Summit’s leadership and administrative team is composed of dedicated individuals who bring more than 125 years of combined experience to the operation of the program. Most of this experience has been in outdoor adventure programs specifically designed for struggling teenagers.
Will White, DA, LCSW, LADC, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board
Dr. White received his Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver and his Doctorate degree in Leadership from Franklin Pierce University. He has been licensed as a Clinical Social Worker and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor for over 25 years. Dr. White is a nationally recognized expert in the field of adventure/wilderness therapy. His doctoral dissertation, which traced the evolution of wilderness therapy through critical leaders and incidents, has been cited as the most comprehensive scholarly work on the history of the field to date. Dr. White contributed a chapter in the book Adventure Therapy: Theory, Practice, and Research by Gass, Gillis, and Russell. He has served as a Board member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) and served as Chairperson of the Therapeutic Adventure Professionals Group of the Association of Experiential Education (AEE). Dr. White is certified in EMDR and Mindfulness.
As a much sought after speaker on the topic of Adventure/Wilderness Therapy, Dr. White has presented at national and international conferences, and has recently authored the book, Stories from the Field: A History of Wilderness Therapy.
Nichol Ernst, LCSW, Executive and Clinical Director
Nichol received his Bachelor’s degree in U.S. History from Brown University and his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of New England. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the State of Maine and has worked with adolescents and families for over a decade in a variety of settings. Nichol’s areas of expertise include cognitive-behavioral therapy, family systems theory, social coaching, and he is certified in EMDR and Mindfulness. Nichol and his certified therapy dog, Baxter, are often found walking through the woods with students or joining them on their wilderness expeditions. When not working with students and families Nichol can be found working on his small farm in Western Maine while Baxter chases after the pigs, chickens and goats.
Anson McNulty, BA, Operations and Program Director
Anson earned his Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation Administration from Unity College. He is also certified as Wilderness First Responder, CPR Instructor, and CPI (Crisis Prevention and Intervention) instructor. Anson has been working with troubled teens in wilderness and residential settings since 2000 and is dedicated to helping struggling teens find their way utilizing experiential learning. Anson enjoys family time with his wife and son, and adventuring in the backcountry, whether it be paddling, rock climbing or skiing.
Shannon H. Palentchar, BS, Admissions Director
Shannon received her Bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University. She has been working with adolescents and their families for over 15 years in a variety of settings including adventure guiding, wilderness therapy, therapeutic boarding, and residential treatment. Shannon has facilitated the role of admissions for a therapeutic program working with adolescent boys and also a residential treatment facility for young adult women. Shannon loves the outdoors and associated adventure sports and enjoys teaching her young daughter about the joys of nature. Some of her favorite hobbies include hiking, camping, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, and making jewelry.
Nick Faraldi, LMSW-CC, Therapist
Nick graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Rutgers University and holds a Bachelors in Sociology from New Jersey City University. He has served in the adolescent mental health field working in various positions since 2010. Nick works with a variety of different clients ranging from substance use disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder. His experience spans a variety of treatment settings including inpatient, intensive outpatient, and community partial care. Nick worked on and off as a Guide since 2012 and is one of the original founding team members of the Traverse program. Nick enjoys snowboarding in the winter and longboarding in the summer.
Caitlyn E. Cook, LCPC-C, LCAT, ATR-BC, Therapist
Caitlyn is a Board Certified Art Psychotherapist (ATR-BC) who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Rhode Island and her Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Creativity Development from Pratt Institute. Caitlyn’s experience working with adolescents spans a variety of settings including outpatient, long-term residential, partial hospital, and formerly, as a guide at Summit Achievement. With a focus on promoting personal growth and fostering healthy self-expression, Caitlyn specializes in designing creative interventions to meet the needs of each unique student and family. On her off time, Caitlyn can be found snowboarding, backpacking, wake boarding, climbing and generally enjoying all that the northeast has to offer.
Meg Paul, MSW, Therapist
Meg Paul comes to Summit after beginning her career as a Summit guide many years ago. She since completed a dual degree masters program, earning her masters in social work and her masters in adventure therapy from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently an independently licensed social worker.
After earning her graduate degrees, Meg worked as an adolescent and family therapist in a community mental health center and then as an equine therapist. During this time, she also managed the coordination and implementation of award winning wilderness therapy programing. Meg has utilized a variety of methods in her practice, including cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused therapy, motivational interviewing, trauma informed therapy, and structural family therapy.
In her free time, you can find Meg spending time with her husband and daughter biking, surfing, skiing, or climbing.
Bonnie Richardson, MA, Academic Director and Teacher
Bonnie earned her graduate degree in Critical & Cultural Theory from the University of Wales in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor’s Degree in Interpersonal Communication from the University of Central Florida. She has spent the last eight years working in education as an International Education Advisor and as an Assistant Director of International Education at schools in Florida and Ohio, advising students in international education, education abroad program management, curriculum development, institutional relationship management, student recruitment, and safety and risk management. Additionally she has worked as a Wilderness Medicine Instructor and a Program Assistant for an Adaptive Sports Program. Bonnie has always been drawn to building relationships with diverse groups of students and teachers, encouraging them to push themselves beyond traditional boundaries to reach their full potential. Bonnie enjoys paddling, traveling around the world, and working on summiting the forty-eight 4,000 foot summits in the White Mountains.
Reilly Shea, BS, Teacher, Special Education Coordinator
Reilly earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in English from the University of Maine and has since completed graduate level coursework in Special Education from Endicott College. Prior to Summit, she worked as a nanny, a Behavioral Health Professional (BHP), and most recently a Special Education Teacher at a middle school in Maine. Reilly’s work experiences all revolve around helping children and young adults reach their fullest academic potential, by building confidence in areas of strength and an understanding of areas that will require additional perseverance. Reilly grew up in the area and recently moved back in order to live closer to family. Outside of work, she enjoys sewing, camping, ice fishing, and cooking.
