Leadership Team

Melissa Michaels, Ed.D. Melissa Michaels, Ed.D., creates movement based cross – cultural community journeys focusing on the potential that is available at all of life’s major thresholds. She is a midwife of the soul, guiding the births of embodied emerging leaders around the world. As the founder and director of Surfing The Creative International, Melissa developed the first contemporary youth leadership rites of passage program rooted in dance. The story of this work will soon be released in Melissa’s forthcoming book, Youth On Fire. Her not-for-profit organization, Golden Bridge, has been engaged in the healing, initiating, educating, and mentoring of diverse young people and the adults who serve them for three decades. As a Fielding University Fellow, she is currently bringing SomaSource®, the body of work she has developed to numerous cross – boundary communities in Africa, the Middle East and in India. Melissa is a first generation teacher of the 5Rhythms® along with being a registered Somatic Movement Educator and Therapist (ISMETA). Read Melissa’s full bio here.

Arisa LaFond Arisa LaFond, Rolfer™ of Structural Integration, LMT, is a dancer, mover and shaker, she has traveled extensively, and has been working as a Rolfer since 2008. She has been dancing with Melissa and Surfing the Creative® since 2007, and has served on the healing support team. Arisa is interested in such embodied principles as right alignment, integration, emanating from the heart. She works toward balancing organized structure with functional freedom of movement, integrity and serving both the global and local community. Arisa dedicates her work to service outreach, human rights, grass-roots work and being a healthy bridge. www.ApathofHeart.org

Balu Ponnusamy Balasundarm (Balu) Ponnusamy lives in Auroville, South India. He is currently completing his B.A. in Culture and Heritage Management. Balu works with local Tamil village youth who are learning to perform Tamil cultural arts, dance and music, locally, nationally, and internationally. This work is an outgrowth of Balu’s dedication to supporting his Tamil culture’s values, spirituality, and indigenous crafts. He is also the founder and director of Auroville Bamboo Center, and co-founder/director of the Mohanam Community Center. Balu’s relationship with Golden Bridge has been evolving since 2004 when he made his first journey out of India and began his conscious journey across the great waters of adolescence. The work with SomaSource® now informs his work with children every day. Balu is married to Rajaveni, and together they are the proud and devoted parents of their son, Samaran. Balu is a risk-taker and visionary, dedicated to living in unity and harmony. http://youtu.be/YdnONuPiUzA

Blythe Massey Blythe Massey is a Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist and gifted Hatha yoga teacher with over 10 years of experience serving conscious, healthy, and radiant embodiment. Her sensitive skill in working with individuals and groups has been deeply informed by the SomaSource® tools and practices, which she studied for 14 years. Blythe is the lead film – maker for all of the Golden Bridge film shorts. Surfing The Creative® Film // Pictures of the Possible Videos. She owns and directs her own visionary film company, Bright Moon Productions.

Carley Martin Carley Martin will be graduating in May 2014 with her Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. She currently works with young men in the re-entry process from incarceration to home. Carley has been dancing regularly with Surfing the Creative® programs since 2007 when she was first a participant in youth camp! Her biggest passion is working towards prison reform and a re-visioning of justice in this country, a goal that was revealed to her largely through this work. Due to this she is especially intrigued and inspired by this work’s ability to help youth discover their life missions and develop the resources they need to carry them out. She is honored to support their processes! In her free time, Carley loves dancing, creating art with friends, and anything related to hip-hop.

