Meet the team

Meet the team

The Aspiro Team

Aspiro is dedicated to providing a high level of care to all of our clients. We want you to feel confident that your child is safe and receiving the very best opportunity for change. Our multi-disciplinary treatment team is made up of compassionate and experienced professionals that share a focus of attaining positive outcomes. Please take some time to meet our team members below.

  • All
  • Admissions Team
  • Clinical Team
  • Field Management Team
  • Health and Wellness Team
  • Leadership Team
  • Vantage Point
  • Rick Meeves, PhD, LMFT
    Rick Meeves, PhD, LMFT
    CEO
  • Ryan Coley, LCSW
    Ryan Coley, LCSW
    Executive Director
  • Josh Watson, LCSW
    Josh Watson, LCSW
    CMO
  • Carl Smoot, PhD
    Carl Smoot, PhD
    Director of Clinical Assessment
  • Katie Thoma
    Katie Thoma
    CFO
  • Kayleen Richter, PHR
    Kayleen Richter, PHR
    HR Director
  • Woody Crowell
    Woody Crowell
    Program Director
  • Jamie Kaczmarek, LCSW
    Jamie Kaczmarek, LCSW
    Vantage Point Males/Females, Ages 13-17
  • Amanda Cencak, LCMHC
    Amanda Cencak, LCMHC
    Vantage Point & Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Adolescent & Young Adult Males/Females, Ages 13-26
  • Caitlin Galt, LCMHC
    Caitlin Galt, LCMHC
    Vantage Point Males/Females, Ages 18-26
  • Janna Dean, LCSW
    Janna Dean, LCSW
    Adolescent & Young Adult Males and Females, Ages 13-26
  • Ryon Smith, LCSW
    Ryon Smith, LCSW
    Adolescent & Young Adult Males, Ages 13-26
  • Jamie Ahern, LCSW
    Jamie Ahern, LCSW
    Adolescent Males, Ages 13-17
  • Brandon Johnson, LCSW
    Brandon Johnson, LCSW
    Adolescent & Young Adult Males, Ages 13-26
  • Leigh Uhlenkott, MS, LPCS, NCC, LMHC
    Leigh Uhlenkott, MS, LPCS, NCC, LMHC
    Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Adolescent Males & Females, Ages 13-17
  • Grace Larson, LCSW
    Grace Larson, LCSW
    Adolescent & Young Adult Females, Ages 13-26
  • David Mayeski, LCSW
    David Mayeski, LCSW
    Family Services Director
  • Ally Jackson
    Ally Jackson
    Admissions Counselor
  • Rebekah Phipps
    Rebekah Phipps
    Clinical Assistant
  • Hannah Eckert
    Hannah Eckert
    Therapist Intern
  • Mark Widmer, PhD
    Mark Widmer, PhD
    Independent Research Director
  • Dr. Cheronne Anderson
    Dr. Cheronne Anderson
    Psychiatric MD
  • Shannon Weaver, LCSW
    Shannon Weaver, LCSW
    Director of Marketing and Outreach
  • Jolene McGuire
    Jolene McGuire
    Admissions Director
  • Ryan Schaffer
    Ryan Schaffer
    Admissions Counselor
  • Cassie Ali
    Cassie Ali
    Associate Field Director
  • Kip Swem
    Kip Swem
    Associate Field Director
  • Tyler Carroll
    Tyler Carroll
    Risk Management Coordinator
  • Kevin O’connell
    Kevin O’connell
    Gravity Sports Specialist
  • Scott Shaffer
    Scott Shaffer
    Ropes Specialist Trainer
  • Robert Owen
    Robert Owen
    Field Operations Manager
  • Stephan Fanale
    Stephan Fanale
    Associate Field Operations Manager
  • Justine Hewitt
    Justine Hewitt
    Base Camp Operations Manager
  • Clara Durham
    Clara Durham
    Recruiter
  • Ian Ferguson, RN
    Ian Ferguson, RN
    Registered Nurse
  • Dale Christensen, MD
    Dale Christensen, MD
    Medical Director
  • Luke Eckert
    Luke Eckert
    Assistant Medical Coordinator
Rick Meeves, PhD, LMFT
CEO

Professional Experience

Rick has been working with adolescents and their families since 1995. Rick joined the Aspiro Leadership Team, in 2014, serving as both Executive Director at Aspiro Adventure and CEO of the Aspiro Group.

