Admissions +1-877-788-8422 Main Campus 304-445-7790
158 Academy Lane, Route 3, Pence Springs, WV 24962

Meet Our Staff

Meet Our Leadership Team

Rachel Call

Executive Director/CEO

John Grago, MA

Headmaster/Outreach
John’s role at Greenbrier Academy involves leading a team of passionate directors in the effective implementation of therapeutic, residential and academic objectives. He ensures each department operates within the framework of our “Aspirational” system and targets individual student and family needs. John joined Greenbrier Academy in 2009 as an admissions counselor. Prior to working at Greenbrier Academy, he spent eight years working in a wilderness program where he served six of those years as a therapist and two years in the role of an admissions director. He holds a BA in Psychology from West Virginia University, a MA in Counseling from Marshall University and has over 18 years working with youth in the private sector. As a father of two daughters, John knows how delicate daughters can appear; yet how powerful, driven and inspiring they truly are. “It takes a lot of resiliency to navigate the social, academic and technological challenges our daughters face, but they can overcome it!” says John. “We see them do it on a daily basis and it’s always rewarding to hear from that Alumni student who says, ‘I made it!’.”

Heather Bowden, MSW, LCSW

Clinical Therapist/Programming Director
When I think about everything that teenagers must grapple with in the world today, I feel saddened and worried. There seems to be so much more complexity and contention than even just a decade ago. And yet, I am continuously blown away by the resilience and insight that the students I work with at GBA exhibit. They are given the chance to work through the “tar” (i.e. trauma, anxiety, attachment, substance use, etc.) that threatens to stand in the way of having a meaningful and content future. My journey to be part of Greenbrier Academy and helping in the “tar removing” process was a nonlinear one. I was born and raised in the New River Valley in Southwestern Virginia and received a BA in Studio Art at Hollins University. In 2009/2010 I lived in Ghana for a year at which time I founded a primary school in a remote rainforest village. This was simultaneously the most naïve and momentous experience of my life. To support and build a better school building, I began a non-profit, the Pocket Project. After a couple more trips, I eventually handed over the school to the local government. The Nsumensa Village Primary School is still running today. It was the international humanitarian work that inspired me to pursue social work. I received my MSW degree from Radford University with a certificate in Military Social Work. With experience in a residential treatment center, private practice counseling, and hospice – I joined GBA ready to empower and heal on an individual and family level. Joining me in this process is my dog, Henry, who often rests his head on my student’s knee when they are down or snores in his sleep during sessions.

Cristiano Melo

Academic Dean
As a native of Brazil, Cristiano brings with him a vast knowledge of languages and cultures to share with our students. Cristiano attended the Southern University of Santa Catarina where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Language Education and Second Language Learning. Working as a teacher, Cristiano gained experience teaching English and Portuguese to middle and high school students in Brazil for seven years. He also taught at Colégio UNESC for three years and at KNN Idiomas, a language school, for three years. In 2011, Cristiano was awarded and elected into the Fulbright Program, where he received a Language Teaching Assistant scholarship allowing him to teach Portuguese at Bluefield State College for one scholastic year. Growing up, he always respected a teacher’s role because of their ability to positively influence those in their classes. As a teacher, he has had the opportunity to motivate individuals who may have felt misguided or misunderstood. He loves being able to provide students with a new view of learning and strives to inspire them as he has been inspired. Having worked closely with young adults and business professionals for some time, Cristiano has walked with people from many different paths of life. As a teacher of both the young and old, he has spent time not only cultivating an effective approach to teaching, but also learning how to listen to, motivate and understand his students on an individual level. Above all, languages are Cristiano’s passion. “As some may give themselves to more commonly recognized artistic passions, I devote most of my time to this art form,” says Cristiano. “I think the ability to communicate with and understand people from all over the world is something magical.” At GBA, Cristiano found another interest in the school’s theater program. “Allowing one to become another person on stage, through physical expression and imagination, provides a deeper understanding of self and one’s personal capabilities.” Outside of Greenbrier Academy, Cristiano enjoys being in nature and experiencing the natural beauties of the world. Outdoor sports and games always keep him grounded and in high spirits. His other interests include reading, watching movies, participating in theater and traveling. Cristiano is driven by his philosophy that positivity and personal progression can be born out of a student finding their worth in everyday accomplishments. “Gaining self-esteem in daily successes quickly diminishes negative feelings on which one may be focusing. Therefore, I try to constantly provide opportunities for my students to accomplish these small successes in order for them to take their own steps in finding more meaningful success in life.” Cristiano also seeks to incorporate fun and humor in his classroom wherever possible. “We are all here to enjoy life, and I think promoting light heartedness and warm humor is a great way to build strong, trusting connections with my GBA students.”

