Meet Our Team
Inner Fire Board of Directors
Board ChairFull Profile
James Pewtherer has worked as an educator in Waldorf education for over 40 years, teaching children, young people and adults. He has been an active leader in this school movement, both nationally and internationally since the early 1980’s, working continually to develop curriculum, approaches to teaching, and organizational forms that will address the whole human being in a healthy way.
His interest in the work of Inner Fire grows out of this active involvement with and study of human development and education. The effectiveness of the approaches used at Inner Fire through the co-working of guides and seekers is extraordinarily promising. This work, which has already allowed some Inner Fire seekers to throw off their dependency on psychotropic drugs, is an indication of what would be possible for so many more people struggling to regain control of their lives. It is in light of this need that he wants to help Inner Fire to share its findings, approaches and methods with mental health professionals and government health officials so that this work can be shared and financially supported. The health-giving activities practiced at Inner Fire offer real hope at a time when pharmaceutical solutions have fallen so far short of what is needed to help individuals become their healthy selves once again.
Director of Outreach and the Therapeutic Healing Program, Founder/ Executive DirectorFull Profile
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.
Board TreasurerFull Profile
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.
Board MemberFull Profile
Bob has also worked as a development consultant to nonprofits in Vermont, performing strategic and business planning, financial feasibility studies, market assessments, grant writing, program development, and project and finance management. In addition to housing, he has worked with organizations and businesses involved in health care, health education, the arts, alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse prevention, and mental health programming.
Board MemberFull Profile
Raphael Rosner received his BA in Applied History from Carnegie Mellon University and his Master of Architecture degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Raph’s lifelong interest in earthen architecture and biophilic design led him to study and work with Rumi scholar, architect and inventor of Super-adobe Nader Khalili. Lakota tradition has also been central to Raph’s personal practice for many years. This confluence of earth-based building and Native spiritual ceremony informs his commitment to intentional body/mind approaches to healing, enabling individual as well as collective transformation toward wholeness.
Board MemberFull Profile
Lynn Barrett is founder and president of Primetime Concepts, Inc. and publisher of SO Vermont Arts & Living magazine. She is an award-winning communicator with over 25 years experience in media, marketing and public relations. As president of Primetime Concepts, Inc., she has an enviable track record in creating and executing literally hundreds of consumer brand campaigns, sponsorships, special events and cause-related programs for corporate clients such as Chase, Hyatt Resorts, American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Parker Brothers, The Home Service Store, the Manchester Designer Outlets, Historic Manchester, Southern Vermont; NEC, McDonald’s, Lincoln Life, Citicorp, Louis Vuitton, Golisano for Governor, among others.
PTC’s non-profit clients have included the Ronald McDonald House, Camp to Belong, The Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure, High 5 Adventure Learning Center, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Rescue Inc., Strolling of the Heifers, Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce, Southern Vermont Regional Marketing Program, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Brattleboro Retreat 175th Anniversary, Landmark Trust, The Nature Museum, New England Center for Circus Arts.
She is expert in translating ideas and issues into “media-worthy” and social media-worthy stories and events. Her interest in Inner Fire is to assist a young, deserving non-profit that offers an alternative choice, develop their story and get it out to the world.
Partner, Phillips, Dunn, Shriver & Carroll LawFull Profile
David Dunn is a partner in Phillips, Dunn, Shriver & Carroll, P.C. in Brattleboro, Vermont, concentrating in corporate, banking, and business law. He represents several non-profits in Windham County and has been on the boards of many others, including the Brattleboro Retreat, Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development, Youth Services, New England Youth Theater, Brattleboro Habitat for Humanity, and Windham County United Way. He graduated from Cornell University then attended Vermont Law School, graduating in 1981 with a J.D. and a Masters in Environmental Law. He practiced for six years in Washington, D.C. followed by seven years in Boston before returning to Vermont in 1995. Since that time he has practiced with the same firm in Brattleboro while raising two children.
David’s interest in Inner Fire began when he was approached by Beatrice to provide legal services to the non-profit. He has always been a supporter of increased funding and awareness of mental issues and finding the best method for addressing the debilitating effects of addiction and related co-morbidity, and was (and continues to be) intrigued and supportive of Inner Fire’s unique way of addressing and resolving issues on an individualized basis that leads to a life-long cure.
