Bridging the transition through mentoring and parent support.

Transition Specialist and Mentors

Krissy Pozatek, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., Parent Coach

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Krissy has had 15 years of experience in the wilderness therapy and adolescent treatment field. She graduated from Middlebury College with a joint undergraduate degree in environmental studies and geography. She started in the therapeutic field as a wilderness instructor at Aspen Achievement Academy, working with both adjudicated and at-risk youth in 1996. She then worked at Montana Academy when it was first launched.

Krissy completed her graduate training in clinical social work at both Smith College School for Social Work and at N.M. Highlands University.

Krissy returned to wilderness therapy, first at Aspen Achievement Academy, working with both adolescent boys and girls and their families. She then worked at another Wilderness Program in Duchesne. Krissy's clinical experience includes the treatment of adoption issues, trauma, self-harming behavior, substance abuse, personality disorders, and family system problems. Krissy also worked at True North Wilderness Program in Waitsfield, Vermont.

Krissy is the author of: The Parallel Process: Growing alongside your adolescent or young adult in treatment, published by Lantern Books, 2010.

Krissy grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and went to school in New Hampshire and Vermont. She lived in the west for 10 years working in adolescent programs, and now lives in Vermont with her two daughters.

Jon Stang, L.C.S.W., Parent Coach

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Following a period of professional river and mountain guiding across the northern Rockies and northeastern Canada, Jon found his way to Aspen Achievement Academy where he worked as a Field Instructor; at the time, the field of wilderness therapy was young - as was Jon - but he knew he had found his calling. Eventually tiring of living out of his pickup across the mountain west, Jon moved to NYC where he shaved, rented an apartment and earned a Master of Science in Advanced Clinical Practice from Columbia University (*04); he has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2006. 

Jon has specialized in treating children, adolescents and young adults living with psychiatric, substance related and behavioral disorders, ADHD, emerging personality problems and complex trauma and conflicted family dynamics. He has worked extensively with parents and families to improve systemic health. Trained in sophisticated technique and sound practice, it's Jon's capacity to connect with skeptical clients that has distinguished his practice. He has eight years of experience as a wilderness therapist (and two as Director of Risk Management); two years as a Clinical Director of therapeutic boarding school; four years in private practice, specializing in Parent Coaching, child and adolescent psychotherapy and therapeutic wilderness retreats for families. As a 360 Transitions Parent Coach, Jon is looking forward to applying his experience and skills in his work with parents as their child returns home from treatment.

Away from the office, Jon competes nationally in endurance mountain bike racing for Asheville, NC based Pro/Am cycling team. He and his wife, two daughters and coonhounds enjoy time together in the mountains. Jon is involved in animal rescue, loves chess and knows how to French braid hair, draw unicorns and make bracelets out of blooming clover.

Jason Denham, Parent Coach

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Jason has 15 years of experience working with adolescents, young adults, and families, in a variety of settings after discovering wilderness therapy at SUWS of the Carolinas in 2006. Jason comes, first and foremost, from a small town in Maryland playing in the fields and dreaming of mountains. He would later graduate from Towson University studying the Bauhaus system of fine arts and receive a BS in Graphic Design.

Jason relocated to Asheville, NC in 2006 to work for SUWS of the Carolinas hoping to help others in the wilderness. SUWS of the Carolinas was a massive shift that fueled the desire to nurture the growth of others. Jason spent many years working tirelessly to improve as a guide, mentor, senior, master instructor and supervisor.

When it was time to take some space and reset, Jason hiked 1,300 miles of the Northern portion of the Continental Divide Trail in 2012, and after a truly profound and spiritual experience, Jason made a decision to enter into a life of sobriety having recognized a dependency on alcohol. With years of uninterrupted sobriety and a desire to bring support to others, Jason facilitated groups and provided support for every program he has worked since from young adults in foster care, to residential and transitional programs throughout his career.

Jason made the decision to move to Boston in 2016 to work as a Sober House manager while building his skill set in an area of the world steeped in researching trauma work and recovery. Jason studied recovery coaching and trauma-informed practices while in Boston with Firefly Yoga International and CCAR. Jason has 4 years of experience facilitating trauma-informed Hatha Yoga, and meditation. Jason is also a host with NamaStay Sober facilitating movement, yoga, and meditation for people new to recovery.

Jason worked as a Program Director with a transitions program in Boston, Pacia Life. He worked with families to encourage parents and students to grow together redefining their relationships. It was also a place for teaching young adults systems to aid with problem-solving, decision-making, and self-calming to help them thrive in environments new or old.

Jason decided to build his business "Gr8fulMoves" to continue this type of work more closely with families in transition and place more emphasis on the one-to-one coaching aspect. After having experienced a vast array of programs and positions, Jason has amassed and extensive toolkit for supporting both parents and students with 360 Transitions. Opportunity to thrive, through fierce compassion, consistent works, deep breaths, powerful pause, patience and empathy is Jason's strength.

Jodi Warthen, MSW, Parent Coach

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Jodi was born and raised near the Sawtooth Mountain in Idaho where she and her family camped at the mountain lake with their horses for weeks at a time. This is where Jodi's love of the outdoors and of horses was developed.

Jodi graduated from Boise State University in 2003 with her Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology K-12 and Health Education. Upon graduation, Jodi became a full-time high school teacher for the next three years where she taught Strength and Conditioning, Health, Dance and Physical Education to high school students. Jodi received an email during the summer before her fourth year of teaching advertising a need for wilderness therapy guides for Entrada wilderness program and felt like this was a good fit for her due to her love of the outdoors and her passion for working with youth. Jodi and her husband both decided to work for Entrada (now Evoke Entrada) and made the long commute from Southern Idaho to Southern Utah for a year working as a wilderness guide for both Entrada and Aspiro Adventures. Jodi knew that she wanted to do more with this type of work and decided to pursue her master's degree.