Rick brings considerable experience to Aspiro having worked as a Primary Therapist in 3 wilderness programs; Clinical Director at both a Residential Treatment Center and a Wilderness Program; Founder, Owner, Therapist, and Executive Director of Outback Therapeutic Expeditions; and National Director of Clinical Services and Vice President of operations at CRC Health Group. These roles prepared him well to lead our small group of Aspiro programs.

Rick was recruited to Aspiro to bring stability, integrity, sustainability and his leadership to each of our Aspiro programs; to help each program carry out its mission in creating the best possible experience for our clients. Rick enjoys spending time with his wife and three boys, watching his boys play a lot of basketball, road and mountain biking, golfing and serving in his local community.

Ryan Coley, LCSW
Executive Director

Also specializes in: Depression / Anxiety / Chemical Dependency Mood Disorder / Substance Abuse / Attachment Issues / Self-Harm / Identity Issues

Ryan’s clinical focus since 2010 is in working with our students and has been a member of the Aspiro Family of Programs since 2009. Over the last four years Ryan has commanded an integral role in the design and creation of Aspiro‘s chemical use/abuse Experiential Adventure based clinical wilderness treatment model. Ryan’s primary objective has been to establish long-term successful family interventions, stabilization, and diagnostic assessments all while meeting each student where they are in the therapeutic process.

Josh Watson, LCSW
CMO

Also specializes in: crisis de-escalation / anxiety resolution / frustration tolerance / verbal de-escalation / CBT/DBT / interpersonal relationships/leadership development

Josh has been working with adolescents, young adults, and their families since 2001. As an original member of the Aspiro Leadership Team, Josh has fulfilled several roles at Aspiro including Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Clinical Supervision, Admissions Director, Strategic Development, and currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer. He is passionate about carrying out the mission of Aspiro and creating the best possible experience for our clients. When Josh is not at work he enjoys traveling, cooking, outdoor adventure (of course!), golf, and spending time doing just about anything with his wife and two daughters.

Carl Smoot, PhD
Director of Clinical Assessment

Carl began working in mental health in 1990 and soon thereafter entered a Ph.D. program in Psychology at the University of Utah. After completing his degree, he supervised three school-based mental health programs around the island of O’ahu. Carl moved back to Salt Lake City because of his love of the outdoors and opportunities to work in wilderness programs completing psychological evaluations. He has an in-depth knowledge of learning and developmental disorders, as well the ways they interact with mental health and other adjustment problems. At Aspiro since 2012, Carl runs a weekly supervision meeting, mentors field guides, consults on difficult cases, and completes psychological evaluations.

Away from work, Carl enjoys fly fishing and duck hunting. He has been married for twenty years to Dr. Tracine Smoot. Together they have three children and one grandchild.

Katie Thoma
CFO

Katie graduated from University of Northern Iowa and brings over 18 years of experience in accounting and business management to the Aspiro Group. Katie has been with the Asprio since 2013 and oversees the company’s financial planning and management. She is a valuable member of the leadership team and brings her business management knowledge, as well as her insight and practical viewpoints, to the planning and oversight of the company. Katie enjoys running, biking and spending time with family.

Kayleen Richter, PHR
HR Director

Kayleen Richter, Human Resource Director for Aspiro Group, is an HR professional with over 11 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She is certified through Human Resource Certification Institute as a Professional Human Resource Manager.  Kayleen has been with the Aspiro team since April 2013, managing employee relations, training, recruiting, compensation, performance management, employee engagement, compliance, workers compensation, benefits and more.  She has been a Society for Human Resource Management Member since 2015. Kayleen loves working with people and helping employees have a great experience while employed at Aspiro. Kayleen enjoys running, volleyball, camping, boating, and most of all spending time with and raising 6 beautiful children.

Woody Crowell
Program Director

Having worked with young adults and adolescent in various capacities since 1997, Woody is a great addition to the Executive Team at the Aspiro family of programs. Woody is no stranger to wilderness adventure therapy. As the initial owner/operator for eight years of the largest adolescent and young adult crisis intervention organization in the United States, woody maintained 55 employees and personally helped over 1,000 families seek treatment for their son or daughter. Woody worked as a Director of Admissions and Marketing Director for several Therapeutic Outdoor Programs, and was responsible for all admissions, marketing materials, website design/maintenance, the creation and updates of Parent and Field Manuals, and more. During this time he formed personal relationships with Clinical Professionals, Executive Directors, and Therapeutic Community leaders all over the country and is widely respected and trusted in the therapeutic wilderness and residential communities. Woody also has over 450 trail days as a Field Guide in Southern Idaho and Upstate New York, Logistics Coordinator and served as an Assistant Field Director in Southern Idaho.

