The professional staff have years of experience in teaching, training, consulting and provision of clinical services to youth and families.
Our biggest accomplishment is by far our commitment in creating a caring compassionate work environment that strives to serve families with the utmost respect and regard while maintaining our own wholeheartedness.
Apryl Miller, LCSW
Additionally, she served on faculty for nearly a decade at the College of Santa Fe and has taught as adjunct for various graduate departments in New Mexico. She also has a small private practice and strives to maintain a wholehearted approach in her personal life as well as in her leadership role and clinical practice.
Grants and Contracts Director
Cynthia has spent a career lifetime in New Mexico nonprofit leadership. She is passionate about her deep roots and connection to The Sky Center/NM Suicide Intervention Project (19 years and counting) having served proudly as its Executive Director for over twelve years. In 2012, she relocated to the Dallas area to assist aging parents and continued pursuing funding and contract opportunities that uphold the organization’s vision. Cynthia received her B.A. Degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She was selected in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to serve as a Federal Peer Reviewer of their community-based programs for at-risk youth; In 2004 she served on Governor Bill Richardson’s Task Force for Youth Suicide Prevention in New Mexico, working with constituents across the state to establish funding for youth suicide prevention. Cynthia enjoys horseback riding and is a volunteer for a nearby therapeutic horsemanship nonprofit.
Carlotta Saiz, LPCC
Carlotta was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM and is a graduate of Capital High School. She received her Master’s in Counseling from Southwestern College in 2006 and went on to begin her counseling career in community mental health on the west side of Chicago. Her work in Chicago included crisis intervention and stabilization with at-risk youth and their families, and teaching Mental Health First Aid. Carlotta returned to Santa Fe in 2013 where she continued working in community mental health as a therapist and Clinical Supervisor; her work is steeped in family systems and trauma-informed care.
In addition to her role as a Program Director at the Sky Center, Carlotta is in Private Practice where she works with families, couples and individuals. In her spare time, she enjoys Muay Thai boxing, exploring the green thumb she never knew she had in her garden at home, and spending time with friends, family, her dog, Cashew hiking and traveling.
Robert Kristy (Bob), MA, LCSW
Adolescent HUGS Coordinator
Bob began his career at The Sky Center as a therapist-intern in 2011. Upon ending his two-year internship, Bob was hired in 2013 as Coordinator of the Adolescent HUGS program, a joint venture between The Sky Center and Christus St. Vincent Hospital that offers wraparound, therapeutic, and non-traditional services to at-risk individuals under the age of 22. In 2015, Bob and Katrina Koehler, Executive Director of Gerard’s House, started Semicolon, a peer teen support group for those met with the challenge of transforming suicidal ideation.
Bob received his BA in political science at UCLA and a MA in political theory at the University of Maryland. Applying his knowledge of social psychology that links individual and social liberation, Bob received his masters in social work (MSW) at New Mexico Highlands University. When not serving the needs of young people and their families, Bob devotes time and energy to baseball, rock n roll, and community activism.
Marisol Peña, BSW
Before Marisol began her journey with The Sky Center, she was born and raised in the heart of the valley in Española, NM and graduated from Española Valley High School. She furthered her education at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM. Upon graduating with a Bachelors in Social Work, she began as Spanish interpreter for The Sky Center’s free family counseling. She quickly moved into her essential role as Office Manager and supervises a team of interpreters while overseeing and coordinating The Sky Center/NMSIP’s day-to-day office procedures and systems and serves as the principal source of information to student trainees and staff on policies, procedures, programs, and office activities.
She is pursuing her Master’s in Clinical Social Work to soon provide mental/behavioral health counseling for families and fill in the gap of Bilingual therapists in New Mexico while using her experience at The Sky Center to reduce the risk of youth suicide in the community. When she is not at Sky or in her graduate school course work, she spends most of her time with her partner and their two border collies Po and Ghost, reading books, playing with her niece and nephew and having laughs with her sisters and mother.
Natural Helpers Coordinator
Tahoma became a member of the Sky Center team in early 2021, transitioning in as the new Natural Helpers Coordinator. Previously, Tahoma was working as a wilderness therapy field guide with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy in Colorado and Utah. He is committed to supporting others through the helping professions and is planning to pursue his Master’s degree in Counseling; he will begin his graduate studies in the fall. In his High School years, Tahoma was a part of the Natural Helpers program himself leading him to having a personal connection with and appreciation for this program. Tahoma has a passion for helping others recognize the value they have in this world and how they can share what they have to offer with those around them. In his free time, Tahoma enjoys dance and movement, making art, gardening, and spending time in nature.
Rita Caputo Hemmig, M.Ed, NCC, NCSC
Postvention Team Coordinator
Rita first began working with the Sky Center as a member of the Postvention Team in 2016. She stepped into the role of Postvention Team Coordinator in 2019 and considers her work on the PV team as the most meaningful and important service she can provide to her community. Rita earned a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Towson University in 1984 and her Masters in Education in School Counseling from Virginia Tech in 1989. She has been a school counselor for 31 years, with the last 5 years in Santa Fe Public Schools. In 2017, Rita worked extensively to train her dog Aspen to become a certified therapy dog and has enjoyed watching the difference Aspen has made in her school. In her free time, Rita loves to travel, hike and bike in the wonders of nature New Mexico has to offer.