While working as a teacher, Jodi had already begun her Master's in PE Pedagogy and Exercise Science and so she finished this degree first while working as a developmental specialist and PSR coordinator for several mental health agencies. Jodi was then accepted into the Boise State Masters of Social Work program while she also worked as an adjunct professor for Boise State, the College of Western Idaho and the University of Phoenix. Jodi completed her internship at the Boise VA Medical Center where she worked with homeless veterans to assist them in finding housing.

Upon graduation in 2011 with her Masters in Social Work degree, Jodi accepted a position as a summer clinical therapist for SUWS wilderness program and loved being outdoors and working with families and teenagers. Jodi then moved on to work at Northwest Academy in Naples, Idaho as a clinical therapist and eventually moved into a position with the VA Medical Center which allowed her to be closer to family again. Jodi is also a Wilderness First Responder and is certified in EAGALA where she uses horses as therapeutic tools and has found this to be a highly affective form of therapy for families, veterans and teenagers.

Jodi is married and has 5 hourses, 3 dogs, and 2 cats that she considers to be her "kids for now." Jodi loves working with families with 360 Transitiions and she feels like her journey has come around full circle and feels blessed to have this opportunity.

Beth Hillman, Parent Coach

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Beth is a certified Life Coach, Arbinger Institute Facilitator and Parent Coach. When her fifteen-year-old son went to wilderness, Beth began her own journey of self-improvement by becoming a certified life coach and an Arbinger Institute Facilitator. The principles and skills she learned had a massive, life altering impact. She is living proof that relationships can be rebuilt through the power of emotionally consistent parenting.

Beth's personal experience as a parent combined with her exuberance for self-discovery and her passion for helping others creates a rare combination of empathy and expertise.

As a mother of five sons, you could say Beth has been running her own "all-boys wilderness camp" for the last twenty-six years, bonding with her family through climbing, hiking, kayaking, swimming, camping, biking and running. Playing outdoors is her family's release and connection.

In 2019, Beth became the Parent Seminar Teacher at Wingate Wilderness Therapy, the very wilderness program her son attended. In that role, Beth was honored to both spend time with kids in the wilderness as well as coach and support parents as they reunited with their children midway through the program.

Following this beloved stint in the wilderness, Beth was recruited to become the Parent and Family Program Director at Makana Leadership Academy, a residential treatment center in central Utah. There she implemented and improved her original parent support coaching program, bringing her education, experience and empathy to even more families.

Beth is passionate about helping things get better at home. She did it for her family while transitioning her own son home and now finds great fulfillment in working with parents in her own private coaching practice as well as speaking engagements and volunteer work with families in need. Beth lives in Highland, Utah with her husband and their youngest son.

Audrey Everson, LMHC, Parent Coach

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Audrey has worked with teens and families for the past 20 years, and just previously worked in a therapeutic boarding-school setting. During this time Audrey assisted students' and their parents with communication, home agreements/contracts, and transition planning. Audrey has developed clinical skills in working with teens with an array of mental health, social and academic challenges. In addition, she believes in Family Systems work, and has extensive experience planning and implementing Pycho-educational and Group Psychotherapy Family workshops.

Audrey is originally from Iowa, where she was born and raised, but has been living on the east coast for the past 20 years. She has three brothers, two sisters, and 24 nieces and nephews with whom she is very close.

Wendy Lee Johnson, Parent Coach

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Wendy began coaching adoptive parents in Oregon's Foster to Adopt program 25 years ago and currently has a private practice coaching parents of teens and young adults. She has worked extensively as a counselor, speaker, and leader. 

Wendy is a powerful Parent Coach, focusing on strengthening and rebuilding the connections that keep families together. She is passionate about helping parents find the joy of one of the most rewarding experiences they can have on this planet--raising children.

In addition to her formal training, she has a wealth of knowledge and depth of understanding that comes from raising 8 children, most adopted through the state system. She has first-hand parenting experience with teens working through issues surrounding residential treatment, group homes, attachment disorder, drug addiction, incarceration, DUIs, adoption, ADHD, LGTBQ+, and varied learning abilities.

Her commitment is to help parents create a vision for their family and then develop a plan of action to make that vision a reality.

Originally from southern Oregon, she now lives in Lehi, Utah surrounded by family. She loves to travel, cuddle her grandbabies, and hike with her English Springer, Lu.

Kelsey Morell, LMSW, Parent Coach and Mentor

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Kelsey Morell, LMSW, spent the last three years working as a family consultant for PRN For Families. Recently relocating to Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kelsey joined the 360 Transitions team providing both Mentor and Parent Coaching support in the Midwest region. Most recently she also headed up the PRN partnership aftercare program with Voyager Outward Bound Intercept.

Kelsey earned her master's degree from Columbia University School of Social Work in 2016. Her prior clinical experiences include working with at-risk youth and families in the New York Public School System; with psychiatric patients and their families at Bellevue Hospital of New York City; and with incarcerated youth within the juvenile justice system.

Kelsey earned her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Education from Colorado College in 2012, where she also played lacrosse. She continues to make outdoor activities and exercise a priority in her life, and is a certified teacher and practitioner of yoga. Kelsey also enjoys traveling to immerse herself in other cultures, where she feels the most growth for a person happens.

Thomas Buchenot, Mentor

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Thomas Buchenot was raised in New Jersey and earned a Bachelor's in Psychology while attending Rutgers University. Though he always knew he wanted to return to higher education, he first wanted to experience a little bit of the world. After moving to Georgia in 2018, Thomas started working for Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness. He quickly became a Senior Field Instructor working with adolescent boys and girls. After some time working as a Field Instructor, Thomas took a position working as a BRTW's Academic and Research Coordinator, helping students earn high school credit while in the wilderness.

