Kimberly has lived in the Salida area for the past seven years. During that time, she has served as a resource to families in Chaffee County through the Colorado Community Response program, worked closely with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and developed a long-term housing program for those victims. She served as Chair of the countywide Housing Policy Advisory Committee, and worked with elected officials and county and municipal organizations to increase regional collaboration advocating for the formation of the Chaffee County Office of Housing.
She has thirteen years of experience as a technology professional and leveraged her IT experience to form her own technology company that provided desktop, network and security solutions to small businesses and individuals. She later worked in academic technology, research computing and data management at an R1 institution. She has used her business and technological experience in the United States and other countries to empower individuals and families with educational resources and medical supplies as well as micro-financing for sustainable projects to pay school fees for children to continue their education.
Kimberly believes strongly that restorative justice practices are vital for the health and well-being of our community. Her leadership skills coupled with a passion for creating productive dialogue between parties affected by crime, violence and trauma are well-suited to take FCRJ to the next level in providing restorative justice services throughout the 11th Judicial District.
Natalie Carmen Millis was born and raised in Denver, CO. She has a degree in Biology and studied community health at Hampshire College, where she wrote a thesis on the political history of the Indian Health Service. Originally focused on going to medical school, Natalie worked as an EMT during college and then at an inpatient psychiatric unit upon returning to Denver. After witnessing firsthand the way our medical system treats patients (especially youth) in crisis, she became very interested in finding out how people can learn to truly break cycles of trauma.
While working as a lead guide in a wilderness therapy program for teens in the backcountry of Utah, Natalie witnessed the truly impressive impact of both wilderness and a collaborative approach to helping young women heal. After a detour during which she worked as a project manager at a tech startup in Salt Lake City, Natalie then served as manager at the Volunteers of America Homeless Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City. One of her side projects was strengthening the program’s policies by facilitating regular feedback groups with clients. In addition, she supported the placement of Trauma-Informed Care principles into the Center’s policies around addressing challenging behavior from clients.
After moving back to Colorado for family reasons, Natalie worked at a large Federally-Qualified Health Center as a program coordinator, but during the pandemic she returned to the front lines as a Medical Assistant on a Covid testing and vaccination team in Denver. She is currently also a volunteer for the Blue Bench Project’s rape crisis hotline.
Although she grew up in the inner city, Natalie was fortunate to have a mentor who inspired her love of Colorado’s wilderness from a young age. Besides hiking the Colorado trail, Natalie has also done an 800-mile section of the Appalachian trail as well as countless trips throughout the Southwest. She is excited to use her spare time in the Salida area to work on connecting inner-city youth, BIPOC folks, and other “unlikely hikers” with the wilderness.
Cindy Merchant graduated from Adams State University with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies Sociology/Business with a focus in Criminology and Women’s Studies. She is National Victim Advocate credentialed through the Nation Organization for Victim Assistance. Cindy is passionate about social Justice issues and working to ensure those underrepresented and marginalized are served through restorative justice. She loves spending time in her garden with her family, hiking the trails with her dog Bear, and reading historical fiction. She’s known among family and friends for her homemade soup, random acts of kindness and making people laugh. She’s excited to share with others in this beautiful community the transformative power and compassionate opportunities that restorative justice provides for repairing harm and building healthy relationships.
Carey has spent the last 10 years working with youth in a variety of settings; health and wellness, experiential education, backcountry adventure programs, and wilderness therapy. Her path has taken her from her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Virginia, Florida, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and finally landing in Colorado. For the last five years Carey has had the privilege of calling Salida home. Carey is excited to serve the community as FCRJ’s first Restorative Justice Care Facilitator. She strives to provide a safe, judgment-free, and collaborative space to help people identify strengths, supports, and ways to overcome barriers and increase access to resources. Carey is currently working towards a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a focus on Adventure-Based Therapy at Prescott College.
Ava has a strong work ethic and enjoys pushing her limits. During her gap year she’s been alternating between three jobs. One at a local Pizza Place in Eldorado at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Another at a popular breakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant running and bussing tables. And the last at a
Due to her father’s job at a small liberal arts college in Virginia, her family journeyed to the west multiple times. These visits to New Mexico opened her eyes to the unique beauty of the desert. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, writing short stories, and running. She plans on attending University of New Mexico in the honors program on a scholarship. Although her major is undecided at the moment, Ava’s main motivation is to help people.
Jodi Breckenridge Petit, Ph.D. is a Restorative Schools Practitioner assisting FCRJ with student conflicts and restorative practices. Jodi lives by the three power verbs: teach, author, lead.
She has taught everything from chemistry to public education funding to Special Operations effective writing. She values volunteering in meaningful ways in Salida, Colorado; enjoys making art; and has three young-adult sons with her husband, Brian.
Tracey Thiele is a trained facilitator utilizing a holistic approach drawn from mindfulness, unity, non-violence and collaboration techniques to invoke positive change. She has a proven track record of successfully starting businesses focused on health transformation, and as an independent sales representative for a large sportswear company. She has an exceptional ability to readily understand the needs of those she serves, and she is innovative; creating transformational courses and programs.
Tracey is also a Recording and Listening Trainer for the Zen Monastery Peace Center and a Certified Health Coach. Tracey works in on line and one-on-one modalities. With a BA in Psychology and a graduate in the Hakomi method of Mindfulness based Somatic Therapy, Tracey brings important and complimentary skills to the FCRJ team. Her expertise complemented the work she has done coordinating a peer mediation program with a local high school in partnership with FCRJ and teaching non-violent communication to youth in Chaffee County.
As an adventure enthusiast, she loves playing in nature on her bike and skis, attending to her garden, and ‘just being’.
Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Rami came to the United States in 2018 to pursue a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Such a degree provides specialization in human behavior and problem-solving, things Rami focuses on daily.
Rami’s career in Restorative Justice started with the Tow Youth Justice institute where he developed a process to resolve conflicts between students living in the University of New Haven’s student housing. He then moved to Colorado, where he became the Restorative Justice Coordinator with YouthZone, and virtually trained a school in California with SEEDS on Restorative Practices. During his time with YouthZone, he facilitated many Community Group Conferences referred by the courts and schools in the region.
Rami is also an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. As a gay man in Lebanon, he worked with the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality where he recruited and trained data collectors to properly communicate, gather, and input data. He also gathered data from over 250 gay men in Lebanon on anxiety, depression and discrimination. He also established the first LGBTQ+ youth safe space in the Roaring Fork Valley that incorporates Restorative Practices. The LGBTQ+ space was funded by Colorado’s Restorative Justice Council. He is also one of the founders of the Restorative Rainbow Alliance, an alliance that focuses on advancing an LGBTQ+ lens into the field of Restorative Justice.