Marissa founded Healing TREE with Debbie Ghavami and Bruce Hardy, Ph.D., in 2014 and currently serves as the nonprofit’s Chief Executive Officer. As a working actor as well as an advocate, she is passionate about merging the arts and advocacy, using the arts as both a healing tool and a platform for positive change.
Healing TREE was established in direct response to a vast need that Marissa and her co-founders saw during Marissa’s own healing journey. After experiencing various forms of abuse and suffering from severe trauma, Marissa was fortunate to receive trauma-focused treatment modalities and heal from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES). Along with her cofounders, with whom her healing would not have been possible, she then set out to create an organization that addresses the gaps she saw preventing countless others from healing from various forms of abuse and trauma, the ramifications of which she learned greatly impact society as a whole. As an advocate, in addition to overseeing all of Healing TREE’s operations, Marissa is a national public speaker, published writer and creator behind arts and advocacy projects. She shares her story and frequently presents on abuse, trauma and healing at conferences, social service agencies and college campuses across the country, giving keynotes, breakout speeches, trainings (including Continuing Education Units), educational and inspirational talks.
Marissa is also an actor, singer, voice over artist and model, in addition to being an advocate. Her work in the entertainment industry spans theatre, film, television, cabaret, commercial, radio and print. She was recently cast in a leading role, Gina, in the pilot Les Fashionables, shooting this spring in New York City. She has acted in David Chase’s (Emmy-winning creator of the hit HBO show The Sopranos) theatrically released feature film Not Fade Away, starring James Gandolfini, et. al. as well as on CBS’s Without A Trace. She had leading roles in the short films Prophecy and Mirror and was seen on stage originating the leading role of Kate in the World Premiere of The White Oak of Johnston. She sang at the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York City on NBC’s Showtime at the Apollo and was named their “Star of Tomorrow.” It was there that she was discovered by the show’s producer, living legend Suzanne de Passe (Motown, The Jackson 5). She has also sung at New York City hot spot 54 Below and was the runner up in the LA’s Next Great Stage Star Competition. She has done voice over work for such widely known brands as McDonalds, Ford and JC Penney. Additionally, she has done commercial and print work for PepsiCo’s AMP Energy Drink, Kroger, Girl Scout Cookies, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Vartali Hair Salon in New York City.
In 2012 she completed a two-year actor training program at The William Esper Studio, the world’s foremost studio dedicated to Meisner-based actor training, and has studied singing with the renowned Seth Riggs and, currently, Liz Caplan. She is a 2015/2016 ASTEP (Artists Striving To End Poverty) Fellow and participant in the 2015 ASTEP Artist As Citizen Conference at Juilliard. She is the winner of the “Way To Go Woman Award” for Today’s Woman magazine, featured in the September 2016 issue. She is featured in Nancy Miller’s book One Hundred Fascinating Louisville Women and was given a mayoral proclamation of “Marissa Ghavami Day” in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Marissa has two Bengal mix cat rescues, Sebastian and Viola and is based in New York City.
Debbie heavily immersed herself in researching and talking with experts across the United States in order to understand how to heal from such trauma and to identify the best treatment for her daughter’s healing. Many of these contacts have contributed to the wealth of knowledge that can be found on Healing TREE’s website.
Prior to the family’s devastation, ensuing healing and her interest in advocacy, Debbie’s professional career has included being a Buyer and Manager for an upscale woman’s shoe and clothing store, a Cosmetic Manager, and a Director of Event Planning at a four star restaurant. Currently, Debbie holds a Kentucky Real Estate license, on occasion assists her restaurateur husband, Majid, during special events at his restaurant, and started working part time in cosmetics again.
Debbie is so grateful and proud of her daughter’s fortitude, in not only healing, but in starting Healing TREE. Today mother and daughter continue to work together to help all those whose plea is, “Help me to help………!”
In addition to his role with Healing TREE, Jeff is the President of the Lyndonwoods Office Condo Association. He has previously served as Chairman of the Holy Spirit School, School Advisory Committee, Board member for Wesley House Community Services, Board member for Afterimages Dance Company, and Chairman of the Board of Crescent Hill United Methodist Church. Jeff also served eight years as a Commissioner for the city of Thornhill, KY.
When he isn’t working, Jeff spends time with his daughters Eliza and Charlotte. He cherishes his time with friends and family and most loves being a dad. Nicknamed “the mayor,” Jeff loves being involved in the community and helping others in any way he can.
