STAR Retreat Facilitators
Alec participated in STAR in 1996 and has been a member of the STAR staff since 2001. After a short stint as an officer in the U.S. Navy and after practicing as a Wall Street lawyer, Alec was a middle school and high school teacher in New York City for 20 years. When he retired from teaching English at The Calhoun School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the English prize was named after him. He finds a significant correlation between his work as a teacher and his work at STAR as a facilitator, as both involve a deep commitment to the personal growth of the people he works with, and of himself as well. Alec holds a BA from Harvard College, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an MA in Media Studies from The New School; he has also been trained as a Certified Spiritual Director, has a Certificate in the Sacred Art of Dying, and has run grief groups for the local Hospice. He and his wife Jane helped to found and run a grief group for children, “My Friend’s House,” which was eventually incorporated into the local Hospice programs. He currently lives in Bend, Oregon with his wife, Jane, and their two dogs, Kutya and Rudi. His personal interests include a deep commitment to friends and family, particularly to the 11 grandchildren he shares with Jane, and lots of motorcycling, birding, and hiking.
Candace has been facilitating the Star Workshop since 1999 and is on the Leadership Team. Her experience also includes 25 years of private practice and work in psychiatric hospitals and agencies in Phoenix. She has training in Gestalt Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Grief Therapy, Family and Couples Therapy, and many other modalities. She has trained over the last three years in Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing, which is the premier therapy for Trauma. Her areas of specialty are both Developmental and Shock Trauma, Attachment issues with individuals and couples, Grief, and many other issues. She loves painting, collage, and other art forms and loves to incorporate art into therapy. She works somatically and experientially. Spirituality is very important in her life and can incorporate spiritual beliefs into therapy, if the client so desires. She loves helping people release trauma and heal their wounds.
Candace is an L.C.S.W. In Arizona and got her M.S.W. From Arizona State University.
Cheryl Sharp holds the unique perspective of a person who struggled with severe mental health challenges, a trauma survivor, a family member of a loved one who died as a result of mental health challenges, and a provider of substance abuse and mental health services. Sharp has worked with adult trauma survivors for over 30 years and trains and speaks internationally on trauma-informed care. She is an International Master WRAP Facilitator, Mental Health First Aid Instructor/Trainer, and trainer of Intentional Peer Support. Sharp is also an ordained minister. Sharp was a leader/facilitator for the STAR Process for over 20 years. She has worked as a hospice/medical social worker and as a director of social services for a skilled nursing facility. She received the Lou Ann Townsend Courage Award for her contributions to persons with psychiatric disabilities. Sharp most recently received the prestigious SAMHSA 2015 Voice Award for her leadership in Trauma Informed Approaches and Suicide Prevention. As the leader of the National Council’s Trauma-Informed Care Learning Communities, Sharp has led over 800 organizations in the implementation of trauma-informed care.
Jane Austin, L.C.S.W., SEP
Jane facilitated her first Star Workshop in 2007. She has a private practice in Tucson, Arizona specializing in PTSD and trauma. Her training includes Somatic Experiencing (SEP) through Peter Levine’s Trauma Institute (SETI). Jane also is has certification as a psychodramatist (CP) and has her LCSW. Jane worked for 5 years with the military and their families throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Jed Appelrouth has been closely involved with STAR for over a decade. Jed is a Nationally Certified Counselor with a Masters degree in Professional Counseling and a PhD in Educational Psychology. Jed completed STAR in 2001 and has been a facilitator at STAR workshops since 2007. Jed has a passion for healing and spent over a year studying the Hakomi therapeutic method, focusing on mindfulness and the mind-body connection. Following the STAR experience, Jed left the corporate world and began to explore his passion for fine arts and painting, which continues to this day. Jed subsequently founded an education-based business, Applerouth Tutoring Services, which currently operates in several major cities across the US.
Katharine Weber first participated in Star in 2002 and has been involved with Star ever since. A resident of rural Connecticut and a small village in West Cork, Ireland, she has taught creative writing at a variety of institutions, including Yale and Columbia, and is now the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing at Kenyon College, where she teaches every spring term. The author of five novels and a memoir, she is dedicated to working with people who want to find ways to express their own creativity.
In 1971, in his second year of college at UCI, Kenny quit school and started on his search for…something. After trying a lot of paths and starting, building, and running a business, he finally found the path he wanted—it was when he first participated in a STAR retreat in 1989. He experienced what he eventually came to understand as emotional safety, and the experience of feeling his heart, and himself deeply. He subsequently sold his business and started facilitating at STAR in 1996, and has since been a facilitator at close to 50 STAR retreats. In 2003 he decided to go back to school. He received his B.A. in 2004, and went on to receive his PhD in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology in 2011. His work as a therapist has mostly been deep feeling, experiential therapy. He is now also an LMFT. He enjoys surfing, hiking with his dog, and being with his wife and their friends. He also loves music and cool, clear blue days and the feel of the air on his skin.