Guides / Therapists
Nutritionist and Chef
Julia is passionate about the healing power of food and empowering people to care for themselves through developing mind-body awareness and learning to cook nutritious food. With a Masters in Nutrition, a BA in Social Work, and a background in youth development, kitchen management, and personalized nutrition counseling, Julia brings a depth of knowledge and experience to working with individuals, and in communities, to create positive change. She is excited to be working in a kitchen again providing healing meals, teaching cooking skills, and guiding seekers around nutrition in their healing journey.
Zach Holmes joins Inner Fire as a forester and carpenter. He comes to us after 18 years as an outdoor educator, program coordinator and leader for a relationship-based holistic high school. He is experienced in guiding individuals to challenge themselves in a safe and compassionate way. He uses eco-psychology, team building and mindfulness while teaching foraging, bush crafting, land stewardship and carpentry. Zach has studied Focusing and Nonviolent Communication with Wendy Webber and Beatrice Blake. He was taught native skills by Brian Robertshaw.
Katherine Stewart has focussed professionally in the healing and educational fields for nearly twenty five years, as a therapeutic eurythmist, Waldorf educator and Waldorf teacher educator. The word “eurythmy” means “true rhythm,” and it offers the human being a chance to be active in their own creative healing journey, by awakening the soul through movement. Katherine is excited to bring this work to Inner Fire
Stained Glass GuideFull Profile
The process requires patience and focus from choosing colors, keeping in mind how they play off each other in the light, cutting the glass into desired shapes,laying out the pattern as one sees it and finally learning the skills to solder the pattern together.
There is tremendous healing to be found in the creative process and Edel welcomes the opportunity to share her experience with the seekers and witness what each individual creates as each one transforms sheets of glass into a panel of their own vision.
Glass BlowerFull Profile
Bob Burch fell in love with glass blowing when he first set his eyes on this process many years ago. It is magical and sensual, touching something deep inside him…as he says, it is a dance and he loves dancing! Yet glass blowing is also demanding and asks one to be focused and observant while working with gravity, centrifugal forces, color and the process of heating and cooling. Before one’s eyes ‘stone’ is transformed into ‘honey’ in a matter of seconds. Glass blowing draws an engaged person away from their physical and emotional pain and as Bob states: “It is a positive thing to love and to become passionate about!” There is an alchemical element to this craft which he shares with a quiet enthusiasm. Bob loves the concept of Inner Fire and welcomes the opportunity to kindle the love for and dance of glass blowing in the seekers who are broadening their lives and discovering latent skills.
Nels Kloster, M.D.
Nels/Dr. Nels Kloster 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 long periods of time, he has joined Inner Fire in the hope of furthering more rational and person centered approaches to wellness.
I am the son of a Norwegian mother and Norwegian-American father and was born in Reykjavik, Iceland. I was raised in the US with the awareness that there were other places and ways to live. Growing up family stories included the Great Depression in the US and the Nazi occupation in Norway. This history, and family example, instilled the
sense that work and duty are important. I was shy, yet social, and my physical energy and embarrassing wealth of opportunities impeded development in other areas until my adult life. I started medical school at 37 years old having finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. I originally planned on family practice. But I was taught that most primary care encounters had a psychological component. Given my fascination with psychology, and the sense
this was a larger source of suffering, I went into psychiatry instead. I learned that I had little taste for the worried well, so my career has centered on those most impacted by mental illness. This work has centered on addictions and I have worked in most psychiatric settings. I am now in private practice with my fingers in as many pies as I find interesting. I have come to Inner Fire through my sense that mainstream psychiatry has lost its way.
After graduating with a BA in music, I began a career teaching a small music studio in Woodstock Vermont at the Purple Crayon/ Artistree. I began to independently tutor and teach a small independent studio within the Upper Valley Waldorf School utilizing the Suzuki method and adapting to the style of teaching and instruction at the Waldorf school. After enjoying working through a cycle of students, I began a new career focusing on caring and delivering care as a nurse. I am a registered nurse and I have worked in various setting such as long term care, Medical/Surgical and psychiatric, both long term and short term. Being a nurse within the psychiatric setting showed me the significance behind helping the whole person and has given a greater appreciation for helping those who want to change. My hopes here at Inner fire are that I can help those who seek find something meaningful in their life journey and foster a nurturing relationship with one’s self.