Jamie Kaczmarek, LCSW
Vantage Point Males/Females, Ages 13-17

Also specializes in: Autism Spectrum Disorders / NLD / Family Systems / Depression Attachment / ADHD / Mood Disorders / Anxiety

As a youngster, Jamie was climbing trees and catching fireflies in the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois. Her love for the wilderness influenced her decision to obtain a B.S. in Outdoor Recreation with an emphasis in Environmental Education from Indiana University in 1999. With the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Baja, Mexico, Jamie was educated in leadership and team dynamics through an experiential adventure approach. She then began her career in 2000 serving adjudicated youth in the wilderness working for Alternative Youth Adventures (AYA), in South Central Utah.

Amanda Cencak, LCMHC
Vantage Point & Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Adolescent & Young Adult Males/Females, Ages 13-26

Also specializes in: Autism-Spectrum/ Anxiety / Depression / ADHD / Self-Esteem / Identity Development / Social and Relational Skills

Amanda Cencak is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor with a Masters of Science in Professional Counseling from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Amanda has over 10 years of experience working with adolescents in a variety of contexts.  Prior to obtaining her master’s degree, Amanda worked as a trip leader for an adventure travel company, exploring the Western United States and the Blue Ridge forests with groups of lively teens.  Amanda has spent 3 years as a clinician at a residential treatment facility for adolescents.  Most recently worked providing mental health services for a nonprofit in the community of Park City, UT.   Specializing in adolescent therapy, Amanda works to establish trust and create an honest and caring relationship with her clients that will enable them to efficiently cope with their struggles and productively communicate with their families. Trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy,  Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, and Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS), Amanda helps teens learn and implement new ways of relating to their experiences while fostering their personal growth with an approach of Positive and Strength-Based Psychology.  In the balance of her interests, Amanda is often found outside, exploring the surrounding mountains of the Wasatch and Uinta ranges with her 4-legged sidekick, Tater.   When the weather grounds her pursuits of the outdoors, she enjoys the pastimes of personal creation in the kitchen and crafting realms and sharing the delicious accomplishments with her friends and family.

Caitlin Galt, LCMHC
Vantage Point Males/Females, Ages 18-26

Also specializes in: Autism Spectrum Disorders / NLD / Family Systems / Anxiety / Identity Issues / Mood Disorders / Trauma / Addictive Behaviors / ADHD

Caitlin received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago focusing on Art therapy, sculpture, and painting. In 2008, she merged her love of art therapy and the outdoors by earning her graduate degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in Wilderness Therapy from Naropa University in Colorado.

Janna Dean, LCSW
Adolescent & Young Adult Males and Females, Ages 13-26
  • Brigham Young University, UT, BSW
  • University of Utah, MSW
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker in the State of Utah
  • Experience working in various treatment settings including: County Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment, Residential Treatment Centers, Eating Disorder Treatment Centers, and Wilderness Therapy
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2002

Also specializes in: Anxiety, depression, trauma, substance abuse, self harm, eating disorders, and body image.

Janna graduated with an MSW from the University of Utah in 2003 and earned her LCSW in 2006.  After graduating she began working at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) in the “Staying off Substances” IOP program. There she ran groups for clients and families while doing individual assessments and counseling. After working at UNI, she worked at Center for Change (CFC) with adolescent and adult women with eating disorders.  Many of the clients had a dual diagnosis, generally including substance abuse or addiction. She was in charge of developing and running the chemical dependency groups. She worked with clients in inpatient, residential, and outpatient programming.

Janna has spent the past 15 years working with adolescent boys and girls and young adults with addictions and various mental health and identity struggles.  She has worked in all levels of care from acute care at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Unit, to residential care with adolescents and young adults with substance abuse and eating disorder addictions, to day patient and IOP work, to out-patient work.  Her passion is in working with teenagers and the emerging young adult population and she loves how empowered these young people are at this stage of life to create and follow through with changes. She follows a strength-based and positive psychology model in her work. Janna is passionate about working with the family alongside the clients to help create meaningful understanding and to help relationships grow.