Catherine Douglas Catherine Douglas aspires to radiate shimmering ripples of peace, laughter, inspiration, and joy in the world. She grew up in the SomaSource® community, attending her first workshop with Melissa in 1998. She has participated in and served as a mentor, research assistant, and as a member of the media team for nearly a decade of Surfing the Creative® Camps. After graduating with honors in Dance & Holistic Healing from Pitzer College, she taught Natural Highs: Healthy Alternatives to Drugs & Alcohol at most of the high schools in Boulder and at conferences such PeaceJam. During those years, her passion for creating an environment in which young people could fully thrive got her involved in community organizing and co-creating with her students what they were calling the “Natural Highs Revolution.” Her interest in studying and contributing to the peace, subtle activism, compassion, and happiness movements led her to Oakland, CA, where she lived for many years. She has worked for many organizations and campaigns, including BeThePeace, The Shift Network’s Summer of Peace, The Compassion Games, The Happiness Initiative, Earthdance International, The Gaiafield Project, The Story of Stuff Organization, Techné Verde, PeaceDance, and PeaceRipples. Catherine is a certified Laughter Yoga Leader, Qigong instructor, a facilitator for Generation Waking Up, and has a certificate from San Francisco State University in Positive Psychology Coaching. She is passionate about holistic peace: a multifaceted vision of peace, ranging from an inner state of consciousness all the way up to a thriving, just, sustainable world for all living beings.


Celia Macedo Celia Macedo is a Translator, Interpreter, Dancer, Percussionist, and Natural Scientist who loves working with cultural and movement arts as a way to share the life and vitality of nature and her Brazilian roots. She was the first female Capoeirista in her hometown in Brazil, and lived in the woods at the outskirts of the city for 10 years, where she grew her own food. She moved to the United States in 1997. Celia currently teaches Portuguese speaking and singing, participates with the Boulder Samba School as treasurer, and as a musician for the Bateria Alegria performance ensemble. She also plays with the Brazilian Pagode group “Chegando Lá”.

Darius Simpson Darius Simpson grew up in Akron, Ohio and has been engaged in Rites of Passage processes since he was a young teen. As a student and eventual leader in My Brothers, My Sisters programs, he has emerged as a righteous guide for his peers wherever he goes. Darius has been involved in Golden Bridge’s work for 5 years, as an inspired poet and surfer of the creative. As part of the music team, he works to assist the process through music and poetry. He is currently finding his way as an under-grad attempting to change the way black males operate on his campus community.


Darren Silver Darren Silver is a rite of passage guide, life-coach, ceremonialist, and an innovative educator. His commitment to guiding youth through initiatory experiences was birthed from more than a decade of involvement in indigenous spiritual practices of North America, study with renowned wilderness educator Tom Brown Jr., extensive time in the wilderness and international travel.


Darren holds an undergraduate degree from Western State Colorado University in Anthropology and is currently completing his graduate degree on the esoteric teachings of mythology and initiation at Prescott College. He has studied with authors and teachers such as Tom Brown Jr., Martin Prechtél, and Melissa Michaels.

Darren has guided rite of passage experiences nationally, internationally, residentially, and in the wilderness. His approach towards initiatory experiences is embedded teachings that have been in relationship with humans since time immemorial. His aim is to guide individuals to the well of their own soul and purpose in relationship with community and the natural world through the ceremonial arts and earth living skills.

Darren has worked with such organizations as Golden Bridge, Rites of Passage Journeys, Leapnow, Earth-Based Institute, Cottonwood Institute, Western Mountain Youth Services, Center for Mindful Learning, and Gunnison Valley Juvenile Diversion.

In addition, Darren is a sundancer, storyteller, hunter, recently spent a year homesteading in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, and currently lives outside of Boulder, Colorado.

Dayna Seraye Dayna Seraye is a teacher, healer and artist devoted to cultivating the path of the heart through the sacred body temple. She has been a student of healing and shamanism from a very young age, and has practiced various forms of sacred embodiment for 20 years. Dayna leads women’s groups, workshops and retreats to support women in connecting with nature, their bodies, hearts, and deep soul truth. Dayna has danced and studied with Melissa for several years, and her path of service in the world has been deeply influenced by SomaSource® programs. daynaseraye.com

Eyal Rivlin, M.A. Though he was born in the blistering heat of Israel’s Jordan Valley, Eyal’s spirit seems to spring from Renaissance Europe. His passion for celebrating music, dance, science, and spiritual growth sent him on a pilgrimage of discovery from Israel through Europe and India to the United States where he currently resides in Boulder, CO. Holding a Masters Degree in Transpersonal Psychology, Eyal strives to inspire joy through performing, teaching and facilitating musical events. Recently you may have caught Eyal playing with Mantric Dance Jam bands, Zeppephilia his Led Zeppelin tribute band, or leading an evening of ecstatic Hebrew Kirtan with his wife Danya in a retreat center around the world.

