Our Team

The very heart of FAR is its dynamic therapy team and dedicated administrative staff.
Pamela Ayres

“Being the President of FAR is an honor. I love to receive calls or emails from parents sharing success stories about their children. The stories almost always are a thank you to FAR’s therapists who made these breakthroughs possible. I am so proud and honored to be part of it all.”

Pamela has been in non-profit management for over 15 years and with FAR since 2012. As President, she is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of FAR with a focus on programs, organizational growth, grant writing and fundraising.

Pamela has received her Nonprofit Management Certificate from Oakland University, is Certified as a Protocol and Etiquette Consultant by the Protocol School of Washington, DC and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

She is the proud mother of Christian, her teenage son.

Pamela has a strong commitment to the community and is involved with:

  • Red Wing Alumni Association — Honorary Member
  • Ted Lindsay Foundation For Autism — Advisory Board Member
  • Orchards Children’s Services — Advisory Board Member
  • Project Giving B.A.C.K (Building A Classroom In Kenya) — Board Member
Barbara Darga

“I have come to appreciate how much FAR gives to the special needs community. FAR therapists are incredibly gifted and their connections with our clients is so inspiring. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful organization and to work with such great team members.”

Barb has a BBA from Western Michigan University with a major in accounting and is a Licensed CPA in the State of Michigan. She has over 30 years of experience being a Director of Finance and Business Management.  Barb is a member of the Michigan Association of CPA’s and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Anastasiya Tsuker

Anastasiya joins the FAR team with a wealth of knowledge and experience. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Sienna Heights University.

“I have worked in healthcare for over 8 years and am excited to be supporting staff who are dedicated to improving the lives of so many individuals. My favorite part of the day is when our Friends come into the office to say “hello”.”

Sabrina Matsil

“ I am thrilled to be joining the FAR team and am looking forward to seeing the growth in all FAR Friends through the lens of Art, Music, Recreation, and Dance Therapy.”

With over 13 years of professional experience in social work, Sabrina joined the FAR team in 2022, accepting the position of Director of Programming. She holds a BA in Psychology from Michigan State University. During her career in social work, Sabrina took initiative on a fund-raising project that helped send approximately 2000 foster youth to summer camps around Michigan.

Breanna Bowen

“As a music therapist I am devoted to cultivating a safe and inclusive environment for clients of all ages and ability. What I love about music therapy is that it provides a space for people to grow, explore, and express themselves creatively, while having fun”.   

Bre started at FAR in 2021 and accepted the position of Director of Therapeutic Staff in 2022. She provides group music therapy to students in a Macomb county center-based school.. Bre completed her Music Therapy internship at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Bre received her Bachelors of Music from Western Michigan University where she majored in Music Therapy with a Psychology Minor.

Anna Bai
Margaret Sands-Goldstein

 I use a strength-based, positive psychology approach and believe art-making creates opportunities for people to learn about themselves and to connect with others. I agree with Danny Gregory who says: “Art is here to make us feel better and be better. To remind us that we are not alone.”

Margaret comes to FAR with over 30 years of experience. She received her Masters of Education in Art Therapy from Wayne State University and her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography from Center for Creative Studies. She provides Art Therapy for FAR at Vista Maria and the West Bloomfield Transition Center.

Margaret participates as a presenter at local and national conferences, she is published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association and an active participant in juried art exhibitions. She is a member of the Michigan Association of Art Therapy and the American Art Therapy Association.

Cara Berg

“I decided to become a music therapist because I was inspired to combine my love for music with my desire to help people with disabilities. I believe that music therapy can help people unlock their potential and it’s incredible to watch clients grow through the therapy process.”

Cara is beginning her career at FAR. She provides Music therapy to clients both individual and groups as well as servicing offsite contracts. Cara  graduated with her degree in Music Therapy from Easter Michigan University in 2023.

Samantha Heiler

“Quality of life at its core is doing things that bring you joy, including leisure and recreation. As a Recreational Therapist, I pride myself on providing a rewarding experience for every individual no matter their circumstances.”

Sam comes to FAR with over 7 years of experience working in various settings as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. She serves FAR clients at our Birmingham office, as while as offsite school contracts. She received her Bachelors of Science in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology from Grand Valley State University.

