Meet The Team
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Meet Our Team of Experts
Jennifer has always been drawn to helping people and has volunteered both locally and internationally educating, working alongside and advocating for others. She had dedicated her life to serving adolescents and young adults in treatment. Over the last 17 years, Jennifer has helped developed and run two residential treatment centers and has served as the Admissions and Outreach Director at Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy. While working with adolescents in these various clinical settings, Jennifer noticed a common pattern in the long-term success outcomes of the students with whom she worked. This pattern included a consistent struggle transitioning into independent young adult settings. While these students learned to successfully navigate adolescent challenges, they struggled to launch into adulthood with the necessary executive function skills needed to succeed outside a structured environment. While this pattern began to manifest and draw Jennifer’s attention, she was simultaneously launching her own son into young adulthood in a university setting. While preparing her own young adult for college it occurred to Jennifer that many of her past students could benefit from the same tutelage from which her son benefitted. These experiences inspired the development of Rite Passage.
Jennifer also has a passion and interest in academic research. Early in her career, Jennifer understood the connection between early experiences, neurobiological development and later mental health outcomes. This understanding propelled Jennifer towards neurobiological and cognitive developmental research at the University of Utah. Jennifer is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in developmental psychology. She hopes to integrate her research findings into her clinical practice in order to promote brain-based approaches while working with young adults. Jennifer would like to help Rite Passage clients understand how their past and present environments shape their own neurobiological development in order to promote healthy lifestyles, identity achievement, and self-advocacy.
Jennifer was born and raised in Huntington Beach California. When Jennifer is not working, she enjoys spending time with her three sons, two dogs, and wonderful husband. Jennifer’s children range in age from 21 to 8 giving Jennifer a unique and simultaneous perspective on human development. “Raising a child with special needs has helped me understand how heartbreaking and scary it can be to be a parent. I understand how desperately we want our children to heal and grow and I understand the fear induced when trusting others with your child.” This first-hand knowledge and experience with a struggling child has given Jennifer empathy and understanding to help other parents going through similar struggles. “ I am proud to have the opportunity to weave all of my personal, professional and academic experiences into one highly individualized service that will support and mentor young adults to be their best selves.
Sarah has spent several years coaching parents of young adults in various stages of treatment and transitional independent living programs. Being a parent of a young adult herself, she understands the unique challenges that young adults (and subsequently their parents) are facing today. The journey toward independence can be a difficult one, and letting go can be a daunting task for parents. Sarah provides an additional layer of support for parents as they navigate their way through the process and work toward creating the relationship they want with their emerging adult. By partnering with parents, she helps generate creative approaches and new communication tools, and helps them adjust to their new role in their adult child’s life.
Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Linfield College. She is a credentialed Parent Coach through the International Coach Federation, as well as a trained mediator. She has undergone advanced training in positive psychology coaching, parent coaching, family systems and addiction treatment.
Sarah has coached hundreds of parents as they transition their children into or out of therapeutic placements. She began her career providing in-home support services for underserved families in rural communities. Sarah was introduced to the field of outdoor behavioral health in the early nineties and found her passion. She spent twenty years working in a therapeutic wilderness program providing support for families and adolescents. She founded and directed a home-based transitional program for wilderness therapy graduates, and was instrumental in developing an adventure-based therapeutic boarding school. She worked closely with Indian Health Services to increase access to wilderness therapy for Native American adolescents. When she was introduced to the field of parent coaching, she jumped at the opportunity to support parents throughout their child’s treatment experience.
Sarah was raised on the Oregon Coast and returns to the beach as often as possible to adventure with her family. Her greatest joy is being a parent and she is constantly learning from her sons. She enjoys camping and traveling with friends and family. When time allows for a quiet moment, she enjoys tucking into a good book.
Devan Glissmeyer, Ph.D
As Co-Founder of Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy, Devan has worked with adolescents in treatment for 22 years. He understands that the intense structure of wilderness and residential treatment must be followed by autonomy in college. Prior to co-founding Second Nature, he taught college psychology and communication courses. Devan began his studies at the University of Utah where he received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. He attended Ball State University in Indiana and received a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. He returned to Utah and completed his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Brigham Young University. Devan’s doctoral studies focused on family systems and adolescent development and treatment. His doctoral research focused on the influence of parental and peer relationships on adolescent maladaptive behaviors (e.g. substance abuse, oppositional defiance, and mood disorders). He began working with adolescents during graduate school as a front-line residential staff member. It was during this work that he began to focus singularly on adolescent development and treatment.
