John Winton: Director
John is an engaging and devoted leader who has dedicated his professional career to helping young adults find their way in the world through wilderness therapy. John studied therapeutic recreation in college before spending many years as a wilderness guide and lead instructor. Eventually, John and a business partner created Breakwater Expeditions, a company that offers therapeutic wilderness expeditions to young adults and their parents. John is proud to be the director of Echo Springs where he tirelessly inspires the faculty and interacts with the students on a regular basis. John is also a talented musician and passionate athlete.
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John is the big kahuna on campus, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see him leading student trips and attending group therapy sessions with Echo Springs students. John is a hands-on kind of guy and is passionate about meeting every student and understanding their story. John oversees the entire staff and all the students at Echo Springs. He also keeps in close contact with parents and works closely with his senior staff to constantly refine programming and the goals of the organization.
John considers himself to be a conductor who helps bring out the best in the incredibly talented Echo Springs staff and faculty. His long career working with at-risk youth and his experience in running a successful wilderness expedition company have given him the perspective and tools he needs to inject new energy into Echo Springs and to maintain its reputation as the leading young adult transitional program in the country.
“Echo Springs has such a strong foundation in quality programming. The real-life experience of our faculty members is absolutely unmatched, and our students really get the full benefit of their hard-earned wisdom. This team represents a ton of energy, a ton of care, and a ton of experience. Echo Springs is already at an amazing level, but I’m really excited to see just how much farther we can go.”
John earned his Bachelors of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from Radford University in Virginia. Since 1995, he has been working closely with at-risk teens and adults, first as a wilderness guide and then as a lead instructor. Along the way, he started to realize the integral role parents could play if they also participated in the transitional process. Eventually, John teamed up with Lars Hall to found Breakwater Expeditions, a company that offered wilderness excursions for teens, families, and school groups. One of Breakwater’s clients was Echo Springs. When Doug Kim-Brown decided it was time to hand over the reins of Echo Springs, he contacted John, and the rest is history.
John is a consummate athlete who loves climbing, wild surfing, biking, tennis, golf, basketball, soccer and more. If it’s a sport, John has probably played it at some time. He also comes from an artistic family and enjoys photography and building his own furniture.
John plays the guitar, mandolin, and banjo.
Chris Ankney: Director of Operations
Chris is incredibly passionate about working with young adults. He brings a lot of humor and wisdom to his role as Director of Operations. His multifaceted background includes educational degrees in sustainable business and political science, a stint in the Marines, and a number of years as a wilderness therapy guide. He is also a passionate traveler who has explored many parts of the world, and a serious mountain biker and runner.
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As Director of Operations, Chris Ankney’s job is to make sure all of the faculty members at Echo Springs have the tools they need to excel as they work with their students. Chris is the man behind the curtain, keeping everything running. He handles the company’s financials and works with co-owner John Winton to develop the company’s goals. He and John also continually update the programming to keep it fresh and relevant to Echo Springs students
“Every day I am blown away by our faculty here at Echo Springs. We have such a unique collection of personalities and backgrounds and such an incredible well of real world experience. I love how much each staff member believes in what we are doing, and I know this makes all the difference to our students. Watching our students grow into confident adults who look forward to their future is incredibly satisfying to me.”
Chris brings an eclectic lifetime of experience to Echo Springs, which gives him a unique perspective. He earned his MBA with an emphasis in sustainable business from Marylhurst University and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Montana State University. Chris served with the United States Marine Corps but eventually heeded a desire to “get paid to be outside.” Chris became a wilderness therapy guide and discovered that he had a natural ability to work with young people. Chris has also worked as a rainforest guide in Costa Rica and at a fitness-related internet startup company. (We said his background was eclectic!)
Chris’s passion for adventure has led him all around the world and onto the starting line of some crazy difficult races. Chris has traveled to more countries than he can count, including Peru, Panama, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and more. When he isn’t packing his bags, you can often find him running trails, mountain biking, or training for his next half Iron Man.
Chris also participates in ultra-running races. The longest race he’s ever run is 100k (over 62 miles!).
Emily Phillips: Admissions and Marketing Director
Emily comes to Echo Springs with expansive professional experience working with young adults and adolescents in a variety of alternative educational environments. Professionally, she has served as a program manager, recreation leader, and academic director at a variety of alternative education institutions before founding her own company that provides adventure expeditions across the globe. She has also participated in multiple service trips to Nepal. At Echo Springs, she encourages students to get outside of their own heads and get involved in service, adventure, and travel.
