Who We Are

Pam Nickisher, JD, BA, MHFA, ADC

7Seeds Founder & Executive Director

Pam Nickisher, JD, BA, MHFA, ADC

Pam Nickisher received a Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School, a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Douglass College, Rutgers University, and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) training from Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Program. A former AmeriCorps volunteer, Pam is passionate about equal justice and devoted to public service. She has been an effective advocate for indigent criminal defendants, special needs children and championed issues such as gender equity and non-discriminatory hiring practices. In addition to Pam’s active membership on the Behavioral Health Planning Commission (BHPC) for New Jersey Mental Health and Addiction Services (NJDMHAS) Citizen’s Advocacy and Data & Outcomes subcommittees, Pam has recently provided New Jersey Senate testimony regarding the benefits of trauma informed care, and currently serves as a board member for Central Jersey Legal Services.

Pam’s own personal experience as a trauma survivor contributed to the development of a range of coping skills, including the effort to self-medicate with drugs. Now in recovery, her despair served as a catalyst for a healing process that includes a regular yoga practice. It is Pam’s conclusion that her healing would not have been possible without the compassionate trauma informed care of skilled therapists and her personal yoga practice.

The formation of the 7Seeds Mission and Vision are expressions of Pam’s gratitude for the release from the prison of reactive conditioning. She believes that a trauma informed education combined with a personal yoga practice is one of the most direct routes to healing and freedom, and hopes to offer a path to freedom for others through 7Seeds. As the Founder of 7Seeds, Pam serves as Executive Director and is honored by the team’s commitment to the 7Seeds Mission and Vision.

Chris Lerro, LCSW

7Seeds Clinical Director

Chris Lerro, LCSW

Chris Lerro is trained as a clinical social worker, and licensed by the state of NJ. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University and his Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University. Chris currently works as a mental health clinician at Rutgers-UBHC Partial Hospital program and has a private psychotherapy practice. He is certified in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and is a member of the Trauma Informed Committee at Rutgers-UBHC. Chris has been practicing for nearly 20 years as counselor, and clinician for individuals struggling with a wide variety of psychiatric, emotional, and addictive disorders. In the past decade, Chris has focused much of his training and practice on the treatment of psychological trauma and PTSD and strongly believes that, in order to more fully heal from trauma, mind-based therapies such as CBT must be utilized in conjunction with body based treatments and practices. He is convinced by a robust evidence-base that yoga is a powerful and effective body-based therapy for the treatment of trauma related disorders. Chris has lived in NJ for all of his life, and currently resides in South Brunswick Township with his wife and young son.

Chris’s role within 7Seeds is to oversee all clinical aspects of programming development, provide supervision, guidance and support to the 7SeedsYoga Team, deliver psycho-education within the treatment milieu, and create trauma informed cultures that promote emotional and psychic healing.

Zulema Vicens-Mortman, BFA, RYT, MHFA, Certified Yoga Instructor

7Seeds Co-Founder, Senior Yoga Instructor & Programming Committee

Zulema Vicens-Mortman, BFA, RYT, MHFA, Certified Yoga Instructor

Zulema Vicens-Mortman received her B.F.A. from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts, and is a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). Zulema also holds certifications in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), CPR/AED and Holistic Nutrition. She has completed her Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training and is currently enrolled in a 500 hour Yoga Teacher Certification course. Zulema currently teaches yoga at Simply Yoga in Princeton, Princeton Fitness & Wellness Center, and at multiple locations for Bristol Meyers-Squibb. After graduating college, Zulema owned and operated her own dance studio in the Princeton area for over sixteen years. Zu found yoga after selling her studio, and fell in love with the philosophy of yoga and its holistic approach to wellness. She feels that yoga brings self-awareness, peace, harmony and balance to her life and hopes to pass these gifts along to her students. Aside from her professional endeavors, Zulema takes great pride and pleasure in being a dedicated wife and mother of 3 boys.

Zulema’s role within 7Seeds is to oversee yoga teacher training and development, collaborate on all aspects of programming, marketing and administration. As one of the initial Trustees and Directors of 7Seeds, Zulema has developed a comprehensive trauma informed yoga program with the collaborative efforts of the 7Seeds Clinical & Yoga Teams. Zu’s presence, patience and integrity as a founding member of 7Seeds Yoga has been a crucial asset and will continue to serve the organization as she looks forward to establishing a 7Seeds Teacher Training program in the future.

