Staff & Leadership 2017-05-11T19:34:25+00:00


The Founders

Larry D. Olsen

larry_ezekiel_oldBorn in 1939, near Jerome, Idaho, Larry’s unquenchable curiosity in Native American cultures lured him to the great desert wastelands of the Western United States and their ancient inhabitants. As a boy, Larry trekked into remote canyon areas and became adept at living off the land. Read more…

Ezekiel C. Sanchez

Chief Operating Officer Ezekiel C. Sanchez, a Totonac Indian from Mexico, is the second oldest of sixteen children. At a young age Ezekiel learned to work and gather wild edibles from the desert to supplement his family food supply.
Read more…

Read the Founders’ Official Statement and their Ten Guiding Principles of ANASAZI


mmPresident and Executive Director
Michael J. Merchant
Mike has helped lead ANASAZI since 1990. He oversees the organization’s day-to-day activities and works closely with families as a facilitator of ANASAZI’s parent seminar. Mike also serves as president of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) and was formerly chairman of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative (, which helps determine best practices for adolescent behavioral healthcare providers. Mike is a frequent lecturer on standards of care and the importance of effective parent-child communication. In 2004, he developed the communication component at the heart of the Emmy-nominated “Take the Time to Talk” substance-abuse awareness and prevention campaign. Mike and wife Gaylene are the proud parents of seven musically gifted, red-headed children.

mmAssistant Executive Director – Finance/Human Resources
Sean-Paul Smith
Sean-Paul manages ANASAZI’s day-to-day business operations, serving as corporate controller and supervisor of admissions, human resources, logistics, and facilities management. He was previously a director at the small business accounting/management firm Responsive Management Outsourcing and has extensive experience in medical billing/consulting. Sean-Paul earned his B.A. degree in Consumer Studies from the University of Utah. He and his wife Ariel are the proud parents of two beautiful girls.

mmVice President – Outreach & Development
Sean Rourke
Sean is primarily responsible for the development of ANASAZI’s annual scholarship fund, which provides assistance for financially challenged families in need of ANASAZI’s services. He also oversees ANASAZI’s marketing and social media efforts. Sean brings to ANASAZI more than 22 years of experience in strategic marketing management, public relations, and proposal development. A native of Oklahoma, Sean earned degrees in business administration and mass communications from St. Gregory’s College and Northeastern State University. He and his wife Lori have two sons.

mmAdmissions Director
Virginia Robinson
Virginia brings a wealth of experience to her role as ANASAZI’s director of admissions. She first became acquainted with ANASAZI’s founders as a student enrolled in their earlier, university-based wilderness programs. Soon after ANASAZI was formed in 1988, Virginia enrolled one of her children in the program. Since that time, all but two of her 12 children have participated in ANASAZI as either students or staff.

Clinical Team

mmAssistant Executive Director – Direct Care
Nathan Mitchell, MS, LAC
Nathan earned his master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s in fine arts/acting from Brigham Young University. He came to ANASAZI from a Utah-based therapeutic boarding school, where he served as a therapist and developed the school’s drama therapy program. He worked previously as a professional film actor, a life-skills instructor in a cognitive restructuring program, a psychiatric clinical assistant, and as an adolescent life coach in another residential treatment center. Besides leading ANASAZI’s Direct Care team, Nathan is a facilitator for ANASAZI’s parenting program. He enjoys spending time with his wife and four children and is an avid woodworker, hiker, and fisherman.

mmFamily Therapist/Shadow
Bethany Anderson, LCSW, RPT
Bethany attended the Masters of Social Work program at Brigham Young University and has since become independently licensed as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Registered Play Therpist (RPT). Her past experience working with adolescents began with 5 summers employed with the Especially For Youth Program and includes 2 years working as a direct care staff at a residential treatment center. Bethany’s clinical emphasis is in attachment and trauma related issues with experience working with children, adolescents, and families as well as facilitating parenting classes. Her extensive training in Play Therapy and Sandplay therapy lends itself nicely to the experiential therapy wilderness setting. Bethany fell in love with the ANASAZI Foundation program long before joining in the summer of 2015. She considers her involvement here to be a huge blessing to her life. Bethany is originally from Colorado and spends her spare time organizing local social events, cooking “hippie food,” or planning her next vacation to visit family and friends.

Parent Shadow/Coach – Shawn Breeden, MA

Family Therapist/Shadow
Kevin Glenn, LAC
Kevin has provided individual, family, and group counseling since 2011. He received his Master’s degree in clinical and mental health counseling from the University of Phoenix. Emphasizing the theoretical aspects of counseling, Kevin has been published in Counseling Today magazine, in forensic psychotherapy, and he has presented at conferences nationwide. He is passionate about his work with ANASAZI families, as well as the moral responsibility in counseling, critically examining counseling foundations, positing viable advancements for clinical practice, and bringing compassion to psychotherapy.

mmFamily Therapist/Shadow
Daniel Parke, LCSW
Daniel earned a BS in Marriage, Family and Human Development and a MA in Social Work, both from Brigham Young University, Utah. His professional experience includes a Master’s level internship in a residential facility working in individual adolescent therapy, family therapy, and facilitating sexual addiction groups and substance abuse groups. His Master’s level internship in an out-patient facility gave him additional experience in family therapy, group therapy, and facilitating anger management groups. He worked as a Psych Tech in two different youth corrections facilities. Daniel and his wife Ginger have two sons. He loves spending time with family, exercising, and reading.

mmFamily Therapist/Shadow
Kira Roerig, LAMFT
Kira earned her bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management-Youth Leadership from Brigham Young University and her master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland. Her clinical experience includes work with couples, parents/adolescents, and Spanish-speaking families, and she has a research background in parenting and adolescent prosocial behavior. A proud Oregonian, Kira began working with adolescents in outdoor programming in 2007. She considers it a privilege to work with ANASAZI families.