Ryon Smith, LCSW
Adolescent & Young Adult Males, Ages 13-26

Also specializes in: Anxiety / Depression / ADHD / Self-Esteem / Identity Development / Substance Abuse / Oppositional Behavior / Autism-Spectrum

Ryon has been a part of the Aspiro team since 2012. Starting with Aspiro as a field guide, he has been an integral part of developing culture, implementing therapeutic interventions and facilitating adventure in our adolescent boys groups. As a clinician, his unique field perspective lends itself well to his treatment approach which emphasizes concrete interventions, expanding comfort zones, coping skills, self-efficacy, and self-reflection. Ryon has a passion for demystifying oppositional behavior in adolescents. He trains staff and professionals on the underlying factors that contribute to maladaptive behavior which helps to suggest the most appropriate interventions. Ryon was born and raised in southern Arizona.  After a brief collegiate tennis career, he moved north and worked as a ski school supervisor in northern Arizona where he discovered his passion for the marriage of therapy and recreation. Currently living in Salt Lake City, Ryon enjoys the colder months by snow-skiing, snowboarding and ice-fishing. When the sun is out, he enjoys tennis, golf, and cheering for Utah’s own professional soccer team, Real Salt Lake.

Jamie Ahern, LCSW
Adolescent Males, Ages 13-17

Also specializes in: Trauma / Relationships / Emotional Regulation / ADHD / Executive Functioning Skills / Anxiety / Depression / Substance Use / Learning Differences. 

Jamie has been a mental health therapist since 2011. He was first introduced to wilderness and adventure therapy as a field guide at Aspiro. After working as an Aspiro therapist for nearly 4 years, he relocated and provided therapy services in an underserved area of rural Montana. It was during this time that he found a passion for helping his clients recover from trauma, utilizing EMDR therapy as a core treatment modality in addition to a variety of other therapeutic modalities such as CBT, DBT and motivational interviewing. He returned to wilderness therapy after working with community mental health and is happy to now be back at Aspiro. Jamie is a warm and inviting therapist with a passion for helping young people and families in need. He strives to establish a non-judgmental and mutually respectful therapeutic relationship with his students and works very closely with their families, supporting them during their child’s stay and inviting them to challenge their own patterns.

Jamie wholeheartedly believes in and is passionate about the healing power, growth opportunities and excitement found in the outdoors. His free time is spent with his wife in pursuits such as fly fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and skiing. He also enjoys tying flies, playing the banjo, and spending time with his dogs.

Brandon Johnson, LCSW
Adolescent & Young Adult Males, Ages 13-26

Also specializes in: Substance Use Disorders / Depression / Anxiety / Post-traumatic Stress Disorder / Oppositional Defiance Disorder / ADHD

Brandon’s experience in counseling and providing support for others began during his time in the military. Brandon served two tours of duty in Iraq (2004-2005, and 2007-2008). During his military career, Brandon counseled his troops and led them into battle. Brandon learned how to utilize his troops strengths and to be aware of their weaknesses in order to effectively complete the mission, and get everyone back home safely. After Brandon’s military career, he worked at a residential treatment center with 15-17 year old boys, with the Aspiro Boys groups, and at the Salt Lake City Department of Veterans Affairs. Brandon’s therapeutic approach integrates interpersonal, cognitive behavioral, and psychodynamic theories. Brandon’s clinical specialization in Substance Use Disorders, Mood Disorders, and Trauma come form his experience working with adolescents and their families, and with combat Veterans. Brandon has been trained in Cognitive Processing therapy (CPT) for PTSD, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Motivational Interviewing. Brandon believes that the wilderness creates an opportunity to build a foundation for long-term change and improvements in communication, relationships, and for students and their families to take committed action for their futures based on their experiences and the momentum they gain during the process of adventure wilderness therapy. When not working, Brandon enjoys spending time with his wife and baby girl. Brandon enjoys golfing, playing/watching sports, hunting, fishing, skiing, being in the outdoors, and traveling to new places.