Kelly Sams

Director Of Human Resources
As Director of Human Resources, Kelly maintains a close relationship not only with staff, but with our students as well. She joined Greenbrier’s team in 2015 with a background in marketing, admissions and administration. Her previous expertise in relationship management and communication informs her work here at GBA. Searching for the opportunity to make a difference in young lives, Kelly found her way to Greenbrier Academy and assimilated GBA’s philosophies naturally. She earned her bachelor’s in sociology from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and began her professional career working in nursing homes as a certified nursing assistant and activities coordinator. Before joining Greenbrier, her career led her to a 180-bed nursing and rehabilitation center in Beckley, West Virginia, where she served both employees and residents for six years as the Director of Admissions, Sales and Marketing. At home, Kelly loves to spend time with her husband and two daughters, ages 12 and 9. As a family, they enjoy participating in outdoor activities together and visiting the beach as much as possible. With a creative eye for photography, she frequently spends free time taking photos and documenting life through pictures.

Amber Reed

Residential Director
When parents tour Greenbrier Academy, they often ask about the program’s model and how it works. Meeting Amber may be the best answer to their questions, as she credits working at Greenbrier Academy as being a turning point in her own life direction. Starting as a mentor to the girls, she absorbed the lessons and philosophy offered at Greenbrier Academy and made changes in her life that resulted in her quickly becoming a source of inspiration to the students. Amber lives by the motto “we will love you until you can love yourself,” and everyone that meets her - be it student, staff or visitor - immediately feels embraced by her warmth, compassion and ability to empathically connect.

L. Jay Mitchell

Founder
GBA is the culmination of my 35 years developing therapeutic programs to heal emotional disorders and to create resilience in adolescents. Beginning with the SUWS Adolescent Program in 1981, the maiden program that sprung the wilderness therapy industry, I’ve been a researcher and an innovator. I’m driven by “how can we better serve the families that put their trust in us.” With decades of experience and over 10,000 graduates of my residential programs, I’ve given my life to this cause. As the father of 4 daughters, I feel a tremendous amount of compassion and empathy for the families that we serve. I’ve developed an expertise in changing beliefs and re-directing nervous system energy from emotional trauma. My early years as a USAF JAG and a law firm partner have been invaluable in coursing through the regulatory, financial, and business maze of this evolving industry. GBA is the manifestation of a Vision not an investment.

Brent D. Slife, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist/Co-Founder
Dr. Slife is a clinical psychologist who is currently Professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University. He has been honored recently with several awards for his scholarship and teaching, including the Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association for his contribution to psychology, the Eliza R. Snow Award for research on the interface of science and religion, the Karl G. Maeser Award for top researcher at BYU, the Circle of Honor Award from the Student Honor Association, and both “Teacher of the Year” by the university and “Most Outstanding Professor” by the psychology student honorary, Psi Chi. Professor Slife moved from Baylor University where he served as Director of Clinical Training for many years and was honored there as “Outstanding Research Professor” as well as the “Circle of Achievement” award for his teaching. As a Fellow of several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, he recently served as the President of the Society of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, on the Council of the American Psychological Association, and on the editorial boards of eight journals: Journal of Mind and Behavior, Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, Humanistic Psychologist, Journal of Qualitative Research in Psychology, International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, Qualitative Psychology, and Terrorism Research. He has authored or co-authored over 200 articles and 7 books, including Human Frailty, Vice, and Suffering: Flourishing in the Context of Limits and Dependency (in press, APA Books), Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues (2013, McGraw-Hill), Critical Thinking About Psychology: Hidden Assumptions and Plausible Alternatives (2005, APA Books), Critical Issues in Psychotherapy: Translating New Ideas into Practice (2001, Sage Publications), What’s Behind the Research? Hidden Assumptions in the Behavioral Sciences (1995, Sage Publications), and Time and Psychological Explanation (1993, SUNY Press). Dr. Slife is a co-owner, executive board member, therapist/counselor trainer, family program facilitator, and consulting clinical psychologist at Greenbrier Academy. For more information please check his website at http://www.brentslife.com.

