A TEAM OF PROFESSIONAL ADVENTURERS.

The Team at Pure Life Aspiro

At Pure Life Aspiro, we are lucky to have a talented and diverse team. Each member is passionate about the outdoors, and dedicated to facilitating quality therapeutic experiences for our students.

Andrew Taylor, MBA

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Andrew Taylor, MBA

Co-Founder & Executive Director

A native of Utah, Andrew grew up in the outdoors and spent his college summers as a river guide on the Upper Colorado River. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in Organizational Communication, Andrew went to Costa Rica in search of whitewater. During his time in Costa Rica, he fell in love with the Costa Rican people and the wide range of adventure activities the country has to offer. Andrew has been running adventure trips in Costa Rica since 2004. He has rafted and kayaked rivers all over the world, including Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Venezuela. He is trained in Swiftwater Rescue and has also spent time as a White Water Rescue Technician Instructor.

In 2010 he received a Master of Business Administration from Westminster College in Salt Lake City and  pursued a Substance Use Disorder Counseling Certificate through the University of Utah in 2012. He has enjoyed and been inspired by his work with individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addictions at Cirque Lodge, which is one of the top substance abuse programs in the nation.

Andrew speaks fluent Spanish and is a certified Wilderness First Responder. He has a passion for adventure, the outdoors, and helping others experience the beauty that exists within nature around the world. He loves adventure travel and the many lessons it has taught him along the way.

Jeffrey Calderon

Clinical Director & Adventure Therapist

Jeffrey Calderon

Clinical Director & Adventure Therapist

Jeffrey is a passionate scholar-practitioner in the field of clinical psychology with experience in clinical practice, training and consulting. He specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based treatments with young adult clients struggling with emotional, behavioral, and adjustment issues. Jeffrey graduated as psychologist from Ludwig Maximilians Univerisity of Munich, Germany in 2006.  After graduating he worked as scientific researcher at the Universities of Ulm and Regensburg in Germany. There he developed research programs for gifted students and talent development plans for young adults. After working in Germany, he worked in Costa Rica at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung developing leadership programs for young adults in Costa Rica and Panama. He also worked the Universidad Latina in Costa Rica as academic coordinator of the Psychology department. For the past twenty years Jeffrey has worked in an outpatient setting both in individual and group therapy.

Jeffrey’s areas of clinical focus include anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, relationship problems and depression.

Kjrstin (KJ) Walters, MA, LMFT

Adventure Therapist

Kjrstin (KJ) Walters, MA, LMFT

Adventure Therapist

KJ has impressive experience working with adolescents and young adults in adventure therapy and residential treatment. She began her formal education with a Bachelors in Recreation Management and Youth Leadership and continued with her Master in Marriage and Family Therapy. Over the last ten years, KJ has honed her practice with young people with anxiety and depression. Her practice focuses on complex family systems, learning differences, trauma, attachment, and school refusal / failure. She incorporates a multi-modal technique in working with her clients and has recently included EMDR training to her therapeutic toolbox.

KJ is also an accomplished outdoor enthusiast and shares her love of new experiences with her husband and two daughter. She is an adventurer by nature and has fully embraced the Costa Rica lifestyle.

Carrie Weatherhead, LCSW

Director of Admissions & Marketing

Carrie Weatherhead, LCSW

Director of Admissions & Marketing

Carrie has dedicated her entire professional career to providing opportunities for at-risk adolescents and young adults. She received her BA in Sociology from Clark University in Worcester, MA and went on to complete a Master’s in Social Work from Boston University. Carrie has more than 20 years experience working with young people and their families in public schools and in community settings. Her work focuses on youth empowerment theory, self-efficacy training, and project-based learning. She also has extensive experience in community organizing, nonprofit management, and program development and implementation.

A devoted Bostonian, Carrie enjoys spending her time outside hiking and biking throughout New England with her husband and two sons. She has learned first hand about the transformative nature of an active lifestyle. Carrie fervently believes that young people learn best when they are challenged and stretched outside their comfort zone.

Enrique Parrales

Program Director

Enrique Parrales

Program Director

Enrique is well known in the Pure Life family as ‘Quique’. He is a proud Costa Rican with a true passion for his country. He is a lover of nature with an enthusiasm for the outdoors. Quique loves to share his knowledge of his country, the simplicity of the Tico’s (the people of Costa Rica) lifestyle and culture and all its diverse nature and wildlife.

He has been working in the adventure industry for over 10 years. After 5 years as logistics manager in Outward Bound, he began working for Introspections where he served as Head Mentor and Adventure Director helping young people from overseas rehabilitate in Costa Rica. Quique then adventured himself to a more recreative industry, working as a guide across all of Central America for various companies. He continued to expand his knowledge and passion for travel and appreciate on a bigger scale how positive experiences can contribute to changing people’s lives. After years in the industry he joined Pure Life when we opened and shares his experience and passion with all our students and staff.