Gabriel Cannon, Director of Organizational Development Gabriel Cannon, MA in Counseling Psychology is currently the Director of Organizational Development for Golden Bridge. He has been involved with SomaSource®, intermittently, for the past 15 years. Gabriel is also a therapist, counselor, and mentor who specializes in adolescent transitions, addiction, family systems, and severe mental health issues. He works with adolescents, adults, and families. Gabriel is returning to Colorado from Hawaii where he managed an outpatient clinic treating dual diagnosis clients. In his formative years, Gabriel worked as a wilderness educator and developed experiential education programs for diverse populations from the inner cities of the U.S. to the villages of Kenya.

Isabelle Tierney Isabelle Tierney, M.A., LMFT, BHS, is a coach, licensed marriage and family therapist, author, speaker, trainer, and spiritual guide. She’s been in private practice internationally since 1996 with specialties in conscious intimacy, embodied spirituality, and body image and eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating). She has created The Feel Good Way, a psycho-spiritual approach to living life connected to peace, love, and joy no matter what. She’s also the co-founder with her ex-husband and now-beloved of the online program, “Love Re-Ignited: Giving Love Another Chance.”,


Isabelle works with individuals, couples, families, and groups, locally and online. Additionally, she travels the country leading workshops and speaking for audiences on topics such as stress reduction, conscious divorce, eating disorders, and addiction. She speaks English, French, and Spanish. www.isabelletierney.com

Jason Geoffrion, MA Jason Geoffrion, MA, is a Psychotherapist, 4Gateways Life Coach, Vision Quest Guide, Rites of Passage Guide, and Executive Director of the Men’s Leadership Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring, encouraging and supporting men of all ages into authentic living. He has served as a support team member for the Surfing the Creative® rites of passage programs for the past 6 years. Through his work Jason, is dedicated to bringing ceremony and ritual back into regular community practice, building inter-generational bridges, engendering collaboration between the masculine and feminine, and reconnecting humans with the natural world. Jason’s Ph.D. studies at Fielding Graduate University revolve around developing healthy community through bridging personal soul work with local and global initiatives.

Jeffrey Dann, PhD, LAc Jeffrey Dann, PhD, LAc, is a senior practitioner of Japanese acupuncture and manual medicine who teaches nationally and internationally. Director of Aloha Wellness Associates, Jeffrey is a proponent of movement and dance as a way to vitality and health. Besides being a long time dancer with Melissa Michaels, he has been a senior dance medicine therapist for Golden Bridge summer camps and intensives. He is also deeply engaged in the practice of Contact Improv and Authentic Movement. Jeffrey is known for his passionate fermenting of vegetables and tonic drinks and loves to go on mushroom forays.


Jennie Gershater Lopez, MA, LMT Jennie Gershater Lopez, MA, LMT serves as a Somatic Healing Arts Practitioner supporting and guiding individuals through significant life thresholds in a variety of ways including: Body-Centered Psychotherapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Soul-Centered Bodywork and Somatic Archaeology™. She has been serving as a Somatic Psychotherapist on the support team for Surfing the Creative® and other SomaSource® programs since 2007. Jennie serves as a Tribal Tender throughout the cycles of LIFE, weaving the medicines of Love, Listening, Witnessing, Honoring, Ritual, Nature and Play to support people to Remember their Inner Truth (body~mind~heart~ soul), so that they can Reclaim their Soul Story and Soul Medicine~Rippling inspired LIFE and embodied PURPOSE into the world!

