Our Team


Executive Director – [email protected]

Gina has over 20 years of experience across nonprofits, foundations, K-12 schools, universities, and technology start-ups. As Vice President of Programs for a Silicon Valley EdTech company, Gina designed initiatives to improve daily operations across international engineering teams and education, marketing, and program departments, and managed strategic partnerships to advance the growth of an online platform that supports personalized learning and real-time data and analytics for students and teachers. Prior to joining the Natural High team, Gina worked as a consultant to non and for profit organizations looking to improve their organizational effectiveness and long-term sustainability.

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Gina has also worked as adjunct faculty at University of San Francisco’s School of Education, a curriculum and product design director at Stanford University, a middle school dean, and a classroom teacher for grades 3-6. Gina is a graduate of California State University where she earned a B.S. in Psychology, and of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, where she earned a master’s degree in Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies.

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Amy Alamar

Director of Curriculum – [email protected]

Amy Alamar, EdD has worked in the field of education as a teacher, teacher educator, researcher, parent educator, and education reformer for over twenty years. Amy has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and is currently a professor of education at the University of St. Joseph. She has worked in and out of the classroom with a focus on learning and instruction, family relationships, and addressing school change with a dedication to student engagement and wellness. Amy has also led curriculum development and implementation for two different EdTech non-profits.

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Amy has authored two books: Parenting for the Genius: Developing Confidence in Your Parenting through Reflective Practice (For the Genius Press, 2014) connects education and psychology research to parenting practices. Her most recent book, The Parenting Project: Build Extraordinary Relationships with Your Kids through Daily Conversation (Fair Winds Press, 2018), focuses on communication strategies to maintain influence with kids. Amy hosted the web show Parenting from the Trenches on Yellowbrick.me, is a contributing author to the Disney parenting website, Babble and the Psychology blog, Hey Sigmund. She is a parent educator with Peace at Home Parenting Solutions and co-hosts the podcast, Parenting Beyond the Headlines.

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Alexa Howze

Director of Marketing Operations

Alexa Howze is the Director of Marketing Operations for Natural High. She develops and manages multi-channel digital campaigns while utilizing traditional marketing communication models to improve results across all channels.

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Alexa graduated with a B.A. from Sam Houston State University in Texas with a double major in History and Spanish. Before joining Natural High, Alexa served as head of the marketing team for a real estate services firm in Houston, Texas, where she harnessed the power of social media and digital marketing to increase new business by 20%. Prior to that position, she held various positions with AMLI Residential for five years, including three years coordinating joint marketing efforts for multiple properties.

Alexa found that her passion laid in purpose-driven marketing for social change and the power of marketing to make a positive impact. One of Alexa’s focuses at Natural High is the use of social media and educational programs on digital platforms.

“The most successful people are the ones who learn from their mistakes and turn their failures into opportunities.” – Zig Ziglar

Alexa’s Natural Highs are her dog and reading.

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Board of Directors


Board Chair, Founder & Chief Visionary Officer – [email protected]

Jon Sundt is a serial entrepreneur and experienced businessman. Jon brings this real world business experience into Natural High every day. In 2002, he founded Altegris and served as President and CEO of Altegris Investments, Altegris Advisors, and Altegris Funds. In 2010, Jon led the sale of Altegris to Genworth, a Fortune 500 Company. He served as President of Altegris under Genworth. Three years later, Jon helped coordinate the sale of Altegris to Private Equity firms, Aquiline and Genstar. Jon became a principal/owner again and served as CEO /Chairman of Altegris until 2016. Jon began his career as an options trader in 1986. Prior to founding Altegris, Jon served six years as Director of Managed Accounts and Senior Vice President of Man Financial, a subsidiary of the Man Group — the world’s largest hedge fund provider.

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An expert in managed futures and alternative investment strategies, Jon was widely quoted by leading financial media (CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal) and a frequent guest on CNBC. Jon was a recipient of the Institutional Investor Mutual Fund Rising Star award, as well as the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year San Diego award. In his leadership role for the Altegris group of companies, Jon grew Altegris to a multibillion-dollar asset manager with over 130 employees.

In 1994, he founded Natural High in response to the loss of his two younger brothers to drug addiction. You can watch his story Here.

