Founder and Director, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Olivia Kvitne has been a lifelong yoga practitioner, and a yoga instructor since 2003. While living in Los Angeles, Olivia taught weekly trauma-sensitive yoga classes at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Training Center, as well as presented continuing education workshops on yoga and the neurological system for LAFD, and special workshops for high-ranking command staff of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It is at LAFD where Yoga for First Responders was first born in conjunction with department psychologist, Dr. Robert Scott. Olivia currently teaches yoga for several Fire Departments, Des Moines Veterans Association, Iowa Army National Guard, Des Moines Police Academy, Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, Warren County Fire Academy and provides in-service trainings for public safety agencies and military around the country. Olivia is a contributing writer and former Assistant Editor of LA Yoga Magazine. Her writing for other publications and blogs includes American Military University’s In Public Safety, PoliceOne.com, FireRescue1, and the inaugural issue of Yoga Iowa, with her article on the benefits of yoga in the military being the cover story. Olivia is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), holds her Fire Instructor 1 certification and is the 2016 recipient of the Warrior Award and Community Choice Award from Yoga Alliance International.
Nikki Levine, Training Coordinator
Nikki is a loyal practitioner and teacher of yoga, with a special interest in trama-sensitive yoga. Growing up an east coaster she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of working in the entertainment industry. She immersed herself in the Hollywood production scene and quickly soared up the ranks while mastering the art of business coordination and finance, by budgeting both small and large scale projects. It was in LA where Nikki met and worked with Olivia Kvitne, when Yoga for First Responders (YFFR) was just in its infancy. She also facilitated video production for the first training held by YFFR, and happily watched as the program and trainings continued to gain momentum. Nikki is a YFFR Level 1 certified teacher, and has since done many projects with Olivia including work at the LAFD (Los Angeles Fire Department). Her passion for being of service to others is a great fit for the incredible mission YFFR continues bringing to communities. Nikki is honored to be a part of the team as she works to combine her yogic lifestyle and production skills. Her goal is to creatively bring business insight and mindfulness together, hoping to show all people how to individually and collectively heal. She currently lives on a ranch in Wyoming with her husband, a devoted volunteer firefighter, who loves taking her classes held at the local community fire station.
LMT, E-RYT, MPCT, Msc. (Hon.) (Core Faculty/Board of Advisors)
An Integrative Somatic Therapist, specializes in treating somatic-based trauma, chronic pain, and neuro-energetic dysfunction. Jeff has been researching and practicing Yoga and Somatic Therapies for over thirty years. In that time he has studied with some of the most gifted minds in the fields of mind/body science including Marcel Vogel (IBM & PRI), Paul St. John (St. Johnʼs Neuromuscular Therapy), Deane Juhan (Jobʼs Body), Rama Jyoti Vernon (International Yoga College & Yoga Journal) and Dr. Vasant Lad (The Ayurvedic Institute). Jeff has also been certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, has been awarded an honorary Masters degree in Anatomy and Physiology and is a registered Yoga instructor and Yoga Therapist.
Jeff is the founder and Director of Thunder Mountain Wellness, an Arizona based clinic dedicated to vibrant health, wellness and the realization of the fully actualized human potential.
Core Faculty and Board of Advisors
Yoga for First Responders’ Core Faculty are the advisors and trainers for YFFR protocol and curriculum. Core Faculty insure the continued safety and effectiveness of our method.
Yoga for First Responders’ Board of Advisors serves to uphold the Core Values and mission of our organization. Operational decisions such as partnering with sponsors, individuals or other entities, is discussed by the board for to safeguard our bottom-line vision: to serve first responders with integrity through the mindful practice of yoga.
Robert T. Scott
Ph.D., CTS (Core Faculty/Board of Advisors)
Dr. Scott is a licensed psychologist as well as a nationally recognized teacher, trainer, and consultant in the field of trauma/disaster psychology. For over 23 years Dr. Scott has provided crisis response interventions and support to first responder populations including fire, police, medical, aviation, military and Red Cross personnel.
In 1998, Dr. Scott was appointed Department Psychologist and Director of the Behavioral Health and Wellness Program for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. In addition to his regular duties and activities of critical incident response and Peer training, Dr. Scott directed and supervised the Los Angeles Fire Department’s CISM Team deployment to the World Trade Center Attack in the aftermath of 9/11. During the teams two-week deployment Dr. Scott provided CISM intervention and support to the Fire Department of New York. Dr. Scott also provided similar support with his CISM team to Louisiana Firefighters during a one-week deployment to the hurricane-impacted Gulf States during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In July of 2015 Dr. Scott retired from his position at LAFD to pursue his private practice and consulting work where he specializes in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and general stress. Dr. Scott is also an avid surfer and more recently has been learning and practicing Iyengar Yoga.
