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Michelle was one of the first five staff members who helped create the Hope Center in 2010. She received her graduate degree in Clinical Psychology with a subspecialty in neuropsychology from Western Carolina University in 1999. She has worked as a crisis clinician in various inner city and rural emergency departments, has conducted psychological evaluations for prison inmates, functioned as Juvenile Coordinator and then Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center in Beaufort, South Carolina and was part of the administration team, when she served as the Corporate Compliance Officer at Fairbanks Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Michelle also has a passion for teaching and has taught at Indiana University for nine years in the Department of Psychology, as well as locally at Colorado Mountain College. She is trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), bio-feedback and in the administration of neuropsychological testing and interpretation.
Michelle is currently the executive director at the Hope Center where she and her team dedicate themselves to connecting the community and reducing the stigma of mental illness and suicide. Michelle moved to Aspen with her husband and twin boys in the winter of 2009 and now calls the Roaring Fork Valley her home.
John is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked in the field of Mental Health for more than 18 years. He received his undergraduate degree at Boston College, and his Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. John has worked as a Crisis Clinician at The Hope Center for the past seven years, and also sees clients individually for psychotherapy. He specializes in treating adults and teens struggling with depression, anxiety, mood-disorders, substance abuse, chronic illness, major life transitions, grief/loss, trauma and severe and persistent mental illness.
John takes an eclectic approach toward psychotherapy, recognizing that each client is unique and has individual needs. His theoretical base is insight-oriented which focuses on assisting clients in becoming aware of self-defeating patterns in thought and behavior, with the goal of breaking patterns and moving someone towards a more conscious and healthy life. John is trained in various clinically based modalities including: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Drug and Alcohol Interventions and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
Ola Verploegh joined the Hope Center in September 2019 as CFO and is excited to help bring long-term financial sustainability and planning to the organization. Ola received a Finance and Accounting degree from Western Washington University in 2002 where he helped develop several mental health programs for the Lifestyle Advisor program, including Western Men Against Violence, Men’s Suicide Prevention program, and the Cycle Therapy bike club. After relocating to the Roaring Fork Vally in 2006 Ola spent 15 years as Financial Planning Analyst for the Aspen Skiing Company and is currently enrolled the MBA program at CSU.
“The Roaring Fork Valley is home and I find peace and connection in the mountains and on the rivers. I have seen first hand the need for improved mental health services, education, and support in our valley and it is an honor to have the opportunity to work for an organization that is making a positive difference in our community every day.”
Carrie Benway, a resident of Eagle County for over 25 years, is the Eagle Hope Center’s Program Director. Carrie was elected to Eagle County’s Board of Education in 2007 and served two, four-year terms. In 2015, as President of Eagle County’s Board of Education, Carrie recognized the need for additional mental health support for our community’s students and connected with the Aspen Hope Center to learn more about their school-based program. During the Aspen Hope Center’s expansion to Eagle County, Carrie was asked to join their board to support their mission of extending a beacon of hope to those in emotional crisis and to offer a continuum of comprehensive care.
With years of successful experience in nonprofit leadership and development, Carrie utilizes best practices for nonprofit management and collaborates with key community partners to support the Eagle Hope Center’s 24/7 Mobile Crisis Co-Response team and the school-based therapists. Carrie’s service on Eagle County’s Board of Education and her professional leadership roles as YouthPower365’s Director of Development and The Family Learning Center’s Director of Development and Operations have given her an in-depth understanding of the complex challenges in Eagle County and the resources needed to best serve our community members. Carrie is highly engaged in our community’s collaborative effort to ensure behavioral health services are accessible to everyone in the Eagle River Valley.
Carrie currently serves on the board of Early Childhood Partners, Colorado Mountain College’s Advisory Council (Edwards Campus), and is a member of Eagle County’s Mental Health Advisory Committee. Carrie graduated from Furman University with a BA in English. She feels fortunate to have been able to raise her daughters (both graduates of Eagle County Schools!) in our beautiful valley. Carrie enjoys spending time with family & friends and is known to be a bit competitive on her USTA tennis team.