As owner of Twisted Events, Tyra regularly works with varying budgets to create successful events of all kinds. Major clients include a US Congressional candidate for whom Tyra is currently coordinating several high-dollar fundraising events. Other recent projects include album release parties for musicians, over the top engagement parties, destination island weddings, Kentucky Derby celebrations and multiple fundraisers.
Before starting Twisted Events, Tyra spent many years as a real estate agent, expanding her business beyond the standard buy-and-sell to residential construction. She oversaw construction teams on projects from single family homes to award-winning multi-million dollar luxury cabins. Previously, she studied Communications at Tulane University and English at the University of Kentucky. In 2012, Her passion for cooking led her to pursue a Culinary Arts Degree at Sullivan University.
Tyra’s compassion is as relentless as her drive, and stems from a history of personal tragedies. She has managed to gather strength from adversity. Though she is adamant to point out that her own struggles do not define her, they certainly have developed in her a sense of caring and dedication that she brings to every endeavor. She knows that not everyone has had the resources and luck that she has and is committed to helping others rise above their own life struggles.
Tyra is married to serial entrepreneur, Jeff Amrein. They have 3 lovely children. In her downtime, Tyra loves spending time traveling with her family and collecting memories. She has a passion for culinary arts and music and can usually be found on any given weekend evening listening to a live band.
Sarah graduated from Mary Baldwin College with a BA in Psychology and obtained an MBA in Entrepreneurship and New Business Development from the University of Louisville. In her free time, Sarah serves on the Spina Bifida Association of Kentucky board and as board treasurer for the Levy Building Condo Association. In 2015, Sarah was honored as one of Louisville Business First’s top Forty Under 40.
Natalie’s knowledge and personal practice of treatment modalities developed out of necessity when she began her own healing process in 2014 and includes yoga, Somatic Experiencing (SE), theatre and music, movement, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and mindfulness. Having been through the therapist search both for herself and others, Natalie understands how difficult and important it is for vulnerable individuals to find good care. Natalie resides in Phoenix, AZ with her husband Brian, and her two cats, Ophelia and Pierre.
After many years in the food industry with companies such as Kraft Foods and Papa John’s, Cathy recently accepted the position of Chief Marketing Officer for Extract Wellness, LLC. The mission of Extract Wellness is to provide consumers with natural wellness alternatives derived from hemp, making this position a perfect fit for her. Though new to the world of hemp, Cathy has a strong personal interest in natural products and holistic solutions for one’s well-being.
Cathy’s background includes being named an ExecRank “Top Private Company Marketing Executive” and she was the first woman in the history of Oscar Mayer Foods Corporation to become a Region Manager. She also served on the United States Olympic Committee for the state of Kentucky, the Grace & Glory Lutheran Church Council and as a board member with the Lincoln Foundation. Cathy was able to share her love of nature and animals, serving on the Louisville Zoo Foundation Board for several years. She also holds a marketing degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Though born and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio area and after relocating to several cities throughout her professional career, Cathy now resides in Louisville, Kentucky. Some of her favorite things include coffee shops, journaling, enjoying nature, any beach, trying a new restaurant and spending time with family, friends and her fiancé, Glenn.
Gina lives in Austin, TX where she is a single mom and enjoying the best Austin has to offer. She is connected to and working alongside other like-minded individuals and organizations that are in the fight for recovery, health, and healing. Gina maintains memberships with NAADAC (The Association for Addiction Professionals), TAAP (Texas Association of Addiction Professionals) and SASH (Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health) and holds a CPSAS (Certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Specialist) certification.
She is working on a variety of initiatives including ones that build bridges between faith leaders and mental health professionals. Born and raised in the Church, Gina has vast knowledge and insight to American evangelical christian culture. In her former life she was a pastor’s wife for over 10 years and knows how hard it can be to adequately address issues of addiction, trauma, and abuse in faith communities. She is solution minded and advocating for change.
You can learn more about Gina on her website ginakaye.org.
For the past 25 years, MJ has guided programs and projects in the not-for- profit and private sectors. She led Louisville’s earliest self-sufficiency programs and served as one of the first Administrators of the innovative Neighborhood Place program, a collaboration of state and local agencies. MJ also guided development efforts that raised nearly $1 million for local organizations, as well as National Public Radio’s popular program, “This I Believe”.
After making the leap from the non-profit arena to the corporate world, MJ served as a technology project manager leading teams at a Louisville Fortune 100 company. Her teams implemented online systems, developed benefit programs, and participated in Merger & Acquisition efforts.
