Sacred Fire Team
Leadership Guidance Group
(Board of Trustees)
Mara’akame, weatherworker, business owner, mother, grandmother, firekeeper
I used to dream of a time when people could communicate with elements in nature as the native peoples and probably our ancestors used to do everyday. Being a part of this organization that knows and accepts that we are all part of a sacred living world and that communication with it is a necessary part of life—which is what “normal” should be—is profound. I’m grateful to say that my experience as a community and business person and a healer can serve humanity in this way.
Karen Smith Fernandez
Director of Development
Karen is a consummate professional with a proven track record of planning, promoting and leading non-profit initiatives by incorporating mission-centric ideals into real tangible results year after year. She is a dynamic leader with nearly 30 years of experience in the not for profit sector who effectively focuses resources to create and maintain sustainable business models. She 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.
Karen holds a Masters degree in Child-Clinical Psychology and is certified by Duke University in non-profit management. Currently Director of Philanthropy at Hill Learning Center in North Carolina, Karen brings her depth and breadth of experience, vision and leadership skills to her work as a trustee of Sacred Fire.
Roger Menadue serves as a Firekeeper for Sacred Fire Alice Springs, 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.
Community Service Team
Larry weaves together long-standing passions for nature, communications, and community with his work for Sacred Fire. He grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio but had the opportunity to connect to nature on weekly horse-back rides with his grandfather in that city’s metro park system. Double-majoring in English literature and philosophy in undergraduate school, he submitted an honors thesis in the latter on the emotive (or what he would now call ‘heart’) capacity of language.
He served as a Congressional aide on Capitol Hill long enough to realize that politics was not his calling! He escaped to the wilds of the American west for a short time before joining the Peace Corps and serving in Sri Lanka. There he taught English to teacher trainees. He earned a master’s in international relations and then went on to study culturally diverse healthcare teams and to earn a PhD. in that field.
It was during graduate school that he and his wife Jessica first began sitting with others around the fire many years before there was a Sacred Fire Community. Both he and Jessica later were trained and initiated as Sacred Fire Firekeepers. He is also initiated as a mara’akame or healer and ritual leader in the Huichol tradition. Above all, Larry loves the opportunity to help bring more fire, heart and healing into the world.
Program Director, Firekeeping
Originally from Australia, Annie has been involved in healing and teaching stress management, movement and meditation for over 42 years, both in Australia and the US. She has worked for major hospitals in the US in wellness and cardiac rehabilitation programs, teaching stress management and facilitating support groups for healing. She currently has a healing practice in Florence, South Carolina.
Annie is an initiated granicera and tepahtiani student in the Nahua tradition, a Firekeeper for the Sacred Fire Community, and serves as Fire Chief for the Sacred Fire Firekeepers. She loves her work with Sacred Fire—finding a community of people she deeply cares for and respects, teachings that have helped her find purpose and meaning in her life, and a group of dedicated Firekeepers that she feels honored to serve and support. She adores her husband of 46 years, her 2 sons, their partners, and grandchildren that bring much joy to her life.
Program Director, LifeWays
After receiving an undergraduate degree in History of Art at Emory University, Sherry worked in researching historical sites for the state of Georgia. Developing an interest in human growth and potential, she returned to school and got a Master’s in psychology and became a licensed psychotherapist. She practiced both in mental health agencies and private practice for 30 years, focusing on women’s issues and movement in psychotherapy groups. As part of this work she researched initiation for young women cross-culturally and developed an interest in life stage transitions.
Sherry is an initiated granicera and tepahtiani student in the Nahua tradition, a Firekeeper for the Sacred Fire Community and is on the Women’s Council for the Tsantawu weather mountain. She is Director of Lifeways for Sacred Fire and is passionate about working with her team to develop Life Cycle Living.
Program Director, Outreach
The world of professional dance and performing with Ballet Creole Dance Company initiated Mai into the performative aspects of her central talent: creative risk-taking. As the rhythms of life changed with the advent of motherhood, she discovered a synergy between the relational energy of dance and entrepreneurial projects that connected her to community in capacities as varied as operating a dance school and managing events for conferences and trade shows.
An illness then guided Mai on a spiritual path in 2000. Her journey started with studying Plant Spirit Medicine, where she discovered a deeply profound connection to plants and the natural world. Mai has now been practicing Plant Spirit Medicine since 2006. To further serve her community, Mai was initiated as a Sacred Fire Firekeeper in 2012. All of these experiences have trained and led Mai to becoming the Director of Events for Sacred Fire. She is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives by combining her work in health and healing and working with the spirit of Fire.