- Leadership Team
- Academic Team
- Clinical Team
- Residential Team
- Medical Team
- Operations Team
Brandon Moffitt has over 15 years of experience as a therapist with adolescents and their families in residential settings and wilderness therapy. During his tenure in wilderness, he developed and ran a very successful program providing treatment for boys with high functioning autism, learning deficits, and social difficulty.
Prior to becoming a therapist, Brandon spent time as a math and science teacher in the public schools and a guide on adventure trips for adolescents. He loves being a dad, backpacking, fly fishing, woodworking, and cooking. He is excited to bring engaging college preparatory education and intentional and integrated therapy to clients and their families.
Aspiro is excited to partner with Brandon to expand the exceptional care we provide to clients with Level 1 Autism in our Vantage Point and Daniels Academy programs.
Carla grew up in South Carolina, spending much of her childhood playing outside. Carla received her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from Johns Hopkins University where she trained extensively alongside many of the leaders in the field researching pediatric brain development and social development.
Prior to joining the team at Black Mountain Academy, Carla worked as a therapist in a wide variety of clinical settings over the past decade, including inpatient psychiatric hospitals, private practice, and therapeutic boarding school. For the past 5 years, Carla has worked as a wilderness therapist specializing in boys with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and other neurodevelopmental concerns.
Outside of work, Carla can usually be found trying a new cupcake recipe, diving into a good book, or exploring the North Carolina backcountry with her Boykin Spaniel, Margot. Carla also loves sports and cheering on the Clemson Tigers and Baltimore Orioles.
Michelle is very excited to join Black Mountain Academy as Operations and Administration Director. Michelle began working in Behavioral Health programs seven years ago as a Wilderness Field Guide where she witnessed the power of every individual to grow and change. She has spent the past five years working in the areas of human resources, finance, and operations. She has successfully helped facilitate the acquisition of two, three-year CARF accreditations.
Michelle holds a MFA in Theatre from Louisiana State University. She also holds a certificate as a Senior Professional in Human Resources from the HR Certification Institute.
In her spare time, Michelle can be found enjoying the beautiful mountains with her amazing husband and son.
Jim brings over 15 years of experience providing clinical care to adolescents and their families in multiple settings including private practice, community-based interventions, therapeutic wilderness programs, and as a primary therapist at two boarding schools. Jim’s professional passion is to help clients develop a sense of resiliency, self-efficacy, and resourcefulness at school, home, and in the community. Jim brings experience, warmth, and commitment to our students as he joins the clinical team at Black Mountain Academy. He has extensive experience working with families and individual with autism. As a parent of a child with autism, Jim has a special interest in assisting individuals and families in navigating the challenges autism presents as well as capitalizing on the strengths our students inherently possess. In his free time, Jim enjoys time with his family, fly fishing, camping, and travel.
Aaron has been working with adolescents and families for more than 15 years and specializes in helping teens with Autism. Aaron has worked in a variety of settings including private residential schools, public schools, community-based programs, and intensive family therapy.
During his time in graduate school, Aaron received one of the Nation’s top scores on his board exams. Aaron has also published an article in a national journal and gives frequent presentations to families, therapists, and teachers about video game addictions.
In all that he does, Aaron employs an approach that integrates his strong belief in the importance of trust and community in supporting those on the Autism spectrum. When Aaron is not working with clients, he enjoys hiking the mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife and two children.
Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois, but is now happy to call Asheville home. He received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wittenberg University, located in Springfield, Ohio. Ryan later earned his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. While at the University of Pennsylvania, Ryan received specialized training in both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Additionally, Ryan holds a certificate in Organizational Leadership in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice and the Wharton School of Business.
Prior to becoming a therapist, Ryan worked as a field instructor at a local wilderness therapy program for five years under the close guidance of Black Mountain Academy founder, Brandon Moffitt. Brandon states that, “Ryan brings a calm demeanor with him to his work, and it helps people feel comfortable around him– this is particularly helpful with our students at Black Mountain Academy who struggle to emotionally regulate. One of Ryan’s biggest skillsets is taking complicated tasks and situations and explaining them in ways that are simplified and less stressful. I have seen Ryan’s ability to problem solve and think creatively. More specifically for our students who struggle with social pragmatics, Ryan has a very effective way of explaining social skills and giving constructive feedback in honest and non-threatening ways.”
When not working with students, Ryan enjoys spending time hiking, camping, and backpacking. He has hiked to the top of Mt. Kosciuszko, which is the highest point in Australia. With a great appreciation for nature, Ryan has also visited over 20 National Parks and hopes to continue adding to that number in the years to come.
