ACHS Governance

ACHS Board of Directors

ACHS’s Board of Directors is responsible for establishing policies to ensure the quality, integrity, and effectiveness of student learning programs and services and the financial stability of the institution. Once the Board reaches a decision, it acts as a whole.

ACHS’s Board of Directors:
  • Establishes policies consistent with the mission statement to ensure the quality, integrity, and improvement of student learning programs and services and the resources necessary to support them. The Board has ultimate responsibility for educational quality, legal matters, and financial integrity.
  • Reviews the Board’s bylaws and policies specifying the Board’s size, duties, responsibilities, structure, and operating procedures. The Board regularly evaluates its policies and practices and revises them as necessary. The Board acts in a manner consistent with its policies and bylaws.
  • Reviews Board development and new member orientation.
  • Abides by the code of ethics.
  • Is informed about and involved in the accreditation process.

Dorene Petersen, BA, Dip.NT, Dip.Acu, RH (AHG), Founding President, Board Chairperson

Dorene Petersen, BA, Dip.NT, Dip.Acu, RH (AHG), Founding President

ACHS evolved from the distance education department of the South Pacific College of Natural Therapeutics (SPCNT), an on-campus naturopathic college in Auckland, New Zealand. Dorene Petersen, a graduate of SPCNT, was selected to develop and head this department in 1976. In 1978, SPCNT proposed closing the department due to an internal change in direction. To provide a teach-out opportunity to the SPCNT distance-learning students, and with the blessings of SPCNT, Dorene founded ACHS (at that time, called Australasian College of Herbal Studies). From these small beginnings, ACHS has continued to flourish.

Dorene has over 40 years of experience in distance education administration and finance, teaching, learning, and distance study and experience as a DEAC Business Standards Evaluator. Dorene is also a member of the DEAC Nominating Advisory Board, Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board, Oregon Office of Degree Authorization (State of Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC)) Advisory Committee, and serves as Chair of the Aromatherapy Registration Council.

Read Dorene's bio online here.

Erika Yigzaw, B.Com, LL.B. (Hons), President

Erika Yigzaw, B.Com, LL.B. (Hons), President

Erika has a Bachelors in Commerce with a major in Economics and more than 20 years’ experience in higher education administration. Erika is integral in strategic planning and compliance oversight that ensure institutional stability. She was an active member of the DEAC Business Standards Committee from 2008 to 2014. She is a DEAC Education and Business Standards Evaluator and Chair and has served on 15 site visits for initial and reaccreditation for DEAC between 2003 and 2017. Erika Yigzaw became President of ACHS in 2018 and builds on ACHS’s 40 year history of providing excellence in holistic health distance education.

Read Erika's bio online here.

Dr. Clyde Jensen, PhD - Public Member

Dr. Clyde Jensen

Dr. Clyde Jensen, PhD - Public Member

Dr. Clyde B. Jensen is distinguished as the only person to have served as a leader and professor (physiology and pharmacology) in colleges of allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, naturopathic medicine, oriental medicine, and chiropractic. He has coined the phrase "continuum cleft" to describe the gap that separates conventional and complementary health care and published concerning the financial and qualitative costs of the cleft to American health care consumers. Dr. Jensen has acknowledged that it is his personal mission to help "mend the cleft" by fostering collaboration among health care professions and their educational institutions.

Debbie Parigian, B.A., CPA, Public Member

Debbie Parigian

Debbie Parigian, B.A., CPA, Chief Financial Officer

Debbie Parigian has several years' experience working as a part-time CFO for growing companies and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the College.

Debbie has worked with several educational companies and software development companies over the past 20 years, increasing their financial strength to assist with growth strategies. She holds a bachelor's degree in business and accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. Debbie also has served as a board member, founder, investor, and consultant with several emerging growth companies.

"I have had a lifelong involvement with health and wellness," says Parigian. "My experience-health and financial-will allow me to successfully help ACHS ensure strong, sustainable growth and development of the cutting-edge online classroom education our students have come to rely on."

Judy Starr, Public Member

Judy Starr, Public Member

Judy Starr - Public Member

Judy has nearly 25 years experience working with nonprofit organizations and brings her expertise in all aspects of marketing, communications and development to the American College of Healthcare Sciences’s Board of Directors.

She has raised millions of dollars during her career through her work with major gift donors, foundation grant writing and corporate relations. Additionally, she established the first alumni relations program at Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and currently works closely with the Director of Alumni Relations at Clark College Foundation.

Judy’s Public Relations Certification from Marylhurst University and education in communications, event planning and grant writing has allowed her to combine these skills to bring community goodwill and positive visibility to the nonprofit organizations she represents as well as those who support them.

“I have served as a board member for Willamette Valley Development Officers, Public Relations Society of Oregon. As an ACHS board member I will help ensure strong sustainable growth and success for the College and its students.”

ACHS Program Advisory Councils (PACs)

ACHS's close ties with the aromatherapy, herbal medicine, holistic nutrition, and holistic health industries is key to our success and high quality. We want our students and graduates to have a worthwhile experience as a student that then transitions to the workplace. Leaders, educators, and employers in the holistic health and wellness industry have a strong self-interest in helping holistic health education improve and in helping students succeed. Well-trained competent graduates not only are more effective employees, salespeople, and ambassadors, they reduce compliance costs and liability exposure and help advance the industry. 

One of the most effective ways of providing a link between industry and colleges is through the ACHS Program Advisory Councils (PACs). ACHS PACs are essential to successful programs and play an important role in guiding, strengthening, and improving existing programs. Learn more about our Program Advisory Councils online here.


Dr. Arlene Kestner, PhD

Geraldine DePaula, MD

Lora Cantele, RA

Mindy Green, AHG, RA

Robert Brown, President, Lebermuth

General Education

Dr. Arlene Kestner, PhD

Complementary Alternative Medicine

Barbara Solomon, RN (Retired), L.Ac.

Diane Borders, MS

Danielle Lombardi, BA, MSOM, L.Ac

Lauretta Young, MD

Herbal Medicine

Dr. Arlene Kestner, PhD

Danielle Lombardi, BA, MSOM, L.Ac

Mindy Green, AHG, RA


Lisa Powell, MS CAM, FDN

Spa Management

Mikki Anderson, Cert. Aroma.

Mindy Green, AHG, RA

Download more information about our expert advisory council members online here.

ACHS Institutional Review Board

The ACHS Institutional Review Board (IRB) is responsible to ensure that research conducted with human participants complies with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requirements.

Primarily, the IRB will ensure:

  1. Compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 45, Part 46:
  2. Research is conducted in accordance with the principles outlined in the Belmont Report:

The ACHS IRB reviews proposed studies for safety and ethical concerns related to information about study subjects.  Student proposal quality and scientific merit are subject to the approval of faculty and the Academic Dean.

ACHS Committees

Academic Standards Committee

Admissions Committee

Financial Aid Committee

Financial Standards Committee