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Emily has a deep understanding of the multi-faceted challenges adolescents and young adults face and how to authentically connect and support students’ unique interests. As the Marketing and Admissions Director of Echo Springs, Emily is in charge of maintaining the integrity and culture of Echo Springs through learning about each potential student and determining if they are a good fit for the program. Emily ensures that every student who enrolls with Echo Springs has the best opportunity to make their own discoveries and contributions to the world.
“I love guiding students and families into a space where they can develop and create a future that offers healthy relationships, goal fulfillment, and peace. It’s beautiful to watch students test their resolve, realize their potential, and ultimately display confidence within themselves as they approach the outside world.”
Emily was born in Ontario, Canada and grew up in Pennsylvania. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Utah State University in a program that integrated psychology, biology, and health education. She is a Wilderness First Responder, Certified Parent Coach, E.M.T., and a trained facilitator of Love and Logic for Parents and Teachers. She has worked with wilderness programs and served in academics and admissions for over two decades. During this time, she created a diagnostic curriculum to help display how student strengths and weaknesses present in a classroom setting.
One of Emily’s greatest passions is service. After multiple service trips to Nepal, she founded the country’s first foster care organization.
She also founded her own therapeutic expedition company, Soul Continuum, which allows young adults to experience multicultural service learning and adventure expeditions in Nepal, Costa Rica, Alaska, and Utah. She has been a professional E.M.T. ski patroller and coach for youth soccer, swimming, and field hockey. She has lived in Canada, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Utah, California, Nepal, and Thailand.
Emily enjoys spending time with her three small children and occasionally finding the time to travel and play in the mountains, rivers, and oceans.
Chelsea Dickinson: Director of Business Development and Admissions
Chelsea believes in the power of authentic connection, innovative thinking, and supportive relationships. In her role as the Director of Business Development and Admissions, her focus is to fully support the young adults, families, and professionals who are seeking the unique solutions that Echo provides. Chelsea weaves together her extensive experience in business development, leadership, and life coaching to help faculty, students, and families to navigate each unique journey to a thriving adulthood.
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Chelsea’s schooling has been an equal mix of social work and business administration. Certified as a Family Life Coach in 2009, she continues to enjoy her work as a certified parent and trauma healing coach. Chelsea began her experience in the adolescent and young adult behavioral health industry in 2002. Her past roles have ranged from program admission to the director of development for a national financial company specializing in funding mental health services. Over her career, she has traveled throughout the United States, evaluating therapeutic programs, and building a network of like-minded professionals. Her inspiration is fueled by the learning of innovative and effective ways young people can heal, families can reunite, and the incredible professionals who make this possible.
“There are so many people, including me, who have found purpose in each day through recovering from adversity. My hope lies not in those who do not suffer, but in the aftermath of what is possible for those who strive to overcome their suffering. At Echo Springs, I’m surrounded by colleagues who feel the same. We have chosen to work towards a brighter future for as many of these young people as possible. What’s not to love!”
Chelsea is the proud mother of three young adults. Her passion for supporting teens and young adults is rooted in her experiences as a mother, former foster parent, and family member to those facing and overcoming mental health challenges, learning differences, and addiction. Her professional and personal experiences work together to bring an authentic approach to developing relationships that support and inspire lasting change.
Chelsea is game for anything related to outdoor fun, making memories, and eating good food. She has a knack for creating fairy gardens, making funny faces, painting rocks, long bike rides, and having impromptu dancing parties- anywhere and anytime. She believes nature is medicine and can be found playing outside, no matter the seasons. Her favorite activities include kayaking, mountain biking, snow skiing, and good old-fashioned snow sledding.
Chelsea is a CrossFit fan, which surprised her as she never considered herself an athlete growing up. She is also a proud 5th generation Idahoan.
David C. Barth LPC, MS: Clinical Advisor
David brings a unique clinical perspective to the Echo Springs programming. He uses honesty, humor, and trust to build strong rapport with students and to guide them in breaking through negative assumptions and beliefs. He also ensures that our programming is founded on the latest clinical research.
David brings over three decades of experience in a therapeutic setting to Echo Springs, including a background in wilderness programming. He is deeply attuned to the young adult population and is able to meet every student where they are. His son, who has special needs, serves as a constant inspiration that every perspective is valid and valuable.