Quique is certified as a Costa Rica Naturalist Guide, Wilderness First Responder, CPR & First Aid Rescuer, and Open Water Scuba Diver.

Cristian Lopez

Operations Director

Cristian Lopez

Operations Director

Cristian has over eight years of experience as a Field and Program Director. He has worked with the Peace Corp in Costa Rica in a variety of projects including health, education, environment, agriculture, small business development, and youth development. Cristian continued working with different programs to evolve youth skills development as well as local environmental and ecotourism projects (including National Parks trail building and construction projects) to help meet basic community needs.
He grew up in the farms of the southern part of the country with his grandparents and studied Systems Engineering. He is passionate about adventure sports and will not hesitate to share his cooking skills. What he loves about the Pure Life family is the opportunity to help others. He believes in the work we do and loves his job. His life motto is “I can fall down 100 times…but I will get up 100 times as well”. Cristian has a Bachelors Degree in Psychology, is a certified Wilderness First Responder, has certifications in Swiftwater Rescue, Technical Rope Rescue and NAUI Advanced Open Water Scuba.

Meagan Taylor RN, BSN

Program Development

Meagan Taylor RN, BSN

Program Development

Meagan is a native of Utah, who attended the University of Arizona and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She started her nursing career on a step-down telemetry floor at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, TX. After two years, Meagan, transferred to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit where she was responsible for caring for liver and kidney transplant recipients. She found that the demanding environment of the ICU allowed her to push herself to new limits and treat people at their most vulnerable stages of life. She found great joy in seeing patients receive new transplants and go on to accomplish incredible things.

Meagan is excited to be part of the Pure Life Aspiro team and work with a younger population that has endless opportunities ahead of them. Not only does she love the medical aspect of Pure Life, she also enjoys being able to teach the students about the power of fitness and healthy eating habits in their daily lives. Meagan is BLS & ACLS certified. In her free time, Meagan volunteers in El Salvador with Operation Walk; a non-profit who performs hip and knee replacements to the underprivileged population of San Salvador. She also enjoys traveling, snow skiing, hiking, reading and spending time with family!

Amalia Gamboa

Field Director

Amalia Gamboa

Field Director

Amalia is a native Costa Rican who grew up in a small coffee farming town. She received a bachelor’s degree in eco-tourism. Upon completion of her degree, Amalia worked at Outward Bound - Costa Rica in a partnership with Girl Scouts. Amalia was a field guide with Pure Life for 2.5 years before transitioning to the Field Director role. She is certified in WFR, CPR, Technical Rope Rescue, and White Water Rescue.

Amalia has a passion for traveling and experiencing other cultures. She loves the outdoors, specifically mountain biking and rock climbing, and appreciates the power of nature. Amalia’s passion lies in helping Pure Life guides grow and develop in the field. She finds joy in seeing student’s overcome their struggles and find lasting change in their lives.

Laura Elizondo

Medical Coordinator

Laura Elizondo

Medical Coordinator

Laura was born in Guatemala and moved to Costa Rica when she was four years old. She grew up with 6 siblings and surrounded by nature. Laura received her certification in music and history from the EMS institute in San Isidro, Costa Rica. She served a mission in Panama where she had the opportunity to serve others for 1.5 years.

Laura has been part of the Pure Life team since 2016; filling various roles including intern, field guide, and now Program Support Coordinator. Laura is certified in WAFA, WFR, CPR, Technical Rope Rescue, and White Water Rescue. She loves to read, create music and spend time in the outdoors; specifically rappelling and working with ropes. Laura sees the benefits that Pure Life offers their students to create a better future and open their eyes to a new perspective on life.

Roy Carranza

Transportation Manager

Roy Carranza

Transportation Manager

Roy has over seven years of experience on the road driving with distribution companies, heavy machinery and ecotourism. He had a rough time while growing up which gives him a unique insight to relate with the students in so many areas. Roy is an example of hard work and effort. His greatest satisfaction is the opportunity to help others and knowing that a few of his words or simply a smile might change a person’s life or make their day better. His energy is contagious and it makes him a terrific person to be around. In his free time he loves to spend time with his family and on maintaining his farm of fruit trees that he grows all natural without fertilizers or herbicides. Roy is very generous to share offerings from his farm with the Pure Life family and the students.

Adam Balls, MD

Medical Director

Adam Balls, MD

Medical Director

Dr. Adam Balls is a board certified emergency medicine physician who is actively practicing in the Salt Lake City area for Utah Emergency Physicians. He obtained his MD degree from Georgetown University in 2004. In 2007, Dr. Balls completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ where he also served as chief resident. After his residency, Adam and his family relocated to San Antonio Texas where he served on active duty for four years as an EM physician at Wilford Hall Medical Center, a Level 1 Trauma Center and EM Residency Program. During his time in the Air Force, he served as a team leader for a Critical Care Aeromedical Transport Team on deployments to Iraq, Germany, and Afghanistan.