Concurrently with her 25-year tenure in the non-profit and business worlds, she developed her unique style of art quilts that look like faceted diamonds. In 2014, the call to the creative life became so deafening that she walked away from the lucrative corporate gig to pursue her artistic career on a full-time basis. Since then, her gems have been exhibited in galleries, museums, and national juried competitions. The Women’s Jewelry Association featured an exhibit of her work at their 2017 annual Awards for Excellence Gala in New York City. Her work has been featured in Quilting Arts Magazine and Quilting Arts TV, a program distributed nationally by PBS affiliates. She teaches around the country, is developing a line of fabric for quiltmakers, and has three books in the works with C&T Publishing. Since receiving the green light from curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, MJ has started working on a new series of gem art quilts inspired by the National Gem Collection including the Hope Diamond, the Blue Heart Diamond, the Janet Annenberg Hooker Emerald, and others.
Her gems are also part of numerous residential and corporate collections. Most notably, Maker’s Mark Distillery recently commissioned a major work for their permanent art collection. (If you visit Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, KY, you’ll see MJ’s work “Maker’s Flame” in the Star Hill Provisions restaurant.)
MJ returns to our Board of Directors after having served as Board President in 2016. During her tenure as President, MJ helped navigate the team through our rebranding effort, developed our organizational policies and procedures, helped us plan and host our first annual gala, and implemented our Customer Relationship Management software to track donations and improve our fundraising capacity.
MJ holds a master’s degree in Social Work Administration from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). She lives in Louisville with her husband Joe and their three pups, Lexie, Xena and Sherlock.
An opportunity to leave the corporate world and use her knowledge and connections to develop more revenue streams for the nonprofit Louisville Zoo led her to overseeing the Zoo’s Corporate Marketing Partnerships. In her tenure at the Zoo, Terri has expanded corporate sponsorships and special events partnering with a local brewery to create the wildly popular Brew at the Zoo and Wine Too! Fundraiser, now in its sixteenth year. Over the years Terri has raised millions of dollars for the Louisville Zoo while introducing people to its mission of bettering the bond between people and our planet.
Terri graduated from Presentation Academy and the University of Louisville, Cum Laude with a BA in Communications and minor in English. She is a past president of the International Association of Business Communicators KY Chapter (IABC-KY); member of the board of directors of American Advertising Federation Louisville chapter (AAF-Louisville) since 2005; past recipient of the 40 Under 40 Louisville Award and Top 100 Marketing and Advertising Influencers by Insider Louisville. She has received an AAF-Louie/Addy award and IABC Silver Quill award for her marketing communications work on corporate annual reports.
Terri is married to former musician Kevin D. Downs. She and Kevin enjoy all kinds of music and art, spending time restoring old houses, picking for old artifacts or just being crafty. Caring deeply about older neighborhoods where they have restored houses and own property, Kevin and Terri are past board members of Irish Hill Neighborhood Association. They are currently on the board of Clifton Heights Community Council where they helped save and restore four acres of forgotten forest and established the Clifton Heights Greenway and Trail. They love communing with nature’s flora and fauna in all settings and seasons and taking their tortie/mane coon cat Maizey with them when they travel.
Alyssa White is currently studying English while concentrating in Creative Writing as a senior at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. On campus, she is a Relationship Peer Educator which tasks her with the responsibility of teaching her fellow peers about sexual violence and unhealthy relationships on college campuses. Alyssa has been involved in several non-profit opportunities and is a major advocate for intersectional feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, and the prevention of gender violence in all forms.
Dr. Grand still finds time for a full-time private psychotherapy and performance practice in Manhattan, NY.
Marich, currently working in private practice after obtaining many years of experience in inpatient mental health, inpatient chemical dependency, and outpatient dual diagnosis treatment, travels the country for several professional continuing education providers, offering instruction on a variety of clinical topics. Jamie is the author of five books: EMDR Made Simple (2011), Trauma and the Twelve Steps (2012), Creative Mindfulness (2013), and Trauma Made Simple (2014), and her latest book, Dancing Mindfulness: A Creative Path to Healing and Transformation, which was released in the Fall of 2015 (SkylightPaths Publishing). Jamie was interviewed as a master clinician in the DVD, Trauma Treatment: Psychotherapy for the 21st Century (2012) alongside icons like Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Peter Levine, Dr. Robert Scaer, and Belleruth Naparstek. Jamie had the privilege of offering trauma recovery retreats at the Kripalu School for Yoga & Health in the Fall of 2012, at the Esalen Institute in the Spring of 2013 and Winter of 2014, and at Amrit Yoga Institute in Salt Springs, Florida in the Fall of 2015 and 2016. In 2015, Marich launched her own EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapy training curriculum and now enjoys training a new generation of EMDR clinicians alongside her collaborative faculty members (and friends) Amber Stiles-Bodnar and Dr. Stephen Dansiger. Marich and Dansiger are working collaboratively on a book EMDR Therapy & Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care, due out with Springer Publishing later in 2016.
