top of page
At Shark Reef.jpg
About Me

I am a holistic healing guide. I am a teacher,  a seeker, a listener, and an intuitive mentor. I love to hold space for people and groups to do deep transformative learning and healing. I’ve learned to design experiences that invite whole person learning, authentic relationships, and real connection. I love connecting people to their deepest selves, to each other, and to the living earth in meaningful ways. I enjoy creating spaces of transformative learning that invite people to unlearn the patterns of our dominant culture and to reconnect to values and ways of being aligned with justice, connection to the living earth, and to our bodies and spirits.


I have successfully guided hundreds of people in their journeys to create more purposeful and holistic lives and ways of being.

My Background

I grew up moving between the temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest and the hot humid tropics of West Africa, with some time in french-speaking Europe as well. I came back to Oregon for college and have mostly lived in the Pacific Northwest since. I feel a rooted sense of belonging in my bioregion, on the traditional homelands of the Chinook, Multnomah, and Clackamas indigenous people (among others) and have enjoyed getting to know my plant and animal kin here. Learning to farm and garden have taught me so much about the seasons and have connected me with the land.  I also have a special place in my heart for Latin America; as a young adult I lived in Costa Rica and Mexico, and have traveled quite a bit in Central America. I enjoy traveling to experience other places and people, and to learn about myself in new ways.


I have degrees in Psychology (BA), Communication, Adult Education and Women Studies (MA) and Sustainability Leadership (Doctorate- EdD). I have been a leader and tenured professor in in higher education for many years, including most recently 15 years as the director of a graduate program in Sustainability Education--The Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) program at Portland State University. In this role I taught classes, mentored students, guided leadership teams, designed organizations and programs, and published & presented widely.

I have also led many retreat-style experiential courses in a variety of locations including the US-Mexico border region, Cuba, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the San Juan Islands. I enjoy designing and guiding these small group transformative experiences which invite new perspectives and deep connection with earth, self, and others. 

Over the last 20 years I have studied and practiced transformative teaching and learning and have been interested in how soul work, earth connection, genuine participation, and critical theory (uncovering and addressing systems of oppression) can lead to holistic transformation. I have also researched and published on the topics of: collaborative leadership; authentic self-care; self-compassion; the connections between quantum physics and teaching and learning; ecological design; and sustainable food systems.

Additionally, I am a healer trained in yoga and certified as a Forest Therapy Guide and as a Permaculture Designer.  I am a Reiki Master (energy healing) and I enjoy supporting healing through embodiment, intuition, and energy work, and through invitations that connect us to the more than human world. I sometimes offer tarot readings to support self-understanding and healing.

I find joy in daily movement like yoga and dancing, tending my large polyculture garden, sit spots in local forests, swimming in rivers, lakes and oceans, time with beloved humans and cats, reading, writing, and painting.

Alderroot Healing and Renewal has emerged recently as a way to engage my creativity in the service of holistic healing work—imagining new ways of being and living for myself and others.

Michelle S.

"Honestly being your student put me through so much positive transformation that I literally came out a different human on the other side. I am forever indebted to you for your mentorship and patient guidance."

Zeke Z.

“In what has been a wild time to be alive you have provided a consistent gentle facilitation that I'm honestly in awe of. I've been so inspired by the way you gently push us and challenge us to grow.....I'm so filled with gratitude.”

Sophie H.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your guidance and support. This has been such a transformative experience and I've learned and grown more than I could have hoped for."
Wise & Wild Feminine Influences: 

My life and work have been profoundly and beautifully shaped by talented brave women who offer their stories and truths through their writing and teaching. Many of these wise women (although not all) are older than me and I have looked to these elders for guidance about how to live, lead, and age gracefully,  authentically, and mindfully. Some of my favorite feminine influences include:
Pema Chödrön, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Margaret Wheatley, Kathleen Dean Moore, Tara Brach, Mary Oliver, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Adrienne Marie Brown, Sharon Blackie, Elizabeth Lange, Starhawk, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Liz Gilbert, Kristin Neff, Tricia Hersey, bell hooks, Terry Tempest Williams, Dina Glouberman, Glennon Doyle, Martha Beck, Joanna Macy, and Brene Brown.

I support and welcome those who identify as non-binary.  I honor all who have embraced the feminine power of earth connection and resistance in a dominant culture long dominated by the oppression of patriarchy.
Selected Publications
see these and more of my publications at:
Burns, H., Stoelting, N, Wilcox, J., & Krystiniak, C. (2021). One of the doors: Exploring contemplative practices for transformative sustainability education. In A. Nicolaides, S. Eschenbacher, P. Buergelt, Y. Gilpin-Jackson, M. Welch, & M. Misawa (Eds.). The Palgrave Handbook on Learning for Transformation. Palgrave macmillan.
Burns, H. (2021). Fostering resiliency and care: Integrating self-compassion into a graduate course. Journal of Contemplative Inquiry, 8(1), 200-216.
Burns, H. (2018). Thematic Analysis: Transformative Sustainability Education. Journal of Transformative Education, 16(4), DOI: 10.1177/1541344618796996.
Burns, H. (2016). Self-care as a way of being: Fostering inner work in a graduate sustainability leadership course. Journal of Ecopsychology, DOI: 10.1089.
Burns. H., & Briley, J. (2015). Going Deep: Reflections on teaching deep ecology in Costa Rica. Journal of Transformative Dialogues, 8(2), 1-15.
Burns, H. (2015). Transformative sustainability pedagogy: Learning from ecological systems and indigenous wisdom. Journal of Transformative Education, 13(3), 259-276.

Burns, H., Vaught, H., & Bauman, C. (2015). Leadership for sustainability: Theoretical foundations and pedagogical practices that foster change. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 9(1), 88-100.

My impact

My former graduate students have gone on to do amazing work in the world including: Starting businesses, taking on leadership roles in non-profits and educational institutions, teaching in schools and universities, and more.  Many have used my unique Ecological Design process and the Burns Model of Sustainability Pedagogy to develop holistic programs, classes, and other offerings that bring transformative healing to our communities.

bottom of page