Jon is serving as the Chapter Chair of Young Presidents Organization Gold in Rancho Santa Fe. He serves on the Board of Friends of Bethany Hamilton and Addiction Pros, as well as many other Board and business interests.

Jon lives in La Jolla California. He is married to Kathliene and they have two children. His Natural Highs are his Faith, his Family, Surfing and Leadership.

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Board Member – [email protected]

Josh Billauer has been with Wells Fargo Advisors (and its predecessor firms) since 1998 as a Senior Vice President – Investments and Senior PIM Portfolio Manager. Since 1994 Josh has sat on the Board of Directors for the Natural High Foundation, and also serves as Board Chair for the Life Rolls On Foundation, an organization that hosts a nationwide series of programs for those with spinal cord injury. Additionally, Josh serves as a Sergeant with the San Diego Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association. His philanthropic work has earned him several accolades including San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list, the San Diego 10 News Leadership Award and a Non-Profit Times “Top Non-Profit Executives” list*. His work has also been published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Times, La Jolla Light, Non-Profit Times, among others.

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Josh and his wife Ricki have two daughters, Lexi and Sadie, as well as three “fur-kids”, Beek the English Mastiff, Monkey the Terrier and Mochi the Miniature Schnauzer. Josh was a competitive surfer with UCSD, winning two national titles. His natural highs include fishing, photography, surfing, and travel.

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Board Member

Mike was nominated to join the Natural High Board in January 2018. Mike and his family (wife, Courtney and 4 sons – Michael, Peter Tommy, Bobby) live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mike is a Partner at Ernst and Young – where he has spent the last 25 years of his professional career. Mike specializes in Financial Services – with a focus on Wealth and Asset Management.

The Costigan family has collectively supported the Natural High mission for the past decade. In the past two years, Mike and his oldest sons (who are entering their teenage years) have taken an even more active role with the foundation.

Mike and the boys have effectively utilized Natural High’s curriculum and infrastructure – in an effort to change lives in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York.

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As a new board member – Mike’s primary goal is to help others to benefit from Natural High’s recently inspired ‘Parent Portal’ – which encourages kids, parents and families to ‘take action’ – in an effort to help others live well.

Mike also serves as Treasurer and Board Member for the Philadelphia VIP Foundation. In his role, Mike collaborates with executives from Philadelphia’s top law firms – to provide pro-bono legal services to those in need – as they strive to attain equal justice.

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Board Member

Gary is a digital media and marketing specialist. He began in television news, documentary, and sports. He has worked in production and producing for C.B.S. News, Cable News Network, ESPN, PBS, B.B.C. Television, Entertainment Tonight, and Weather Channel. Gary was faculty in Advertising and Marketing at the Art Institute of California-San Diego for 15 years. He’s currently faculty at EC English in La Jolla where he teaches English and Culture.

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Gary has also focused on nonprofit marketing by creating promotion campaigns, branding, and marketing. As a faculty member at the Art Institute he directed his students create successful media campaigns that were used by the Boys and Girls Club, Head Start, San Diego Police, Coastkeeper, Father Joe’s Village, and Fleet Science Center. He has done Public Relations for Anza Borrego Desert Foundation as well as other nonprofits including Natural High.

Gary lost his younger brother to drugs and has been in a recovery program for over 35 years. He understands the impact that drugs have on families and individuals.

He has for the past twenty years put one of the largest free surf contests for kids 2-16 (over 270) in the United States. The Jetty Kids surf contest has inspired thousands of kids to find their Natural High through surfing. Now parents that participated in the contest when they were kids are bringing their kids to share their passion.

Gary, his wife Kyle, and teenage son Judge (whose Natural High is Music and Science) live on the beach in Mission Beach California.

His Natural High is Family, Surfing, and Talking.

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Board Member

Ballard F. Smith is a former President of the San Diego Padres major league baseball franchise. A graduate of Carleton College and the University of Minnesota Law School, Smith was a district attorney in Pennsylvania before taking over the Padres. He led the Padres to the 1984 National League Championship and served on the Executive Committee of Major League Baseball from 1984 to 1987.

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He also served on the Board of Directors of the McDonald’s Corporation from 1983-1997. Smith co-founded an educational non-profit in 2013 called the Science of Sport which promotes STEM education through sports. Currently, Smith is dedicated to supporting youth in identifying and pursuing their dreams as an active Natural High Board Member. His natural highs include family, hockey, spending time outdoors, and helping others.