Kim Morgan

Facilities & Environment Director
Kim aspires to make Greenbrier Academy for Girls the perfect home away from home that is safe, comfortable and inspiring for your daughter. As Director of Facilities and Environment, Kim puts her passion for interior and exterior design to work, creating functional and visually appealing surroundings. From dorm rooms to grounds keeping and everything in between, she strongly believes that crafting well-designed spaces for studying, entertaining and relaxation are key to your daughter’s growth. Her additional responsibilities include overseeing IT and overall campus maintenance. Kim first joined Greenbrier Academy for Girls in August 2010 as the Admissions Assistant and Receptionist. Prior to this, she was the Sales Office Administrator for The Greenbrier Sporting Club, the luxury real estate development at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Her experience at The Greenbrier included updating content for multiple websites, coordinating on and off-site events, photography and brochure creation for multimillion-dollar luxury homes as well as directly supervising the sales office administrative staff. When she’s not working, you can usually find her enjoying a good book, gardening, antiquing, discovering inspiration on Pinterest and decorating. But above all else, she enjoys spending time with her family at home in Hinton, West Virginia. Together with her husband, they have two dogs, three adult sons and now three grandsons, whom she adores!

Meet Our Marketing & Admissions Team

Tom Condon

Marketing Director

Tracey O'Dell-Caruso

Director Of Admissions & Outreach
Tracey began her career working with troubled youth in public schools. It didn’t take long for her to realize that education is only a small part of helping others overcome the obstacles that hold them back. “Greenbrier Academy offers girls the support they need in a loving, nurturing environment. I am honored and humbled to be a part of a talented, loving and supportive team who are so committed to the girls and families we serve. Spend five minutes at Greenbrier Academy and you can tell that this isn’t just a job for our staff, it is a mission,” says Tracey. Admissions is the first point of contact for most families who are searching for the right place to preserve and protect their daughter’s future. Tracey’s goal is for every family she speaks with to experience the love and compassion that is Greenbrier Academy. She wants parents to feel confident they are making the right decision. Tracey holds a BA in English Literature and an MA in teaching. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband, reading, doing yoga and paddle boarding.

Meet Our Clinical Team

Heather Bowden, MSW, LCSW

Clinical Therapist/Programming Director
When I think about everything that teenagers must grapple with in the world today, I feel saddened and worried. There seems to be so much more complexity and contention than even just a decade ago. And yet, I am continuously blown away by the resilience and insight that the students I work with at GBA exhibit. They are given the chance to work through the “tar” (i.e. trauma, anxiety, attachment, substance use, etc.) that threatens to stand in the way of having a meaningful and content future. My journey to be part of Greenbrier Academy and helping in the “tar removing” process was a nonlinear one. I was born and raised in the New River Valley in Southwestern Virginia and received a BA in Studio Art at Hollins University. In 2009/2010 I lived in Ghana for a year at which time I founded a primary school in a remote rainforest village. This was simultaneously the most naïve and momentous experience of my life. To support and build a better school building, I began a non-profit, the Pocket Project. After a couple more trips, I eventually handed over the school to the local government. The Nsumensa Village Primary School is still running today. It was the international humanitarian work that inspired me to pursue social work. I received my MSW degree from Radford University with a certificate in Military Social Work. With experience in a residential treatment center, private practice counseling, and hospice – I joined GBA ready to empower and heal on an individual and family level. Joining me in this process is my dog, Henry, who often rests his head on my student’s knee when they are down or snores in his sleep during sessions.

Tanya McClung, MA, LPC

Counselor
In life, it is not what happens to us, but who we choose to become from our experiences. Human beings grow and flourish through their relationships. Those relationships play a pivotal role in our development and how productively we perform in our lives. Through life experiences we can discover our own beliefs, strengths and even weaknesses to help us form meaningful and loving relationships. “I believe that each individual has a different way of processing and healing, which is why I don’t have one theoretical approach and tend to work with a multifaceted agenda. This allows me to use an array of practices that include psychodrama, neurolinguistic programming, brainspotting, expressive arts, somatic processing, mindfulness, and meta-modeling. Through these practices, my focus becomes helping a student to understand how their negative relationships, environment, behaviors and beliefs may hinder their movement to a brighter future,” says Tanya. Tanya joins Greenbrier with a Master’s in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and a Bachelor’s degree in Social work from Concord University.