Charlie Davis is the Crisis Clinician of the Eagle Hope Center’s Mobile Crisis Co-Response team. Charlie completed his Master’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Missouri in 1989. He is a 30-year social services veteran and has spent three decades learning to minimize invasive outcomes in mental health interventions. While learning that the keys to success in this goal are clinically excellent care and the very best customer service, Charlie learned that those same values work with doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and all other community partners. He has trained many dozens of interns and newly-hired crisis workers in compassionate, excellent clinical care and community partnership, advancing to management of two teams and up to sixty staff. Charlie has a reputation for excellence in community collaboration, clinical care and supervision, customer service, speaking engagements, and innovative program design.
Recently, Charlie has presented to international forums on police-mental health collaboration, and co-responder programs in particular. To learn more about Charlie’s professional expertise, please visit: www.co-responders.com. Charlie values the Eagle River Valley’s commitment to aggressively innovate to make our community a better place. Outside of work, Charlie is an avid outdoorsman and professional musician.
Eileen Fisher is a crisis clinician on the Eagle Hope Center’s Mobile Crisis Co-Response team. Eileen graduated from Hamilton College with a BS in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies. In 2012, at Naropa University, Eileen received her MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy and began her career at Colorado Recovery serving individuals with chronic and severe mental illness. Eileen also supported individuals in private practice before she began crisis work, in 2018, with Boulder’s Mental Health Partners.
Eileen values wilderness therapy and volunteers for Wilderness Rites of Passage. Eileen’s soul is nourished through spending time in the beautiful Colorado outdoors. She is an avid snowboarder in the winter and enjoys backpacking and hiking during the summer months. Eileen is inspired to be working in the Eagle River Valley because of our community’s commitment to providing bridges to additional resources for the individuals who need it most.
Nate Gilbert is a crisis clinician on Eagle Hope Center’s Mobile Crisis Co-Response team. Nate graduated from Naropa University with an MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy in 2008. Since then, Nate has been actively engaged as a crisis clinician in Colorado working with Mental Health Partners in Boulder. Nate takes great satisfaction in helping clients and families navigate the mental health system.
His passion for contemplative practices, meditation and martial arts, informs his work with people every day. Quakerism, Buddhism, and the martial arts of Aikido helped shape Nate’s approach to counseling. Directing a theater camp for 19 years allowed Nate to work in expressive arts teaching youth. Nate is excited to be working in the Eagle River Valley; every staff member and community partner Nate has worked with is dedicated and friendly!
Jacob Midkiff is a crisis clinician on Eagle Hope Center’s Mobile Crisis Co-Response team. Jacob received his BS in Psychology from Christopher Newport University, with a minor in Philosophy and Religious Studies. At Prescott College, Jacob completed his Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Adventure Based Psychotherapy. Jacob then completed his Master’s Level Clinical Internship at Noeticus Counseling Center & Training Institute in Denver.
For three years, Jacob served as an Emergency Psychiatric Service Clinician for Crisis Intervention Services at Boulder Mental Health Partners. He then served as a Clinical Supervisor for two years. At the Eagle Hope Center, Jacob values the opportunity to collaborate and problem solve with the Hope Center’s community partners to provide the best service for individuals in need. When he is not working, Jacob enjoys all of the outdoor recreation that Colorado has to offer, from skiing in the winter to climbing and backpacking in the summer months.
Jessica Chezhia is a crisis clinician on Eagle Hope Center’s Mobile Crisis Co-Response team. Jessica graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BA in Russian Studies. In 2018, Jessica received her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from Boston College, with a concentration in the older adults and families population. While in the Boston area, Jessica interned at Hebrew Senior Life, where she was able to connect with Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors and provide much-needed support for those experiencing a loss in functioning and cognitive abilities, and in many cases, for those re-experiencing trauma. Following graduation from Boston College, Jessica worked in Adult Protective Services. Here Jessica developed an appreciation and understanding of systems of power and privilege, and how best to navigate these systems to provide the best care to community members who were at risk for a range of adverse outcomes.
