Our Team

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“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
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“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 are so inspiring.  I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful organization and to work with such great team members.” Barbara has 30 years experience in the field of finance and business management and has been with FAR for over 6 years.

She is responsible for all financial information, including coordination of the annual audit, government filings, and insurance. She also manages human resources, IT and offsite contracts.

Barb holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Western Michigan University and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Michigan.

My absolute favorite thing about FAR is getting to share time with our clients and their families. My goal is to make everyone that walks through our doors feel welcome and supported. Watching our clients learn to express themselves through their chosen medium, develop social connections, and seeing the joy and pride on their families faces is the best part of my job.

Nicki worked in the ASD program as a  paraprofessional for four years in the Birmingham School District. Prior to the that, she worked for Oakland County Public Health Department as a public health technician. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Merchandising and Management and traveled extensively throughout the Midwest for Kenneth Cole and BCBG Max Azria before settling down and starting her family. Her two sons Graham and Desmond are spectacular and she feels beyond blessed in life.

“ 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.

“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”.   

Breanna is beginning her Music Therapy career at FAR and will serve FAR clients at several of our locations. Breanna completed her Music Therapy internship at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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

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 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.

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“I believe that each and every person has the ability to be musical. Within the sessions I am able to uncover the client’s music preferences and talents. Working with the clients and seeing their progress throughout the year and how their musicality develops is one of the highlights for me.”

Renae earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Eastern Michigan University. She conducts Music Therapy and adaptive lessons at FAR.

“Recreational Therapy provides unique opportunities for discovery and growth. I love being able to accompany my clients through new experiences and celebrate even then smallest of victories with them”.

Becca is beginning her career at FAR. She provides Recreational Therapy to clients at the Birmingham location in addition to offsite schools.

Becca received her BS in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University. She is a member of the Michigan Therapeutic Recreation Association. 

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“Participating in recreation and leisure can help to increase an individual’s quality of life and can often be what someone looks forward to most throughout their day. I enjoy providing the opportunity for everybody to partake in recreation, get lost in the moment, and do what they love to do!”

Kelsy completed her internship at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and started practicing as a Recreation Therapist at FAR in 2019.  Kelsy currently provides recreation therapy to FAR clients at the Birmingham and offsite locations.

Kelsy received her BS in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology from Grand Valley State University. She is a member of MTRA (Michigan Therapeutic Recreation Association).

Chelsea Jacobs

“I take great pride in my work as a therapist and appreciate the holistic approach Therapeutic Recreation provides students, and value the independence and fulfillment students gain through learning and implementing leisure / recreation within their lives.”

Chelsea holds over 20 years of health care experience, primarily in the areas of rehabilitation and behavioral health. She has been certified through NCTRC for 6 years as a Recreation Therapist. Chelsea provides Recreational Therapy to FAR clients at our offsite locations.

Chelsea completed her Bachelors in Therapeutic Recreation form Eastern Michigan University. Also completing her Associate in Business Health Service Management from Mott Community College. Chelsea is a Board Member of Michigan Therapeutic Recreation Association (MTRA).

Erin Burton

“I love recreational therapy because it gives people of all abilities an opportunity to partake in recreation and enjoy themselves while improving their overall quality of life.”

Erin is beginning her career at FAR. She provides Recreational Therapy to clients at Group Offsite Contracts.

Erin received her BS in Recreational Therapy with a Minor in Disability Studies from the University of Toledo.  She is a member of the Michigan Therapeutic Recreation Association.

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“As a Recreational Therapist I am able to provide clients with creative interventions that stimulate personal growth and expression. I absolutely love seeing the joy in clients when they have achieved new personal goals.”

Ariel is beginning her career at FAR. She provides Recreational Therapy to clients at Group Offsite Contracts.

Ariel received her degree in Therapeutic Recreation with a Minor in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University.  She is a member of the Michigan Therapeutic Recreation Association.

“Art can be an amazing tool and a rewarding personal experience. I strive to help others use art and the creative process to find their confidence, voice, and sense of empowerment. I have seen art do so much for so many and I feel honored to be a part of this journey and experience.”

Jenna has practiced Art Therapy for two years now. She serves FAR clients at our Birmingham location as well as offsite schools.

She received her Masters of Arts in Mental Health Counseling with Specialization in Art Therapy from Wayne State University and has a Bachelors in Fine Arts also from WSU.

Jenna is a professional member of The American Art Therapy Association and The American Counseling Association.

Mallory Montgomery

“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 have a passion for providing therapeutic opportunities for people who need holistic care that accounts for their unique journey. I focus on community, personal growth, relaxation, and mental and emotional support to foster self-expression, building coping skills, and providing a sense of control, happiness, and normalcy through artmaking. My vision for my work at FAR is to promote healing, creativity, resiliency, and support for all who are being treated for their complex concerns while having fun and building connections. I also supervise student interns from Wayne State University in their graduate level internships and pass on my knowledge to the next generation of therapists.”

Mallory has been practicing Art Therapy for 5 years. Mallory serves FAR Clients in Birmingham, Macomb, and at offsite locations.

Mallory completed her Masters of Science in Art Therapy and Clinical Counseling at Mount Mary University in Wisconsin. At Alma College, Mallory received her Bachelors of Art in Fine Art and Neuropsychology with a Minor in Art History. Mallory is a Legislative Chairwoman for Michigan Association of Art Therapy. She is professionally associated with Michigan Association of Art Therapy (MAAT), American Art Therapy Association (AATA), Psi Chi Psychology Honorary Society, Kappa Pi Art Honorary Society, and Gamma Phi Beta International Sorority.

“Art Therapy is a way to reflect on what made us who we are and discover what we can be in the future.  I hope to share this vision with my clients.”

Meaghan has been practicing Art Therapy for 3 years.  She serves FAR clients at our Birmingham and Macomb locations as well as offsite school contracts.

Meaghan completed her Masters of Education in Art Therapy and has a Bachelors in Psychology from Wayne State University.

Meaghan is a professional member of The American Art Therapy Association.

“I’m honored to fulfill a role where I can support others in a journey of self-discovery, healing, and growth through art. The art we make in sessions is process focused, meaning my clients and I focus on how the art is made together to discover meaning, symbolism, and foster learning in a safe, supportive, and therapeutic environment. My practice supports improvements in a multitude of important skills such as communication, fine motor skills, confidence, and overall mood.”

Christina double majored in Fine Arts and Psychology, obtaining her Bachelor’s in Arts and Sciences from Eastern Michigan University. Christina held  Departmental Honors in Fine Arts and Academic Honors in Psychology in 2018. While living in Ypsilanti she spent time advocating for the arts, doing murals, planning community events, and running her own gallery.

After relocating to attend Wayne State, Christina gained her Masters in Education specializing in Art Therapy in 2022. During this time, she partnered with a Michigan author and illustrated a children’s book titled “Fearless” in 2021. Christina continues to illustrate books with an emphasis on teaching children about mental health, safety, and empowerment. Christina is a professional member of The American Art Therapy Association and a Chairwoman for the Michigan Association of Art Therapy”

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Ranine started out in the field in Lebanon in 2015, volunteering with children who witnessed violence. She was inspired by their imagination in expression their stories. She now strives to support people of all ages in using their innate creativity to discover their strengths, to heal and grow.

Ranine is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) as well as a member of the American Art Association (AATA).

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“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 and accepted the position of Director of Therapeutic Programming in 2011. 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).

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“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.

“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.

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“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.

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“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.
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.

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