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 during her late adolescence, 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 as a series regular, Gina, in the pilot Fashionables. She was also cast as a Lead, Caroline, in the play They Told Me To Use It (which has a Staged Reading at the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival). She had a Guest Star on The Rigano Songbook’s musical Web Series Broadway On Deck, hosted by All Things Broadway. Additionally, she made her Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater debut in the Songs By Us concert, worked on the developmental workshop for Jet of Blood and modeled for B1 Fashion & Art Magazine. She has also 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 Prophet 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.
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.
Andrew brings over 25 years of professional experience in advertising and technology. Starting at the age of 10 he taught himself computer programming, and he went on to get degrees in business administration and a bachelor of arts from Indiana University. Prior to founding Mediaura 14 years ago, Andrew launched two successful digital departments for other agencies. His vast knowledge of technology and experience in advertising steers the Mediaura ship in the right direction, creatively helping clients by using technology to enhance traditional advertising techniques.
The proprietary software solution known as ADBuilder (aka Pro Builder PDF) platform was created by Andrew and subsequently licensed to Community Health Systems. This system managed all marketing materials for hundreds of hospitals, assisting in multiple mergers and acquisitions to ensure all messaging was branded correctly and delivered in the appropriate format to the proper publications. This system was licensed to other brands, including LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and Einstein Brother’s Bagels.
Andrew innovated and patented a unique digital menu board software system that streamlined in-store messaging for over 1,000 displays in KFC restaurants nationwide, reducing operating costs and increasing revenue by showing the right message to consumers at the right time of day. This system was also licensed to other companies, such as Long John Silver’s and Back Yard Burgers.
Andrew also built an online ad approval software package to streamline ad approvals from hundreds of local agencies creating and advertising on behalf of franchisees for KFC. The corporate office wanted to reduce liability by having all appropriate parties sign off on correct materials in a digital format. This system aggregated content, assigned it to the appropriate people for approval, tracked revisions and feedback, and organized it all in an easy to use online portal. This system is still in use today for all advertising nationally and reduces the total time required to seek approval and has improved branding consistency.
Andrew developed an online coupon software platform and licensed it to KFC and Long John Silver’s to help with distributing offers to the appropriate geographically targeted areas. This portal has served millions of users annually and allows the brands to track their consumers, create additional touch points, improve lead generation, and ultimately increase revenue by driving sales with a system controlled and operated by Mediaura. This system is still in use today by Long John Silver’s.
In addition to these larger software projects, Andrew has personally developed and overseen hundreds of websites on a variety of platforms over the years. He was an original developer for the Joomla CMS and has developed custom plugins and software on the WordPress platform as well. Integrating various platforms and utilizing them in the most efficient and effective way is a hallmark of Andrew’s technical methodology. Being a developer first and an advertiser second, he has the vision to create a solid foundation that can be fine-tuned to maximize results.
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.
He created a Community-Based Treatment Services Division for the Home of the Innocents, and established one of Kentucky’s largest in-home treatment programs for child victims of abuse and those with developmental disabilities.
For eight years he served as the Chief Executive Officer for Boys and Girls Haven, one of the Kentucky’s premier providers of mental health treatment services for children in the child welfare system. During that time, Jeff became a public policy advocate and change agent for issues affecting funding for health care services for Kentucky’s most vulnerable children.
Jeff is now parlaying the management and new initiative creation skills that he developed in the social service arena with a move into the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Venture First, a leading financial services group, Jeff is adapting innovative strategies and business solutions to tackle complex problems within social impact groups. Jeff is leveraging his executive leadership skills and the business management principles he developed with his Entrepreneurship MBA from the University of Louisville, as he helps to affect lasting change via innovative companies and organizations.
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.
Founded in 2003, Mediaura has built a solid reputation in the community through our integrity, expertise, and client satisfaction. We are a company that strives to achieve the best possible results for a fair price. Mediaura takes pride in all the work we do, and our staff is available to explain and educate along the way.
Privately-owned, the company has experienced consistent annual growth over the past 14 years. We service clients that are local, regional, national, and international; as well as companies that are both from the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
Our company began as the “Interactive Partner” for several traditional advertising firms, most notably Creative Alliance (now known as Scoppechio). Mediaura team members were at the forefront of the digital media revolution, and that has given us not only the edge when implementing new technologies, but combined with our experience with traditional advertising agencies, we can thoroughly assess and speak to our client’s needs. We are a company that knows how to be innovative and push boundaries, while also remaining accessible enough to an audience that may prefer more traditional methods. This allows our clients to maintain their core base demographic while increasing their market reach.
Jessica is also active as a writer, director and actor for film and television; she and Erik recently completed their first feature, ALMOST HOME, which they directed and adapted from Jessica’s first novel (Hyperion, 2008), and which premieres in fall of 2018. Their second feature, HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC, is in development with Likely Story. They wrote the pilot THE NEGOTIATOR for Gaumont TV (Tom Fontana, EP) and have developed for TV with Fox TV Studios, 20th Century TV, Avenue Pictures, Sunswept Entertainment, Virgin Produced, and Radical Media.
As an actor, Jessica appeared regularly as the lead’s loudmouthed big sister in CBS’ MADE IN JERSEY. Additional TV credits include BLUE BLOODS, ELEMENTARY, THE FOLLOWING, THE MENTALIST, HBO’s HIGH MAINTENANCE, BORED TO DEATH, RESCUE ME, LAW AND ORDER: CI, THE BRONX IS BURNING, and several more. Film acting credits include THE NAMESAKE (dir. Mira Nair), YOU’RE NOBODY TILL SOMEBODY KILLS YOU (prod. Spike Lee), SLENDER MAN, and over a dozen indies including CREATIVE CONTROL (Grand Jury Prize, SXSW) and ON THE ROAD WITH JUDAS (Sundance).
As a story consultant and narrative coach, Jessica works with TV showrunners, Sundance-supported filmmakers, Off-Broadway playwrights, published novelists, Broadway actors and series regulars. She also works with thought leaders, changemakers, and progressive candidates to harness the power of story, including national and state level progressive candidates and numerous national and international NGOs. She was a founding mentor for the Writers Guild Initiative’s Veterans’ Writing Project and, has taught writing to vets, wounded veterans’ caregivers, formerly incarcerated individuals, and death row exonerees for eight years. Jessica is a resident teacher at several New York acting schools, a mentor for the Firelight Documentary Lab, and has guest-taught at numerous colleges and universities including Brown, Stanford, Vanderbilt, NYU, The New School, Northwestern, Indiana University, Macalester College, and Hamline University. She is a frequent speaker and panelist on the arts and social justice, and has a thriving private practice in New York and Los Angeles as a story consultant and performance coach for professional writers and actors.
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.