Inner Fire Board of Directors
Founder and Board President
Beatrice Birch, Inner Fire founder and Board President, has worked as a Hauschka Artistic therapist for more than 30 years in integrative clinics and inspiring initiatives in England, Holland and the USA where the whole human being of body, soul and spirit was recognized and embraced in the healing process. She has lectured and taught as far afield as Taiwan. Her passionate belief in both the creative spirit within everyone and the importance of choice, along with her love and interest in the human being has taken her also into prisons where she has volunteered for many years offering soul support through Alternatives to Violence work and watercolor painting.
B. Marshall Hammond, M.Ed.
Board Vice President
B. Marshall Hammond, M.Ed., Inner Fire Board Vice President, has been a Vermont Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor since 1998. He received his Master of Education in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University in 1982. His clinical experience has spanned over 32 years, including providing treatment services to families and individuals with emotional and psychological challenges in Vermont, New Hampshire and Hawaii. He is a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with the National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists.
Board Treasurer, President of Kavet, Rockler & Associates, LLC
Tom Kavet, Inner Fire Board Treasurer, is President of Kavet, Rockler & Associates, LLC, an economic and public policy consulting firm (www.kavetrockler.com). For the past 19 years, Tom has been the State Economist and Principal Economic Advisor to the Vermont Legislature, where his firm provides economic forecasting and related analytic services. Prior to starting KRA in 1989, Tom was a Vice President at DRI/McGraw-Hill, the nation’s largest economic consulting firm, where he started and led the construction and real estate forecasting group. In addition to many non-profit and community boards, Tom is a member of the Policy Advisory Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Laurie Rabut, Inner Fire Board Secretary, is an accomplished musician and teacher. After graduating from the Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts, she began a career teaching, composing and performing. Having taught music in the Amherst, MA public schools for 32 years, Laurie has also performed early music with numerous ensembles in the New York and New England region and currently coaches ensembles for the Five College Early Music Program in Amherst MA. Laurie is an active student and practitioner of mindfulness, holds a graduate certificate in Mindfulness in Education, and is a certified .b mindfulness teacher. Her studies with Anishinaabe elders from northern Canada have been a deep and rich part of Laurie’s personal journey, and these experiences and teachings have further deepened her connection with, and respect for, the earth and all beings that inhabit her. Laurie’s mindfulness practice and her work with indigenous elders have served to deepen her belief in the resilient nature of the human spirit in the most difficult of circumstances.
Julie Birns received her B.A. in Psychology from Boston University, and her R.N. from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. She is a psychiatric survivor who is passionate about helping people whose intention is to recover from mental illness without the use of psychotropic drugs. Julie recently completed her training as a Nurse Practitioner in order to support those who desire to come off of medication; she is currently working in New Mexico in this capacity.
Inner Fire Advisory Board
Founder and CEO of Time Equities Inc.
Francis Greenburger is the founder, chief executive officer and guiding force behind Time Equities Inc. Established in 1966, Time Equities Inc. (TEI) has been in the real estate investment, development and asset & property management business for more than 45 years.
Mr. Greenburger is also the Chairman of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc., a literary agency, and is the founder and principal benefactor of Omi International Arts Center, established in 1992. Omi is a not-for-profit arts organization with residency programs for international visual artists, writers, translators, musicians, and dancers, as well as year-round arts education program, an experimental architecture lab, and The Fields, a renowned sculpture park located on a 300-acre property in Ghent, New York.
Mr. Greenburger is also a very active board member of several not-for-profit organizations: Alliance for Downtown New York, Baruch Real Estate Advisory Board for the Department of Real Estate, Lavigny Writer’s Residency, Lincoln Center – Real Estate and Construction Council, Little Red Schoolhouse/Elizabeth Irwin High School Board of Trustees, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, MASS MoCA, Michael Wolk Heart Foundation, NYU Real Estate Institute Advisory Board, and Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation.
In 2014, Mr. Greenburger started the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice, a non-profit organization committed to advocating for reforms to the criminal justice system. The Center believes that the criminal justice system should focus on rehabilitation and not only punishment, that laws should protect society, not penalize poverty, mental illness or underlying substance abuse, and that Judges must have the ability to fashion sentences that do justice while preserving human dignity and the potential for reentry, and include alternatives for incarceration. In founding the Center, Mr. Greenburger stated: “Mass incarceration, including of those with significant mental illness and addictions, is the most important social justice issue of our time and it is happening on our watch. I and every member of society have an obligation to respond and not allow it to go on.”
Lesley Nan Fishelman, M.D.
Lesley Nan Fishelman, M.D. is a board certified Psychiatrist with 40 years of experience treating people with the more severe forms of mental illness. She graduated from the Yale University School of Medicine and did her Psychiatry training at the Institute of Living, Yale University and College of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey. She has been studying meditation for more than 35 years, and has offered courses on the interface between neurobiology and spirituality on both the East and West coasts.