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David helps infuse the Echo Springs program with a more clinical perspective in order to better understand and meet the unique needs of each student. David works directly with the students at Echo Springs, using his strong intuition, compassion, and relational skills to help students break through their perceived limits. David also advises the Echo Springs staff on ways to best support each student.
David is a master of building relationships and teaching on a level of deep honesty, understanding, and openness. Students appreciate David’s humor and his commitment to modeling trust and vulnerability.
“I never write a student off. Instead, I see them where they are and understand them by seeing myself through them. The best part of my job is seeing the light turn on when a student pushes through their perceived limits.”
David grew up in Maryland but has lived with his wife and son in Sandpoint, Idaho for the majority of his adult life. He brings his vast experience in the therapeutic field to Echo Springs, first as an instructor at wilderness programs in central Pennsylvania and Idaho, and then in various positions in therapeutic boarding schools in Idaho and Montana. After accruing many years of hands-on clinical experience, David went back to school in order to earn his master’s degree in counseling from Prescott College and is a licensed counselor in Idaho. In addition, he has taken Level I and Level II training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
He was attracted to Echo Springs for its commitment to relationship-based teaching and the ownership that each staff member takes in the program.
David considers his autistic son to be his greatest teacher and influencer.
When he isn’t guiding students to important personal breakthroughs, David enjoys backcountry skiing, mountain biking, and getting his hands dirty in the garden. He is also committed to his wife and teenage son.
David loves music and plays the guitar and mandolin.
Macy Dimler, LPC: Therapist
Macy was born and raised in rural North Dakota on the shores of Lake Sakakawea. After High School, she spent a year in Denver, Colorado, where she started college and worked with the Eating Disorder Foundation, which focused on education, support, and advocacy to prevent eating disorders.
Macy then earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Valley City State University in North Dakota. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health from the University of Mary. Macy also holds a certificate in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).
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Macy is passionate about helping others discover their human potential, so she uses her passion and gifts to create a unique bond with each student.
“Echo Springs has a meaningful and effective approach to improving the lives of others. It’s so unique to other programs compared to other resources that are out there. It set Echo Springs apart for me in the best way. My favorite part of this job is watching the students grow. That beam of success in their eyes and knowing that I was a small part of that process is so fulfilling.”
Her previous experience includes working in schools with counselors, as a children’s community mental health specialist, and as a behavior technician providing ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Macy keeps very active, whether running, weight training, or challenging herself physically in other domains. She loves painting and spending time outdoors, going on hikes, and exploring the area in her free time.
Macy ran track for 10 years throughout high school and college and has never given up her passion for running.
Kimberly Mlinarik, LCPC: Therapist
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Kim’s current work is a culmination of all of her previous experiences. Using the energetic tools of transformation combined with a safe and nurturing environment, she provides a continuum of services to students through therapy, coaching, energetic healing, empowerment work, and travel experiences.
Kim has always been intrigued with the dynamics of human relationships and all they teach us about ourselves. In college, she majored in psychology, then earned a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
“My work is inspired by the intention to guide each young adult through a journey of healing and expanding, while empowering them to step into their authentic selves to create their dreams.”
Kim grew up in a small town in the midwest. She was born with an adventurous spirit and an innate drive to pursue the things that made her feel alive. Her parents instilled in her the values of hard work and integrity.
Eventually, she felt called to the majestic mountains of the west and moved to Utah to be the clinical director and therapist at a renowned wilderness treatment program. Several years later she transitioned to Idaho to work as a therapist and partner in running a young adult transitional program.
Kim’s greatest passion is exploring cultures around the world. She has traveled to five continents and loves to write about her travels.
Kim is learning to speak Italian and embraces any opportunity to be in the beauty and peace of nature.
Julie K Pitre, LCPC: Therapist
Julie Pitre is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with deep experience in the mental health field.
Originally from New Orleans, she moved to Sandpoint in 2008.
Her areas of therapeutic focus include trauma, attachment, depression, and anxiety.
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Julie is passionate about working with the young adult population because of their resiliency and ability to create lifelong changes. She is a certified yoga instructor and uses somatic awareness in all of her sessions. Julie also utilizes Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) to assist with most treatment goals.
Originally from New Orleans, Julie played soccer and graduated from Louisiana State University before earning an M.Ed. from DePaul University in Chicago. Following her love for all things outdoors, she moved to Sandpoint in 2008. After meeting her husband on a chairlift at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, she knew that this would be her forever home.