Dianna Dorman, LGSW

Counselor
Everyone has a positive intention behind the behavior they engage in. We’re all greatly influenced by our relationships, family experiences and social placement in the world regarding race, culture, class, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion. It is through the context of our relationships combined with the power of possibility that healing can occur. “I believe that no single approach works for everyone. My therapeutic method is eclectic and contextual. In my practice, I pull heavily from relational principles and work from a personal-growth model where my role is that of a partner in holistic healing. I incorporate art, somatic experiencing for the treatment of trauma, psychodrama, mindfulness and hypnotherapy. My focus is aiding students to discover underlying false beliefs that are impacting the environments, behaviors and strategies they have engaged in up until their treatment stay. Utilizing this new self-awareness, I support students in discovering their unique capabilities and developing new beliefs that are more in line with their true nature” says Dianna. Dianna’s educational background includes a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a double minor in Sociology as well as Human Development and Family Studies from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Stacey Lambert, MSW, LGSW

Counselor
Stacey’s experience working with diverse groups of young women inspired her to immerse herself in learning about the complexities of emotional trauma. She strives to empower clients to achieve the change necessary to have meaningful, fulfilling relationships with self and others. Her desire to promote powerful healing lead her to Greenbrier’s relationality model, which she found in alignment with her observations of how people grow and change. “I have continued to add to my repertoire of helping skills over the last 15 years and utilize a spectrum of therapeutic modalities that includes family systems, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, brainspotting, neurolinguistic programming and somatic re-experiencing,” says Stacey. Her educational background includes a BA in Human Development and Family Studies from West Virginia University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Denver, one of the nation’s top social work graduate programs. As a licensed clinician, she has experience working in a variety of diverse settings which include schools, providing in-home services, outpatient mental health and working with victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Carol Lewis, MA, LPC, LSW

Equine Assisted Therapist
When someone has experienced the trauma of adversity in their past relationships with others, it may be easier for them to develop a relationship with a horse who relates to them in the present moment. Experiential activities with horses help the individual to move beyond the limiting belief system that they may have about themselves and their place in the world. Equine therapy naturally supports the relationality model that is embraced by GBA. At the beginning of her career, Carol spent 12 years as a social worker working with individuals with developmental disabilities. During that time, she developed and directed a therapeutic riding program as a certified PATH Instructor. Prior to her position at GBA, she was employed for 12 years as a licensed professional counselor for a rural residential treatment facility in WV for adolescents who were in temporary custody of the state. During that time, she developed and directed an Equine Therapy program. Carol’s educational background includes a BA in Sociology from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Marshall University Graduate College in WV. Her passion is in being able to combine her avocation (her love of horses) with her vocation of being of service to others. She believes that the very principles which guide true horsemanship skills are also the premise of virtuous life skills. As Buck Brannaman, a renowned horseman/clinician has said; “Horses and life: it’s all the same to me.”

Brianna Wilde, MSW

Counselor
There is a commonly known phrase that goes, “you can’t pour from an empty glass”. During her time as a mental health professional, Brianna has held this to be true. Her goal is to help our girls who have become “empty” find the resources within themselves and their relationships with others and the world around them to become “full” again; ultimately being able to give and receive love without limitations. Brianna has spent the majority of her professional career working with young adults dealing with substance use disorders. She has always had the desire to work with adolescents, believing it is the most delicate time throughout the lifespan. She has worked in public schools, residential facilities and outpatient treatment centers. In these environments, it often seemed to her that everyone was expected to fit into a box. As she has never met a human being shaped like a square, she was drawn to the Strong Relationality philosophy of Greenbrier Academy. “I take a unique and individualized approach when working with students, meeting them where they are. I believe in the power of creative expression and nature for the process of healing, so I often use techniques that include various forms of art, creative writing and the outdoors. I also believe in the importance of service to others, as I dedicated a year of my life to national community service,” says Brianna. Brianna received a Master’s Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in community-based family practice from Radford University in Radford, Virginia and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Dinah Palmer, LPN

