Sunrise Springs Thrive Guides

At Sunrise Springs, our passionate team of diverse wellness professionals are dedicated to guide you on a journey of self-discovery, and honor your desire for optimal health and wellbeing. 

Wellness Team

Dr. Sally Fisher, Medical Director

Dr. Sally Fisher : Sunrise SpringsSally Fisher, MD brings an unwavering passion for evidence-based integrative and nutritional medicine to Sunrise Springs. Her desire and intention is to have those she works with feel deeply that she is fully present, with warmth, humor, and knowledge, as she helps people to explore ways of enhancing their health and wellness. As a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine, Dr. Fisher enjoys sharing her extensive training and experience in integrative, nutritional, preventive and functional medicine.

Dr. Fisher began her professional career by interning at the North Shore University Hospital/New York University School of Medicine. Subsequently, she completed her residency at Mt. Sinai/New York University School of Medicine in Preventive, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. She also participated in the fellowship program in Holistic Medicine at Columbia University School of Medicine. More recently, Dr. Fisher worked as an integrative medicine/preventive medicine clinic physician at the University of New Mexico Center for Life. Dr. Fisher currently has a private practice in Albuquerque where she practices integrative, preventative, and nutritional medicine.

Dr. Fisher received her B.A. in Psychology from Yale University summa cum laude. She then earned her M.D. at the University of New Mexico, where she received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Senior. Dr. Fisher earned her M.S. in Community Medicine at Mt. Sinai/New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Fisher is board certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine, the American Board of Holistic and Integrative Medicine and the American Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists.

In a future life, Sally hopes to run a teashop. Until then, she enjoys sharing this passion with others by serving tea at the start of each medical consultation. Sally also makes it a point to stay connected to nature, the breath, and to honor compassion and gratitude. She is especially grateful to have the opportunity practice medicine at Sunrise Springs.

Michael Schroeder, Lead Counselor

300michaelschroederMichael received undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Printmaking from the University of California Santa Cruz and has strived to maintain the connection between art and psychology in his career and personal life.

Michael studied graphic and furniture design at Parsons School of Design in NYC and trained as a Yoga Instructor at New York’s Integral Yoga. For many years, Michael worked as a fine artist specializing in printmaking, resin casting and woodwork with gallery representation in New York City and Santa Fe. Art led him back to psychology, particularly depth-related modalities and the work of Carl Jung, MD.

Michael received his Master’s Degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute, graduating summa cum laude. He has worked extensively with couples and kids. His psychotherapy practice is solution-focused, combining art, myth, mindfulness and elements of Zen Buddhism to help individuals and couples evolve to greater self-knowledge.

Michael is a licensed psychotherapist (LMFT) in California and New Mexico. He considers Santa Fe one of the best-kept secrets and loves living amidst its fresh air, cultural richness, four seasons, green chile and abundant outdoor activities.

Thrive Guides

Diane Chase, Expressive Arts

300dianechaseDiane is a native of New Mexico and a practitioner and teacher of Eastern philosophy and the Oriental healing arts since 1977. Her teaching practice springs from the fusion of Qi and Creativity to incorporate the body, the brush, breath, words, color, and imagery in a variety of media.

She facilitates the awakening of the body, mind and spirit through guided creative explorations. Her healing arts, stress reduction techniques and creativity classes encompass meditation, various levels of Qigong therapeutic movement, art, and creative writing.

One of her signature Sunrise classes is “Body as Brush” which invites guests to move their bodies with Qi while using Sumi ink to capture a visual expression informed by the present moment.

Diane has created her practice from a lifetime of passionate study. Her professional training includes Vipassana, Zen, and Taoist traditions. Diane completed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction internship program at U Mass Memorial Medical Center, and served for a year as a work/study Retreat Manager at the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts.