As someone who has watched the change in Psychiatric practice move more and more to a focus on medication, she has seen holistic interventions and therapeutic communities disappear over that time.
She believes that while medication offers great help to many people with disabling illness, it is also clear that it is not a panacea and that there are people for whom it offers diminishing returns. Inner Fire’s offering of in depth milieu treatment and spiritual support to people who feel overwhelmed by their medication as well as their other difficulties can provide an important rebalancing of the current American trend to almost purely chemical treatment of Psychiatric difficulties. It is for this reason that she is participating on the Inner Fire Advisory Board.
Olivia Stokes Dreier, M.P.A., M.S.W.
Executive Director of Karuna Center for Peacebuilding
Olivia Stokes Dreier, M.P.A., M.S.W. is the Executive Director of Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, a nonprofit in Amherst Massachusetts that works with international partners to promote social healing in countries recovering from war. From 2002-2012, she also directed the Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) Graduate Certificate Program at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. Olivia has led programs in peacebuilding, inter-communal dialogue, and reconciliation in over 15 conflict-affected countries, ranging from Africa to South Asia, the Balkans, the Caucuses, and the Middle East. She recently directed a two-year inter-faith reconciliation program with 160 Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders in a region of Sri Lanka heavily affected by the 27-year civil war. She is currently developing a program in Burundi, Rwanda, and eastern Congo, focused on building the capacity of local groups to break inter-connected cycles of communal and gender-based violence.
In her early 20’s, Olivia worked for two years with the Gandhian movement in India on rural development and non-formal education. She spent two years leading artistic therapy programs at Gould Farm, a residential psychiatric community, and then worked for 20 years in community mental health. Together with her husband, she also helped start the Hartsbrook Waldorf School in Hadley, MA.
Olivia holds a B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, a Masters in Social Work from Smith College, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Sandy Reider, M.D.
Sandy Reider, M.D. graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1971, completed a medical internship at the Medcal Center Hospital of Vermont, and practiced family medicine and emergency medicine in Vermont from 1972-1985. For the past 30 years Dr. Reider has maintained a private medical practice in northern Vermont, with particular emphasis on nutrition, classical homeopathy and anthroposophical treatments. Dr. Reider has been one of Inner Fire’s medical advisors since its inception.
Laura Delano is a psychiatric liberation activist, writer, and community organizer. She entered the “mental health” system as a thirteen-year old and escaped it fourteen years later, after accidentally stumbling upon Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic. Today, Laura works with individuals looking to free themselves from psychiatric labels and drugs, and communities seeking to build alternatives to the “mental health” system. She is an editor, consultant, and film festival organizer at www.MadinAmerica.com, and she lives near Boston, Massachusetts, where she’s founded a mutual support group for people coming off psychiatric drugs. She serves on the boards of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry, the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, and Mad in America, Inc., and is on the advisory board of It’s All About Childhood and Family, Inc. Laura can be found at her website, www.RecoveringfromPsychiatry.com.
Nels Kloster, M.D.
Nels Kloster, M.D. has been practicing psychiatry in VT for 10 years with a focus on community mental health. Over time he has seen the limitations of medications, as well as their detrimental physical and psychological impacts. With the sense that pharmaceuticals are used for too many people, and for too lengthy periods of time, he has joined Inner Fire in the hope of furthering more rational and person-centered approaches to wellness.
Thabile Mnisi-Msibi, Ph.D.
Founder and Director of Mission Society Care
Thabile Mnisi-Msibi, Ph.D. is the Founder and Director of Mission Society Care (MS Care), a hospice and skill development multi-purpose organization based in Johannesburg South Africa that has sought to provide care, education and a source of hope for people at the margins of society in South Africa. MS Care’s mission is to: Educate underserved communities about the medical and socio-economic implications of HIV/AIDS and methods of prevention; Provide care and training for those suffering from the disease, providing dedicated, in-house care for those in the final weeks of life, and; Welcome AIDS orphans from the community with food, friendship, and afterschool programs. MS Care provides primary healthcare, pre- and post- traumatic stress counselling, HIV/AIDS education, care for abused children and women, palliative care through home and community visits, life skills training, training for caregivers, group support for caregivers, food parcels provision for the needy, projects development for poverty alleviation, and assistance with schoolwork (as well as school uniforms and school fees) for children without family or staying with family members who are illiterate. Dr. Mnisi-Msibi is also a multi–gifted International motivational speaker, best-selling author, radio and television personality, and business consultant. She sees global potential for improvement in mental health through the unique programs and treatment modalities offered by Inner Fire.
Oryx Cohen, M.P.A.