Kiel Hemenway is a lifelong student of means to draw on our innate wisdom and wholeness and of skills to live in accordance with that wisdom. She generally favors those methods that allow for direct and spontaneous personal experience. She has been a STAR staff member since 2002, and STAR is her favorite venue for applying the skills she has learned over the years. Kiel has spent more than 20 years studying methods for tapping the transformational potential of expanded states of consciousness. She trained in Holotropic Breathwork under its creator, Dr. Stanislav Grof. She certified under Dr. Grof in 1998 and led breathwork retreats for several years. She has also trained in the Hakomi Method of Body-Centered Psychotherapy, The BodyTalk System of energy medicine, and in various methods of birth regression and shamanic healing. She is currently devoting her time to the practice and study of Sanskrit mantra. She also enjoys live performance of all kinds and occasionally appears in local theater in Sonoma County, California.
Michael has been a facilitator at STAR for over ten years. he first learned about STAR from a well meaning friend who had suggested he attend STAR on multiple occasions. At the time, he believed it would be a big waste of time and money and determined that if he wanted to spend that kind of money, he’d rather go to Maui. An opportunity arose in 2003 to meet Barbara Findeisen at a weekend STAR retreat, and his friend suggestions finally overcame his resistance. By the end of that weekend, Michael completely changed his tune. soon after he attended his first STAR retreat and found it to be a truly healing and transformative experience. A year or so later, after attending a second STAR retreat, Michael was invited to be on staff as a facilitator and received facilitator training.
As a facilitator, Michael brings with him the personal growth and wisdom gained from over 25 years in recovery in 12-steps programs, his work as a sponsor, and his own personal therapy. Now, over 10 years later, the process holds meaning and value for him and each STAR retreat becomes a humbling experience to be there for people as they bravely look at themselves and grow.
Susan Highsmith, Ph.D. is an educator and counselor residing in Tucson, Arizona. She received her doctorate in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology from Santa Barbara Graduate Institute (SBGI). She instructs masters and doctoral candidates, lectures at universities and community colleges, and speaks at international congresses addressing consciousness in the womb and the long-lasting effects of our earliest experiences. Susan has published an easy-to-read primer introducing prenatal and perinatal psychology to young audiences, The Renaissance of Birth: Creating Bonds That Last a Lifetime, and The First Fairy Tale, the story of conception told in a way that every child can enjoy and every parent can delight in reading to their youngsters. Susan is a National Board Certified Counselor (NBCC). She holds a Doctorate of Divinity from the American Institute of Holistic Theology (AIHT) and seeks to balance psychological theory and practice with spiritual and holistic wisdom.
I am a consummate learner and believe I owe my patients motivation, not contentment. I am steadfast in my process of learning through experience and continuing education, and in finding new ways to understand the psychology of human nature. I received my Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from East Carolina University in 1999, and am currently working to complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I have completed a variety of advanced training seminars and achieved advanced certifications in the treatment of post-traumatic stress through the University of Washington and the Meadows Treatment Center. I have provided treatment to individuals, groups and couples in a variety of settings, which included outpatient, inpatient, and private practice. My practice focus includes health psychology, mood disorders, women’s issues, posttraumatic stress disorder, sexual abuse, and advanced care medical issues.
Atti is a native of Germany where she worked as a physical therapist. She immigrated to the United States in 1994. Atti had her first Star-experience in 2004 and has worked as a facilitator since 2010 in the art-room at Kenyon Ranch. Inspired by the energy and spirituality of Kenyon Ranch, she is deeply impressed time and time again, how expressing yourself in art can help the healing process! " Star has provided me with wonderful tools to help in managing my life. I am so happy to be able to pass on to others what I have learned at Star.Star has opened my eyes and my heart..." Atti loves collages and has created a book about her own Star-experience. She lives with her son and dog Mickey in Augusta Georgia where she also facilitates a grief-group for survivors of suicide.
Paula has been a STAR facilitator since 1997. Originally a Creative Arts Therapist, she continues to incorporate the arts into her work as a licensed mental health counselor. Paula is a board certified trainer for the North American Drama Therapy Drama Therapy Association, a certified psychodramatist and a playback theatre practitioner. Her favorite vacation is volunteering in Haiti.