Adam currently resides in Salt Lake City with his wife and three chidren. He serves as Medical Director for Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, a Level 1 Trauma Center and the largest ED in the state of Utah. He also works as Medical Director for Murray Fire Department. Adam is passionate about delivering excellent patient care in the Emergency Department and enjoys training and teaching. He is excited to support the needs of Pure Life in his Medical Director role. Outside of his clinical work, Adam enjoys the outdoors in Utah, supporting his children in their various sports and school activities, and living life through travel experiences around the world.

Josh Watson, LCSW

CMO

Josh Watson, LCSW

CMO

  • Masters in Social Work from the University of Georgia
  • Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Business Administration from Gardner-Webb University
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Utah
  • Trained/experienced in CBT, Family Systems therapy, Adlerian therapy, Strengths-based therapy, Crisis and Risk Assessment
  • Also specializes in: crisis de-escalation / anxiety resolution / frustration tolerance / verbal de-escalation / CBT/DBT / interpersonal relationships

Josh has over 12 years of experience working with adolescents, young adults, and their families. As an original member of the Aspiro Leadership Team, Josh has performed many duties including a Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Clinical Supervision, and is currently Aspiro’s Chief Marketing Officer.

Victoria Hughes, RN, BSN

Health & Wellness Specialist

Victoria Hughes, RN, BSN

Health & Wellness Specialist

Victoria earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Saint Mary’s-Samuel Merritt College in Moraga and Oakland, California in 1993. She was recruited to work in Ohio where she received specialized training in Cardio-Pulmonary Intensive Care and began her career in the field of trauma and intensive care.

She began working as a traveling nurse and had positions in Level 1 trauma centers all over the east coast.

After landing in New York City, she stayed for five years working at NYU, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Memorial Sloan Kettering.

The majority of her experience is in the fields of Cardio-Pulmonary ICU, Nuero-Trauma Surgical ICU, Burn ICU and occasionally moonlighting in the psychiatric emergency room.

Over the years Victoria has developed a strong healthy eating and mindfulness practice on her quest to assist and transform the soul aspect of humanity. She has become a certified yoga instructor in several styles among other energetic and alternative healing practices with an emphasis on healing and empowerment through experience and education.

Victoria is excited to be apart of the Pure Life Team. Having lived in Costa Rica for the past twelve years she has seen first hand how transformative time in nature is for people. She is familiar with jungle specific health and wellness needs and understands the medical system and culture.

Antonio Lopez

Base Management Team

Antonio Lopez

Base Management Team

Antonio is a hardcore kayaker who enjoys adventure and loves the outdoors. He began raft captaining in 2002 and became a certified kayak instructor shortly thereafter. Antonio moves fast both by land and by sea; rumor has it that he can complete the trek between Domer’s Hill and Piedras Blancas (usually two days of hiking) in eight hours flat – carrying both of his kids and his kayak. His ability in the water has earned him the nickname Cherepo (Jesus Christ Lizard) which is famous for being able to run on top of the water. Antonio holds the following certifications: Wilderness First Responder, First Aid, CPR, and AED for the Professional Rescuer, Whitewater Rescue Technician, Technical Rope Rescue: Operations, International Rafting Federation Instructor, International Rafting Federation Guide Class I-IV, Instructor Judgment Training, Land Instructor Training, Waterfront Lifeguard, Whitewater Kayak Training.

Andrea Padilla

Base Maintenance

Andrea Padilla

Base Maintenance

Andrea grew up on a farm learning hard work since she was very little; collecting coffee beans and working with cattle. Andrea oversees student chores and teaches them how to properly clean the student space. She is an example to our students of perseverance and dedication. The construction of her own house was one of Pure Life’s service projects in 2015. Our students helped her to materialize her dream of having a proper house for her and her daughter, Nicole. Having accomplished that dream; her next goal is to improve her English. However, the language barrier has never been an obstacle to create bonds with the students. Andrea’s life motto is, “life has ups and downs but we should continue and not let anything or anyone break our dreams.”

Leo Zumbado

IT

Leo Zumbado

IT

Leo comes from the small town of San Vito de Coto Brus. He enjoyed growing up on a farm; allowing him to run free and enjoy nature on a daily basis. Leo received an English teaching degree from Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica. Although, his degree is in English, his main passion in life is technology. His skills are self-taught and there is a reason his nickname is “Ninja”.  In regards to Pure Life, Leo stated, “Before coming to Pure Life, I was suffering from depression that I did not know I had. I stopped dreaming and caring about myself. 3 months after my first day of work, I was a different person! I now have hope for the future, thanks to my coworkers and the energy at Pure Life.” Leo loves that he has found a career that allows him to enjoy two of his passions, nature and technology, while also seeing people change their lives; similar to his own transformation.

Pure Life Aspiro