About Us

Decade2Connect is a nonprofit mental health services provider in the Denver Metro area that offers inclusive mental health services for Colorado families with children ages 10-14. 

Our mission is to connect people to themselves, their families and communities.

Our History

Decade2Connect was incorporated in 1955 as Forest Heights Lodge (FHL) and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the mental health needs of children and families.  

From 1955 to 2020, FHL operated a residential treatment facility for boys in Evergreen, Colorado. As the program evolved, our reputation grew and our enrollment expanded nationally and internationally. Treatment was based upon the importance of developing healthy interpersonal relationships and connections in a strength-based, emotionally-focused environment.

Over the past 65+ years, hundreds of children and their families have communicated that the support and treatment they engaged with changed the course of their lives for the better.

Evolving Into Decade2Connect

In 2020, our Board of Directors and Staff re-envisioned a way to provide mental health care for families, children, adolescents and teens in the Denver Metro area. We shifted our service model from a national/international residential program to a gender-inclusive outpatient-based program to include the child’s whole family. 

In our decades of experience, we understand the important role caregivers and family members play throughout the treatment process. When children, parents, siblings and family members have access to support, everyone can benefit and family connections improve. In short, participation by everyone improves outcomes for everyone.

Our Team

Board of Directors

Mark Hall, Chairperson

John Enochs, Vice Chairperson

Steve Sarche, DO

Rich Audsley, PhD

Teresa Christensen, PhD, LPC, NCC, RPT-S

Amanda Lewis, MMS, PA-C

Staff

Laurel Nook, MA, LPCC

Clinical Therapist

Laurel has worked with children and families for 20 years with experience in Behavioral Health, Special Education and Art Education. She believes in the importance of supporting youth and embracing their unique connection to self and others. Laurel marvels at the power of expression through the use of art, sand tray, and play therapy techniques.

Having graduated with honors from Regis University, she was recognized for her excellence in Counseling and Family Therapy. She was also honored by receiving the Father Ignacio Martin Baro Award for Social Justice. Laurel is passionate about working with LGBTQIA+ youth, families, and advocacy in the community.

Therapy is not a one size fits all approach and Laurel demonstrates her therapeutic approach through her warmth, compassion, wacky sense of humor, and ability to play alongside youth and families. She believes in post-traumatic growth and resiliency with an emphasis in relational humanistic theory. While engaged in therapy with Laurel, the human experience in all of us is honored. It is not easy to come into therapy and Laurel is grateful to be part of the beauty in each participant’s story that unfolds through the peaks and valleys of all our lived experiences.

Laurel lives in Denver with her partner, pet dog, and cat. She enjoys playing outdoors, skiing, hiking, camping, and painting in her studio.

  • Master’s of Arts in Counseling-Regis University, 2022

  • Post-Baccalaurate Art Education K-12-Metropolitan State University of Denver, 2012

  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology & Human Development-Aquinas College, 1998

  • Play Therapist in Training

Sierra Brown, MSW, SWC

Clinical Therapist

Sierra has a passion for working with families and kids. She has been working in some capacity in the mental health and healing fields for over 8 years, having previously worked with the Decade2Connect staff at Forest Heights Lodge as a Residential Youth Counselor. After getting her graduate degree, she returned to Decade2Connect and is excited to jump into this new program.

Sierra has worked with a variety of people but the majority of her work has been with kids. She has worked in a variety of clinical mental health roles in acute care psychiatric facilities and was a counselor for youth in cases of abuse, an adult outpatient counselor, and a play therapist in the school setting.

Sierra’s values are authenticity, creativity, and willingness to learn. She enjoys helping people empower their strengths and messages from their environment while unpacking any ideas that no longer serve the individual’s goals. Sierra loves helping families and children navigate through isolation and disempowerment to help them step into their own empowerment, connection, and personal power!

When she is not working she can be found participating in political advocacy, attempting to grow things in her garden, fostering dogs, and trail running in the mountains.

  • Masters of Social Work- Metropolitan State University 2022
  • Bachelors of Science in Psychology-Western Colorado University 2017

Haley Batchelder

Outreach & Development Coordinator

Always a connector of people, Haley graduated with an English and Communications degree in 2016. Since then, she has worked to support a variety of missions and has witnessed the direct impact a nonprofit organization can have on a community if given the proper funding and resources. She loves people and strives to see those in need receive the care they need.

Haley has served in a variety of positions globally, from grant-writing in Boston to delivering babies in the Philippines. The common thread throughout her experiences is the transformation that happens when people feel loved by, and connected to, one another. She loves to use her writing and interpersonal skills to witness these moments and is honored to work for a team with a similar mission.

When she’s not working, Haley can be found exploring her new home of Colorado with her friends, singing, playing piano, guitar and planning her next trip to Disneyworld.

  • Bachelors of Art in English – Westfield State University 2016

Steve Dieter, MA, LPC

Chief Clinical Officer

Throughout his 27 year career, Steve has helped families and children grow their connections to one another, and to the world around them.

