Kristal is the Operations Director for the Brain Balance Achievement Centers in the Lowcountry area. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Science, followed by a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Piedmont College. Previous to joining the Brain Balance family, Kristal was educator for 11 years in both the public and private setting. During this time she saw the continuous rise of issues related to children’s academics and behavior, and felt the frustration of not having an option to offer parents that truly corrected these problems. Then, approximately four years ago, her nephew and niece went through the Brain Balance program for two very different reasons. She saw the results were truly life changing and knew she wanted to be a part of bringing that kind of opportunity to more families. She is excited to bring her knowledge of children and education with her to the Brain Balance program. Helping and teaching children has always been her passion, and she is able to continue to do this in an amazing way by helping children overcome their obstacles while focusing on the root of their struggles.
New to the Lowcountry area, she enjoys learning more about the area and getting to know the community. She and her husband spend their free time with their two children, Peyton and Mason, and love to watch the Georgia Bulldogs play on Saturdays!
Bryan received his business degree from the University of Georgia with a concentration in Social Psychology. He has over 21 years of experience in business management, personnel training and program development. Bryan was also recently elected to serve on the advisory board for Brain Balance owners and asked to participate on a national leadership panel. He and his wife, Kristal, also have centers in Mount Pleasant (which recently won an award) and Lexington, SC.
Bryan became interested in the Brain Balance program after witnessing the dramatic changes it produced in his niece and nephew, as well as the effects that had on the entire family. His niece, Savannah (now 15), had always struggled in school and often had multiple tutors. She was later diagnosed with Dyslexia. After going through the Brain Balance program she was able to make honor roll for the first time and now even finds herself excited about school!
What was even more impactful, however, was his nephew’s story. From an early age, Hunter really struggled to fit in socially. Even dining out became nearly impossible as his behavior and tantrums grew to be uncontrollable. This led to tension throughout the entire family and caused ripples well beyond their small family of five. Hunter would eventually be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and it was suggested that he could have Autism. Specialist after specialist wanted talk about how to understand and manage Hunter, but no one really approached how to help him…. until the family was introduced to Brain Balance in 2012.
By his third week in the program, the whole family could see a difference in Hunter. For the first time in his life, Hunter sat quietly through an entire meal at their favorite restaurant. He was starting to engage in real conversations. By the end of his program time, the result was nothing shy of amazing. Hunter now plays golf and basketball and attends the Island Academy on Hilton Head Island where he’s made many friends.
Bryan’s passion is in helping more children like Savannah and Hunter, but also in making a difference in the lives surrounding them. Things like learning disorders, ADHD, and ASD effect the whole family. That’s what led to his decision to help bring the Brain Balance Program to the Lowcountry area. He knows first hand how alone you feel when a child you love is struggling – and is here to share the hope that Brain Balance has to offer to other families like his.
In his free time, Bryan enjoys watching the Georgia Bulldogs play, golfing, and spending time with his family. He considers his most important accomplishments to be marrying his college sweetheart and being “dad” to two incredible children, Peyton (11) and Mason (8). Bryan and Kristal are also active members of the Hilton Head Island Community Church.
Denise Balsamo is currently the Program Director at the Brain Balance of Bluffton. An experienced veteran, she has been in the Education and Human Services fields for over 37 years. Denise holds a master’s degree in Special Education and bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. Denise also earned her certification in Early Intervention from Western Carolina Center in Morgantown, South Carolina. She has worked with adults and children with special needs during her tenure in numerous environments
Denise is particularly sensitive to the needs and direction of special education and supplementary services in the community. Her ability to articulate, motivate and inspire community interest has enabled her to mobilize resources to support and enhance her ability to lead in multi-diverse populations. A native of Rochester, New York, Denise has lived in the South for a number of years and currently calls Hilton Head Island her home.
Jackie Ruka is a trained Art Psychotherapist with a Masters Degree from Hahnemann University. She’s a Certified Action Coach from Coaching Firm International affiliated with Harvard University. In addition, Jackie is a best-selling author in the fields of well-being, success and happiness. Jackie brings 20+ years experience in the Mental Health, Pharmaceutical and Personal Growth industries, with skills deploying learning modalities to both children and adults.
Having been dyslexic herself, her keen awareness and compassion towards others to never give up employing a mantra of “if you can dream it, you can do it!” Jackie is excited to bring that same enthusiasm to children as the new Program Director at Brain Balance, Bluffton. Outside the center, Jackie enjoys the beach, sailing and artistic endeavors on Hilton Head Island.
Cognitive Evaluation Specialist / Coach
Susan has over 22 years of experience in working with students and persons with disabilities. She received her Master of Education in Counseling from The Citadel and her BS from Berry College with a concentration in psychology, education, and business. For 8 1/2 years she was a high school guidance counselor ad spent the remaining years working with Vocational Rehabilitation as a Counselor and as a Manager. Originally from Orlando, she lived over 25 years in the Atlanta area, 4 years in northern Virginia, four years in the Charleston, SC area and re-located here last summer. She has four adult children and proud to be a step-grandmother to five grandchildren who live in the Hilton Head area.
She has been working with Brain Balance since it opened in late February of 2015.