veravia Team

Meet Our Holistic Retreat Team

During your stay at VeraVia, you’ll have a fully integrated multidisciplinary team of health and wellness experts working together to help you achieve your goals. As your personal support team, we’ll help you connect the dots to make necessary correlations between symptoms, struggles, or past experiences and solutions so you can create lasting changes.

Your Personal Team of Health Experts

wyatt-chapman-veravia

Wyatt Chapman

CEO and Founder

As the CEO and Founder, Wyatt embodies VeraVia’s comprehensive mind, body, and spirit approach to health. He understands the importance of discovering the relationship among one’s internal elements (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) and mastering them to achieve the highest self, allowing for true success and an optimal life experience.

Prior to starting VeraVia, Wyatt served as President and Principal Architect of award-winning architectural design firm. During this time, he led the cutting-edge sustainable design and construction of numerous large-scale projects across the country, including recreation and fitness facilities, comprehensive physical and mental wellness facilities, rehabilitation centers, dormitories, aircraft hangars and maintenance facilities, and more.

While finding “success” professionally, Wyatt’s health, energy, productivity, and personal life suffered. Chronic stress and overwork led to poor sleep habits, chronic back pain, unhealthy eating, and the inability to exercise. Traditional doctors only offered options to try and treat the symptoms, rather than treat the underlying cause of his health issues. That approach did not help, and eventually led to struggles with anxiety and depression.

During his internal struggle, Wyatt discovered the importance of building an environmental and personal balance that promotes optimal happiness, productivity, and quality of life. He realized that in order to have true lasting health, you must treat all aspects that makeup a persons wellbeing including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Wyatt discovered that the only way to effectively create real lasting change is to treat the underlying causes of the health issues in a holistic and integrative approach. From this experience, the idea of VeraVia as a holistic retreat was born, and became the tool for individuals to succeed in the pursuit of wellness.

Dr. Derek Lawrence

Director of Naturopathic Medicine

Dr. Megan Lewis

Director of Behavioral Health

Flora Staub

Director of Nutrition

Kat Burris, MS, RDN

Registered Dietician

Melanie Ruiz

Assistant Chef

Adrienne Penney

Senior Program Advisor & Reservation Specialist

Abby Sullivan

Senior Client Experience Coordinator

Natasha Edwina

Behavioral Health Specialist

Dr. Lila Lewenstein

Naturopathic Doctor

Travis Armbruster

Certified Personal Trainer

Michele Rooney, MSPT

Physical Therapist & Certified Yoga Instructor

Adrian Van der Walt

Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist

Olivia Reid

Fitness Instructor & Certified Yoga Instructor

Stephanie Zito

Wellness Coach, Meditation & Mindfulness Instructor

Kate Koniakowsky

Holistic Practitioner

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Dr. Derek Lawrence

Director of Naturopathic Medicine

Dr. Derek is a licensed naturopathic doctor and the owner of his own private medical practice that specializes in using 100% natural therapies to treat illness, prevent disease, and promote health and vitality. At VeraVia, Dr. Derek builds respectful, therapeutic relationships with clients that motivate, empower, and inspire them to regain control of their health. He specializes in wellness, detoxification, and natural foot care and treats a variety of conditions, including chronic pain and disease, weight gain, musculoskeletal injuries, endocrine imbalances, and digestive disorders.

While undergoing training at the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) to become a primary care doctor, he completed a one-year internship with internationally renowned Dr. Dickson Thom DDS, ND, focusing on the non-pharmaceutical treatment of acute and chronic disease with an emphasis on the use of biotherapeutic drainage. Dr. Derek also completed a six-month internship in cardiopulmonary medicine with naturopathic cardiologist, Dr. Martin Milner, ND. Furthermore, Dr. Derek practiced the natural reversal of common foot ailments under the guidance of Dr. Ray McClanahan, DPM, a podiatrist and natural foot health enthusiast.

Dr. Derek received his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) from NCNM in Portland, Oregon and his Bachelors of Science (BSc) in Biology from the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Canada.

