Alice McDowell, Ph.D., is an author, spiritual director, retreat guide, senior teacher, and founder of the Hidden Treasure Program—a three-year training in personal and spiritual growth. She co-founded Light on the Hill Retreat Center in 1991 where she continues to guide individuals and groups on their spiritual journeys. She is author of Hidden Treasure: How to Break Free of Five Patterns that Hide Your True Self (She Writes Press, 2017). As a professor of religious studies at Ithaca College for eighteen years, she taught courses in mysticism, world religions, depth psychology, and women’s studies, and received the Dana Fellow for Excellence in College Teaching. McDowell has a Ph.D. in theology from Fordham University and has trained with Sufi and Buddhist teachers, Christian contemplatives, and humanistic and transpersonal psychologists. She draws upon her diverse training and life experience to help others awaken to their True Divine Nature. She is a mother of two, the grandmother of four, and lives at Light on the Hill Retreat Center in Van Etten, NY, with her husband and two cats.


Alice’s Journey

When I was 11 years old, my father suddenly died of a heart attack. I started questioning everything. Why did this happen to me? What is the purpose of life, anyway? Why am I here? This set me on a path of discovery.

I decided to go to a college where I could study philosophy and religion, hoping this would give me answers to my questions. Being practical, however, and following others’ advice, I majored in math, not religion. I then went on to work for two years as a statistical analyst in the NYC financial district.

At the end of those two years, still not satisfied, I defied all sense of practicality and went to graduate school for religious studies and upon graduation began teaching religious studies at Ithaca College where I taught courses for 18 years in mysticism, world religions, depth psychology, and women’s studies.

There I met my future husband and together we founded Light on the Hill Retreat Center—a place where people could find solace, connect with Spirit, and find answers to <em>their </em>questions.

Knowing that while academics could orient me towards—but not actually give me—what I was seeking, I started meditating and working with a spiritual guide. In the years since, I’ve trained with energetic healers, humanistic and transpersonal psychologists, Buddhist and Hindu teachers, Sufi guides, and Christian contemplatives—and yes, found some answers.

My journey led me to the IM School of Healing Arts where I learned about the five patterns—called character structures. Impressed with the changes occurring both within my classmates and myself, and building on my prior studies, I developed a three-year program of five weekends a year called <a href=””>Finding the Hidden Treasure</a>, which I have been teaching for the last 20 years.

My students—of all ages and walks of life—discovered that the most powerful, life-changing part of the course was their work with the five character structures. Some found life partners or improved their intimate relationships. Many found themselves to be happier at work, while others found the strength to leave unsuitable jobs and find ones more in alignment with their true self. Some began—or deepened—a spiritual practice.

With such success, I asked myself, “Why not offer this to more people?” This idea started me on a journey to write Hidden Treasure. I hope that reading the book and doing the exercises will also change your life for the better.

I’ve taken you to the present. I hope you’ll be part of my future.


Peter Fortunato Introduces Alice and her Book

Listen to an interview with Alice on the WRFI radio program, The Made of Clay Report, with Eric Clay, M.Div., Ph.D., host of the program and founder of Shared Journeys.