Heather Ehle | Founder & CEO
Twitter: @HeatherEhle_PS

Heather Ehle, founder, and chief executive officer of Project Sanctuary, is a Registered Nurse (RN) with more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry as a nurse, manager, volunteer and entrepreneur. She has extensive experience in the nonprofit health care system.

A proud single mother of three, Heather adopted a sibling pair through foster care.  She is driven by a strong desire to give back and do more. After reading that the rates of child abuse and neglect triple when a parent is deployed, Heather was moved to do something and founded Project Sanctuary in 2007. Being a civilian without direct ties to military families, she reached out to the community for support and education. Led by veterans and her board, she carefully listened to what the military families needed and then structured Project Sanctuary’s programs to meet those needs, pulling from her background as an RN to establish an evidence-based program that encompasses physical and emotional healing.

In 2010, Heather was a finalist for People Magazine’s All Stars Among Us.  In 2012, Project Sanctuary was honored at the White House as one of only five 2012 “Joining Forces Community Challenge Winners,” chosen out of over 300 nominees in recognition of its work with military families. In 2017 Heather was chosen and successfully completed Stanford University’s nonprofit, executive leadership training.

John Stilwell | Chief Financial Operating Officer

John has worked as an executive in corporate, entrepreneurial, and non-profit sectors for over 30 years, providing guidance to organizations in Chief of Staff, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Operating Officer roles. He joins Project Sanctuary from an international NGO offering medical and development aid to communities affected by poverty and unequal access to healthcare. John has helped to start, manage and scale numerous non-profits, as well as serving on their boards. Prior to his full-time engagement in the non-profit sector, John worked at a Wall Street hedge fund for 20 years, and his background and experience includes developing and implementing financial and operational systems across the organization, including human resources, information technology, operations and finance.

John has family who served in the military and have been affected by deployment and its consequences. He lives in Denver with his wife and two children, and enjoys the abundant outdoor activities available in the Rockies.

Photo of chief development officer Amy McDermott

Amy McDermott | Chief Development Officer

A hallmark of Chief Development Officer Amy McDermott’s professional journey has been a deep commitment to working in service to communities of first responders.  In so doing, she gained extensive experience in senior level nonprofit development, communications and operations for police and fire departments, public charter schools, and military family support organizations.  Most recently, Amy worked as the Development and Marketing Manager for a veterans transition support nonprofit and sat on the Executive Board of the Naval Officers Spouses Club of San Diego.

Of particular significance to Amy is her work supporting our nation’s military service members and their families.  The wife of a senior Navy officer with more than 24 years of service, Amy has seen firsthand the challenges, sacrifices and adventures that military families endure while serving our country.  Noting that her own family and others in their military community often benefitted from outdoor adventures together during tough times, Amy strongly supports the therapeutic recreation model used by Project Sanctuary to help military families transition from battle ready to family ready.

A Colorado native, Amy, her husband and their seven-year-old daughter enjoy adventures together ranging from hiking to skiing to theatre.

Missy Hyatt, CTRS | Chief Programs Officer

Missy finds joy in introducing other people to the healing properties of the outdoors and recreation. She truly believes those who play together- stay together.

Missy has been with Project Sanctuary since February 2011 where she began as Youth Services Coordinator. In 2012, Missy was promoted to full time to direct all retreat programming and manage volunteers.

As Director of Programs, she continues to direct retreat programming, oversees the retreat teams, and ensures a high-quality experience at each retreat location.

Missy has a bachelor’s degree in leisure services with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation and is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Missy previously worked in the Recreation Department at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Oklahoma and also spent three years working with children and adolescents in a behavioral health hospital.

thomas costello project sanctuary lcsw

Thomas Costello, LCSW | Chief of Family Support
Tom Costello, LCSW, is a full time social worker for Project Sanctuary, providing case management-based supportive and therapeutic follow-up services to families and acting as an additional counseling presence on retreats.

Tom is a retired officer of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, serving the last seven years of his career as head of mental health social work for the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA. Tom assisted in the development and direct practice of counseling services for traumatic and operational stress patients and their family members. He is passionate in his belief that people can overcome the effects of trauma and live happier, more meaningful lives.

Tom has masters degrees in social work and theology and lives with his wife near Raleigh, North Carolina. He has two children in college and loves spending time with his family, especially traveling, boating, fishing and anything else involving rivers, lakes or oceans. He believes strongly in the mission of Project Sanctuary and is happy to be a staff member.

