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 26 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. Jane is a member in good standing of the Association for Spiritual Integrity.
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.
Adam Murauskas brings a vast depth and quality of educational, professional and recovery life experience to the Serenity Vista program. With eleven years of higher education, Adam holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the University of Delaware, a Master of Arts in Secondary Teaching from Wilmington University and various certifications and credentials in the field of education. Adam has been a professional educator since 2007 and is just as enthusiastic as ever to see the light come on in the eyes of his pupils. He has also been highly active in the recovery community since that time and shows no signs of slowing down.
We are extremely pleased to have Adam share his knowledge and passion for recovery and role model robust healthy living through his weekly psychoeducational sessions. Incorporating various audiovisual presentations and speaker recordings, and in-depth study of twelve step based recovery literature, Adam helps guests to discover the underlying nature of their addictions and be inspired to learn to live in the solution. In each session, they deepen their understanding of the problem, solution and program of action; three vital and foundational elements of lasting recovery and healthy joyous living.
Adam lives and breathes recovery with a passion for life that is truly contagious. It is so important for our guests to see what happy sobriety looks like. We are blessed to have him on staff at Serenity Vista.
Donna O’Brien is one of Serenity Vista core counselors bringing years of therapeutic expertise and a warm, compassionate heart. Donna comes from the US with an extensive background in psychological counseling, human development, grief counseling, and addiction therapy.
Donna’s educational background spans an AA. Degree in Early Childhood Education, a B.A. degree in Social Welfare, and a M.A. in Psychological Counseling. Her clinical career has included working with abused children in foster care, as both case worker and trainer for foster and adoptive parents, grief counseling, and helping clients recover from addiction.
A resident of Boquete since 2008, Donna is active in her church, and enjoys swimming and enjoying the beauty of Panama. We are delighted to have Donna as part of the clinical team helping our guests heal holistically and find new meaning to their lives in sobriety.
Karen Salacki, MSW, LCSW, ACSW., is a licensed social worker originally from the state of North Carolina, USA. Karen has held clinical and leadership roles in a variety of public and private settings over the past 38 years. Her passion and focus for the majority of this time has been working with individuals with mental health and substance use needs.
Now as a resident of Boquete, Panama since January 2019, we are pleased to have Karen provide addiction counseling for guests of Serenity Vista. Karen is a highly valued member of our core professional team, bringing a depth of experience, clinical skill, and compassion. She conducts groups focused on basic recovery principles and addiction as a disease. In addition, she encourages the guest’s exploration of their spiritual path through the use of traditional and native concepts.
In her free time Karen enjoys exploring the outdoors, volunteering with local animal rescue/support agencies and travel.
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.
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.
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.
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, Music InstructorArt 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.
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.
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.