The staff at Lake House Academy brings together education, skill, experience and a love for what they do. Each of these individuals understands the complex family dynamics our girls come from. Our goal is to help your daughter rediscover the confident, resilient and fun-loving person you know and love.
Sara Parisi joined the Embark Behavioral Health Care family in December of 2020 as the Executive Director of the Lake House Academy. Prior to assuming this role, she began her first career after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point where she received her commission as a military intelligence officer. She served honorably for nine years on active duty including two combat tours, one in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and another in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After transitioning from the military, she wanted to continue to serve her community through helping people achieve a healthy quality of life by pursuing a career in behavioral and mental health. She returned to school and received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with specialization in the treatment of addictive use disorders from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and is pursuing licensure as a LCMHC-A and LCAS-A in the state of North Carolina. She is delighted for the opportunity to integrate her leadership experience into her new career field.
Outside of her professional pursuits, Sara is also deeply passionate about health, fitness and nutrition, and is working towards obtaining her ability to compete at the professional level with the International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness in the women’s physique division. She is looking forward to the future when comedy clubs reopen and road trip travel is less restrictive. In the meantime, she is rediscovering her artistic side, love of video games, and can usually be found with a cup of coffee in hand providing lots of love and attention to her rescue pup, Boogie. Despite not being born in North Carolina she is proud to call NC home and is looking forward to what friendships and adventures the western part of the state will bring her on her incredible life journey.
Catherine holds a PhD in Counselor Education from the University of Florida. Her career path is highlighted by her work in academia having earned her tenure at Indiana State University and as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor maintaining a private practice. Most notably she served as the Research Director at The Theraplay Institute.
In addition, Catherine has authored multiple journal articles and book chapters on counseling related issues. She has conducted training on children’s mental health in several U.S. states, India, Kenya, Thailand, and Cambodia. Catherine was President of the Association for Counseling Children & Adolescents from 2017-2019, a division of the American Counseling Association.
Bridget earned her Master’s in Social Work with an Animal Assisted Social Work Certificate at the University of Denver. She has worked in therapeutic residential programming, as a clinical therapist with adolescents, conducted research with the Institute for Human Animal Connection, and served as an Adolescent Program Manager for a mental health program.
Erika attended the University of Connecticut and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Relations. She continued on at Georgian Court University and earned a Master of Arts degree in Education. From there, she began a thirteen year career working as an educator in both private and public schools. In 2013, she was drawn to assist families seeking guidance in treatment for their children and worked independently as an educational consultant specializing in therapeutic programs. Most recently, she has worked as an Admissions Associate for New Vision Wilderness.
Erika brings a strong background of knowledge and experience working with children, complex family systems, and diverse academic and mental health histories. She values providing families and referring professionals a high standard of quality care, responsiveness, and collaboration, as evidenced by her strong relationships within the industry and with families who have benefitted from her support.
Erika lives in North Carolina with her two daughters. In her free time, Erika can be found volunteering with her daughter’s theater company, spending time with her family and watching college basketball.
Deana attended Beloit College and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and Education. She continued at Jacksonville State University and earned a Master of Arts degree in Special Education. During her career she has worked both in the classroom as a special educator teacher as well as in the leadership role of an Academic Director.
Deana brings with her a strong background using specific strategies, resources and assessments that cater to the needs of the learners and allow for individualized instruction. It is a process that ensures students are given guidance and flexibility in their learning process, enhancing their academic growth. She also brings well developed leadership skills and strong interpersonal skills that make effective and well-informed decisions in collaboration with both teachers, parents, and students.
Deana enjoys spending time being active outdoors by running, road biking, and mountain biking. She and her husband enjoy attending any type of sporting activity: basketball, track, volleyball, football. She is an avid reader and can often be found on a front porch with a big mug of coffee and good book.
Before joining Calo Programs in 2013, Heidi worked for more than 20 years as a professional in organized camping. She has created successful programs and business models for traditional and special needs programs for children, adults, and families in the Midwest. While providing opportunities for individuals and groups to learn and grow through their experiences, Heidi’s main areas of focus have been in organized camping/experiential living and learning, domestic and violence prevention and education, and professional and organizational management.
In 2013 Heidi joined New Vision Wilderness’ Wisconsin therapy program as Executive Director. In 2017 she joined Calo’s residential team, preparing to open a residential treatment center for teen girls specializing in attachment, anxiety, and depression.
Heidi earned her BA in the Applied Behavioral Sciences from National Louis University.
Heidi has served on local Boards of Directors in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin with Boys and Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts, and the American Camp Association. She has served on steering committees for the NATSAP Mid-West and various regional and national professional conference. She is a member and mentor of Evolving Women. When not working, Heidi enjoys traveling, cooking for friends, planning community parades, and meaningful discussion and hearty laughs with her nephew and nieces.