Leigh Uhlenkott, MS, LPCS, NCC, LMHC
Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Adolescent Males & Females, Ages 13-17

Also specializes in: NLD / Spectrum Disorders / Learning and Executive Functioning Issues / Substance Dependence / Obesity / Self-Esteem Issues / Adoption / School Refusal / Anger Management / ADHD / Oppositional Defiance Disorder

During her 20 years of experience, Leigh has worked at a therapeutic boarding school for boys specializing in learning disabilities, 3 wilderness therapy programs; Expedition/Nomadic model, Transition Model, and now an Adventure based programming model working with adolescents with multiple diagnoses, and a school in Broward County, FL providing counseling, prevention work, and substance abuse counseling for adolescents. Leigh also has training in and a certification for working with transgendered clients. She has extensive experience working effectively with these clients and is passionate about doing so. Leigh’s eclectic approach fosters her ability to be creative with each individual she works with, finding the best possible interventions to meet their needs. She enjoys helping struggling families’ find their common ground so that they can move forward out of crisis. Leigh has a particular strength in utilizing wilderness therapy to find the perfect metaphors and rites of passage to support real change and sustainable success. When not working, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family, friends, and her two rescue dogs—Fluffy and Yoda.

Grace Larson, LCSW
Adolescent & Young Adult Females, Ages 13-26

Also specializes in working with adolescent and young adult females with Anxiety, Depression and Mood Disorders/ Trauma and PTSD/ Social Anxiety and Social Communication Disorders/ Self-Esteem Issues and Identity Development Issues.

Since 2011, Grace has dedicated her professional career to understanding and empowering the lives of struggling adolescents and their families. After working in a variety of mental health contexts, Grace found her home in the wild outdoors of Utah at Aspiro, starting in 2015. An avid rock climber, whitewater raft guide, and backpacker; Grace found a way to meld her passion for the outdoors with her training in individual, group and family therapy.

With individualized treatment plans utilizing a variety of evidence-based interventions, Grace engages her students through a series of milestones: 1) Acknowledging the issues and impacts of the issues, 2) Developing motivation to change, 3) Skills acquisition and powerful mastery experience, 4) Application of change and acceptance, and 5) Preparation for transition. Through group therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Training, Grace teaches and leads the group culture in effective interpersonal communication, developing meaningful relationship skills, challenging judgment, and changing automatic patterns of thinking and acting. In her family work at Aspiro, is important to Grace to allow space for a deeper understanding of the child, time to repair relationships, and space for deepening connection while fostering greater independence. Through a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, individual and family intervention, and communication between past and future treatment providers, Grace strives to enrich and empower the lives of her clients and their families for long-term success.

David Mayeski, LCSW
Family Services Director

Also specializes in: Family Systems Work / Understanding Family Roles, Dynamics and Power Struggles / Genograms

David comes to Aspiro with almost 20 years of experience working with families in therapeutic programs. Originally David received his Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics and went on to earn his Master of Social Work.

Prior to joining Aspiro, David served in many capacities at highly respected residential treatment centers as a primary therapist, Admissions Director, and Clinical Director. After working as a primary therapist for two years, he was awarded his License in Clinical Social Work (LCSW) in 2003 and has continued practicing therapy with students and their families. His desire to help families heal and overcome obstacles, his years of experience, and his clinical sophistication, make him the perfect match as the Family Services Director where he continues to help families heal through parent coaching, therapy sessions, webinars, and during groups over Aspiro’s Parent Seminars.

David is passionate about helping others and guiding families through their journey of connecting and healing as a system. David enjoys talking politics, playing a round of golf, and especially cherishes time with his beautiful wife and three children.

 

Ally Jackson
Admissions Counselor

Ally has been working in the treatment industry for over six years in various admissions and marketing roles for residential treatment centers and wilderness programs. Ally graduated from Utah Valley University with her Bachelors degree in Psychology, and also brings four years experience as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children to the team. Admissions is something Ally is very passionate about and she understands the importance of connecting with and supporting families throughout the admissions process in order to help find the right fit for each family. Ally loves spending time with her friends and family, and when not working, she can be found spending time with her dog and exploring all of the beauty Utah has to offer.

Rebekah Phipps
Clinical Assistant

Rebekah has been with Aspiro since May 2017. She began her career in wilderness therapy as a Field Guide, worked as a clinical assistant, and is now working as a therapist. 