In August of 2022, Thomas was enrolled in the University of Georgia's Master of Social Work program and is expected to graduate in 2024. He is passionate about how environments impact health and behavior and researching the effects of time spent near and in quality green spaces. Thomas regularly attends primitive skills courses to remain connected to nature and maintain their bow drilling skills. He also enjoys white water kayaking, hiking with his dog, and playing video games in his spare time.

Cassie Walton, Mentor

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Cassie is a native of Ozarks, Missouri (yes, like the Netflix show Ozark), where she was first introduced to the field of social work when she became a coach at a residential treatment center called Calo Teens. Calo is nationally recognized for their work treating adolescents overcoming developmental trauma and attachment challenges, specializing in children who have been adopted. At Calo Cassie became proficient at providing trauma-informed care through a relational, attachment-focused model.

After spending three years at Calo, Cassie took a year to travel with the World Race and visited 11 countries in 11 months. Cassie chose this trip to visit countries where children she had worked with had been adopted from. She had the opportunity to visit several orphanages, foster homes, and hospitals that were providing services to disadvantaged children in these countries.

Upon returning to the United States, Cassie worked with young adults and animal-assisted therapy with golden retrievers. She facilitated transferable attachment through a canine foster to adoption program at Calo Young Adults in Winchester, VA. Most recently she worked at a girl's therapeutic boarding school in Flat Rock, NC called Lake House Academy where she completed an internship and gained skills in Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.

Cassie is currently finishing up her Masters in Social Work, interning at an Asheville outpatient counseling clinic, and providing Mentor support to her clients with 360 Transitions. She is passionate about seeking to understand others' experiences and helping them make meaning from those experiences to become the best versions of themselves. Cassie is a travel and cultural enthusiast with 46 states and 40 countries under her belt. On weekends she can be found exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, rivers, and lakes and creating her own adventures.

Kady Braswell, Mentor

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As a former military "brat", Kady spent her childhood experiencing a handful of different cultures and people, which fueled the desire to help those around her. After landing in North Carolina, Kady found herself working as a summer camp counselor leading archery, running, and rock-climbing activities for kids ages 8-12. Following this, Kady began working as a residential counselor, and later, a residential program manager at Lake House Academy, a therapeutic boarding school in Flat Rock, NC.

Three years later, after Kady obtained her EMT licensure, she moved to Arizona where she worked in the emergency room while also leading backpacking trips for clients through a residential treatment center on the weekends. Kady took over as the experiential program director for this residential program, and continued leading backpacking trips, planning hikes, and carrying out art and play therapy for clients aged 13-17.

In addition to her mentor work with 360 Transitions, Kady is a clinical coordinator with Child and Family Support Services in the Flagstaff area. She works to provide families with the supports and services they may need in order to heal including establishing them with a therapist, providing direct support staff to implement skills training, and family support. 

Kady brings great experience and energy to her clients with 360 Transitions. In her free-time she enjoys running, hiking, writing, and spending time with her two pups!

Audrey Waterman, Mentor

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Audrey (she/her) was born in Michigan to a gardener and a therapist and is currently residing in Arizona. She has been backpacking since the age of 8 and developed a deep healing connection with nature. This fueled her passion for exploration, wonder and discovery. Little did she know how expansive that connection would grow into all aspects of her life.

Audrey has a bachelors of science from Northern Michigan University in Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management. She started her outdoor professional journey working with adolescents at a nature center in Michigan. She would plan week long programs throughout the summer and environmental education during the school year. She moved into leading trips for adolescents all over the state and eventually helped direct the whole program. This is where Audrey developed her love for connecting with adolescents and their families with nature.

Audrey then worked for Wingate Wilderness Therapy in Southern Utah where she faced huge challenges alongside her students. The desert tests you and we each found strength within us and each other to live in peace with nature. Audrey grew tremendously both professionally and personally during her time as a field guide. Following this experience, Audrey was part of developing a residential program before joining 360 Transitions as a Mentor.

Audrey is excited to help adolescents and young-adults transition back home. She recognizes that this transition can be such a shock to the system after experiencing so much progress in treatment. Finding one's own passions in life is a wonderful journey full of twists and turns and having supportive people by one's side during the journey can make all the difference. Audrey enjoys being one of those supportive people in her client's lives.

Buddy Cummins, Mentor

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Robert "Buddy" Cummins has worked as a direct care staff in the mental health field for nearly a decade, primarily with at-risk youth. Buddy has his bachelor's degree in sociology and is working towards his master's degree in clinical mental health. Buddy has just recently transitioned away from wilderness therapy after close to a six-year stint in Southwest Colorado. He worked as a field instructor for roughly half that time. He spent the rest of his time in various support roles and the family services department, where he supported and led intensive family therapy weekends.

Buddy currently lives in the Orlando, FL area interning for a community mental health program working with addiction and adults with severe mental illness. He was initially drawn to the mental health field out of a passion for supporting struggling young individuals. He has stayed as he has found his personal growth, development, and community. When not working or studying, Buddy enjoys traveling, paddling rivers, riding his bike, and connecting with his family and friends.

Mary O'Hair, Mentor

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Mary O'Hair grew up in Northern California. In 2007 she attended the SUWS Wilderness Therapy program as a student and gained a deep passion for the outdoors as well as pursuing her own personal growth. After experiencing, firsthand, the positive change of attending wilderness therapy, years later, Mary went to work as a field staff for nearly 5 years at several programs across the country. Additionally, Mary gained her EMT-b and Elite Personal Trainer certifications in pursuit of further personal growth as well as adding these skills to her passion for helping others.

Currently Mary lives completely off grid in the mountains of western North Carolina, where she is able to continue to connect with nature in her free time. Her hobbies include hiking and spending time with her puppy named Willow who is a golden Aussie.

With 360 Transitions, Mary hopes to continue to accomplish what she's accomplished in her previous roles - ensuring that students feel supported through their transitions and not feeling alone.

