MEET OUR TEAM

Julie_Clay_AspenHub

Clay Engels is a natural community builder, who puts people at ease with his accepting personality, wry humor, hearty laugh and direct communication style. These traits allow him to navigate the land-mines which inherently exist when dealing with substance abuse,  addiction, and mental health issues.

Clay has been engaged professionally for over a decade in helping individuals and families connect with the appropriate resources and trusted, proven specialists to receive the level of care they need. The Roots Collaborative approach is a result of Clay and Julie’s cumulative individual and family experiences, intervention training and addictions education, and their own vision and goal-setting methodology.   

With over 22 years of continuous sobriety, Clay began this journey upon entering his first treatment center, Aspen Recovery Unit (ARU) in 1986 at the age of 16.  Between his severe dyslexia and the unspoken issues going on in his family’s home, Clay fits the classic role of “identified patient.” His addiction took him from a life of privilege in Greenwich, CT to living in transient hotels in San Francisco’s Mission District with no money to his name and a severe heroin habit. In his fifth and final stint in rehab, Clay finally heard the message of recovery and credits his life to the IMPACT Pasadena staff, all of whom were recovering addicts themselves. To those who don’t have the disease of addiction, this may not seem vital—but, for someone in the throes of their drug use, one addict talking from their own experience to another can be the difference between life and death.

Julie Thorne Engels is a lifelong visionary, brand strategist and entrepreneur with a passion for employing creativity and empathy to initiate individual recovery from addiction and related issues and invite family systems healing, and help organizations develop healthy structures that drive business success.  With over 30 years of recovery coupled with vast project management experience, Julie possesses the ability to command a room of hundreds or to facilitate an intimate family or team meeting.  Although the circumstances may vary, the desired outcomes remain consistent: create a shared vision, build an action plan, agree to communicate that’s free of “shame, blame, and guilt,” and then work together achieve set goals and objectives.  This methodology transforms families addled by substance abuse, and allows brands to drive sales through  epic marketing campaigns.     

Before moving to Aspen and launching Roots, Julie was the CEO/Co-Founder of Tribemint, a brand marketing agency entrenched in the startup community in Los Angeles.  The roots of Tribemint can be found in Bettyvision, an online vision board platform empowering women to visualize their dreams and make them a reality with community support. It was through the insights gleaned from her first start-up’s user-base that a greater opportunity existed to help brands build communities through shared vision, culture and engagement.

Julie has a proven track record of bringing creative projects from ideation to execution in a multitude of platforms. In her last tenure agency position, Julie was the SVP, Creative and Strategy at The Regan Group a marketing agency that specializes in consumer activation strategies with measurable results. Some of the following are loyal clients: ABC Family, ABC Entertainment, FX Networks, California Pizza Kitchen, Anthem WellPoint, USA Network, 8th Continent Soymilk, Brookside Foods, Sun-Maid, AYSO, and Katalyst/Nikon, to just name a few.

Always committed to being of service to the entrepreneurial community, Julie is honored to be an Advisor to Hustlers for HumanityEnrouEquallet, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s Bixel Exchange, and ThingsForWork.  She also belongs to a myriad of organizations and provides mentorship and pro bono services to early stage founders/entrepreneurs to include USC’s LavaLab, Atom Factory’s Smashd Labs, Women Founders Network, SoGal, Ambition, CREATE, and Aspire Charter Schools.