Our Board of Directors

Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.

Bill PlotkinBill Plotkin, Ph.D., is a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural evolution. As founder of western Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute in 1981, he has guided thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages, including a contemporary, Western adaptation of the pan-cultural vision quest. Previously, he has been a research psychologist (studying non-ordinary states of consciousness), professor of psychology, psychotherapist, rock musician, and whitewater river guide. In 1979, on a solo winter ascent of an Adirondack peak, Bill experienced a call to adventure, leading him to abandon academia in search of his true calling. Bill is the author of Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (an experiential guidebook), Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (a nature-based stage model of human development through the entire lifespan), and Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (an ecocentric map of the psyche — for healing, growing whole, and cultural transformation). He has a doctorate in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.


Julian Norris, Ph.D.

JulianOriginally hailing from the British Isles, Julian Norris is based in the Canadian Rockies where he currently serves as the Associate Director of Outward Bound Canada. A seasoned guide of adventurous journeys into both wilderness landscapes and the wild places that lie within, his journey has led him to work with at-risk youth and existentially-challenged adults, in numerous Aboriginal communities, with government, corporate and non-profit leaders and in various international development contexts.

More than two decades leading therapeutic, developmental and growth-oriented outdoor programs have left him with the usual assortment of scars, professional certificates and tall tales, as well as a profound curiosity about using nature-based approaches to support deep personal transformation and systemic change in service of more sustainable patterns of consciousness and culture.

Brian Stafford, MD, MPH

Brian Stafford is a guide to the wilderness of nature and soul. He was called out of academic medicine to serve as a guide to the depths and to serve as an agent of cultural awakening and transformation. He guides with humor, playfulness, compassion, discernment, and a deep remembering of the fullness of what each human life can, should, and was meant to be. A native of Colorado and the former holder of an endowed chair and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics, he is an avid outdoorsman, teacher, writer, mentor, partner, and parent. He guides individuals and groups in the Colorado River Basin as well Nosara, Costa Rica, to the place they most long and fear to go – the numinous depths of their soul. Brian currently makes his home in Ojai, California.


Betsy Fields

BetsyBioBetsy Fields has a background in anthropology, art, design, making, creating, business, cultural immersion, world travel, adventures, discovery. She has a keen eye and an obliterated heart. She is wide open.  Betsy looks forward and toward those (all life inclusive) that we will leave behind, while still here, mindfully so.