Tierney Hodge, Mentor

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Tierney grew up in Gainesville, FL and enjoyed spending much of her time exploring nature, playing volleyball, and volunteering with youth in after-school and summer camp programs. She received a scholarship to play Division 1 volleyball at Davidson College, where she achieved her B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish. In her final summer of college, Tierney taught underserved youth in Atlanta, GA. This experience revealed her passion for teaching and mentoring adolescents and serving disadvantaged communities, and after graduating she accepted a position as an AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellow in Charlotte, NC.

This role brought Tierney into a unique position to work together with students, families, and teachers within their community to enhance and empower the lives of her students. Her work was humbling and eye-opening, and Tierney saw firsthand the need for presence, compassion, and understanding to support mental and emotional development in today's youth. While completing her fellowship, she achieved her M.A. in Education from Lesley University and found clarity that serving others would be essential in her future work.

Tierney's ardor for mental, emotional, and physical well-being led her to a wilderness therapy field guide position at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness. She immediately fell in love with the wilderness therapy community, therapeutic model, and lifestyle, and she found that she was able to positively impact the lives of her students and coworkers in a deeply fulfilling and personally transformative way. Supporting her students' processes of self-discovery and healing and then watching them rebuild healthy relationships with their families was a life changing experience.

After almost two years in the field, Tierney left her beloved "woods life" to pursue her heart's calling to create an impactful career as a therapist. She moved to Portland, OR and is finishing her Master's degree in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy at Lewis and Clark College. She is completing her internship year at two sites, a Community Mental Health agency working with children, adolescents, and their families, and a non-profit Equine Therapy agency supporting clients through experiential therapy with horses. She is delighted to bring her empathy, compassion, patience, natural therapeutic skills, and intuitive nature to her work supporting others to move through healthy and balanced transitions with 360 Transitions.

Caleb McClain, Mentor

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Families of 11 are few and far between, however, Caleb McClain has always been proud to have 8 siblings backing him. He was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia and moved around to Massachusetts, Texas, Florida and California all before the age of 10. During his senior year Caleb was asked to mentor a 5th grade student who was having academic and behavior problems at school. The encouragement and belief from his high school counselor were the gifts that helped him solidify his role as a positive mentor to others. He graduated from Vanguard High, a small IB school in Ocala, Florida.

Bug Juice, a popular Disney show highlighting the life of camp counselors, was enough for Caleb to apply for Camp Ridgecrest for Boys. Over the next 12 years he would give 10 summers, and one full school year to the camp, serving in many of the roles there, including Program Director. This was the catalyst to his love of the wilderness. He became comfortable sleeping on the ground and most importantly role modeling life for campers.

During the school year Caleb attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL where he earned a Bachelors in Recreation Management. His internship was with the Campus Recreation, Rez, where he co-lead trips with college students and was integral in re-accrediting the program on its American Camp Association standards.

After graduating in 2010, Caleb moved to Manson, North Carolina to work with Eckerd Youth Alternatives, where he served adjudicated youth in a wilderness alternative school setting. Caleb attributes this experience as the beginning of his training for a career in the mental health field. Following this experience Caleb spent some time in Baltimore with the Board of Child Care canvassing the streets and working with urban youth.

Caleb soon realized he was yearning for the outdoors again and wanted to get back to his headlamp and campfires. He was encouraged to look into Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness and within a week was setting up to begin the training. Caleb was privileged to work as a senior field staff for 3 years. It was at Blue Ridge where Caleb developed the understanding that he was able to gain rapport easily with students, leading him to be empowered to set boundaries and challenge student's patterns, while remaining compassionate and empathetic. Amongst the brilliant, life-altering ideas he learned at Blue Ridge, Caleb also recognized that living in the wilderness was not sustainable though he absolutely loved his time out there. Following Blue Ridge he relocated to Washington D.C. for a period of time to fulfill a lifelong goal of living in the big city like his little brothers.

Recently marrying the love of his life, Elizabeth, and becoming a father to his son, Henry, have topped any life experiences to date. His family of 3 moved to Greenville, SC to settle in for a while and to enjoy all that life has to offer.

Rob McLarty, Mentor

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Rob grew up in Roswell, GA where his earliest memories are of setting up campfires in his backyard with his dogs. He was drawn to the outdoors and athletics as a child. These interests continued to shape him through high school where Rob played football, wrestled, and ran track. By the end of his junior year of high school he felt the need for a more challenging environment and requested that his parents send him to Marion Military Institute, a military academy in Alabama.

After graduating from Marion, Rob attended junior college for 3 semesters but felt like there was more to be done at that time and had little interest in pursuing a college degree for an unknown purpose. He left school and started a specialized concrete construction company in Panama City, FL. The company flourished for 3 years where Rob and his partner experienced the trials and pleasures of building a business. Rob sold out his partnership in the company and set off to begin a Thru Hike of the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. This experience was foundational in shaping his understanding of the power of time spent in nature and the bonds formed among those you share it with. The sense of freedom, adventure, and fellowship awakened an identity within him that continues to grow to this day.

Following the Thru-Hike, Rob spent some time thinking about his next career move, knowing that somehow he wanted to incorporate nature and helping people into this next step. In speaking with a friend he learned about Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness and was immediately intrigued. He was hired on as a field staff, moved to Clayton, GA and spent the next four years working at Blue Ridge. Knowing he had discovered his career passion, Rob returned to college and completed a degree in psychology.

Rob has settled down in Clayton, GA with his wife, dogs and chickens. Gardening and endless home improvement projects keep him connected to his love of working with his hands. In addition to guiding backpacking trips with a company he started called, Walking in the Woods, Rob also mentors clients with 360 Transitions. "There's nothing more exciting and fulfilling than helping young people take the skills they've learned in treatment and learning how to apply them in their real world context," says Rob.