Medical Coordinator
With over ten years of healthcare experience and her compassionate and caring nature, Dinah has spent her nursing career promoting the quality of life in her community. She is committed to working closely with local political, community and medical leaders to promote economic, social and educational growth for her fellow citizens. Dinah says, “My passion is to see my fellow man gain education, healthcare and happiness in life regardless of social and economic status.” She is a staunch spokesperson against domestic violence, “so our children and their family can become productive citizens and little children can feel safe and loved.” During past work at an adolescent behavioral science hospital unit, Dinah had the opportunity to work with adolescents from various economic and social backgrounds. As part of the treatment team, she was able to gain valuable insights regarding the issues that teens face today. She says, “Each person has his/her own unique personality and must be approached accordingly. I love watching the growth and development of each student as they advance toward a successful life and career, knowing that I am a small part of their success. Through kindness, consideration, and guidance, I want to serve as an example to these young students.” Dinah also enjoys singing, writing stories for her granddaughter and being involved in community and church activities.

Misty Meadows

Neurofeedback Technician
Misty joined Greenbrier Academy as a Residential Advisor in 2017. She believes that she has gained a better understanding of empathy, forgiveness and connection that she has been able to apply in her own daily life since beginning work here. Her life’s passion has always been to reach out and help those who are less fortunate. In her spare time, she enjoys the adventures of the outdoors with her family and friends; horseback riding through the beautiful WV countryside, kayaking the Greenbrier River and camping. She has been certified as a Neurofeedback technician, and her goal is to be the best role model possible for the girls and help them reach their full potential for life experiences.

Jessica Persinger

Neurofeedback Technician/Assistant Medical Coordinator
Jessica joined the Greenbrier team in 2012 as a Residential advisor. She enjoyed being a role model to the girls so much that, after leaving in 2014 to care for her daughter, she returned to her position in 2017. It was then that she was offered her current position of Assistant Medical Coordinator. “As the assistant to the medical coordinator I am passionate about the girls being comfortable and safe,” says Jessica. “I feel the girls enjoy spending time with me when I am transporting them to appointments as they are very open and honest with me. I feel that this is more than a job, it is building relationships and connections just like a family. This has also helped me in having patience and guidance with my own daughter.” Jessica has completed an Associate’s degree from University of Phoenix in Health Care Administration and Medical Records. She has obtained certification in medical terminology and been trained in Therapeutic Crisis intervention. In her spare time, she enjoys various outdoor activities and going to the beach as much as possible with her family. She loves to watch her daughter play sports and is always the loudest parent cheering her on. She says, “My life has been changed in so many positive ways working here at GBA that I have truly been blessed.”

Alicia Dennison

Research Coordinator/Residential Assistant
Alicia has been with Greenbrier Academy for 8 years and become very appreciative of the relationality approach used here. She says “I fully agree that our relationships help shape us into who we are and that forming positive bonds is essential to our emotional health. I also appreciate the different virtues that we try to instill into the students and staff alike. I have seen some incredible outcomes due to the overall vision of our program.” “One of the greatest parts of this position is getting to see firsthand the changes made in the girls that pass through our doors” says Alicia. “It is a wonderful experience getting to mentor and help in the transformation process that these young women make when here. My hope is that I can have a lasting impact, no matter how small, on each student I get the privilege to work with.” Outside of Greenbrier, she enjoys spending time with her husband, twin boys and two daughters while pursuing her undergraduate degree in Special Education.