Marla J. Sprock, MHFA, CADC

7Seeds co-Founder, Assistant Clinical Director & Programming Committee

Marla J. Sprock, MHFA, CADC

Marla J. Sprock is formally trained to provide treatment for addiction and trauma related disorders, and is currently employed at New Hope Foundation as a primary counselor. As a trauma survivor and in recovery herself, Marla has provided support and guidance to many women on their recovery journey for over 20 years. She is formally trained in a diverse range of therapeutic modalities including Motivational Interviewing, (MI), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, (CBT) and client-centered/strengths-based therapies. Marla facilitates relapse prevention, wellness and spirituality groups; however, finds the profound impact of trauma education is transformative for her clients. Also a proud mother, Marla is extremely proud of her two daughters, who are both embarking on a life of professional service as compassionate therapists.

Marla’s role within 7Seeds is as the Assistant Clinical Director responsible for the development of trauma educational programming to drive transformational systemic change. One of the initial Trustees and Directors of 7Seeds, Marla’s creative support has driven the evolution of the 7Seeds conceptual framework and clarified the 7Seeds Mission & Vision. She looks forward to her continued professional development and receiving formal Yoga Teacher Training to become a 7Seeds Yoga Instructor.

Annie Russo, LSW, LCADC (pending), Certified Yoga Instructor

7Seeds Yoga Instructor, Liaison between Clinical & Yoga Teams & Programming Committee

Annie Russo, LSW, LCADC (pending), Certified Yoga Instructor

Annie received her Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers University School of Social Work, and her B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from Douglass College, Rutgers University. She considers the birth of her daughter Sophia Angel to be her biggest accomplishment in life thus far. Annie’s passion for yoga began about 8 years ago after a car crash that should have cost her life. As a trauma survivor, Annie found that her yoga practice mitigated PTSD symptoms, offered peace, and granted her a new appreciation for life. She works as a primary counselor in a 3.5-ASAM level of care treatment center for clients with co-occurring disorders, and facilitates groups for trauma disorders and women in recovery. Her passion is to support others in developing to their fullest potentials.

In addition to being a 7Seeds Yoga instructor, Annie’s role within 7Seeds is to serve as the bridge between the Clinical and Yoga Teams to collaboratively create programming that prioritizes physical and emotional safety. Her clinical training and experience, combined with her own personal understanding of the healing capabilities of yoga, make Annie uniquely qualified to serve as the liaison between the 7Seeds Clinical and Yoga Teams. Annie believes with a sense of safety, self-actualization is within reach.

Kim Iacono

7Seeds Creative Consultant & Marketing Committee

Kim Iacono studied graphic arts and teaching in college, and is a certified teacher of Kundalini Yoga, and currently studying for certification in Ayurveda, the natural healing branch of yoga. A natural seeker, she sought and found peace from a variety of alternative philosophies after the tragic and untimely death of her husband Devin in 2010. Kim’s experience as a trauma survivor fuels her path as a gifted painter and textile artist. She is the devoted mother of a brilliant and precocious young son Luke, who lives with their pet cat named “Lucky-but-we-mostly-just-call-him-Cat” in Delaware.

Kim’s natural talent has served as integral contribution to the creative development of 7Seeds.

Heather Fraunberger, BA, E-RYT

7Seeds Yoga Instructor

Heather Fraunberger, BA, E-RYT

Heather Fraunberger received her BA in Communications & Creative Writing from Ramapo College, and is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). Heather began her yoga journey in 2001, and after trying many styles and studios she became hooked after taking Iyengar classes with Joanne Carter at Simply Yoga in Princeton, NJ. Heather has a deep respect for the precision and strength of Iyengar Yoga, which has taught her to help keep students safe and strong in her Hatha Yoga classes. Her participation in Kripalu’s Yoga & Recovery conference, along with a variety of other yoga workshops addressing anxiety and depression have been a fundamental factor in Heather’s own recovery from compulsive overeating. She is interested in unifying yoga and recovery principles to expand the accessibility of yoga to the broader population. Heather is presently working toward her 500-Hour Teacher Training RYT and delights in the company of her family when not learning, teaching or practicing yoga.

As the newest addition to the 7Seeds Yoga Team, Heather promises to bring a wealth of experience and compassion as she endeavors to expand the reach of the 7Seeds Mission and Vision.

Rita Lynn Lyman, CMT, RYT, MHFA, Certified Yoga Instructor

Programming Committee

Rita Lynn Lyman, CMT, RYT, MHFA, Certified Yoga Instructor

Rita Lynn Lyman is a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher and trauma survivor, a certified massage therapist, poet and lifelong visual and performing artist. Rita also holds certifications in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), CPR/AED and has been teaching creativity workshops and meditation to ages 8-98 since 2003. Rita is in recovery from mental health and addiction in her family. She seeks to inspire others to empower themselves with the healing power of yoga and art. Her creative presence and energy constitute an integral force within the organization.