Melissa Malaspino, Mentor

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Melissa was born and raised in Cape Cod, Massachusetts until age 15, when her family decided to move to metro Atlanta, GA. After about a year in Georgia high school Melissa enrolled in an early entrance college program at the University of West Georgia. The first class on her schedule was an introduction to Psychology, and through the course of that first semester, inspired by all the possibilities for understanding and growth her professor introduced her to, she decided to choose psychology as her major.

After continuing to be inspired by the knowledge and passion of her teachers, building community among her colleagues, and realizing how well the MA in Psychology program fit her interests, she decided to stay for a second degree. She completed her MA in 2016, with the hopes of working in the field of ecopsychology (focusing on the human-nature relationship).

Melissa began her career as a Field Guide at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness in the spring of 2017. There she was able to gain many season of direct experience understanding how wilderness both challenges and rewards those who spend time with it. As a senior guide, Melissa spent significant time leading both adolescent boys and girls groups, and also worked with the young adult program as well.

Becoming a senior and eventually mentor-level staff allowed her the opportunity to help new guides and upcoming senior guides grow as staff, while also constantly learning from them and her students about how she might show up as her best self.

Her departure from Blue Ridge Wilderness was inspired largely by the beauty, variety, and friendships she found while on extended road trips to the Southwest. She considered a move west for several seasons, then finally arrived in California in April 2021. She has since split her time between a few coastal cities. She hopes to continue to build a foundation in San Diego. Some of her favorite activities include running, practicing flow arts, learning to surf, and making time to visit friends and favorite places both at home and around the country. Her standard poodle, Clover, has been her near constant companion through her adventures for the last 3.5 years, including working with students in the wilderness.

Samika Johnston, Mentor

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Samika is a native of Saint Louis, Missouri but currently resides in Dallas, TX. She is a sister of 5 siblings and a sister of a national sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Samika graduated from Lane College based out of Jackson, TN in 2013 with a Bachelor in Biology. Her passion for kids began shortly after graduation when she relocated back to Missouri and began working for Piney Ridge, an RTC. From Piney Ridge a friend introduced her to Change Academy Lake of Ozarks (CALO), and she began working there soon after hearing about the program. Samika held many positions at CALO and attended numerous seminars and trainings learning the aspect of working with children struggling to have healthy relationships due to trauma and attachments issues. During Samika's career at CALO she held the title of Interim Program Director, where she managed 120 children; preteens, teens and employees. Samika's passion for kids never left her heart. Samika has found the perfect balance of working with her 360 Transitions clients as they adjust to the challenges of reintegrating back into the family following treatment and working for Cranial Technologies helping families reshape their children's heads with the treatment of a DOC Band "helmet."

Since her move to Texas, Samika continues to research programs and resources to meet her long term goal of opening an out-patient facility for adolescent girls; a place where these girls can feel safe. 

In her down time Samika enjoys relaxing, spending time with friends, exploring what Dallas has to offer and continuing to pursue her long-term goals one step at a time.

Hannah McDuffee, Mentor

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Hannah graduated from Lesley University with a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a focus in holistic therapies. She has over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. Her therapeutic approach incorporates finding a balance with one's mind, body and spirit to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, attention deficit, mood dysregulation and physical manifestations associated with diagnoses. Her healing modalities are deeply rooted in the humanistic, client-centered approach and include light and aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, healthy eating, mindfulness, art and animal therapy with each plan tailored to the person's unique needs.

Upon receiving her bachelor's degree in Political Science from Florida State University, she worked for the Department of State. Through her experience, she discovered her passion and purpose is to help others improve their quality of life. While studying for her master's, she specialized in traumatic brain injuries helping others return to the community and adjust to living with permanent physical and mental injuries. Prior to working with 360 Transitions, Hannah worked with a wide-array of ages and diagnoses in community mental health and a therapeutic boarding school attributing to her adaptability and experience. She also researched and developed support groups.

During her free time, Hannah likes to spend time at camp with her family and friends. Her favorite activities include seeing live music, reading, meditating, skiing, riding trails, watching and playing sports, eating local food and going on random adventures which help her maintain the healthy balance she strives to help others achieve.

Hannah Walker, Mentor

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Hannah is a Texas native growing up in the suburbs of Dallas. In her youth she took to running around any woods available in the concrete city, constantly itching to be outdoors. She dreamed of mountains, beaches and hiking trails. In grade school she was passionate in science classes learning about the cycles of the earth. Fast forward to high school, she fell in love with environmental science senior year and wanted to learn more.

Hannah made her way to Texas State University and earned a BS in Geography Resource and Environmental Studies. While in school she assisted with conservation projects for the city of San Marcos, worked as a Peer Leader at her University and was part of an organization that created different events and small groups to help build community at a local middle school.

With her experiences in environmental work and mentorship work she realized she loved both equally and wanted to merge her two passions. That is how she found Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness. Hannah journeyed to Clayton, GA in January 2019 to work as a field staff. She worked there for two and a half years and loved every second of it. She eventually became senior field staff and worked closely with the therapist to create individualized plans for the students and the group, led a team of field staff each week, mentored new field staff and planned the hiking logistics.

Today, Hannah resides in Asheville, NC and is furthering her passion to teach and mentor youth as a teacher assistant and mentoring clients with 360 Transitions. In her free time she cooks with friends, explores the Blue Ridge Mountains and dabbles in photography.

Austin Presas, Mentor

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Raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Austin quickly learned to see the outdoors as a place of refuge. After finishing school, Austin spent five years abroad in 25 countries while volunteering, teaching English, sailing on a tall ship, and learning Italian. She has worked in the outdoor industry for almost ten years, six of which have been at Open Sky Wilderness Therapy.

