This page is dedicated to our incredible and inspiring Direct Support Professionals, who show their commitment daily!
Director/Founder: Scott Miller, has his BS from The University of Utah in Program Planning, with an emphasis on special populations paralleling outdoor programing and art. He is also a National Outdoor Leadership Alumni and was a senior therapeutic wilderness instructor for AYA. Scott is the co-founder of the Stir Art Collective and has served as a Maine Arts accessibility committee member. Scott has 20 years of experience working with individuals with intellectual uniqueness, including a year on a nationally recognized clinical team. He is also a John Rosser recipient for outstanding social achievement and lectures nationally. Outside human services, Scott c0-owned Washington Ave Art Studios, Vu-Master Gallery and Wicked Pulp Juice Bar and cafe. When Scott is not working or spending time with his wife and two boys, he enjoys good friends, traveling, surfing, tele skiing, and art."He allowed me to be who I wanted to be. He is smart, cool under pressure and is bodaciously awesome!" ~Nicholas S.
Music Program Coordinator: Eric Schwan has his BA from Alfred University with an emphasis in language, art, and culture. Eric has interned at the Highland Nature Sanctuary in Ohio & The Birch Creek Arts and Ecology Center in Oregon, while also spending five seasons on the Pomona Harvesters apple harvesting crew in VT and NH. Since moving to Maine he has worked as an Ed Tech substitute in the Maine School District and performed and recorded in bands around Portland playing guitar, drums, piano, banjo, and bass. His inspiration for music and working with folks with intellectual uniqueness led to the development of the Listen Up! Music Program in 2012. When Eric is not working he enjoys playing music with friends in his songwriting project The Orchards, hiking, biking, swimming, social justice, reading, and writing. "Eric is supportive. He is someone to turn to when I need help. He tries his hardest to be honest.” ~Katie O.
Foundation Program Coordinator : Melyssa Knight is in the process of completing her Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in English and Behavioral Science, from the University of Maine. Melyssa has eight years of horticulture experience and has worked with individuals with intellectual uniqueness for over 7 years. She is a certified Special Olympics coach for both summer and winter Olympics. She has camped all along the rocky East Coast and enjoys photography, hiking, making art, roller skating, cooking and spending time with her dog. “Melyssa is a good person! She helps me out when I am frustrated and can make me laugh." ~Shawn
Portland Foundation Cultivate Team Leader: Emily Baisden, has a BS in Environmental Science from The University of New England and a MS in Entomology from The University of Delaware. While studying at the University of Delaware her research focused on native plant and insect conservation and the use of ornamental native plants to reconcile habitat. Most of Emily's career experience involves farming and land management and she enjoys making time to do outreach work that exposes people of all ages to the world of insects. When she is not at Creative Trails, Emily loves to explore the outdoors with her dog and is an avid birder. "Emily is very smart and always helps me relax and calm down. She is great to talk too." Ralph H
Portland Foundation Program Team Leader (CREATE): Regan Chase has her BFA from Maine College of Art with a major in photography. During her time in college Regan was awarded the Maine College of Art Vision Scholarship and the Lunder Scholars Award. Regan was also hired into a work study program during her time at Maine College of Art where she was able to work for other students to make professional photographs of their artwork. In her own artistic practice, Regan finds excitement in a wide variety of artistic experimentation and exploration. Regan enjoys challenging the power of art to communicate across all barriers, by working intuitively and embracing the happy accidents of art making. Check out her website at www.reganchase.com. When she is not at Creative Trails, Regan prefers to spend her time working on various art projects, cooking, hiking, reading, and enjoying the local music scene. "She likes art and helps me on my comic books. I think she's really nice." -Thy L
Portland Foundation Program Direct Support Professional:: Ben Thomas has his Bachelor of Science from Tufts University and went to medical school at the University of Vermont to receive his MD. Ben has worked as a physician for 25 years including many years as a personal trainer. The past 6 years Ben has focused on his art making stunning handcrafted flutes and sculptures and his work can be seen at various art galleries in Maine, as well as craft shows. You can see some of his creation at www.poetcarver.com. Outside of work Ben enjoys traveling with his family, poetry, woodcarving, hiking, downhill skiing and gardening.
