Meet Our Staff
Benjamin Mason, Principal
B.A., Harvard College, M. Ed., Harvard University. Certified Educational Planner (CEP).
An educator, Ben founded one of North America's largest specialty educational consulting practices more than thirty years ago. He has worked with thousands of families here and abroad, since entering the consulting field.
Starting as generalist in 1987, he has evolved into one of the few international experts who focus on finding the best environments for children and young adults whose learning, behavior situational needs require placement in boarding schools or specialized therapeutic programs.
Unlike most educational consultants who try to handle a little of everything--college, graduate schools, summer camps, study abroad, gap year, day schools, etc., Ben and his associates concentrate on keeping up with developments in mainstream boarding schools as well as in the rapidly changing worlds of adolescent mental and behavioral health, learning differences, special education, and the new therapeutic schools.
Most of Ben's clients are busy professionals. They highly value obtaining the most informed and focused advice when the welfare of their child and family is at stake. Ben recognizes that superior client service demands adequate home office staffing as well as almost constant consulting staff travel to visit the hundreds of therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness programs, residential treatment centers, hospitals, and other unique resources that have sprung up since the mid-80's to help struggling children and their families.
Ben is well-respected within the educational consulting profession for broad personal acquaintance and first-hand knowledge of residential schools and programs throughout North America. Staff also maintain a busy rotation to check in at traditional boarding schools. They also regularly attend and/or present papers at conferences throughout North America and Europe. Ben and his associates maintain a broad domestic and international network of dynamic colleagues in psychiatry, psychology, experiential education, pediatrics, special education, law, and all the other subspecialties that often must be brought together when guiding the complicated child and his or her family. Ben is a member of NATSAP, SSATB, SBSA, HECA, NACAC, IECA, IDA, ACA, and a number of other professional and civic organizations.
After Exeter, Ben attended Harvard College where he majored in Colonial American History, was a two-sport varsity athlete and performed in college theatricals including two Hasty Pudding shows. After college he worked on Wall St. and Madison Ave., attended the Columbia Business School, and then decided to change his career to education. After returning to Harvard for a Master's Degree in Education in 1975, he became a consultant to schools, charitable foundations and non-traditional learning environments such as museums, zoos, historical and environmental organizations. He also ran a tutoring school which developed into the largest Kumon franchise in northern New England before starting Mason Associates in 1987.
Always an adventurer, Ben has sailed trans-Atlantic twice, participated in many of the world's major ocean races, rounded Cape Horn, hitchhiked overland from Nairobi to Capetown, and, while in college, traveled on foot through most of Europe and North America. Ben has served on the boards of Vermont Public Radio and the Vermont Land Trust in addition to his ongoing local community volunteer work. In 1985 he was appointed by the Governor of Vermont to be a founding member of the State's Professional Teacher and Educational Standards Review Board.
Ben became a specialist's specialist in part because of his own unhappy primary and adolescent educational experiences. His uncanny intuition about kids is rooted in his own early pain and academic frustration. An underachiever before anyone knew anything about ADHD, he was expelled from several New England private schools. He knows something of the helplessness felt by floundering students and their families. His passion and effectiveness in helping these kids get back on track by finding them the right school is internationally acknowledged. His wife, Dr. Nan Mason, is a Professor at the University of Vermont Medical School. They have two grown sons.
Patricia Ruggles, LCPC, CADC, NCC
Trish is an experienced, multi-licensed professional with a broad and impressive background in a variety of clinical settings. A BS graduate of Trinity College (Hartford), Psychology, with a Master’s in Counseling from Lewis and Clark, she always has been focused on serving the needs of struggling children, adolescents, young adults and their families.
She has worked professionally for more than fifteen years with individuals, groups and families in wilderness, private practice and residential, including substance abuse/addiction, settings. She has worked with diagnoses including mood/depression and anxiety disorders, substance and screen abuse/addiction disorders, oppositional defiance, trauma, attachment disorders, spectrum and personality issues and complex family situations. She has additional certifications in EMDR and Mindfulness.
Trish has worked as staff trainer and supervisor in clinical settings, consulted with classroom teachers and advised school and university administrators and professional colleagues/referrers. She also presents at mental health and professional educators’ conferences.
A “Mainer” as well as a former wilderness therapist, Trish is a fanatic skier, horsewoman, cat fancier, and blueberry muffin specialist.
Nancy Haines, BASW
The Pennsylvania State University
Nancy Haines has been with Mason Associates since 1996 after retiring from a 27-year career in the Pennsylvania Mental health system. Trained at Penn State in Social Work, her professional experience includes casework in inpatient mental health settings, including an intermediate care facility for persons with developmental disabilities, a Philadelphia regional forensic psychiatric center, and both admissions and sub-acute treatment units of psychiatric hospitals.
Immediately prior to her retirement, she directed the division of Pennsylvania's Office of Mental Health, responsible for the planning and development of services for persons with serious metal health issues through Pennsylvania's county mental health network. Throughout her career she participated in in-service professional development through the University of Pennsylvania, Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and other providers.
At Mason Associates, Nancy's primary responsibilities include intake; assisting in case management, including referrals to and follow up with schools and programs and transport coordination. She also has visited numerous therapeutic programs and met many of their staff, as well as attending professional conferences, so she is able to quickly and effectively support the firm's work with our clients. Finally, she has responsibility for the secure management of client files and maintenance of the firm's proprietary data systems.
She has four grandchildren, all of whom reside in Pennsylvania.