Meet Our Academic Team

Cristiano Melo

Academic Director
As a native of Brazil, Cristiano brings with him a vast knowledge of languages and cultures to share with our students. Cristiano attended the Southern University of Santa Catarina where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Language Education and Second Language Learning. Working as a teacher, Cristiano gained experience teaching English and Portuguese to middle and high school students in Brazil for seven years. He also taught at Colégio UNESC for three years and at KNN Idiomas, a language school, for three years. In 2011, Cristiano was awarded and elected into the Fulbright Program, where he received a Language Teaching Assistant scholarship allowing him to teach Portuguese at Bluefield State College for one scholastic year. Growing up, he always respected a teacher’s role because of their ability to positively influence those in their classes. As a teacher, he has had the opportunity to motivate individuals who may have felt misguided or misunderstood. He loves being able to provide students with a new view of learning and strives to inspire them as he has been inspired. Having worked closely with young adults and business professionals for some time, Cristiano has walked with people from many different paths of life. As a teacher of both the young and old, he has spent time not only cultivating an effective approach to teaching, but also learning how to listen to, motivate and understand his students on an individual level. Above all, languages are Cristiano’s passion. “As some may give themselves to more commonly recognized artistic passions, I devote most of my time to this art form,” says Cristiano. “I think the ability to communicate with and understand people from all over the world is something magical.” At GBA, Cristiano found another interest in the school’s theater program. “Allowing one to become another person on stage, through physical expression and imagination, provides a deeper understanding of self and one’s personal capabilities.” Outside of Greenbrier Academy, Cristiano enjoys being in nature and experiencing the natural beauties of the world. Outdoor sports and games always keep him grounded and in high spirits. His other interests include reading, watching movies, participating in theater and traveling. Cristiano is driven by his philosophy that positivity and personal progression can be born out of a student finding their worth in everyday accomplishments. “Gaining self-esteem in daily successes quickly diminishes negative feelings on which one may be focusing. Therefore, I try to constantly provide opportunities for my students to accomplish these small successes in order for them to take their own steps in finding more meaningful success in life.” Cristiano also seeks to incorporate fun and humor in his classroom wherever possible. “We are all here to enjoy life, and I think promoting light-heartedness and warm humor is a great way to build strong, trusting connections with my GBA students.”

Anne Hunter

Art Teacher & Drumming Coordinator
Anne has worked in the field of arts education since 2009. She joined Greenbrier Academy in 2012, bringing with her a love of art and creative expression. Before her start at GBA, Anne worked as a guide with the True North Wilderness Program in Vermont in 2008. While in Vermont, she also served as an aid and behavior interventionist for an 8th grade student. Anne graduated from Alfred University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Education. Motivated by her love of travel, she studied abroad for some time at Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. Anne’s creativity and drive to help children led her to Greenbrier Academy. Serving as both our art teacher and drumming coordinator, her inventiveness is put to good use at our school. “I love engaging in the process and experience of healing teens through art and rhythm,” says Anne. She finds it tremendously rewarding to witness her students’ journeys as they find strength and self-worth through honoring their unique creative expression, whether it be through visual art or through the power of drumming. “I love watching students reach for new goals as they develop the discipline and passion to meet them.” Anne enjoys working with teens in particular because of the vibrancy and spirit that they bring to the classroom. She strives to encourage her students to discover their inner beauty and confidence by helping to guide them technically and emotionally as they push their creative boundaries. “I love helping students understand the significance of their voice and the integral part they play in our school and community.” She feels lucky to teach in such an amiable environment alongside her devoted and compassionate coworkers. A strong proponent of humanitarian work, Anne has participated in service trips to Kenya and the Dominican Republic as well as a GBA service trip to Nicaragua. She gives back on a local level by painting murals in her community here at home. Anne enjoys getting students involved in such projects as well. She enters students into art contests at the local Carnegie Hall and promotes their involvement in the charity event “Empty Bowls.” She also accompanies her drumming performance group to local schools, churches, festivals and private events in the area. In her time away from GBA, Anne participates in making and selling many kinds of art, including the ceramics that she creates in her own, personal ceramics studio at home.

Susie Blankenship

Registrar & College Counselor
Susie joined the Greenbrier Academy team in 2011 after obtaining her first Bachelor’s degree in HR Business Management from Radford University, a second Bachelor’s degree in Human Service Counseling from Old Dominion University and some Master’s work in Special Education at Grand Canyon University. With prior experience as a TCI instructor, one-on-one assistant and administrative assistant, Susie originally served as a lead night residential advisor at Greenbrier Academy. She then transferred to the math department before assuming her current position as registrar/college counselor. Married with a daughter and twin boys, Susie enjoys hunting, NASCAR, volleyball and basketball, as well as spending time with her family go kart racing. She is also a member and officer of the Narrows Jr. Woman’s Club.

Adam Lewis

Math Teacher & College Prep
Adam’s mathematical interests include geometry, abstract algebra and the role of mathematics as both a cultural instrument and a system for logical expression. To appeal to different learning styles, his preferred teaching style combines direct instruction, technology applications and opportunities for student creativity and research. He enjoys helping students find opportunities to make relational connections through mathematical concepts. A Concord University graduate with a degree in math education, Adam was born in West Virginia and worked as a private tutor for two years before joining Greenbrier Academy in 2014. Before arriving at Greenbrier Academy, he helped to organize a writing center at New River Community and Technical College. Since joining Greenbrier Academy, he has supported groups of students in volunteer activities including youth tutoring and our recycling program. Outside of school, his hobbies include camping, hiking, computer programming and linguistics.