Diane began an in-depth study of Mogadao Qigong in Taos, NM in 1995 with Sifu Zhenzan Dao. While living In Taos in the early 1990s, she was inspired by renowned figure drawing instructor, Ed Heffernan. This experience uncovered Diane’s potential as an artist and eventually led to her pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Arts Education at The University of New Mexico (2006).

Diane is a certified Guide Level Qigong Instructor and Sacred Sexuality Instructor with the MogaDao Institute of Santa Fe. She facilitates Self­–Care and Qigong retreats at the UNM Center for Life Integrative Medical Center in Albuquerque.

Daniel Gibson, Hiking Guide

Daniel Gibson was born and raised in the North Valley of Albuquerque, where he played in the fields, irrigation ditches, orchards and backyards of his rural neighborhood. His family camped every summer and had a cabin on Cow Creek, near Pecos, where he learned to fish as a boy.

His love of the outdoors led him to attend the National Outdoor Leadership School in the Wind River Range of Wyoming when he was 15, which included spending 32 uninterrupted days in the wilderness. Here he learned about route finding, decision-making in the field, group dynamics, basic camping and survival skills, and some basic botany and geology.

He then spent 13 months sailing across the Pacific Ocean with four other teens, which brought additional appreciation of the natural world and its diverse inhabitants, plus skills in seafaring, celestial navigation and basic oceanography.

He went on to study journalism and photography at the University of New Mexico, graduating with a BA in 1979, and has worked ever since as a reporter, magazine writer, editor, columnist and book author. He writes a weekly ski and winter travel column, Snow Trax, and his many guidebooks include the popular and award-winning Pueblos of the Rio Grande: A Visitor’s Guide (2001, Rio Nuevo Publishing) and Audubon Guide to the National Wildlife Refuges: Southwest (2000, St. Martin’s).

He has been guiding professionally for three years, focusing on hiking in northern New Mexico, plus regional cultural, historic and scenic tours. Serving as editor of Native Peoples magazine from 2001 to 2013, he has a special familiarity with and respect for New Mexico’s American Indian people and places. For more, see his website:

Brigita Lacovara, Culinary, Yoga and Meditation Teacher

Wellness and joy has always been an indicator of quality of life for Brigita. Thus, she was drawn to movement and good food from a young age. Raised in rural New Mexico, she was fortunate to be raised in a family where every meal was prepared from scratch and eaten at the table. Teenage dreams to become a pastry chef gave way to a university soccer scholarship and she received her BAFA in Art & Architectural History. Brigita’s kitchen and restaurant experience began at Le French Corner bakery (now Clafoutis in Santa Fe) and she continued on to work at The St. James Tea Room, The Grove, The Love Apple, and several others.  After moving to Taos, she transitioned to farming and to managing CSAs and farmer’s markets. Her food journey has revealed a deep passion for ancestral foods, fermentation, nutrition, and geographical and cultural gastronomy. Brigita has also studied yoga, massage, herbology, feldenkrais, Chinese medicine, neurolinguistic programming, and indigenous life ways. Brigita feels all aspects of her life and work to be interconnected, whether teaching a culinary class, offering energy work, or singing and moving. She attunes daily to the beauty in everything, experiencing deep gratitude for all.

Sue McDonald, Horticulture and Expressive Arts

300suemcdonaldSue is an artist, teacher and licensed professional Art Therapist. She weaves the sharing and telling of stories into all of her work to create a richer experience and to encourage connection. At Sunrise, Sue’s teaching approach encourages playful curiosity through direct exploration of nature.

Sue believes that when we are present in nature, we are also present with ourselves. Her personal connection to nature was first awakened on family walks in the woods growing up. Sue’s father’s knowledge of plants and animals has had a lasting impact on her career path and her life.

One of her classes is “Birds of Sunrise Springs,” in which guests are invited to discover what birds they see and hear. Sue also uses the garden-to-table concept to highlight the interconnectivity between humans and the plant kingdom.

Before coming to Sunrise Springs, Sue founded and developed environments and programs to promote individual, family and community health using expressive arts. Her most recent work was with an elementary school where she developed a therapeutic garden and educational program. This garden and program is documented in George Ancona’s book, “It’s Our Garden”.