"Ben is really kind and helpful. " -Amanda G
Publication Studio Program Manager: Sandy Lowden holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Alfred University in New York. His artistic focus is in handmade printmaking processes and alternative process photography, and he is always drawing. After graduating from college Sandy spent four years traveling around the county by car, plane, train and even walking for 850 miles. When not traveling or working in the studio Sandy loves to learn everything he can about ecology, mushrooms, honeybees, plants and anything else that strikes his interest. "Sandy is very helpful and generous and I like him because he teaches us a lot about print making"- Amanda G
The Art Certificate Program Manager: Lianne Lewin-Grover graduated cum laude from the University of Southern Maine with her BFA in Art Education and concentration in Painting. Lianne has had a passion for art and teaching from an early age. As part of the USM art education program she has taught in many art workshops for local elementary students, curated opening receptions to exhibit their work, and helped launch the ArtLab Summer Camp workshop series. Lianne is also one half of Lewin-Grover Studio, where she binds journals and creates artistic stationery. When she is not teaching or making art, she enjoys exploring the Maine coast, reading, or relaxing with her three cats. “She’s wonderful! She’s wonderful staff; I like her and the way she does art. I give her an AAA+!” ~David M
Portland Foundation Program Direct Support Professional:Isobel Curtis has her BA from Bates College in Ecology and Environmental Science. While at Bates she was exposed to the wonderful biodiversity Maine has to offer and focused her studies on tree physiology and land conservation. Following graduation, she worked to coordinate research and outreach at a conservation area in southern coastal Maine and volunteered on organic farms. These experiences motivated her to pursue experiential education that connects people to their surroundings, ultimately fostering a sense of place and practice of stewardship. In her free time she likes to get outside by hiking, rock climbing, skiing, or wandering through the streets of Portland in pursuit of pastries. Portland Foundation Program Direct Support Professional.
Listen Up Program Direct Support Professional: Zohar Azoulay is his grandparents’ favorite Azoulay grandson. Outside of Listen Up! (where he’s also everyone’s favorite Azoulay), Zohar works at the Boys and Girls Club, where he gives helicopter rides to the babies and life advice to the teens. Prior to his entrée into the world of human services and support, Zohar fixed machines for a long time. He knows all the capitals, large parts of two other languages, how not to split infinitives, how to spin a basketball on each finger, and drive stick shift in Africa. But he's dopest at chess. “I feel Zohar goes way above and beyond the call of duty to make others feel comfortable and safe and happy at Listen Up. He’s better than awesome - epic!” – Nick S.
Auburn Foundation Program Team Leader (Horsemanship): Sara Fickett is a Certified Equestrian Special Olympics coach. She has worked in the human service field for nine years. Sara is very knowledgeable of horses and loves to share her knowledge with others. Sara also has a talent for scrapbooking and loves to share this passion. Sara has been with Creative Trails for two years and supports the Horsemanship Leadership Program. Sara has worked as a DPS for various agencies for the past nine years. Outside of Creative Trails Sara enjoys scrapbooking, card making, and spending time with her family, her dog and two horses.
“Sara is good with horses” ~Michelle B
Portland Foundation Program Art Team Leader: Emily Lyon's studied Art and Kathryn Shoro has a BA in studio art and psychology from Smith College, and an MS in Art Therapy and Counseling from Springfield College. Kathryn has worked in art museums, art studio spaces, and as an art therapist at mental health facilities in both Massachusetts and Maine over the past few years. Outside of Creative Trails, Kathryn also works with kids as a behavioral and mental health support professional throughout the Portland area while she transitions to get her licensure in the state of Maine. Kathryn enjoys gardening at home, making handmade books and watercolor paintings, and hiking with friends in her free time. “Kathryn is a very smart woman, and she is a very good staff.” Ralph H
Portland Foundation Program Manager: Nate Britten has his BA from Brandeis University in Politics with an emphasis on American Government. Nate has several years of DSP experience and was also a House Manager. Nate developed an interest in working with adults with intellectual uniqueness during his internship at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in Boston. Having been raised in the heavily wooded lakes region of central Maine, Nate has always enjoyed a special relationship with the outdoors and particularly enjoys nature walks, kayaking, and canoeing. In his free time Nathaniel also enjoys playing the piano, rollerblading, ice skating, and delivering fully committed heartfelt karaoke duets with his roommates. "Nate is a very good staff and he makes me laugh and is an awesome driver". -Ralph H
Portland Foundation Program Direct Support Professional: Sean Seary has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Hartwick College. While in college Sean participated in various projects, such as working on an archaeology field school, glass casting, and designing, building, and maintaining several trail systems in Oneonta, New York. Sean has also worked on internships ranging from land resource management, researching the cultural and economic benefits of trail networks, and studying humanity’s interaction with and impact on the environment throughout history. Before coming to Creative Trails Sean worked as an outdoor instructor and environmental educator, and loves leading exploratory and experiential outdoor activities. When not at Creative Trails, Sean is usually mountain biking, reading, meditating, and traveling around Maine. "Sean is a great leader and knows a lot about nature. He makes everything fun" -Ralph H.
