Candace Beardsley, MSSW, LICSW
Candace is a native Vermonter who earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychotherapy from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and a Master of Science and Social Work Degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. While in Madison, Candace received training at the Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) which set her on a course for clinical mental health practice in community-based settings.
Prior to founding Spruce Mountain Inn in 1982, Candace held appointments at three community mental health centers, where she worked in day treatment, crisis intervention, outpatient, and residential programs. In 1990, she won the Vermont State Young Careerist Award given by Business and Professional Women for her accomplishments in her field.
More recently, she served on the Mental Health/ Substance Abuse Advisory Panel of the Vermont Health Care Authority and is a longstanding member of the Executive Board of the American Residential Treatment Association (ARTA). A licensed clinical social worker in the State of Vermont, Candace has overall responsibility for clinical and business operations at the Inn.
Candace loves spending time at the ocean, going camping, and has a passion for antique restoration.
Aaron Aldridge, LCMHC
Aaron Aldridge is an exceptionally trained and skilled professional who began working with clients in residential and transition programs in 2005. Aaron comes to Spruce Mountain Inn after having been part of a team that opened and operated a multi-faceted treatment center located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Aaron’s years in residential treatment and transition settings have uniquely qualified him to assist families and young adults in crisis. Utilizing cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing, Aaron’s focus is to help young adults who struggle with issues such as severe mood disorders and substance abuse, and who deal with complex family dynamics.
Additionally, his multi-level educational portfolio – with undergraduate studies in Business and Human Services, and a Master’s degree in Counseling, along with his years of hands-on management and work in various clinical settings – make him a natural fit for the holistic approach used at Spruce Mountain Inn.
As a father of two young adults, Aaron empathizes with parents who want the best for their young adult children as they venture into the world to seek out successful lives of their own. His goal is to help each young resident who comes to Spruce Mountain emerge to a fulfilling and productive life. Aaron loves spending time with his wife and his two adult children. He also enjoys cooking, searching for the perfect cup of coffee, and riding his Harley on sunny days.
Bogie Foden, LICSW
Bogie joined Spruce Mountain Inn with several years of clinical experience, having worked predominantly with young adult clients and their families.
His career path began at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he earned a psychology degree. He went on to travel throughout Central and South America, learning Spanish and gaining an appreciation for local culture before returning to New England to accept a position with True North Wilderness Program in Vermont.
Passionate about this work, Bogie went on to earn master’s degrees in Social Work and Outdoor Education at the University of New Hampshire. Bogie’s educational portfolio includes national research focusing on wilderness therapy and graduate work at a substance abuse treatment center in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Bogie regularly presents at regional and national conferences. His presentations have focused on the importance of family inclusion in treatment, supporting young adults as they transition out of Wilderness, and supporting young adults in the individuation process through effective assessment and intervention. He approaches therapy from a relational, trauma-informed perspective and views residential treatment as a chance to re-center, connect, learn, and grow.
Bogie’s background and experience have provided him with the skills and insights needed in his role as Assistant Director at Spruce Mountain Inn.
Bogie and his wife, Kathleen (who teaches at a local school) enjoy the outdoors. Bogie loves being outside: running, biking, skiing, paddle boarding, golfing and camping are all favorite pursuits.
Smita Lahoti, MD
Dr. Lahoti was born and raised in India. In 2003, she earned her first medical degree in Obstetrics & Gynecology from Pune University. Dr. Lahoti followed this by earning a medical degree in Psychiatric Medicine in 2009 from Mumbai. Dr. Lahoti moved to the United States and began a residency in the department of psychiatry at the University of Vermont. She completed her residency and became licensed in Vermont in 2021.
In addition to joining the team at Spruce Mountain Inn, Dr. Lahoti works at a fellow treatment program for adults here in Vermont. She also volunteers her time as director of psychiatry at Connecting Cultures, a program for refugees who have survived torture and other traumas. In addition, she maintains a private practice.
Dr. Lahoti is married and has two children. When she isn’t enjoying time with her children at musical and theatrical events, she and her husband enjoy travel.
Karen O’Hara, LCMHC
Karen O’Hara, a dedicated psychotherapist whose journey began at Johns Hopkins' Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, where she not only earned her Master's Degree from Loyola University Maryland but also commenced her fulfilling career. With a wealth of experience, Karen devoted several years to Johns Hopkins' Partial Hospital program and their Outpatient Department, providing invaluable individual and family therapy services.
Returning to her roots in Vermont, Karen continued her impactful work as a clinician with youth at C.H.O.I.C.E. Academy before joining the Spruce Mountain team in 2011. She brings with her a diverse skill set, being well-versed in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and trauma interventions such as Cognitive-Processing Therapy (CPT).