Jennifer Mann

English Teacher
Jennifer began her career with Greenbrier as a Residential Advisor. This allowed her to be immersed within the community, culture and model that represents our school. This well-rounded experience prepared her, beyond measure, to become an English Teacher and Balanced Body & Mind coordinator. Jennifer says, “Every student desires a learning atmosphere that is inviting and inspiring. I have always possessed the passion to help others and am grateful that my work at Greenbrier Academy allows me to do so on a daily basis. Working with students in a small environment allows them to feel more comfortable and engaged in higher learning. My classroom and compassionate teaching techniques allow for my students to grow both academically and socially.” Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Concord University and is currently furthering her education in Special Education at Walden University. She excited to continue her journey with Greenbrier and “grow alongside our wonderful community!”

Kelly Arfsten

Equine Director
Kelly enjoys nothing more than seeing people and horses connect and build a relationship. “I believe in the benefits of equine assisted therapy and feel fortunate to be able to provide the girls at GBA the opportunity to develop a deeper sense of what horsemanship can teach us,” Kelly says. She feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work under great trainers while growing up in Germany. It was there that she developed the interest and dedication to the equine species while working with a variety of breeds and disciplines. Her specialty is in dressage as she is passionate about the light feel of communication between a human and horse. Kelly came to the US many years ago to study Equine Science at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating, she was thrilled to continue working with horses and people, fostering that magical connection. Kelly has worked with a variety of horses and people throughout the country before settling in West Virginia.

Elizabeth Dils

Educational Specialist
Elizabeth is a California native who has spent the last 6 years living in West Virginia. She attended West Virginia Wesleyan College where she studied both Education and Psychology. After completing her undergraduate work, she went on to work as a Kindergarten teacher in Maryland. After teaching, she decided to go back to school to obtain her Doctorate in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She has highly specialized training in Special Education curriculum as well as the development of Individualized Education Plans and 504 Plans. Elizabeth’s work as Greenbrier Academy’s Educational Specialist is to ensure each student receives the services they deserve, develop educational plans for your daughter post-treatment and be your family’s educational advocate. She thoroughly enjoys working alongside parents, school districts and students to make sure they are set up for success. She works individually with each student to help them understand their specific needs, how to utilize their educational plan as well as to empower them to advocate for their educational goals. When it comes to learning or physical disabilities, she feels it is important to take the time to explain specifics to our students so they can understand how their brain operates. She says, “I strive to bring positivity and knowledge to young women who have a learning impairment, often teaching them that what they’ve been taught is a disadvantage is actually their advantage! I work on an open-door policy. Even when I am busy, I leave my door open so the girls know I am here for them. Coming to work and seeing ‘my kids’ is the highlight of my day.”

Anastasia Ward

Academic Substitute
As an English language arts teacher, Anastasia’s goal is to instill a love of reading and writing in each student. She strives to teach them how to know and strengthen their voice along their journey here. “I was instantly drawn to Greenbrier’s philosophy that emphasizes the importance of building healthy relationships in the classroom context” says Anastasia. “I value the importance of communication and have witnessed the therapeutic strength in writing to determine meaning. Throughout my time here, I’ve been able to help students raise test prep scores, win scholarship essay contests, and teach students to use reading and writing skills as a platform to heal.” Anastasia graduated from Marshall university with a duel Bachelor’s in English and Education. Prior to her time at Greenbrier, she served as an English teacher, substitute teacher, mentor and writing tutor.

Rodger Persinger

Academic Substitute

Meet Our Residental Team

Amber Reed

Residential Director
When parents tour Greenbrier Academy, they often ask about the program’s model and how it works. Meeting Amber may be the best answer to their questions, as she credits working at Greenbrier Academy as a turning point in her own life direction. Starting as a mentor to the girls, she absorbed the lessons and philosophy offered at Greenbrier Academy and made changes in her life that resulted in her quickly becoming a source of inspiration to the students. Amber lives by the motto “we will love you until you can love yourself,” and everyone that meets her - be it student, staff or visitor - immediately feels embraced by her warmth, compassion and ability to empathically connect.