Co-Developing Rite Passage is a natural extension of Devan’s work with adolescents. Through his own challenges and successes in college, he developed awareness for the importance of a balanced college experience. Devan understands that replicating residential treatment programs for young adults won’t meet their developmental needs. Among other things, his contribution to the Rite Passage program is the balance between independence and emotional connection, that so many families struggle with during early college years.
Devan’s strengths lie in his clinical training in adolescent development and family therapy. He has empathy for students who have spent significant time away from home and those struggling with achieving stability and independence. After initially engaging Rite Passage clients, Devan challenges them to focus on identity development (who they want to be). Devan is passionate about gender identity issues and the urgency of teaching clients to shift from the denial of emotions and unhealthy coping mechanisms to emotional awareness and empathy. As the father of a daughter he also understands the impact of bravado on girls and their development.
Devan’s greatest passion away from work is coaching basketball and playing tennis. He has coached all four of his children and they have competed in 750 games over 18 years. He plays tennis regularly and enjoys his Bernese Mountain dogs. Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Kansas City, Devan has resided in Utah since 1985. Married since 1990 with three sons and a daughter, Devan appreciates any time he is able to share with his family.
Jared Alston, LCMHC
Jared earned his undergraduate degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In 2015 he earned his masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Phoenix. For the last 16 years, Jared has worked at Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy in many capacities. He began as a field instructor, created and managed Second Nature’s parenting workshop, and is currently a primary therapist.
During the clinical portion of his Master’s program, Jared worked at a young adult treatment setting. Jared began to learn the benefits and relevance of young adult transitional programs. Training staff quickly became one of Jared’s strengths. This experience made it clear to him that he could provide scaffolding to young adults and the opportunity to truly launch and create independence.
Jared has a keen understanding of the daunting challenges faced by young adults. Balancing individuation with social traditions can create confusion. Jared believes that it is important to challenge the antiquated definition of gender roles and find peace in humility and service. Through these discussions young adults will be able to re-define respect and love for themselves as well as others.
Jared has volunteered with Special Education students at a local high school and assisted with a community integration program. He is passionate about service-based learning and has been focused on bringing volunteer opportunities to the students of Second Nature through various outreach and non-profit programs globally, including helping with disabled children abroad. Jared recognizes the value of volunteering and how selfless acts can assist our students in developing connection.
Originally from New York, Jared has found a home in Utah. He spends his free time with his family, fly fishing, beekeeping and with their many animals.
Leslee began her college education in the field of photography but soon discovered an interest and passion for serving others while managing a Freshman Living Program. Drawing from her own experiences as a college freshman, Leslee mentored incoming college freshman helping them develop relational and life skills. These experiences propelled Leslee towards the pursuit of a degree in Psychology and Family Studies and she is currently preparing for graduate school. Leslee’s professional experiences also include the management of a sports photography company where she enjoyed the many facets of running a business and fostering professional relationships.
Leslee has also worked with at-risk youth in Alaska and was struck by their need and potential. This experience led to her work as a supervisor for an adolescent residential treatment center where she solidified her professional interests providing treatment while managing programs and people. Her most recent work included the development and management of a young adult treatment program. This experience inspired her interest in cultivating a program that honors the autonomy that comes with the emergence into young adulthood. In addition to program development, Leslee is also an integral member of the admissions team at Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy. Working as an admissions coordinator has honed Leslee’s skills working with families in crisis.
Leslee was born and raised in Wyoming. She grew up in a family of 10 children and understands what it means to work hard and stay emotionally connected. She loves spending time with her 24 nieces and nephews. Her family history contributes to her sense of community and her ability to navigate relationships flexibly. She also loves staying active and understands the benefits of exercise on emotional health. She loves many sports, yoga, and hiking. She also loves service (volunteer work with the elderly), nature and travel. She is an avid photographer and camper. Her active lifestyle contributes not only to her emotional and physical health, but it also enriches her influence on the Co-eds at Rite Passage.
Did You Know?
30% of college freshman across the country drop out before completing their second semester. Rite Passage provides a light scaffolding of support to help freshman navigate the complexities of adult living and a rigorous academic cirriculum.