Michael J. Merchant Chairman of the Board
Michael J. Merchant is the Chairman of the Board at Anasazi Foundation, a non-profit and nationally accredited behavioral healthcare provider for youth, young adults and their families. Mike served as Anasazi’s Director of Operations from 1990 to 1999 and Executive Director/CEO from 2000 to 2017.
Mike has chaired numerous councils and committees on best practices for the treatment of the adolescents in the care of behavioral healthcare providers. He is an expert in strategic communications, and in 2004 developed the communication component at the heart of the Emmy-nominated “Take Time to Talk” substance-abuse awareness and prevention campaign currently used by the Partnership for Drug Free America. He is a co-founder of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council and a past president of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, and the recipient of the 2017 NATSAP Leadership Award.
Mike is a Senior Executive Consultant for The Arbinger Institute. Since 1993, Mike has consulted and facilitated internationally with senior leaders of corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies on the topics of leadership development and influence, change management, conflict resolution, strategic alignment and execution, and improving personal and organizational performance.
Mike coaches NGO leaders worldwide on measuring, improving, and reporting social impact and facilitates for the Forever Young Foundation Nonprofit Institute. Mike is a past president of the Arizona Management Society.
Mike is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management where he was named the 2016 Outstanding Professional. He and his wife Gaylene are the parents of seven red headed and musical children three of which form the Country Music trio Firefly.
Nathan Mitchell Co-Executive Director
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. Nathan is also 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.
Sean-Paul Smith Co-Executive Director
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.
Virginia Robinson Admissions Director
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.
Sean Rourke Director of Outreach & Development
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 25 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.
Lori Guthrie Office Manager
Lori Guthrie is a native of Oregon where she spent the majority of her adult life working in law enforcement. She moved to Arizona in 2010, where she went back to school, volunteered, and pursued a career in Outdoor Recreation. She was introduced to ANASAZI through a Recreation class at Mesa Community College. She began working at ANASAZI as a TrailWalker in 2015. She transitioned to the office in 2016, and has made a huge impact in fundraising, admissions, auditing, and outreach and development. She currently lives in Mesa, Arizona with her husband Greg (who was also a TrailWalker) and their dog, Dod.
Kira Butler, LAMFT Family Therapist/Shadow
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.
Shawn Breeden, MA Parent Shadow/Coach
Shawn is a Board Certified Human Service Practitioner, holding a Master’s degree in Human Services from Liberty University. Shawn has worked with hundreds of families throughout the United States in various roles including as a counselor, program director and pastor. Shawn brings innovative solutions and insight to families going through seasons of transition. Shawn is a trained facilitator for Emotional Intelligence and DISC Personality Profiles. Shawn has been married to his wife, Autumn for 17 years and they have four children: Troy, Dasha, Tilly and Samantha.
Kevin Glenn, LAC Family Therapist/Shadow
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.
Sulay Tovar, LCSW Alumni Services Director
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.
Bethany Anderson, LCSW, RPT Family Therapist/Shadow
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.
Michael Sanders Field Director
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.
Tate Peschka Assistant Field Director
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.
Sheldon Nelson Logistics Director
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.
Carly Nelson Education & Research Coordinator
Carly Nelson is an education and research coordinator for ANASAZI Foundation.
Dr. Gregory S. Allen, MD Medical Director
Allen Family Medicine, 7233 East Baseline Rd. #126 Mesa, Arizona 85209.
Alicia Burrell, RN Nursing Director
Alicia Burrell is the Nursing Director at ANASAZI Foundation.
Melisa Lalich, RN Registered Nurse
Melissa Lalich is a registered nurse working at ANASAZI Foundation.
Sarah Vanholten, RN Registered Nurse
Sarah Vanholten is a registered nurse working at ANASAZI Foundation.
Board of Directors
Sterling Tanner, Chairman
President, Forever Young Foundation
D. Paul Smith, Secretary
Chief Executive Officer, Responsive Management & Outsourcing
Founder, ANASAZI Foundation
Michael J. Merchant
President, ANASAZI Foundation
Lester W.B. Moore
Operating Partner Director, HGGC
Owner, The Haws Companies, and Founder of Red Barn Farms
Legal Counsel at ThomasArts & The Arbinger Institute, Former Utah District Court Judge
Born 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 the Founders’ Official Statement and their Ten Guiding Principles of ANASAZI