Who We Are

Founder and CEO | Board Member

Olivia is a life-long yoga practitioner and has been teaching yoga since 2003 having studied with many master teachers around the country as well as in Rishikesh, India. Her education for teaching segments of the population that are at-risk for Post Traumatic Stress and Vicarious Traumatization began by becoming certified in Trauma-Sensitive Yoga under Yoga Warriors International.

She started working with veterans who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress and active military specifically before bringing this work to first responders.

 

While living in Los Angeles, Olivia adapted her offering of yoga to veterans to fit the first responder population by working directly with the Los Angeles Fire Department and department psychologist, Dr. Robert Scott. From there she taught weekly yoga classes at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Training Center, as well as presenting training on yoga and the neurological system for LAFD’s Peer Support Team, and special workshops for high-ranking command staff of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). She continues to work with LAPD’s Behavioral Sciences Services by partnering for special training events including The Smart Detective for International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Chief Training Officer  |  YFFR Ambassador

Nikki is a loyal practitioner and teacher of yoga, with a special interest in trauma-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 Mead, 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. 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 daughter and husband, a devoted volunteer firefighter, who loves taking her classes held at the local community fire station.

Public Information Director

Ashleigh is proud to serve as Public Information Director for Yoga for First Responders. Her relationship with the organization dates back to 2015. Ashleigh's motivations for supporting the mission of Yoga for First Responders comes in part from her close relationship and great respect for her grandfather, who served in the US military during WWII, then back home as a volunteer firefighter in her hometown of Winterset, Iowa for over 30 years. Ashleigh assists YFFR with their marketing, communications, and social media efforts, a skill-set she has developed from her full-time work with companies ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500s. In her free time, Ashleigh enjoys frequenting dog-friendly patios with her fiancé and their two pups. 

Senior Curriculum Advisor | Board Member

Jeff Masters is an inspirational teacher and integrative somatic therapist specializing in assessment and treatment of somatic-based trauma, chronic pain and neuro-energetic dysfunction. With over 30 years of mentorship, training and clinical practice, Jeff’s writings, teachings and sessions bridge the gap between the Eastern and Western arts, sciences and integrated lifestyle.

 

In that time, Jeff 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. John’s Neuromuscular Therapy), Deane Juhan (therapist and author of Job’s Body), Rama Jyoti Vernon (founder of the International Yoga College & Yoga Journal), Vasant Lad (the Ayurvedic Institute) and Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD. (The Himalayan Institute & Yoga International).

Senior Curriculum Advisor

Eric Brenneman is proud to serve as an Advisor to Yoga For First Responders. Eric has been practicing yoga regularly for a little over a year attending studios throughout the country. Eric is currently a Sales Representative for Adashi Systems. Eric is a former Lieutenant with the West Des Moines Fire Department. Prior to the promotion, Eric spent many years in leadership positions with IAFF L-3586 and the Iowa Association of Professional Fire Fighters. Eric served in the fire service for 13 years. Eric has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa and a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of North Dakota. Eric enjoys traveling and hiking around the world.

Special Operations

Chris is YFFR's behavioral health specialist and consultant in residence. As a clinician, Chris is influenced by the field of interpersonal neurobiology and draws upon somatic/mindfulness-based approaches to assist others in discovering their resources for living flourishing lives of meaning and purpose. In his work with adolescents in the juvenile justice system, he developed and facilitates a mind training program targeted at cultivating awareness, self-regulation, resilience, and effective action. Chris studies leadership and influence and brings this to bear in his special operations focus for YFFR. He seeks both direct and unconventional methods for supporting and executing the YFFR mission, with an eye toward operational excellence. In this role, Chris also serves as Squads Commander to support all squad leaders in carrying out their objective to train, guide, and advise. Along with his yoga practice, "CJ" also trains and competes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Combat Submission Wrestling. He shares his Fortress of Solitude with his wife, Liz.

Instructional Design Director

The first time she attended one of Olivia's Yoga For First Responders community classes, Liz Johnson knew she had found a mission that was worth her volunteer time and fit for her unique strengths. As a professional learning and development consultant, Liz Johnson is at her best:

  • Designing checklists that set the stage for success

  • Welcoming new people to an organization, making sure they have what they need to meet basic needs, and to understand - and act on - expectations.

Liz originally took on the role of Head YFFR T-shirt Folder, a task she takes pride in doing well. Since then, she has made some really useful checklists for YFFR operations and helps the Operational team incorporate best practices in the delivery of training. She currently lives in an apartment on top of a hill in Des Moines, Iowa with her husband Chris.

Outreach and Communications Coordinator

Sara Mills has been a first responder for 18 years, spending time as both a dispatcher and a police officer.  Sara has been practicing yoga since 2004 and became interested in YFFR in 2017 after hearing the benefits to first responders. Sara attended teacher training in Des Moines in 2017 and began teaching YFFR in November 2017. Sara enjoyed teaching so much that she began working on her 200 hour yoga teacher certification in February 2018. Sara attended Ambassador Training in Chicago where she was also a squad leader and now answers info emails and assists with coordinating training events. Sara looks forward to assisting with YFFR and is proud to be an ambassador for the program.  

Tech Guru | Board Member

Josh serves on the board of directors and advises YFFR on all things digital.

Josh has worked for startups, consultant groups and most recently, Microsoft.

He has a passion for branding, user experience and app development. Josh was introduced to YFFR during a non-profit hack-a-thon and since has been involved one way or another including occasionally doing yoga hosted at breweries. He is also a graduate of Iowa State and husband to Brittany McCall.

Executive Assistant

Dr. Brittany McCall, DPT, is a women’s health physical therapist, lymphedema therapist, virtual assistant, and organization expert. Brittany manages the details of YFFR that allow the rest of the team to perform their parts with maximum efficiency. Born and raised in Iowa, Brittany has recently moved to the PNW. She helps run McCall Consulting, LLC and provides business assistance to various health and wellness businesses. Brittany is the proud mother of her Shichon, Hugo Bear, and loving wife to tech guru Josh McCall. Together they enjoy hiking, biking, and binge-watching TV shows.

Program Manager & Squad Leader

Samantha comes from a family of military service and has many other significant people in her life who work in public safety as first responders.  She possesses an intimate understanding of the perpetual hardships these men and women endure. This serves as her driving force and commitment behind her delivering YFFR Programming and Protocol to this community.  She is employed full time with a large medical staffing company for the healthcare industry. Samantha is also a 500-hr Registered Yoga Teacher and has been teaching yoga for 5 years. As an Ambassador for Yoga For First Responders, she is working diligently to implement the YFFR programming at a local, regional, and statewide level in Florida.

© 2019 Yoga For First Responders. Designed by: Stephanie Wharton

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