Staff and Guide Bios

Staff

  • Meredith Little

     Meredith and her husband Steven Foster co-founded Rites of Passage Inc. in 1976 and The School of Lost Borders in 1981, pioneering new methods and dynamics of modern pan-cultural passage rites in the wilderness, and creating innovative practices of  “field eco-therapy.”  The essence of their work is captured in articles, chapters, an award-winning documentary film, Lost Borders: Coming of Age in the Wilderness, and books that include: The Book of the Vision Quest, The Roaring of the Sacred River, The Four Shields: The Initiatory Seasons of Human Nature.  Since Steven’s death in 2003 Meredith continues both nationally and internationally to guide and train others. She has also co-founded along with Scott Eberle a new branch of Lost Borders entitled The Practice of Living and Dying, to help break the taboos and silence that pervade the subject of death and to help restore dying to its natural place in the cycles of life. Meredith is currently the director of The Practice of Living and Dying, Lost Borders International, and owner of Lost Borders Press.  

  • Betsy Perluss, PhD

    Betsy serendipitously discovered the School of Lost Borders in 1995; a moment she attributes to the mysteries of synchronicity and grace.  Immediately, she fell in love with the school’s earthy ways and the sage scented Owens Valley. Refusing to leave, she has since gathered over fifteen years experience as a guide and trainer of vision fasts. She has also been Director of Education and Outreach and currently serves on the Elder’s Advisory Council. Unable to curb a longing for wild places, Betsy left her position as a tenured university professor to live with her husband in the pine and oak forested foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada.  She is a licensed psychotherapist and continues to teach ecopsychology and Jungian Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara.  Betsy is an ardent observer of psyche and nature and has published various articles on this topic.  Her article, This Glorious Darkness, is about her 28-day solo hike on the John Muir Trail (Psychological Perspectives, Summer, 2015).

  • Dr. Scott Eberle

    Dr. Scott Eberle is a physician specializing in end-of-life care, medical director of Hospice of Petaluma in Petaluma, California, an experienced teacher and author, and a wilderness guide.  Together with Meredith Little, he co-created “The Practice of Living and Dying,” an innovative wilderness curriculum exploring the human experience of being a mortal animal.  More recently Scott co-created another new kind of School program with Cazeaux Nordstrum, these ones combining time alone in nature with meditation.  To learn more about this new work, read his article, “The Red Thread.”  Scott also has a book out called “The Final Crossing: Learning to Die in Order to Live.”  In it he writes, “So now I am a physician who specializes in supporting life transitions. I am a hospice doctor who sits with the dying in their homes, and I am a rite-of-passage guide who sits with ‘the dying’ out in the desert.

  • Emerald North

    Visionary, painter, sculptor, gardener and poet, Emerald North, brings years of vital and vibrant experience to the School of Lost Borders. She teaches from the depth of a full and rich life with humor, vision and love. Emerald has been with Lost Borders since 1993 and co-directed the School with Joseph Lazenka from 2001 through 2005. Art Website: http//www.earthtonesart.com

  • John Davis, PhD

    John has been leading wilderness rites of passage retreats since 1984. As a School of Lost Borders staff member, he leads vision fasts and other wilderness-based retreats and trains rites of passage guides. As a professor at Naropa University for many years, he directed the MA programs in ecopsychology and transpersonal psychology. He currently teaches transpersonal psychology, ecopsychology, and wilderness therapy there. 

  • Joseph (Angelo) Lazenka

    A vision fast guide and trainer since 1984, Joseph joined the Staff of the School in 1993 and since then, using a variety of titles like: Guide, Teacher,Director, President , and Board Member, has offered himself to the  ever evolving work of the school. Joseph brings a passionate, dramatic voice to the nurturing of individual character and calling, and a mythic empathy for people, their dreams, and the healing power of nature.

  • Larry Hobbs

    From a field biologist studying whales and dolphins, to a psychotherapist working with individual and family systems, to a teacher and naturalist leading wildlife trips worldwide, Larry came to Lost Borders to train and to guide vision fasts. Although still conducting river dolphin research in Southeast Asia, teaching and leading natural history trips around the world, Larry's passions lay in guiding vision fasters and in sharing his knowledge of the way we understand the ecosystems that support us all.

