Kristen Stephens Sharma,
Kristen is the Founder and President of East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts & Massage College and multiple award winning business leader. She works closely with her team to manage and guide the program and students to success. She is best known for her smile, compassion, creativity and positive attitude, and loves seeing students reach success. She splits her time between East-West School and A Massage Oasis along with other Health & Wellness projects both in Iowa and out of state. These include the annual “Be Your Best” Conference, Meditation Retreats and Women’s Retreats, all optimal health and wellness events. Kristen is also an inspirational singer, songwriter, speaker and published author and loves spending time in nature, going for long walks, traveling and cooking healthy organic meals.
Kristen has been a member of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce since 1993 (20 years) and has been honored by the Iowa Governor for her hard work in the industry. Her passion is to inspire herself and others to use their gifts and talents to heal and enlighten the world. “Inspiring Lives. Healing the World” is her motto. Kristen has traveled and lectured around the world on holistic healing and enjoys making a significant difference for others.
Dr. Sunil Sharma, Ph.D.
Dr. Sharma is the Administrative Director at East-West School. He and his wife Kristen work as a team with their amazing staff and expert instructors.
Dr. Sharma is an acknowledged expert in Meditation and Yoga and is an international speaker on happiness, harmony and spirituality, and author of “From Here to Happiness”. He brings a wealth of experience from his European and Indian backgrounds in business, meditation and yoga. Dr. Sharma earned his Ph.D. from Durham University in the UK in 1987 at the top of his class and is an award winning mathematician and scholar, and is fluent in 3 languages. He has lived in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America.
He is most known for his smile, english accent, calm and centered demeanor and fun sense of humor.
2008 Inductee in the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame.
Ralph Stephens is an internationally recognized instructor, therapist, and author who has been a popular presenter at state, regional and national massage therapy meetings for more than 20 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in education from Iowa State University and graduated from New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics as a Natural Therapeutics Specialist. He is an Iowa Licensed Massage Therapist, is past chair of the Iowa Board of Massage Therapy Examiners, and was awarded the AMTA National Meritorious Award in 1997. He is the author of Therapeutic Chair Massage, published in 2005 by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins. He was the first to adapt anatomically specific massage and stretching techniques to the seated position, and is currently specializing in Medical Massage and Seated Therapeutic Massage. Ralph is a friendly, dynamic, inspiring instructor known for his entertaining delivery style that makes learning easy and enjoyable.
Candace Kiekhaefer, LMT
Associate Director &
Director of Education
Candace is an alumni of East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts & Massage College and was voted winner of the “Favorite Teacher Award” in 2011 by students at East-West School. She is a graduate from the American Institute of Business in Des Moines IA, with an Associates Degree in Business Administration. She expanded her career in Corporate Business and Finance for 18 years. Candace teaches Asian bodywork, Ethics, Integrative Massage and is the Lead Clinic Supervisor.
In 1998, after a severe car accident, she began a new life journey in therapy and restoration. Living with chronic pain for seven years she gained insight and compassion for those who suffer in pain. Changing her career into Alternative Health Care, her new vision and focus is to meet and walk along side those who seek wholeness, providing support along their journey to better health allowing each person to discover their own healing energy.
She also works at the Wholistic Wellness Clinic and Spa, Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Retreat Center, and owner of a massage business, which is located in the North Liberty CORE fitness building. She currently works with Hospice and is an active member of the Brain Injury Association of Iowa.
Candace, and her husband Brian, have two boys and reside in the corridor area. She loves spending time with her family, being in nature, and enjoys outdoor sports. She is best known for her kindness, compassion and deep interest in helping students reach their potential.
“I am honored to be a part of East-West School, and feel very grateful for each moment of life.”
Mary Thompson, MA
Tranquility…through healing touch
Usui/Tibetan Reiki Master Teacher
Karuna Reiki Master Teacher
Healing Touch Spiritual Ministry, Advanced Practitioner
Mary Thompson comes with a rich background exploring western and eastern healing arts. With a masters degree in Speech Pathology, Mary previously devoted years to helping others in a clinical setting. In the year 2000, while confronting a major illness, Mary began exploration and training in natural healing modalities to supplement and complement her medical care. In that same year, she began treating others as a way of ‘giving back’. She has served as a Reiki teacher since 2002. It is her desire to assist others in maintaining health, inner peace, and tranquility… through healing touch. Mary is on the faculty advisory team at East-West School.
Mary and husband Donald are parents of four and proud grandparents of two. They live in North Liberty.
Mary teaches Intro to Energy Healing and many levels of Reiki at East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts & Massage College.
