Professional Clinical Leadership
John Derry, B.Sc.Phm., M.A., is Founding Director of Serenity Vista. He has an impressive track record of success and is known for his outstanding interpersonal, communication and leadership skills. He offers a unique depth of expertise based upon his complementary proficiencies in pharmacy, addiction, and management leadership. His credentials and professional experience distinguish him as an expert in his field.
John is a licensed Canadian pharmacist and holds a Master of Arts degree in Addiction Counseling from the Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies. The Hazelden Foundation is the world leader in the treatment of chemical dependency and the training of addiction professionals.
John has helped countless people of all walks of life through his many years of clinical practice. Guests express gratitude for the compassionate, focused, and highly effective skill that John is gifted with. He helps individuals and families heal, find meaning and purpose, and change their lives. John’s career profile and professional endorsements may be viewed here.
John provides overall case management leadership and clinical direction for Serenity Vista staff, bringing together the skills and talents of a complementary, multidisciplinary team of professionals and holistic practitioners. John also leads Group Processing Sessions at Serenity Vista, providing a safe, focused healing environment for group therapy.
Jane Derry, B.A., R.S., has traveled educational and career paths that have led through veterinary hospitals, community pharmacy, religious study, youth counselling, and residential addiction recovery treatment. Jane has focused the last 20 years on helping people explore their own spiritual beliefs relating to addiction recovery and the 12 Steps. Jane has a strong commitment to live by spiritual principles and she models inspiration, hope and encouragement to people, especially those suffering from addiction.
At Serenity Vista Jane cultivates a nurturing, safe, non-judgmental and inclusive environment for guests to explore their own concepts of what a Higher Power means in their life and sobriety. She provides an atmosphere of sincerity, acceptance, compassion and faith, providing strong leadership that fosters trust, challenge, and healing.
Jane is a skilled and intuitive counselor. In addition to providing leadership and management of Serenity Vista staff, Jane also facilitates the two spiritual sessions, ‘Come To Believe‘, and ‘Conscious Contact‘. She reaches from a deep resource of spiritual tools and traditions. In these two weekly sessions, you will focus on Steps 2 and 11, with plenty of lively conversation and challenging assignments, with introduction and experience of various meditative techniques and practices.
Jane’s sessions are inclusive of all beliefs, regardless of religious experience or affiliation, or faith (or lack thereof) or affiliation. The framework upon which this deep resource rests is a firm foundation of the spiritual principles of the 12 Steps and back to basics concepts of sobriety.
Judy G. Borich, Ph.D., is a compassionate and highly skilled therapist, teacher, minister, and philosopher. She has a doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology, a M.A. in Psychology, a M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a B.S. in Social Sciences. She is an ordained New Thought minister and is level two trained in EMDR therapy. She is the author of the acclaimed book, Touch and Go – The Nature of Intimacy.
Judy is highly accomplished and leads life-changing retreats in New Mexico and around the world. She has had a thriving private practice since 1978. Her approach helps people to clear any past trauma, to remove blocks that leave them free in the present for the development of healthy growth and development. She teaches the learning of new life and relationship skills needed to thrive and live life fully and joyfully.
Judy is an expert both in the maps of consciousness and the many paths of growth beyond being a fully functioning person. Judy is also known for her work in training therapists and as a philosopher. She has had 38 years experience in various forms of counseling. It has been her joy and privilege to work with and help so many people over the years.
We are very pleased and grateful to have Judy as a friend and colleague therapist at Serenity Vista. She brings a solid understanding of addiction recovery, a depth of experience, and a deep, warm compassion and effectiveness in creatively helping people. Guests greatly benefit from and enjoy Judy’s Creative Expression sessions at Serenity Vista.
Nancy Stitt, ARNP, is a highly qualified and experienced mental health professional having specialized in addictions for many years. Nancy’s professional education is extensive including qualifications as MSN psychiatric nurse practitioner (FIU, Miami, FL), MA counseling Psychology (Immaculate Heart, LA, CA), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Practitioner (UCSD, San Diego, CA), Sexual Education Counselor (post graduate Institute), EMDR level 1 Practitioner, and NLP Practitioner.
Nancy’s clinical experience includes mindfulness based stress reduction as a certified teacher, addiction counseling, mental health (psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychopharmacology), women’s health issues, adult and adolescent psychiatry, and as sexual therapy counselor.