Jessica loves macro, meso, and micro-level social work and believes that truly transformative work must encompass all. She enjoys working directly with community members and other service providers to inform her practice and chosen intervention. Her approach draws from several modalities, including Internal Family Systems, Narrative Therapy, mindfulness/meditation, and non-traditional therapies. Jessica is an adventurer at heart, and spends all her free time climbing, hiking, and running. She is excited to be a part of the Eagle River Valley community!
Erica is a licensed clinical social worker with the Hope Center in Eagle, Colorado. Erica is originally from the Chicago area. Erica attended DePaul University in Chicago, and studied sociology and political science. Upon graduation, Erica worked for a small nonprofit in Chicago providing after school programming for elementary school aged students, case management services for high school students applying for college and employment, and eventually became a Program Coordinator of a Career and College Readiness Program.
With a desire to pursue a career in school social work, Erica enrolled in the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and concentrated on clinical and school-based practices. After graduation, Erica began working as a school social worker in a high school on Chicago’s south side. Hoping to move closer to her family in Colorado, Erica moved to Denver and worked as a school social worker in several middle and high schools. Most recently, Erica has worked as a Child and Family therapist and School Social Worker at a Therapeutic Day School and Residential Facility in Denver. This allowed Erica to merge her passion of working in a school setting and providing trauma-informed therapy to students and families.
Erica is excited to move to the Eagle Valley area and continue her passion of working to support youth and families through school-based work. In her free time, Erica enjoys teaching yoga, skiing, cooking, and hiking with her husband and dog.
Teresa is a Licensed Psychologist and School Based Clinical Supervisor with the Hope Center in Eagle, Colorado. Teresa graduated with a BS in Psychology from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, a MS from Troy State University and a Psy.D. from Colorado School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral program specialization was in working with young children and trauma. She was licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in 2013.
Teresa has been passionate about serving others and has a wealth of experience prior to coming to the Hope Center. She moved to Colorado in 2001 after obtaining employment at a therapeutic wilderness program working with adolescents and families. She completed her doctoral internship as The Children’s Center, a therapeutic preschool, providing psychological testing, assessments, and individual, group, and family therapy. She was employed as a school psychologist in both Eagle and Lake Counties. Most recently, Teresa has been in private practice serving children, adults, and families.
Teresa is excited to be a part of the Hope Center team and feels passionate about supporting the mental health of children as well as supporting those people who directly impact the mental health and wellbeing of children. In her free time, Teresa enjoys teaching and practicing yoga, skiing, music, reading, hiking, and camping with her family.
Alexa Maestranzi, Licensed Professional Counselor, is the new School-Based Therapist located exclusively at Berry Creek Middle School. Alexa has transitioned from School Counselor at BCMS to therapist after being in the school for 2 years. Prior to working in Eagle County Schools, Alexa was a School-Based Mentor through AmeriCorps at Steamboat Springs Middle School where she worked with a caseload of at-risk students by providing individual and group services. She has also worked
at a community mental health clinic in the city of Chicago while going through her forensic counseling graduate program.
The new school-based service through the Hope Center is extremely unique in that it is the first school-based therapy program in Eagle County Schools and allows greater access to services that families would not otherwise have. The therapy program is free of charge and located right at the school. Alexa is excited to continue being a part of the Berry Creek culture and looks forward to cultivating the necessity of this program and the great support it gives to the students!
