Sacred Fire Team

Leadership Guidance Group
(Board of Trustees)

David Wiley

David Wiley

Founder and Chair

Don David Wiley has dedicated his life to restoring people’s connection to ancient wisdom and bringing an awareness of the vital role this connection plays in our lives. An initiated tsaurririkame (elder Huichol shaman, or mara’akame) and caporal mayor (elder Nahua weather-working shaman, or granicero), Don David is the founder of both the Sacred Fire Community and Sacred Fire Foundation, both of which are dedicated to preserving ancient wisdom traditions and making ancient wisdom accessible to people in today’s world.

Susan Skinner

Susan Skinner

Treasurer

Mara’akame, weatherworker, business owner, mother, grandmother

I used to dream of a time when I could communicate with elements in nature as the native peoples and probably our ancestors used to do. Although, I doubted the possibility of it actually happening! Now being part of an organization that knows and accepts that we are all of part of a sacred living world and that communication with it is a necessary part of life—what “normal” should be—is profound. I’m grateful to say that my background as a healer and a business person can serve humanity in this way.

Karen Smith Fernandez

Karen Smith Fernandez

Director of Development

Karen is a consummate professional with a proven track record of planning, promoting and leading non-profit initiatives by incorporating mission-centric ideals into real tangible results year after year. She is a dynamic leader with nearly 30 years of experience in the not for profit sector who effectively focuses resources to create and maintain sustainable business models.  She has co-founded two non-profits and has served in most capacities of the nonprofit sector—volunteer, program director, executive director, communications director and chief development officer. 

Karen holds a Masters degree in Child-Clinical Psychology and is certified by Duke University in non-profit management. Currently Director of Philanthropy at Hill Learning Center in North Carolina, Karen brings her depth and breadth of experience, vision and  leadership skills to her work as a trustee of Sacred Fire.

Roger Menadue

Roger Menadue

Trustee

Roger Menadue serves as a Firekeeper for Sacred Fire Alice Springs, Australia, and has been self employed his whole life. He became mesmerized by the remote Australian desert landscape long ago. His love for Central Australian life has taken him into the local indigenous community, where he is seen as a trusted member and is able to participate in sacred cultural events. He is the leader for the Australian Walk Project, a profound month-long desert journey. Roger is passionate about community. You can often find Roger changing a tyre or towing stranded vehicles along remote outback roads.

Community Service Team

Lawrence Messerman

Lawrence Messerman

Executive Director

Larry weaves together long-standing passions for nature, communications, and community with his work for Sacred Fire. He grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio but had the opportunity to connect to nature on weekly horse-back rides with his grandfather in that city’s metro park system. Double-majoring in English literature and philosophy in undergraduate school, he submitted an honors thesis in the latter on the emotive (or what he would now call ‘heart’) capacity of language.

He served as a Congressional aide on Capitol Hill long enough to realize that politics was not his calling! He escaped to the wilds of the American west for a short time before joining the Peace Corps and serving in Sri Lanka. There he taught English to teacher trainees. He earned a master’s in international relations and then went on to study culturally diverse healthcare teams and to earn a PhD. in that field.

It was during graduate school that he and his wife Jessica first began sitting with others around the fire many years before there was a Sacred Fire Community. Both he and Jessica later were trained and initiated as Sacred Fire Firekeepers. He is also initiated as a mara’akame or healer and ritual leader in the Huichol tradition. Above all, Larry loves the opportunity to help bring more fire, heart and healing into the world.

Annie King

Annie King

Program Director, Firekeeping

Originally from Australia, Annie has been involved in healing and teaching stress management, movement and meditation for over 42 years, both in Australia and the US. She has worked for major hospitals in the US in wellness and cardiac rehabilitation programs, teaching stress management and facilitating support groups for healing. She currently has a healing practice in Florence, South Carolina.

Annie is an initiated granicera and tepahtiani student in the Nahua tradition, a Firekeeper for the Sacred Fire Community, and serves as Fire Chief for the Sacred Fire Firekeepers.  She loves her work with Sacred Fire—finding a community of people she deeply cares for and respects, teachings that have helped her find purpose and meaning in her life, and a group of dedicated Firekeepers that she feels honored to serve and support. She adores her husband of 46 years, her 2 sons, their partners, and grandchildren that bring much joy to her life.

Sherry Boatright

Sherry Boatright

Program Director, LifeWays

After receiving an undergraduate degree in History of Art at Emory University, Sherry worked in researching historical sites for the state of Georgia. Developing an interest in human growth and potential, she returned to school and got a Master’s in psychology and became a licensed psychotherapist. She practiced both in mental health agencies and private practice for 30 years, focusing on women’s issues and movement in psychotherapy groups. As part of this work she researched initiation for young women cross-culturally and developed an interest in life stage transitions.

