Who We Are

David Spaw
Director, Healing Circles Texas

Inspired from his personal experience of healing and by his friend and a founder of Commonweal, Michael Lerner, David set out to bring Healing Circles to Texas.  He has lost two wives and a sister to cancer and was drawn to this amazing approach as a path to discovery and healing, accessible to all.  Together with longtime friend, Susan Rafte, they are assembling a team of volunteers, hosts, advisors and organizations who are passionate about starting Healing Circles.

David is a retired executive of a regional and international construction company, working in Houston, Austin and Dallas.  He has served on many non-profit boards and community organizations over the years including:  the Rice Design Alliance, Houston Achievement Place, MDPC Youth Ministry, Center for Recovering Families, Pink Ribbons Project, St. Stephens Episcopal School in Austin, the Jung Center and since early 2016, as the Program Director of Commonweal overseeing the Texas initiative.

Helen Spaw
Art Circles Coordinator

Helen Spaw has wide experience as a therapist and art teacher for all ages and abilities.  She holds a masters degree in Art Therapy and Creativity from New York’s Pratt Institute and a Bachelors in Psychology with an art minor and focus in Art Therapy from the College of Santa Fe.   She hosts Healing Art Circles and Healing Circles at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church where she also works as the Fine Arts Academy, Special Needs and Diversity Vision Coordinator.  Helen also teaches individual art lessons for students with special needs.

Ed Halloran
Host and Circle Coordinator

Ed is a passionate champion of empathy and compassion as powerful, practical tools for enriching the quality of human experience and life on planet Earth. A life-long learner with interests in interpersonal communication and personal development his interest in Nonviolent Communication led him to Healing Circles. With business experience in telecommunications, advertising, and sales he also served for 17 years in Youth Ministry at Unity of Houston.

He is a trained facilitator and leads workshops and skills groups in Mind Body Medicine, Compassionate Communication, Authentic Relating, Positive Discipline Parenting Practice, Getting Real Games and A Course In Miracles and is inspired by the freedom, connection and experience of wholeness accessible in Healing Circles. 

Becky Dodds
Host and Circle Coordinator

Becky’s personal journey and interest in healing and post-traumatic growth drew her to Healing Circles Houston where she serves as a Host/Guardian.  Becky is a certified yoga instructor (RYT 200) with a focused study in trauma sensitive practice, and she recently became a trained facilitator in Mind-Body Medicine.   With a degree in Communications, Becky began her career in radio broadcasting and later shifted into Human Resources.  She now works in Corporate Training and Recruiting as a Behavioral Interviewing Specialist. 

Susan Cooley, PhD, RN
Host and Circle Coordinator; Nursing Circles Development

Susan Cooley is a Nurse Practitioner and Healthcare Consultant. While undergoing treatment 30+ years ago for colon cancer, Susan participated in the Cancer Help program at Commonweal (from which Healing Circles emanates) which was facilitated by Rachel Naomi Remen.  During chance drop-in visit to Commonweal in 2015, Susan picked up a flyer about Healing Circles Houston. 

Dr. Cooley retired from UT Medical School Houston after serving as a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics for over 30 years providing training for future physicians and nurses.  Long interested in practices to improve nurse (and caregiver) resilience, she works to bring Healing Circles and  The Power of Nursing: Embracing the Healer’s Art to the nursing community.  A personal experience as a patient influenced her 2016 TEDx talk “The Other Side of the Stethoscope.” Susan remains committed to finding ways to provide patient-centered care.  Perhaps she has come full circle from that experience

A native Houstonian, Dr. Susan Cooley has four grown children and a growing number of grandchildren.

Belle MacFarlane, RN
Administrative Coordinator

Belle received a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Sports Medicine from Rice University where she graduated with honors.  Thereafter she obtained a B.S. in Nursing from The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing.

After conducting a year of trauma research in conjunction with Houston’s Memorial Hermann trauma center, Belle’s affinity to provide healing for those in need led her to join Healing Circles Houston as both an administrative coordinator and Host/Guardian of circles.  In addition to her roles with Healing Circles Houston, Belle is a full-time Registered Nurse in the ICU at Saint Luke’s in the Texas Medical Center.

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