Beyond her professional achievements, Karen's passion extends to supporting girls’ youth softball as a coach, and coordinator, for the local rec league. In addition to softball, she loves spending time with her husband and teenage daughter. Karen's dedication to her craft and her love for life make her the ideal clinical director for our team at Spruce Mountain.
Jim Hessler, LICSW
Jim came to Spruce with extensive experience working in mental health and developmental services. He earned his MSSW at the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2004, where he participated in a pilot program promoting independent living for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Jim brought the program to Vermont in 2006 and coordinated its implementation and development through the Howard Center in Burlington, VT, before coming to Spruce Mountain.
When not in the office, Jim can be found on the soccer field, getting slivers in his wood shop, or trying to keep up with his two young boys.
Ash Cummings, MS Candidate
Ash brings a wealth of experience to the Spruce Mountain Inn team. She has years of experience in developmental support, memory care, and youth clinical services. Ash has worked in both educational and therapeutic settings. Her clinical approach is rooted in trauma-informed care and emphasizes relational dynamics. Ash believes the connection between the mind and body is essential to healing. She incorporates trauma informed yoga and somatic techniques to help individuals connect the physical, emotional, and cognitive aspects of their experience in therapy.
Ash likes to spend her leisure time with her husband and their assortment of pets. Ash likes to do yoga and mindfulness exercises, take care of her indoor plants and her gardens, and go on walks in the woods with her dog, Barley.
Lindsay Haley, MS
Lindsay arrived at Spruce Mountain Inn with over a decade of experience working in therapeutic and educational settings. Across contexts, Lindsay has consistently provided emotional and pragmatic support to her clients. She was drawn to the helping fields by an innate tendency toward care and a tenacious loyalty to those she is supporting.
Lindsay attended Northern Vermont University where she graduated Cum Laude with her Master of Arts in Counseling degree with specializations and concentrations in counseling in clinical mental health, substance abuse, behavioral science, and college counseling. She is currently working towards licensure. Her clinical orientation is rooted in supporting the development of authenticity and independence. She views inner and interpersonal healing as central to these pursuits, and grounds her work in the here and now. She is not afraid to challenge her clients, and finds critical benefit in the development of life skills. Lindsay brings compassion, humor, and empowerment to her work. She values relationships, and building rapport with her clients is very important to her.
During her free time, Lindsay enjoys playing and adventuring with her two sons and her two rescue dogs Samson and Harrison. They enjoy kayaking, fishing, and hiking. She also enjoys boxing and other physical fitness activities.
Pauline Morgan BA, AS, RN
Earning her nursing degree at the University of Vermont, Pauline brings over 40 years of experience to Spruce Mountain Inn. Throughout the years, Pauline has worked in various fields of nursing, from intensive care, to family development and health. She enjoys the family-like atmosphere at Spruce and looks forward to working with each individual client.
When not working, she enjoys spending time with her two children and their families.
Tom Novak, MBA
Career & Education Development Coordinator
Tom holds a BA and MBA from Temple University, where his Master’s studies focused on Human Resource Administration, before completing Doctorate of Education coursework in Vocational Education. He brings more than 20 years post-graduate professional experience in career services and academic advising, most recently serving as the Director of Career Services for Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine.
In his free time, Tom enjoys reading memoirs and the daily newspaper and spending time with his wife and son. He credits golf with making him a happy human being.
Brad Beaudet, MA
Aleya Bernatchy, BS
Julie Hook, BA
Allison Miller, BA
Allie is a Residential Counselor and Expressive Arts Leader at Spruce. She holds bachelor degrees in both Art and Anthropology from Wheaton College of Massachusetts. Her experience includes educational advising as well as teaching arts in a variety of mediums and settings. Her work in the arts has also included a focus on social/emotional expression.
In her free time, Allie enjoys hiking, skiing, and painting.
Rain is a Residential Counselor and holds certifications in Recovery Coaching from Recovery Vermont and Animal Assisted Therapy from Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Specially trained in Motivational Interviewing, she has many years of experience working in the Housing First Model and Adult Men’s Reentry Program, as well as Specialized Supports for Adults with Co-Occurring Disorders.
In her spare time, Rain can be found making stained glass sculptures and studying Chromotherapy.
Noah Primus, BA
Noah is a Residential Counselor. As the Adventure Group leader, he takes the time to carefully plan his weekly group. Whether it be hiking, kayaking, or camping, Noah is no stranger to adventure-based activities. His previous professional experience includes 2+ years in Wilderness Therapy. He earned a Bachelor Degree in Psychology from SUNY Potsdam, and minored in Wilderness Education and Therapeutic Recreation. Noah holds certifications Wilderness Leadership and as a Wilderness First Responder. Noah’s philosophy of care centers around relationships and extending unconditional positive regard to clients and coworkers alike. He safeguards the physical and emotional well-being of those in his care; carefully guiding them through town or in the back country.