Eric Azriel, BS, Teacher
Eric earned his Bachelor’s degree in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. He worked as a Process Engineer in Baltimore for almost four years before hiking the Appalachian Trail and deciding to move to Maine. In Maine he worked for a short time in public school before joining Summit Achievement. Eric guided for Summit for two years and is inspired by the lessons wilderness teaches and the journeys begun there. Eric brings an enduring passion for science to the classroom and really enjoys exploring questions that students are interested in asking. Eric enjoys hiking, cycling, cooking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, and learning ukulele.
Brian Nelson, BS, Teacher
Brian earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mountain Recreation Management from Lyndon State College in Vermont. He worked as a one-to-one classroom teacher for at-risk-youth at an independent alternative high school in Vermont for six years teaching mathematics, as well as a number of other subjects. Brian has also worked in the Mount Washington Valley ski resort industry as ski patrol, trail maintenance supervisor, and the manager of the largest single span zip line in New England. Brian has recently returned to the field of education as he has a passion for working with students one-to-one and helping them gain confidence, learn and grow. Outside of work Brian enjoys skiing, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and making his own kombucha.
Andrew T. Farris, BA, Field Director
Andrew graduated from Green Mountain College with a Bachelor’s degree in Adventure Recreation. He is certified in Wilderness First Responder and is a Leave No Trace Master Educator. Prior to joining the Summit team, Andrew taught environmental education to elementary students, adventure education to college and corporate groups, and provided adaptive recreation opportunities for people with physical and cognitive disabilities at a summer camp associated with a children’s hospital. Andrew enjoys fly fishing, hiking, backcountry skiing, making music, and witty puns.
David Longe, Field Director
David graduated from Greenfield Community College’s Outdoor Leadership Program in 2012. He is also certified as a Wilderness First Responder, a PCIA single pitch instructor, an ACA level 3 canoe instructor, a Leave No Trace trainer, and ACA swift water rescue. David’s passion for helping others was sparked at The United ARC where he served as direct care staff for adults with developmental disabilities, in an independent living program, and as an in-home care provider. He first joined the Summit team as a Wilderness Guide and was promoted to Shift Coordinator. During his free time, David enjoys woodworking, making music, skateboarding, and playing in the mountains whether on rock, rivers, snow or ice.
Liam Byrer, Field Director
Liam has been part of the Summit team since 2013 and is currently working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Education from the University of New Hampshire. He is certified as a Wilderness First Responder and in Aegis Crisis Management. He has been working in Outdoor Education for 10 years managing challenge courses, rock climbing programs, and both youth and adult programming all aimed at using experiential learning to promote individual and community growth. During his free time, Liam can often be found adventuring on skis, a bicycle, or his motorcycle.
Annie Wehrli, BA, Business Manager
Annie graduated from California State University, Monterey Bay, with a Bachelor’s degree in Cinematic Art & Technology. Her love of a challenge and learning new things has led to experience in a variety of fields including Special Education, care for troubled teens in a residential setting, Massage Therapy, Archaeology, and Fine Art Sales. To every new challenge she brings her passion for helping others and solving problems and her qualities of being detail-oriented and organized. Annie lives in Conway, NH, with her husband and pug and enjoys reading, running, hiking, traveling, making stained glass, painting, sewing, and chemistry.
Katherine Ghirardelli, MSW, Outreach Director
Katherine earned her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Georgetown University, and her Masters Degree in Social Work from Columbia University. Previously, Katherine worked as an inpatient medical social worker at multiple hospitals around the country. Katherine then worked in Admissions at a therapeutic boarding school in Utah. Most recently, Katherine moved back home to the East Coast and worked as an Educational Consultant in Boston, guiding families through the difficult process of identifying appropriate placements. Katherine has worked with adolescents, young adults, and their families to transition to both therapeutic and traditional school environments.
In addition to spending time with her young daughter and husband, Katherine enjoys skiing, hiking, reading, and watching college basketball.
Dr. Drexel R. Gordon, DO, Medical Director
Dr. Drexel graduated from Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1990 and subsequently completed a Residency in Family Medicine. In addition to his oversight of Summit’s medical services, Dr. Drexel practices in nearby Bridgton, Maine, and serves as the Medical Director of Bridgton Health Care Center, a rehab and nursing facility. He has been the Medical Director at Summit since 2000. Dr. Gordon relishes his current roles as husband, father of two, and steward of nine acres.
Nancy Coleman-Murphy, BS, Program Nurse
Nancy graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. She has over 20 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in a variety of settings, including over 10 years at Summit. She has also worked in home healthcare, at a ski area mountain clinic, hospital emergency department, operating room and ambulatory care unit. Nancy has held an Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification and CPR certification for 20 years. Living in the mountains with her husband, son and yellow lab, she enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, backpacking, canoeing, off-road motorcycling, and gardening.
Willie Zeliff, Food Services Coordinator/Facilities
Willie has over 25 years of experience as a chef, as well as a wealth of experience working in the trades. He began cooking in his father’s restaurant, The Christmas Farm Inn, in 1987 and went on to successfully operate his own restaurant. He subsequently held executive chef positions in Mount Washington Valley before coming to Summit in 2011. Willie is well qualified to keep Summit warm, dry and well fed. His joy in creating delicious and healthy meals for the Summit community is obvious, and his commitment to facility maintenance is appreciated by all. When not at Summit, Willie enjoys spending time with his son, and serving as the Training Officer for the local volunteer fire department.