Advisory Council

Our Founder

Our Founder, J. Phoenix Smith, earned a Graduate Certificate in Ecotherapy in 2011 from JFK University in the world’s first ever Graduate Ecotherapy Certificate program and a Masters in Social Work from the historically-black Howard University in Washington, D.C. 

Prior to coming to the field of Ecotherapy, she has been a public health leader in the field of HIV for over 25 years, managing and leading public health programs in the U.S.  They are also an Initiated Elder in the Indigenous Afro-Cuban religion Lucumi to the Oricha, or Deity of Nature known as Aganyu, the Spirit of the Volcano and of the Wilderness. They provide spiritual counseling and guidance including divination and Ecotherapy.

As a Black Queer person, they have been involved in healing justice projects and communities for over 20 years and bring an intersectional, public health perspective to the field of Ecotherapy.  In 2020, they created the Alliance for Ecotherapy & Social Justice to expand the field for greater access to mental health support rooted in nature that is aligned with social justice and equity.


I give thanks to my ancestors for their guidance and vision for this work.

Ancestors (1)
Ancestors (2)

Our Advisory Council

Jarid Manos

Senior Advisory Council Member

Founder & CEO, Great Plains Restoration Council, Author

Jarid Manos, is the Founder and CEO of Great Plains Restoration Council www.gprc.org, a published Author of the Eco-autobiography Ghetto Plainsman, and the blogstory Fear and Loving: Where Sea Level Meets the Deep  www.jaridmanos.com.  Through his vision and guidance he founded the Ecological Health movement and founded community based Ecotherapy interventions like Restoration Not Incarceration™, Your Health Outdoors™ and Plains Youth InterACTION™. GPRC’s on-the-ground projects have been in Texas, New Mexico, and South Dakota. GPRC now helps people nationwide take care of their own health through taking care of the Earth.

Batul True Heart
Batul True Heart
Queer Curandera

Batul True Heart (they/them) is an Indigenous Yaqui (Yoeme) and mixed Panamanian-American (of Indigenous, African, and Spanish descent) Queer and Two-Spirit Curanderismo practitioner, community herbalist, and aspiring death doula. Batul has been walking a healing road for 15 years claiming the truth of who they are by (re)connecting with their ancestors, (re)learning traditional ceremonies and practices, and making relationship with the medicine of the plants. Batul is also an educator, speaker, and writer on the topics of ancestral reclamation, resolution, and cultural responsibility. Batul’s life work is to usher and support people in general, and people of color and queer folks in particular, to return to their ancestral roots, in order to be who they truly are.

Rain Sussman
Rain Sussman, LCSW
Psychotherapist, Ecotherapist
Rain helps individuals with active, analytical minds to work through anxiety-related problems such as panic, worry, avoidance, and compulsive thoughts or habits. Her approach is warm, practical, and evidence-based, grounded in both mindfulness and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Many of her clients are nature-lovers, and find that connecting with nature helps them to unwind. Her office’s tranquil garden setting, coupled with my training in Ecotherapy, supports clients interested in exploring this aspect of health and well-being. She have over twenty years’ experience counseling adults, teens and elders. Rain also enjoys teaching graduate-level psychology courses at CIIS and JFK University, and periodically offer workshops and stress reduction classes for the general public.
Ellen Morrison (2)
Ellen Morrison
Psychotherapist, Power and Race Equity Coach

Ellen Morrison, LCSW, is a clinician, mediator and consultant collaborating with individuals and groups in catalyzing their efforts toward equity, bringing attention to the analysis of power as a core element of interpersonal and organizational change With over twenty years of experience in the field of community mental health specializing in intercultural and interracial relationships, she is skilled at addressing racial trauma and integrating restorative practices.  Her consultancy practice currently focuses on antiracism organizing and facilitation.

Clifton Hicks, PhD, LCSW
Psychotherapist & Ecotherapist

Dr. Clifton Hicks has a MSW and PhD in Clinical Social Work from Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of California.

Dr. Hicks currently works as a Psychiatric Social Worker for the Department of Public Health in San Francisco. He is also a Senior Adjunct Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, Tele-health Mental Health Consultant for Rafiki Coalition Health & Wellness, Inc. in San Francisco, and is the Founder and Executive Director of Urban- based Adventures, Trauma Therapy in Daly City, California.

For over 25 years, Dr. Hicks has dedicated his career providing trauma-sensitive mental health treatment to children of color and their families and mitigating the deleterious effects of environmental, structural and systemic racism and individual bias to improve overall health outcomes. Dr. Hicks lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Amara Tabor-Smith
Dancer/Artistic Director

Amara Tabor-Smith is an Initiated Elder of the Oricha/Deity of the Sea Yemaya in the Lucumi Religion, Dancer and Artist.  She describes her experimental dance theater work as Afro Surrealist Conjure Art. Her dance making practice,  utilizes Yoruba spiritual ritual to address issues of social and environmental justice, community, identity and belonging. A San Francisco native and Oakland resident, she is the artistic director of Deep Waters Dance Theater (DWDT) www.deepwatersdance.com

Amara received her MFA in dance through Hollins University and The Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts in Germany, and is an artist in residence at Stanford University.

Our Interns

Alex Williams
Alex Williams
MSW Graduate Student, Syracuse University

Alex Williams received her B.A in Psychology from the University of South Florida where she discovered her passion for working with youth in education. Alex is currently attending Syracuse University working towards receiving her Master’s in Social Work where she has found a professional interest focusing on Ecotherapy and Social Justice. Through this learning, Alex hopes to combine her love of healing with nature and working with youth as she continues to explore different professional opportunities. 

Myreisha Barber
Myriesha Barber
Research Assistant, MA/Phd A.B.D. Pacifica University Depth Psychology with a specialization in Community, Liberation, Indigenous, Eco-psychologies

Myriesha Barber,  serves in many roles in the community as a gardener,  herbalist, scholar, chef, artist, poet, and creative expressions facilitator, who has been involved in many types of activism in her home community. She is obtaining a PhD in Depth Psychology with a specialization in Community, Liberation, Indigenous, and Eco-Psychology. 

Her work in food justice and social justice strives towards building stronger communities within these movements and preserving inter-generational knowledge of healing and sustainability.

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