Director of Outreach and the Therapeutic Healing Program, Founder/ Executive DirectorFull Profile
Beatrice Birch, Inner Fire founder and Hauschka Artistic Therapist, began her professional career as a teacher in an inner-city Waldorf School in Bristol, England in 1975. Deeply inspired by the healing aspects of Waldorf Education, she later completed a three-year medically based training in Hauschka Artistic Therapy in Gloucestershire, England. She has since worked as a therapist, lectured and consulted in multiple capacities over the past 35 years in the United States, England, Holland, and Taiwan. Beatrice has worked in her private practice, larger medical practices, and both public and private therapeutic residential communities with both adults and children struggling with a variety of psychiatric and physical conditions including cancer, heart disorders, asthma, addictions and other mental and “soul” health challenges. Beatrice has also worked in maximum-security prisons as a facilitator of the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) and guiding watercolor painting as part of an artistic therapy program she developed in a medium security prison. At Inner Fire, which she co-founded in 2012, Beatrice focuses on her work as a therapist and guide, in addition to overall program direction and development.
Yoga TherapistFull Profile
Jen Frey, our Yoga Therapist, holds to a core philosophy that yoga should be available and accessible to all. She creates a comfortable, relatable and relaxed atmosphere in which a challenging flow is punctuated with warmth and giggles. Her goal is always to get you to try something new with a sense of humor. She embraces a versatile Vinyasa flow and modifies to suit all levels. Mindfulness, breath work and inspiration from Buddhist teachings are fundamental ingredients in her approach. Jen began practicing yoga in 1998. What started out as a purely physical endeavor evolved into a pathway for life. Jen is an E-RYT 500 and a YACEP, she studied Fluid Yoga with Kevan Gale at Stil Studio, Boston.
Visiting ArtisanFull Profile
Jan Kees Saltet, of Dutch origin, studied English language and literature in the Netherlands. He lived in England for three years, where he did Foundation Studies and trained to be a Waldorf teacher at Emerson College, Forest Row. His experience includes language teaching, class teaching, and teaching art in Waldorf schools. For 29 years, he taught at the Hartsbrook School in Hadley, MA, where he makes his home. In retirement, he is actively involved in coaching adults at the Hartsbrook School in the rudiments of anthroposophy, and does translation work.
At Inner Fire, he shares what he has learned through teaching art on days when the staff has a retreat. He admires the tremendous impulse that lives here. Working with the seekers fills him awe, as they are striving towards an ideal which an old Dutch proverb puts like this: “He who gains command over himself, is stronger than he who subdues 7 cities”. On this path towards independence, we are all learners, and it is inspiring to be a small part of this endeavor at Inner Fire, is a beacon of light for our times!
Circus Arts GuideFull Profile
In 2006, Nettie Lane left her job as Education Director for LandPaths, an environmental non-profit, to devote herself to her true passion: Circus Arts. In 2008, she moved to Vermont to attend the Professional Track Training Program at the New England Center for Circus Arts where she focused on Trapeze and Duo Acrobatics. Nettie’s interest in theatrical clowning led her to study with Giovanni Fusetti, Paola Coletto and Aitor Basauri. Currently, the German wheel has captured her imagination and she has been training and collaborating with it ever since. Nettie has performed with Flynn Creek Circus, Zany Umbrella Circus, Art Farm-Circus for a Fragile Planet, New England Center for Circus Arts, Nimble Arts, Savvy Productions, Overhead Arts and the Payomet Performing Arts Center and Droplet Dance. Her festival appearances have included: Life is Good, Wanderlust, Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, Petaluma Rivertown Revival, and the New York Clown Festival. In 2015, she assisted Giovanni Fusetti in the International Clown Training in Boulder, Colorado. Nettie has traveled extensively in the United States and Europe; she currently resides in Brattleboro, Vermont where she is on staff at the New England Center for Circus Arts, and works for Circus Smirkus as an Artist-in-Residence in schools throughout New England. In 2013 Nettie began teaching theatrical clowning classes and since then has had the honor of midwifing over 80 clowns. She firmly believes in the power and humanity of the Sacred Fool as a way of excavating inner wisdom.
Visiting ArtisanFull Profile
Sandy Reider, M.D.
Medical AdvisorFull Profile
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.