Dr. Megan Lewis

Director of Behavioral Health

Dr. Megan Lewis is our Director of Behavioral Health. Dr. Lewis brings a breadth of knowledge and over 18 years of clinical experience in the field of psychology and behavioral health. In addition to her more than ten years of experience in private practice, she has worked as an Adjunct Professor at Alliant International University and as a consulting psychologist at an inpatient psychiatric hospital, a detention facility, and a residential substance abuse program. She specializes in mood and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. She has helped countless individuals overcome their struggles with obesity, food addiction and emotional eating patterns.

Dr. Lewis is extremely attuned to, and cognizant of the mind-body connection and the inseparable marriage between an individual’s emotional and physical health. She will help you to achieve your personal weight loss, health and fitness goals, develop strategies to more effectively cope with stress, and modulate emotion to lead you to a healthier and more satisfying life.

Dr. Lewis holds a California Psychologist License PSY 18875 and a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University, San Diego. She has a Master of Arts (MA) in Psychology from Alliant International University, San Diego and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology from University of California, San Diego.

Flora Staub

Director of Nutrition

Flora Staub is a Dietitian, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and Personal Chef who is passionate about guiding individuals on their journey to optimal health. Hailing from Brazil, she was raised with health as a fundamental value in her upbringing, and this instilled in her a deep appreciation for the power of nutrition. Building on this foundation, Flora pursued her education and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics from UniEuro in 2009.

Driven by a desire to explore holistic approaches and integrate natural healing methods into her practice, Flora embarked on a transformative journey to Southern California. There, she expanded her expertise by becoming a Certified Clinical Holistic Nutritionist from NHI in 2012 and later achieved certification as a Health Coach from NC in 2016 as well as a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Foods, Nutrition, and Wellness Studies from Southern States University in 2016. These additional qualifications allowed her to provide a comprehensive and functional approach to nutrition counseling, empowering her clients to make sustainable lifestyle changes.

With nearly a decade of professional experience, Flora has honed her skills in nutritional counseling, workshops, cooking classes, personal chef services, and business consultancy. She believes in awakening individuals’ innate ability to utilize nutrition for their well-being and strives to inspire them to embrace a natural way of life. By delving into self-development and learning to listen to their bodies, Flora encourages her clients to use food as medicine and adopt natural healing practices. She firmly believes that understanding one’s unique nutritional needs is key to achieving a healthy, balanced, and fulfilling lifestyle.

Flora’s approach to nutrition goes beyond mere guidance—it’s a holistic adventure that she invites her clients to embark on. She aims to illustrate that healthy eating can be both enjoyable and accessible, and she is dedicated to showcasing the simplicity and deliciousness of nourishing meals. Through her expertise, Flora empowers individuals to make informed choices, cultivate their well-being, and embrace a lifelong journey of nutritional wellness.

Kat Burris, MS, RDN

Registered Dietician

Kat Burris, MS, RDN is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters degree in Human Nutrition from Drexel University. Kat has many years of experience as a hospital-based Clinical Dietitian providing Medical Nutrition Therapy for cardiac, renal, diabetic, pulmonary and oncology patients. During her dietetic internship Kat worked in the kitchens of the USMC Recruitment Depot and within the Sharp hospital system. Prior to becoming an RDN, Kat spent over a decade managing luxury resort spas where her passion for holistic health was ignited. Kat became a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Massage Technician and Level 1 Sommelier to expand her knowledge and hone her craft. In addition to running her own private practice, Kat also partners with a local superfood company creating nutritious recipes using a variety of health-promoting products. 

Kat’s nutrition philosophy is to educate and empower clients to make healthy lifestyle changes that create positive habits for long term success. Using a food-first approach, Kat provides customized nutrition guidelines that embodies evidence-based research and mindful eating techniques. As a former Division 1 collegiate athlete, Kat is an avid runner and continues to run competitively, understanding the importance of fueling the body for optimal performance. She loves to inspire her clients to find physical movements they love and challenge them to create personal goals to conquer. When she is not working or running, Kat loves to cook and has a large vegetable garden where she makes garden-to-table meals. Kat is a San Diego native and lives with her husband and three sons who inspire her daily to live an active, healthy and well-balanced life. 

Drew Lopez

Head Chef

Chef Drew Lopez has been a Certified Culinarian since 2005 and has 24 years experience within the industry ranging from work with celebrity chefs to teaching as a Nutritional Chef Instructor.