In his leisure time, Noah enjoys dancing, hiking, swimming, taking long walks, cooking, and spending time with his cat.
Drew Sy, BA
Drew works overnight at the Inn. He comes highly recommended by many of our local staff. After years of working in early childhood education, Drew is currently working on his Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Northern Vermont University-Johnson, and is planning to become a play therapist.
He runs a playgroup at the Plainfield Community Center and spends his free time with his family and his cats.
Kay Walsen, BA
Kay Walsen is a Residential Counselor who supports residents on their journey here at Spruce. On the weekends, Kay can be found at the Inn in the midst of a collaborative art project with residents, leading nature outings and tending the vegetable garden. They believe in the therapeutic healing of being in close relationship with nature and guide mindfulness walks into the bucolic woods that lay close by to the Inn. They hold a BA from Evergreen State College with a focus on Philosophy and their background involves outreach work with vulnerable teens and young adults as well as a decade spent tending the soil and growing food on local organic farms.
Sylvia Charron is our Administrative Assistant. Sylvia’s desk is front and center in the office here and, during the week, she will most likely be the cheerful voice you hear on the phone. She has many years of experience working as an administrator, most recently at the Mayo Nursing Home in Northfield doing all things administrative. Previously, she had a long tenure with the Washington Northeast Supervisory Union where she was Executive Assistant and HR Coordinator. She has also worked in healthcare providing executive support and coordination in the field of human resources.
Sylvia lives in Barre and enjoys Cross-Country skiing in the winter, power walking in the summer and spending time with family and friends.
Lise joined Spruce, coming from the Business Office of Goddard College where she was a Senior Staff Accountant and software liason. She holds an Associate Degree in Computer Programming and Accounting from Champlain College and a Bachelors in Math and Secondary Education from Johnson State College. Lise owned a dairy equipment company for many years, worked as a Field Director for the Girl Scouts and has also been a high school teacher. She enjoys doing programming and tweaking software.
In her spare time, Lise keeps busy volunteering, tutoring and training and camping with her husband where they can ride their ATV.
Katina "Tina" Franks
Tina comes to Spruce Mountain Inn with more than a decade of experience in accounts payable and human resources. Tina is proud to be part of the Spruce Mountain Inn team. Even if it’s from the business office, she enjoys being part of the healing community. She is a true Vermonter and is excited to be back in Plainfield, her childhood hometown. In her off-time, Tina enjoys spending time with her family and her puppy – Ozzy.
Karna joined Spruce Mountain in June of 2020 after running her own housekeeping business for five years in Vermont. Moving to Vermont by way of Flagstaff, AZ by way of Minneapolis, MN; Karna has found her home, love and family in the green mountain state.
She is a mother of four and spends her time caring for her family, growing things, cooking, making music, camping and adventuring in the Northeast Kingdom and beyond.
Brian Larrabee is a native Vermonter from a family of longtime residents of Plainfield. Brian has 21 years of experience in grounds and building maintenance. His impressively broad skill set includes plumbing, heating, electrical, and farm-work.
He started his active career with his uncle, who he helped demolish buildings as a young teen. He worked for bridges resort in the mad River Valley, for a property management and development firm ABG corporation, and was a lead maintenance specialist at Goddard college, where he worked for nine years.
Brian and his wife Deborah live in Plainfield and have two sons who attend the local school. Brian likes being in the outdoors camping, walking in nature and spending time near the river with his family. Brian also likes to collect and work on antique tractors. This is a hobby he shared with his stepfather.
Our in-house chef, Ryan, hails from rural Minnesota and came to Spruce after more than a decade as a chef in some of Vermont’s finest food scene hot spots including Salt in Montpelier and the famed Positive Pie. Ryan is passionate about creating simple, healthy, beautiful comfort food for our community, and enjoys sharing his love of cooking with the residents in our weekly Cooking Group.
In his non-Spruce life, Ryan can be found romping the local area with his wife, daughter and their dogs.
Thank you for supporting me in my journey and all the difficulties I have had. You all have taught me a lot, especially self-care maintenance and self-expression. You helped me learn to respect myself and feel that I am worthy.
It’s hard to believe that in less than 9 months our son went from a depressed, anxious and helpless person to a confident, social and relaxed one. The transformation from when he came to Spruce until now is truly remarkable. I don’t know how you did it.
There is no way we can possibly thank you enough for everything you did for my son while he was at Spruce Mountain. During what was the most traumatic period of our family’s life, we felt so fortunate that there was a place that could offer help for our son. Thank you all so much for helping our family get through a very dark time. We couldn’t have done it without all of you being there for us.
Why Residential Treatment
Residential treatment programs have the potential to be much more effective than treatment received in someone's typical living environment. Our program is designed to be immersive and community-based.