Meet Our Team
Our experienced staff is dedicated to helping your child succeed.
Executive Director, Founding Partner
Kyle Gillett, PhD, LMFT
Kyle received his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Texas Tech University. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Kyle has worked in a variety of clinical settings over the last seventeen years. His career has focused on treating both boys and girls, with specialization in trauma, processing difficulties, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD and difficult family systems. Kyle is a founder of the Solstice family of programs—located in Layton, UT and Asheville, NC. He has served in many roles including Primary Therapist, Clinical Director, Admissions Director, Program Director, and Executive Director. He is thrilled to have founded Equinox with a group of wonderful partners, and once again serve in the role of Executive Director.
Kyle is a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer and enjoys everything CrossFit along with a variety of other sports. His favorite things include spending time with his beautiful wife, four wonderful sons, sweet baby girl, and his dog, Shadow, playing all sorts of games, hiking, camping, fishing, reading, watching movies, etc.
Director of Business Development, Founding Partner
Bryan, founding partner at Equinox RTC, also helped found Asheville Academy for Girls as well as assist in the startup of Solstice East. He has managed the development of the academy (Timbersong) associated with all three programs. He also has historically supported in operations and business development. Bryan’s prior experience includes work in multiple therapeutic and traditional school settings, residential and day. Bryan has taught classes, led schools, managed accreditation, and developed therapeutic programs from the ground up, including marketing, budgeting, infrastructure development, systems, and client referrals. Bryan’s education focused on History, Secondary Education, and School Administration. Bryan is married with one child. Most of his free time is spent hiking, biking, kayaking or whatever outside activities he can bully his family into joining. “I believe that we find our way to this work from a place of a deep-felt intention to make a difference in the world. I am so grateful that I have been able to find a place where I can fulfill that personal mission while also being able to manage the school outside the normal bureaucratic challenges of the public sector. We run a responsive, creative, outcomes dependent program that is and must be great at what we do. I love the challenge of merging mission and practice.”
Admissions Director, Founding Partner
Wes has been working with adolescents for over five years in both the residential treatment and therapeutic boarding school settings. As the Program Director, he trains and supervises the milieu staff and also spends time with the students on a daily basis. Wes has a B.A. degree in Communications and an M.S. in Sports Administration. Due to his passion for sports and recreation and the positive effect those activities have on the mind and body, Wes is a huge supporter of physical fitness programs. When not at work, he enjoys watching and playing most any sport–especially soccer, which he played in college. Wes also enjoys exploring the outdoors with his wife, son and crazy dog.
Dan Keith, M.S., LPC
Dan comes to Equinox from our sister program, Solstice East and received his Master’s degree in Counseling from Western Carolina University. The work he has done with families and teens since the early days of Solstice East has helped prepare him to succeed at Equinox RTC. His experience has taught him the value of a program rooted in a holistic perspective that emphasizes the importance of family and relationships. For that reason, he was drawn to Equinox RTC. He has witnessed how impactful adolescence can be in the lives of teens and is grateful for the opportunity to provide support during challenging times. In his practice, Dan has worked with adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, emotional regulation, communication, defiance, trauma, and relationship issues. He is trained in TF-CBT as well as EMDR, Brainspotting, and Trauma Focused-Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Dan has specialized in group therapy topics such as experiential DBT, technology and social media, and entitlement. Having also worked in a therapeutic wilderness setting, his passion is working in residential environments where the milieu therapy can work its magic. He also has experience in outpatient, school based, adolescent day treatment, and intensive in-home therapeutic settings. In alignment with the work at Equinox, Dan has a strong history with and connection to the adventure world. He has facilitated numerous day and multi-day adventure and recreation trips including hiking, canoeing, paddle boarding, whitewater rafting, tubing, and snowboarding. When not at the office, Dan enjoys time with his family, reading, kayaking, and hiking with his shepherd, Keetna. Of his role, Dan says, “I am excited to join the team as the Clinical Director at Equinox RTC. Having worked with Equinox’s sister program, I’ve known of Equinox since early in its development and am excited to contribute to this community.”
Bonnie Richardson M.A.
