Sacred Fire Team
Chris Griffin has offered service to Sacred Fire for close to twenty years in many capacities. He brings a rich mix of experience from both his professional experience in the medical device industry as well as his dedication to the spiritual path, community and family. In the professional world, Chris has worked as a software engineer and technical leader in a variety of medical device companies where he played critical roles in the creation of three FDA approved devices.
Outside of his work as an engineer, Chris has studied in a number of capacities to deepen his spiritual life and bring gifts to his community. He began his journey through a traditional meditation path. His journey led him to exploring ancient spiritual traditions and the study and practice of Plant Spirit Medicine. Through Sacred Fire, Chris discovered his passion for experiencing and creating joyful connection through the sacred presence of fire. In 2019 he began serving as a Firekeeper, hosting monthly fire gatherings in Harvard, Massachusetts and at his home hearth in Wilton, New Hampshire. He joined the board of Sacred Fire in 2020 and became board chairman in 2022.
Leadership Guidance Group
(Board of Trustees)
Karen Smith Fernandez
Karen has co-founded two non-profits and has served in most capacities of the nonprofit sector: volunteer, program director, executive director, communications director and chief development officer. She earned a Master’s degree in Child-Clinical Psychology and is certified by Duke University in non-profit management. Spending much of her career in the environmental community, Karen deeply believes that disconnection from the natural world is at the root of disconnection from ourselves and each other as humans. Currently Director of Philanthropy at Hill Learning Center in North Carolina, Karen brings her depth and breadth of experience, vision, wisdom and leadership skills to her work as a Trustee of Sacred Fire. Karen is an initiated granicera in the Nahua tradition. She lives in Hillsborough, NC in the U.S. and in her off hours, Karen can be found foraging, gardening, hiking, wildlife watching and sitting around the fire!
Alan Kerner’s passion and life-commitment is to spread the benefits of traditional healing in western society. After forty years of owning and operating a successful transportation company, Alan followed his calling to become an initiated Mara’akame (traditional Huichol healer). Through his thriving personal practice, he is able to impact the lives of many people. Additionally, as an initiated firekeeper, he volunteers his time to nurture community. He brings many years of experience serving on nonprofit boards, along with his skills of responsibility, commitment, leadership, and vision to his position as a Board Member of the Sacred Fire. Alan holds a degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a loving husband, father and grandfather and lives in Santa Monica, CA in the U.S. Alan enjoys walking on the beach and loves apple pie.
Annie brings her experience of organizing businesses, costing events and inventories, and planning budgets to her role as Treasurer at Sacred Fire. She worked for many years in restaurant management and later became a partner in a gallery specializing in antique textiles and carpets from around the world.
An interest in natural remedies led her to the study and practice of Plant Spirit Medicine and also to sitting around the fire with colleagues and friends. She is currently studying healing in the Nahua tradition, is an initiated granicera or Nahua weather worker and enjoys collaborating with others to bring the gifts of Sacred Fire into community.
Annie lives with her husband in Essex, New York in the U.S. She is a mother and grandmother, and loves gardening and working outdoors on their farm.
Roger Menadue serves as a Firekeeper for Sacred Fire in Alice Springs, NT, in Australia, and has been self-employed his whole life. He became mesmerized by the remote Australian desert landscape long ago.
His love for Central Australian life has taken him into the local indigenous community, where he is seen as a trusted member and is able to participate in sacred cultural events. He is the leader for the Australian Walk Project, a profound month-long desert journey. Roger is passionate about community. You can often find Roger changing a tyre or towing stranded vehicles along remote outback roads.
Susan has spent her adult life accumulating experience in executive professions and for 40 plus years as a volunteer helping to build intentional community, while committing herself to right livelihood. She is the owner and former CEO of a safety equipment manufacturing company. She has been part of several nonprofit organizations–involved in everything from relief work for disadvantaged populations to environmental justice. Twenty years ago, she embarked on apprenticeships and initiations in two indigenous traditions and this led to her work with Sacred Fire.
Susan’s credo is: You live. You learn. You give back, to try and leave this world having done your best for the present and future generations. Susan is a mother, grandmother, traditional healer and Firekeeper. When she can squeeze in some spare time, she likes to travel with her husband, walk in the outdoors, and practice yoga. She divides her time between The Farm in Summertown, TN in the U.S. and a home in nearby Nashville.
Olivia is dedicated to helping heal the connection between humans and the natural world, and supporting others in leading a heart-centered life.
She has a background in ritual theatre that includes founding the nonprofit organization, Healing Theatre. She was Director of Health Arts Network at Duke Hospital and Development Director for Revels–an organization that partners with tradition holders to create culture-specific solstice and equinox celebrations. She served as an initiated teacher in a Shiva Lineage, and on the council for a wisdom tradition dedicated to the sacred feminine and its role as part of the natural balance of life.
Olivia is currently a full-time astrologer. Believing the shortest distance between two people is a story, she has become an accomplished storyteller and looks to enliven the stories we tell as people, communities and as a culture. She currently resides in Asheville, NC in the U.S.