Kristina received her Bachelor degree in Psychology at the University of Illinois. After undergrad, Kristina was a substitute teacher and began teaching group exercise classes. Group exercise fueled Kristina’s awareness of impact one’s physical experience has on mental health. This awareness drove her to pursue a career as a therapist. For graduate school, Kristina attended Western Illinois University and received her Master’s degree in Clinical/Community Mental Health. While in graduate school Kristina worked at a private practice implementing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy with teens and adults with symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. Kristina also completed her 200hr yoga teacher training while in graduate school.
After graduate school, Kristina moved to Asheville, NC and worked with kids in community mental health both as a therapist and a supervisor. Kristina’s approach to therapy is rooted in somatic therapies and attachment theory. She incorporates a mindful, trauma informed, systemic approach with her work with clients and families.
In her free time, Kristina can be found practicing and teaching yoga, hula hooping, cooking and kitting. Kristina also enjoys running and hiking with her dogs Wilson and Otto.
Nonnie Cullipher has a B.A. in Philosophy and Classics from St. John’s College, and a M.Ed. in Education from the University of New Mexico. Over the last 22 years, she has taught History, English, Math, and Science in a myriad of settings around the United States. Nonnie currently teaches World History and Civics and Government at Lake House Academy and helps with individualized student interventions.
Nonnie recently published a book of stories told by bestselling author and Jungian Analyst, Robert A. Johnson, and is currently in the studio working on the narration of the audio version for Audible.
During her free time, Nonnie is an avid hiker, swimmer, and dancer. She is the proud mother of two daughters and is expecting her first grandchild in January!
Ethan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He has a degree in Biology and a focus in Cellular and Molecular Biology. His favorite thing to teach is experimental design and execution. He is an expert at engaging students with games and role-playing scenarios like Sushi Go! Rise of Tribes, and D&D. Additionally, he is a handyman when needed. In his spare time, Ethan enjoys cooking for his Fancy Dinner Nights, listening to indie music, gaming with friends, and being a dad to his two beautiful cats, Pickles and Cheese.
Carla graduated from UNC-Asheville with a degree in Literature and Academic Licensure. She experiences great happiness watching when a student understands a concept and in turn experiences their own joy. When not teaching, Carla enjoys reading, walking her dachshunds, traveling, cooking, baking, crocheting, volunteering in the community, and enjoying time with family.
After completing her bachelors and masters degrees in Criminal Justice at St. Joseph’s University, Robin joined the Lake House Academy team in the summer of 2013. While working as a Residential Coach, she quickly came to realize that being a part of the growth process for Lake House’s girls and families is her life’s passion. In early 2014 she became a Lead Residential Coach and joined the Program Management team in the Fall of 2015. Robin enjoys creating strong bonds with students, focusing on a “jump in the mud” attitude to role model success. Her favorite activities include celebrating holidays with our students, planning fun activities and playing in local bowling and volleyball leagues.
The student’s favorite fun fact about Robin: she used to work as a clown and can make amazing balloon animals!
Christa Blumm is Lake House Academy’s Health Services Coordinator. Christa earned her Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Blue Ridge Community College in 2016, and became a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant through the National Healthcare Association that same year. She has worked in the medical field since graduating from high school, spending 16 years working at Pardee Hospital, with 14 of those years specifically focused on supporting the Surgical Associates. She also has experience working as an in-home aide through Four Seasons Home Care. Christa especially appreciates helping to support Lake House students through co-regulation, offering extra support and care-taking in her role. In her spare time, Christa enjoys spending time with her husband and their 3 daughters, vacationing, creating new crafts, and reading.
Carson completed a bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Child Development and Family Relations at East Carolina University. She then attended Appalachian State University, where she received a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Carson completed a year-long internship where she worked at a community mental health clinic, providing free individual and group therapy.
Carson enjoys working with young people and families, and has fun hiking and exploring with students!
Leslie Denton joined the Lake House team as a Residential Caregiver in the Summer of 2019. Since then she has held roles as a Shift Leader and became the Team Lead in March of 2020. Leslie has a long history of service, caregiving and working with canines. One of her favorite parts of working for Lake House is planning Saturday activities for our students. When Leslie is not at LHA, you can find her hiking, camping and traveling to National Parks with her husband.
Celine Armijo graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a degree in Criminal Justice before relocating to the Western North Carolina region. Celine has held positions as an Assault Crisis Advocate, a Court Advocate Trainer and an assistant at a behavioral health center. She joined the Lake House Team in 2020 as a Residential Shift Lead and immediately connected with our students, our families and our clinical model. When not at LHA, Celine can be found in the community and local colleges leading trainings and support groups!
Andrea attended the University of North Carolina and earned a Masters in Social Work. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Addictions Specialist, and brings a wealth of experience in child, adolescent and family services to the team. Andrea leads Lake House Academy’s Equine Therapy program and is trained in Trauma Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP), Equine Assisted Growth and Learning (EAGALA) and Parelli Natural Horsemanship. She has experience in juvenile justice wilderness programming, inpatient psychiatric care, experiential programming for child and adolescent residential facilities, as well as experience in private practice.