Bonnie has over 10 years of experience working in secondary and higher education. For a number of years she has served as an academic director at a wilderness therapy residential treatment center and short-term therapeutic boarding school and has also held administrative and leadership roles in international education. She earned her Masters in Critical & Cultural Theory from Cardiff University in the U.K. and her B.A. in Interpersonal Communication from UCF. Bonnie’s time as a Wilderness First Aid/Responder Instructor and volunteer experiences teaching abroad have only further enriched her time in the classroom where she enjoys teaching English and tutoring in mathematics.
Bonnie is committed to supporting and guiding teachers and building relationships with students, supporting them and encouraging them to find their strengths, address their challenges, and push themselves to harness their full potential. In her spare time, Bonnie enjoys spending time with family, adventuring in the outdoors, binge listening to podcasts, exploring countries abroad, travel photography, and skating.
Katie Dunlap, MD
I am originally from Northern Virginia, but I am a fourth generation visitor to Montreat, in Western North Carolina, and it is no surprise to now call this area home. I studied Classical Studies at Tulane University, Public Health University of Illinois at Chicago, and Medicine at Georgetown University. After I finished my residency in psychiatry and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at Duke in 2016, I headed straight to the mountains and started working for Meridian Behavioral Health. My path toward medicine started later than most, initially wanting to pursue archaeological anthropology, but found my calling while a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay after college. I thought this would lead me to work internationally in primary care, but quickly discovered that psychiatry and working with children was the best fit for me. I enjoy working with and empowering families. As I started my own family, my interest working internationally changed into doing volunteer trips and I turned my focus to working with disenfranchised populations here. I have been on the NCCCAP executive council since 2014 and finding ways to advocate for the pediatric mental health populations. In addition to working in underserved communities, my special interests are treating Autistic children and adults, adolescents transitioning into adulthood, and medically ill children with psychiatric comorbidities. Although I live in Asheville, I work in Haywood, Transylvania, Jackson counties and the Cherokee Indian Reservation servicing children, adolescents, and university students. I continue to work with adults as an ACTT psychiatrist. When I’m not working, you will find me spending time with my two children, husband, and large dog. I enjoy hiking, painting, sitting on porches, reading, yoga, traveling, and exploring all the wonderful places WNC has to offer!
Director of Recreational Therapy
Natalie Stark, TRS, CRTS
Natalie graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Recreational Therapy. She has been working with adolescents in residential treatment since 2009. She is a licensed Recreation Therapist in the state of North Carolina and is nationally certified through the National Council of Therapeutic Recreation. Natalie is an avid believer that healthy, strong, and fulfilling relationships set the foundation for long lasting emotional well-being. She is creating a program that will provide students with a variety of recreational activities that will empower them to live in the moment and focus on the journey, not just the destination. Natalie understands how vital a full and exciting recreational lifestyle is to living a life of well-being. Her passion lies in helping others develop skills and assets they may need on their journey. Some of Natalie’s favorite activities are snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking, fishing, and hanging out with her Australian Shepard, Stella.
Brittany graduated from Montreat College with a degree in Biology. She spent a few years working in the field (literally), left the country only to return and find her passion in direct care. She has over four years of experience in the residential setting and outdoor education programs. As the lead team manager, Brittany oversees the residential program in all aspects. She spends her time developing rapport with the students by being present during various recreational activities that take place on campus, as well as daily check-ins with the students. Outside of Equinox, Brittany competes in CrossFit, spends time exploring new hiking trails, and traveling.
Jordan Stevenot, MA, LPC
Jordan primarily uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing, DBT and EMDR in his work with students. His specialty is working to bridge the emotional gap that often develops between a struggling teen and his parents. Jordan has been working with adolescents since 2005 in a variety of settings from child protective services, individual counseling to residential care. His career is driven by his desire to make a difference in the lives of children and see them succeed. For the last four years Jordan has acted as lead and senior therapist working with teens and their families in a residential setting. Jordan completed his undergraduate degree from Brewton Parker College, where he majored in Psychology and minored in communication. He obtained his master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. Jordan is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He is also certified in EMDR. As a father and husband, Jordan spends most of his free time with his family fishing, hiking and being outdoors.