Now as a resident of Boquete, Panama since June 2014, we are pleased to have Nancy provide addiction counseling for guests of Serenity Vista. Nancy conducts ‘Mindfulness Living in Recovery’ sessions that draws upon her wide ranging expertise applied toward helping guests adjust to life changes in recovery and learn to ‘live life on life’s terms’ with mindfulness and meaning. Nancy is a welcomed and valued complement to multidisciplinary professional team of Serenity Vista staff.
Brian Teel, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist originally from the state of Indiana, USA. Brian is an accomplished, credentialed psychologist, having held prestigious academic, clinical, and leadership roles in a wide variety of private practice and institutional settings. His graduate research was one of the first characterizations of the phenomenon of drug withdrawal in rat studies and is widely quoted in the scientific literature.
Over the years Brian has worked with a range of patient populations with problems often including medication related and substance abuse issues. Brian brings a robust background and skill in the assessment and treatment of a variety of age related, brain injury, substance abuse and other mental health problems.
Brian shares Serenity Vista’s passion for helping people affected by addiction. He brings a depth of expertise and skill in helping our guests throughout their journey of healing and recovery. Brian conducts small group sessions supportive of the recovery process with a focus on developing healthy inter- and intra-personal relationships. Brian utilizes an eclectic mix of psychotherapeutic approaches including Reality Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). He also incorporates The Four Agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz as an easily accessible learning tool integrated with 12 step philosophy.
We are pleased to have Brian as a valued member of our professional clinical team of Serenity Vista staff. He brings a depth of knowledge, professional skill, empathy and compassion that is appreciated and found to be tremendously helpful by the guests of Serenity Vista.
Merl Will-Wallace, BS, MA is one of a new breed of Coach/Counselors. He combines both approaches to create positive, definable results to any change in a person’s life.
Merl has a Bachelors degree in organizational development and a Masters degree in mental health counseling from the University of Colorado. He is a registered counselor in the state of Colorado and a certified coach in the United States. Merl has been both a personal and professional coach and counselor for over 20 years and has now focused his practice on change management.
Merl’s focus on change management is based on clinical experience where he has found that learned skills in managing change can facilitate an individuals ability to overcome mental, emotional and physical obstacles that have lead to stagnation and suffering. He is the author of the book, Awakening in Change.
Merl has made Boquete his new home and we are delighted to have him bring his vast experience and passion for helping to the guests of Serenity Vista. Merl leads a session on “Embracing Change”. Merl finds that, in assisting people with addictive behaviors, counseling can be enhanced by helping them to understand the true nature of change and how to manage it. He states, “Addiction is often triggered by an inability to face change. My goal, as part of an overall recovery program, is to help each person I work with to become more effective change managers. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of relapse. Additionally, the skills and processes I provide for change are complimentary to and reinforce the 12 step process for addiction.” Merl’s sessions are a reflection of who he is as a person: compassionate, interesting, stimulating, positive, helpful and encouraging.
Tom Werder, B.S., Physics, has a degree in physics and extensive training and experience in issues associated with recovery including alcoholism, codependency, adult children of alcoholics and transformational technologies. His career path has ranged from geo-physical engineering, personal and professional consulting, life coaching, seminar leadership, authorship, and addiction recovery.
Tom has led countless seminars in personal growth and development focusing on integrity, relationships and performance. His published small business management book, The BullsEye Principle, utilizes the principles of integrity, honesty and non-judgmental observation. As a recovering sober alcoholic with 35 years of continuous sobriety, Tom brings to Serenity Vista a personal passion and depth of skill for helping those affected by addiction.
Tom is currently semi-retired in Boquete Panama where he maintains an active healthy lifestyle which includes his passion for hiking. Tom is a talented musician, a dynamic speaker, an insightful coach, and a motivating presence. You can’t help but be inspired by him.
Tom leads ‘Integrity and a Sober Life’ sessions at Serenity Vista. You will be introduced to the practical benefits of managing personal integrity and be coached on how to manage it. Tom will guide you in the use of the tools of honesty, introspective inquiry, and personal responsibility and accountability. You will have opportunity to apply the concepts experientially and relate what is shared to relevant steps of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through Tom’s down to earth, practical approach, you will quickly experience restoration of integrity making your life easier, more satisfying, and supportive of your new life of sustained recovery.
Elizabeth Worley, MS, practiced privately in North Carolina, USA, for many years as a national and state board certified counseling therapist, both in private practice and with non-profit centers. Her fields of specialty have included recovery from childhood abuse, gender identification, healing grief, and navigating life transitions. Her approach always remembers that each individual is a unique blend of body, mind and spirit, and that the therapeutic journey is a matter of mutual trust and respect.