“Music therapy reveals profound connections and self-discovery. Yet, how do we illuminate the

creativity and expression that unfold behind closed doors? It starts by sharing meaningful stories

of resilience and growth. My dedication extends not only to my clients but also to amplifying

creative arts therapies so others outside the FAR community can benefit from the service.”

Phoebe embarks on her Michigan music therapy journey at FAR following the completion of her

master’s degree in Scotland, United Kingdom. There, her experience involved working with various

individuals diagnosed with mood disorders and their families across clinical and community

settings, including a specialized postpartum program in a mum and baby unit.

At FAR, Phoebe is a music therapist to clients at the Birmingham location and Vista Maria.

Additionally, her graduate research focused largely on profession advocacy and effectively

introducing creative therapy services to those in need of them, making her a great fit to lead FAR’s

advocacy efforts.

When not in session or advocating the profession, Phoebe enjoys sharing her passion for music and

wellness in many avenues of her life. Beyond her work at FAR, Phoebe works in healthcare as a

PR/marketing manager and is the lead singer in a Detroit cover band.

Parina Davis- Usher

“A person can learn from anyone, anything, and anywhere. All one has to do is pay attention. Not just listen, but hear to gain a better understanding. This can tell a person what to do, what not to do, or what to do differently and can ultimately change the trajectory of one’s life.”

Parina comes to FAR with over 10 years experience. She serves FAR clients at our Birmingham, Macomb & Offsite Group Contracts.

She received her Masters of Counseling with a concentration in Art Therapy from Wayne State University and her Bachelors of Arts in Graphic Design from Marygrove College.

Parina has recently published her first children’s book “I Thought I Heard an Angry Bear”. She is a professional member of The American Art Therapy Association and Michigan Association of Art Therapy.

I believe that in order for the counseling process to be effective the client and the therapist need to have great rapport with one another. Both the client and I will collaborate to form the most beneficial treatment goals, and assess progress. My therapeutic approach is to meet every individual where they are since each client is different. The theories that will be utilized within my therapeutic approach is Holistic theory, Play therapy, Art therapy, Adlerian theory, Existentialism, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Somatic therapy and Person centered therapy. I want to counsel a variety of ages of clientele due to my experience counseling both children and adults. I want to create a safe space where clients can receive encouragement, empowerment. The client and I will explore thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and experiences as well as learning to accept oneself to resolve blocks of personal growth. I seek to empower the client to take action to create a more meaningful life. My role as a counselor and art therapist is to facilitate group therapy, and individual therapy where clients are able to express themselves through art media, and receive talk therapy via discussion, provide psychoeducation when appropriate, and act as a supportive companion throughout the therapeutic experience.

“Discovering our passions is what moves us through life and allows us to have meaningful connections and experiences. I am dedicated to caring about people, recognizing each person’s individuality, and helping them pursue their passions.”

Megan graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Eastern Michigan University in 2018 and has been working in Recreation Therapy ever since. She is a member of the NCTRC (National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification) and has been involved with MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) and VAD (Volunteers Assisting the Disabled) as a volunteer for over 10 years. She currently serves FAR clients primarily in the West Bloomfield and Walled Lake school districts.

Patty Karle

“Music is a vital part of all our lives and as a therapeutic tool it promotes growth and influences positive change. Practicing at FAR and seeing firsthand the difference music therapy makes in the lives of others is a constant source of personal inspiration and professional fulfillment.”

With over 25 years of professional experience as a Board Certified Music Therapist, Patty joined the FAR team in 2008. She holds a BA in Music with a concentration in Music Therapy from Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio. She also holds degrees in Manual Communications and Deaf Studies from Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.

Patty is a member of various professional music therapy organizations including Michigan Music Therapists (MMT).

Patrick Heber

“I really believe in the power of music and music therapy. When a client is able to fully enter the music and have a truly authentic experience, even if only for a moment – that is something very beautiful, powerful and joyful.”

Patrick started as a Music Therapist at FAR in 2019. He serves FAR clients providing one-on-one and group Music Therapy at our Birmingham, Macomb and offsite locations.

Patrick has a B.A. in Music Education from Michigan State University and earned his Music Therapy Equivalency Distance (MTED) graduate degree from St. Mary of the Woods College.