Sue earned her BFA and her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Synesthetic Education (Art Education) from Syracuse University. She also has a Master’s Degree in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley College.

Sue and her husband enjoy traditional music and dance, cycling daily along the river in Santa Fe, and stopping to watch the beauty of its flow.

Danielle Simmons, Horticulture and Animal Interactions

300daniellesimmonsDanielle has spent her professional life using contact with nature as the foundation of her therapeutic practice. She was inspired by her childhood experience of play in the forests of upstate New York and has devoted her education to finding a way to connect human wellness with a deeper engagement to the natural world.

Danielle earned a B.S. in Environmental Economics & Management with a minor in Journalism and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Rhode Island. She went on to study herbalism and is a Certified Nutritional Herbalist as well as a Certified Doula. Danielle has a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and Counseling from Southwestern College and is a licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC).

Prior to joining Sunrise Springs, Danielle facilitated a garden and arts based curriculum at a Santa Fe elementary school that focused on increasing life skills and social growth. She also has experience using equine therapy with children to help them work through emotional, physical, and mental health issues. She has extended this work at Sunrise by guiding guests through therapeutic animal interactions.

Danielle planted and manages the greenhouse and the garden beds at Sunrise. She enjoys teaching guests the many uses of herbs from first aid to making herbal teas and salves. A favorite plant is the Sensitive Plant, which reacts to human touch to show us how we impact nature in real time.

Danielle is inspired by the big trees and abundant water of the oasis at Sunrise. She and her family have a large organic garden on their homestead south of Santa Fe.

Joel Whitney, Functional Movement & Fitness Instructor

Joel developed a love for the martial arts through his time in the Marine Corps and turned that love into a study of movement. After leaving the service, he graduated from Santa Fe Community College with an A.A.S in Exercise Science with High Honors. Since then he has worked primarily in education and martial arts instruction, focusing on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, wresting, and Submission Grappling. Joel enjoys teaching people to reconnect with their bodies, taking special pride in helping clients find stability and competence within movements they thought they weren’t capable of performing. He draws inspiration from the physical therapist and author Gray Cook, who is quoted as saying “First move well, then move often.” This quote highlights the importance of creating a foundation of healthy movement patterns.

Tess Yong, Yoga, Movement & Functional Fitness

300tessyongREVTess is an Internationally recognized fitness expert. She has studied various movement practices as a means of transformational healing for over 30 years. Her in-depth studies include Ecstatic Dance, Yoga Dance, Dance Meditation, Sacred Shamanic Dance, and the Five Rhythms by Gabriel Roth. Tess teaches movement as the way to find inner freedom in the body, mind, and heart. She sees the body as the medium for transformative alchemy and healing of the psyche. Tess’s personal journey has shown her that the body has the power to heal itself physically and psychologically through movement.

During an early phase of her career, Tess competed in numerous fitness competitions nationally and internationally, and earned many titles. Her success in fitness competitions led her to television and film work as a fitness expert in Hawaii and her native Korea. She has also served as a preventive health counselor for the Hawaiian Medical Service Association.

Dance remains an important part of Tess’s work. In 2012 and 2014, she organized two non-profit dance projects that were produced at the Lensic Performance Center of Santa Fe.

She brings a wealth of movement experience to Sunrise as an instructor of yoga, movement exploration, personal training, and functional fitness. Her teaching emphasizes movement that enhances everyday activity and quality of life. This focus improves the natural range of motion present in the body. Each person’s unique body type is considered and the foundation of each class is the present moment awareness of breath.

To further integrate mind, body, heart and spirit in her instruction, Tess is attending Southwestern College in Santa Fe. She is enrolled in their graduate program in pursuit of a counseling psychology degree to combine psychotherapy and various movement practices.

“The grounds are beautiful; the staff is exceptional.”
–Kathie M, Gilbert, AZ