As a Chef based in California with roots in Colorado, he has many philosophies surrounding his craft such as total utilization, understanding the health benefits of ingredients, and the osmosis effect of positive energy imbued into meals. His passion and dedication to his craft is evident in his personality and demonstrated within his skilled range of cuisines and techniques.

In addition to teaching technical skills to his guests, it is his mission to make aware the process in which we receive our food and to cultivate a personal relationship with respect to what we consume daily.

Melanie Ruiz

Assistant Chef

My earliest memories of the kitchen start with me helping my grandmother make my grandfather his breakfast before he worked in the grape fields of the valley. I was fortunate to grow up close to CA agriculture and appreciate the people who work hard to bring it to our tables. As a Chef I firmly believe in respecting ingredients, striving for zero waste, and serving a dish made with the same love my grandmother had.

An alumni of Fresno State, and the contemporary cooking school Culinary Lab, I combine my degree in Cognitive Science with my culinary talent to help change the minds of picky eaters. My understanding of food, textures, and modern techniques has not only earned me the honor of working with local companies to showcase their products (my plates have been used by Stone Brewing and Fresh Origins Microgreens for advertising, company newsletters, and official company photoshoots), but also help me assist others with understanding how they like something prepared.

In my free time I enjoy being a foodie of the County of San Diego. From Michelin settings to hole-in-the-walls, every new place I eat at can teach me something. I am happy to remain a student of my industry.

Adrienne Penney

Senior Program Advisor & Reservation Specialist

Adrienne is the Senior Program Advisor and Reservation Specialist as well as being responsible for some of the day to day operational activities at VeraVia. By combining her love of science and working with people, Adrienne facilitates health programs within the office and arranges outings for VeraVia guests. Prior to VeraVia, Adrienne worked at a forensic toxicology lab as a lab assistant and in furniture sales at the Chapman Collection, where she met VeraVia CEO and Founder Wyatt Chapman.

Adrienne has completed senior research on neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Corticobasal Degeneration, determining the effects of toxin accumulation on the human mind and body. Specifically, she studied the important role of antioxidants and vitamins in cell detoxification. At VeraVia she is able to combine her love of science and biology with her love for helping people. Adrienne earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) with a major in Biology and minor in Neuroscience from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Abby Sullivan

Senior Client Experience Coordinator

Abby has worked in a variety of industries and hospitality roles since 2013. Her greatest joy has always come from helping others, particularly when it comes to their health.  In addition to her extensive customer service experience, Abby obtained her Nutritional Therapy Certificate in 2015 from The Nutritional Therapy Association in WA. She is also currently studying to become a Reiki Master and gaining another certification in Nutritional and Integrative Medicine for Mental Health.

Her passion for health and wellness comes from dealing with her own mental and physical health obstacles, which have driven her towards providing those around her with holistic healing strategies to improve their own lives.  At VeraVia, she proudly serves to support guests with any needs and requests to ensure that they have the best possible experience, while also supporting them throughout their health journey.

Natasha Edwina

Behavioral Health Specialist

Natasha is a behavioral health coach, psychotherapist, mind-body medicine practitioner, speaker, and author interested in helping individuals explore their potential, maximize their strengths, and manifest their dreams into reality. Natasha has nearly 20 years experience working in the mental health field, 10 of those serving in the public school system. It was in the public schools that Natasha learned flexibility and creativity to meet the needs of a system with multiple layers of stress, and perfected her truly integrative mind-body-spirit approach to helping clients efficiently and effectively achieve goals and achieve health.

Natasha is an advisor to the board for the local non-profit yoga foundation for at-risk kids, The Sean O’Shea Foundation. Natasha has extensive experience working with trauma, has healed from her own, and loves to teach others how their post-traumatic growth can actually give them an advantage in becoming successful.

Natasha has worked with celebrities, CEOs of successful companies, highly stressed entrepreneurs, creative types, highly sensitive individuals, and specializes in working with ambitious movers and shakers.

Natasha is working on a PhD in Mind-Body Medicine, Specializing in Integrative Mental Health from Saybrook University (2013-current). She also has certifications in Clinical Hypnosis – Saybrook University (2014-current), Mind-Body Medicine – The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (2009-current), Mindful Change coaching, and is a Certified Sanoviv Nutrition Advisor – Level One and Level Two. Natasha also holds CA Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC49988; has 1 Year Post-Graduate Training in Bioenergetics (Somatic Relational Psychology) and 2 Years Post-Graduate Training in Bowen Family Systems Theory. She holds a Master of Arts, Marriage and Family Therapy from Alliant International University in San Diego and a Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Spanish from University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.