Office ManagerFull Profile
Laura Young serves as Inner Fire’s Office Manager. She returned to Vermont, her home state, after living and working in Central Florida for 20 years. With a Bachelor’s Degree in International studies, and over 18 years of non-profit administrative and assistant store management work, Laura has a deep interest in, and passion for, administratively supporting the work of natural therapies as a healing choice. She also enjoys studying and using herbs, natural supplements and therapies to detoxify and support the body for optimal health. She is passionate about the organizational role she is able to play in helping facilitate effective tapering processes and the empowerment of individuals to lead fulfilling and successful lives. Laura also enjoys hiking, walking, nature, family adventures and all of Vermont’s unique culture.
Outreach and Marketing CoordinatorFull Profile
Joyce has a life-long interest in mental health with deep respect for the whole human being, and envisioned healing communities of acceptance, growth, and transformation since a very young age. After taking a degree in psychology, she spent some years exploring the therapeutic communities movement both in the United States and abroad, including time at the Camphill Movement and an alternative psychiatric hospital in Germany. Then came training as a Waldorf School class and special teacher. In 1984, Joyce founded Gheel House, a therapeutic community in Pennsylvania which thrives to this day. She also helped start an association of therapeutic communities, a contemplative training for parents of young children, an advocacy coalition against contemporary genocides, and a program to resettle refugees from Darfur.
Trainings include Psychosynthesis therapy, Anthroposophical psychotherapy , trauma work , international conflict transformation, and not for profit administration and development. She still serves on a number of Boards, with a wide range of missions, from refugee work to social action against genocide, to Janusz Korczak, and an acting ensemble.
“I look forward to using my wide range of experience and contacts to spread the word that Inner Fire, a truly unique and effective alternative in the field of mental health, is here, welcoming those who seek to be in a community of healing and inner growth! The message of Inner Fire deserves to be heard in a world waiting to evolve.”
Amalia Pretel Gray
Residential Life Skills GuideFull Profile
As a seasoned Waldorf School teacher of twenty-four years, Amalia also brings an equally immersed experience in working with refugees, women and social change. Her training in Learning Disabilities from Columbia University and professional development from the Nature Institute and SENSRI in Goethean observation, as well as her work with Kim Payne’s social inclusion and conflict resolution, is the backdrop to the many years of working with under-served and challenged communities like the Central American Refugee Center, the Women’s Occupational Resource Center, the Long Island Unitarian and Universalist Fund, and the Long Island Fund for Women and Girls.
Using the daily rhythm of life skills imbued in the Waldorf School curriculum, as well as her own background and life experiences, Amalia finds her work with Seekers at the Inner Fire to be transferable and seamless. She appreciates the on-site orientation and training provided by Inner Fire to meet the needs of the Seekers in their healing journey. The space is created for developing, collaborating and envisioning Inner Fire’s future and accessibility into perpetuity for those striving individuals who seek this meaningful life style change thereby balancing their overuse of and addiction to psychotropic drugs and medications.
Of Filipino and Peruvian ancestry and a first generation American, Amalia’s own life interests in hiking, canoeing, kayaking, knitting, painting, poetry, writing, reading, drawing, walking, geometry, yoga, felting, cleaning, quilting, grand-mothering, biography, and love for people are basic qualities that provide the enthusiasm necessary for life and daily living which are instilled through program and practice at Inner Fire.
Speech Arts TherapistFull Profile
Christa was born in 1947 in California. Her school time was partly there, but also in England and Switzerland. After school, she headed to college and got a BA in English literature. Then she followed her dream of training in creative speech, receiving a diploma in Dornach in 1976. Her first position was at the Freie Waldorfschule, Hannover, before returning to the States in 1980. For ten years she was part of Eurythmy Spring Valley, working with the students in creative speech and being the voice for the performing group. Then she followed ‘the thread’ to get an MA in social work, with placements first in a domestic violence shelter and then in a psychiatric day care program. She found full-time employment in a blindness rehab agency, where she no longer had finished texts to interpret, but practiced listening to the clients’ stories and finding a way to a response. The new century was mostly in Chicago, after The Christian Community announced the founding of a seminary there, and she jumped at the possibility of being the speech artist involved. At the same time she taught English as a second language, and continued with that when the seminary moved away. The last years in the Midwest were filled with attending training at the Chekhov Studio Chicago and performing with its companion stage company: The Moving Dock Theatre. In 2019 she moved to Vermont, and a much more home-centered life. She looks forward to joining the work at Inner Fire, where everyone is considered a creator.