If she is not working with Echo students or chasing around her own toddlers, you can find her mountain biking on a local trail.
Tyson Flower, FNP-C: Medication Manager
Tyson is an Idaho native with a passion for helping students afflicted by mental health challenges. He found this passion for mental health during his undergraduate studies at Idaho State University, which resulted in changing his degree to psychology. He later graduated from Union University in Tennessee with a nursing degree. Following graduation, he worked for St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise caring for patients with heart conditions. He then graduated with a Family Nurse Practitioner degree from Northwest Nazarene University.
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In his free time, Tyson enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, riding dirt bikes, golfing, snowboarding, woodworking, and pretty much anything that involves being outside.
Serena Sprungl: Academic & Vocational Director
Serena draws on her experiences as a formally trained historical researcher and writer, a teacher and mentor, and a community organizer to reignite a love of learning in her students. As an academic advisor at Echo Springs, Serena is responsible for helping students achieve their educational goals. As a teacher and tutor, she has a unique gift for presenting information in new and interesting ways to help students grasp difficult concepts and make big leaps in their learning journeys. Serena is passionate about making academics enjoyable and meaningful for teens and young adults.
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Serena’s goal in working with students is to facilitate their own educational journey. At Echo Springs, Serena serves primarily as a tutor to help our students succeed as they take on new educational challenges, whether that is to earn their GED or complete a degree program at North Idaho College. Serena is dedicated to meeting each student where they are and helping them learn at their own pace. Serena’s own love of learning and her passion for teaching shine through, inspiring her students to see education as fun and rewarding.
“Echo Springs is a place where young people have the opportunity to access a variety of tools and guides to help them decide who they want to be in the world. It’s a place where possibilities bloom.”
Serena was born and raised in Boundary County and earned her associate’s degree at North Idaho College, where many of our students attend. She graduated magna cum laude from Western Washington University and then went on to earn a master’s degree in History at Yale University. While at Yale, Serena especially enjoyed mentoring students who, like herself, were from socioeconomic groups underrepresented in academia. As a Yale graduate teaching fellow, Serena discovered her passion for making education accessible and relevant to a diverse audience.
Serena has lived in Washington State, Connecticut, and Texas and, most recently, has worked as a substitute teacher in Boundary County schools. Serena understands that each student faces their own unique educational challenges, and she looks forward to helping them break through limiting assumptions in order to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom.
In her free time, Serena enjoys running, reading, music, and spending time with her daughter, Josy.
Suzie Muldoon: Academic & Vocational Coach
Suzie chose to dedicate herself to working with young adults because she believes it represents a time in one’s life that is filled with endless possibilities, growth, and uncertainty. She thrives in being a part of her student’s journeys during such a pivotal time in their development.
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“I am passionate about learning new data driven strategies for positive youth development. At Echo I have the opportunity to be authentic, share my story, and help guide young people toward leading a life they can be proud of. Navigating life from youth to adulthood is tough work, and I enjoy meeting challenges with creativity, humor and grace. The work we do at Echo makes me feel good inside!”
Suzie hails from Buffalo, New York, known as the city of good neighbors. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree and was drawn to alternative modes of education. She has participated in independent studies consisting of music psychology, child development, and mindfulness meditation, and she refreshes her IMPACT coaching standards annually.
Suzie has worked extensively with youths between the ages of 2 and 25 in education and youth development. She served in Americorps as a Positive Action Teacher, and has been a crew leader for both trail and saw crews for Mile High Youth Corps in Colorado. She held a leadership position with TEENS, Inc. as their Youth Corps Director, and also served as an adviser for students in an alternative highschool. Before joining the team at Echo Springs, Suzie worked as a social emotional educator for OWL Education, a center for students with learning disabilities, and at Northwest College Support as an education coach.
A lifelong athlete, Suzie has coached middle school, high school, college, regional, and nationally accredited volleyball teams. She’s participated in competitive dance, gymnastics, softball, and basketball. Suzie also has a love of music and plays guitar, ukulele, and mandolin.
Suzie has been an elite level volleyball coach for the past 8 years, coaching high school, club, and college-level athletes. And she once played the spoons in a band.
Dave Frost: Phase One Program Manager
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For Dave, working with his students and their families is a privilege and an opportunity to build lasting relationships. He is grateful for every relationship and experience he is able to create. He particularly enjoys teaching the Enneagram and Health & Nutrition class, and witnessing his students’ self awareness, knowledge and confidence expand.