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Michele Hansen

Strategy & Board Advisor

Michele’s background combines experience in education, business and technology. After teaching first grade in Poway Unified School District for three years, Michele joined Intel Corporation, where she spent nine years in a variety of marketing, business development, and management roles. Subsequently, she served as Senior Vice President for Products and Services at the California Charter Schools Association.

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More recently, Michele co-founded and led Activate Instruction, an internet-based nonprofit that provided quality free content to the K-12 education market. Michele earned her BA in Political Science from Claremont McKenna College, an MA in Education from Stanford and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. Michele also serves as Vice President of Girard Foundation, which supports innovation and systemic reform in K-12 education.

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Mario has worked over 23 years as a public school counselor in the state of Washington. Mario manages the schools intervention team that navigates educational and community resources with the end goal of helping students become successful whether academically, socially or both.
Mario’s passion as a school counselor is going into the classrooms teaching from his comprehensive counseling curriculum. He has logged over 4,500 hours speaking to students on topics from, character education, bullying, impulse control, peer pressure, making healthy choices and many more.

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Mario admits that his favorite subject, for many reasons is to teach from the curriculum that comes from Natural High.
• Coached at the high school level for 15 years, (Basketball, baseball, football)
• Graduated from City University earning his MA in Education. After graduating he became a Professional Education Board Member for City University.
• Certified mediator
• Awards: Educator of the year from Natural High in 2011. Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association Coach of the year 2001.
• Mario’s natural highs are family, fishing, golf, singing

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Michelle Ahearne is a third-year doctoral student at the University of San Diego, pursuing a PhD in Leadership Studies with a specialization in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership. She is also a Doctoral Research Assistant at the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research at the Nonprofit Institute, working with San Diego nonprofits to strengthen their programs through conducting assessment, program design and evaluation.

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Her interest areas lie in program design and evaluation, leadership and burnout in the nonprofit sector, and using reflective practices to help individuals and organizations reach their highest potential. Having been in both roles, she is particularly gifted in serving as a bridge builder and translator between nonprofit academics and practitioners.

Michelle has spent nearly 20 years serving the nonprofit sector in diverse capacities, including as an AmeriCorps member, donor, volunteer, program director, consultant and ten years as the executive director of a San Diego-based, national drug-prevention and character development organization. As a volunteer, she has served in an advisory capacity for Shakti Rising, a social change organization transforming the lives of women, girls and the larger community, as well as the Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego, and most recently for Group Relations International. She is currently a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego and has been matched with her Little for seven years.

Michelle earned her MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego and her BS in Human Service Studies with a certificate in Social Work from Cornell University. She earned her Certificate in Fundraising Management (CFRM) from the Fundraising School at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

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Marcia has worked in education for over thirty years in both California and Iowa, teaching AP Psychology and English. Marcia created much of the online curriculum for the Natural High Foundation during the early years of the organization, and also started a Natural High Club in Pacific Grove, California. She was the Natural High Foundation Educator of the Year in 2015. Marcia holds advanced degrees from Stanford University and University of California, Irvine.


Lani is the former Senior Vice President of Operations for Jack in the Box, overseeing the operation of all company and franchised Jack in the Box restaurants in the United States. Since 1977, Lani has impressively worked her way up from a restaurant team member to a VP at corporate. Lani graduated from California State University, East Bay in Hayward with an MBA and a Bachelor’s Degree in finance. In her free time, you can find her traveling the world with her husband, Glenn.


Prior to serving in his current position, Michael was the Executive Director for College Summit California and responsible for raising more than 3.5 million annually across the region. He worked closely with the leadership of school districts to implement a college and career access program through peer leaders. Previous to that, Michael was the Executive Director and Chief Revenue Officer for an educational foundation focusing on educating federal poverty-level students nationally and internationally. He raised more than 30 million dollars for the foundation through partnerships, major gifts, corporate, government, planned and institutional giving.

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Michael’s non-profit work came after a successful for-profit career in apparel, technology and strategy consulting. Michael and his family reside in northern California where he serves on several boards and manages his small family vineyard. He has a BA in political science and an MBA in global management. His natural high is serving at-risk youth, and Michael is currently supporting Natural High as a fundraising consultant.

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