Fall 2012
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Jana Vitols

Jana Vitols (BA '97) recently released a children's album, Your Imaginary Friend. She collaborated on the album with her husband Greg Ruby & guest artists on tuba and drums. Working as an early childhood music specialist inspired her to create an album of some of her student's favorites. The songs tipped their hat to the Tin Pan Alley era, Woody Guthrie, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Les Paul, and the Second Line of New Orleans.

Alumni Notes


Lesléa Newman (Certificate '80) is pleased to announce the publication of two new books. Her poetry collection, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, explores the impact of Matthew Shepard's murder in a cycle of 68 poems. In her children's book, A Sweet Passover, Miriam wakes up on the last day of the holiday “sick, sick, sick” of matzah, and her grandfather teaches her the true meaning of the holiday.

Richard Poe (Summer Writing Program '81) recently published a new book, Perfect Fear: Four Tales of Terror, with a forward written by Nina Zivancevic (former faculty). New York Times–bestselling author, Richard Poe attended Naropa Institute as a writing apprentice of Allen Ginsberg in 1981. He met Nina that summer when they were both working alongside Ginsberg. Nina returned to Naropa in 2002 to teach “When Writing is Dangerous,” a course on censorship in the former Communist world.

Cara Ross Berman at dance festivalCara Ross Berman (Hains) (BA '82) received her massage practitioner license in 1985 and has been practicing massage ever since. Recent performance credits include Butoh dance in the Seattle Summer Dance Festival, and a full moon viewing ceremony at Seattle Japanese Garden in 2011. She is currently doing contemplative dance practice with a weekly group and loving it!

Rebekah West (BA '86, MA '06) has taken her creativity into her own business, Rebekah West Photography & Creative International (RebekahWest.com), where she shoots portraits, headshots, and editorial images (still and moving). She also choreographs, teaches, and builds community projects in Boulder; Cabris, France; and Brisbane and WA, Australia (Fremantle area). Her son, Shevek, is production manager for PAC. All in the family!


Sara Duniven (BA '90) is a highly intuitive and empathic hypnotherapist using shamanic methods for past life regression, release from entities, nurturing a deeply felt appreciation of life and your place in it. She offers sessions worldwide over Skype or in person in her Boulder space.

This summer, Ozzie Cheek (MFA '91) will publish a new novel, CLAWS, in e-book format and as a trade paperback (available on Amazon).

Irini Rockwell (MA '91) has just published a new book, Natural Brilliance: A Buddhist System for Uncovering Your Strengths & Letting Them Shine, this past March. She received an MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy in 1991, and was also the department head of Dance/Movement Studies from 1981 to 1991.

Erica Lorraine Scheidt (BA '91) is a 2012 artist-in-residence at Headlands Center for the Arts.

Rebecca Trock (BA '91) is living in Sweden with her husband and two boys. She is working at an International School in Helsinborg, teaching students from grades 6–10 in drama and home economics.

Matthew Andrews (BA '93) is currently living outside of Paris with his wife and two kids. He works in higher education.

Lynda Hilburn (MA '94) is happy to announce the publication of the second book in her Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist series in October. The U.S. version of the first book, The Vampire Shrink, was released in April.

Dennison Smith (non-degree '94) has a second novel, Eye of the Day, coming out with Harper Collins Canada in spring 2013. A collection of Dennison's poetry is appearing with Quattro Press this October. Dennison is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at University of East Anglia, Norwich, England.

Glennis Walters Smith (MA '94) is the publisher of the yearly Boulder/Denver nonprofit publication and website, Therapist and Health Professionals Directory (THPdirectory.com). Profits go to the nonprofit MiracleFund1.org.

Wesley Stahler (BA '94), licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, registered Drama Therapist, and Early Childhood Mental Health Clinician relocated to Los Angeles this past summer with her family. She is serving the LA area with a strength-based, relational, home-visiting private practice supporting individuals, children, couples, and families. Her specialties are in substance abuse and trauma. Wesley is also developing DharMama, dharma parenting groups.

Sheila Anderson (BA '95), a cheerleader for science, writes for Professor Blue's blog (the Bloog) at ProfessorBlue.com. She played Professor Blue in videos sponsored by MIT, and performed live at the Cambridge Science Festivals, as well as at Boston's Museum of Science. The videos will be available for download with the illustrated e-book Professor Blue's Top Secret Lab Journal, available on Amazon.

Kim Carroll (BA '97) has combined her love of language, culture, traveling, and teaching by creating English for Life Academy, offering TESOL Certificate courses and language classes. She lives in South Carolina during the school year and in Quito, Ecuador, in the summer.