Dave enjoys connecting with the youth to teach them about honesty, courage and respect, through patience, compassion and tough love.
“I love the opportunity to connect with people, to provide opportunities for students to ‘see themselves’ and to learn alongside these incredibly unique individual’s how to navigate life moment to moment. Whether it be on a trail, in a classroom, or in conversation, I have the chance to be my best self, and to be an example of respect, compassion, humility, patience, resilience, generosity, honesty, wisdom and love. I’ve been given the opportunity to reflect back to others their frustrations, their issues, their needs, their wants, and ultimately their own guidance, when they start to hear their own voice reflecting their true self – I love that.”
Dave grew up on the East Coast and has been in the Pacific Northwest since 2008. He began his career in wilderness therapy at Redcliff Ascent as a wilderness guide in 2005. Since 2007 Dave has been focused on connecting with the youth and their families through Adventure-based programming. In addition to his work at Echo Springs, Dave is pursuing a Masters degree in Counseling.
Dave loves to cook, ski, mountain bike, build and create.
Dave is a fraternal twin and while in High School, he had the distinction of being awarded the “Best Dancer Superlative”.
Travis Brim: CDA Program Director
Travis has a strong passion for coming alongside others to help them discover and move towards a healthy and meaningful life. His fervor for adventure and an active lifestyle is evident in his approach to mentoring. He is particularly skilled at holding a mature perspective that creates space for each student to step into independent living.
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Travis’s main focus is to support our students in the second and third phases of their Echo journey. Through collaborating with our community, our team, and each student, Travis oversees these critical phases of transition. As each individual puts the skills they’ve learned into daily practice, Travis helps them create a positive focus so that they can have a balanced, enriched life.
“It is an honor to be part of such a driven and diverse team that jives together and cares unconditionally for the students. It is so necessary to have these qualities in order to meet each young adult where they are at and have a profound impact on their lives. It is an incredible experience to witness the transformation and accomplishment of each individual as they courageously move forward and embrace their identity.”
Travis was born and raised in Nebraska and moved to Northern Idaho after spending a decade in Austin, TX, and Denver, CO. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management with an emphasis on sociology from Bellevue University. He originally started off his career working in the foster care system and aiding in international relief efforts before shifting to a therapeutic setting with adolescents and young adults.
His years of experience include serving as a treatment specialist at a juvenile center, managing aftercare programs, and most recently, life coaching before joining the Echo Springs team. Travis has a strong focus on supporting individuals with executive functioning skills, sobriety coaching, and integrating mindfulness into daily practice.
Travis has served as a board member for a couple of non-profit organizations over the years and, at one point, lived in Sudan, running operations and logistics for a relief NGO. After moving to Idaho, he completed the firefighter academy and currently volunteers for Selkirk Fire and Rescue.
Fun Facts About Travis
Travis stays active by getting out on the trails with his dogs, Jack and Selah, cycling, and snowboarding. His newfound interest is sailing, and is taking suggestions to name his boat. He has been to 43 countries and is always planning his next international adventure.
David Rookey: Phase One Assistant Program Manager
Dave Rookey is a mentor, guide, and friend to the students who come to Echo Springs ready for change. Since 2001, Dave has combined his love of the culinary arts and great sense of humor with his extensive experience working with at-risk populations to create unique programs for the students of Echo Springs.
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Dave cares deeply for each and every one of his students and works to help them discover their individual talents and strengths. In weekly one-on-one meetings, Dave challenges his students to imagine and create goals for themselves. For many students, this is the first time they’ve ever created goals, and just the process of asking, What do I want to accomplish in my life? can create incredibly powerful paradigm shifts and kindle new hope. Dave loves watching his students grow and mature during their time with Echo Springs. He is an incredible listener who is equally comfortable cracking a joke or tackling serious topics with his students. Even as Dave challenges his students to embrace their full potential, they also challenge him to grow in his own life.
Wherever there is a meal cooking, you are likely to find Dave nearby. After running three school culinary programs, Dave loves rolling up his sleeves and shepherding the Sunday night community meal and the Tuesday night potluck. Dave has been a part of the Echo Springs faculty since 2009.
