Altitude is directed and overseen by a multidisciplinary leadership team and advisory board, which includes leaders in various clinical fields, parents, as well as long-time successful professionals in summer camping. The Chair of the Advisory Board is Executive Director and Founder Dr. Marci Schwartz.
Dr. Marci Schwartz
Founder & Chair of the Advisory Board
Marci Schwartz, Ph.D., LCSW received her MSW and Ph.D. from New York University. Dr. Schwartz has been providing counseling services for parents of children with developmental disabilities for over 20 years. She has offices in Mountain View and Los Gatos, California, and her private practice focuses primarily on parents of children with developmental delays including autistic spectrum disorders, nonverbal learning disorders and attention deficit disorders. The emphasis of her work is focused on helping parents better understand their children’s unique way of learning and interacting with their environment. She helps parents implement concrete strategies for their families that incorporate the specific learning styles of all the members of the family. She also focuses on helping parents address their emotional needs, such as issues around frustration, anger, sadness and worry regarding their children. You can learn more about Dr. Schwartz at www.marcischwartz.com.
Kirsten, a graduate of The University of California, Santa Cruz has two decades of experience working with families who have children of varying abilities. Kirsten has been passionate about working with families since her college years, and found her niche on the administrative side of supporting families when she founded A Special Nanny in 2003. At A Special Nanny Kirsten recruited nannies and one-to-one aides for families of children with special-needs. Kirsten’s experiences include tutoring students in literacy using the Lindamood/Bell methodology, working as an ABA Tutor, running A Special Nanny and working as a Special Education Coordinator for a private family. Kirsten explains, “I believe in each individual being able to achieve their personal highest level of independence, diginity and joy.” In addition to the above mentioned experience, Kirsten spent her childhood and teen years as a Girl Scout and avid camper. Kirsten lives in the forest in Unicorporated Los Gatos and has a great love of the outdoors. Since Altitude is committed to providing fun and rewarding experiences that promote learning, she is proud to be part of the team!
Nicole Kristal, M.S., OT/L obtained her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from San Jose State University. She is currently working for the Center for Developing Minds in Los Gatos, California. She has many years of experience working with children with autism spectrum disorders, including several years spent as an Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapist, working in sensory integration clinics, in public schools, non-public schools for children with autism, and in home-based early intervention settings. She has training in the use of the DIR/Floortime model for relationship development, sensory integration training, Wilbarger Brushing protocol, and the Therapeutic Listening Program for children with auditory integration difficulties. Her professional passions include: helping children development social skills, motor skills, and self-worth, social-emotional skill development, building leadership skills, building life skills and executive functioning skills, and working with families on managing challenging behavioral issues. In her free time, she enjoys performing with her improvisational comedy troop!
Ryan is currently a doctoral student at UC Santa Barbara studying Special Education, Disability, and Developmental Risk. Prior to that, Ryan was a special education teacher for seven years, a general education teacher for two years, and has worked with children for nineteen years in varying capacities. As a special education teacher, Ryan primarily taught students with histories of aggression and violence regardless of the student’s diagnosis. As a result, Ryan has extensive experience working with children from a variety of backgrounds including children diagnosed with autism, learning disabilities, and emotional disregulations (Ryan refuses to call these “emotional disturbances”). Furthermore, these positions have given Ryan a great deal of experience explicitly teaching social skills, creating school groups based on high-interest material, and helping students learn perspective-taking skills while also managing their emotions. Ryan’s specialty is in working with children and teens who struggle with managing their emotions, often helping them understand the consequences of their actions especially in relation to the effects on others. Ryan has worked at summer camps since 1994 and was in charge of city-sponsored summer camps for four years. Ryan has been at Camp Altitude since its inception in 2010.
Ryan says, “This is my favorite time of year because the summer is when we can truly focus on social skills and building relationships. Therefore, it is our greatest duty to serve these children the best we can, while we can. And let’s not forget that what we do should indeed be service.”
When not enjoying the summer camp experience, Abel Grebenik, MA, works as a Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist Intern in San Francisco. Abel has over ten years experience assisting children, adults, and families cope with developmental, and emotional differences. In addition to talk therapy, Abel’s experience includes working as a Therapeutic Behavior Specialist with at-risk youth in community-based programs and as an Independent Living Skills Instructor for adults with intellectual challenges.