Jeremy Roske Jeremy Roske’s life work and passion is to use performing arts to serve personal and collective awakening. As a poet, singer/songwriter, actor and youth leader, Jeremy has traveled the world for over two decades, igniting the fire of inspiration and expression in the hearts of thousands. Jeremy was the keynote speaker and lead performer for the Earth Guardians during the Children’s Torch of Hope Tour in 1995, performing and speaking at over 50 events in 29 states. In his late teens he was a youth representative for the United States at many world-renowned conferences, including the State of the World Forum, YES! World Leadership Jam, Spectrum of Light Youth March, and the Millennium Young People’s Congress. In 2005 he organized and spearheaded the Voice of Youth Tour. Traveling to India and New Zealand, the group performed concerts and gave workshops focused on youth empowerment through creative expression. In his early teens, Jeremy connected with Melissa Michaels and became one of the first young males to grow through her work. After participating in her apprenticeship program and serving as a youth leader and musician for a number of the Surfing the Creative® International youth programs, he was called out to the world to develop his own body of work and refine his creative expression. Jeremy has trained extensively in dance/movement, Capoeira, theatre, music, non-violent communication, conflict resolution and co-creative leadership. He is the co-founder of Voice of Youth, GAYA (Global Alliance of Youth and Adults in Action) and the Creative Director and founder of Rapsody. http://youtu.be/ypbYeFv4z1I

Jonathan U. Davis Jonathan U. Davis is an arts educator who graduated from The Colorado College with a B.A. in Theater and Dance. Jonathan has served as a leader in Surfing the Creative® International Youth Leadership Programs for 12 consecutive years, where he has witnessed and participated in the evolution of a community that makes Surfing the Creative® a uniquely potent Rites of Passage experience. He is the co-founder of a local dance studio, developer of an international non-profit media collective called Voice of Youth, and has studied percussion with numerous traditional West African teachers. Jonathan currently teaches Performing Arts at the Studio School, an Arts-Integrated Magnet school in Northglenn, CO. When he is not at work, he enjoys every moment with his beautiful 4-year-old son. Jonathan’s primary goal is to enliven the next generation of leaders through embodied creativity and inspired self-expression.

Julie Dolin MA, LPC, BC-DMT Julie Dolin MA, LPC, BC-DMT has worked as a dance/movement therapist and licensed professional counselor for over 20 years. In her private practice she sees adults, adolescents, parents and groups. She is also currently the Director of Counseling Services at Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS), a charter middle school in the Denver Public School system. She was adjunct faculty in Naropa University’s Somatic Counseling Psychology Department for over 10 years, specializing in group work, clinical and thesis mentoring and Authentic Movement. Julie completed the first Surfing the Creative® Apprenticeship Program in 1998 and served as core faculty and mentor from 2001-2008. Julie is the mother of two sons, Tobiah (17) and Adrien (10).

Kat Shea Kat Shea began her journey to understand and live what it is to be fully human with a set of questions: What is possible if our identity comes from our essence? What is a life in balance – so that we can live and give our greatest gifts? What is really going on beyond the assumptions of our small selves? These questions have guided a life long pursuit of holistic healing techniques. She did bodywork for 8 years with only dance and visual art as her background, and then moved to Boulder to study with leading experts in many modalities of healing. Kat brings 33 years of healing experience from 3 main streams: massage therapy, body-centered psychotherapy, and classical homeopathy. She has danced with Melissa since the late 1980’s, and has been on staff for most of the Surfing the Creative® summer dance camps.