As a guide, working with both students and families, Austin valued the connections that are formed in the field: a deeper connection to self, a more authentic connection to others, and an intimate connection to the wilderness. She brought creativity and love of art into the field and inspired those around her to slow down enough to see the magic that surrounds us. Field guiding taught her that being present is the greatest gift she can offer both herself and those around her. Austin brings an open, nonjudgmental, and attuned heart into her work. She considers supporting people on this transformative and reparative path to be sacred.

Living in Durango, Colorado, Austin spends free time on the countless trails here in the Southwest. She loves exploring desert canyons, soaking in hot springs along rivers, and admiring wildflowers in the high country with her therapy dog, Zia. She enjoys hiking, rafting, rock climbing, playing chess, throwing pottery in her backyard studio, listening to podcasts, and spending intentional quality time with her loved ones. She is also currently attending Prescott College working towards earning her master's in counseling.

Emily Golding, Mentor

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Emily was born in Florida but is a western North Carolina girl at heart. She has lived in various places within the Appalachian Mountains since she was 10 and considers those mountains a special slice of the world very dear to her heart.

Emily attended school at Appalachian State University where she stumbled upon the Social Work curriculum and realized she had found her niche. She graduated with her Bachelor of Social Work in 2019. Emily has experience in case management, peer support for students with diverse abilities, and program planning for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Emily worked in wilderness therapy for a year and a half. She primarily worked with dual diagnosis adolescents as a field staff. She then moved into a coaching role on the clinical team. Emily is moving towards attending graduate school and becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Those that know Emily often describe her as fiery, passionate, dedicated, creative, supportive, and silly! In her free time Emily puts her energy into her relationship with her dogs, her gardens, artistic endeavors, hula hooping, fire spinning, long boarding, hiking and whatever her most recent project is.

Ben Marchman, Mentor

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Ben has 19 years of experience working with adolescents, families and young adults from working at schools to wilderness therapy to clinical based organizations and hospitals. He was first exposed to wilderness therapy and mental health back in the early 2000's where he worked with Four Circles Recovery as a clinician aide and wilderness instructor and as a field instructor at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness Program.

He has an undergraduate degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education from Brevard College, an M.S. in Environmental Education from Montreat College and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Clinical Counseling with an emphasis in Somatic Psychotherapy from Prescott College.

Since the early 2000's Ben has worked in many different career fields. These include being a Pre K - 12 teacher, a Habitat Restoration Ecologist with the Nature Conservancy, an Arborist, an Environmental Educator, a Case Manager with an Assertive Community Treatment Team and in multiple Wilderness Therapy organizations. These jobs also brought him to many locations throughout the Western and North Eastern United States, Canada and even Africa.

Over the past decade Ben has worked extensively in the severe crisis and treatment fields with adults and families. Specifically, with those struggling with severe trauma, behavioral disorders, mental illness, and dual diagnosis. These years have taught him many different ways to work with families and individuals. Yet, his passion is working with adolescents and young adults and families in helping them achieve their highest potential.

Most recently, he moved to Sharpsburg, GA to the exact farm where he grew up. It's been special to raise his kids on the same land he grew up on. Outside of work he enjoys working on the farm, mountain bike riding, and whitewater kayaking.

Jody Grubbs, Mentor

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Jody was born in North Carolina and spent much of his childhood hiking, camping, fishing, and playing in the creek all over the western North Carolina mountains and on his family's farm. He grew up playing baseball and football. After college, Jody taught Brazilian jiu jitsu to children, coached Pop Warner football, and worked as a wrestling coach at a high school in central Florida.

Jody began his career as a field guide at SUWS of the Carolinas in 2015, which combined his love of the outdoors and his desire to work with adolescents. In the years since, he has also worked in other therapeutic wilderness programs, worked as a teacher at a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility, and worked with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The eight years that Jody has spent working with adolescents in mental health have convinced him to go back to school. He is currently working on his Master's in Business Administration with a concentration in Heathcare Administration, and he also plans to pursue his Master's in Social Work.

Jody still calls North Carolina home, but now lives in Southern Illinois. He enjoys spending time with his wife and family, discovering new places. In what little free time he has, Jody loves to spend time outside camping, hiking and fishing. He also plays the guitar very poorly, practices Brazilian jiu jitsu, and is training for a powerlifting meet. Jody prefers small groups of people over large ones and sees himself as soft spoken with a great sense of humor.

Alysha "AJ" Rieckenberg, Mentor

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Everyone calls Alysha, "AJ". AJ grew up in a small farm town in southern Illinois with her parents and three siblings. She was taught to love the outdoors from a young age and spent her childhood hiking, camping, making friction fires, catching snakes, and taking care of her many animals. AJ was a great gymnast and cheerleader in high school.

Spending her first 18 years in such a small town gave AJ a strong desire to travel and see more of the country. After graduating from high school, AJ moved to downtown Chicago to attend a French Pastry School. After graduating and becoming a French pastry chef, AJ continued to travel and has lived and worked throughout the US. AJ's beautiful daughter was born in 2017 and a career change followed shortly thereafter. AJ found her calling when she began working as a field guide at SUWS of the Carolinas. From her first shift in the field, she found what she was meant to do in the world.

After her experience in wilderness therapy, AJ has decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois University with plans to also get a master's degree in social work. Her goal is to one day become a therapist at a therapeutic wilderness program.

When AJ is not supporting her 360 Transitions clients or studying, she likes to spend time with her husband and daughter, camping, hiking, fishing, running, painting, baking and riding her bike.

Ethan Gordon, Mentor

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Ethan was born and raised in Memphis, TN. He developed a love for the mountains at an early age as he and his family traveled to the Rocky Mountains every winter to ski. When looking at universities for college, Ethan didn't hesitate to make the move to Fort Collins, Colorado where he knew his love for the mountains would be met at Colorado State University. He began his undergraduate career as a biomedical sciences student at CSU as he had known he wanted to be a veterinarian since he was ten. However, during Ethan's sophomore year his interests began to change, shifting away from veterinarian medicine and towards wildlife, and the outdoors. As a result, he changed his degree to Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology where he would learn about the ecosystems across the Rocky Mountains.