Portland Foundation Program Direct Support Professional: Brian Doody is an artist currently living in Portland, ME. Brian's work has been featured in numerous publications and group shows. Brian was a recipient of a 2017 Kindling Fund Grant from Space Gallery which funded a 2018 exhibition and solo publication of work. When not working on art, Brian enjoys watching weird movies, walking alone in the woods, and driving late at night. Brian's work can be found at briandoody.com. "Brian is really nice to everyone and he teaches cooking in a way that I understand...he is a very good cook."~Sophie R
The Art Certificate Program Direct Support Professional: Rainey studied fine arts at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in ceramics and art history, but has created art with a wide variety of 2D and 3D mediums. She previously worked in home health care taking care of family members, nannying small children with unique needs, and also helped to run and operate a family business. Rainey has traveled the country several times exploring the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and takes a lot of inspiration from nature. Rainey has a passion for entomology as well as art, and has collected exotic tarantulas along with lots of other creepy crawlies. “I would say she’s perfect.” –Walter G
Composition Studio Program Manager: Tyler Heydolph has been an active performing musician in New England for the past 15+ years. Following private double bass study in NYC and his native VT he began performing regularly in the areas Jazz and improvised music scene as well as holding positions in the Keene Chamber Orchestra (NH) & Windham Orchestra (VT). Tyler currently performs regularly with Mark Tipton’s Les Sorcier Perdus, improvised “Doom-prov” trio Earbus and Snaex. Tyler worked at Listen Up! For 3 years prior to starting the Composition Studio in the beginning of 2017. When not at the Composition Studio Tyler enjoys playing/listening to music, reading, thinking and being outside. "Tyler is an good musician, very helpful and kind". - Michael O.
The Publication Studio Direct Support Professional: Mario Bermejo was born in Montevideo, Uruguay. In Montevideo Mario studied Science and attended the Pedro Figari Art School to learn Graphic Design all while furiously researching Comic Books and Video Games. After school Mario worked on IT and Graphic Design sometimes simultaneously. Until moving to Massachusetts in 2002. During the next 15 years he worked on print and design; Published ten comic book anthologies with the Boston Comics Roundtable and local Historical Societies to great reviews and awards; got married and adopted a cat named Chivita. At the beginning of 2017 Mario moved to Portland where he has contributed comics and drawn the cover of the prestigious local anthology “One Page Stinkers” and created a comic strip published on ”Preachers Fire”. Mario has also gotten really serious about baking rye bread and printing other artist comics with his trusty Risograph machine. "Mario is very helpful, kind and helps me with my stories for my children's book". - Amanda G.
The Art Certificate Program Direct Support Professional: Heather Wechsler received her Associates Degree in Behavioral Health and Human Servicesfrom Southern Maine Community College with a detour in Printmaking. Heather has worked in the photography industry as a printer and a shooter, in addition to avariety of other random jobs until finding her passion in community art education. When she is not at The Art Certificate Program you are likely to find her curled up in a comfy chair playing with yarn and other fiberous treasures, collecting rocks and sea glass on the beach with her teenage daughter or at apunk rock show with her husband feeling like the oldest people there!
“She’s a very good listener to what we have to say about stuff.” –Adam B
Auburn Foundation Program Direct Support Professional: Arica Turner studied at the University of Arkansas at Monticello with an emphasis in Agricultural Studies. She worked at Nezinscot Farm for 10 years. Arica has also supported terminally ill boys, job coached, and was a physical and speech therapy assistant. She has spent some time traveling in Alaska, Hawaii and Canada. When she is not at Creative Trails she loves playing basketball and soccer. Arica also enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her friends and her dog.
"She is a very special one. Good staff!"-Ruth A.