Liz Buckmaster

“I love using the adaptable nature of music to help people reach their potential. By meeting someone where they are in a musical way, the music therapist can set up an environment that is supportive and nurturing. This creates a safe place to learn and grow.”

Elizabeth has practiced Music Therapy for over 20 years and serves FAR clients in Birmingham and offsite locations, providing private music therapy, group music therapy and adapted piano lessons.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Oakland University and a Bachelor of Music Therapy from Eastern Michigan University. Elizabeth is board certified.

Elizabeth is a member of the Michigan Music Therapists where she has held various offices and positions including newsletter editor, clinical training liaison and president. She is also a member of Great Lakes Region of the American Music Therapy Association and the American Music Therapy Association. Elizabeth has presented at several local, regional and national music therapy conferences as well as for other local conferences and workshops.

Susan Gregory

“I believe music therapy provides an avenue for endless self-growth opportunities. I am continually amazed by the power of music to engage and motivate my clients and am humbled by the successes I observe within sessions. I am proud to say I work for FAR, an organization dedicated to providing such incredible opportunities”.

Susan has practiced Music Therapy for over 30 years and serves FAR Clients in Birmingham, and in Detroit at Orchestra Hall, providing private and group music therapy. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy from Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Music and Music Therapy from Western Michigan University.

Susan is a member of the AMERICAN MUSIC THERAPY ASSOCIATION and MICHIGAN MUSIC THERAPISTS

Susan is the recipient of a number of awards and honors, including

  • Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Music Therapist, Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency, 1994
  • Booker T. Washington Educator’s Achievement Award for Outstanding and Dedicated Service, Detroit Public Schools, 1995.
Jordan Walsh

“Music therapy provides an avenue for clients to learn, grow and express themselves, while having fun. Through music, I strive to create a positive and supportive environment to foster creativity and help others reach their full potential.” 

Jordan is beginning her Music Therapy career at FAR and serves FAR clients at our Birmingham, Macomb, and offsite locations. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Western Michigan University. Jordan completed her Music Therapy internship at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

April Boucké

“Music is for everybody. No musical expertise is needed to benefit from music therapy. We are connected to the arts as humans, adding our story to the larger song of humanity. Well-being looks different for each individual, but we all can strive to be the most authentic version of ourselves.”

Violet Shippert

“I believe music therapy is powerful, providing individualized opportunities for exploration, healing, and growth. I strive to create a fun, safe, supportive environment that encourages individuals to reach their full potential through creativity and self-expression.”

Violet is beginning her Music Therapy career at FAR and will serve FAR clients at our Birmingham location. She received her Bachelor’s of Music from Western Michigan University where she majored in Music Therapy and minored in Psychology.

Lindsay Schnute

“Recognizing that music is an enriching and powerful experience that resonates deeply within us, I am dedicated to guiding each individual toward accessing their full potential through the transformative influence of music”

Lindsay Schnute received her Bachelor of Music from Western Michigan University, then completed her internship at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation where she served adults and pediatrics including on the stroke, spinal cord injury and brain injury units. Lindsay is beginning her career at FAR and serves clients out of Oakland County.

Jessica VanValkenburgh

Jessica is the Dance, Movement and Yoga Specialist at FAR. She serves FAR clients at our Birmingham location as well as offsite school and group programs.

Jessica received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Western Michigan University.  She then went on to dance professionally in a number of national dance and theater productions.  Jessica is also a mother, a Certified Body Confidence and Wellness Coach, a Registered Yoga Teacher- 500 hrs, a Prenatal and Chair Yoga Specialist, a Usui Reiki Level 2 Practitioner and is authorized to teach Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, The Non-Linear Movement Method® (NLMM) and to facilitate The Wild Woman’s Circle™ She is a dōTERRA® Wellness Advocate and is also certified in the The Aroma Touch Technique®  and is CPR and First-Aid Certified as well.  Jessica has done extensive work with Trauma Informed teaching and recently completed an Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy Certification.  She is currently also studying to become a Somatic Movement Therapist.

Jessica has over 20 years of experience in movement and dance instruction.  Additionally, she has choreographed many community theater, and school musical theater productions.  Jessica loves to help her students develop their self-esteem, confidence and sense of self through the pure joy of embodied movement.

Join Our Team!