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Residential Treatment Center for Boys Ages 14-18

Meet Our Team

Our experienced staff is dedicated to helping your child succeed.

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 twenty years. His career has focused on treating both boys and girls, with specialization in trauma, depression, anxiety, processing difficulties, eating disorders, 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.

His favorite things include spending time with his beautiful wife, Julie, four wonderful sons, and his sweet daughter—engaging in all sorts of games, mountain biking, hiking, playing at the lake and watching movies among other fun activities.

Director of Business Development, Founding Partner

Bryan Tomes

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.”

Clinical Director

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.”

Academic Director

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.

Psychiatry Provider

Bennett Harris, LCMHC, PA-C

Bennett’s entire professional career has been spent in the passionate pursuit of providing world class behavioral health care. He is a graduate of the Wingate University Physician Assistant program as well as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Counseling Psychology program. His training includes EMDR, TRM and DBT. With more than a decade of experience as both a prescribing provider and a licensed professional counselor, his therapeutic approach combines trauma-focused modalities and psychiatric interventions in a holistic manner. As a trauma-informed clinician, Bennett is adept at viewing the individuals he serves through a lens of compassionate understanding. His theoretical orientation is aligned with biology, not pathology and seeks to involve the family system in the healing process. Bennett believes that the family system can be the catalyst of unparalleled healing when appropriate support and nurturing is involved. His training in both psychiatry and counseling allow him to seamlessly integrate with the therapeutic approach at Equinox to optimally support both the students and family alike. His love of the mountains recently attracted him to the Asheville area. Bennett is an avid rock climber and outdoorsman.

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.

Primary Therapist

Melissa Margolin, LCSW

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.

Primary Therapist

Angie Curtis, MSW, LCSWA, Equine Specialist

Angela graduated from Western Carolina University with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She has been practicing social work for 7 years. She is licensed in Social Work in the state of North Carolina. Angela is a strong believer that consistent, clear, and compassionate boundaries lead to freedom in relationships. Angela is passionate about experiential and equine therapy. She believes that connections to the outdoors and animals are two keys to adolescents giving human relationships a second chance. Angela has experience in working with families who have complex family systems. Angela’s passion and work is centered on helping clients find a voice and a healthier way to maneuver their difficult circumstances. Outside of work, Angela’s passions are riding horses, faith, using the outdoors as a playground, and spending time with her husband and two little girls.

Primary Therapist

Natalie Weiner, LCMHC

Natalie is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, but she found her passion for counseling while working for 5 years in wilderness and community-based therapy settings both in Scotland and the North Carolina mountains. She returned to get her Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling from UNC Greensboro, and is now a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and TF-CBT certified clinician. For the past 4 years Natalie has been practicing outpatient therapy focusing on working with at-risk teens, young adults, members of the LGBTQ+ community, survivors of trauma, and those who are new to (or jaded with) the counseling process. Natalie is excited to get back to the world of residential treatment and using Person-Centered, MI, Trauma-Informed, and Reality therapy approaches in her work to help students identify and work towards what a good person, life, and society looks like to them and then to start making decisions that align with their expressed values in order to get them closer to being that person and building that life for themselves. Personally, Natalie enjoys simple living and values the importance of creating a sustainable balance in her personal and professional life, so outside of her counseling life she can be found snuggling with her cats or out in nature hiking, kayaking, traveling, or spending time with friends.

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 & 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.

Fitness Coordinator

Curt Schrank

Curt hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has been living and working in Asheville for over 10 years. He graduated from Ripon College with his BA in Exercise Science with a minor in Health.

Curt not only has a background in fitness and exercise science but he has worked in the field of addictions treatment and placement for over 6 years and holds his CSAC-I licensure. He has extensive experience in the industry as a former owner and operator for both sober living and IOP Treatment where he also worked with clients providing group fitness programming and individual fitness plans.

Curt enjoys helping young men set and reach their goals and work towards success whether this be related to their freedom from addiction or their overall fitness, nutrition, and wellness. In his free time, he loves playing adult team sports (soccer and basketball), CrossFit, mountain biking, hiking, and spending time with his wife and children.

Nurse

Deborah Markley, 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.

Chef

Tibz Chance

Interim Program Director, Team Manager

Caleb Thomason

Caleb earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English Writing/Publication with a minor in Psychology from the University of North Georgia in 2016. During his college years, Caleb spent summers working as a lead staff at a work camp in Marshall, North Carolina. Caleb spent three years post graduation working as a carpenter for various companies across North Carolina, and spent free time doing freelance creative writing and editing. In February 2019, Caleb joined the Equinox crew as a direct care staff with a desire to pursue a career working with youth in therapeutic settings.

Team Manager

Ben Stivers

The journey that brought Ben to Equinox started with graduating from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology / Criminology. He went on to earn his Masters Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology at the University of West Florida. Ben started working in this field about four years ago at a horticulture therapy program called Pacific Quest. There he learned about verbal de-escalation, mindfulness, and general logistics of running a camp full of teenagers!

Ben landed at Equinox last year, coming to our team as mentor, and working his way through lead mentor and shift coordinator before being placed into the Summer Team Manager position. When Ben is not at work he enjoys a good book (trying to read 100 this year!), playing with his puppy in the sun, and an adventurous waterfall hike. He hopes to bring his positive attitude, caring mindset, and safety oriented planning to this new position to best support all of our teens and mentors.

HR & Operations Manager

Kristin Tui

Kristin is a transplant to WNC. She graduated from HS locally and began her college career at UNC- Asheville. From there, she transferred to and graduated from Brigham Young University- Hawaii where she earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Science. She began her career in the mental health field in Hawaii as a Paraprofessional working 1-on-1 with children with special needs. From there she gained experience in the private sector at an all-girls therapeutic boarding school in Flat Rock, NC as the Outcomes Specialist and personal trainer, later transitioning into HR and Operations.
Kristin enjoyed the time she had to travel around the world before starting a family. A highlight in her life was being able to travel to Russia as a missionary for her church, where she learned the Russian language. Her travels eventually took her to Hawaii where she met and married her husband. Family and career change brought her back to the beautiful mountains she, her husband and their 3 young, energetic children currently call home.
Administrative Assistant

Erica Conner

Bio Coming Soon

Facilities Director

Carlos Barnes

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!”

IT Administrator

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.

Therapy Dog

Connor