Hannah Ross, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is one of the two School-Based Therapists located at Eagle Valley Middle School. Hannah previously worked for the Eagle County School District as a Prevention Specialist, providing social work services for three upper schools. Prior to that, Hannah worked for 8 years at a non-profit community mental health agency in Florida- Hibiscus Children’s Center. At this organization, Hannah served as Sexual Abuse Treatment Program Coordinator, and also provided individual and family therapy to youth ages 3-17 in both the Sexual Abuse Treatment Program, and the Community Mental Health Program.
Much of the clinical services that Hannah provided focused on childhood trauma, as well as, depression, anxiety, and other life stressors that impact youth mental health. Hannah is excited to work with EVMS students to reduce barriers that often impact the large percentage of students who are not able to access quality mental health care, including cost, transportation, missing school, and parents being unable to miss work during business hours to make it to appointments. Hannah utilizes a trauma-informed approach, often including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy strategies, to assist youth in overcoming negative thinking patterns that can interfere with healthy functioning. In her spare time, Hannah enjoys spending time with her husband and baby, hiking, watching sports, and baking.
Jennifer Kim is a licensed professional counselor candidate who relocated from the northern suburbs of Illinois to join the Hope Center team. She received her undergraduate degree from The University of Illinois at Chicago and her Master’s degree in counseling from Northern Illinois University.
Jennifer has worked with children, adolescents, and adults in different settings. These settings include primary and secondary schools, after school enrichment programs, and a detailed practicum program. During Jennifer’s practicum experience, she had the opportunity to work with individuals who presented problems of depression, anxiety, stress, body image, substance use/abuse, interpersonal and family issues, and other common concerns in a college student population. She draws from Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, and the idea of empowering and motivating clients to be the best version of themselves.
Along with taking in all of Colorado and what this beautiful state has to offer, Jennifer will continue her passion of working with children of all ages through school-based work. For self care, Jennifer enjoys exploring new towns, hiking, and being creative in any way possible with her thrift store finds.
Jenny Goldstein is the new School-Based Therapist at Battle Mountain High School. Jenny will be delivering individual, group, and family therapy services to referred students, and crisis services to campus as needed, in the hopes that eliminating common accessibility barriers and providing free mental health support directly to students will improve their mental and emotional health as well as overall educational and daily living outcomes.
Jenny studied English and Education at the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in residential direct care with abused and neglected children for 2 years before pursuing her Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. Jenny has worked as a counselor in two residential facilities; one serving male teens who had recently been released from juvenile detention and one serving emotionally disturbed female teens with physical and sexual abuse histories. She spent 4 years with a school-based nonprofit serving middle and high school students designated as at-risk, and one year working with behaviorally challenged students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in rural middle schools. In the summer, Jenny serves as the Behavioral Health Manager at Roundup River Ranch providing mental and emotional support and behavioral interventions to children and teens battling serious illnesses.
Jenny employs a strengths-based, trauma-informed perspective and TBRI in her client interactions and utilizes humanistic and cognitive behavioral theories in delivering therapy. She incorporates play therapy techniques as well as sports, art, and music into student groups and individual sessions. Jenny is honored and excited to be a part of the Battle Mountain team and contribute to the social and emotional growth of this community’s amazing young men and women.
Mike Santambrogio is a school-based mental health therapist at Red Canyon High School via the Hope Center Eagle River Valley. His primary role is to serve the students at Red Canyon, being a consistent, genuine, and empathetic support. This is an incredible opportunity as it brings mental health support directly to the students, removing many of the accessibility barriers individuals experience in obtaining mental health services. In addition, the services provided to the students are completely free of cost to the students and families.
Prior to beginning this role with Red Canyon, Mike has worked throughout Eagle County serving children and families over the past 12 years. While the ways in which Mike worked with children varied, what remained consistent was his passion, commitment, and dedication to building and maintaining genuine relationships with those children. Whether coaching soccer or mountain biking, helping students become college or career ready, or running leadership support groups, Mike has found that there is no greater gift than to be able to support others, specifically children who are in need.
