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.
Pamela Lurie, Director of Operations
Pamela is a yoga teacher based in Broomfield, CO. She believes in the power and resiliency of people and dedicates herself to helping them understand their bodies and access their potential. Prior to pursuing her Registered Yoga Teacher certification, she was a business and process consultant for various government agencies. After the birth of her children, she became a birth and postpartum doula, active in birth advocacy, created a women’s health workshop, and a birth trauma support group. It was through this work that she learned about how trauma gets trapped in our bodies and the importance of helping people process this trauma and stress. Through Yoga for First Responders she saw an opportunity to help others using tools for greater self-awareness and trauma release. As a Navy kid, she was raised in a world where service was paramount and she believes in the importance of supporting the first responder & military communities. As the Director of Operations, she hopes to grow the YogaShield empire, allowing for more people to be supported by our teachers, and bringing more education about trauma release to communities around the country. Go Navy!
Nikki Levine, Training Coordinator
RY 200, YFFR Ambassador
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.
Ilana Mountjoy, Events Coordinator
RYT 200, YFFR Ambassador
Ilana practiced martial arts and weight training years before she tried yoga. It wasn’t until she stumbled upon a small Iyengar studio in Denver, Colorado that she tried yoga for the first time. After the first yoga class, she quickly realized how beneficial yoga was for both physical and mental health. Several years later she decided to switch career paths from working in the medical industry to teaching yoga. Ilana received her 200hr from Power Life Yoga. This was when she met Olivia Kvitne, founder and director of Yoga For First Responders. She was drawn to the non-profit organization and that summer completed her level one and two training with Yoga For First Responders
Having worked in the medical industry and being a spouse to a medical resident, I understand the increased level of stress, compassion fatigue, burnout rate, and anxiety that comes with the job. We need to bring awareness in understanding that we all have the ability to self regulate ourselves and bring our body and mind back to homeostasis. I strongly believe in the Yoga For First Responders protocol and it’s benefits to teach first responders how to safely and effectively self regulate, build resiliency, and eradicate stress. My passion is to help people learn to be strong, calm and in control of both body and mind.
Ilana is currently teaching at Des Moines University, The Veterans Hospital, and the YMCA. She is working on bringing Yoga For First Responders into the hospital for healthcare providers. Ilana is the events coordinator for Yoga For First Responders and assists with other operational responsibilities for the non-profit.
Board of Directors
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.
Dr. Robert 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)
Major Darren Ivey was appointed to the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department in September 1992. He was promoted to Sergeant in October 2000, Captain in September 2012 and Major in April 2017. Prior to becoming a Police Officer, Major 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.
Major 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.
He also holds a Basic, Advanced, Youth, and Veteran CIT Certification as well as a Basic and Advanced Certification in Advanced Behavioral Studies. Additionally, he is the Co-Chair of the Mid-America CIT Council, Co-Chair of the Justice Committee of the Resilient KC Initiative; sits on the Police Committee for the Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP), and serves on the Board of Directors for CIT International.
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.
Josh Mantz is a professional speaker, author, and the founder of Darker Souls. A 2005 graduate of West Point, Mantz led a highly successful counterinsurgency campaign in Baghdad until a catastrophic sniper attack upended his Army career path in 2007. In the years since, Mantz has leveraged his combined expertise in relationship-building and recovery from trauma to create a paradigm shift in the approach to healing and nurturing of people from all walks of life who have suffered from emotional trauma. Mantz has been profiled in The New York Times, on CNN and FOX News, and gave a TED Talk at TEDxSantoDomingo 2015. His upcoming book titled “The Beauty of a Darker Soul” is expected to be published the summer of 2017. A native of Pennsylvania, Mantz now makes his home in San Jose, CA. More information can be found on his website at www.darkersouls.com.
Dr. Nan Herron
Nan Herron, MD is a psychiatrist and a yoga and meditation teacher, who for the past 25 years has specialized in working with folks struggling with symptoms of PTSD. She lives in Northern California (with her first responder partner) where she works on locked wards in psychiatric hospitals and volunteers with the first responder support network where she teaches yoga, discusses psychopharmacological interventions and offers EMDR. She intertwines traditional Western interventions with alternative eastern techniques to address the complexities of mental health. She is quite grateful for her own yoga practice to help balance her life and manage the challenges that come her way.
Captain Brian Nanavaty
Captain Brian Nanavaty (ret.) currently serves as the National Director for First Responder Outreach for Dynamic Life Recovery Centers in Ft. Pierce and Vero Beach, FL. A 33 year law enforcement veteran with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department (IMPD), Nanavaty recently retired as the Professional Performance Manager for the IMPD Office of Police Officer Development and Wellness (OPDW) where his innovative officer and agency wellness and development programs created a culture of health at IMPD and resulted in a reduction of officer failures and disciplinary referrals by 40%. During his career Nanavaty has also instructed thousands of officers, agency executives, union officials, insurance providers and clinicians in the areas of personal and career survival for the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI, Safe Call Now, the Dolan Consulting Group and at IACP, ILEETA, IADLEST, NOBLE, FOP conferences.
Nanavaty has been featured on Police One.com and in Law and Order magazine and in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin and was previously Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice at Indiana and Purdue Universities. In 2015, Nanavaty and IMPD received the Destination Zero Valor Award from the DOJ and the National Memorial for officer and agency wellness, and in 2016, in addition to appearing in front of the US Congress on the issue of police officer wellness, Nanavaty was a finalist for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Officer of the Year. In 2016, the White House sent US Attorney General Loretta Lynch to Indianapolis as part of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing where Lynch stated “Captain Nanavaty’s officer and agency wellness program in Indianapolis should be the model for law enforcement across the US.”
At Dynamic Life Recovery Centers Captain Nanavaty will be responsible for educating and connecting police, fire and EMS, and their peers and loved ones with addiction and mental health treatment and long-term recovery programs.
Captain Nanavaty attended Franklin College (IN), Drew University (NJ), and the University of Virginia. He is a graduate of the 255th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico VA.
Contact Captain Nanavaty at BN@DYNAMICLIFERECOVERY.ORG or at (317) 339-5118
Dynamic Life Recovery Centers
1905 S. 25th Street
Fort Pierce, FL 34947