Alicia Dennison

Research Coordinator/Residential Assistant
One of the greatest parts of this position is getting to see first hand the changes made in the girls that pass through our doors. It is a wonderful experience getting to mentor and help in the transformation process that these young women make when here. My hope is that I can have a lasting impact, no matter how small, on each student I get the privilege to work with. I have worked at Greenbrier Academy for 8 years and have become very appreciative of the relationality approach used here. I fully agree that our relationships help shape us into who we are and that forming positive bonds is essential to our emotional health. I also appreciate the different virtues that we try to instill into the students and staff alike. I have seen some incredible outcomes due to the overall vision of our program. I am currently working towards my undergraduate degree in special education. Outside of Greenbrier, I enjoy spending time with my husband, twin boys and two daughters.

Lindsay Funk

Residential Assistant
Lindsay has been a part of the Greenbrier community since 2016. She loves spending time with, getting to know and contributing to the journeys of the amazing ladies at GBA. As a Residential Advisor, she enjoys seeing girls not only on campus, but off campus as well, whether it be on an adventurous outing white water rafting or volunteering at a local nursing home. “What I love most about my job is seeing the light come back into the eyes of these incredible young women,” Lindsay says. Lindsay holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Fairmont State University where she was named to the President’s and Dean’s List and had the honor of being selected for Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. Outside of GBA, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter and three dogs.

Michelle Dekle

Residential Assistant
Since 2009, Michelle has shared many emotions with the Greenbrier girls as part of the residential team. “There have been sad moments, and I have cried with those dealing with struggles in their lives. I have also shed tears of joy seeing the girls overcome their struggles and fears,” says Michelle. “I enjoy serving as a positive influence in the girls’ lives and hearing the success stories from those who have graduated from GBA.” Michelle accompanies the girls on service trips to Nicaragua and adventurous outings including rafting, zip lining and rock climbing. She also encourages and motivates the girls to stay active and cheers them on while watching them play sports. Her educational background includes a Certificate of Completion in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention from Cornell University. Outside of GBA, she enjoys spending time with her husband, their two children, her church family and friends. Her hobbies include participating in church activities, playing basketball and listening to music.

Meet Our Consulting Team

Dr Douglas Eitel, MD, PLLC

Consulting Psychiatrist
Dr. Eitel is the Medical Director and owner of Doug Eitel MD, PLLC. He currently devotes this practice to helping children, teens and young adults build their personal success stories. Prior to medical school, Dr. Eitel earned his law degree at the University of Virginia and his MBA at Cornell University. He served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and deployed with this unit to the Middle East. Later, as a JAG lawyer, he practiced law in Alaska and Seattle. After the military, Dr. Eitel practiced health care and family law in Boston and Vermont. He was also a tenured university professor where he taught business law. His law background is currently applied to forensic aspects of psychiatry. Dr. Eitel completed his psychiatry training at Wake Forest University Medical Center where he was appointed Chief Resident. Dr. Eitel has been treating children, teens, and young adults in the Greenbrier Valley since 2003. While seeing patients in West Virginia, Dr. Eitel recently served as the Medical Director for the War Heroes Hospital in Colorado. This hospital is designed to treat young men and women returning from active duty combat missions with PTSD. He also served as the Medical Director for the Colorado Autism Center.

Carole T Giunta, Ph.D.

Consulting Psychologist
Dr. Carole Giunta is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 20 years experience in assessment and treatment. Throughout her training and professional life, Dr. Giunta has had a strong interest in psychological assessment. It is her commitment to making psychological assessment results accessible and useful which guides the philosophy of her practice. For many years, Dr. Giunta and her associates have been actively involved in helping young people and families understand their strengths and vulnerabilities and discover new paths for healing and learning. Dr. Giunta greatly enjoys the opportunity to work with adolescents and their families. In addition to her interest in adolescents, Dr. Giunta also conducts evaluations with a broad range of other clients, working closely with attorneys and physicians to facilitate understanding of their clients’ mental health and neuropsychological functioning in light of legal or medical problems. She frequently consults on matters of mental health and the law and provides expert witness testimony. Dr. Giunta holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Vermont. Dr. Giunta and her associate, Dr. Orth, conduct psychological and psychoeducational assessments at Greenbrier Academy. To learn more about services offered, please visit http://www.giunta-associates.com