“Many of the students who come here have never seen a future for themselves. When we start working on goals, I see it click with them. Goals create hope. A person with goals is a person who is living in the present and looking forward to the future. When that light turns on, it is one of the most exciting parts of my job.”
Dave grew up in Spokane, Washington, but has called Idaho home for more than half his life. After studying history in school, Dave embraced the culinary arts and found his calling working with adolescents and young adults. Before coming to Echo Springs, Dave developed and implemented a culinary arts curriculum at three different transitional and therapeutic schools. Dave finds his calling in working with young, at-risk populations and continues to find inspiration and joy in his work each day.
Dave and his wife have been married for over two decades. Together, they operate a busy farm that includes sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and a large garden. Dave also loves to fish and spend time with his family, which includes his grandson.
Dave can often be found riding his Enduro 650 motorcycle down the many miles of dirt trails around his home.
Curtis Foster: CDA Assistant Program Manager
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Curtis’s bio coming soon …
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“Quote coming soon”
Tucker Sweeney: Activities Coordinator
Tucker brings a deep passion for the outdoors to the Echo Springs program as our activities coordinator. He believes in leading by example to help students develop a greater awareness of the beauty and power of nature. Tucker enjoys challenging students to discover new strength and courage. His background in teaching at therapeutic boarding schools helps him relate to his students and build friendships for life.
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After a week of hard work and personal growth, the students of Echo Springs always look forward to weekend activities. Tucker Sweeney is ready to guide students on a fun and soul-enriching journey, whether that means a relaxing nature hike, a refreshing kayaking trip, exciting rock climbing, local cultural events or something else.
Tucker leads by example and helps his students actively engage with the real world around them. He believes that introducing students to the power and beauty of nature can help them shift perspectives and view their lives in a more expansive context. Tucker is thrilled to work at Echo Springs. Its small group sizes allow him to get to know each student and form solid friendships. He takes great pride in helping students gain the self-confidence they need to actively take part in their own lives.
“I love listening to a new student express that they have never been happier in their life or watching their expression the first time they eat a huckleberry.”
You could say that Tucker was practically born to be a member of the Echo Springs staff. He grew up in Bonners Ferry, and both of his parents worked at a therapeutic boarding school. From a young age, he was very conscious of the struggles that many young people face during these difficult transitional years. His childhood made a strong impression on him, and Tucker eventually embraced a life of teaching and helping at-risk youths. He earned a K through 12 teaching credential from Boise State University and a wilderness technical certificate from North Idaho College.
During his educational training, Tucker chose to perform his student teaching and substitute teaching requirements in alternative schools. He also worked for several years at a therapeutic school before joining Echo Springs as our activities coordinator.
Tucker loves the active life, which makes him such a great role model for his students. In his off time, he can often be found enjoying all sorts of exciting activities, like rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and ice climbing. He also makes sure to spend lots of time with his wife and young daughter.
Tucker has written a book entitled, Two Steps Forward, One Step Back, about a special diet that he used to help him manage a digestive disease. The book has been purchased by readers all around the world.
April Simpson: Student Advisor
April grew up in Park Ridge Illinois where she developed a belief in the power of human connection. This led April to study psychology and communications at the University of Wisconsin where she earned her Bachelor’s degree. She quickly learned city life wasn’t for her and during a truck camping trip she fell in love with the mountains of North Idaho.
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Throughout her professional life, April has enjoyed working with all kinds of people. She especially enjoyed teaching young people to ski and snowboard which lead her to be interested in working with the young adults at Echo Springs. April has a deep appreciation for the meaningful conversations she has with staff and students. She enjoys being able to connect these conversations with specific, individual goals, and actions. As a Student Advisor, she is inspired all over again every time a student is able to accomplish something he or she didn’t think they could. Her goal is to help each young adult find the courage to expand their growing edge.
Many are impressed to know April has learned to barefoot water ski, which comes with great excitement, huge falls, and entertainment for all who are lucky enough to see her in action.
Matt Donahue: Student Advisor
Since 2002, Matt has dedicated himself to direct care bringing a high level of professional strength and experience to our weekend programming. He is excited to work at Echo springs and values the opportunity to share his experience, strength, and hope with young people.
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Matt quickly captures the hearts of many students with his patient and calm demeanor. He most enjoys connecting students with their passions and modeling a sober and joyful life. One of his favorite experiences at Echo Springs was accompanying a group of students to Alaska during a summer expedition trip. He loved seeing the group work well as a team and he felt proud to be a part of it.
