Elisha Simpson E-RYT, RCYT, M.A. YACEP
Elisha Simpson is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization the Crossover Yoga Project (CYP). Founded in 2015, CYP has empowered over 1800 marginalized girls through trauma informed yoga, mindfulness and creative art therapy to move towards positive change.
Every child can empower themselves from within, as Elisha witnessed teaching at the Promises for Families camp in Texas. Promises for Families is a camp offered at no charge for teen girls who have parent(s) that are incarcerated. In this camp, they have an opportunity to experience mindfulness, yoga, African drumming and dance, horseback riding, swimming and confidence building activities. After the camp was over, Director Katy Hoskins came to Elisha with a story from a guardian of one of the girls:
My granddaughter has been afraid of the water since I can remember. When she came back from camp and we went to the pool on an extremely hot day, she jumped right into the deep end, touched the bottom and came back up. Surprised, I asked her, “how did you do that?” And she told me, ” I just remembered one of Ms. Elisha’s meditations and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”
It was from these beginnings, CYP was born.
Her personal practice of over 20 years brings her the resilience she needs as a trauma survivor, and the inspiration and commitment to never give up. CYP guide girls towards resilience, helps them heal from their own traumas, and to feel alive in the present moment. Everyone has this power within them, and through the tools of mindfulness, yoga and art, we are reminded that we can find a balance, stay calm and take charge of our bodies.
Jennifer Albin was working as a case manager at Open Arms Women’s Halfway House in Rockland County, NY in 2011 when she began utilizing art journaling as part of her continued healing process from childhood trauma. Jennifer discovered that art allowed her to connect to a deep well of wisdom within and make sense of her inner world. She began to share the practice with the women in her groups and discovered that this is where her true passion lie: helping other women to discover the best parts of themselves through art.
Jennifer left a career as a substance abuse counselor in 2012 to pursue her art practice full-time and to share the healing power of art with others. A self-taught mixed media artist, she created Soul Whisper Arts in 2013, where she offers on-line and in-person art workshops, one-on-one healing art sessions, and inspirational mixed-media art. She is honored to work with the Crossover Yoga Project to bring the healing power of art to girls. As a survivor of trauma, Jennifer knows firsthand the struggles CYP girls face in learning to see their worth, trust their voices, and stand in their truth. She also knows the potential each girl carries and believes, that with paintbrush in hand, each one can discover the bravest parts of themselves.
Jennifer began her career working with homeless men at St. Christopher’s Inn in Garrison, NY in 2004, gaining the experience she needed before moving on to work with the population most dear to her heart: women and children. She has always had a passion for healing, whether as a Reiki Master or as a Credentialed NYS Substance Abuse Counselor. She was drawn to the substance abuse counseling field after her own experience recovering from childhood trauma and addiction. She worked at St. Christopher’s Inc. in Dobb’s Ferry, NY as substance abuse counselor, helping to implement an in-house substance abuse program in 2010.
Nicole Lampel LCAT, ATR-BC Creative Arts Therapist
Nicole is a registered, board certified, and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, who received her MPS in Creative Arts Therapy from Pratt Institute. Nicole’s work has focused on individuals with multiple traumas. Most of her experience has been providing individual, family, and group therapy to adolescents and their families in the child welfare system in Westchester and Brooklyn. Nicole also works with adults with mental illness and substance abuse issues. Through the use of art, drama, and talk therapy, Nicole guides her clients through a safe healing process.
Alexandra Dziedzic, MS Creative Arts Therapist
Alexandra Dziedzic is a registered, board certified and New York State licensed creative arts therapist. She has a MS in Art Therapy and Counseling from the College of New Rochelle. She has been practicing for over 8 years as an art therapist psychotherapist. She values the important role that the interconnection between the mind and the body plays in one’s overall health. Utilizing both verbal and nonverbal techniques including art and writing, she helps her clients express, explore and regulate their thoughts, feelings and behaviors; increase insight, self-awareness and self-esteem. Her work focuses on assisting her clients to identify and change thought and behavioral patterns that inhibit them from reaching personal goals.
Her clinical experience includes working with adults, adolescents and children in both inpatient and outpatient mental health settings; clients with variety of mental health diagnoses and who have experienced past traumas. She has worked individually with clients, with their families and facilitated psychotherapy groups. Alexandra believes that providing a safe supportive environment is an impetus for self-exploration, change and growth.
Annie Bingaman, MSW candidate Fordham University
Annie is a Masters of Social Work candidate at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, focusing on combining trauma-informed yoga and psychotherapy. Annie has provided CYP with the critical support to continue our mission to empower young women who have struggled with depression, lack of self worth, and traumatic experiences. Having practiced yoga for decade, Annie wishes more people had taught her about female empowerment at a young age and believes “it is critical to reinforce that trauma does not define a person’s worth.”
Susannah Johnston RYT, CYP Instructor/Volunteer
Susannah is a Registered Yoga Teacher who has been teaching her blend of Prana, Vinyasa and Kundalini yoga privately, in studios, and at local health clubs in Northern Westchester for the past 16 years. As a volunteer instructor she has assisted in bringing the Crossover Yoga Curriculum to teenage girls in Westchester detention centers and at the Alternative Home for Young Mothers in Yonkers, NY.
Susannah was instrumental in the success of CYP’s first on-line fundraising effort. A graduate of Cornell Hotel School, Susannah has extensive experience in restaurant management and event catering. For 6 years, she served as Chairperson of the Croton Harmon Education Foundation’s annual fundraising gala, raising over $200,000 for community schools. Susannah is the co-founder of Embrace Recovery Yoga, an 8-week yoga series for women on the recovery path from alcohol addiction. To fully serve her dreams, Susannah’s energies will be focused on EYR, although CYP remains strong in her heart.
Megan Kaen RYT, CYP Instructor/Volunteer
Megan is a 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher leading CYP’s new community yoga classes at Trinity Church in Ossining, NY. Megan started doing yoga when she was 8 years old, and has recently finished her 200 hr yoga teacher training with Yoga for Body and Mind. Besides yoga she loves animals, fitness, nature, and baking. She is Graduate College of Mount Saint Vincent has a BA Communication, Minor Fine Arts.
She is excited to start working with CYP and we are grateful to have her enthusiasm and energy as part of our team.