Taylor Maxson was born in the greater Boston, MA area. Moving with his family in 5th grade, Taylor spent a majority of his childhood and high school years in central Kentucky. He attended The College of Wooster (Wooster, OH) where he earned a B.A. in Philosophy. Taylor later completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Goucher College in Towson, MD. In 2009, Taylor earned his teaching certification for grades 6th-12th. Most recently, Taylor completed an M.S. in Counseling at Western Carolina University.
Taylor comes to Black Mountain Academy having most recently worked for a local, North Carolina based wilderness program. With him, he brings a great deal of experience in the teaching and modeling of Executive Function skills. Having previously worked as a classroom teacher, Taylor is well-versed at helping students navigate the complexity of their emotional lives in an academic setting.
When asked, why he was excited to join the team at Black Mountain Academy, Taylor stated “To me, the thoughtful integration of academics, social skills, and building confidence through independence really appeals to me. Each department works collaboratively with one another to ensure that the student’s needs are met holistically. It’s apparent the student’s wellbeing as a whole person is important here.”
In his free time, Taylor enjoys writing, playing, and performing his own songs and even plays locally in a rock band. Additionally, Taylor enjoys staying physically active through running, mountain biking, and farming a 2-acre property with his wife in West Asheville.
Pam has been working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings for close to 20 years. Her background as a mental health clinician has been in working with adolescents in a wilderness setting, children and adolescents in an acute hospitalization setting, children in an outpatient setting, and with adults with sexual trauma. She has specialized in working with adolescent clients diagnosed with level 1 autism spectrum disorder and with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Her experience has also allowed her to work with clients who struggle with anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem/low self-worth, difficulties related to a past history of trauma, difficulty with emotional regulation and daily functioning skills, including struggles with impulsivity and organization.
Pam received her Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2014 from Western Carolina University. Her career until that point was in outdoor education and outdoor program management, where she served in a variety of roles at summer camps and wilderness therapy programs in the Western North Carolina area. She has been working with children and adolescents in the outdoor industry since 1998.
Pam’s goal in providing therapy is to assist children and adolescents in recognizing their strengths and to help them identify the areas in which they are struggling in their daily lives. Her purpose is to help families and children identify their specific needs and create realistic goals to accomplish change.
Maryanne Miller hails from Brooklyn, New York (and yes…she is a Yankee’s fan!). With her she brings over 22 years of experience as an educator to her role at Black Mountain Academy. Maryanne attended the New School for Social Research in New York City and San Diego State University, where she earned a B.A. in philosophy and Religious Studies. Maryanne later earned her teaching degree from Chapman University. With a strong belief that all students are capable of learning and succeeding when provided with the right support and a team of individuals who care, Maryanne has immersed herself in the world of dyslexia. While living in the United Kingdom, Maryanne earned a certificate in dyslexia education from the Dyslexia Institute in London. When asked what she enjoys most about teaching at BMA, she states, “I enjoy the small classroom sizes! It allows me to get to know the student as a learner and as a whole person.”
Maryanne is a phenomenal cook and addition to teaching English Language Arts and Social Studies, Maryanne is also the advisor for the Baking Club at Black Mountain Academy. Outside of the classroom (and the kitchen), Maryanne enjoys reading, photography, and traveling with her husband and their rescue dog, Danea.
Mark, a native of Asheville, and descended from a long line of teachers, holds degrees in Horticulture, Biology, and is a Certified Educator in all the sciences. Prior to becoming a teacher, Mark founded a llama wilderness trekking company and, for several years, led groups of campers through the Appalachian mountains, sharing the history and botany of our region. After 15 years of teaching in public high school, Mark sought a different kind of teaching community where he would be able to share the art of science and math in a more holistic, experiential fashion.
He is delighted to have found such a supportive and progressive environment and is constantly reminded of the joy of education by his students here at Black Mountain Academy. An accomplished musician, Mark also occasionally works with the Moog Foundation teaching Dr. Bob Sound School curriculum to public school elementary teachers, focusing on how to use music to teach the physics of sounds.
When not sharing his love of the natural and musical world with his students, Mark can be found with his wife, two children, and dog. Together they enjoy practicing gratitude, making music, gardening, and finding the humor in life.
Meg is an occupational therapist whose work focuses on kids of all ages with autism. Meg received her master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill and has previously worked in early intervention, school-based practice, and as a clinical faculty member for UNC Chapel Hill’s TEACCH Autism program. Meg currently works in private practice with families of kids with autism and training and consulting with other occupational therapists. She is excited to be joining the Black Mountain team. Meg enjoys teaching real daily life skills to kids with autism so they can participate more fully in their lives. Her approach is to shape the environment and the learning activities to be meaningful for how an individual with autism thinks and learns. In her free time, Meg enjoys hiking, camping, and playing outside with her family.