Jamie strives to incorporate music and other forms of creative expression into her practice. As her career developed, Marich’s love for experience-oriented methods of healing and trauma resolution intensified, prompting her to explore the conscious dance scene and various ways of applying these wonderful, “come as you are” practices into the healing process. Having completed several trainings and experiencing other conscious dance practices at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts, Marich was encouraged and inspired to develop her own, unique practice, which now exists in the form of Dancing Mindfulness. To date, Marich has taught conscious dance seminars at various conferences nationally and internationally and has trained more than 170 facilitators in the Dancing Mindfulness practice. She completed her Reiki Master teacher training in the Usui Shiki Ryoho system of Reiki under Master Valerie Spitaler. Marich is a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) through the International Association of Expressive Arts Therapists and offers a full certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy through her Institute for Creative Mindfulness. Trained in several modalities of recovery and trauma-informed yoga, Marich recently launched the Yoga Unchained method of trauma-informed yoga with Jessica Sowers.
In addition to her work with Healing TREE, Emily works alongside organizations focused on prison reform (#CLOSErikers) as well as organizations that aid the formerly incarcerated (#WPA: Women’s Prison Association), giving public speaking engagements and marching. Follow Emily on social media and join her on the next march!
Twitter and Instagram: @emilyalthaus
Ford’s: KUDZU. Broadway: The Scottsboro Boys; RENT (Closing Cast, DVD); Jesus Christ Superstar; RENT (Original Cast -OBC Recording). Off-Broadway: Jacques Brel is Alive… (New Cast Recording) ; RENT (Closing Cast/DVD -Benny); Bring in the Morning. Regional: The 5th: Paint Your Wagon; HAIR. La Jolla Playhouse: Come From Away (Outstanding Ensemble); Seattle Repertory Theatre: Come From Away; PCS: The Mountaintop; Dreamgirls; Oklahoma. Seattle Rep/La Jolla: Come from Away. DTC: King Lear. Geva: Lobby Hero. Philadelphia Theatre Company: The Scottsboro Boys (Barrymore Award Leading Actor); Royal George: White Noise. CenterStage: Two Gentlemen of Verona. TV: Leverage; GRIMM; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; NYPD Blue. Film: Bad Decisions; Django. Playwright: NC-17.
Kevin has most recently appeared on television in The Blacklist, The Good Wife, Happyish, Person of Interest, Madam Secretary, Castle, Blue Bloods, Royal Pains and the hit Netflix series House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Kevin co-starred with Nancy Travis on the CBS sitcom Almost Perfect, and was the star of Gene Roddenberry’s EARTH: Final Conflict, as “Boone,” which was syndicated worldwide. He has also been on such shows as Greek, Whit Collar, CSI: NY, Damages, Ugly Betty, Cashmere Mafia, Ghost Whisperer, The Closer, The New Adventures of Old Christine, One Tree Hill, Monk, Crossing Jordan, Judging Amy, Malcolm in the Middle, CSI: Miami, Touched by an Angel, Frasier, and Murder, She Wrote.
His film credits include the upcoming The Unattainable Story (with Irina Björklund) as well as Paranoia (with Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford), Julia with Tilda Swinton, Raising Helen (with Joan Cusack, Kate Hudson) A Cinderella Story, (with Hillary Duff, Chad Michael Murray), American Pie II and Home Alone III.
He starred on Broadway in the 50th anniversary production of The Glass Menagerie with Julie Harris, Calista Flockhart and Zeljko Ivanek, directed by Frank Galati for which he won a Theatre World Award and was nominated for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Off-Broadway credits include Dinner With Friends (2000 Pulitzer Prize), directed by Daniel Sullivan and Lemon Sky, directed by Jonathan Silverstein. Regional theatre credits include Bucks County Playhouse’s Other Desert Cities, Adobe Rose Theatre’s Time Stands Still, Denver Center For the Performing Arts’ The Christians, Baltimore Centerstage’s An Enemy Of The People, NY Stage & Film’s Ninety and Pasadena Playhouse’s Defiance.