Weekends at Phase Two are filled with music, time for meaningful talks, and you may even meet Bunny, Matt’s beloved dog. Matt skillfully coordinates our weekend activities by weaving his many talents and passion for working with young adults into Echo Springs programming.
Matt’s multitalented resume ranges from filmmaker and professional musician to a professional snowboarder (to name just a few).
Matt attended Mount Hood College and the Art Institute of Portland where he studied music, Spanish, French, multimedia production, and computer science.
Matt resides in Sandpoint, Idaho. In his spare time, he can be found playing music, enjoying the outdoors, spending time with friends, family, and Bunny.
Avery Auletta: Student Advisor
Avery grew up in Sandpoint ID, then spent time in Charleston SC before returning to the Northwest.
He values the importance of being able to be an agent for positive outcomes for Echo’s students. He recounts with pride the instances when parents tell him how much he means to their son or daughter: “Hearing when a parent tells me that their son or daughter talks about me in such high regard really gives me validation that I am making an impact on the lives I am working with.”
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Avery is a part of the team of Student Advisors that lay the groundwork for Echo’s students to build a path to fulfill their potential.
“I enjoy what I do because I am able to help people see their true value, and see what they are capable of. I
enjoying being a resource that students can lean on as they work to achieve the best version of
themselves. I relish the opportunity to motivate others and be the driving force behind the
opportunities that help propel them to success.”
Avery has a degree from Spokane Falls Community College in Addiction Studies. He is currently pursuing a Psychology Degree at City University of Seattle. He plans on pursuing a NASM certification (National Academy of Sports Medicine) in health and fitness and a Master in Performance Psychology after that.
It was when he began work on his Psychology degree that he learned about Echo Springs and set out the goal of joining the team, first as a volunteer and eventually as Student Advisor staff member.
Avery is passionate about art, music, and fitness. He enjoys painting with spray paint and Dj’ing music from hip-hop to EDM, as well as many other genres. He takes fitness and nutrition very seriously and hopes to one day work with athletes and people from all walks of life to maximize performance and ability.
Michelle Loutzenhiser: Student Advisor
Michelle brings a broad experience in program development and treatment planning to Echo Springs.
Her previous experience includes working with children with severe autism and other developmental challenges.
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As a lifelong resident of Sandpoint, Idaho, Michelle is proud to put her skills to work, helping mentor and coach young adults so close to her hometown. Michelle believes each student can successfully adapt to any situation they face in the future if they have trusting relationships and the right level of support and encouragement. She works individually to help our students identify their day-to-day struggles and then takes the time to co-create a path forward.
““I love the sense of community Echo Springs brings to our students and staff.”
Michelle says her proudest moments at Echo are when, “I can truly reflect on where our students started, even before coming to Echo, and where they are now. What a joy to help students take the next step towards independence.”
In her personal time, Michelle loves watching classic films and sharing them with others.
Natalie Koster: Student Advisor
Natalie found Echo Springs through a women’s networking group and instantly knew she had found her work home.
She leverages her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology to help students engage with the world as they pursue new experiences, develop new hobbies, and learn much about themselves in the process.
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At Echo Springs
Natalie is excellent at getting the students engaged in their worlds.
“I love introducing students to new hobbies. It’s rewarding to help them explore the outdoors, new perspectives, and ultimately to have fun while learning about themselves.”
In addition to having fun with our students, Natalie is passionate about helping young adults grow into their full potential.
Natalie grew up in Huntington Beach, California. She attended Northern Arizona University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology before moving to Sandpoint, Idaho to be closer to her parents and grandparents. Shortly after her move, she attended a 10-day silent meditation retreat.
Natalie discovered her passion for helping people find peace within themselves. It was then that she knew she wanted to be in the mental health field. She found Echo Springs through a women’s networking group and instantly knew she had found her work home.
The best moments at Echo Springs for Natalie are, “Seeing the walls of resistance come down for the students after they’ve done so much work. It’s truly an honor to witness these moments.”
As a side passion and hobby, Natalie crafts handmade beaded crystal jewelry. She also loves animals, the outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.
Rich Simpson: Student Advisor
As a lifetime practitioner of meditation, and a student of spiritual psychology, Rich brings a calm demeanor with him to Echo Springs.
He enjoys helping students find the keys to self-motivation when they can begin to regard work more like play.