Portland Foundation Culinary Arts Team Leader: Peter Swiatek began to love hanging out in the kitchen with adults with special needs while working and living at an organization in Ipswich, MA which is home to individuals with special needs as well as refugees. This home, similar to the Camphill model, saw that those with special needs have greater-than-average heart forces, which allows them to help heal those who have been through trauma, while the refugees have the talent and patience to assist those with greater needs. Peter continues to be interested in building communities which have greater social potential because of sharing life with adults with special needs. Peter has a BA in Sociology and African American Studies from Muhlenberg College, and is currently completing his MEd in Waldorf Education from Antioch University.
“Peter is very helpful, kind, and patient.” Sophie R.
Creative Trails Float: Jamison York graduated cum laude from the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts concentration in Sculpture in 2001. Jamison uses his contractor and blacksmithing background to fabricate found art steel sculptures. Jamison creates commercial and residential art commissions and exhibits nationally from coast to coast. Besides staying active to the New England School of Metalworks, Jamison is an avid skier and physical fitness and wellness coach. His passion for teaching art and fitness has allowed multiple students to metal place in recent Special Olympics in Maine. “You are a Great Artist, Person, and Coach… How is that all possible?” –Abby O.
The Art Department Direct Support Professional: Sharon Allen has degrees in Photography, Art History, Information Technology and Library Science, as well as certificates in Museum Education, Grant Writing, Data Visualization, and Digital Storytelling. She has enjoyed a variety of jobs but most recently has worked as Library Director at Syracuse University’s Florence Program; Librarian and IT / Database Administrator at the International School of Florence, and Coordinator of Art Activities at the Centro Terapeutico Europeo. When Sharron is not at The Art Department, she enjoys being outdoors, trail running, hiking, snow shoeing/skiing, photography, creating fiber, textile, and book arts, reading, fixing/making things, and planning how to adopt all of the dogs and cats at the Animal Refuge League. "Sharon is very friendly and is an amazing person".
Listen UP Direct Support Professional: Michael Townsend is a graduate of Rutgers College (New Brunswick, NJ) with a degree in Human Communication, Michael had a long career as an Advertising/Marketing Communications copywriter in New York, New Jersey and Portland, ME. His claim to fame: coining the state slogan “Maine, The Way Life Should Be’” for the office of Tourism in 1987. Before leaving the business in 2015, Michael served as Director of Creative Services for the firm of Perry & Banks in Portland, where he was employed for 19 years. Michael has also been a musician, playing guitar, bass and keyboards for various bands and projects throughout much of his life. In addition, he has been a volunteer producer and programmer for Portland community radio station WMPG since 1986, and continues to contribute there to this day. In November, 2016, Michael was certified a DSP and joined the staff of Listen Up Music for this simple reason: “I love being able to help people in their pursuit of the joys of music – be it listening, writing, recording or performing!" "Michael is awesome he helps us out with making music". -Michael O
Listen Up Direct Support Professional: Jon Gaither is a musician and recording engineer with a BA in political science from George Washington University. A lifelong Mainer, Jon returned home after college and quickly started a punk-blues band that helped re-ignite his love for noisy joyful music and his fascination with recording. A passion for civil rights and social justice led Jon to the ACLU of Maine, where he spent four years leading a statewide program educating young people about their constitutional rights. He has also worked for three years at the Jay School District and for one year at the Portland Conservatory of Music. When he isn't rocking out with the musicians at Listen Up, he is likely working on a new album or trying to teach himself a new skill he can use in the recording studio.
"Jon is very kind and helps me make music". -John G
The Art Department Program Manager: Mackenzie Bartlett In lieu of an acceptance letter to Hogwarts, Mackenzie studied media and communications with a strong focus in film production, and has since remained active in the creative Portland community. She is passionate about using film as a medium for creative self-expression, and to harness the whimsical and individual realities that are possible through visual storytelling. She was awarded best film maker by the Maine Phoenix in 2018. That energy spills out into the rest of her artistic practice, which could be summed up as “overall enthusiastic craftiness”. After a yearlong “why not?” adventure across the United States, Mackenzie moved back to Portland to join the inspiring and vibrant team of artists at The Art Department. When not covered in papier-mache from 9-5, Mackenzie is likely wrapped up in directing a short film project, co-hosting a podcast, and hanging out with her cat, Norma. "Mackenzie is very calm, kind and cheers people up if they are upset". -Amada G