Steve believes that there is no greater supportive connection than the one between a child and their parent or caregiver, which organizes his approach to emotional and mental health. Many factors influence emotional development and expression, and not every type of therapy works for everyone. Knowing this, Steve has pursued training in multiple modalities of therapy including Emotion-Focused Family Therapy, Internal Family Systems Theory, EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing), Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and play therapy.

Steve lives in Denver with his wife and has a grown stepdaughter. When doing things other than his work, you can find him enjoying the Colorado outdoors, or at home playing backgammon and listening to music.

  • Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology – Regis University 2003

  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology – Kent State University 1993

  • State of Colorado Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor Qualified

Mark Henninger, MNM

Chief Executive Officer

Mark began working at Decade2Connect in 2000.

He graduated with honors from the College of Business and Economics at Regis University in 2016. Mark’s graduate work in strategic leadership and management partnered with 24 years of experience supervising and mentoring teams has prepared him to align the business component of an organization with missional benefit to the community.

Mark has also served as a Youth Treatment Counselor, Residence Coordinator, Director of Residence and Director of Operations.

He has utilized his energy and creativity to engage kids in activities that increase self-esteem and promote resilient relationships. Mark is passionate about the benefits of being outdoors in the mountains of Colorado and enjoys spending time skiing, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, and traveling with his family.

  • Master of Nonprofit Management – Regis University 2016

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology – University of Nebraska 2000

Jody Hans Olson, MA

Officer of the Board – Secretary

Jody has worked in residential treatment and special education for over 40 years.

He began his work at Decade2Connect (previously Forest Heights Lodge) in 1982 as a youth treatment counselor and then as a teacher. After a five-year period of working in public education as a special education teacher and coach, he returned to Forest Heights as the Residence/Assistant Executive Director.

In 2019, he was appointed by the Board of Directors to the position of Chief Executive Officer, which he served until 2023. Professionally and personally, Jody is always looking ahead to new opportunities and challenges. When Jody is not working at D2C, he enjoys running, hiking, biking, backpacking, camping and planning his next adventure.

Jody has a passion for the mission of Decade2Connect and all the people he has had the privilege to serve over the years.

  • Master of Arts in Special Education – University of Colorado 1990

  • Bachelor of Arts in Special Education & Physical Education – Augustana University 1980

  • Certified Instructor in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention

  • State of Colorado Professional Teacher License – Highly Qualified in Physical Education and Educationally Handicapped

Amor Flores

Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor

Amor is passionate about yoga, movement, and mindfulness. She has been practicing yoga for 17 years and had been teaching yoga for 7 years.

In 2015 she enrolled in the Kids Teacher Training Program and 200-hour Teacher Empowerment Program at BIG Power Yoga in Houston, Texas. She quickly began teaching kids yoga full-time and served as the Director of BIG’s Kids Yoga Program for 2 years. Throughout this time she created special events like family yoga, kids’ yoga birthday parties, kids’ yoga summer camps, and workshops.

Amor has also taught in Montessori and public schools all over Houston. She expanded her studies by completing Yin Yoga, Trauma-Informed Yoga, and personal coaching programs. In September 2018, Amor moved to NYC and continued to teach kids yoga in schools as well as toddler, mommy & me, and family yoga all over New York City.

As of 2020, Amor is teaching yoga at BIG Power Yoga in Denver, serving the yoga community and assisting with yearly yoga teacher training. In May 2022, she completed a year-long 300-hour yoga training making her a 500-hour registered yoga teacher.

She continues to work with yoga students of all ages and is a dedicated yoga practitioner who loves creating community and empowering people through yoga and full-self expression.

Amy Benjamin, MA, LPCC

Clinical Therapist

Amy is passionate about supporting parents who want to find a better way to see and solve challenges in their homes. Amy believes in strengthening relationships —she views your bond with your child as the ultimate parenting tool.

While her clinical work has included diverse age ranges and backgrounds, she is drawn to working with parents as she herself is navigating parenthood. She has tremendous empathy for both the beauty and challenges it involves.

Parenting often brings the unexpected and it’s easy to feel overcome with “mom/dad guilt” (despite how hard one works). Amy focuses on the parent behind the parenting with an emphasis on understanding what drives parental choices and how reactions are often impacted by one’s own childhood experiences.

Amy is a Colorado native and loves hiking, backpacking, camping, travel, and spending time with her husband and two kids.

 

  • Master’s of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling-Regis University, 2022

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication-University of Colorado, 2007

Rigby, Therapy Dog

Canine Support Officer

Rigby is our therapy dog in training. He is an F1 Goldendoodle from Selah Mountain Dogs in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

He was selected after completing temperament testing that indicated his personality is well suited for working with people. We are very thankful to Selah Mountain Dogs as they very generously donated a portion of the breeding fee to Forest Heights. Rigby loves kids and people, and his tail is always wagging around new folks.

Rigby is diligently working on his obedience training, which will be followed by training to be certified as a Therapy Dog.

Our Intensive Outpatient Program is in-network with United!