Dr. Lila Lewenstein

Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Lila Lewenstein is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University California. Additionally, she received her Masters of Science degree in Nutrition Education from American University, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Lila’s areas of focus include metabolic dysfunction, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders and the optimization of one’s overall health and wellbeing.  Because of her own personal journey with functional medicine, she has a unique understanding of her patients’ therapeutic needs. She became passionate about naturopathic medicine at the age of 12, when conventional medicine had failed to help manage her various chronic conditions. Eventually, through naturopathic medicine and a functional medicine approach, she was able to restore her own health. Since then, it has been her mission and journey to help others take control of their personal health and wellbeing.

Travis Armbruster

Certified Personal Trainer

Travis has been a fitness professional for 8 years and is certified in ACE and NASM education programs. He specializes in balancing, strengthening, and improving flexibility through a variety of modalities. Travis utilizes specific techniques, like Rossiter, to help clients find fast pain relief and to assure long-term pain relief.

Michele Rooney, MSPT

Physical Therapist & Certified Yoga Instructor

Michele is a Physical Therapist with over 20 years of experience assisting families with children with special needs. She is dedicated to assisting parents with optimizing their family’s lives through mindful movement, healthy nutrition, evolutionary relationships and conscious communication. Michele is also a certified yoga instructor and incorporates yoga based movements, breathing and meditation into my personal life as well as my professional practice. In 2018 Michele embarked on an incredible journey of reclaiming her health through movement, nutrition and confronting limiting beliefs.  She is a Christoff Certified Self Sabotage Coach, and is grateful to be able to pay forward this gift of alignment and overcoming self sabotage by helping others, especially busy parents who are dedicated to embodying health, wellness and vitality as the leaders of their families.

Adrian Van der Walt

Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist

Adrian has over 15 years of experience in Fitness and Performance Training. He is a Certified NASM Performance Enhancement, MMA Conditioning, and Corrective Exercise Specialist.  Along the way, he discovered (MAT) Muscle Activation Techniques, which is a revolutionary approach to strengthening and stabilizing the body.  He received his MAT Specialist Certification in 2013.

Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) is a  systematic approach to the assessment and correction of muscular imbalances in the human body. It is designed to balance the muscular system. Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) provides the tools to identify restrictions in motion and joint instability relating to muscle tightness and weakness. Through this systematic approach, Muscle Activation Techniques is used to jump start the muscle to increase maximum efficiency.

Olivia Reid

Fitness Instructor & Certified Yoga Instructor

Olivia is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Hatha, Trapeze, and Yoga for Cancer Reovery. She teaches many styles of yoga featuring alignment based flow, functional, primal, gentle, inversions, therapeutic, restorative, etc. She is also an experienced fitness instructor specializing in group fitness classes, TRX, stand up paddle boarding, and many others.

Stephanie Zito

Wellness Coach, Meditation & Mindfulness Instructor

Stephanie has worked in the personal development field for 20+ years. Stephanie found yoga 24 years ago as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa. She went on to study yoga in India, and certified as a Yoga + Meditation Instructor in 2009. Stephanie is a seasoned life coach and speaker, helping people gain clarity toward their life path, to break through mindset blocks and fears, and to clear blocks so they can move clearly toward their visions and goals.

Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. She has worked in corporate team-building and leadership development, guiding groups in personal transformation through wilderness experiences such as backpacking, rock climbing, and kayaking throughout the Western US and Hawaii.

At VeraVia Stephanie brings her varied expertise to our guests through yoga, guided meditation, assisting with guided hikes and offering wellness workshops on a variety of topics.

Kate Koniakowsky

Holistic Practitioner

Kate received her degree in Health Science and Health Coaching, became a certified Holistic Health Coach and started her practice largely based around nutrition and exercise. A couple years into her practice she realized the body can only heal to the extent that the mind and spirit are healthy. During her own health journey, she discovered the immense benefits of meditation and breathwork and got certified in both. Kate’s desire is to help people reconnect to their own souls by living in the present, achieving true wholeness and peace no matter their circumstances.

Team