Rebekah is currently attending Prescott College to receive a graduate degree in counseling, with a concentration Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Adventure-Based Psychotherapy. Her undergraduate degree is in Interpersonal Communication Studies from UNC-CH. Prior to Aspiro, she worked in experiential and outdoor education as a Program Manager and a Lead Instructor at UNC-CH Outdoor Education Center. Rebekah has passion for working with adolescents and young adults in order to help them find a healing and deeper understanding of themselves, others, and the natural world. 

In her free time, she enjoys trail running, climbing, hiking/backpacking, reading, yoga, and exploring new places. 

Hannah Eckert
Therapist Intern

Originally from the Adirondacks of Northern New York, Hannah attended the University of Denver where she graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. Her passion for the outdoors and working with adolescents translated well for her start at Aspiro as a field guide in the spring of 2015. In that position, Hannah fell in love with the field of wilderness therapy. After leaving to work at a therapeutic boarding school and gaining a broader perspective of the field, she returned to Aspiro where she worked as a clinical assistant under Gillan Smith. Since then, she had a clinical internship at a grief support center for kids called The Sharing Place, where she led grief groups and gained knowledge about grief counseling and complicated bereavement. She is attending the University of Utah where she is working on her Master of Social Work degree and concentrating in Substance Use Counseling.

 The beautiful desert landscapes of Utah drew Hannah to this part of the country. She now spends most of her free time canyoneering and exploring these areas with her dog, Saranac. 

Mark Widmer, PhD
Independent Research Director

Mark Widmer, Ph.D. is a licensed Recreational Therapist and a tenured professor of Experience Design and Management and teaches in the MBA and EMBA programs at the Marriott School of Business at BYU. For over 20 years he has conducted research on the effectiveness of theory-based adventure programs in promoting self-efficacy, identity development, and positive psychology/character strengths. He and his colleague’s work has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals. Mark also has several ongoing research projects with leading therapeutic outdoor programs. In 2008 he started a consulting company and has worked a number of domestic and international companies, including Intel, ADIA, Actelion Pharm, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and more; building intentional culture, performance management, and utilizing adventure experiences. He also works with high net worth families to identify and pass on family culture and prepare future generations to thrive. Mark loves to mountain, snow, road and gravel bike. He also spends time backpacking, sailing, ice climbing, fly fishing and other outdoor adventures with his wife, 4 kids, and 5 grandkids.

Dr. Cheronne Anderson
Psychiatric MD

Dr. Cheronne Anderson is a psychiatrist in Murray, Utah. She received her medical degree from University of California Davis School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Shannon Weaver, LCSW
Director of Marketing and Outreach

Shannon is an LCSW and certified teacher who brings over 20 years of experience to Aspiro through her work with families and students as a Primary Therapist, Clinical Director, and Admissions/Marketing Director at highly regarded residential and therapeutic programs. Her clinical experience includes county mental health, hospital crisis work, residential treatment centers, and private practice. Shanon has traveled the world and lived overseas in Israel, Russia and China while teaching and providing mental health counseling. Her diverse experience gives her great compassion and understanding as well as an ability to relate to and understand others. Shannon is passionate about helping students and families heal, discover their strengths, build positive relationships, and create meaningful change. She has a very caring approach that is informed by her years as a clinician and has enjoyed moving from a clinical role to working in marketing and outreach. Her infectious positive energy, genuine enthusiasm, and commitment to helping people has made her a wonderful fit for this role. She very much enjoys her work assisting families and professionals in learning more about Aspiro. In her spare time you will find her traveling, reading, or enjoying Utah’s beautiful landscapes with her husband and children.

Jolene McGuire
Admissions Director

Jolene Williams comes to Aspiro with close to 20 years of experience in the wilderness programming and education fields. Parents have come to appreciate Jolene’s professional problem solving and communication skills, as well as her insight and compassion. She has mastered the art and skill of conducting a complex orchestra of details involved in helping young people along their paths to improvement. Jolene is a born and raised Southern Idaho native. Growing up on her families’ cattle ranch, a love of the outdoors was fostered. When she is not managing the admissions process at Aspiro, she enjoys hiking, biking, running, and yoga. She is the mother of two young daughters that keep her active in sports and school related functions as well.

