It started September 2015

Our founders were immediately moved to action by this gripping account of a high suicide rate among a group of veterans. The article not only portrayed the sad series of attempted and successful suicides but also highlighted the failure of any effective help reaching these veterans.

Believing that a non-government linked effort could prove highly effective, Sylvia Bischoff, our executive director, led an effort to develop a program which could be used as the basis for a new and innovative form of retreat-based and trauma-reducing healing.

In February and March 2016, the founding team recruited a core team of specialist advisors and providers and across areas of therapy, acupuncture, wellness and nutrition. The Florida retreat was born and with the pilot retreat occurring in April 2016, located in Sebastian, Florida. In June 2016, Phoenix is Rising, Inc was formed and with an IRS section 501(c)(3) non-profit application approved.

Sylvia is a Retreat Team member. Sylvia leads the day to day operations of Phoenix is Rising, Inc and is the on-location co-lead of each retreat. Sylvia is also managing member of a private mental health counseling practice, Metta Counseling, LLC. With over 20 years as a licensed practitioner Sylvia’s career started as a physical massage therapist and has since grown to include certifications in teaching mindfulness and a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. She has previously been employed at Palm Beach Institute, a leading drug and alcohol rehab treatment center. She is highly experienced in the businesses related to these skills and has developed strong management and administration skills as a result. In connection with the Company’s activities, Sylvia led the design and implementation of the pilot retreat, April 2016, and is now not only leading this Company but is also co-leading future retreats. Sylvia is originally of German birth and was naturalized as a US citizen in 2009. She lives in Palm Beach County, Florida and shares her family of 3 daughters (aged 21, 19 and 19) with her husband, Andrew Craissati, her mother and Nell, an 11 year Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

ANDREW CRAISSATI is a highly experienced investment banker and advisor, both across philanthropic and commercial enterprises. Formerly the Australia/Asia Pacific Chairman of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and chief executive of media & technology investment banking firm, The Magna Group (advising many Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 media companies), he has more recently served as a 4 year advisor to the leadership of National Geographic Society (working on both corporate finance and global conservation issues) and guided numerous private investments on behalf of renowned environmentalist and sustainability expert, David de Rothschild. Andrew continues to work globally on media and technology investments and is particularly interested in investments which deliver social impact, purpose or learning. He is chairman of several companies in which he is an investor. He is also a long-time member of the International Advisory Board to the Open University, perhaps the world’s most important and largest online and long distance learning university.

LORI TAMBONE has over 30 years’ experience in administration, general management and engineering. She is the principal administrator of the Tambone Group, a leading New England and Florida developer of commercial, industrial and multi-residential real estate. The group has developed and acquired 100s of condominium residences and over 10,000,000 sq. ft. of office, research, industrial, medical and retail facilities for some of the world’s most respected or recognized companies. Lori is a registered real estate broker and professional engineer. As the head of administration, her areas of responsibility including planning, financial estimations, feasibilities, bids, project management, design, permits and zoning, analyses, environmental planning, engineering coordination and government-level activities. Lori is originally from Florida and now maintains dual residences in Florida and Massachusetts.

Andrew “Dru Phoenix” Cuthbert is a Marine Corps veteran who deployed to Iraq from 2005-2006. He served as a field radio operator with 1st Battalion, 10th Marines from 2004-2006, and as a Marine Security Guard in the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group from 2006-2009. He is one of the founding members of the Combat Hippies, a Spoken Word Poet, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Practitioner, and Post-Traumatic Growth enthusiast. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Florida Atlantic University and serves as Veteran Liaison for the Phoenix is Rising Retreat.

Craig Givens, MS, LMHC, NCC is a Certified EMDR Therapist and EMDR Consultant. In 1996, he graduated from Nova Southeastern with his Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and was licensed in 2000. He was trained in EMDR in 2006 then worked towards being certified in EMDR. He currently is an EMDRIA Approved Consultant. He started his professional career working with the chronically mentally ill then moved into the substance abuse field. He specialized in working with those clients who were dually diagnosed. Additionally, he has worked with the following addictions: sex addiction, compulsive lying, compulsive shopping, gambling addiction and food issues. He is currently in private practice where he specializes in complex trauma.

William has dedicated his time and study to helping people cope with issues such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. William’s life experiences and extensive mental health studies have provided a down to earth and relatable style of communication that fosters trust and confidence that sustainable change is possible with his clients. He currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California (USC) and is a decorated three-time Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom Combat Veteran. He has served three tours of duty in the Middle East as a reconnaissance squad leader with both the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 101st airborne division (Air Assault).

Cecilia Erazo-Fritz is a Florida licensed Acupuncture Physician whose specialty is the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease using natural health care. Offering a general practice for both chronic and acute diseases, she treats individuals of all ages and health status.Her scope of practice includes Acupuncture and other Chinese medical techniques which are based on restoring the patient’s innate ability to stay healthy, return and restore to balance in body, mind and emotions. Cecilia is trained in TCM, Japanese-style acupuncture, NADA protocol and Acupuncturists Without Borders disaster relief protocol. Her additional training includes classical homeopathy, Western and Chinese herbal medicine and nutrition.

Susan Crews, MS, CRC, LMHC. Susan believes that success in therapy is based on the attuned relationship shared between a therapist and their client. This attuned relationship often can transform lives. She is a National Certified Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor who has also been trained and certified as an EMDR Counselor. Susan’s experience includes working with depression, anxiety, complex PTSD, dissociative disorder, and substance abuse. She uses techniques that are person-centered and healing focused. On her time off Susan enjoys riding her motorcycle, boating on the Suwannee River and spending time with family.

Moira studied for her Bachelors and Masters Degree at Palm Beach Atlantic University. While completing her education, she obtained experience working in the mental health field. Working as a therapist and a director at various treatment centers in Palm Beach County, Ms. Howard was able to develop her skills. She has trained in various styles of therapy including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Psychodrama. Moira has been working in the mental health field since 2007 and continues to tailor her style to fit the needs of each individual. Moira specializes in trauma, addictions, anxiety, and depression. Being a yoga instructor as well as a therapist Moira incorporates this knowledge into her therapeutic style. Moira is passionate about using the tools she has learned to help others to become the person they truly want to be.