, and book chapters. She also co-edited Adolescent Substance Abuse (2006, Cambridge University Press), a comprehensive volume dedicated to treatment research on adolescent substance abuse.


Ed McGowan, MPA

Ed is Chief Executive Officer – Concept Health Systems in Miami, Florida. He has more than 20 years of senior level management experience and a solid background in developing and managing behavioral health and human service programs.  As Chief Executive Officer of Concept Health Systems Mr. McGowan is responsible for the planning, development and implementation of all programs operated by the agency as well as advocating for services and programs for specific populations. Mr. McGowan currently serves as an advisor to the Department Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Administration in providing guidance in the development of health, human services and behavioral health programs.

Prior to his work at Concept Health Systems, Mr. McGowan was employed by Lockheed Martin, State and Local Solutions, ACS State and Local Solutions and ResCare, Inc. and served as a Subject Matter Expert in the restructuring of statewide multifaceted human service delivery systems, behavioral healthcare systems and other health and human service delivery systems that required integration for revenue maximization.

From 2003 to 2005, Mr. McGowan was part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) first effort in Baghdad, Basra and outlying Provinces in Iraq and was part of the team that provided suicide risk identification, risk assessment and risk reduction interventions for military personnel. Working directly with the Commanding Officers, the team targeted enlisted and contracted military personnel to prevent suicides and trained troupe leaders and Commanding Officers in risk identification/risk prevention protocols.

From 1995 to 2001, as Chief Executive Officer of The Village, South Florida’s largest behavioral health care agency, Mr. McGowan directed all administrative and operational functions of the agency with an annual budget of over $ 15 million. Prior to that, he served in various positions with the City of New York and developed numerous social services and behavioral health programs serving adults and adolescents with numerous behavioral health issues.

He holds a BA in Political Science from the State University of New York, College at Oswego and a MPA from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.


Peter Panzarella, MA, MS, LADC, LPC (Board Member)

Peter is an independent consultant to federal, state, and local agencies in the behavioral health field. He serves on the boards of Adolescent Mobile Health and Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) International.

Peter recently retired as the Director of Substance Abuse Services for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF is an integrated state children’ s agency with responsibility and programs for the child welfare, juvenile justice and children’s mental health and adolescent substance abuse treatment. Prior to being the Director he has worked over 15 years in the field of addiction treatment and mental health working in various settings as a clinician, clinical supervisor, and clinical/program management. In 2007 he received special recognition awards for Collaboration from the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, and in the same year another award for Government Facilitation for implementing Evidenced Based Practices by the Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness.

He has presented at international, national, and state conferences on substance abuse, evidence-based practices and collaboration. He has written and was awarded federally competitive projects to implement evidence-based and promising practices for adolescents, families, and drug-exposed infants.

In 2009 Peter was a special consultant for the Pan American Health Organization on review and recommendations of substance abuse services to the Ministry of Health and Chronic Diseases for the country of Barbados. He is licensed as Alcohol/Drug and a Professional Counselor in Connecticut. He holds advanced degrees in Community Psychology (MA) from Lesley University, and Administration (MS) from State University of New York College at Buffalo; and an undergraduate degree in Psychology (BS) from the State University of New York College at Buffalo.