Cortney discovered her love of language and communication while living in Thailand where she worked as a sociolinguistic researcher for 5 years. Following her stint abroad, Cortney returned to the U.S. and earned a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Western Carolina University. Cortney is licensed by the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.
Here at Black Mountain Academy, Cortney works with students to improve their communication skills in several key areas, including improving speech fluency and social pragmatics. When asked why students at Black Mountain Academy benefit from speech therapy, Courtney states, “Communication is all about understanding what others mean and expressing your own ideas. If you have misunderstandings, don’t always get why others do/say things, or have trouble getting your message across, then speech therapy can help! Just like learning how to play a new video game, you may need instruction and practice to get better and master your skills. Depending on students’ needs, we set measurable and attainable goals, and work week by week to achieve those goals. We celebrate successes and find new ways to apply our learning to real life.”
When not working with students at Black Mountain Academy, Cortney enjoys hiking in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with her dog Jiggy and spending time with family.
Dr. Narron believes that mental health is the key to true health. Though he began his medical training in general surgery, he ultimately decided upon psychiatry. Dr. Narron is trained in adult and child psychiatry. He finds that treating children and adults allows for a deeper developmental perspective about how symptoms present over a lifetime.
In his 20 year career in Asheville, Dr. Narron has been involved in systems of care in his community. He has served as medical director of a start-up adolescent hospital program, as a board member of a start-up private school, and as a psychiatric consultant to non-profit organizations. He is currently serving as the psychiatric consultant to several private boarding schools, therapeutic boarding schools, therapeutic residential communities and a wilderness therapy program for adolescents. He uses a systems approach whether providing individual care or organizational consultation.
About Dr. Narron:
-Medical degree, East Carolina University School of Medicine, (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society).
-Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
-General Surgery, Penn State University Hospital, (3 years)
-General Psychiatry, University of Virginia Health System (2 years)
-Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship, University of North Carolina Health Care (2 years)
-Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Lucia was born in Mexico City, Mexico and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She earned her BA in Spanish from DePaul University. Prior to joining the team at Black Mountain Academy, Lucia worked as a lead preschool teacher for a local integration program which assists children on the autism spectrum with successful transitions into kindergarten.
Lucia is a naturally detail oriented person. Her combination of organizational skills and natural ability to make people feel at ease make her a perfect fit for her role of family coordinator here at BMA where she assist our new families at enrollment. Additionally, Lucia is in charge of coordinating our outcome research study as well.
When not making labels and color coding, Lucia can often be found challenging herself in a hot yoga class, hiking with friends and family, or cuddled up with her yellow lab, Nube.
Bailey is excited to be a part of the Black Mountain Academy, bringing with her more than three years of experience working with adolescents in a wilderness therapy environment. As a wilderness guide, she worked primarily with adolescent males on the autism spectrum, and those struggling with social difficulties and learning differences. Her focus is on providing students with support, structure, and the skills-based mentorship while helping to create a socially nurturing environment aimed at confidence and success.
Bailey holds a BA in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
In her free time, Bailey enjoys exploring the outdoors, traveling, reading, and cooking.
Brennan is a North Carolina native who left his home state for the first time to serve for 15 years in the United States Air Force. Along the way, he held many different duty positions all over the world and developed a love for other cultures. This led Brennan to study anthropology at UNCC where he specialized in the anthropology of race and archaeology. After a few odd twist and turns, he found himself operating as a wilderness field guide, where he first discovered his love for working with children on the spectrum. It’s this passion which has brought him to Black Mountain Academy.
Brennan may or may not also be a superhero. Rumors persist but nothing has been confirmed
Born in England and claiming French and US citizenship, Matthew brings an eclectic set of skills and experience to the Black Mountain Academy team. Following graduation from UNC-Asheville with a B.A. in History, Matthew has worked as a camp counselor, after-school instructor, and as the assistant manager at a pepper farm. When not on the job, Matthew leads a double life as a professional downhill skateboarder competing on an international racing circuit. As a residential coach, Matthew brings a calming presence to his work. If you can’t find him on the hill or at the skatepark your next best bet is at one of Western North Carolina’s gorgeous waterfalls or swimming holes.
Chris, a native of Orlando, Florida, has spent many years calling the mountains of Western North Carolina home. Chris attended Asheville Buncombe Technical College and has gained many years of hands on experience working with students on the autism spectrum during his years as a field instructor for a local therapeutic wilderness program.