Annai Burrola, LMSW, IMH-E®
Clinical Supervisor Trainee/ Development and Educator Assistant
Annai Burrola was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico by her parents who are both from Chihuahua, Mexico. Annai is fully bilingual in Spanish and English and has worked with the Santa Fe community in a variety of settings for over ten years. Annai graduated from the Facundo Valdez School of Social Work at New Mexico Highlands University in May of 2020 with a Master’s in Clinical Social Work. She is the Bridges to Opportunity Coach and Coordinator with Growing Up NM and was previously a First Born Home Visitor with Growing Up NM.
In the spring of 2020 Annai finished her practicum as a bilingual intern therapist with the Sky Center and was then hired as the Development Coordinator. In the Fall of 2021, Annai began to train as a Clinical Supervisor with the Sky Center to help fill the gap for bilingual therapists and supervisors that exists in New Mexico. Outside of work commitments Annai loves playing soccer, and spending time with her dogs and her family.
Erin Sibley Doerwald, LCSW, CMT-P
Director of Special Projects
Erin began her career at The Sky Center as an intern therapist in 2013 and loved it so much she did her best to stay on as a staff member. After seven subsequent years in a leadership position at Sky, she transitioned from Program Director to Director of Special Projects in 2021. In this role, Erin supports the mission and values of the agency in a variety of ways. She continues to develop concepts, programs, and associated practices to enhance resiliency through The Sky Center’s Toolkit for Wellbeing programming. She also leads the mindfulness training program (Cultivating Connections) for Intern Therapists in the Graduate Training Program. Outside of The Sky Center, Erin teaches mindfulness and offers psychotherapy while juggling “the full catastrophe” of life as a mom to two kids, two dogs, and two cats
Official Sky Center Facility Dog and Good Boy
Otis is a certified Crisis Response and Facility Dog who received his training via the Owner-Trainer program with Jill Felice (and his mom Erin Doerwald) at Assistance Dogs of the West . Otis spends his time at the center loving on interns to help them mitigate the effects of vicarious trauma. He also cuddles with families upon request in family counseling sessions when his mom Erin offers live supervision behind the two-way mirror. He is a member of The New Mexico Postvention Crisis Services team, showing up for support in the aftermath of the incomprehensible loss of a youth suicide or other traumatic event in a school community. When Otis is not working, he loves chasing the tennis ball, hiking in the New Mexico wilderness, and enjoying the present moment, just like his mom.
The Sky Center Clinical Supervisors
Dennis Bumgarner, LCSW, ACSW
Dennis has been a clinical supervisor at The Sky Center since 2014. Additionally, he is the Clinical Director at Susan’s Legacy, a nonprofit in Albuquerque. He also maintains a private practice in Placitas, New Mexico. He received his M.S.W. from Indiana University in 1977. In addition to his clinical work, he has taught social work and psychotherapy at Ball State University and Christian Theological Seminary. He is the past president of Habitat for Humanity and Freewheelin’ Community Bikes in Indianapolis. His spare time is spent cycling, mountain biking, and hiking throughout the southwest along with song-writing and playing the guitar.
Claire Pfister, LCSW
Claire joined the Sky team in 2017 as a clinical supervisor in our family counseling and graduate training program.. She obtained an MSW from the University of Denver in 1991 concentrating in family therapy, child protection, and drug dependency. She then moved to Australia for thirty years. She furthered her family therapy studies there, completing an intensive two year Milan family therapy course through Relationships Australia and then obtaining a two year Graduate diploma in couple and family therapy through the university of New South Wales. For the past twenty-five years she has worked with families and individuals in a variety of settings both urban and rural and with both voluntary and involuntary clients. In her spare time she has been concentrating on her new project of food production at her farm on the outskirts of Santa Fe while also studying Jungian therapy and Kabbalah.
Graduate Interns 2021-2022
We would like to welcome our 2021-2022 Sky Center Graduate Interns
The Sky Center is staffed by experienced supervisors who provide intensive training to graduate interns of social work and counseling as well as advanced training for practicing clinicians, physicians, and school counselors. This training program, unique in New Mexico, utilizes a team approach with one-way mirror direct observation and live supervision.
2021-2022 Graduate Intern Therapist from left to right top to bottom
Theo – Mitchell – Rachel – Mary – Matthew – Marisol – Shawn – Juliet – Alejandra – Phoebe – Kiana
Interpreters’ roles at the Sky Center are essential to our free family counseling services.
They interpret for our families to make them feel comfortable expressing themselves in their native language without barriers . Our interpreters want to build bridges and are very passionate working with the Latino community, graduate students and staff.