Director of the National Empowerment Center’s Technical Assistance Center
Oryx Cohen, M.P.A. is a leader in the international mental health consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) movement. Currently he is the Director of the National Empowerment Center’s (NEC’s) Technical Assistance Center. In addition to organizing the national Alternatives Conference every three years and other responsibilities, he assists states that have an underdeveloped consumer/survivor voice to find that voice and then work toward transforming the mental health systems in those states to become peer-driven and recovery-oriented. Prior to joining NEC, Oryx was Co-Director of the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community. He helped to spearhead an innovative peer-run approach focusing on recovery, healing, and community. Oryx is also the co-founder of Freedom Center, the Pioneer Valley’s only independent peer-run support/activist organization. Freedom Center’s purpose is to empower and support people with psychiatric labels while challenging oppressive mental health policies and practices. Oryx is the Co-Producer and stars in a film called HEALING VOICES, scheduled to be released in 2015. Oryx is also featured in Agnes’s Jacket, a book by Gail Hornstein, where Oryx and fellow Freedom Center co-founder Will Hall are compared to the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Oryx serves on several boards and committees internationally, nationally and regionally, including the Hearing Voices Network USA. He speaks and conducts trainings internationally on such topics as Emotional CPR, Hearing Voices, Trauma, and Recovery. Oryx volunteered for several years with MindFreedom International, directing its Oral History Project. This project involved collecting and documenting c/s/x stories of abuse, empowerment, and healing in the mental health system. Oryx is also adjunct faculty in the Westfield State College Psychology Department.
Gerhard Bedding emigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1955, having experienced 5 years of Nazi occupation during WW2. Gerhard is a renowned elementary school Waldorf teacher and tutor. From 1971-75 he edited a science journal for Xerox Education Publications. Gerhardt holds Master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and Wesleyan University. As an activist, he has questioned nuclear power, defended health freedom and alternative medicine, and supported truth and transparency in government. His interest in Inner Fire has its roots in seeing a sister caught in the trap of psychotropic medications, and wondering how her biography might have changed if she had been exposed to a different healing protocol.
Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.
Author, Educator, Advocate
Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D. is nationally and internationally recognized for her work in studying how people recover from mental health challenges. Her focus is on shifting the system of mental health care toward prevention and recovery through education, training, and research. Dr. Copeland is the author of many books, including: The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression, Healing the Trauma of Abuse: A Women’s Workbook, Recovering from Depression: A Workbook for Teens, Living Without Depression and Manic Depression: A Workbook for Maintaining Mood Stability, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Survival Manual, The Loneliness Workbook: A Guide to Developing and Maintaining Lasting Connections, The Worry Control Workbook, Winning Against Relapse: A Workbook of Action Plans for Recurring Health and Emotional Problems, and is the creator of the renowned Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Dr. Copeland can be reached at email@example.com. Her website is: mentalhealthrecovery.com.
Chair of the Department of Integral Psychology at Burlington College
Piers Kaniuka is the Chair of the Department of Integral Psychology at Burlington College in Burlington, Vermont. He has worked for many years in the field of substance abuse treatment, and was a co-founder of Plymouth House, a 12 Step retreat located in Plymouth, New Hampshire. A student of Spiritual Psychology and the contemplative tradition, he is especially interested in how to best utilize wellness practices in the treatment of mental disorders. Piers is a certified yoga instructor and leads contemplative retreats at the Alcyon Center on Mount Desert Island in Maine.
Ken Libertoff, Ph.D.
Ken Libertoff, Ph.D. served for thirty years as director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health, a statewide citizens’ organization. During those years, Dr. Libertoff was a prominent lobbyist at the Vermont statehouse, representing those challenged by mental health and substance abuse issues. In 1997, under his leadership, Vermont passed the nation’s most expansive and progressive parity legislation, which mandated parity in health insurance plans in Vermont between mental health care and physical health care services. Dr. Libertoff also was vigilant on annual appropriations processes while playing a major role on many initiatives including the prohibition of shackling children in the state’s mental health and family services departments and a campaign to reduce the reliance of psychotropic medications in the treatment of children and adolescents. In 2009, Dr. Libertoff also led a successful campaign to regulate and reduce the influence of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. As reported in the New York Times, Vermont became the first state to ban free gifts and food to members of the state’s medical community while making all fiscal transactions transparent and part of the public record. Dr. Libertoff has lectured and consulted in more than 35 states, spoken at the Sorbonne in Paris and served as a consultant in South Africa. He retired in 2010 after three decades of public advocacy work and was honored by a Vermont legislative resolution (H.C.R. 360) highlighting his many accomplishments and “exemplary work as a mental healthcare advocate.” Ken Libertoff was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology and Public Practice from Harvard University in 1978. Ken’s support for Inner Fire is based on a belief that, “Vermont and the nation need new and alternative approaches in the treatment of those who struggle with mental health and addictive disorders. Building new models, especially ones that build treatment approaches without reliance on pharmaceutical medications, is a most worthy quest.”