Elizabeth has lived in the highlands of Panama since 2004. Her interests include growing organic coffee and producing health products made from rain forest medicinal plants. She continues to work with people who are seeking to create themselves anew, and brings her depth of experience, clinical skills, and passion for life to helping guests at Serenity Vista on their journey of healing, self discovery and recovery.
‘Reclaiming Self through Creativity’, as offered by Elizabeth at Serenity Vista, will foster your awareness and trust of your innate creative life force by providing a variety of opportunities to safely experiment with self-expression through poetry, literature, visual arts, movement, psycho-drama, nature and music. Reclaiming Self through Creativity helps break through the blocks, beliefs and fears that inhibit our natural desire to express ourselves. It’s fun, and it’s challenging. As you push through self-inhibiting limitations, you will discover doors that invite you to live more authentically, and with joy.
Dr. Robert Lynn
Dr. Robert Lynn has a unique background of experience which he brings to his practice of psychiatry, psychopharmacology, and addiction. Dr. Lynn trained in medicine at Bellevue Hospital in New York and went on to train at the prestigious Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital Center. He is further extensively qualified in psychiatry and currently specializes as a psychopharmacologist treating a full spectrum of psychiatric problems from attention deficit to anxiety disorders, depression and chemical dependency.
He has recently had the honor to be elected a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He holds active licenses to practice in New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland.
Dr. Lynn stays current with by attending both national and international conferences in his field. He has traveled through Japan, India, South America, and Vienna, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, England, and Ireland, and now spending increasing time in Boquete, Panama. Serenity Vista is delighted to have Dr. Lynn serve as medical consultant with special expertise in psychopharmacology and addiction.
Dr. Josimar Y. Gomez
Dr. Josimar Y. Gomez, M.D., serves as primary medical consultant to Serenity Vista. Dr. Gomez is a highly professional, skilled and caring physician. Known for his medical expertise, excellent English, and kind, friendly manner, Dr. Gomez is highly regarded in the community. Along with his colleagues at the Boquete Specialized Medical Clinic, 24-hour medical care and emergency services are provided, with direct access to excellent regional hospitals. We are grateful for the medical consultation advice and services provided by Dr. Gomez.
Yoga, Meditation & Music
Joy Alexander, Yoga Instructor
Joy is thrilled to be part of the Serenity Vista team, offering a wonderful 2-hour, custom-designed yoga & meditation practice each week.
Born into a ‘yoga family’, Joy grew up practicing yoga and meditation with her mother. Joy continued yoga throughout her adult life, exploring a variety of styles such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Kripalu and Bikram Yoga. In 2010 Joy found and fell in love with the discipline of Ashtanga, which she shares with our guests.
Joy has a 200 hour yoga teacher certification through Yoga Alliance, and is passionate about sharing the profound healing benefits of Yoga. Joy is also a Certified Massage Therapist, and has extensive education in energy work and alternative healing modalities including Polarity Therapy, Lomi Lomi Certification Levels 1 &2, Depth-Hypnosis Training, Spiritual Nutrition, Crystal Healing, Hawaiian Huna and Psychic Development.
Art Blevins, Meditative Drumming Music Instructor
Art Blevins (BA, MA, MS) leads “Mindfulness of Music” meditative drumming sessions at Serenity Vista focused on musical empowerment for holistic health and wellness.
Everyone has natural rhythm: the heartbeat, breathing, and walking are natural, automatic rhythmic functions of the body. Therefore, playing rhythm takes no training or instruction to jump in and participate and reap the holistic rewards of mind and body. Sessions with Art focus on music participation as an active meditation experience to help calm the mind and create better awareness of and participation in the present moment, contributing to individual holistic wellness and empowering individuals in the process of addiction recovery.
Art is a musician with over thirty years of experience on stage and in the studio as song-writer, guitarist, bassist, and producer including work on over a dozen studio albums in various genres of music including Rock, Country/Americana, Gospel, New Age/World Rhythms, Electronic Music, and Christmas Music. He is the author of the book “Express Yourself: Song Writing for Everyone” and has over twenty years of experience teaching music in private practice in Colorado and Boquete, Panama. Art is a multi-instrumentalist who has also studied cello under Barb Seaton (cellist with the Littleton Symphony Orchestra) and has studied drumming under Gary LeFrancois (founder of Metro Drum School, in Denver Colorado).
Art brings a warm, open heart and a passion for helping others to Serenity Vista. Guests feel safe, nurtured, encouraged and mindfully guided in their sessions with Art. We are grateful to have Art’s depth of skill and therapeutic musical leadership at Serenity Vista.