  • Nancy Jane

    Nancy is an educator, wilderness guide, and council facilitator. She began her study of wilderness rites of passage in 1981 and has been following this calling ever since. Nancy leads youth and adult vision fasts and has pioneered wilderness rites of passage in school settings. Her intention is to listen deeply in support of others’ connection to nature and spirit; to hold the deepest, widest container of safety and acceptance for others; and to empower them in the full expression of who they are.

  • Pedro McMillan

    Pedro is the father of two grown children and has been an environmentalist since childhood. He became an eco-entrepaneur 25 years ago and continues running a green business today. A veteran of many fasts since 1996 he trained and assisted with several programs at the School before stepping into the role of guide four years ago. He brings a wealth of experience and a poetic and passionate heart to this work.

     

  • Petra Lentz-Snow

     Petra Lentz-Snow has guided vision fasts and wilderness rite of passage programs for over 20 years and is currently serving as Co-Director and Board Member at the school.  From 2012 - 2015 she was the executive director of the Wilderness Guides Council, a network of guides supporting wilderness ceremonies around the world.

  • Ruth Wharton

    An experienced wilderness guide, mentor, and therapist. Ruth has worked extensively with people of all ages in wilderness, residential, and therapeutic settings. She been a guide at the School of Lost Borders over 15 years and is deeply committed to re-introducing rites of passage into the world. This woman passionately weaves the mirror of nature through the world around her.

  • Silvia Talavera

    has been a guide with The School of Lost Borders since 1993. She is a woman of versatility, passion, and humor, inspiring people towards self- empowerment.  She brings to her work a nurturing insight, a deep compassion, a love of nature and teaches from the experience of a full life. Silvia is committed to supporting people in transitions using nature based teachings in a wilderness setting as well as midwifing those who are in there final stage of life through Hospice.

  • Virginia 'Gigi' Coyle

    Virginia "Gigi" Coyle  has served as a community activist wherever she is, a council trainer wherever called, and a rites-of-passage guide and trainer with many individuals and organizations. She is learning to be a mentor and an elder, and serving on such councils, for the School of Lost Borders, the Ojai Foundation, Youth Passageways, European Council Network, and Weaving Earth...

  • Will Scott

    Will is a teacher, naturalist, wilderness guide, facilitator and a life-long student of the human-nature relationship. Will began by leading backpacking trips and has since been a guide both domestically and internationally with college-level field courses, wilderness expeditions, and nature-connection mentoring programs. Will has been guiding youth and adult programs at Lost Borders since 2007, and has recently begun working as trainer as well. Will received his masters in holistic and experiential education from Prescott College, where he focused his studies on the essential components of an “education for our times.” He went on to co-found the Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education in Sonoma County, CA. will@lostborders.org

  • Win Phelps

    Win Phelps has been a truck driver, a private eye, a Chinese Mandarin translator, a single parent of two, an Emmy-nominated TV director and a quest guide and trainer of guides for the School of Lost Borders. He is a carrier of council, a pilgrim Beyond Boundaries, married to the Earth--and to Gigi Coyle--and a long-time devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

     

School Guide

  • Marlow Hotchkiss

    “My professional life is focused around coaching, training, and facilitating others to realize their goals. I am fascinated by people and how we grow; I have a natural gift for empowering others and for eliciting their inherent talents, their authentic selves. I work most creatively and productively in the context of shared leadership and team collaboration. I believe deeply in the power of heartfelt and candid conversation to heal relationships and build community.”

  • Cazeaux Nordstrum

    Growing up in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona when the towns were small and the wild untamed lands were vast, Cazeaux lived among the influence of many native cultures. The land itself was a spiritual center honored by the annual indigenous and religious rituals and ceremonies. Traveling throughout the West as a child, camping from a young age gave her a sense of safety and an experience of the true mirroring of nature.

  • Ray Hillis

    Ray has led and assisted fasts with the School of Lost Borders for the past few years. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA in 1968, recently retired from a lifelong career of teaching human development and counseling, and has had a psychotherapy practice (presently in Santa Fe, New Mexico) with a special interest in Jungian analytic dreamwork since the 1970s.

  • Scot Deily

     Scot has been personally involved in rites of passage work for the past two decades learning from and later co-guiding in various forms, most recently training at SOLB. Scot draws from his past incarnations including his time on a wildlife sanctuary and retreat center, traveling and performing in a nomadic horse caravan, a wilderness field instructor and part-time farmer. He is a Licensed Master Social Worker serving previously as a therapist utilizing equine, sand tray, art and play therapy in rural New Mexico.