Ryan Schaffer
Admissions Counselor

Ryan has been at Aspiro since April 2015; first as a field guide and now an admissions counselor.  His passion for education and development shows in his diverse experience as a teacher, administrator, and house coach at a therapeutic boarding school.  Ryan grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and received his degree in speech communications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  He has spent the majority of his adult life abroad teaching in Mexico, France, South Korea, and most recently lived in Münster, Germany for seven years as a business English teacher and an associate English professor at the Münster University of Applied Sciences.  If he’s not outside climbing, hiking, snowboarding, or disc golfing, he’s most likely reading, writing, or dabbling in music.

Cassie Ali
Associate Field Director
Cassie grew up in both the wooded lakes of Minneapolis and the north shore beaches of Massachusetts. In search of new terrain, she moved to Colorado where Cassie attended the University of Denver. While in school, Cassie was a successful collegiate rower and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography and English. After a brief stint in cooperate finance, Cassie continued West and began guiding with Aspiro in Fall of 2015. She spent two years as a field guide, advancing at Aspiro’s Adventure Facilitation and developing a relevant field and clinical knowledge while working with diverse populations. In Fall of 2017, Cassie became an In-Field Trainer where she developed professional advancement for field guides and co-facilitated several tryouts. As an Associate Field Director, Cassie manages Aspiro’s Field Guides by overseeing weekly staff trainings and engaging with staff and students in the field. If not adventuring with our groups, Cassie can be found exploring the beauty of Utah’s desert on foot, on a bike or on rappel.
Kip Swem
Associate Field Director

Kip grew up in eastern Washington where he quickly found a love for the outdoors. After going to school at Central Washington University, he travelled to Honduras to volunteer as an English teacher and manage a  program on proper nutrition for the local youth. It was in Honduras that Kip learned that service was his passion, thus leading him to wilderness therapy. Kip has been with Aspiro since early 2016. He started out as a field guide where he was able to develop a diverse skill set to help our unique and complicated students. Following that, he transitioned into the role of recruiter where he discovered our staff and and helped them develop to high standard which Aspiro holds. As an associate field director, Kip now manages Aspiro’s field staff and focuses on training them to be as effective as possible. Kip can likely be found visiting student groups in the field, hiking into a backcountry lake, or planning his next adventure.

Tyler Carroll
Risk Management Coordinator
Tyler felt the call of the Mountains back in his home state of Alabama. After graduating with his Bachelors in Psychology and minor in Sociology in 2007 he entered the guiding world of wilderness therapy, and by Christmas Day 2008 began his first week on trail with Aspiro as lead guide. Since those early days, Tyler has been an important part of thef growth and positive change within Aspiro. With this extensive experience, his role as Risk Management Coordinator is critical in the continued development of the program. Since taking on this role; Tyler has streamlined our incident tracking system, creating a database which gives us the ability to develop a greater understanding of safety and risk mitigation than ever before. Along with incident tracking, Tyler is on the ground, visiting groups in the field providing real time risk assessment and training opportunities. Tyler is Aspiro’s primary trainer for Crisis Intervention and Driver Safety. In his free time Tyler can be found pet-sitting other people’s dogs and enjoying the beauty of Utah. Tyler also enjoys downhill mountain biking, motorcycles, dirt bikes, and fishing.
Kevin O’connell
Gravity Sports Specialist

Kevin O’Connell grew up in Massachusetts and Washington. He graduated the University of Denver with a degree in History and Geography and found his way to Aspiro where he started as a field guide. Kevin guided for over a year, then stepped away to pursue a lifelong dream of ski patrolling where he utilized his background in wilderness medicine as an EMT, WFR and OEC Technician. Kevin returned to Aspiro as a member of the transports team before transitioning into his current role on the Facilitation team as the Gravity Sports Specialist. Kevin now instructs guides on how to safely and effectively facilitate adventure activities, especially skiing and mountain biking. Kevin also works as the in house bike mechanic and in his free time enjoys backcountry skiing, mountain biking and watching professional sports.

Scott Shaffer
Ropes Specialist Trainer

Scott Shaffer grew up in Idaho where he spent  time camping in the mountains with his family, going backpacking, and learning to mountain bike, rock climb, and ski.  He graduated with a degree in Secondary Education and History from the University of Idaho and decided to apply his education as a primitive wilderness guide in Southern Idaho.  In 2014, Scott found his way to Aspiro where he worked as a field guide for a year and a half, then began working as the Professional Development Coordinator, and finally moving to the Adventure Facilitation Team.  Scott teaches guides how to facilitate adventure with a therapeutic approach and emphasis on risk management.  In his free time, Scott enjoys adventuring in the mountains with his wife and two dogs.

