Our Team

Mike Balotti

President and Educational Consultant

Mike has worked closely with adolescents and their families since 1998. Prior to launching Redwood Educational Services LLC, he has supported students and parents in a variety of important roles including writing curriculum and teaching at a residential environmental education center in California, helping to develop and establish an international therapeutic boarding school in Central America, as Director of Admissions for a nationally recognized therapeutic wilderness program and guiding students and families through their personal and academic journeys as an educational consultant here in Philadelphia with a different consulting firm.

Mike’s commitment to education and working with adolescents dates back to the early 1990’s when he had his own experiences in alternative education. Having grown up going to Quaker school he always valued the importance of the student having a voice in their process and ownership over their own experience. Mike started his college career in upstate New York, followed by a wide variety of enlightening educational experiences including participating in the Audubon Expedition Institute, a traveling school that focused on environmental education, and completing a semester-long NOLS course in East Africa. After completing a self-designed undergraduate degree combining education, environmental studies, and sociology at the University of Redlands – Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, Mike went on to do some graduate work at both Bath University in England and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Additionally, Mike’s passport is well-worn. He has followed his love of different cultures, the outdoors and adventure travel across six of the seven continents and fifty of the fifty states (including Puerto Rico and several of the USVI for those who are counting). He has stared down a poisonous snake in the mountains of northern Laos (and won, thankfully), ate questionable things with Maasai warriors on an African hillside, hiked through virgin old growth rainforest in Central America, canoed through the cypress swamps of the southeastern United States, jet-boated in New Zealand, skied the Dolomites in Northern Italy, and explored the ancient Andean city of Machu Picchu in addition to many other fulfilling adventures.

When not helping families, Mike enjoys spending time with his wonderful wife, Jen, their daughter Sophia, and with their dog Luca (a therapy dog in-training). You will also find him traveling to new and remote locations, running, reading, volunteering, following baseball, and playing something that somewhat resembles golf.

Kris Brightbill MA, LPC, NCC

Clinical Consultant

Kris enthusiastically brings over 20 years of clinical experience in working with clients and their families. In addition to being a licensed professional counselor and Pennsylvania certified secondary guidance counselor, she is the founder and director of Turning Tides Transitions, a customized and supportive after-care program for adolescents and young adults who are transitioning out of wilderness therapy programs and/or residential treatment placements back to home.

She brings history to her counseling and consulting practice, including many years of experience as a clinician, an educator (at both the college and graduate level), and as a guidance counselor. As a therapist, she has extensive experience working with adolescents, young (emerging) adults and their families in both individual, group settings, and intensive outpatient programs (IOP). She has maintained a private practice for over 10 years.  Additionally, she has been adjunct faculty for undergraduate psychology/organizational leadership courses and a graduate part-time faculty member for a Masters in Counseling program. She has also worked within the public school system as a Prevention Specialist, a guidance counselor, and as an IEP coordinator.

Kris' passion and dedication to understanding residential treatment options began over 14 years ago when a family member enrolled in a wilderness therapy program, followed by a therapeutic boarding school. Since that time she has devoted herself to thoroughly learning the many behavioral health care industry options, treatment options and programs throughout the United States including wilderness therapy programs, therapeutic boarding schools, residential treatment centers, and substance abuse programs. She particularly finds benefit in spending time with clinical staff, therapists, field staff, program staff and by participating in family seminars and workshops.

Having been raised (and living currently) in the suburban Philadelphia/ Main Line area Kris is very familiar with the area's educational landscape. She herself was a graduate of a local private girls school, and one of her sons graduated from a local private school that specifically works with students who learn differently. Her passion is truly helping people, especially navigating the often-complex journey of discovering appropriate educational options, therapeutic placement and interventions.

Kris has been married to her husband, Matt, for over 27 years. They have raised two sons: Andrew, who is currently 24 years old and working in the mental health field, and have a second son, Jake, who is studying in college. Both of their children are currently practicing in, or seeking education in, the field of psychology, counseling and experiential therapy. When she has some "downtime" she enjoys reading and spending quality time with friends and family. When not doing those, she can be found running with her dogs Brooke and Blizzard (her rescue/therapy dog in training). 

Susan Hayes RD

Administrative and Outreach Coordinator

Susan Hayes comes to Redwood Educational Services with a vast and varied relationship to education.

Susan’s formative high school years were spent on Long Island, where she graduated in the top 10 in her class of over 600 students, was a speaker at her high school graduation and had the lead in the musical show, Camelot. She continued her educational journey at Syracuse University, where she completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. Syracuse University was a tremendous educational and cultural experience for Susan, and helped her to refine her vision of wanting to help and educate others. She used this experience to go on to a Dietetic Internship and Combined Graduate School Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, with the goal of obtaining the credentialing to become a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist.

Susan’s career as a Dietitian and Nutritionist since that time has included opportunities to help people achieve and maintain their health and nutrition goals in hospital, long-term care facilities, college food service and community settings. She also completed Nutrition and Communications Master Degree coursework at Teacher’s College/Columbia University in New York City.

Along the way, Susan also worked with a major pharmaceutical company, utilizing her organizational skills as a Meeting Planner in addition to working with health care providers in private practice and hospital settings to connect their patients with the appropriate pharmaceutical treatments for their diagnoses of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, migraine headaches, and glaucoma.

Susan and her husband, Steve, love to bike ride, walk, try new restaurants and stay informed and educated about national and world happenings. It’s no surprise that Susan LOVES to cook, has recently become certified as a Health and Wellness Coach, and is passionate about combining good health and vitality with the yummiest of foods and beverages.

Susan is excited and proud to be part of the Redwood Educational Services Team, contributing to the educational endeavors and successes of all children and their families.