When asked what he enjoys about his role as lead residential coach at Black Mountain Academy, Chris states, “I believe that our students on the autism spectrum or who struggle with other related neurodevelopmental issues have talents and abilities that other people in the world will never have, and those gifts are often overlooked. I do this work because I believe I can help our students discover these abilities and build confidence in themselves.”
Chris is well knowing for his fun-loving demeanor and ability to get students invested in a game or activity they might feel shy about trying. Outside of work, Chris can often be found buying and restoring wood furniture, hiking with friends, or enjoying a good book.
Lucas hails from Ligonier, Pennsylvania. He attended Appalachian State University where he graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice. Prior to joining the team at Black Mountain Academy, Lucas was a master level field instructor at a local therapeutic wilderness program. During his time in the field, Lucas honed his ability to to hold space for students as they learned to process and communicate their feelings while also holding appropriate boundaries.
At Black Mountain Academy, Lucas is well known for his ability to form relationships with our students. When asked how he relates so easily to them, he states, “As a student, I struggled in school for many years. I didn’t have much of a social life and I struggled to connect to my peers. Like many of our students, I needed some extra support in order to find my way too. By the end of high school – especially by the end of college- I have achieved honors in my schooling but most importantly had led an active social life that had me switching from running campus clubs to being a wilderness instructor in the middle of the woods. The reason for this success is the fact that I was being pushed past my comfort zone day after day. I want to do the same for our BMA students.”
When not acting as the resident DnD Dungeon Master on campus or supervising the grilling club, Lucas enjoys spending time with his fiancé, trail running throughout the beautiful Western North Carolina backcountry, and reading a good book.
While born and raised among the beaches of Charleston, South Carolina, Rob has come to call the mountains home. Rob attended the College of Charleston and graduated with a B.A. in Theater. Following graduation, Rob pursed his passion for living a healthy lifestyle and became a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS) through the the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Through the American College of Sports Medicine, Rob became a Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT) which has prepared Rob well to work with students with neurodevelopmental issues, such as autism.
Prior to joining the Black Mountain Academy team, Rob was in charge of the fitness programing for over 600 residents at a large facility for people with mild to profound developmental disabilities located in Chicago, Illinois. Rob states that what he most enjoys about his role as the health and wellness coach at Black Mountain Academy is the ability to encourage, motivate, and push our students past what they think they can do. “Many of our students do not conceptualize themselves as athletes or as having any type of innate physical ability. Many of them think that they can’t excel in the weight room and I get the opportunity to help them change their mind about that.”
When not pumping iron with our students, Rob also serves as the advisor to the Improv Club at Black Mountain Academy which allows him to put his background and education in theater to good use. Outside of work, Rob enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife.
A lifelong passion for working with at-risk children, adolescents and families began in 1979 when Dayna graduated with a BA from Valparaiso University. She returned to school to earn her MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1984. Dayna was fortunate to be in Chicago at the heart of the family systems movement, enabling her to work and be trained by many of the masters in the field.
Since entering the field over 35 years ago, Dayna has always maintained a clinical and programmatic relationship to at-risk youth and their families in an array of jobs and settings. Her positions have included individual and group residential care, individual, group and family therapist, clinical and administrative supervisor, trainer, and developer of clinical departments of therapists and interns.
Following her dreams to live in the mountains, she moved to Asheville, NC where she continued working with at-risk populations as a Clinical Director and Administrator for residential group homes and foster care. During this time she designed the program and opened a Runaway Shelter for Runaway and Homeless Youth.
After 15 years working for agencies, Dayna decided she could best use her skills as a clinician by going into full-time private practice, specializing in the at-risk population in out-of-home placements. This quickly led to contracts providing clinical supervision to various residential, foster care, and community mental health agencies in Western NC, providing individual and family therapy in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, psychiatric assessments in a local hospital ER,family therapy in a partial psychiatric hospital program, and more recently clinical supervision for wilderness therapy programs. Working with TEACCH in the late 1990’s, she added the specialty of Autism Spectrum Disorders to her practice.
Expanding on her vast experience of training professionals, in 1997 Dayna began teaching for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work as a Clinical Instructor in the Mountain Area Distance Education MSW Program. Currently, she is teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne University, Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville in the Counseling Program and East Tennessee State University in the MSW Program in Asheville. She develops and provides training nationwide on a variety of clinical topics such as clinical supervision, ethics, autism spectrum disorders, therapy with adolescents, play therapy, and expressive arts. Recently she authored a book with her husband, The Parental Tool Box.
Dayna’s passion in her work draws from her love of life. This expresses itself in her organic gardening, hiking, bookmaking, and mixed media quilting.