Staff Bios

The Rest Initiative (TRI) is made up of professionals who are passionate and devoted to superior staff care. The staff has dedicated their lives to ensuring that those on the front lines are prepared, supported and connected. They will go to any length to be available to the client and to use their knowledge and resources to support and encourage them.

Neal Salzman, M.Div., M.A., LMHC

Executive Director, Founder
Neal is the executive director and founder of The Rest Initiative. His vision to create proactive and ongoing care for those who serve is the foundation of this organization.  He leads the charge in creating dialogue and collaboration towards this goal.. He holds a B.A. in communications from the University of Central Florida, a Master of Arts in Counseling and a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary. Neal has held a variety of counseling positions in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. He maintains a private counseling practice and is on staff at City Church East Side in Atlanta. Neal also has the privilege of serving others as a certified LMHC supervisor. He has served in Japan, Ukraine, India, Greece, Cuba, Argentina, Albania, Malawi and Uganda. Neal lives in Atlanta, GA, with his wife, Jessica, and their three young boys.

Jeremiah Simmons, M.Div., M.A., LMHC

Behavioral Health Coach
Jeremiah was raised and educated in the Southeast and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Tennessee. Following his undergraduate experience he spent several years in ministry working with adolescents and college students. He holds both a Master of Arts in Counseling and Master of Divinity degree from RTS Orlando. His practicum and internship was at the Oviedo Counseling Center. Jeremiah enjoys counseling with a broad range of people and his work as a therapist includes counseling with adults, couples, adolescents and families. His areas of focus include Depression, Anxiety, Couples and Marital Counseling, Spiritual Formation, Personality Disorders and Addictions. He is also a certified LMHC supervisor. When he is not counseling his pastimes and pleasures include good movies, interesting books, jogging in the sunshine, a tall cup of joe, every so often putting for par, occasionally hitting a winner down the baseline, spending unhurried time with friends and good meals where he finds room for seconds and saves room for dessert. He and his lovely wife, Vita, along with their two children reside in Winter Park, Florida.

Heather Hagins, M.A., LPC

Behavioral Health Coach
Heather Hagins is a Licensed Professional Counselor and received her Master of Arts in Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Samford University in 1991 and her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Alabama in 1993.  Prior to attending seminary, Heather lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for 15 years where she held a variety of professional positions in both corporate and non-profit arenas.  She was involved in mentoring women and hosted and facilitated small groups at her church. Following seminary in 2010, Heather moved to Birmingham, Alabama and currently works as a counselor in private practice. Heather has a strong passion for helping others consider the unique themes of gospel redemption that God is revealing in and through their lives. She has spent time as part of short term teams working with missionaries in Thailand, Ireland, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Malawi, and the Czech Republic. When Heather is not counseling, she enjoys watching college football, trying out new recipes, and going on fun adventures with any of her six nieces.

Fritz Schalmo, M.Div., M.A., LMHC

Behavioral Health Coach
Fritz received is Master of Divinity and Master of Art from Reformed Theological Seminary. The clients that he works with include adolescents, men, women, and couples. His areas of focus and interest include: parenting issues, depression, anxiety, stress, relational problems and developing healthy relationships, loneliness, gender and identity issues, life transitions and adjustments, trauma, grief, personal growth, career exploration, religious and spiritual issues, and couples and marital counseling. Fritz was raised as an Army brat, living in 14 states by his high school graduation and has lived in 17 states throughout his life. Additionally, he brings with him 20 years of ministry experience; having worked in both church and para-church contexts, primarily in youth ministry and pastoral care, but missions and short-term missions as well;  he has worked in churches in the west and southeast ranging in size from 75 to 2,500. Fritz has a passion for the church and working with church & ministry leaders to help them grow and thrive in the work God has called them to. Fritz, with his wife Barbie and two kids, live in Orlando, FL. Fritz enjoys playing with his kids, reading widely, cooking, hiking when he can get to the mountains, exploring new and unfamiliar places, and spending as much time as possible at the beach.

Christi Polk, M.A., MFT

Behavioral Health Coach
Christi Polk is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and received her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Interpersonal Communication from The University of Central Florida. Christi has worked as a counselor in private practice and school settings to help individuals, couples and families work through emotional and relational challenges with tangible results. Christi specializes in working with clients facing phase-of-life transitions, depression, anxiety, stress, burn-out, parenting challenges, marriage difficulties, grief, sexual identity, personal identity and spiritual issues.  She firmly believes our overall well-being is rooted in our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Christi and her husband moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma with their two boys in 2017. In her spare time, Christi enjoys traveling, reading, being outside in nature and spending time with her family and two dogs.

Lindsey Horvatich M.A., LMHC

Behavioral Health Coach
Lindsey utilizes an eclectic mix of theories to provide clients with a creative, experiential, and compassionate approach to counseling. She has unique insight into a wide range of life struggles including: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; anxiety; depression; self-harm; gender issues; sexual brokenness; and marital conflict. Lindsey also works with men, women, and teens who are in recovery from substance, sexual, and behavioral addictions. She is particularly passionate about working with spouses and family members who have been affected by a loved one’s battle with addiction. Lindsey graduated with her Master’s degree in Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. She splits her free time between the beach and the kitchen, and enjoys coming up with new recipes as well as planning road trip adventures. Originally from Tennessee, she still embraces her Southern roots and wears cowboy boots on the weekends.