With regards to his professional training and education, Mike obtained his Masters Degree in Counseling as well as his LPCC (Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate) from Regis University in Denver Colorado and is working towards his full licensure after having completed his graduate degree. Prior to Regis, Mike received his BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Boulder, Colorado. Most recently, Mike completed his psychological internship at Mind Springs in Eagle Colorado last August where he served as a mental health clinician. Upon hearing that Eagle County was looking to place mental health focused clinicians in our schools, Mike jumped at the opportunity to join the Hope Center.
Myriah Garaudy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and works for the Hope Center as a school based clinician. Myriah is based out of Homestake Peak School.
Myriah is originally from Louisiana, where she went to Louisiana Tech University for her undergraduate degree in Sociology and as well as her masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. After graduate school, Myriah worked for a non-profit agency in Louisiana that provided community based therapy to low-income children, teenagers and their families. Myriah has experience providing crisis therapy to children and teenagers who have been victims of abuse or have witnessed abuse or trauma. The majority of the clients that Myriah worked with were struggling with other symptoms that are associated with trauma such as depression, anxiety, relationship and family issues, and often behavior issues. She provided counseling primarily to clients that were involved in the forensic interview process at the local Children’s Advocacy Center. The Center’s aim was to reduce the amount of times a child had to tell their traumatic story and gave those children access to counseling where often the client wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. Myriah also worked in private practice in the community providing counseling to individuals, couples, and families for a variety of symptoms.
Myriah’s passion for providing counseling to children and teenagers has continued to grow and she is excited to serve the needs of the students at Homestake Peak School.
Myriah enjoys spending her free time hiking with her two dogs, riding horses, fishing and spending time with friends and family.
Susan recently completed her Masters in Professional Counseling from Grand Canyon University in May of 2020. As the Hope Center’s therapist at Gypsum Creek Middle School, Susan brings with her 20 years of experience as a Special Education Teacher. Susan received her Bachelors of Science in Exceptional Education from the University of Central Florida. Susan has taught children from age 4 to 18 in the field of special education where she made it a part of her practice to actively collaborate with a variety of service providers. It was through this collaboration that led her to seek a second career in counseling.
Susan has a great deal of experience with adolescents and has obtained years of training in memory, motivation, and executive functioning practices. Susan has experience in public and private school settings as both a Special Education Teacher and Instructional Coach. Susan and her family moved to Eagle, CO in 2017.
Candice Rodriguez is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who relocated from the western suburbs of Chicago two years ago. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology with a concentration in human development from Depaul University in Chicago and her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with a concentration in children and adolescents from Lewis University in Romeoville, IL.
Candice has more than 10 years of experience in the mental health field. She has worked in many settings, such as, residential, inpatient, outpatient, community health and school settings. Her areas of interest include, but are not limited to anxiety, mood disorders, life transitions, ADHD, LGBTQ issues, physical and sexual abuse, and other traumas. She is trauma informed and trained in EMDR and TF-CBT. Candice is passionate about the work that she does and as a result, her greatest reward as a therapist is being able to empower children and adolescents by helping them explore the ways that they can promote their own growth, achieve goals and live a healthier and happier life. Candice is excited to be able to continue her work with adolescents and support the mental health needs of the students at Eagle Valley High School.
MA, LPCC, CMPCC
School-Based Therapist for VSSA
Sami Gothberg, Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate, is the new School-Based Therapist located at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. Sami is here at VSSA, after working as a private practice clinician in Denver since the summer of 2019. She is excited to work with VSSA student-athletes in order to reduce the barriers that normally impact many students who are unable to access quality mental health care. In addition, she aims to help the student athletes feel supported, healthy, competent and capable of improving their own lives. Sami’s passion lies in helping youth develop the skills to allow them to feel prepared in any situation within their personal and performance realms.