READ MORE ABOUT RICH
At Echo Springs
Rich leverages his calm demeanor and sense of joy, acquired through a lifetime of meditation and studies of spiritual psychology, to help students find the keys to self-motivation as they begin to regard work more like play.
“I am most satisfied when I can contribute toward a student’s discovery of his or her own individual strengths and passions.”
Rich grew up on the East Coast and moved to The Northwest, where he and his wife raised their two sons in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Rich majored in music at college and has been a composer-producer for his entire adult life. For the past three decades, he has been working in programs for young people.
Before joining Echo springs full-time, Rich worked at a program for US students living abroad in Latin America.
He has lived and worked in five Latin American countries during the last two decades and still considers Argentina his home away from home. In his spare time, Rich enjoys hikes in the mountains as well as fishing and camping.
Wayne Schulze: Student Advisor
Bio coming soon
READ MORE ABOUT WAYNE
At Echo Springs
Kristie Rickter: Administrative Assistant
Kristie has an amazing ability to stay calm and collected in our busy office. We appreciate her caring nature and bright smile. Kristie has spent most of her professional career working with at-risk youth, including many years serving as the manager of two floors at a therapeutic boarding school. Her experience, organizational skills, and compassion make her a great asset to our staff. Kristie is also a great mom who loves spending time with her two children.
READ MORE ABOUT KRISTIE
At Echo Springs
A program like Echo Springs has a lot of moving pieces, and Kristie is the person who makes sure all of those pieces are flowing. Chances are, if you call Echo Springs, you’ll hear her pleasant, caring voice answer you on the other end. Kristie is an excellent administrative assistant who is somehow always calm and delightful despite the whirlwind of activity around her. She keeps every student’s information up to date, makes travel arrangements, answers calls, tracks referrals, makes sure students have minutes on their phones and so, so, so much more!
“I consider what we do here at Echo Springs to be extremely important, because we need more young adults in the world with character, discipline, and direction. I take a lot of pride in watching our students progress and make healthy choices on their own. Nothing is better than knowing that our students are on the path to productive lives.”
Kristie grew up in Lake Arrowhead, California and received her Associate’s Degree from San Bernardino Community College. She then spent over ten years working at a transitional boarding school, first as an assistant team manager and then as a team manager. This experience allowed Kristie to deeply connect with the students in her charge and gave her great insight that comes in handy at Echo Springs. Kristie joined Echo Springs in 2014 so that she could continue working with youth in transition while spending more time with her young family.
Kristie describes herself as a “Total Mom,” and takes great joy in raising her two young children.
Kristie was once a professional figure skater. Though her job and her kids keep her plenty busy, Kristie finds time every once in a while to lace up her skates and get out on the ice.
Rebecca Bonnell: Administrative Assistant
Rebecca is a cheerful soul and brightens the day of those who come into contact with her. She is known for her patience, organization, and ability to stay calm under pressure. Rebecca enjoys meeting and assisting the students of Echo Springs whenever she can. When she’s off the clock, Rebecca can often be found spending time with her two children or hiking through the woods when the weather is warm.
READ MORE ABOUT REBECCA
At Echo Springs
The life of an administrative assistant at Echo Springs is a whirlwind of activity, but Rebecca always has a smile and a cheerful greeting for her co-workers and the students of Echo Springs. At any given hour, she may be found answering a parent’s question on the phone, scheduling appointments, paying invoices, helping students register for college classes, and so much more. Her organizational skills and positive attitude are greatly appreciated by everyone she comes in contact with.
A day at the office of Echo Springs is never boring, and Rebecca wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s exciting to be part of the quality team that makes up the Echo Springs faculty and having the opportunity to offer support to both the faculty and the students in various ways. I love the small, friendly environment at Echo Springs and the sense that people care about each other and about the work they do.”
Rebecca is a native Idahoan and earned her Associate’s Degree from Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee. A few years after she graduated, her first child was born. She welcomed another baby into the family soon after and decided to stay home and raise her children during their first years of life. As her children grew older, Rebecca re-entered the workforce at Echo Springs in 2010. She appreciates the ability to work on a part-time basis so she can spend time with her growing family.
Rebecca loves being a mother of two, but when she’s not laughing and playing with her children, she loves being outdoors. Rebecca hikes, skis cross country, and is always experimenting with new seeds in her garden.
Rebecca is a self-proclaimed super good ping pong player but asks that she be allowed a few days to shake off the rust before being challenged to a match.