Ethan loved this change in studies but it wasn't until a summer internship at the Memphis Crisis Center that gave Ethan a better idea of his future; social work. Ethan spent that summer working the crisis and suicide hotline, or survivors of sexual assault. He leaned into the field of social work throughout his remaining two years of college serving youth and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in a variety of roles. Ethan completed his undergraduate degree in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology in May of 2014. Following his graduation, he spent the next two years as a Senior Field Instructor at Blue Ridge Wilderness Program, combining his love for the outdoors with his love for human connection, and helping others. His time spent in the wilderness assisting young men in their struggles with addiction remains one of his favorite roles he has held.

After his time at Blue Ridge Wilderness Program, Ethan decided that he'd like to expand upon his social work experience with youth. He joined the Peace Corps where he served 27 months in a small Peruvian town in the Amazonas region of Peru as a youth development specialist. During Ethan's time in Peru, he work many hats as he worked as a facilitator, mentor, teacher, and community organizer. He worked alongside local stakeholders to create youth-led programs on topics such as sexual and vocational education. Ethan's favorite project during his time in Peru was partnering with a local environmental NGO and high school to create youth-led trips to the Peruvian jungle. During these trips, Ethan was facilitating classes to Peruvian youth that he had once taught to adolescents at Blue Ridge Wilderness in the Georgia mountains. After returning to the states, Ethan knew that it was time to return to Colorado, and this time he landed in Denver.

At present, Ethan works as a case manager for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. In his current role, he assists adult homeless clients in accessing public benefits and permanent housing. Ethan also works with many monolingual Spanish speakers and assists them in the immigration paperwork process, and advocating for their needs to community partners. Ethan is passionate about advocating for others and he works daily with clients who face many challenges and barriers surrounding mental health and addiction. While Ethan enjoys his work with the homeless to the fullest, he is thrilled about the opportunity to work with youth again with 360 Transitions. Ethan believes in the power of human connection and the opportunity for others to be seen and heard. His wide range of interests from the outdoors to movies to music accompanied by his vast experience with youth allow him to easily build rapport with adolescents. Ethan resides in Denver, CO with his german shepherd enjoying everything the city and mountains have to offer.

Graham Whitley, Mentor

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Graham was born and raised in rural eastern North Carolina. He spent many hours playing in the pine woods growing up, enjoying Boy Scout trips, and was also involved in sports. Being born into a family of nature-loving artisans, it was only natural that he quickly grew to enjoy making art and playing music. While in high school Graham spent three summers working at a Presbyterian sailing camp as a camp counselor. He facilitated water sports games and other activities.

After graduating from high school in 2004, Graham left the small town of Pink Hill and attended UNC Asheville to pursue a music degree. Majoring in jazz guitar and saxaphone, he studied and played music intensively for 3 years. Prior to his final year at school Graham decided to take a detour and gain some life experience. He moved to Hawaii and worked on an organic citrus farm in the Hawaiian jungle and explored his surroundings and the culture. While living in Hawaii he became interested in working as a field staff at Pacific Quest and began his career working with teens in a therapeutic environment. He was a natural at building rapport and supporting teens with their emotional process.

Though Graham was very much enjoying his life and work in Hawaii he knew it was time to head back and complete his college degree. Graham graduated in 2010 from UNCA with a BA in Jazz Studies. Upon his return to North Carolina Graham volunteered regularly with a community called Heart Sanctuary. The volunteer initiatives included helping groups of people with stress management skills and teaching them to live a more heart centered life. This became an important focus for Graham ove the next few years and continues into the present.

Following graduation once again he found himself back in the woods working with adolescents and young adults at Blue Ridge Wilderness Therapy. This was a great fit for Graham. The experience was challenging, enlightening and fun and Graham felt right at home!

Graham really enjoys his Mentor work with 360 Transitions. His calm, straight forward style bodes well for building trust with his clients. His wide range of interests from sports, music to computer programming also allow for plenty of opportunities to connect with his clients. One of his current hobbies is learning new web development skills including Javascript and Ruby on Rails. Graham recently married his best friend and moved to San Antonio, TX. He's enjoying exploring the area with his wife and is always up for a quiet evening at home with his guitar.

Shelby Spade, Mentor

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Shelby Spade grew up in Rochester, NY right on Lake Ontario which borders Canada. Her life long passion, since the age of 4, has been skiing. She spent most of her time as a kid skiing and continues to do so today. After high school she attended college in North Carolina at UNC Wilmington where she studied Marine Biology. During her time there she spent a semester in Homer, AK working as an intern for U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

After graduating college, Shelby moved to Vermont where she worked on an AmeriCorps chainsaw crew for the U.S. Forest Service. During her time working on a crew she was able to foster a passion for backpacking and spending time in the back country. As someone that didn't grow up camping it was a hard adjustment period that challenged her both physically and emotionally. After this work she went on to ski instructing and then wilderness therapy. She worked at True North Wilderness Program in Vermont as a field guide and was later promoted to Transition Coordinator. As the Transition Coordinator she worked directly with students to facilitate a comfortable and supported transition to their next steps following wilderness treatment.

After her time in Vermont, Shelby moved to Colorado to work as an outdoor children's program supervisor. While in Colorado she was able to obtain valuable work experience and ski as much as possible. Between her transition from Colorado to Portland, OR she worked at various guiding companies along the west coast. Her time working at a wilderness therapy program and supervising a children's program deeply impacted her personally and paved the way for her future career path. These accumulation of experiences are the reason she is now enrolled in a graduate program and working towards her master's degree in Professional Mental Health Counseling at Lewis and Clark College. She loves combining her mentor work with 360 Transitions with her education through her masters program and feels it's the perfect combination of learning and application.