Family Therapist/Shadow Sulay Tovar, LCSW

Medical Staff

Physician Douglas Hobbs, MD

Nurse Alicia Burrell, RN

Nurse Melissa Lalich, RN

Wanda Foutz, RN, MSN
Associated with ANASAZI since 1992 and formerly serving as clinical director, Wanda now oversees the health and safety of participants and staff. Wanda holds a degree in social services and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Santa Fe. She received her MSN from the University of Sacramento. Besides serving for 10 years as ANASAZI’s clinical director, Wanda has extensive experience as a staff nurse and as nursing/clinical director in surgical, ICU, mental health, home health, and hospice care. She has been a nursing instructor at Central Arizona College for the past 10 years and has been instrumental in helping several organizations achieve Joint Commission accreditation. Wanda has served on the surveying committee for the Council on Accreditation and is the past president of the nursing board at the University of New Mexico-Gallup.

Operations Team

mmField Director
Michael Sanders
Michael is responsible for overseeing all aspects of ANASAZI’s field operations, including the hiring, training, and mentoring of ANASAZI’s incredible field staff. He also coordinates ANASAZI’s academic programs. Michael first joined ANASAZI in 1997 as a field staff member (TrailWalker), meeting and eventually marrying Michelle (another TrailWalker). Together they now have five beautiful children.

mmAssistant Field Director
Tate Peschka
Tate joined ANASAZI in 2006, serving first as a TrailWalker, then in various positions of field leadership. He brings his unique way of inspiring young people to his role as leader of Alumni Services, which provides services to young people and parents once they leave the trail. Tate also oversees intake, family camp, and discharge operations, and he conducts ANASAZI’s weekly parent-support call. A native of Oklahoma, Tate and wife Cristi are parents to a wonderful 10-year-old daughter and a newborn son.

Alumni Services Director
Sulay Tovar, LCSW
Sulay earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in social work (MSW) from Brigham Young University. A native of California, she worked previously as an elementary/high school special education teacher for the Mohave Unified School District. Sulay’s clinical experience includes work with West Ridge Academy and the Utah State Hospital’s forensics unit. Fluent in Portuguese, she served an 18-month humanitarian mission in Brazil after working previously as a TrailWalker on ANASAZI’s direct-care staff. Sulay loves working with young people and considers her work at ANASAZI to be her ideal job. She is the proud owner of Tumbleweed and Baer, two puppies who found her on the road to the ANASAZI trail.

Research Coordinator
Carley Nelson

Director of Logistics
Sheldon Nelson
Sheldon joined ANASAZI’s field team in 2004 and is now responsible for the planning, logistics, communications, and safety of ANASAZI’s field operations. He worked previously as a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service and provided logistical support to aid relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Sheldon met his wife Carley while both worked as members of the field team, and they are parents to three wonderful children.

Board of Directors

Sterling Tanner, Chairman

President, Forever Young Foundation

D. Paul Smith, Secretary

Chief Executive Officer, Responsive Management & Outsourcing

Ezekiel Sanchez

Founder, ANASAZI Foundation

Michael J. Merchant

President, ANASAZI Foundation

Lester W.B. Moore

Operating Partner Director, HGGC

Rich Haws

Owner, The Haws Companies, and Founder of Red Barn Farms

Jon Memmott

Legal Counsel at ThomasArts & The Arbinger Institute, Former Utah District Court Judge

Social Media

Advisory Board

Casey Ashdown

John & Rachel Brandon

Jerry Coleman

Chief Executive Officer, Elevation Solar

Ralph Earle, Ph.D.

Founder, Psychological Counseling Services

Vicki Garnick

Owner, Triangle C Ranch

Gordon & Nancy Gartner

Chief of Police (Retired), Payson, AZ

Robert C. Gay, Ph.D.

Managing Director, HGGC

Connie & Wayne Greene

President, Valley Interiors

Adam Hait

Managing Member, SPI

Eric & Stacey Jawitz

Bruce & Shari Jenkins

Tom Lewis

T.W. Lewis Company

Dinah Lundell

Shari Lyon (Alumna)

Manager, Howard Lyon Fine Art

Amy & Ron McClure

Gaylene Merchant

Jake Nahom (Alumnus)

Larry & Sherrel Olsen

Founder (Retired), ANASAZI Foundation

Nathan Olsen

President/CEO, BestNotes

Gary Peck

Managing Director, The S-Group

Phil & Tina Rees

Christine Robertson

CEO/Publisher, Luca Magazine

Pauline M. Sanchez

Former Director, ANASAZI Foundation

Tracy & Bruno Seemann, MD

Phelipe Silva (Alumnus)

Chief Executive Officer, Conslog

Joshua Simonton

Managing Director & CEO, Alliance Investment Group

Margo Treece

Owner/Principal, Elite Medical Concierge, LLC

David E. Vieweg

Fennemore Craig, P.C.

Terry Warner, Ph.D.

Professor, Brigham Young University
Founder, Arbinger Institute

Celestial Williams

Nanci Wudel

Dal & Amy Zemp