Program Director, LifeWays
Sherry received a calling to her spiritual path through Nahuatl shaman Don Lucio Campos in the central Mexican highlands in 1999 and was initiated as a quiatizques (woman bringer of rain) in this traditional path. From this she became devoted to bringing fire and spirit into community. She was initiated as a Firekeeper and participated in growing the organization of Sacred Fire. Soon thereafter, she was asked to develop and oversee the LifeWays series of programs grounded in the human life stages and is now working to evolve those into a comprehensive whole called Life Cycle Living.
Sherry trained as a psychotherapist and had a private practice where she was involved for many years with facilitating women’s groups. She helped to create the Ukalái Women’s Gathering and has offered that program in the US, Australia and the UK. She is an initiated tepahtiani, or healer in the Nahua tradition. She and her husband David live in Carrollton, GA in the U.S.
Sharon F. H. Brown
Program Director, Outreach
At an early age, Sharon realized that her life would be filled with spiritual connection, words, and pictures. Born in Memphis, she was an Echols Scholar and graduate of the University of Virginia before taking her first job in media as a video producer at Memphis Cablevision. The next 25 years included positions in advertising sales management, cable television network development, and strategic marketing development. After a year in Silicon Valley as chief marketing officer for an interactive television firm, she founded Marco Polo Media, a marketing consultancy providing research and content marketing development services. After becoming a Firekeeper in 2005, she joined the team of Sacred Fire magazine, where she served as writer, editor and publisher until 2013. She holds a certificate in Processwork and is currently apprenticing as a Nahua Tepahtiani healer. She lives in Olympia, WA in the U.S. with her husband, Peter, and enjoys the time she gets to spend with their grown daughters, Chloe and Brady.
Program Director, Firekeeping
Sylvia comes from a bilingual background, with both Scottish and Spanish heritage. She studied an undergraduate degree at the University of Dundee, specializing in vocal soundscapes, which explored our cultural connection with the divine natural world. Sylvia was selected as a New Contemporaries of Scotland, and later studied a Master of Arts at the University of Arts in London. Since graduating, Sylvia has facilitated many community groups in both therapeutic and educational spaces, as well as supporting with learning and development training, and coordinating events hosting both local and international guests. Sylvia’s main focus and thread in her work is to create inclusive spaces to gather together and to encourage opportunities for listening and growth to connect to the wholeness of our nature. Sylvia is an initiated Firekeeper, committed to holding her home hearth that welcomes her community in Scotland and shares the wonderful medicine of fire as the universal language of the heart. Her passion for bringing the vitality of fire and spreading it further afield is key to her role and her ambition to inspire future generations to come. Sylvia lives rurally in the Scottish Borders and enjoys tending to her new home, with her beloved partner and cat, spending time in the garden and lovingly caring for the plants and wildlife. Sylvia is wholeheartedly committed to building and supporting the global community as part of Sacred Fire.
Program Director, Events
Linda Azar is passionate about bringing people together to experience joy and connection with each other, and with the natural world. If there is laughter and dancing involved, even better. She has a diversiﬁed professional background, having a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a diploma in Filmmaking. In both professions, she developed a deep understanding and love of collaboration and teamwork toward creating a shared vision. She is currently self-employed as a board-certiﬁed Life and Wellness Coach and runs a studio jewelry business. Linda is also an apprentice to become a mara’akame or traditional healer, in the Wixárika (Huichol) tradition.
In 2003, Linda attended her ﬁrst Sacred Fire Community Fire and has been regularly attending Sacred Fires in Asheville and Maggie Valley NC ever since. Before she realized what was happening, her life had been transformed. Linda has been the local event coordinator for the Asheville Fire Speaks event from 2015 to 2022 and holds it as her mission to spread the gift of ﬁre to as many people as she can. She lives in Candler, NC with her partner Jim and their corgi mix, Kaiju. In her free time, she loves improv comedy, lying in the grass on a sunny day, and making up songs for everything.
Larry weaves together long-standing interests in nature, bringing people together, and healing in his work for Sacred Fire. He served as a Congressional aide on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. long enough to realize that politics was not his calling! He escaped to the wide-open spaces of the American west before joining the Peace Corps and serving in Sri Lanka. There he taught English to teacher trainees. He later earned a Master’s degree in international relations and went on to study culturally diverse healthcare teams–earning a PhD. for that research.
It was during graduate school that he and his wife Jessica first began sitting with others around the fire as one of many groups that later evolved into Sacred Fire. Both he and Jessica later were trained and initiated as Sacred Fire Firekeepers. He is also initiated as a Mara’akame (traditional Huichol healer). Above all, Larry has a passion for bringing more fire, heart and healing into the world. Aside from cycling, he most enjoys sitting in a beautiful natural setting with Jessica and partaking of a good cigar! He and Jessica share their home in Carrollton, GA in the U.S. with their yoga cat Jack.