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, 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.”
Michael Finch, MD
Dr. Finch has been a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist for nearly 20 years. After attending medical school at East Carolina University, he finished residency training at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Dr. Finch worked in private practice in Denver with children, adolescents and adults and after developing a special interest in treating PTSD, he began working with youth in juvenile justice, residential treatment and other inpatient settings.
Seven years ago, Dr. Finch moved home to Western North Carolina, taking a job at Mission Hospital on the child and adolescent inpatient units before opening a private practice.
Dr. Finch’s approach to mental health care includes a strong psychodynamic understanding of the individual in the context of their family and community. He believes that the understanding of one’s life journey is a helpful pathway to envisioning a better future, and emphasizes overall health and wellbeing (exercise, healthy eating, mindfulness, meditation and yoga) in his treatment.
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.
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.
Sandra Dowd, LCMHCA, 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, 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.
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.
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.
Casey Dewar, MA, LCAS, LCMHC
Casey has been working with teens and young adults since 2009. He got his start in outdoor recreation as an educator, administrator, and activity leader, and later moved into mental health, leveraging his love for the outdoors as a wilderness therapy guide. He has since worked as a therapist in wilderness therapy, residential, and outpatient community settings.
He specializes in mindfulness-based approaches to therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, motivational interviewing, and family systems work.
Casey earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Central Michigan University in 2009, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2017. He is a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor.
When not working, Casey appreciates spending time with his black lab, Ava, gardening, hiking, paddling, and exploring the wonder that is Western North Carolina.
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.
Director of Learning Services, Math & Science Teacher
Alexis Allen M.Ed, Ed. S.
Alexis has shared her love of math and science with students all over the world. 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. Her teaching philosophy focuses on empowering students to feel confident and find the best in themselves. Alexis has an M.Ed and a post-masters degree in Special Education. 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.
HR & Operations Manager
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.
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.
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.
Liz received her Bachelors’s degree in Elementary and Special Education from Wagner College in Staten Island and has worked with teens in a variety of educational settings. Liz is interested in the holistic and experiential aspect of education as a therapeutic tool. Before moving into the mental health field, Liz worked at a Waldorf School, creating and implementing their first Remedial Education program. She believes the Waldorf philosophy of mind, body soul is similar to Equinox’s holistic approach.
Liz discovered her passion for integrating experiential education into a treatment setting while working as a wilderness guide for several years. She transitioned to Equinox as a team manager to continue working with teens as they enter later stages of their personal growth and begin to apply the skills that they’ve learned. As program director, Liz oversees the residential program in all aspects and works to strengthen connections between direct care staff and leadership.
Outside of work, Liz’s hobbies include organic farming, fermentation, and making jewelry out of “found objects.”
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.