Somatic Breath Therapist and Life CoachFull Profile
Kaiilama Morris is a Somatic Breath Therapist and Life Coach with a private practice for the past nineteen years in Brattleboro, VT. Her greatest passion is to support individuals of all ages to connect, remember and enliven their own true inner wisdom. She knows it is possible to integrate trauma, live medication free, emotionally and mentally balanced, whole and fulfilled lives She received a BA from St. John’s University in Criminal Justice. She initially studied with Judy Kravitz of the Transformational Breath Foundation and then completed her ten year training with the Power of Breath Institute. Over a period of eight years she co-taught Empowerment Trainings and Facilitator Trainings via the Power of Breath Institute, a two year program for breath therapist certification. Native American wisdom teachings, spiritual ceremonies such as Sacred Pipe, sweat lodge and vision quest with a deep love and connection to the Earth continually inspires her commitment to individual and collective transformation. Additionally Kaillama has always enjoyed a deep love and connection to children of all ages. She has a genuine intuitive gift sprinkled with experience, compassion and deep inner knowing. She consistently champions joy, overall well being and true happiness.
Massage TherapistFull Profile
Alison has practiced massage in Newfane since 2010. She studied Integrative Bodywork at the Green Mountain Institute in North Bennington, Vermont. Integrative Bodywork focuses on physical manipulation of muscles and soft tissue while incorporating energy balancing techniques to help re-establish the connection between body and mind. Alison believes that everyone can benefit from massage and it is a wonderful way to care for ourselves and enhance our health.
Healthcare PractitionerFull Profile
She applies an integrated image of the whole human being in illness and health, focusing on prevention, education and self care. Tamara believes in the “Inner Physician” and the self-healing potential of the body which, if properly supported, empowers an individual to achieve the highest level of health possible in given conditions. Illness is an opportunity for positive changes and with a new balance in life, one is drawn closer to its meaning and purpose. Anthroposophical remedies support the self-healing forces of the body and which work with the patient and not for the patient, they do not suppress symptoms but address the cause of the disease.
Symptoms of disease are the manifestation of self-healing forces working to overcome the underlying condition, which is the illness.
Tamara is drawn to working with seekers at Inner Fire because she believes in giving people the opportunity to be proactive. Being responsible for one’s own health, actions and healthy choices is the right of human beings. Tamara Potselueva has private practice in CT and serves as a school doctor in Housatonic Valley Waldorf School.
Victoria Mansuri has been a Waldorf teacher for 25 years, working with children, parents, and colleagues towards social renewal. Her work as a consultant, mentoring and teaching teachers, has taken her all across the United States. She has recently moved to Vermont to open her own crafts studio and teach children and adults the joy and self-sufficiency that come from meaningful and beautiful work. Victoria is currently enrolled in the Leadership Program at Antioch University, New England and about to begin a Masters of Education in Transdisciplinary Healing. These studies help ground her work and bring crafts as a therapeutic activity to the seekers at Inner Fire.
Cultures have been a great part of my upbringing, since I’m part Italian, part Peruvian, mostly grew up in Belgium, and have lived the longest in the US. I have long had a passion for social change from a cultural perspective. Professionally this has brought me to working with the developmentally disabled in the intentional, holistic communities of Camphill and L’Arche International. Being a founding member of the Wavecrest L’Arche Community in Los Angeles was a memorable experience. I have lived in intentional cohousing for the last eight years; first in Ecovillage Ithaca, now at Headwaters Cohousing in Cabot, in both places actively involved in community building and process facilitation.
Since 1999 I have found a vocation in researching/writing both about history and/or about cultural/spiritual change, having published books on cultural turning points in the Americas and in the US, and on other themes. I love singing and music and have turned to flute in the last 10 years; plus gardening, hiking, skiing and most kinds of social events.
I have great interest in the holistic dimension of Inner Fire’s program. I believe there are few places in this country where everything from the food to the therapies, and every daily activity supports the individual’s recovery and ability to reconnect to self and to the life journey. Working here is rewarding because it calls on many parts of myself and offers me opportunities for growth.