Lisa Phillips, M.A., LPC

Behavioral Health Coach
Lisa has a passion for walking alongside others as they journey through the challenges, deep disappointments and difficult seasons of life and believes deeply in the power of God to bring redemption, transformation, hope, and healing to our hearts and relationships. She views what she do as a calling and a ministry and takes very seriously the opportunity to enter into others’ lives and stories. Her professional interests include relationship concerns, anxiety and depression, trauma including sexual abuse, co-dependency and boundaries, premarital counseling, marital communication, infidelity, and intimacy struggles. Lisa lives in Birmingham, Alabama where she enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Victoria Mwongela, MSc, NCC, LGPC

Behavioral Health Coach
Victoria is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPC) in the State of Maryland and is also a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC.) She has experience working with many common counseling concerns and has particular interest in treating shame, trauma, relational struggles, and identity struggles. Victoria has also worked extensively with victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault. As a Kenyan woman, who grew up in Dubai, U.A.E., and currently resides in the United States, she developed a unique perspective and cultural competence which has allowed her to grasp the nuances of her client’s experiences and circumstances. Victoria’s perspective on counseling is one of understanding and relational empathy. Her therapeutic approach incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Client-Centered Therapy and Existential Therapy. She believes in establishing a trusting relationship with her clients, in order to make them feel safe and supported as they confront the issues they are struggling with. Victoria earned her MSc. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Johns Hopkins University and holds a Master of Divinity from Southern Seminary. Both of these have given her a wide range of tools to offer a comprehensive approach to client care. She completed her undergraduate work in Psychology at Middlesex University in Dubai, U.A.E. Victoria is currently pursuing additional training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Victoria is married to her husband, Alexander, and together they enjoy good plant-based food, the outdoors, and spending time with their family and friends.

Angela Burleigh, M.A., LMHC

Behavioral Health Coach
Angela’s heart as a counselor is to walk alongside adults and children during difficult periods of their lives — helping them navigate through hurts, habits, and hang-ups that cause them to feel stuck, and helping them hold on to hope for lasting healing and freedom. As a Christian counselor, Angela takes a holistic approach to counseling by looking at how God designed our physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual natures to interact with each other. Angela specializes in working with depression, anger, anxiety, trauma, relationship stress, marriage conflict, singleness, phase of life issues, codependency, and spiritual numbness. She has a background in missions herself, having worked as a home office missionary on support for seven years. During that period, she spent time in about 20 countries, led teams overseas, taught Perspectives on the World Christian Movement classes, and helped with debrief and orientation of new missionaries. She eventually felt drawn to the field of counseling because she wanted to be able to walk with missionaries through their every-day (and some not-so-every-day) struggles. Today, Angela lives in Orlando, Florida, where she goes on adventures with her best friend (and husband), Brian, and her delightful daughter, Eleanor.

Mark Nicks, M.Div., M.A., LMHC

Behavioral Health Coach
Mark was born and raised in Nashville, TN. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University where he received a B.S. in Psychology. For years, Mark toured around the country full time leading his band Cool Hand Luke. In 2008, he married Brandy, and a few years later they moved to Orlando to go to seminary. Mark received a Master of Arts in Counseling and a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. The thread that runs through all of this is Mark’s passion for people and his passion for the gospel. As a private practice counselor, Mark works with a lot of adolescents, as well as couples and adults. He is passionate about coming alongside others and helping them to see how their own stories fit into the grand story that God is writing.

Jason Dunn, M.Div.

Spiritual Advisor, Advisory Board
Jason graduated from the University of Florida in 2003 where he received a BS, Environmental Engineering. He continued his education by earning a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in 2005. Jason’s cross-cultural experience includes serving in a variety of countries including the China, Papua New Guinea and India.

Dr. Nancy Johnson, Ed.D, LMHC

Advisory Board
Dr. Johnson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of Orlando Counseling Specialists. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from Northern Michigan University in 1979, her Master of Arts in Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary in 2003, and completed her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University-Sarasota in 2010. Nancy is currently working as an adjunct instructor at Everest University, while maintaining a private practice in East Orlando. Additionally Nancy works at Nemours Hospital as behavior health specialist. Prior to her counseling career, Nancy spent 23 years working for a Christian organization with college students, which took her from Michigan to Nebraska, then to Nairobi, Kenya. Nancy enjoys spending her free time hanging out with her three sons, reading or getting time to catch up with friends over coffee.

James Hoyle

Advisory Board
Jim is the international director of Effect The Cause Inc, a non profit Christian organization located in Rockledge Florida helping abused, neglected and traumatized women and children in Africa and other parts of the world. He also serves on the boards of To Write Love On Her Arms and Falling Whistles and recently worked as a consultant and field advisor at Bridgeway Foundation in East Congo. Jim has spent his life traveling the globe working in advisory and consulting positions. He has a passion for shepherding younger men and women. Others have consistently brought attention to his strong fathers heart and desire to meet the needs of the neglected and abused. He has founded and managed a number of programs throughout the world that meet the needs of these hurting people. From Australia and the Fiji Islands to numerous countries throughout Africa, Jim continues to serve in an advisor capacity. Jim is married with 6 grown children and 5 grandchildren. In his free time he enjoys surfing, writing children’s books, photography crossfit gym, mountain climbing, distance running, growing and eating healthy foods.