Advisory Board

Being a small school with one Founder, Columbia River Institute relies on input from luminaries in the massage industry for guidance regarding curriculum and strategic direction.   


Jill Berkana

Jill is the Founder and the Director of The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy. She is committed to maintaining the tradition of massage therapy as an art form, while staying on the cutting-edge of progress. Jill strives to be a champion of the progressive evolution of massage therapy education. She serves on the U.S. National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and is the Liaison to its Ethics and Standards Committee. She currently mentors over 300 massage therapists and graduates. She is the original developer of The Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy’s Style of Bodywork, and designed the comprehensive curriculum.

Jill is a Licensed and NCBTMB Board Certified Massage Therapist with nearly 30 years of experience in the profession. She founded The Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy in 2005, which she later sold in 2011 before relocating to Denver.

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Ruth Werner

Ruth is an educator, writer, and retired massage therapist with a passionate interest in massage therapy research and the role of bodywork for people who struggle with health. Her groundbreaking textbook, A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology was first published in 1998, and is now in its 6th edition. She also writes a column for Massage and Bodywork magazine, serves on several national and international volunteer committees, and teaches continuing education workshops in research and pathology all over the world. Ruth was honored with the AMTA Council of Schools Teacher of the Year Award for 2005. She was also proud to serve as President of the Massage Therapy Foundation from 2010-2014, and she retains a seat as an MTF Trustee.


Mari Matney

Mari is the spa instructor at Columbia River Institute of Massage Therapy.  She owns her own business called Inner Glow Day Spa.  She is dually licensed as a Massage Therapist and an Esthetician.   Mari is also a tattoo artistic, violinist and artist.  She brings an amazing level of creative thinking to the massage curriculum.