Administrative Management

A Unique Living and Educational Experience for Young Women

Stephanie Alvstad: Executive Director;

stephanieStephanie is the Executive Director for J Bar J Youth Services, providing oversight to the Academy at Sisters, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon, Cascade Youth and Family Center, the LOFT (Living Options for Teens), J Bar J Learning Center, and the J Bar J Boys Ranch. She has worked in social services for almost 30 years and has spent the last 20 at J Bar J Youth Services. Stephanie graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Montana with a B.A. Degree in Social Work, 1981. She is past president and current member of the Oregon Alliance of Children’s Programs, a previous board member of the Northwest Network for Youth, Saving Grace, Meadowlark Manor, and was a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Runaway and Homeless Youth. Stephanie is a current board member for the Equal Access for Girl’s Coalition, a member of the National Network for Youth, and an Advisory Committee member for the Oregon Youth Authority. As a social worker, Stephanie strongly believes in our philosophy of teaching youth to accept responsibility for their choices, ultimately to become healthy happy adults, and learning they can succeed at whatever they choose to do when they take responsibility for their thinking and choices.

Stephanie, along with her two children and husband, enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing, tennis, biking, and water sports in her free time. She has acquired her pilot’s license and her scuba certification.

Rick Buening: Academic Director;

rickRick is the Academic Director of the Learning Center. He has worked in alternative education at the Learning Center for more than 20 years. Rick received his Bachelors Degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri and his Masters Degree in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He holds a Standard Oregon Teaching Certificate in Social Studies. Rick is a member of The National Council for the Social Studies and The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. He is past Chairperson for the Oregon Advisory Committee for the Northwest Accreditation Commission and is currently serving on that committee. As an educator, Rick is committed to alternative education and to the idea that “all students are capable of being confident, self-directed, lifelong learners”.

Rick enjoys hiking, reading, home improvement projects and spending time with his two grandchildren. He has a special interest in the people and literature of the “beat generation”.

Chesley Strowd: Admissions Director;

Chesley received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Mississippi. Originally from the Mississippi Delta and a huge fan of the Blues, Chesley moved from Memphis to Bend in 2002, for the beautiful weather and outdoor recreation. Her experience includes working with families in crisis, case management, public relations, NATSAP Regional Conference planning, admissions, and marketing. Chesley has seven years of experience working closely with families and professionals in several residential therapeutic settings with over six years experience at the Academy at Sisters. Additionally, she is an ICF Certified Parent Coach through Next Step for Success and has completed trainings in the Systemic Family Intervention Model and QPR Suicide Prevention. Her volunteer experience includes working with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as psychological research in the areas of social and cross-cultural psychology and race relations.

Chesley currently enjoys live music, hiking, cross-country skiing, and being outdoors with her husband, young daughter and their German Shepherd.

Denise Kelly-Simpson: Program Manager;

deniseDenise holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Woman’s Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Over the past seven years, Denise has enjoyed being a Case Manager, Admissions staff and Program Manager. Prior to moving to Central Oregon from New England ten years ago, Denise was involved in community outreach for battered women and children. She also worked as a Case Manager and advocate for individuals with mental and physical disabilities. While employed by J bar J Youth Services, Denise has received additional training in the field of at-risk youth. These include but are not limited to: Professional Ethics, Cognitive Behavior Model, Motivational Interviewing, Crisis Prevention Intervention, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Transtheoretical Model Of Change, and Family Counseling. Denise is dedicated to the well-being and long-term healing of youth and their families.

In her free time, Denise enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.

Sandy Vaughn: Operation Specialist,

sandySandy received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Ecology from Southern Oregon University. She found a niche in working with at-risk youth in 2000 and has been in the field for the past ten years, nine of which has been with J Bar J Youth Services where she began as a Case Manager for the Academy at Sisters. Sandy has had over two hundred hours of additional training within this field. Some of the training topics include: Motivational Interviewing, Preventing Sexual Coercion among Adolescents, Empowering Women, Child Abuse Prevention, Crisis Prevention Intervention, Cognitive Behavior Model, Professional Ethics, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Transtheoretical Model Of Change, and Family Rehabilitation. Sandy is certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy/Learning through Greg Kersten’s O.K. Corral Series. She along with, Dr. Julie Schneider, Academy on staff Psychologist, facilitate the Academy’s Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Group. Sandy is dedicated to continually building upon the Academy at Sisters Emotional Growth Program to ensure that we are providing exceptional service to the youth and families we work with.

Sandy enjoys outdoor recreation, entertaining guests, and home improvement projects. She has two horses, two dogs and a cat.