What is unique about Sami’s expertise is that she received her Master’s at University of Denver in Sport & Performance Psychology in June 2019 along with her Certified Mental Performance Consultant candidacy in May 2019. In addition, she received her Bachelor of Sciences in Kinesiology from Texas Christian University in 2016. She is experienced in providing a wide array of mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. Since 2017, Sami has worked in a variety of settings and environments – from athletics and academics to eating disorder treatment centers and first responder agencies.
Sport & Performance Psychology services help student-athletes learn to navigate the unique challenges they face. Holistically understanding what it takes for a student-athlete to reach peak performance consistently, in both personal and sport performance realms, is what Sami is invested in. All of the services Sami provides at VSSA will be free and it is important to note that she is here for supporting our student athletes with their overall mental health, yet has the ability to support them on the mental side of sport as well. Whether you want to develop skills to overcome challenges and hardships in school or take your athletic performance to the next level, these services can help student athletes meet their goals.
The School-Based Therapist role is to collaborate with the client, family, and school to develop an individualized plan to help the student-athlete meet his or her goals and lead a happy successful life in and out of sport. If you are interested in having your student athlete participate in services with Sami, please reach out to Sami or Charlene Whitney, the School Counselor, to make a referral.
Originally from Chicago, Jay moved to the Vail Valley in 2013 to fulfill his childhood aspiration of growing up to be a mountain man. He has a deep love for both the serenity and the stimulation that the mountains provide. He is passionate about combining nature, adventure, and mindfulness in an integrative holistic approach to wellness.
Jay is excited to begin his internship with the Hope Center as a school-based therapist as he works toward completing his Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Adams State University. He has spent most of the last decade committed to improving the social and emotional wellbeing of children through his work as a classroom teacher, yoga and mindfulness instructor, and most recently as a field guide working with the Anasazi Foundation and Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. These things and others contribute to his wide scope of experience he brings to his new role.
Katherine, Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate, is a Texas native and the school-based therapist for Stone Creek Charter School. Katherine developed a passion for supporting kids early on through her work as a camp counselor, pre-school teacher, and as a peer mentor. Following these experiences, Katherine decided to pursue her B.S. in Human Development & Family Studies, expanding her knowledge in the areas of child development and family systems.
In 2016, Katherine relocated to Denver to work in a charter school, where she supported middle school students in special education. For three years, she worked in two different center-based programs, providing social, emotional, academic, and behavioral support to students with significant needs and Autism-Spectrum Disorder. While working in education, Katherine began graduate school and later completed her practicum at a mental health site working with mandated clients. There, she provided mentorship services to at-risk teens, family supervision for children in foster care, and life skills training for young adults. She completed her internship at a private practice in Denver working with low-income kids, teens, adults, families, and couples. She also facilitated a weekly interpersonal therapy group for young adults struggling relationally and socially. In May 2020, Katherine graduated from Adams State University with a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Katherine is excited to merge her school and mental health experience at the Hope Center and make the return to the school setting. She is also looking forward to relocating to Eagle County and getting closer to nature. In her free time, Katherine enjoys international travel, yoga, hiking, and camping with her two dogs and fiancé.
Allison is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate who recently traded the Green Mountains of Vermont for the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Vermont, studying Elementary Education and Clinical Mental Health and School Counseling, respectively. Now living in the community she has loved since childhood, she looks forward to serving and collaborating with the students, staff, and families of Red Hill Elementary School and Gypsum Elementary School as a School-Based Therapist.
Allison has always had a passion for embedding counseling within the field of education, and her Master’s education emphasized social-emotional work with youth in schools. She interned as a school-based clinician in a middle school, in addition to working with both high school and elementary populations as a school counselor-in-training. Upon completing her Master’s degree, Allison worked for nearly four years as an elementary and middle school counselor, assisting high-risk, high-needs youth from a trauma-informed, restorative approach in rural Vermont. She believes in the power of youth and in the roles of adults in empowering youth.
In her free time, Allison enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to music, trying new recipes, and enjoying the great outdoors.