Sarah is passionate about the work being done at therapeutic communities to create a space for the empowerment and respect of the whole self in mental health treatment. Sarah has a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Bennington College. She brings to Inner Fire her experience working at residential treatment centers and therapeutic communities including the Center for Motivation and Change in Western Mass, CooperRiis Healing Community in North Carolina, and Spring Lake Ranch in Rutland, VT. Through her work she has developed skills in animal care and leading creative groups such as knitting, writing, and drawing. Her work benefits from her own experiences of trauma, depression, and anxiety, which allow her to engage seekers from a place of deep empathy. She was drawn to Inner Fire because of a deep respect for those seeking to improve their circumstances, and sees Inner Fire as a leader in recovery rooted in respect.
Inner Fire Advisory Board
Founder and CEO of Time Equities Inc.Full Profile
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.”
Trainer, Advocate and Peer SupporterFull Profile
Dina Tyler is a psychiatric survivor, trainer, advocate and peer supporter. Dina is the Director of the Bay Area Mandala Project, a group bringing together alternative healing communities to support the transformational and spiritual aspects of extreme states of consciousness. She has seven years experience in community mental health working in early psychosis and bipolar intervention programs around California’s Bay Area, where she trained and supervised peers and family supporters, trained clinical staff on recovery-based language and approaches, and brought compassionate alternative approaches through direct peer support and mentorship. She is a co-founder, facilitator and Board Member of the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network. Dina received her B.A. in Sociology, with a focus on mental health and stigma from UC Berkeley. She was awarded the prestigious Peer Specialist of the Year by the National Council for Behavioral Health in 2015 for her work with young adults recently diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
Dina’s interest in Inner Fire comes out of her years seeing the need for alternatives to conventional mental health care, that people should have a choice in their treatment, and supports Inner Fire’s vision to create a place of healing for those who have said “no more” to psychiatric hospitalization and medications.
Olivia Stokes Dreier, M.P.A., M.S.W.
Executive Director of Karuna Center for PeacebuildingFull Profile
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.
George Karabakakis, Ph.D.
George Karabakakis, Ph.D., was appointed CEO of HCRS in 2014. Having held a variety of roles at the non-profit agency since 1994, including Director of all Agency divisions and Chief Operating Officer, George knows what it takes to successfully manage this $47 million community mental health agency. His emphasis on building relationships and his focus on improving lives has resulted in significant culture change within the Agency and improved services for more than 4,000 individuals across Windham and Windsor counties every year.
George has extensive experience as a clinician and a leader within Vermont’s community mental health system. He obtained his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California after completing his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley. He has been a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and maintains licensure in Vermont. He has served as a Governor appointed member of the Vermont State Standing Committee for Adult Mental Health, as a Governor appointed member of the Statewide Advisory Group for the Agency of Human Services’ Reorganization, and as a member of the Think Tank charged with developing the Department of Mental Health’s 2030 strategic vision for the State of Vermont’s mental health system.
He has also served on a variety of community coalitions and local Boards such as the Alliance for Building Community Regional Partnership, Community Partnership of Orange/Windsor, and the River Connection and regional Accountable Community for Health partnerships. In addition, he is a past Board member of the Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center and a former Advisory Board member of the Vermont 211 project and the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery.
George has been committed to collaborative partnerships and innovative programs that incorporate a holistic, integrated approach to care and address the social contributors to health.
George was drawn to being part of the Advisory Board because of Inner Fire’s belief in a proactive ,alternative healing community that emphasizes empowerment, balance, and connection between mind, body, and spirit. A perspective that is both compelling and powerful.
Psychologist and Art Therapist
Ron Dunselman is a professional psychologist and art therapist. He worked nearly 30 years with drug addicts in ARTA, a national health anthroposophical center for the treatment of drug and alcohol addicts. He was involved in the founding of ARTA and served as director of treatment, specialised in health care.
1996 – 2012 chairman of the board of the Anthroposophical Society in the Netherlands.
1996 – 1997 and 2001 – 2014 General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in the Netherlands.
He participated in the international founding group of “Goetheanum Meditation Iniative Worldwide”.
He is author of the book “In Place of the Self; how drugs work”.
Ron is married with his wife Milou; they have four children and ten grandchildren.
When Beatrice asked me to become a member of the Advisory Board, I agreed because for me the struggle to free oneself of addiction to medications is a real fight for freedom and human dignity, which I want to support.