Guest Guide

  • Amy Biesemeyer

    Amy is a wilderness rites of passage guide and deep lover of nature, within and without. She is also a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and a spiritual practitioner of Buddhism and the Diamond Heart Approach. Since 1995 she has been working with youth in therapeutic, educational and outdoor settings. She has led youth rites of passage programs for Wilderness Reflections and the Stepping Stones Project, as well as led high school girls groups. Supporting girls and young women has been a long time passion.

  • Bonnie Mennell

    Council practice finds fertile ground in Bonnie’s work whether the setting is a classroom, a non-profit’s retreat, a coaching/mentoring session, or a spontaneous gathering around a campfire where the yearning to go beyond the casual to the richer core of what moves us, fuels us, carries us is felt. As a council carrier, she has been offering council trainings since 1996 in California, on the east coast and at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro where she is an adjunct faculty member.

  • Collin Brown

     Collin Brown is a seeker, healer, teacher, guide who has delved deeply into the mysteries of eros, love, death, and embodiment. His path has taught him to value and trust the wisdom and insight that come from experiential learning whether it’s in a classroom or out in the boundless beauty of nature. As the director of the Body Electric school for fifteen years he developed curriculum and continues to teach courses that awaken others to the mysteries and grace of being fully alive in their erotic bodies.

  • Cynthia Morrow,

    Cynthia Morrow is a wilderness rites of passage guide, a seasoned psychotherapist of 20 years, and a biodynamic craniosacral practitioner. Her work is devoted to the awakening of our own wild and interconnected nature for deep healing, inner strength, and whole-heartedness. She is a Dharma practitioner in the Japanese Tendai tradition, an ancient spiritual lineage from the blood-line of her Motherland.

  • Daniel Kirchhof

     Daniel Kirchhof sits daily with some of the greatest teachers of listening—the creek, trees, and animals of the northwestern forest. This listening guides his work as a visionary storyteller, builder of beautiful life-sustaining structures, singer of sacred music, caretaker of duck flock and cabbage patch, ambassador for humans in the wild, and cheerful community builder. From his home at Hawthorn Farm Daniel serves Life with a loving, open heart.

  • George Kushnir

     From Kiev, Ukraine. Guest International Teacher, 2017

    George is a pioneer of rites of passage in the Ukraine. He and Kateryna Babenko have developed rites of passage in their country and in neighboring countries. George first participated in a vision quest during his personal crisis of age when he changed his profession from psychiatry to more relational psychotherapy. In the midst of the difficulties he found resources and inner strength to navigate his crisis with insights from his vision quest experience. Since that time he has considered rites of passage as his life’s work, and, as a psychotherapist, he incorporates the wisdom of nature as a mainspring for understanding the process of change.

  • Kateryna (Katia) Babenko

     From Kiev, Ukraine.    Kateryna works professionally as a psychologist-consultant and psychotherapist. She fell in love with rites of passage in 2004 when she experienced the practices and philosophy that immerse a person in the world of nature. Because rites of passage so inspired her, she, along with George Kushnir, brought rites of passage to the Ukraine to open new possibilities of depth and freedom in their participants’ search for self.

  • Margaret Thompson

    Margaret lives in service to the wilderness that seeks expression in every aspect of being.  As a coach, mentor, guide, companion, and student she supports persons emerging into full expression of the extraordinary capacities and possibilities of human being unfolding and fully integrated with Nature and Spirit. Her work is in creating and facilitating experiences to evoke the innate wisdom that resides within.

  • Marie de Beauvoir

    Marie is passionate about bridging the worlds, remembering the ancient wisdoms and supporting a new culture to emerge. She is a council facilitator and exploring ways to reintroduce rites of passage in our western society. She studied herbalism and naturopathy and is currently completing her masters in clinical psychology. She encountered healing practices from around the world both during her travels and her ethnomedicine training. As a student of life she is living into a holistic vision of human nature. She loves letting her heart meet her feet in the beat and surrender to the dance.

  • Pınar Ateş Sinopoulos-Lloyd

    Pınar has always been allured by how the natural world mirrors one’s internal landscape. Enchanted by the liminal, Pınar identifies as genderfluid QPOC (Queer Person of Color) with their mother’s side native to the Americas. Their self-designed studies include a B.A.