Leah D’Abate, MA, LPC, BC-DMT Leah D’Abate, MA, LPC, BC-DMT, runs a thriving, full time private psychotherapy practice in Boulder County as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist (BC-DMT) and Somatic Psychotherapist where she works with individuals and couples, and offers clinical supervision and consultation. She has 15 years of experience facilitating groups and individuals of all ages using experiential, somatic and creative arts modalities to work with substance abuse and process addictions, recovery, trauma and dissociative disorders, violence prevention, persistent mental illness, communication, grief and loss, relationship building, sexuality, intimacy, creativity, love and self actualization. In addition to her private practice, Leah has worked as a psychotherapist in wellness clinics, mental health centers, residential treatment centers, public schools, and community facilities emphasizing the importance of movement, body based awareness and dance/art making in the cycle of healing. Leah spent 9 years as the academic advisor, admissions coordinator, and adjunct faculty for the MA in Somatic Counseling Psychology Program at Naropa University. She currently serves at Naropa University as a clinical mentor and thesis project mentor to graduate level counseling interns. Leah also works in the community as a therapeutic consultant and senior support team member for Golden Bridge, supporting their dance based educational programming, and has been involved with SomaSource® Dance work for 7 years. Leah is a dancer and an artist and has a passion for floral design and soulful aesthetic creations of all kinds.

Lela Henderson Lela Henderson has worked with young people of all ages both nationally and internationally for over a decade. She loves to weave her passion for expressive arts, wilderness, spirituality, community, and somatic exploration into her work with individuals and groups. Lela is trained as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and has engaged in formal study and deep practice with Melissa Michaels and the SomaSource® map since 2004. She participated in her first children’s program with Melissa, Small World Camp, when she was 5 years old. Lela now runs the Small World Family camp during Melissa’s trainings. In addition to working with young people, Lela is a professional artist and serves as the product development manager for the office of Sai Maa. During the rare moments that Lela is not engaged in the work she loves, she enjoys meditating, playing music, creating art, riding a bike up to her house on the top of a beautiful mountain, and laughing with her friends. www.lovelifedesigns.org

Livia Cohen-Shapiro, MA Livia Cohen-Shapiro, MA has a master’s degree in somatic counseling psychology from Naropa University. Her background and continued areas of study include yoga, psychology, religion, ritual, expressive arts and the 5Ryhthms®. Livia has studied with Melissa Michaels since 2009 and has served on the support teams as a therapist for SomaSource® programs since 2011. She is a dedicated yoga teacher and therapist working primarily within the yoga world at the national and international level, offering somatic mentorship and educational programs that teach essential somatic psychology tools. Livia lives with her fiercely loving husband Elliot and their two cats.

Louie Lopez Louie Lopez has been a devoted leader, mentor and educator in service to youth and families in Boulder County for over 20 years. Currently, Louie serves as the Community Coordinator for the City Of Longmont and coordinator for GRIP (Gang Response and Intervention Program). He supports youth who are challenged by gang life to develop positive relationships and conflict resolution skills, increase self-esteem and personal responsibility. Louie has developed and facilitated leadership groups that serve many populations. He is dedicated to supporting and empowering youth through the many thresholds of life through healthy communication, developing relationships, and pure love. He has served as a leader and elder for Surfing the Creative® since 2012. He is a father of three sons, and a devoted grandfather to his grandson and his new baby granddaughter.

Mariah Tuffy, MSW Mariah Tuffy, MSW, is a bilingual social worker whose true passion lies in living in various countries and working with adolescent women focusing on sexual health, relationships and empowerment. Mariah recently graduated on the Dean’s List with her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She has worked with adolescent mothers, recent immigrants, foster children, juvenile delinquents, and with street children in Ecuador. Mariah is an avid learner and traveler. Currently, she is helping to lead a girls group for teens along with serving children in an underprivileged elementary school in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mariah loves Caribbean and Latin culture, the beach, Salsa, basketball and meeting people from all walks of life and cultures.


Mariah and her mom inspire one another’s lives. Melissa began teaching the dance in her Small World Dancers children’s program when Mariah was 3 years old. Since then, many programs, including Surfing the Creative®, have emerged as a result of the needs Melissa saw in her daughters’ (Mariah’s) life and that of her peers.