Major Darren Ivey
Kansas City Police Department (Core Faculty/Board of Advisors)
Captain Darren Ivey was appointed to the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department on September 15, 1992 and was commissioned as a police officer on February 14, 1993. He was promoted to Sergeant in October 2000. Prior to becoming a Police Officer, Captain Ivey was a proud member of the United States Air Force (1983-1992). He has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Park University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Captain Ivey has been the Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Commander since 2012. It was in this assignment that Captain Ivey began seeing just how many first responders and military members (active/retired) are affected by trauma/secondary trauma and stress. To this end, in partnership with Truman Medical Center’s Behavioral Health, Ivey led a team that developed and teaches a four hour block of training called “Building Resilience: Surviving Secondary Trauma.” This training helps address the occupational risks for secondary trauma and acute stress in first responders (as well as military) and allied civilian support staff.
Additionally, he currently coordinates several Department Wellness Initiatives, including Yoga for First Responders; Warrior Ascent; and upcoming mindfulness events for families.
Captain Ivey is married and has four children.
Lt. Richard Goerling
Board of Advisors
Richard has served in civilian law enforcement for twenty years. He’s held both federal and municipal level positions and has served as a criminal investigator, patrol officer, detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, patrol and SWAT lieutenant, and currently serves as a detective lieutenant in Hillsboro, Oregon. Over the last decade, Richard has spearheaded the introduction of mindfulness training into policing in the United States as part of a larger cultural transformation toward a compassionate, skillful and resilient warrior ethos.
Richard has served as a member of the United States Coast Guard for 27 years, both active and reserve, and retired in 2015 at the rank of Commander while assigned to Coast Guard Sector Charleston, SC. He serves as an affiliate assistant professor at Pacific University in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology and participates in mindfulness training and research at this institution. Richard also holds an adjunct faculty position at Portland Community College teaching in the Criminal Justice program.
Richard continues to train and speak about resiliency for first responders around the nation and has developed and delivered resilience immersion training for first responders. He is an avid swimmer and meditator, and a content introvert that enjoys time with his family to recharge.
Guest Faculty and Presenters
Yoga for First Responders often brings in experts to speak, educate and advise on all aspects of YFFR protocol. We are grateful to the following people who have shared their work with our trainees, teachers and staff.
Felicia Marie Tomasko
RN, E-RYT 500
Felicia integrates more than twenty years of study of the ancient approaches of Yoga and Ayurveda with her training and licensure as a registered nurse. She is the editor in chief of LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health magazine and serves on the board of directors of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine and the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. She is a featured voice on Intent.com and writes regularly on health and well-being for a number of books, newspapers, magazines and websites. In addition to Yoga and Ayurveda, Felicia has worked in cognitive neuropsychology and plant biochemistry research and has degrees in nursing and environmental biology.
As a former award winning network news war correspondent, Bhava Ram was on the front lines of some of the most momentous events of our times, including the Gulf War, Afghanistan, drug wars in South America, and Apartheid in Africa. A broken back and failed surgery ended his career. A subsequent diagnosis of terminal cancer sent him into an abyss of darkness and despair. On the brink of death, he embraced mind/body/spirit medicine and the deeper sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda, through which he ultimately healed against all odds. Through his Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts, he now devotes himself to teaching worldwide. Bhava Ram’s new memoir, Warrior Pose-How Yoga Literally Saved My Life, is scheduled to be a feature film in 2016.
Captain Brian Nanavaty
- 30 year police veteran
- Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Professional Performance Manager
- Director of Curriculum and Training- Safe Call Now (safecallnow.org)
- Instructor PATC Legal and Liability Risk Management/Leadership Institute (PATC.com)
- Adjunct Faculty- Indiana and Purdue University 1994-2003
- DOJ/BJA/NLEOMF 2015 Recipient: Destination Zero Valor Award for Officer Wellness
- FBI Speaker’s Bureau and FBI National Academy Enrichment Series, Quantico, VA
- FBI National Academy Associates Officer Safety and Wellness Committee
- Fraternal Order of Police Grand Lodge Wellness and Critical Incident Committee
Author and Creator:
- “Why Officers and Agencies Fail ” PATC Legal and Liability Institute (1-14)
- “Instructing in a Gen Y Classroom” Law and Order Magazine (3-14) o
- “Addressing Officer Crisis and Suicide” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (9-15)
- The Bulletproof Training Series© (Safe Call Now)
- The My Legacy Peer Support and Mentoring© Program for First Responders (SCN)