Sally Burleson, LCAS, CCS
Sally has provided clinical services for over 25 years in many different settings. Her love of helping individuals and families comes through in the work. She spent the last seven years at Four Circles where she provided clinical supervision, facilitated the Rites of Passage Vision quest experience, developed and implemented the 5th Circle extended care program, facilitated the monthly 3-day family seminar and lead the clinical team. Sally fell in love with experiential therapy 15 years ago when she began working at SUWS of the Carolinas. Wilderness Therapy gave her the opportunity to be creative and explore new and different ways to reach people therapeutically. She really thrived on being able to utilize her creativity to meet an individual where they were and support them in their own change process. Since then she has utilized these skills at Phoenix Outdoor a therapeutic wilderness program and Stone Mountain School a therapeutic bordering school. Sally’s other passion is her family, being a wife and mother is “the best part.” When not at work Sally is attending her son’s sports, cooking or loving on the family dog named Bear.
Sandra Dowd, LPCA, MCC
Before moving to North Carolina, Sandra lived in Central Florida working in leadership & program supervision at a SeriousFun camp for kids with serious illnesses. This lead to a passion of working for over 10 collective years in various residential settings doing crisis response, grief/trauma work, IEPs, and improved quality of life for young people. This experience partnered with her background in Child Development (Central Michigan University) and Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (Capella University) set the groundwork for her approaches in mindfulness-based interventions, Narrative Therapy, somatic release and regulation, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Sandra is trained in Brainspotting to help clients create new neuropathways that override negative processes and coping strategies by accessing internal wisdom. She believes in the healing power of learning from mistakes and repairs, tolerating healthy boundaries, and the importance of play. Her current skillsets include working with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, grief/loss, family dynamics, identity exploration, and attachment healing. Outside of work, she can be found as a regular at her local coffee shop, camping with loved ones near a body of water, or swaying in a hammock.
Melissa Margolin, LCSWA
Before joining Equinox, Melissa had expansive experience working with youths in both a wilderness group setting and a therapeutic setting. Tying nicely with Equinox, her outdoor experience includes working at various summer camps and in wilderness therapy. Through these experiences, Melissa learned that time spent in nature provides opportunity to identify what is important and what is meaningful. Without the constant ability to escape through social media, texts, video games, and entertainment, time spent with oneself is inevitably a time of reflection that allows space to value and be grateful for what is important: meaningful relationships, activities, and experiences. Melissa transitioned from a wilderness experience to work with families with high system involvement including the Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Social Services, and various mental health services. Each of her clients had a trauma diagnosis. Often this trauma is generational, and a part of the family’s culture. This position has given her exposure to a wide variety of mental health diagnoses, and their intersection with trauma symptoms, giving her unique experiences to bring to the trauma informed model at Equinox. When not at work, Melissa can be found hiking, rock climbing, or puttering in my cut flower garden.
Angie Curtis, MSW
Bio Coming soon…
Lead Teacher, History & ELA
Shane Parker M.A.
Shane Parker received his Bachelor’s degree in History Education from Appalachian State University in 2013 before returning to the same institution to receive his Masters Degree in History in 2015. Before coming to Equinox in 2017, Shane worked as the director of a small private school, and he was also an English and History instructor at Coastal Community College in Jacksonville, NC. Shane teaches all of the English and History classes at Equinox. His goal is to challenge his students to be critical thinkers through vigorous discussion and debate. Furthermore, with history and English alike, Shane works to engage his students by making the past come alive in his lessons.
Science Teacher & Learning Styles Coordinato
Alexis Allen M.Ed
Alexis earned her Masters of Education at the University of Arizona while enjoying hiking the Grand Canyon. Since then she has shared her love of math and science with students all over the world. Recently she has taught with US Embassy Schools in China, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Living overseas helped her realize her passion for working with diverse learners. She is currently pursuing her add-on licensure in Special Education. Her teaching philosophy focuses on empowering students to feel confident and find the best in themselves. She is thrilled to be a part of the Equinox community and the difference we are making in students’ lives.
