After earning her undergraduate degree in Psychology from James Madison University in 2007, Ki spent a year of personal integration and full-time service in Seattle Public Schools with the Americorps program known as City Year. As a member of the “City Heroes” team, Ki worked with high school students across King County on a close-knit team of like-minded individuals, engaging in direct action to bring about lasting impacts and positive change. This was a time when she began to learn the transformative power of beloved community and collective care. It was during this period that Ki also began to meditate and study the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), after being introduced to the western Insight Meditation teacher, psychologist, and author, Tara Brach. This first touch point to mindfulness practice and Buddhist psychology, spoken through the words of a deeply compassionate and loving being, would form the integral first steps in Ki’s journey of deepening healing and learning how to skillfully support others.
At the end of her Americorps year, Ki relocated back to her home town of Portland, Oregon. There, she began her professional career in mental health in earnest. Her first and perhaps most challenging job was working with children in psychiatric crisis at Albertina Kerr Centers’ “Sub Acute” unit. This was a short term, 24-hour lock-down, in-patient psychiatric treatment program for children aged 5-18. At Kerr, Ki was trained extensively in Dr. Ross Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving approach to working with children in crisis. This model, which operates from the consciousness that “kids do well if they can,” was tested daily by the high levels of trauma and crisis present the children at Kerr. Ki and her colleagues were tasked to therapeutically support the children at Kerr amidst locked doors, seclusion rooms, and protective holds. This is where Ki first deeply accessed real understanding that all people really are doing the best they can, based on the causes and conditions of their lives.
From that time until now, Ki has worked across three foreign countries and many disciplines, incorporating and teaching the skills she has developed to children and colleagues along the way. In 2016, prompted by the presidential election and seeing with new eyes the degree to which the country and world is and was in need of healing, she began actively studying Nonviolent Communication. She found it an elegant and clear modality to express many of the lessons and practices she had encountered over the course of her life, including Collaborative Problem Solving and Mindfulness Practice. She knew from her very first lesson with NVC trainer Kathy Marchant that this would become her life’s work. She was later invited to co-teach at the Portland Insight Meditation Community with Dharma Teacher and NVC facilitator, Doyle Banks, and co-taught an 11-week course and ongoing practice group with him for several years. It was within the context of the PIMC Dharma community that Ki discovered Naropa University, and the Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology Master’s Degree, and immediately felt called to apply.
On Ki’s first day at Naropa, Director of Mission, Culture, and Inclusive Community, Dr. Amanda Aguilera, offered a training to Ki’s cohort on the Right Use of Power™. Ki knew right away, that this was an important missing piece to all of her training and experience. She saw how RUP could be integrated with NVC to provide powerful tools to address, investigate, and responsibly engage with the important intersections of identity, power, and systems of oppression on the micro, as well as the macro levels. In 2020, Ki completed the facilitator training program at the Right Use of Power Institute and earned her certification as an Affiliated Teacher with the Institute. During her training with RUPI, Ki developed the inaugural online 12-week course, “Language for the Open-Hearted Warrior,” which weaves RUP principles into every aspect of Nonviolent Communication. This course successfully launched its first cohort in the spring of 2021.
It was also during Ki’s time at Naropa that she was first introduced to Internal Family Systems (IFS), though indirectly and implicitly in through her own work with her personal therapist. It also came up occasionally through colleagues in her program at Naropa, though at the time, Naropa did not offer any formal training in this approach. Ki found a deep personal connection with the Internal Family Systems (IFS) approach, seeing it as perfectly aligned with the principles of Nonviolent Communication and Contemplative Psychotherapy. She appreciated how IFS, like these other modalities, is based on the belief that everyone, in all their aspects, is inherently good, and that much of human suffering stems from a disconnection from oneself and others.
As Ki experienced the transformative effects of IFS on her own healing journey, she actively sought training in IFS techniques for client work outside of her Contemplative Psychotherapy graduate program at Naropa. She engaged in several extended, asynchronous online trainings to deepen her understanding and application of IFS in therapy. When Ki integrated IFS with Contemplative Psychotherapy, NVC, and RUP during her client work in her internship, she observed remarkable and swift transformations. This integration phase marked a significant evolution in her therapeutic approach. Ki discovered that the essence of IFS’s approach to self-compassion lies in recognizing our multifaceted nature. This understanding was crucial in creating the necessary space to allow genuine transformation, offering a deeper access point for healing and growth. It was from here that she began integrating this final modality into the PNVC course, as a means for more direct access to self compassion.
Ki remains dedicated to deepening her expertise in IFS. In 2023, after persistently entering a lottery for several years, she was finally accepted into the official IFS Level 1 training. Her completion of this pivotal stage is set for the spring of 2024, though she plans to continue deepening her study and practice far beyond this milestone.
Since her graduation from Naropa in May 2022, Ki launched Warrior Wisdom LLC in February 2023. She now works with individuals, couples, and groups, combining her roles as a therapist, mediator, coach, teacher, facilitator, and consultant. Ki is deeply committed to aiding personal and systemic transformation, inspired by the belief that inner collective care is key to societal healing. She is passionate about community collaboration, continuously learning and applying her skills as a compassionate “open-hearted warrior,” grateful for the mentorship and support she receives on this ever-evolving journey.