Meagan Chandler Meagan Chandler is a performance and ceremonial artist, singer/songwriter, and embodied arts educator. She performs and teaches people of all ages and walks of life across the U.S. and around the globe. Meagan grew up in Surfing the Creative® Youth Leadership Programs, studying these maps since her teens, and has served on the leadership team for 11 years. She is a playful, cultural shapeshifter and dedicated change agent, dipping into darkness and light, seeking to inspire creative expression and the spirit of inquiry everywhere she goes. Meagan naturally inspires the exploration of the gifts that we each carry inside so that we may all, in our unique way, serve the health of this mad, gorgeous world. She recently released her first original album, Sensual, and enjoys living a creative life out of the box. www.meaganchandler.com / http://youtu.be/dZjXvxDD96k

Megan Eggers Zubaedi, MA, CMT, CSP, CST Megan Eggers Zubaedi, MA, CMT, CSP, CST is devoted to facilitating soul connection through the integration of body, mind, heart and spirit. Megan has been a healing arts practitioner for over 14 years and calls upon her deep study of Energy Work, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Somatic Psychotherapy, Bodywork and human nature, to support each individual’s natural capacity to heal and true nature to shine. She is the lead therapist serving the SomaSource® Rites of Passage and Life Cycles work since 2005. www.meganeggers.com

Melissa Walker, MA, R-DMT Melissa Walker, MA, R-DMT is a Body-Centered Psychotherapist with a thriving private practice in Westminster, CO where she supports couples and individuals to discover balance and satisfaction in their intimate relationships. A graduate of Naropa University, Melissa weaves together her Masters level training in Dance/Movement Therapy with additional certification in Somatic Archaeology, and training in Psychodrama, Authentic Movement, and the creative arts. In addition, she has studied under the 5Rhythms® Rites of Passage work of Melissa Michaels, Ed.D since the summer of 2008, during which she has served on the therapeutic teams for the adult Surfing the Creative® Program, Shakti Sisterhood, and weekly Movement Mass. The combination of these profound modalities and brilliant mentors inspired her Dance/Movement Sex Therapy model. Far from emphasizing dance technique (a common misconception), this model cultivates relationship wellness through embodied sexuality and intimacy work. It uses effective verbal/physical communication skills which serve to access a deep connection with body and creative fire. Her orientation in working with clients is in supporting a sense of empowerment and mastery in adopting skills that will broaden the palette of passion and establish healthy, joyful relationships. www.melissawalkerDMT.com.

Mira Kier Mira Kier is a Boulder native who has known Melissa Michaels since she was five years old, and studied in depth with Melissa from 1995 through 2005. This experience was life changing, becoming the foundation for her future work. Mira is now a Licensed Massage and Polarity Therapist, having gone to school in 2006 at the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts. She is talented at holding space for the healing process of others, with a deep attentiveness to the inner journey. She has worked as an Early Childhood Educator for twelve years and has two children, ages 10 and 14. She currently has a landscaping business and is an avid gardener, implementing her permaculture design skills wherever possible. Outdoor journeys with middle school children have also been a recent and rewarding experience for Mira. She strives to share her passions for embodiment, earth-based education and practical living arts with her community near and far.

Omar Farouk Zubaedi, MFA Omar Farouk Zubaedi, MFA is a Rites of Passage Facilitator, Father and Master Craftsman/Carpenter based in the glorious Rocky Mountains of Colorado. He is a joyfully devoted and longtime student of radical embodiment, collective brilliance, and the outrageous well-being cultivated through daily communion with the more than human world. Being of mixed race and being Iraqi-American he has, as a matter of course, spent a lifetime investigating the true meaning and mystery of healthy relations within the human community. He has been honored to serve in a variety of capacities over the years with Golden Bridge. He loves blue – sky mountain days, giant trees, jaw dropping grooves, epic lines through deep powder and being with family!