Science & Math Teacher
Zach Allen M.Ed
I joined the Equinox team after teaching abroad with my wife at US Embassy schools in China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. I teach math and science classes and love using creative project based learning activities to engage and challenge students. I believe that empowering students through their academic experience is a critical part of their journey at Equinox and I enjoy the opportunity to build a rapport with students as Winter Academic Team lead. In my free time I enjoy music, spending time with my family and outdoor activities.
Sarah is a local native to Henderson County, spending most of her life here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She graduated from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resource Development and Communications. While at JMU she also completed a certificate program focusing on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Sarah has spent most of her career working in administrative offices of educational institutions, driven by a love of education and seeing students succeed. Outside of work, she loves to go camping, find new vegetarian recipes, hiking, and outdoor adventuring with her family.
Carlos was raised sailing the waters of the Caribbean. As an aviation and engineering student from Florida Tech, his career began as an island hoper aboard a cargo DC-3 airliner. Soon thereafter, he was commandeered to look after the maintenance operations at a sugar refinery, where he later oversaw their marine cargo division. This position led to his service as a Merchant Mariner, eventually culminating in a yacht captain career. Captain Barnes discovered his true purpose, that of working with teens, while attempting to retire in the Carolina mountains. First at Stone Mountain School, continuing on to Point School PR and later helping develop Vision Voyage, prepared Mr. Carlos for his work at Equinox. He leads our teens by the power of example, keeping ever present that “where there’s a will, there’s a way!”
Colt Wight, B.A., QMHP
Colt enjoys preparing and supporting new hires for their direct care role as well as keeping emails and print jobs flowing. Colt has many years of direct care and supervisorial experience with wilderness and residential therapy, and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Recreation Administration. In his free time, Colt enjoys hiking, trail running and rock climbing with his wife and two daughters.
Wade was born and raised in Dallas, TX. He attended the University of North Texas and graduated in 2015 with his bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies, and with a minor in counseling. Before and throughout college Wade worked with elementary and middle school aged children as a lifeguard/swim instructor, after school care provider, and summer camp counselor. Upon graduation, he moved to Hawaii where he worked as a guide at a horticulturally-based therapeutic program, and then took a job as a social services caseworker. When it was finally time to come back to the mainland, Wade decided that he would give residential treatment a try and that is what landed him in North Carolina working for Equinox. Since starting this job, his love for outdoor recreation and the mental health field has collided. And thanks to the growth-oriented atmosphere here at Equinox, Wade was able to move into the role of Recreational Mentor. As the Rec Mentor, he is able to work side by side with our students, teaching them to enjoy and respect the world around us while also teaching them to enjoy and respect themselves.
Jeremiah is a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science & Minor in History. He started his work career at Duke University eventually becoming a Physical Education Professor. After 5 years, Jeremiah moved back to Hendersonville to start a new path teaching and instructing students to utilize their mental & physical well-being to find a better self. In his spare time, Jeremiah enjoys hiking to waterfalls with his dog, spending time with his family, and experiencing the plethora of food in western NC.
Shannon came to Equinox after spending ten years in the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawai’i. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a Master’s in Sociology from Stanford University where her studies focused on Interpersonal Relations and Social Psychology. Shannon worked at start-ups in the San Francisco tech industry for three years, but a visit to the Big Island made her realize she wanted to escape the confines of a desk. She joined Pacific Quest, a wilderness therapy program, as a summer-only guide, but quickly fell in love with the work and stayed for two additional years. As a Program Supervisor, she developed the Adolescent New Guide Training program and specialized in crisis prevention. Shannon’s continued interest in nature-based therapeutics for youth brought her to western North Carolina. In her free time Shannon enjoys hiking, camping, and swimming with her dog Tulsi.
Deborah Markey, RN
I was born in Massachusetts and am the mother of 5 grown children. And now, grandmother of 4 lovely angels! I graduated from Quincy College in Massachusetts and have been a nurse since 2007. I was a youth leader at my local church for 6 years before becoming a nurse. We recently moved to the Asheville area and love to do anything outdoors including hiking, camping, biking, kayaking, and fishing. My three dogs love to explore with me.
Woof woof, woof woof woof… BARK BARK BARK! WOOOOOOOFFFF!