Laura Christensen is a graduate of Oberlin College with a BA in Biology, and a graduate of the prestigious New England School of Acupuncture where she was awarded a Master’s of Acupuncture. She is in her 19th year of practice of Chinese medicine. Laura studied Japanese Acupuncture with Dr. Miki Shima OMD for 6 years in the San Francisco area, and now studies with Kiiko Matsumoto and David Euler of the Boston area. She is also a certified Chinese Herbalist and has studied herbal medicine with Kenneth Morris of the Institute of Chinese Herbology in Oakland CA.
She has also studied many forms of healing along her path, including Reiki II with Cathy Berntsen, Healing Touch Level 1 with Millie Freel and Laura Hart, Reconnective Healing with David Pearl, Matrix Energetix with Richard Bartlett, and Aromatherapy with Peter Holmes, OMD. She has also studied Functional Medicine and uses it as the basis of her work in nutritional therapies.
She has worked as a medical research assistant in Behavioral Medicine, GI Physiology, and Neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School, and in Pharmacology and Psychiatry at the U of I College of Medicine. She has a website at http://www.acupunctureofiowa.com
Laura teaches Eastern Theory at East-West School.
Mary Ellen Dunford, BA, OT, LMT
Mary Ellen has a BA in Occupational Therapy from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota and a MS in Program Development and Training from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Mary Ellen is a licensed Occupational Therapist and Licensed Massage Therapist and graduated from Eastwind. She is a Certified Reflexologist and a practitioner of Healing Touch and Healing Touch Spiritual Ministry. She has training in therapeutic grade essential oils, and is on the staff at Prairie Woods in Linn County. She teaches Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology and Pathology and also helps with the student clinics.
Mary Ellen is a student of permaculture and is dedicated to living in ways that promote care of the earth.
Katie Swenson, LMT
Katie graduated from Provo College in Massage Therapy (LMT, Nationally Certified) along with an Associate Degree in Science (AS).
Katie teaches Hot Stone, Hydrotherapy and Body Wraps at East-West School and serves as the Instructor Adviser and Admissions Asst. along with other administrative duties. She is also the evening Student Advisor and assists with Clinics.
Her hobbies include her family, sewing and outdoor sports. She has been practicing massage for over 5 years and worked in the spa industry for most of her career.
Stacy Jane Kluck, LAc, Diplomate OM
Stacy teaches Anatomy & Physiology at East-West School.
Stacy is a licensed acupuncturist and board certified herbalist in Iowa and Illinois. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), Chicago.
Prior to pursuing Eastern Medicine, Stacy received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography and a Bachelors of Arts in Dance from the University of Iowa.
Stacy has a passionate commitment to community-service work. In Chicago, she volunteered acupuncture services at Project Vida, a Chicago-based non-for-profit established to support low-income and HIV/AIDS populations, as well as Chicago Women’s Health Center. She currently volunteers weekly acupuncture services at Iowa City’s Shelter House.
Stacy views medicine as a conversation – a series of dynamic energy exchanges. In practice, she collaborates with patients to explore the cycles of change and transformation. Health and healing is not a start/stop pathway or achievement-based entity, but a lifelong process. Stacy believes that no matter where someone is along this journey, the most vital task is to establish a connection to joy and hope. No one is ever beyond change.
Jodi Brophy, LMT
Jodi graduated from East-West School and is a Licensed Massage Therapist. She currently owns her own part-time massage therapy business and works part time at A Massage Oasis at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She is the lead assistant to the Directors, Office Manager and Student Advisor at the school each Tuesday and Thursday. She is also one of our clinic supervisors and assists students with their curriculum, hours, graduation process and more.
Jodi enjoys spending time with her family and taking part in Tae Kwon Do events and competitions. She is a 2nd degree black belt and also teaches a self-defense class at the school.
Dede Dancing, AA—Human Services, LMT, Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB)
Enjoying over 10 years of successful private practice as an LMT, Dede has focused on developing skills that help client/patients establish and maintain health and comfort. Dede is a passionate proponent of massage therapy as an important aspect of health care, embracing both the science and the wonder of this excellent profession.
Her primary therapeutic strategies and techniques rise from her study and practice of:
• Orthopedic Massage
• Myofascial forms
• Neuromuscular therapies
• Heated stone work
• Neuro Linguistic Programming
Dede teaches Western/Swedish Massage & Pain Management at East-West School.
Kristin Bergman, BA, LMT
Kristin graduated from Eastwind School of Holistic Healing (East-West School) and became a Licensed Massage Therapist in 2001 in Therapeutic Massage and Asian Bodywork. She received her B.A. in 2000 from the University of Iowa. She became a Doula in 2002 and specializes in Pregnancy Massage.