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.
Thabile Mnisi-Msibi, Ph.D.
Founder and Director of Mission Society CareFull Profile
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.
Chair of the Department of Integral Psychology at Burlington College
For over 20 years Piers has utilized spiritual, psychological, and wellness practices to help those suffering from addiction.
Piers is the co-founder of the Liberation Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing wellness, recovery, and educational services to underserved populations. He currently serves as the Director of Spiritual Life for Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire. Piers is also core faculty in the Contemplative Spiritual Direction program at the Alcyon Center in Seal Cove, Maine.
Piers holds Master’s degrees in Theological Studies, Counseling Psychology, and is a certified yoga instructor. Join him in his exploration of the causes and conditions of the addiction epidemic.
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.”
Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.
Author, Educator, AdvocateFull Profile
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.
Web DeveloperFull Profile
Marc Clifton is a software developer specializing in web development and the Microsoft technology stack for server and desktop applications. He has worked in technologies as diverse as voter registration, satellite design automation, boat yard management, and insurance services. He also develops custom IoT applications in *nix using C, C++, and Python. He loves technical writing, having published several e-books through SyncFusion and over 200 articles on The Code Project, and is a past recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award as well as current Code Project MVP. Marc helps to maintain the Inner Fire website as a pro bono gift to the Inner Fire community as he firmly believes that the integrative therapies that Inner Fire offers are absolutely vital to achieve long term healing and recovery from addiction and trauma.
Clinical Associate Professor of PsychiatryFull Profile
Sandra Steingard, M.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University Of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. She recently retired as Chief Medical Officer, Howard Center, Burlington, Vermont after 30 years of working in public sector psychiatry. She is chair of the Board of the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, a member of the board of the American Association of Community psychiatrists on the advisory board of Mad In America Continuing Education, and an Associate of the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal. She is editor-in-chief of Community Mental Health Journal and editor of the book, Critical Psychiatry: Controversies and Clinical Implications.
Dr. Steingard has interest and experience in de-centering pharmaceutical treatment in psychiatric practice. She has worked with individuals who are reducing their use of psychoactive drugs. This interest aligns hers with that of Inner Fire.
Claudia Esteve Vila
Advisory Board MemberFull Profile
I like to think of myself as an independent thinker, respectful and tolerant, and very curious and creative. I am most motivated when I can communicate with others, share experiences and ideas, and help create bonds between people. I appreciate getting to know different people, cultures, customs, and traditions and can be very passionate and dedicated to causes.
As an Art historian, I am a firm believer in the power of beauty and kindness to heal. I believe there is still a tragic misconception and dangerous stigmatization of “mental illness,” and that the current medical paradigm of diagnosis and treatment aggravates the situation. In recent years, I have been involved in voluntary work in psychiatric care and creating the Justice, Action, and Education in Compassion (JAEC) Foundation in Switzerland. Our mission is to create awareness towards and support for the most vulnerable and misunderstood individuals of our society, their families, and communities, while at the same time promoting alternatives to the biomedical mainstream treatment model.
Why I want to join the Advisory Board of Inner Fire
When as mothers, we lose a dear child, everything stops. From spiritual beliefs to daily habits to privileges we took for granted. We will question everything. I am lucky to have my child in this world still, but I never stopped searching for answers, and in that search, I stumbled upon MIA, where I found scientific support to my suspicions: research, statistics, all well documented.
As I stand here today, I knew then that amid this crazy world, the craziest are those making money off illness, off the most fragile and defenseless sectors of society, the “mad,” the ill, the poor, the old, the very young. To question the mainstream mental health system—and selling us the biomedical model story and that the prescription drugs are the panacea—was something I was going to do.
Robert Whitaker introduced me to Inner Fire as the only drug-free community healing center in the USA. I became an advocate for the organization.
Inner Fire’s founder and good friend, Beatrice Birch, has given her life to offer the choice to those who want to try overcoming their challenges to their mental health without drugs and embracing the path of inner healing. Thus, her desire to call it soul health and not mental health.
I admire Beatrice, her struggle, passion, dedication, and trust in the Universe. Honesty and generosity are two words that come to mind when I think of her. It would be an honor to be part of the Inner Fire team, helping this wonderful alternative community move forward.