Art, travel, social justice and creative introspection have shaped and transformed Alyssa’s life in profound ways, making her work as a First Aid Arts Trainer incredibly fulfilling and inspiring. Alyssa honed her skills at the University of Vermont and continued her education at Antioch University Seattle, earning an M.A. in Clinical Counseling and Art Therapy. Her studies focused on the use of art as a tool for social action, trauma-informed care, and cross-cultural initiatives in art therapy.
Alyssa is the founder and lead-guide at Ebb & Flow Adventures, a travel company dedicated to immersion based intercultural learning. She has worked in a myriad of domestic and international settings, from psychiatric hospitals to the UN’s refugee resettlement center, maintaining a focus on culturally competent care and locally-driven initiatives. She is honored to have served as adjunct faculty at Naropa University and Antioch University Seattle. Alyssa can reliably be found practicing yoga, creating in clay, or spending time out on the water.
Matthew Smith brings his experience in the fields of mental health, international relief and development, creative storytelling, and social justice to his work. A long time advocate for peace and equality, Matthew turned his focus to mental health and trauma care after interviewing survivors of gender violence in Eastern Congo. He holds his M.A. in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and serves the Seattle area as a mental health counselor. A native of Colorado, Matthew has (very happily!) lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past eleven years. He enjoys reading, writing, long bike rides, exploring national parks, and the beauty of the quotidian. He's especially thankful that he gets to share it all with his wife Jenah and brand new, Baby Smith.
Mylinda Baits brings her experience working across cultures both in the United States and internationally. She worked with the S’Klallam community in WA State before living in Costa Rica for over a decade. Having worked alongside beautifully diverse populations throughout the world for almost two decades, she values and honors the deep wisdom, creative expression and resilient healing resources that can be shared through the arts. She now travels throughout Latin America as a regional consultant with International Ministries ABC-USA.
Mylinda finds joy watching diverse communities come together in collaborative art making by designing and creating opportunities for group formation and connection through participatory and experiential practices, weaving metaphor and meaning through accessible and culturally sensitive processes. Mylinda has facilitation certification from Training for Change, a nonviolent social change organization using a direct education approach and Build A Bridge International, a non-profit arts organization whose mission is to engage creative people and the transformative power of art making to bring hope and healing
Mylinda holds a BA in Behavioral Science and a Masters of Divinity. She has been an ordained clergywoman for over 27 years.
Ruth Yeo-Peterman was born in Singapore and raised in South Africa. As a performer trained in expressive arts therapies, Ruth believes in the power of the arts for expression and reflection, building connection, creating possibilities for growth and change, and inspiring hope and healing.
Ruth has more than a dozen years experience working as a facilitator, trainer and program manager in diverse and challenging environments in both South Africa and the United States. These include diversion and offender rehabilitation, restorative justice and peacemaking, HIV AIDS education, youth development, senior care, and community based mental health. Upon moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2009, Ruth worked as a community based mental health clinician with immigrant and refugee families, and piloted a dating violence prevention program with middle and high school youth in the Seattle area. Ruth also serves as the regional trainer for the Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute and ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership and Workplace Performance based out of Canada. Ruth holds a Master’s degree in Expressive Therapies and Mental Health Counseling and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science, and is a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Washington.
Shabrae Jackson Krieg is a social worker with more than 18 years of experience working in urban communities domestically and internationally. She enjoys partnership with others to research and implement innovative projects that work towards individual and community change. Together with her husband Shabrae founded Transformación Urbana Internacional in 2006, a NGO that works for transformation and holistic development in Mexico City. Shabrae currently works as a Trainer, Coach and Practitioner with international teams around the world and is also the Director of Learning and Collaboration with Servant Partners, an international organization based in California.
Shabrae received her BA in Social Work from Anderson University, a post graduate degree in the UNESCO Masters in Sport for Social Coexistence and Conflict Resolution program at the University of Catalonia in Spain and is currently pursuing a Masters in Expressive Arts for Conflict Transformation & Peace-building at The European Graduate School in Switzerland.
Natalie has a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Bethel Seminary. She studied Expressive Arts Therapy under Graciela Bottoni in Buenos Aires and trained in Berkeley with the IEATA. She has found the Expressive Arts, including surfing and outdoor therapy, to be transformative for individuals and communities overcoming trauma and abuse. Her therapy career has included: working as a culture shock therapist for young expats in Buenos Aires, running expressive art therapy intensives for survivors of trafficking in Peru, using yoga and art therapy in schools with middle and high school students and their teachers, working in therapy and social work with the homeless and hospitalized population in San Diego, and her favorite: facilitating surf therapy for women and girls overcoming abuse, addiction, and trauma. As a therapist, Natalie focuses on adolescent development and helping her clients overcome anxiety and trauma and she has found the First Aid Arts' Healing Arts Toolkit Program a fundamental tool in her San Diego-based individual and group therapy practice. She is excited to continue training those working in the field of "heart" care on how to apply the arts to the healing process.