Kristin has her own private massage practice and has done extensive work in the community including work at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in the areas of Massage and Pregnancy.
Kristin teaches many different modalities at East-West School including Pregnancy Massage.
Sara graduated from the University of Kansas with a BA in Political Science and International Studies. Originally from Kansas City, Sara has a variety of administrative responsibilities with both A Massage Oasis and East-West School. She is co-coordinator of special events for both companies and is the Director’s Assistant coordinating many functions and projects for both Kristen and Sunil. Sara enjoys running, horseback riding, tennis, and golf.
Daniel S. Ford, LMT
Daniel graduated from the EastWind School of Holistic Healing in 2002 and became a Licensed Massage Therapist in 2003. He received his BA in Art at the University of Iowa in 1978. He places an emphasis on Shiatsu Massage and specializes in Trigger Point Therapy.
In addition to working full time for A Massage Oasis at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Daniel teaches the Head, Neck & Headaches class, is a TA, and Clinic Supervisor for East-West School. His personal goal is to conquer tension headaches, using Trigger Point Therapy. The need within each individual to maintain concentration and focus on life’s work and goals is too often a challenge because of these headaches. Massage accentuates the client’s wellbeing and is an important aspect of healthcare.
Daniel is married, paints portraits of children, photographs clouds, sunrises, loves cats, and lives on a farm southwest of Iowa City.
Martin Gibbens has practiced Shiatsu and massage therapy in Iowa City for 15 years. He earned his B.A. in 1985 at the University of Nebraska and his M.Ed. at Wichita State University in 1994. After teaching middle school language arts for 7 years in Wichita, Kansas and Iowa City, Iowa, he began working full time in therapeutic massage. He owns his own massage therapy business and works part-time for A Massage Oasis at the UIHC location. He continues to volunteer his time and give presentations to local support groups and organizations regarding the benefits of massage.
Martin teaches the Anatomy Lab classes at East-West and also assists as Clinic Supervisor for the Shiatsu clinics.
Kristen Richardson, MSN
Received her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from the University of Iowa, College of Nursing, specializing as an Advanced Practice Nurse in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. Kristen is Nationally Certified as both a Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. She has a private practice where she sees children, adolescents, adults, couples and families for outpatient therapy, medication management and Healing Touch. Kristen Richardson’s, ARNP, PC practice is located in the Eastwind Healing Center in downtown Iowa City.
Kristen teaches the Psych Aspects/Pathology class at East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts & Massage College.
Vicki Norris, LMT
Vicki is an alumnus of East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts, and graduated from the 1000 hour advanced program with a concentration in Energy Work. In 2012, she traveled to England and received her Reiki Master training at Stonehenge and Glastonbury. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master Teacher, Practitioner, and is the owner of Reiki by Vicki. Vicki also creates her own aromatherapy product line called Essentials by Vicki.
Her interest in massage, energy work, crystals, aromatherapy and other healing modalities started in her early 20’s and stayed with her. She is very excited to be pursuing these interests and challenging herself to her highest potential.
“I love working with like-minded people whose energy level and vibration is on “high.” They motivate and encourage me to do my best as well as to teach them everything I know. It’s a win-win situation, and East-West School is the perfect setting in which to do this.”
Vicki and her husband, Brian, live in rural Rowley, approximately an hour north of North Liberty. Together, they have 6 kids, 6 horses, and 3 dogs. Her vision includes building a healing and retreat center on their property, including accommodations for 12 people.
Vicki teaches intro to business and aromatherapy at East-West School.
Andrew Levitt is a graduate of University of Iowa, MA in Religious Studies within South Asia. He also has an MA in Western Theology with Earlham School of Divinity (Richmond, Indiana). A student of Yoga since 1999, Andrew is a certified teacher by the Yoga Institute in Mumbai India and has taught the physical and mental aspects of yoga continually since 1999.
Currently, Andrew is completing a one year coaching certification with CTI—The Coaching Institute for life and business coaching; a two and a half year apprenticeship with Jaes Seis and Peruvian Shamans; and working towards certification within the Mankind Project (an national organization that promotes deep healing and weekend adventures for men—involved since Jan 2010).
On the lighter side, he enjoys hikes with wife Adina and eight year old son Raven. He loves travel and living his dream life more fully every day.
At East-West, Andrew teaches meditation.