Doris Martinez, Yin Yoga Instructor
Doris began her extensive career in health and fitness in 1980. Over the past 30+ years she has served as Senior Health Policy Advisor to the Governor of Guam; was an Adjunct Instructor at the Guam Community College teaching Exercise, Health and Nutrition; was co-owner of a Gold’s Gym, Jenny Craig and Nutri-Sport Vitamin Store; has been a Certified Group Fitness Instructor, Pilates Instructor, Master Personal Trainer, and Nutrition Counselor, to name a few.
Doris started practicing yoga in 1999, received her first Yoga Certification from the American Council on Exercise in 2000 (one of the first reputable organizations to offer Yoga Certifications), and subsequently went on to complete her Yoga Alliance 200-hour and Therapeutic Yoga Certifications in San Francisco, California.
Doris enjoys teaching many different types of yoga classes from Yoga Fundamentals to Vinyasa Flow to Yoga for Kids, but her greatest passion is supporting the healing process of individuals through the gifts of Yin and Therapeutic Yoga. Through the teachings of Yin and Therapeutic Yoga she helps individuals find more ease in their body, peace of mind, and greater levels of health and well-being.
Doris brings a warm spirit and gentle, healing presence to Serenity Vista. Her Yin Yoga and mindfulness sessions add a complementary depth to the holistic healing & wellness program of Serenity Vista.
Culinary, Housekeeping & Support Staff
Veronica Villarreal, Housekeeping
My greatest reward from working at Serenity Vista are hearing that the guests are sober and thriving back home with their families. They change so dramatically!
Veronica keeps Serenity Vista clean, bright and welcoming. Her delicious lunches showcase Panamanian favorites like patacones relleno (fried plantain stuffed with seafood) andsancocho (chicken soup), as well as international dishes. Veronica worked in some of Boquete’s finest restaurants and resorts before joining our team in 2012. Veronica is an integral part of the smooth running behind the scenes at Serenity Vista. Although Veronica’s English is perfect, she loves when guests are interested to learn and practice some Spanish vocabulary.
Samuel Chire, Breakfast Cook
A good cook’s inspiration is born of love. I am a happy person, and my biggest passion is cooking.
Samuel is a native Boquetanian with 10 years of culinary experience at some of the finest hotel restaurants in the area. Samuel makes us a delicious fresh breakfast everyday, and his Sunday dinners are delightful. Everyone knows how important breakfast is, and Samuel starts our day with delicious freshness.
Asmiriam Roa, Chef
Asmi is a professional Chef and Master Chocolatier. Asmi knows which fruit vendors have the sweetest pineapples and the freshest and best varieties of local tropical vegetables and fruits. She knows that people recovering from addiction have special needs to heal in body, mind and spirit and her outstanding menus address all aspects of recovery.
Asmi joined Serenity Vista from Venezuela, where she is recognized as one of the greatest chefs of the new generation in her country. Asmi continues as Serenity Vista chef advisor and consultant. In 2013 Asmi trained at the esteemed Escuela de Pasteleria del Gremio in Barcelona, Spain to become a Chocolate Master. Venezuela is famous for its delicious first-class chocolate. Asmi delights in exploring new tastes from around the world and in creating nutritious and enticing international meals. A warm and inviting kitchen is the heart of any good home. Asmi’s groundedness and passion for cooking are apparent in her culinary creations.
Jim Omer, Outdoor Tours and Recreation
Jim Omer of Boquete Outdoor Adventures has been providing guided recreation for our guests since our founding in 2012. Jim and his team offer professional whitewater rafting, pacific island tours, birding and hiking & more. Facilitating fun adventures in Boquete since 2004, Jim is originally from Roanoke, Virginia.
Jim and his team of professional guides are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Serenity Vista guests always enjoy learing about nature’s abundant flora and fauna in this beautiful tropical cloudforest region.
Ford Hamberger, Facilities Maintenance
Ford Hamberger is a Boquete resident originally from Romford, United Kingdom. After moving to Boquete in 2012, Ford started a repair and rennovation business and quickly became Serenity Vista’s ‘go to guy’ for quality, dependable service. A handyman of high degree, Ford is quick to respond whenever something at Serenity Vista needs attention, maintenance or repair.
We appreciate Ford’s promptness and attention to detail, his dry English wit, and warm, friendly nature. Ford takes pride in his work at Serenity Vista, and we are always happy to see his smiling face as he goes about his work.