Rachael Bonaiuto, MA, LPC, BC-DMT Rachael Bonaiuto, MA, LPC, BC-DMT is a board certified Dance/Movement Therapist, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Somatic Educator, and the founder of Embodied Wellness, a fulfilling private practice in Boulder, CO. She joyfully works with individuals and groups to support deep trust in the body’s wisdom, honor inherent movement toward wholeness and cultivate body-mind-spirit alignment. She is particularly called to guide women through the profound and important portals of various life transitions. Rachael weaves into her therapeutic work her life-changing experience overseas – as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand. This exploration, along with her most transformative journey into Motherhood, deeply informs her capacity to facilitate change, support diversity and fluidly dance with the edges of expansion and contraction. Rachael also teaches Authentic Movement, the contemplative movement practice at the heart of her work, at Naropa University, where she began her study and training in 2004. She has been blessed to study the SomaSource® maps with Melissa Michaels since 2011. Rachael engages in the dance of life with her precious family – her endlessly compassionate husband and their two soulful children, Rafael and Anya. www.embodiedwellness.org


Rafael Martinez, MA, PCCI Rafael Martinez, MA, PCCI is a Clinical Counselor and Somatic Psychotherapist who has been passionately committed to youth development for over ten years. He has worked in NYC with youth through an alternative to incarceration program, and as a Peer Coach with GED students in Queens. Currently, Rafael is a bilingual counselor for middle/high school students in East Oakland, California. Rafael’s healing work integrates heart-centric, body-based, and transpersonal modalities. He has been an active participant and leader with SomaSource® dance work for three years. Rafael loves hip-hop, learning astrology, and building a family with his partner. He is currently experimenting with being a New Yorker in California.

Raji Balasundaram Rajaveni (Raji) Balasundaram lives in Auroville, South India. She is a youth and women’s leader, directing the “Lively” tailoring training centre, which runs a traditional sacred art research program that provides employment and education for women. Raji also counsels teen girls in Mohanam Cultural Centre in a local village and works as a guest coordinator at Vérité, an organic and sustainable community for personal growth and wellness.


An inspiring example, Raji pushes the boundaries of her culture’s understanding about the role of women by honoring the full range of her own creative capacities. Her social work extends to caring for elders and handicapped children. Raji also supports youth exchange programs for Surfing the Creative® with Melissa Michaels in India. She is quietly growing Golden Bridge in her home community. Rajaveni is married to Balu and together they are the proud and devoted parents of their son, Samaran. Raji has a deep and abiding passion and vision for life that allows her to meet challenges, and move forward with intention and purpose.

Ramon Gabrieloff-Parish, MA Ramon Gabrieloff-Parish, MA is a family man deep in the mysteries and magic of marriage and fatherhood. He currently serves as an adjunct instructor at Naropa University teaching classes in environmental justice, social identity, and contemplative learning. Since 2004, Ramon has been a dedicated student of the SomaSource® maps and thus, one of our most inspired and integral leaders over all these years. In this role, he has also been involved in an effort by local and international rites of passage practitioners, wilderness guides, and youth mentors to integrate services, create a clearing house for best practices, and help awaken mainstream educators to the elemental language of ritual. Ramon continues to quest for the alchemical marriage between dance, art, science, activism, cultural diversity and the sacred, through community gatherings, creative experimentation and social enterprise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kY7ZHQLN2Y

Renee Sills Renee Sills is a certified Somatic Movement Educator (SME) and a registered yoga therapist with IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists.) She has completed over 1000 hours of certification and training in yoga, rehabilitative movement, movement re-patterning, and Body-Mind Centering®. Renee is a graduate of the Somatic Movement Educator program through the Kinesthetic Learning Center and The School for Body-Mind Centering, and continues to study and assist in BMC℠ programs. Renee studied intensively with Melissa Michaels from 1995-2001 and was a participant in the very first Surfing the Creative® summer program. She served as an assistant/facilitator for the programs in 2004 and 2010 and is delighted to be returning this year. Renee currently lives in Portland, OR, where she teaches regular classes in yoga and anatomy, and offers individual sessions in yoga therapy and movement re-patterning. Renee teaches workshops and retreats throughout the year both in the US and abroad, and is on the faculty for 200-hour and 500-hour RYT (registered yoga teacher) trainings. Learn more about her at www.reneesills.com.