Sherry is an initiated granicera and tepahtiani student in the Nahua tradition, a Firekeeper for the Sacred Fire Community and is on the Women’s Council for the Tsantawu weather mountain. She is Director of Lifeways for Sacred Fire and is passionate about working with her team to develop Life Cycle Living.

Mai Duong

Mai Duong

Program Director, Events

The world of professional dance and performing with Ballet Creole Dance Company initiated Mai into the performative aspects of her central talent: creative risk-taking. As the rhythms of life changed with the advent of motherhood, she discovered a synergy between the relational energy of dance and entrepreneurial projects that connected her to community in capacities as varied as operating a dance school and managing events for conferences and trade shows.

An illness then guided Mai on a spiritual path in 2000. Her journey started with studying Plant Spirit Medicine, where she discovered a deeply profound connection to plants and the natural world. Mai has now been practicing Plant Spirit Medicine since 2006. To further serve her community, Mai was initiated as a Sacred Fire Firekeeper in 2012. All of these experiences have trained and led Mai to becoming the Director of Events for Sacred Fire. She is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives by combining her work in health and healing and working with the spirit of Fire.

Bill Sutton

Bill Sutton

Program Director, Outreach

Throughout his life, Bill has held a deep respect for the world’s living spiritual traditions and a passion for helping people connect to the heart-centered values and healing they provide. Initially studying piano performance at Rhodes College, he shifted his focus and received a bachelors degree in Buddhist Studies and Eastern/Western Psychology at Naropa University. He has worked in various forms of communication and web technology for most of his life, founding one of the first web development companies in Montreal in 1995.

A student of the Vajrayana and Shambhala Buddhist traditions for over 35 years and of the Huichol tradition for over 10 years, he has a deep respect for how different traditions see and relate to our world and how their teachings can nourish us in our 21st century lives. His work in these traditions has instilled a vision for using media and other modern means to help people awaken to the deep, inalienable spiritual roots and connections that we share as a common birthright.

Firekeeping Team

International Firekeeper Council

Australia

Bruce Sherriff

Canada

Mai Duong

Mexico and South America

Erica Cohen

Europe and the United Kingdom

Anne Lynn

United States

Sharon Brown (West)
Jessica De la O (East)

Firekeeping Staff

Director

Annie King

New Firekeeper Training

Buffy Aakaash

New Firekeeper Support

Cindy Fogle

Men’s Fire Support

Gary Weidner

Events

Kate Barrier

Online Communications

Angela Ocone

Conference Call Support

Michael Savino

Website Support

Bruce Sherriff

Database Support

Tim Simon

Growth Research

Sharon Brown

LifeWays Team

Program Providers

Awakening to the Cycles of Life

Sherry Boatright
Larry Messerman
Prema Sheerin
Dan Sprinkles
David Wiley

The Deep Heart of Birth

Kathy German
Lisa Lichtig

Sacred Awakening: Young Men’s Initiation Council

David Wiley
Dan Sprinkles
Gary Weidner

Sacred Emergence: Young Women’s Initiation Council

Deanna Jenné
Jessica De La O
Lisa Lichtig

Ukalái: Annual gathering of women

Sherry Boatright

Ukilái: Annual Gathering of Men

David Wiley

Ritaka: Annual Gathering of Young Adults

Colin Lenhart

Exploring the Phenomenon of Prayer

Sherry Morgan

Navigating the Challenging Waves of Transition

Prema Sheerin

Meeting Death: A Conversation with Life

Prema Sheerin

LifeWays Staff

Director

Sherry Boatright

Assistant Director

Jen Collins

Events Team

Director

Mai Duong

Assistant Director

Mary Beth Robinson

Outreach Team

Director

Bill Sutton

Content Team

Erin Everett
Christine Staub
Linda Azar

Strategic Direction

Karen Fernandez
Lawrence Messerman
Bill Sutton

Web Publishing

Sally Casper
Britt Espinosa

Graphic Design

Malowany Creative
Leticia Gamboa
Sylvia Law
Bill Sutton

Social Media

Erin Everett
Abigail Murray-Nikkel

Event Support

Heidi Griswold
Linda Felch

Infrastructure Team

Director

Larry Messerman

Database

Linda Felch

Statistical Analysis

Chris Griffin

Organizational Liaison to David Wiley

Megan Montero

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