Trevor Griles (MFA '97) is currently teaching writing to princes and the like at a private university in Saudi Arabia.

Edie Stone (MA '97) is excited to be studying with Stan Tatkin, PsyD, to learn how attachment theory and neuroscience can be woven into couples therapy, with a dash of Gestalt.

Thomas Lonneman Doroff (MA '98) completed a PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision at the University of Northern Colorado, and also earned the Dean's Citation for Excellence: Outstanding Dissertation, entitled “Supervision in Applied Counseling Settings: A Socially Constructed Ground Theory." He is a full-time assistant professor at Regis University College for Professional Studies: Counseling and Marriage & Family Therapy programs.

Karla Holt (MA '99) runs the Denver International Airport Office of Employee Assistance for the City & County of Denver. She also volunteers with her registered therapy dogs, Sadie and Koda, at hospices, nursing homes, and at a children's literacy program at the library.

Chap. Mikel Ryuho (MA '99) published “A Thousand Arms” in the April 18 issue of Plainviews. He is also presenting a professional development intensive on “Reiki Energy Medicine” at this year's APC Conference. “The Way of the Chaplain” will be published in The Art of Contemplative Care, forthcoming from Wisdom Publications.


Diane Kennedy (MA '00) is a school-based substance abuse counselor working with teens in Kauai, Hawaii.

Reuben Robbins (MA '00) is a psychologist in New York City with a private practice. He is also an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, where he conducts research to help people living with HIV, as well as supervising psychology interns.

Amy Baker (MA ’01), in Portland, OR, has been blending expressive arts therapies with acting improvisation games to offer vibrant, original, fun classes and play-shops like "Transformational Karaoke," "Financial Consciousness," and "Cultivating a Heart Centered Life." Her latest venture is developing games for Emergency Preparedness.

After graduating, Caroline Peska (BA '02) joined AmeriCorps in Denver for two years as an education aide to gain some experience working with children. Then she spent fifteen months working at Shambhala Mountain Center before moving back to Ottawa, Canada, where she has been since 2005. Caroline first taught piano, and now accompanies for church choirs and the Ottawa Celtic Choir.

O'Nell Starkey (BA '04) & Brian Michelsen (BA '02) celebrate their marriageO'Nell Starkey (BA '04) & Brian Michelsen (BA '02) got married on June 6, 2011, in California. O'Nell is a postpartum doula and webmistress of BeautifulCervix.com, her website about fertility awareness and celebrating the menstrual cycle. Brian is a freelance graphic/web designer and works doing public outreach at the local Water Agency. They are living happily ever after so far.

Nick Berger (MA '05) is pursuing his long-time interest of mind-body healing in the form of brainwave biofeedback. Since April 2012, he has been helping people re-train their brainwaves to overcome habitual patterns that lead to symptoms of ADHD, addictions, PTSD, and other cognitive impairments from Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Parkinson's Disease, and traumatic brain injuries. Nick finds it truly amazing to watch people's symptoms fall away as their brains start to regulate themselves. Learn more about this new aspect of Nick's private practice at ColoradoNeurofeedback.com.

AnaVictoria Braun (BA '05) & Seth Braun (BA '03) have, after three years, stayed married—for the second time! They are also growing in love with their two creative, beautiful, bright girls.

Monique Rees (MA '05) got married in 2009, and just had a baby this past May. She is working in private practice as a psychotherapist in South Boulder, specializing in postpartum depression and perinatal loss.

Laurie Timmer (Dykehouse) (MA '05) is serving hospice patients and families as a spiritual care coordinator with Hospice at Home in South Haven, Michigan.

Grace M. Tuma (MA '05) is a certified Inka* shaman, offering energy healing or chakra illuminations and soul retrievals, as taught from the lineage of Shaman Alberto Villoldo, founder of The Four Winds Society. She offers amazing medicine remotely or in person. *Traditional spelling used by tribe elders

Jacob Winkler (non-degree, '05), with gratitude to the Infinite, is proud to announce the beginning of a spiritual life coaching business: GloryToTheHighest.com. Naropa community members are welcome to a complimentary session.

Rev. Danny Fisher (MDiv '06) was a Buddhist representative at the historic first Dharmic Religions & Faith Institutional Leadership Conference, held at the White House in Washington, D.C. on April 20. In addition, during August, he went to San Francisco to be trained as a leader in the Climate Reality Leadership Corps by Vice President Al Gore.

Beth Patterson (MA '06) not only has a private practice in Denver, but also just celebrated her fourth anniversary as LifeCare/Bereavement Coordinator at SolAmor Hospice. Her articles (BethPatterson.com) have been widely published.

