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GCSW Alum Robert Hilliker, Named Among Most Admired CEOs



August 3, 2020

(HOUSTON, TX) - The Houston Business Journal recently announced its Most Admired CEO honorees for 2020 and selected Robert Hilliker (MSW '09) as a recipient of this recognition. 

A distinguished panel of judges selected CEOs that demonstrate characteristics such as "contribution to company success, civic involvement, and career achievement."

Robert Hilliker currently serves as CEO of The Prairie Recovery Center and Chief Clinical Officer of Ethos Behavioral Health Group. He and his team "serve individuals and their families in achieving healing and long-term wellness from the devastating effects of addiction and mental health issues."

We asked Robert Hilliker to share why great leadership is important and to reflect on how the GCSW prepared him for the various roles and organizations he is engaged in. 


Name: Robert Hilliker, LCSW-S, LCDC
Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His
Graduation from the GCSW and Program: MSW '09
Position: CEO of The Prairie Recovery Center and Chief Clinical Officer of Ethos Behavioral Health Group

Why is it essential that we recognize those who are effective in their leadership roles? 

The culture of an organization is as good as the people who lead the organization. Suppose your organization's goal is to have mission-centered work woven into all activities, that starts at the top with who you put in leadership. When we highlight leaders that are doing good work, we encourage others within the organization to rise and do the same thing. I believe we should highlight effective leaders that are serving the organization's mission, and these leaders should lead so long as they are still impactful.

The Prairie Recovery Center webpage states that the mission is "to serve individuals and their families in achieving healing and long-term wellness from the devastating effects of addiction and mental health issues." What do you believe makes The Prairie and other Ethos Behavioral Health Group centers stand out when it comes to providing care to individuals?

Ethos Behavioral Health Group operates with values that I feel set us apart from other treatment providers:

People - we have a people-first, principle-driven approach that always puts patients and team members above all else.

Partnership - we work collaboratively with patients to create meaningful connections that positively impact their lives.

Purpose - we create everything from our clinical programming, to designing our spaces with a specific intention.

What initially drew you to continue your work in providing services to those suffering from addiction and mental health issues at The Prairie Center and eventually establishing Ethos Behavioral Health?

When we founded The Lovett Center in Montrose in 2014 to offer traditional outpatient therapy, we slowly expanded the levels of care within our facility to meet community needs. As we grew our treatment offerings, we realized that many people required a robust system of care, often including detoxification, residential treatment, and aftercare. The desire to see people through their process of change long-term, through an integrated system of care, spurred the creation of The Prairie Recovery Center and our parent company, Ethos Behavioral Health Group.

What was a significant highlight for you during your time at the GCSW?

As part of my foundation year at GCSW, I completed a social stratification exercise called star power. The exercise demonstrated how race and class create challenges in life and treatment. The topic of how groups of people are systematically disenfranchised based on ethnicity or other factors is as relevant now as it was then. The exercise shaped the way that I saw working with people and made me confront my privilege as a white male in our society.

How has the GCSW prepared you for the current role?

My field placement at Baylor Psychiatry Clinic, organized through GCSW, fundamentally impacted how I proceeded with my career. It introduced me to psychodynamic thought and shaped my passion for working with professionals.

Additionally, I learned more than just clinical practice at GCSW - through macro cross-over courses, I received training on how to be a leader within an organization.

Anything else you would like us to know?

I encourage peers and community members to join me in supporting GCSW financially as much as possible. There's never been a time when social and racial justice has been more at the forefront of people's minds. That means that the work that the GCSW does has never been more relevant. Our donations make an impact in bringing to life a better tomorrow through education.

My door is always open for connecting with others, whether someone is interested in an internship, wants to partner on patient care, or wants to chat as peers.