Rina Kedem, MA Rina Kedem, MA in International community development, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. BA in Sustainable community development and environment, Prescott College, Arizona. I am a social-environmental entrepreneur who focuses on environmental cooperation and community development with Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians. I believe peace work is needed within one self, between people, and with the earth. I find dance and the outdoors to be the best ways to journey within in order to come back out and serve our communities and become better human beings. I have been dancing with the Surfing the Creative® community for the past 8 years and have been on the leadership team and the Middle East coordinator for Palestinian and Israeli participants. I am a bridge builder between cultures, mainstream and alternative and grass roots and leadership. I love the mysterious place of the void of “the in between” from which new creations are possible and I love manifesting vision into action.

Sarita A bicultural, trilingual native of both South and North America, and nomad of thirteen years, Sarita is a bridge between the many worlds to which she belongs. ‘Kindling for the Fire’, a project founded in her belief in creative-expression as a tool to heal, transform, empower and ignite, is the fruit of her lifelong study to what she calls heART Activism. Kindling aims to facilitate creative dialogs among people of diverse and often “opposing” backgrounds, therefore weaving a sustaining tapestry of connection and solidarity across the divides.

Sarita has guided Rites Of Passage journeys in Argentina, Bolivia, Perú, Nepal and India. And is the author of Caminante, Bridger of Worlds published in 2010. She is nearing completion of her second book, a complex work chronicling her descent through the hell of losing her beloved life partner, and the art of being broken open by life’s complexity, rather than broken to pieces. She has been involved with Golden Bridge since 2010. Much of her healing and initiation into embodied leadership is owed to the profound container of this community. She is deeply devoted to her apprenticeship in this sacred work.

Tal Liza Peterson Mizrahi Tal Liza (Taliza!) Mizrahi holds an MA in Somatic Counseling Psychology and specializes in serving Tweens, Teens and Young Adults through a combination of Creative Arts Therapies, Group Work and Youth Mentoring in her private practice BrightPath Youth Empowerment. Tal Liza has been dedicated to youth development and mentoring for the last two decades – since she was a teen herself! She is passionate about supporting youth and their families in the often-complex transitions from childhood to adolescence, throughout the rich teen years, and through the journey out of adolescence and toward a healthy, embodied, and inspired young-adulthood. Tal Liza has a special focus on teen girls and loves creating safe spaces for them to come together to learn tools for embodiment, empowerment, authentic connection with self and others, as well as healthy self-expression. She is a trained dance/movement therapist as well as a devoted SomaSource® leader and long-time mentee of Melissa Michaels. Tal Liza Serves through both traditional psychotherapeutic modalities and mentoring, as well as diverse movement-based approaches. She loves using creativity to open up new possibilities for every young person’s Bright Path forward. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEGnCsTaGy8 https://www.facebook.com/BrightPathYouthEmpowerment

Tara King, M.Ed. Tara King, M.Ed. has worked with families as a birth and parenting educator for almost two decades. She works with women of all ages encouraging the healthy embrace of creativity and fertility cycles. She also facilitates Coming of Age workshops for youth, and teaches healthy sexuality classes to teenagers. Tara is a long-time student of the SomaSource® work as created by Melissa Michaels. She is carrying forth certain aspects of the life cycle work that include ancient, time-tested ways of supporting people in transition. She has two daughters ages 17 and 20.

Vusi Makanya Vusi Makanya is a professional dancer, choreographer, artistic director and educator from Durban, South Africa. He has worked on many projects and with numerous dance companies throughout the past 16 years. He is currently a member of the KwaMashu Community Advancement Project (KCAP) and is on the board of directors for KZN Dance Link who run workshops in children’s homes. He has run his own Dance Development School and worked with physically challenged children. Vusi has won awards for his choreography and works with a variety of companies such as Flatfoot Dance Company and Jazzart Dance Theatre. He performs both nationally and internationally.