Lauren Pech (MA '06) is currently residing in Cape Town, South Africa, having started her own nonprofit organization that delivers mental health services to underserved children and families in South Africa.

Tim Z. Hernandez (BA '07) has a new collection of poetry, Natural Takeover of Small Things, that will be published by University of Arizona Press in spring 2013, and his historical fiction novel, Manana Means Heaven, based on the life of Jack Kerouac's Mexican girlfriend, Bea Franco, or “Terry” of On the Road, which will be published by University of Arizona Press in fall 2013.

Corinne Nakamura (MA '08) will be performing with Dance Mandal at Musica Sacra International, a sacred arts and music festival that will be held in Argentina this November. She dances in the Buddhist tradition called Charya Nritya, or dance as a spiritual discipline. Corinne has been studying with Helen Appell and Prajwal Vajracharya since 2008. She can be seen dancing at Nritya Mandala Mahavihara in Portland, Oregon, and at various venues in the United States and abroad.

Kinde Nebeker (MA '08) is passionate about reconnecting our modern human brains and bodies to the stillness and spirit in nature with which many indigenous peoples are intimately connected. Kinde feels this reconnection is a powerful path to our living sustainably on the planet. Our very survival as a species could depend on integrating our technological, analytical, left-brain dominant mind with our often less-developed intuitive, pattern-seeing, right-brain mind. She offered workshops in Utah this October: “Intrapraneur Workshop: Creating Change Within” and “Finding Self in Nature.”

Dara West (BA '08) has been providing professional real estate services to Boulder County since becoming licensed in 2008. Currently a Broker Associate at RE/MAX Alliance in downtown Boulder, she is passionate about sharing her love for Boulder as a town and as a community. Dara is in the business of helping people. To her, each client is an opportunity to help and support a friend be successful. She finds this a very satisfying and fun thing to do!

Jason Griffith (MA '09) was awarded the 2012 Edwin Hoey Award by the National Council of the Teachers of English, recognizing exceptional English language arts teachers of grades 5-8 who have demonstrated excellence in teaching English language arts and inspired a spirit of inquiry and a love of learning in their students (NCTE.org/awards/hoey/winner).

Tracy Hart (MA '09) and her partner were recently featured in a Go Triad/Greensboro News & Record article, “Art Studio Lets Adults Play.” Bent Tuba Studio offers beginner art workshops for adults in Greensboro, North Carolina. Tracy also blogs about creativity at BentTuba.com.

Adam Perry (BA '09), who moved back to Boulder in 2011 with his daughter and his partner, is working in veterans' law as well as continuing his journalism for Boulder Weekly and other publications.

Rachael Small-Coffren (MA '09) is currently the director of an Alzheimer's/Dementia Secure Unit in Fort Collins, Colorado. She practices art therapy and horticultural therapy each day with her residents. People with a diagnosis of dementia live in the moment, and Rachael's training could not have been more appropriate for working with an elderly population. Every day Rachael utilizes the knowledge that she obtained while attending Naropa and is proud of her Art Therapy degree.

Melissa Walker (MA '09) presented her work at the American Dance Therapy Association Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in October. Her experiential presentation is entitled “A Dance Movement Sex Therapy Model: Cultivating the Erotic Journey Toward Full Sensual Self-Expression.”

Amie Winters (MA '09) is the sustainability specialist at Valet Waste & Recycling, LLC, in Tampa, Florida, where she develops, monitors, and evaluates their nationwide sustainability efforts and programs. Amie is also a contributing writer and blogger to high-profile industry magazines and websites, with article emphasis on sustainability and green initiatives.


Akiva Steinmetz-Silber (BA '10) returned to New York City and enrolled in Public Allies, an AmeriCorps–funded program that develops new leadership for nonprofits. He is serving with the Laundromat Project, an organization that brings art programming to laundromats for New Yorkers on low incomes.

Tim Johnson (MFA '11) recently directed Vicki Caroline Cheatwood's play Ruth, which was the centerpiece of Kitchen Dog Theater's annual new works festival in Dallas.

Rebekah McClaskey (MA '11) drove across America after graduation. She became a small business owner this past May. Currently, she is a columnist for Elephant Journal, and she is writing two books. Rebekah is the founder of Transform Now Counseling, LLC, and Break-up Rx, LLC. She is growing her private practice and reaching for new heights as a small business owner and counselor.

Lauren Garrett (BA '12) is currently working as a teller at the Coors Credit Union in Golden, Colorado. She is grateful to hold and offer space as a Naropa alumna for individuals around their relationship with money and financial management.