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Tuesday, 12 August 2008 08:50
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Development and Management Team

Michael Woods, Managing Partner and Founder

Michael Woods is the key founder of the Avalon Springs project, and has guided its development since inception.  He has owned and operated successful resort/spa properties in the Napa Valley wine region, providing him with a unique familiarity with the historic, cultural and business aspects of the region. Woods is the founder and president of Baywood Capital Corporation. Baywood, incorporated in 1980, manages real estate investments funded by limited partnerships headed by Mr. Woods.

Since 1977, Woods has managed over 40 real estate investments.  Baywood's current management portfolio of properties includes hotels, office buildings, retail buildings and apartments. Baywood's office buildings total approximately 100,000 square feet, and are located primarily in downtown San Francisco and Burlingame. The apartment and retail buildings are located in the prime areas of San Francisco, Burlingame, St. Helena and Los Gatos.

Mr. Woods' hotel properties range from the historic Mount View Hotel and Spa in Calistoga to the Inn at Eagle Mountain near Scottsdale, Arizona.  Woods has also been the managing partner for the White Sulphur Spring Resort & Spa in St. Helena, California, the Carmel Valley Inn and Tennis Resort in Carmel Valley, California, the Emerson Hotel in Palo Alto, California and, the El Pizoti Lodge in Costa Rica.  Under Michael’s skilled management, these hotels have flourished and grown into strong and successful ventures. Woods graduated from San Francisco State University in 1974 with a degree in business.  Woods’ devotion to founding Avalon Springs comes from a deep desire to use his experience to create a truly unique, socially and ecologically responsible project.  He has assembled a uniquely diverse and capable team to help him. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mellissa Seaman Portrait

Mellissa Seaman, Founding Partner, Marketing and Educational Director

Mellissa Seaman is an original founder of the Avalon Springs project and has been especially involved with design, communications, marketing, and programming.  She graduated from Stanford University in 1991, and from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1995, where she was awarded the Outstanding Public Interest Advocate award. She spent five years as an attorney in the areas of public interest law and business litigation.
Mellissa is a natural entrepreneur who founded a theatre and school of improvisation (San Diego TheatreSports) and a holistic healing arts center (San Diego Circle) before moving to Northern California to help create Avalon Springs.  Since 2005, in addition to developing Avalon Springs, Mellissa has continued leading women’s empowerment groups in Northern and Southern California, and has served as a marketing and communications consultant for Baywood Capital Corp, the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce, and a number of small business owners.  Mellissa’s many talents as a writer, teacher, website developer, and community leader combine a unique balance of business know-how and spiritual connection to the design and co-creation of Avalon as a development that bridges deep ecology, hospitality, and educational outreach.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Richard Bock, Founding Partner, Director of Spring Water Systems

Richard Bock is an original founder of Avalon Springs.  Bock has been working with mineral water bathing systems for almost 20 years. His hands on experience and knowledge of spring box development and hot mineral water systems make him a valuable asset for Avalon Springs. From his early years in rural Germany his professional career has always been about the water, from pool design to teaching WaterDance at hot springs spas around the world.  For 19 years, Richard has been involved with Harbin Hot Springs as a teacher, project designer, and community leader.  This experience has prepared him to lead the Spring Water Systems development for Avalon Springs.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Shanan Carney

Shanan Carney, Partner, Inspiration Architect

Carney is a seasoned marketing-communications and branding professional who brings almost two decades of experience to the Avalon Springs project. After five years working for a global perception management firm on Fortune 200 accounts, she spent nearly 10 years at TiVo, where she was the on-camera “face” and voice for the company that launched the world’s first DVR. Her specialty is making brand-new ideas easy to understand and nurturing brand identities and communications strategies that will touch, move and inspire people to take action. She practices the art of everyday kindness and compassion and she’s an absolute master at having fun.


Bear Kittay

Bear Kittay, Partner, Social Alchemist

Kittay is a social alchemist who accelerates human potential. He designs retreat experiences by joining pioneers from business, government, science, and art to stimulate innovation and cultural transformation. At Avalon Springs and El Ganzo, a boutique hotel on the Sea of Cortez, he creates human and organizational incubators. Bear’s secret sauce is music and uses it to thread together the many obstacles that inhibit growth. A singer and multi-instrumentalist he’s performed music in venues throughout the world.


Onsite Team

Current operations team onsite for Avalon Springs includes:

David Husar - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Chia Lichtendahl - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Mike McCloskey

Head Chef - Jay Holecek (



Initial Design Team

Arkin-Tilt Architects is an award-winning Architecture firm specializing in energy and resource efficient design. Their projects embody a marriage of thoughtful design and ecology, creating spaces that are comfortable and lyrical, with particular attention to the integration of the built and natural environments. Arkin-Tilt has extensive experience with alternative construction systems, including straw-bale and rammed earth, renewable energy systems, greywater, and non-toxic and recycled materials. A natural fit for the Avalon Design Team, their projects include residential and commercial, park buildings, religious facilities, and eco-resort planning and design.



Exos Design is an International Environmental Design Group focusing entirely on earth-friendly landscape and garden development that utilize the principles of permaculture. Co-founders Doug Bullock and Scott Godfredson design productive permaculture landscape systems for clients around the world. They assisted the Avalon team in creating the Permaculture Master Plan, the product of extensive research, analyze, and report on the natural resources, challenges, and opportunities available on this particular piece of land.


Board of Founders

The initial four years of visioning and design were guided by a Core Council of six devoted founders.  This council included: Michael Woods, Richard Bock, Mellissa Seaman, Deidre Sommers, Iva Tashlick, and Sandeep Goel.


Michael Woods (see above)

Richard Bock (see above)

Mellissa Seaman (see above)


Iva Tashlick brings over three decades of experience in the fields of massage, healing, and wellness education. She helped create a women's circle with an active spiritual community center in Maryland, and for years has created spirit-based ceremonial gatherings providing deep grounding for transformation. A lifelong student, Iva enjoys celebrating and practicing healing in many forms. email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Sandeep Goel is President of LightBearer Investments, an investment management firm with a focus on socially conscious, Earth-friendly technology and alternate energy investments.  Sandeep served for 15 years as the CEO of a U.S. based computer software and Internet Company with international operations.  Sandeep’s passionate interests for the past 25 years have included writing, communication, physics and meta-physics, ceremony and spiritual gatherings, cosmology, environmental/green/alternate technologies, electro-mechanical engineering, large-scale complex systems design, clean sustainable energy and permaculture. email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Ajaya Deidre Sommers - Ajaya Deidre Sommers grew up in a Sufi community where she developed a deep reverence both for spiritual practice and community living. She has been a professional healer since the age of 18, and is a gifted intuitive practitioner in many modalities including Breath Therapy, Bio-dynamic Craniosacral, Energetic Balancing, Core Embodiment Meditation, Integrative Counseling, and Aquatic Bodywork. She founded Alchemy of the Heart, a sanctuary for conscious evolution, in Calistoga, California, and continues to lead workshops and trainings in California and Hawaii.

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 November 2012 16:21

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