When she's not mentoring or studying she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, camping, backpacking, singing, crafting and meeting new people.

Mary Craig, Mentor

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Mary was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is grateful to have grown up in a community that valued the outdoors, education and support for each other as they survived through the extreme Alaskan elements. The coldest temperature she has ever been in is -65 degrees.

She could see the Alaska Range and Denali from her porch and this instilled a great love for big peaks. Camping, biking, climbing trees, sledding, snowboarding and playing in forts were an essential part of her childhood. She is most at peace in the outdoors surrounded by mountains.

Mary's younger brother had severe medical concerns when he was born. Her deep empathy, compassion and patience was instilled at a young age as she watched her parents care for him.

Mary's mother was an educator of nearly 50 years; Mary witnessed and learned from her mom's passion how to educate students well. She knows that her brother and mom played an important role in her path to helping people.

Mary received her Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University with a major in Family and Child Sciences and a minor in Psychology. She began teaching after college at a small school that specialized in working with students in grades 1-12 who had dyslexia, ADD and ADHD. She taught all grades and subjects and her largest classroom size was eight children.

Mary then went to teach in the public school system and had a position an hour away from her home in a neighboring county that was impoverished and rural. At the time, it was the lowest academically county in the state of Florida. It was during this experience that she realized she wanted to help people on an emotional level.

Mary decided to return to the Land of the Midnight Sun and drove 6000 miles from Florida to Alaska. It took two weeks and her favorite parts of the trip were caving in Tennessee, camping in Banff National Park, going to a dinosaur museum near Calgary, relaxing in Liard River Hot Springs in British Columbia and coming upon a herd of bison crossing the road in the Yukon.

Mary embarked on a Master's Degree at the University of Alaska and studied counseling. She worked at a children's hospital. Ultimately she became depressed during the long, dark Alaskan winters. Her soul is fed by being outside and it was difficult to be active when it was dark both going to work and coming home from work.

she discovered wilderness therapy and drove to Nevada to begin a life in the woods. She has worked at four wilderness programs in the southwest and southeast and has completed over five years in the field. She moved to the east coast to be with her ill mother three years ago and has fallen in love wiht her community of Western North Carolina and the Smokey Mountains. She lives in a small town with her dog, Sage, in the foothills of the Smokies and is pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Sarah Beatrice, Mentor

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Sarah was born and raised in Ellwood City Pennsylvania, a small town 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh.

As a child she could be found outside playing with her sister and neighbor in the muddy stream and woods behind her home. She met her life long best friend at girl scout camp as a young teenager. She realized she lived in walking distance from her, through the woods. They spent hours constructing a trail and met in the woods to hang out almost daily.

After graduating high school, Sarah moved to Burbank, California where she went to film school and earned a certificate in Screenwriting. She is still moved to continue her passion for writing and is currently working on a book.

She moved back home when she completed film school and worked for her family's food distributing business. Deep down she knew there was something much more to life than sitting behind a computer taking orders from customers.

In the spring of 2014 she began her thru hike on the Appalachian trail at Springer Mountain in Georgia. 5 months, 19 days and 2,185.3 miles later she was on top of Mount Katadhin in Maine bursting into triumphant tears of joy over what she had accomplished.

She found it hard to transition from living in the woods for almost six months to being thrown back into society. To make her transition smoother she started landscaping to continue being outside. Eventually she had her own freelance landscaping company.

The Appalachian trail community provided so much help and support that it inspired her to give back and start helping others the way she was helped. She would go to trail towns and feed the hikers, volunteer at roadside garbage pick ups, and give back any way she found.

That winter she returned to her family's business but, again, found herself struggling with the work. She looked into what steps she needed to take to become an outdoor guide. She got her Leave No Trace Trainer Certificate and Wilderness First Responder. At her first responder course she learned about a field called wilderness therapy and started doing her research.

She found her passion for working with at risk youth as a field guide at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness in Clayton, Georgia. This job fulfilled her, it was difficult and super rewarding. She loved seeing the progress of her students and loved being a positive role model while holding strong, healthy boundaries. Following her work at Blue Ridge she took some time off and traveled Europe for 5 months while volunteering from Italy all the way to Serbia. In Serbia she received her Psychological First Aid certificate.

When Sarah returned to the US, that summer she worked in Jackson Hole Wyoming at a kids summer camp and lived out of her van camping out each night. When this seasonal job ended she applied and was hired to be a field guide in Hilo, HI at Pacific Quest. 

Most recently Sarah is back in her home state of Western Pennsylvania where she plans to stay for a while and grow some roots. She continues to apply all of her amazing travel, adventure, school and work experiences to her work with her clients with 360 Transitions. She knows, first hand, the difficulty of transitioning from living in the woods to living back home in society. In addition to mentoring her clients with 360 Transitions she is also currently studying to be a Master Herbalist and Meditation Teacher.

Meghan Bogutz, Mentor

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Meghan, while born and raised outside of Columbus Ohio - is from many places. She has spent seasons of her life in Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, Vermont and South America but most recently landed in Asheville, North Carolina.

She has always had a sense of adventure and has been a competitive athlete - never shying away from a challenge. While younger she may have seemed precocious, as a young adult she is fun, inquisitive and wise.

She had her own treatment experiences throughout adolescence; attended a wilderness program and a therapeutic boarding school. She then spent some time determining her own path and finding her very own passions. One that began in the woods still remains today. After receiving her bachelors degree and becoming a certified educator, Meghan worked for two years as a field instructor at True North wilderness program. More recently Meghan worked as a teacher at a therapeutic boarding school continuing her passion of enriching the lives of adolescents and young adults.

Meghan is perfectly suited to support adolescents and young adults as they transition home having had both her own personal experience managing her own transition from treatment and now having worked for a number of years in the treatment setting. She brings her insight, warmed, strength, fun and bright energy to her work with her clients. Meghan lives in Asheville, NC.