Laura Cardon | Director of Communications

Laura Cardon joined Project Sanctuary in 2018 after four years at Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), an organization that funds outdoor recreation and land conservation projects across the state. At GOCO, Laura created compelling, relatable stories about GOCO’s impact on Coloradans’ lives while providing the highest level of customer service to stakeholders and grantees. Laura works to do the same at Project Sanctuary.

Laura moved to Colorado from Maryland after starting her career in the horse industry, leading social media strategy and media relations for clients at two equestrian public relations agencies prior to dedicating herself to nonprofit work. She graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s of science in public relations.

Laura volunteers with the Denver Animal Shelter’s Jog a Dog program and as a literacy tutor for elementary school students with Reading Partners. She lives in Denver with her husband, a Navy veteran, and enjoys reading, trail running, and spending time with her horse.

Photo of Michael Jordan, major gifts officer

Michael Jordan | Major Gifts Officer
Michael Jordan is one of seven children from a military family. After starting a successful real estate business, he went to college at age 29, became an attorney and practiced real estate law. There Michael discovered a passion for representing children in guardian ad litem cases on a pro bono basis.

In 2010, Michael decided to dedicate his life to nonprofit endeavors. However, his fundraising efforts started in the late 90’s when he was presented a check for a nonprofit. Thereafter he began a voluntary campaign asking for donations for various groups.

Currently, Michael resides in Aspen Colorado and is also the founder of Aspen Forward Foundation, which helps raise money for Saint Mary’s Foundation. He loves the outdoors, spending his free time on a bike, a hike or camping.

Emily Williams | Director of Events & Volunteers
Emily Williams serves as Project Sanctuary’s Director of Events and Volunteers. She is the mother of two amazing boys and the wife of a disabled veteran.  She is currently pursuing a degree in Business and Administration, which she expects to complete in the next year.

Emily has always had a heart for volunteering. After she finished treatment for breast cancer in 2013, she decided to take a job in the nonprofit world as a Volunteer and Affiliate Coordinator. Emily loves being able to work with volunteers and getting to know the people that really help nonprofits succeed!

Emily’s family is a Project Sanctuary graduate family. They entered the program not knowing what to expect and left feeling like a brand-new family. She truly believes every military family deserves the opportunity Project Sanctuary provides, recognizing that the need is great and that veterans often feel like they don’t have anywhere to turn. Since completing the program, Emily has volunteered four times with Project Sanctuary — three times as a family. She loves the idea of “families helping families” and she is thrilled to continue helping military families as a new member of our development team!

Emily also loves the outdoors and often spends time unplugging with her family by kayaking, camping, hiking… they love it all!

Kelli Sands | Family Engagement Manager
Kelli Sands has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked in multiple educational and business environments throughout her career. She is passionate about families and children with an emphasis on children with special needs or circumstances. Kelli is married to a service-disabled Navy veteran. She began working with Project Sanctuary in 2015.

Sophia V. Oliveira, M.S. | Grants & Development Coordinator
Sophia deeply supports outdoor recreation as a means of bringing families together to heal. Coming from an educational background in life sciences, she had opportunities to spend time out in nature, engaging others and seeing the power of this positive force in action.

Over the past five years, Sophia has gained experience working with nonprofits through data management, fundraising, and outreach. She came to Project Sanctuary after realizing the lack of complete support provided to entire military families from other organizations. Ultimately, after falling in love with Project Sanctuary’s mission, she relocated to Colorado to dive full-force into fundraising efforts for our military families.

Sharon Harris, CTRS | Program Coordinator
Sharon understands the concept of “a family that plays together, stays together.” She has a bachelor’s degree in recreational management and youth leadership with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation and is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.

Sharon began working with Project Sanctuary as the Youth Program Coordinator in July 2015. In 2018, she was promoted to a full-time position as the Program Coordinator. As the Program Coordinator, Sharon focuses on the programming involved with Colorado retreats, helping the families who attend gain positive therapeutic experiences. She also continues to run youth programs and assists with administrative work.

In the past, Sharon has worked with medically fragile individuals of all ages at Tophams Tiny Tot as the recreational therapist. She also interned at Maple Lake Academy, a school for adolescents with learning disabilities.

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