Robert Owen
Field Operations Manager

Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Robert moved to Utah in 2010 to be a field guide for Aspiro. In 2011 he left to work at a therapeutic boarding school, and returned to Aspiro in 2013 as a field guide. Robert is now the the Associate Field Operations Manager, and oversees our expeditions and weekly staffing needs.

Stephan Fanale
Associate Field Operations Manager

Originally from central Massachusetts, Stephen moved to Utah to work as a field guide in 2015, after working as the Program Director for a residential program for adolescents with autism. Stephen is now the Associate Field Operations Manager, and oversees our expeditions and weekly staffing needs.

Justine Hewitt
Base Camp Operations Manager

A New Hampshire native, Justine spent her youth hiking and skiing with her family in the White Mountains. After graduating the University of New Hampshire with degrees in Business Management and Communications she moved out west and quickly fell in love with the mountains and desert. She first heard of Aspiro during a winter spent as a ski instructor and knew that was where she needed to be. At the end of the season she went on a try out, intending to guide for the just the summer. More than two years later she is still with Aspiro, now working in the logistics department. In her work, Justine is privileged to see students at both the beginning of their stay and the end of their stay, highlighting all of the changes they have made during their time in the program. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, skiing, biking and exploring new places.

Clara Durham
Recruiter

In college, Clara studied Management and Educational Leadership. Her combined years of experience in business management, event coordinating, and service work provided a unique and creative foundation for her work in the field of wilderness therapy. Prior to Aspiro, she worked as a Program Director for a leadership program and guided backpacking trips for an outreach program. In a search for further career opportunities and with an existing love for Utah, Clara discovered Aspiro and began as a guide, where her focus was on working with the young adult population. The Recruiter position is a great fit for Clara, enabling her to combine her work experience with her passion for the outdoors while developing and inspiring new guides at Aspiro.

Ian Ferguson, RN
Registered Nurse

Ian Graduated Cum Laude from Westminster College with a BSN. He was introduced to the power of psychiatric nursing on rotations at University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. During his tenure at UNI Ian discovered a passion for this field. He was then selected for a Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program at the VA hospital in Salt Lake City where he had a well-rounded experience working in every department of the hospital, including more time with psychiatric medicine.

Ian has 6 core emergency nursing certifications; BLS (Basic Life Support), ACLS (Advanced Life Support), PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support), TNCC (Trauma Nursing Core Course), ENPC Emergency Nursing Pediatric Course, and NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program).

Ian’s passion for nursing developed after his three-year-old son stopped breathing for over 4 minutes. After almost losing his son Ian reflected on the supportive, caring nurses in the hospital, and the impactful role they played in helping his family through a difficult time. He was then inspired to become a nurse in order to make such a difference for others.

Ian has been working in trauma and emergency nursing over last 2 years and enjoys helping people in times of crisis. Ian says, “Seeing the impact and changes that come from great medical care and intervention are what make my job so enjoyable, making it feel like it’s not really a job at all.”

When he isn’t working Ian loves spending time with his wife and children outdoors; hiking, camping, boating, mountain biking, baseball, football, and soccer. He is an avid skier, snowboarder, rock climber, and mountain biker, which gives him great enthusiasm about Aspiro’s Adventure Therapy approach to treatment. Ian has found much confidence and satisfaction through adventure, as well as peace and healing in the outdoors.

“I absolutely love my job,” says Ian. “I love being able to make a difference in the lives of the patients I work with and I am so enthusiastic about joining such a dynamic team at Aspiro.”

Dale Christensen, MD
Medical Director

Professional Experience

Luke Eckert
Assistant Medical Coordinator

Luke has been working as an instructor and guide in the outdoors since his was 14. Since receiving his undergraduate degree he has funneled his experience into creating safe and therapeutic experiences at Aspiro Adventure. During this time, he pursued opportunities to learn more about medical safety in the wilderness context, resulting in a number of certifications including Wilderness First Responder. Luke also spent more than 6 years working as a volunteer responder for a rescue squad. His passion for the both the physical and mental health of Aspiro students makes him an ideal Assistant Medical Coordinator.