Jason Auer-Sears, LMT
Jason Auer-Sears has 10 years experience as a Massage Therapist. He currently teaches Active Isolated Stretching and Chakra therapies locally and nationally through Sacred Centers. With a strong background in clinical soft tissue therapies, Jason integrates Myofascial Trigger Point Release, Deep Tissue, AIS, Yoga Therapy and Mindful Body Somatic modalities.
Jason was chosen to lead the massage group for the Lance Armstrong team during Ragbrai, Iowas’s most famouse biking event with about 30,000 riders.
Jason teaches Active Isolated Stretching at East-West School. He is also a Clinic Supervisor.
T’ai Chi is a way of life for Sue. She has been practicing this martial art since 1996, learning from a lineage of life long teachers, including Martin Inn, founder of Inner Research Institute on T’ai Chi Ch’uan in San Francisco. She taught at Oaknoll Retirement Residence and has for the last 10 years led and coordinated the T’ai Chi Practice Group. She is currently teaching an ‘Introduction to T’ai chi’ class at Body Moves….A Fitness Studio in Coralville. Called moving meditation, T’ai Chi improves balance, strength, flexibility and reduces stress. Yet, T’ai Chi offers much more. “I knew immediately upon learning T’ai Chi, that it held life wisdom for me. It is a concrete, physical way to practice those attitudes, those ‘postures toward life’, to which we all strive.” Trained at the Institute in Spiritual Guidance in Des Moines, 2000-2003, Sue also offers Spiritual Direction, or Spiritual Companioning, to those seeking a deeper connection to their Divine and a witness to honor their journey. She specializes in creative rituals to honor life events or passages. She is a certified wedding and ceremony officiate.
Maureen Russo, PT, CBP
Par. BP, Access Trainer
Maureen began a career in Physical Therapy after graduating from the University of California, San Francisco in 1980. She soon became intrigued by the interconnectedness of the body. She pursued a variety of manual therapy techniques (see below*), which progressively became more all inclusive. In June 2003, she began her studies in BodyTalk, and has found it to be the most inclusive technique yet. Furthermore, it has provided her with an excellent vehicle with which she can incorporate all her other methods of treatment. Maureen has completed all the advanced modules, Right Brain, PaRama Unit One, PaRama Two, Finding Health One, Mindscape and Breakthrough One and Two. In 2008 she became certified to teach BodyTalk Access and teaches this on a regular basis at her practice.
Maureen has an active practice both with Physical Therapy and BodyTalk at her clinic, Innate Connections, in Iowa City, IA. She teaches BodyTalk Access on an on going basis.
Maureen teaches Intro to Body Talk at East-West School.
*Soft tissue and joint mobilization, Craniosacral Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, Mechanical Link, Lymphatic Drainage Therapy and the NeuroEmotional Technique.
Thomas Lawrence, LMT
“Having started with just a gift certificate for a massage as a graduation gift on vacation, the seed had been planted but the journey had only just begun in this amazing career path. Sixty minutes later I felt nothing short of spectacular and was astounded with the results-I had never felt better in my life! Shortly thereafter my decision had been made to give this profession a try and about a year later I began practicing as a Licensed Massage Therapist!”
Thomas has now been practicing as a nationally-certified, LMT for more than 10 years. Though his background in massage is diverse, one of his current areas of focus is on neck tension, headaches, and stress relief in the cervical and occipital region. Thomas is an Iowa native, having lived in Des Moines and Eastern Iowa for 20 years. After graduating, he spent several years practicing massage at Resort Spas and Athletic Clubs in Scottsdale, AZ as well as a Pain Management Center and Salon in Chandler, AZ working with people from all over the country. In 2007, Thomas earned a dual degree in Management and Music & Multimedia Production before leaving Arizona to return to Iowa. Thomas has been practicing massage in Eastern Iowa since 2010 and made Coralville his home in 2011.
“Massage Therapy has changed my life in a positive way and I wish to share this gift with others and continue to be a part of this incredible field which is consistently evolving and progressing. The holistic nature of therapeutic massage opens one’s mind and body to another world of healing and well being. You can never learn or experience too much in this profession and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned as well as continuing to build and expand my own knowledge of massage and alternative therapies.”
Thomas supervises the clinical massages and assists with teaching classes at East-West School.
Staci is an alumnus of East-West School’s 1000 hour program. After years of enjoying the healing benefits of massage therapy, she decided this would be a wonderful gift to share with others. Staci always found joy in helping others, and loves to work with her hands – a perfect match for massage! She serves as Admissions Assistant and Clinic Supervisor.
In her free time, Staci enjoys spending time with her wife Becky, enjoys the outdoors, baking (anything) chocolate, and loves her kitties.