As a young boy, I already had a tendency to question into deeper layers of reality, especially drawn to the “abnormal” as holding the most compelling teachings. My parents gave latitude, and sometimes even support, for stepping outside of convention: in 4th grade I refused to participate in D.A.R.E because of its hypocrisy labeling some drugs as bad and others as permissible; at 13, my father gave me two seminal books, Krishnamurti’s “Freedom from the Known” and Becker’s “Denial of Death”; and at 16 I developed an intellectual fascination for psychedelics after living in Switzerland. Since 2008, I have been directing the Riverstyx Foundation and working in private practice as a psychotherapist, both venues to support others in discovering what gems may been lying in the shadows of their own lives- the places ripe for healing and compassion. Finding home In Santa Cruz, I love the ocean, surfing into dusk, and the daily breath of fresh air commuting on my electric bike.
AMFT, M.A. Existential-Phenomenological Counseling Psychology
Thomas Cody Swift
I love being with Riverstyx. Every day in our work I am drawing on different, varied threads from throughout my personal and professional life, and fulfilling longtime dreams. As a home-schooled, semi-feral child, I was fortunate to be shaped by my love and commitment to our local creek and mountain. As a catholic high-school student, I had elaborate plots to dose nuns and politicians with psychedelics. In my my early twenties, I had the honor of being brought into medicine ceremonies with native leaders. All this led to graduate school in soil micro-biology and a career facilitating complex issues in agriculture and natural resources.
My life’s work at Riverstyx now includes supporting psilocybin and MDMA research including those involving religious clergy, deep eco-ministry for direct-experience religious transformation, composting toilets and human bodies, and indigenous medicine, land, and cultural conservation, supporting balanced relationships between humans and our ecosystem. Our work is both deeply strategic and deeply personal. We do a kind of engaged philanthropy which allows for deep dives into uncharted territories, relationships, and structural change efforts. As a Mom, I’m fortunate my daughter, Cora, also supports our work and participates passionately on our many adventures.
M.S. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems and Soil Microbiology
I am a student of life with a penchant for grey areas. Life and death, light and darkness, conscious and subconscious – I live for liminal spaces and find myself very much at home within them. It’s no wonder I’ve found myself traveling in a boat along the River Styx. At a young age I became familiar with loss, grief, tragedy - themes that continued to color my life, but never fully eclipsing the undeniable beauty I also knew to be true. What I later came to realize through therapy, self- reflection, and psychedelics is that all of the challenges I have experienced have guided me in understanding who I am and how to support myself and others compassionately on our journey through healing. After living most of my life in Arizona, and then LA, I am grateful to have landed in a place as special as Santa Cruz and look forward to growing more rooted within the community. My role at RiverStyx is to help support the team so we can smoothly navigate through all of our projects, goals, and passions as we create the change we want to see in the world.
B.A. in Psychology - Candidate
My journey in humanitarianism began in the Amazon of Ecuador at age 20. Seeking a truth that was not presented to me in the western world I found myself under the deep, green canopy where I was immersed in entheogenic plant medicine, indigenous wisdom, and an awareness of the natural world. I felt as if I had taken my first breath. Within a year, I had received more from the indigenous communities I was working with than I could ever give back. My inquiries took me to study and volunteer with grassroot efforts in Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. Witnessing firsthand the struggles, yet simple joys, within these communities, instilled a deep connection to the wellbeing of the indigenous populations in our world. It is truly the hearts of the people that move through me as I deepen my humanitarian journey. I transitioned from supporting underprivileged youth in an ocean environment along the coast of Santa Barbara to Riverstyx. Joining the team felt like coming home as I had found a platform that mirrored my values and passion. My programmatic role in supporting indigenous and biocultural efforts is rooted in presence and relationship and a deep dedication to the journey I started when I first stepped foot in the jungles of Ecuador.
Started B.S., Earned a Degree in Life from the Amazon Rainforest
Kevin Bayuk works at the intersection of ecology and economy where permaculture design meets next economy organizations intent on meeting human needs while enhancing the conditions conducive to all life. He is a co-founder and partner with LIFT Economy, the Senior Financial Fellow at Project Drawdown and a founding partner of the Urban Permaculture Institute San Francisco. Kevin co-founded a software company and successfully raised millions of dollars in venture investment, built large teams and managed every aspect of a growing business before developing a deep understanding of the environmental and social circumstance of our time.
Impact Investment Advisor
Designer of Business Ecologies
Will Barone is a Clinical Psychologist and Qualitative Researcher who joined RiverStyx Foundation to provide support in employing qualitative research projects that strive to further understand novel approaches to treating illness and improving quality of life, including modalities of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Will has been investigating psychedelics and altered states as a means for personal growth and treatment for more than a decade, and is passionate about understanding the experiences people have in clinical and ceremonial contexts with psychedelics. Will has experience leading multiple qualitative research projects in the psychedelic sciences, including investigations into MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy as a treatment for PTSD and anxiety associated with terminal illness. Will also brings his extensive clinical experience into this work. He has years of experience working with psychedelic and altered-state experiences, as well as organic breaks of reality, as a supervisor in the Zendo Project psychedelic harm reduction center, as the Clinical Director of a psychiatric crisis facility, and in a range of other programs and spaces.
Qualitative Research Coordinator
Julie D. Megler, MSN, NP-BC is a licensed family medicine and psychiatric nurse practitioner. Julie is co-founder of Sage Integrative Health, a multidisciplinary health and wellness clinic in Berkeley, California. Julie is on the board of directors of ERIE (Entheogenic Research, Integration, & Education), a non-profit established in 2011, with a focus on entheogenic integration, peer support, and education in the Bay Area. Julie’s dedication to entheogens has been inspired by her own first-hand experience of healing and creative inspiration. Julie has discovered that plant medicine is best practiced when appropriately supported, and it has become part of her path to give back to the community by sharing and expanding on the guidance she has been lucky enough to receive along the way. Learn more about Julie at: sageintegrativehealth.org & erievision.org