  • Sam Burris-DeBoskey

    Sam is a farmer, a council carrier, a carpenter-in-training, and a rite-of-passage guide.  He first came to the Owens Valley in 2006 as a participant in the SOLB's youth program.  Since then, he has made a part time home outside of Big Pine and has assisted and participated in a number of school programs.  His love of nature, both human and wild, has lead him to this work and fuels his curiosity to keep learning about how we relate to ourselves, each other, and the environment.  Some of his other interests are wr

  • Sara Harris, MA

    Sara Harris, MA, is a retired psychotherapist who now serves as a passionate guide, mentor and teacher. In 2003, she co-founded EarthWays LLC a collective of guides in Sebastopol CA . Sara was deeply honored to serve the School of Lost Borders by being on the founding Board from 2007 to 2014.As a result of her own heart surgery journey, she loves guiding cardiac patients (www.heartmatters.com) and offering support for how these health issues can offer a true opening of the heart through deep listening to the heart’s intelligence.

  • Scott Davidson

     Scott Davidson is a deep nature guide who cultivates an ecology of belonging through a unique weaving of wildlife tracking, tending and questing in community. As a lifelong guide, he nurtures the genius in each of us, one relationship, curiosity and threshold at a time. Scott deeply listens to the truth of the moments, helping people learn from all of wild life, both surrounding us and within us, and our inherent ability to live fully in balanced connection and service with all of life.

  • Siri Gunnarson

    Siri is a global pilgrim, wilderness rites of passage guide, council trainer, youth leader and student of community. Interested in both new and ancient forms of learning, she has supported, created and lead journeys and rites of passage for youth. She is a coordinator of the Tamera’s Global Campus, a cross-cultural educational initiative to study and create models for peaceful and regenerative living. She is also part their Peace Research Center and the Global Love School.

  • So Sinopoulos-Lloyd

     So Sinopoulos-Lloyd (“Faun”) is a genderqueer Greek-American who grew up in central Vermont as well as Greece. Two threads that weave So’s world together are a deep respect for human spirituality and a love and guardianship for the natural world. So has an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies and Animal Science from the University of Vermont and an MA in Religious Studies from Claremont Graduate University. In school So studied relationships between religion and ecology, especially in the Judaeo-Christian traditions, which continues to inform their work.

  • Trebbe Johnson

    Trebbe has been leading vision quests, workshops, and ceremonies worldwide since 1994. She is the founder of Radical Joy for Hard Times, a non-profit organization devoted to finding and making beauty in wounded places, and the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover. A passionate explorer of outer as well as inner frontiers, Trebbe has camped alone in the Arctic, traveled in the Sahara Desert, and worked as a model, street-sweeper, and award-winning multimedia producer. She lives in rural northeastern Pennsylvania.

Board of Directors

  • Charles Carlin

    Charles Carlin loves the wild landscapes of the American West and is deeply curious about how they work on our psyche and how we imagine the places in which we live and travel. He is currently working on a PhD in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation considers what experiences like the contemporary vision fast ceremony can tell us about how our experience of self arises from relationship with our world.

  • Jay Fields

    Jay first fasted with the school in 2004, and fell head over heels in love with the ceremony and the Owen's Valley. For more than 18 years she has taught the principles of embodied self-awareness, whether in her role as a wilderness guide, a yoga teacher, a somatic coach or as a facilitator of professional development trainings.  Jay is the author of the books Teaching People, Not Poses and Home in Your Body, and is on the faculty for the Awakened Heart Embodied Mind Training in Santa Monica, California.

  • Kika Panaitescu

    Kika is a mother, writer, guide, and lifelong student of wisdom traditions. In the work of the School she found a confluence of her greatest loves: wild places and ceremony, humanness and the human journey, and the stories that knit them together. Raised among the big trees and falling waters of the Columbia River Gorge, Kika’s inner life was nourished early by the elemental world. Later, her outer life took shape in the company of radical creatives resisting the disaster of industrial capitalism.

  • Petra Lentz-Snow

    Wilderness Guide, part-time administrative support for the school's office, Board member and mother of 3 children, Petra is dedicated to support meaningful Rites of Passage in the wilderness and in the urban jungle of our humaness.  Truly taking one's place in the world has been (and continues to be) a life long inquiry and practice for her and is at the heart of her work.