Meet the devoted people working behind the scenes.
Josh Gorelick, MS, LCMHC-A, LCAS-A, NCC
Long before Greatwoods Nature was a community space, Josh remembers it as the place where he’d enjoy campfires with family and s’mores under the stars. Knowing that the the vision for Greatwoods Nature was decades in the making, Josh is honored to help shepherd this dream into the future. “When I was approached with this idea, I was really excited. There’s so much potential here – to have this kind of natural, wild space within the Charlotte city limits is just so rare. It’s such a gift.”
Josh comes to Greatwoods Nature after working as a therapist for a wilderness therapy program. Starting first as a field instructor, Josh developed a passion for the therapeutic benefits of being in the natural world as he watched his clients grow and improve. After two years as a field instructor, he pursued a master’s degree in clinical mental health and counseling from Western North Carolina University. During this time, Josh had the opportunity to work with young men and veterans in recovery at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, NC. He also developed and led a therapy group focused on fatherhood. But the wilderness kept calling. After receiving his master’s degree, Josh returned to the wilderness therapy program where he had gotten his start – this time as a wilderness therapist.
“Wilderness therapy is incredible and helps so many families in crisis,” Josh says, “but the biggest obstacle is access.” It can be expensive to send kids out into remote woodlands for a period of weeks. “Greatwoods Nature allows me to bring the benefits of wilderness therapy to a much broader community in the form of day trips, regular programming, and events. Instead of camping out in a different part of the state for two months, we might be spending an hour or two caring for our honeybees or learning survival skills. It’s part therapy, part recreation, but on a scale that’s manageable for people who want to take a little time out of their week to stop, ground themselves, and have fun in nature.”
Josh is thrilled to bring this experience home to Greatwoods Nature. “Having the opportunity to bring my passion for wilderness-based therapy – the therapeutic aspect of being in a natural space – back to my community in Charlotte, it’s really meaningful.”
Roger and Joyce Grosswald
Roger and Joyce Grosswald
Chairman and Secretary of the Board
Chairman and Secretary of the Board
Founders of Greatwoods Temple Gardens, Roger and Joyce Grosswald met as students at the University of North Carolina. They stayed in touch over several years and built a long distance relationship during Roger’s service with the US Army in Vietnam. After 15 months in Vietnam, Roger returned and they started dating, quickly realizing that they were made for each other.
Shortly after Roger’s return, he went into business. Joyce eventually joined the executive staff. Together they built an international fashion textile business in the hosiery industry. Joyce became a well known Fashion Hosiery Designer and was often quoted in major magazines and in Women’s Wear Daily as an authority in color prediction and fashion direction. She also served as National Sales Manager.
Roger concentrated in design and the manufacturing complexities of the many varieties of hosiery machinery needed to produce the forward looking designs, often using antiquated machinery in new and novel ways. After selling their business, they continued together to acquire real estate and country property. They were always interested in public and private Gardens and traveled extensively to visit them throughout the United States. The couple were part of the founding of The Charlotte Botanical Garden Society which was the forerunner of Ribbon Walk, which exists today as a wild Nature Garden in Mecklenburg County.
They were also early supporters and part of a large founders group supporting The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte. Roger was especially interested in Japanese Zen Gardens and after a visit to Japan they decided to build a Japanese Stroll and Meditation Garden on 26 Acres of property they acquired in 1985 in Eastern Mecklenburg County.
Over the years they continued to invest in developing the Garden. They constructed walking trails through the hardwood forest and acquired assorted large boulders from building sites all over the area. They were able to acquire several thousand granite tiles when the City of Charlotte removed them from the North Tryon Transit Mall, thereby, saving the material from waste. Today, they are on paths and the Enso Terrace within the Garden. Saving materials for the Garden became a passion and many building materials destined to be discarded have become beautiful additions to the Garden. Many bridges and large arches have been constructed in part with trees and wood recovered out of the Garden as construction continued.
Now, it’s become the home of Greatwoods Nature, a Garden devoted to sustainability, nature education, and wildlife protection.
Kristen Shaben, MS, RD, LDN, CHWC, CYT
Manager, Health and Wellness Programming
Kristen brings 20 years of experience as a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and Certified Yoga Teacher to Greatwoods Nature. She enjoys inspiring others to define their “well-self,” map their road trip to healthy living, and live their life story well.
Specializing in integrative health coaching, functional nutrition, and trauma-informed yoga. She brings science and ancient wisdom together for mind-body health. “Nourishing our bodies with whole foods, enjoying physical activity, and balancing our time spent indoors with the sights and sounds outdoors builds energy and resiliency.” Kristen lives yoga principles on and off the mat spending her career managing programs that advocate for social system changes in health disparities, food insecurity, educational opportunities, and access to natural spaces. “Connecting to nature increases our awareness of not only our external world but to our internal world, our sense of self. Being outside helps us feel grounded while at the same time awakening our senses, boosting our energy, and improving our overall health and well-being.”
Kristen spends as much time as she can in nature following her personal mantra: run, hike, bike, paddle, and bend (yoga).