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 youth. We believe that a treatment center, and the outcomes of treatment, are only as good as the people providing it (click here to see outcomes). You and your child may remember our beautiful campus, or the serenity of the mountains, but you will likely remember the positive connections you make with our staff above all else.
Meet Our Team
Nichol Ernst, LCSW, Executive Director, Therapist, Owner
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 at Summit Achievement for 17 years. 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 with his wife and children while Baxter chases after the pigs, chickens, and goats.
Learn more about Nichol here.
Listen to Nichol’s story on the podcast, Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy.
Will White, DA, LCSW, LADC, Director of Outreach and Business Development, Co-Founder, Owner
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.
As a much sought after speaker on the topic of Adventure/Wilderness Therapy, Dr. White has presented at national and international conferences, and is the author of the book, Stories from the Field: A History of Wilderness Therapy and the host of the podcast, Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy.
Learn more about Will here
Anson McNulty, BA, Operations Director, Owner
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 has worked at Summit Achievement since 2002. Anson enjoys family time with his wife and son, and adventuring in the backcountry, whether it be paddling, rock climbing or skiing.
Learn more about Anson here.
Caitlyn E. Cook, LCPC, ATR-BC, Clinical Director
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.
Learn more about Caitlyn here.
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 spending time with friends and family in nature. Some of her favorite hobbies include hiking, camping, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, traveling with her family and watching her daughter play sports. You can read a blog she wrote about moving to New England to work for Summit here.
Learn more about Shannon here.
Listen to Shannon’s story on the podcast, Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy
Liam Byrer, BS, Academic Director
Liam earned a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Education from the University of New Hampshire. Liam has worked with young people for many years, including being a summer camp counselor, outdoor educator, and rope course manager. He has been a guide and field director at Summit Achievement and a ski patroller at Wildcat Mountain in New Hampshire.
Learn more about Liam here.
Mike Deluca, LCSW, Therapist
Alicia Jacobs, LMSW-CC, Therapist
Alicia earned her Master of Social Work degree from The University of New Hampshire in 2018. She then began working in rural community mental health, where she was able to engage with a diverse population of adults and adolescents struggling with severe mental illness, substance use disorders, and socioeconomic limitations and challenges. Most recently, Alicia served on the clinical team in a twelve-step based, residential substance use treatment facility. Alicia has experience in crisis prevention and intervention, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and group psychotherapy.
Prior to entering the field of Social Work, Alicia earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at The University of New Hampshire. She often uses elements of her background in philosophy to enhance her work as a clinician. When she’s not working she enjoys spending time with her young son, finding hidden swimming holes, and playing music.
Nick Faraldi, Director of Parent Support
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, mood disorders, 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.
Pete Sanfilippo, BS, Teacher
Pete graduated from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine with a BS in Business Administration and attended Plymouth State University for its Master of Education program in Secondary High School Mathematics. Pete was a math teacher at Summit Achievement from 2012 to 2015 and returned to teach math at Summit in 2019 after three years as a high school math teacher at a local public school. Pete enjoys working with Summit students and supporting them through various challenges they face in an academic setting. When not teaching, Pete enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, whether on the slopes in the winter, or on the rivers and lakes in the summer.
Audrey Gourlie, MA, Teacher
Audrey graduated from Colby College in Maine with a BA in biology and then Colorado College with a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Science. Audrey has taught middle and high school science and has worked at several outdoor education programs. She worked as a wilderness guide at Summit Achievement for a year before switching to her current science teacher role. Outside of work, you can find her working on her tiny house or out exploring with her dog, Fiona.
Andrew T. Farris, BA, Program 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.
Learn more about Andrew here.
Adrian Fiser, BA, Field Director
Adrian grew up on the rocky coast of Maine where he fostered his lifelong interest in environmental stewardship and conservation. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dalhousie University and spent 5 years as a tried and true guide at Summit Achievement. Adrian is also a certified Wilderness First Responder who considers safety as a quality rated second to none. As much as he loves the outdoors, Adrian has an equal passion for popular culture and film studies. In his spare time, he can be found hiking, cooking and assembling Star Wars Legos.
Todd Merrill, BS, Field Director
Todd graduated from Appalachian State University with studies in Outdoor Experiential Education and Psychology. He has taken those initial experiences and practiced them across the country in extraordinary environments, working with many amazing people. For over 20 years Todd has had the honor to grow within the wilderness therapy field and see how nature, challenge, and relationships offer healing experiences. Todd holds certifications through American Mountain Guides Association, American Canoe Association, SOLO Wilderness Medicine to help guide his work in adventure settings. When he is away from work, he is likely moving about somewhere in the backcountry.
Monique Britt, Office Manager
Monique earned a BS in Business Management from the University of Illinois in Urbana. She moved to the White Mountains over twenty years ago to raise her two, now adult, children. She has spent many years managing office and service oriented settings. Monique loves a challenge, and enjoys working with people. She also practices Reiki in her spare time, as healing has always been a passion of hers. Monique lives in Fryeburg, ME and enjoys traveling, reading, photography, gardening, and hiking with her grand dog, Peyt.
Kate Lambert, BS, Chef
Kate Lambert hails from Ellsworth, Maine. She has a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Food and Community from the University of British Columbia. She loves to cook with all the local and seasonal ingredients Maine has to offer. When not in the kitchen, she enjoys exploring the outdoors of western Maine and New Hampshire.
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.