John Makransky, PhD


JohnMakransky_headshotCo-Founder

John is an Associate Professor of Buddhism and Comparative Theology at Boston College, senior advisor and lecturer in Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s Centre for Buddhist Studies in Nepal, co-founder of the Foundation for Active Compassion and of the Courage of Care Coalition (two socially engaged contemplative organizations), co-developer of the Sustainable Compassion Training (SCT) model (formerly known as Innate Compassion Training (ICT)) and author of the popular meditation manual Awakening through Love.

Dr. Makransky’s academic writings have focused on connections between doctrine and practice in Asian Buddhism, on adapting Buddhist contemplative practices to meet contemporary needs, and on theoretical issues in interfaith learning.

For the past fifteen years, he has taught ways to cultivate sustainable care and compassion, adapted from Buddhism in newly accessible ways, to teachers, healthcare givers, social workers, psychotherapists, and those who work with prisoners, the hungry, and the dying.  He has offered contemplative workshops at Kathmandu University, Harvard Divinity and Medical Schools, Brown University, Emory University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Virginia, Mind and Life Institute, and many other institutions.  He has published several books and many articles on Buddhist practices, their adaptation to secular contexts, and contemplative resources for service, social change, and inter-religious learning.

Brooke D. Lavelle, PhD


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Co-Founder and President

Brooke D. Lavelle is the Co-Founder and President of the Courage of Care Coalition. Brooke holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Emory University, an MA in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism from Columbia University and a BA in Religion and Psychology from Barnard College. Her academic work focuses on the diversity of contemplative models for cultivating compassion and mindfulness, as well as the cultural contexts that shape the transmission, reception, and secularization of Buddhist contemplative practices in America.

Brooke was the Senior Education Consultant to Mind & Life's Ethics, Education, and Human Development Initiative and a co-developer of the Call to Care program for teachers and students. She is also trained in Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), Compassionate Mind Training (CMT), and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and has taught and adapted these programs in a variety of educational and clinical settings.

Her diverse experience in delivering contemplative programs in various social service contexts led her to deepen her understanding of the structural and systemic contributors or inhibitors to realizing compassion and care. Brooke’s work now focuses on the intersection between contemplative practice and social justice.

Brooke founded a compassion and equity learning community in the Bay Area and is a member of the Initiative for Contemplation, Equity and Action (ICEA). She serves on the Board of the Foundation for Active Compassion and also as a consultant to the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University and the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at UC Berkeley. Brooke now resides in the Bay Area and travels regularly to lead compassion-focused workshops and retreats at home and abroad.

Chrissy Colon Bradt, MSEd


Director of Programs

Chrissy is passionate about teaching and learning and interested in guiding students in developing a critical social analysis. Through an exploration of identity, history, race and ethnicity, Chrissy has spent the last ten years supporting middle school students in exploring our social world, understanding the ways in which race and ethnicity influence American society and developing tools for thinking critically about American history and our current reality. Recently, Chrissy has worked to infuse this critical social analysis with tools to build courage, and resilience and to foster love for self and others.

Chrissy holds a B.A in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Barnard College. While at Barnard, she served as research assistant on the NYC Young Children’s Project interviewing young children who were directly exposed to the September 11th attacks in NYC. Chrissy went on to receive her MS.Ed. degree in Special Education and Behavior Disorders from Hunter College. She has served both independent and charter schools as an educator, diversity coordinator, and advocate, and has helped establish and develop curriculum for students of color. Chrissy also has experience developing middle school ethnic studies curricula that supports students in developing a critical social analysis.  

While supporting students in a deep exploration of ethnic and racial identity development, Chrissy sought out methods for bolstering students’ resilience and courage to engage with such issues. Chrissy became the lead contributor to the Call to Care Program, part of the Ethics, Education and Human Development initiative at the Mind and Life Institute. The Call to Care program was a global initiative to design a framework and pedagogy for compassion and care in K – 12 schools.  
Chrissy continues to deepen her understanding of the intersection between contemplative practice and social transformation. Through her work at Courage of Care she explores ways to empower people and especially members of historically marginalized groups to envision and realize compassionate liberated communities.

Wendy Hasenkamp, PhD


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Board of Directors

Wendy currently serves as Science Director at the Mind & Life Institute. Wendy holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Emory University, where her graduate and early postdoctoral training centered around understanding the pathology of schizophrenia, utilizing techniques ranging from single-cell gene expression to psychophysiology, and from cognitive testing to neuroimaging. More recently, growing out of her personal interest in contemplative practice, she used brain imaging to investigate the neural correlates of dynamic cognitive states that occur during shamatha-style meditation. In her time at Emory, Wendy was central in the development of the Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies, organizing an interdisciplinary seminar focused on exploring the application of contemplative practices in our modern society. She also has been involved in developing neuroscience curriculum and teaching Tibetan monastics in India through the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative since 2009; she has taught summer sessions in Dharamsala for two years and is co-author and editor of several neuroscience textbooks developed through this program. She is also the editor of the forthcoming book on the 2013 Mind and Life dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod, India.

Evan Jones


evan-jonesBoard of Directors

Evan Jones has been the Executive Director of the Mid-Peninsula Boys & Girls Club in San Mateo County CA since January of 2014.  Evan came to the club from Georgetown Law School where he worked on the Georgetown law Journal’s Review of Criminal Procedure, as a legal intern for the honorable Robert E. Morin of the D.C. Superior Court, and as a summer legal fellow for the International Litigation practice of Earth Justice. These legal experiences made him miss education and when a twist of fate offered him a leadership position in out of school time education he jumped at it.

Evan holds a A.B. in History from Dartmouth College with a minor in Government. At Dartmouth Evan was the co-president of the Mosaic Intercultural club, president of the teen wing of the D.R.E.A.M mentoring program,  as well as fellow at the Hood Museum in Art where he curated an exhibit on american artist depictions of black masculinity.

After Dartmouth Evan started his career as an educator teaching High School History and English in Everett MA.  Being drawn by his future wife to the Bay Area Evan began his interest in the law working as a research assistant to Prof. Ralph Richard Banks the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor at Stanford Law School. While at Stanford Law Evan also began volunteering with a Youth Development organization serving kids whose families received some form of government assistance in the San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood. Over the next three years Evan would rise from volunteer to director of programs for the organization. This experience reinforced his desire to work for educational reform and take a real crack at closing the achievement gap between white and black and latino students in this country.

Ed Porter, MA, MS


ed-porterBoard of Directors

Ed Porter has a rich and varied career in public education, professional development, community leadership, and systems thinking and equity training. His vision is to provide services in a variety of modalities to individuals, groups, and organizations that assist them in opening their eyes, minds, and hearts to working together across race, gender, and cultural identities—building a workplace and a world that honors, celebrates, and upholds the values and contributions of all. Mr. Porter has served in many roles and at all levels of school organizations—teacher, principal, district administrator, community leader, consultant and superintendent of schools. He works with teachers, district leadership and boards of trustees to identify and change the systems and human factors that present barriers to eliminating the achievement gap and allowing all students to master academic standards and deepen their human development. Mr. Porter helps organizations, groups, and individuals to set a clear vision, use multiple measures and perspectives in assessing current strengths and barriers, and engage all constituencies in courageous problem-solving, action planning, and implementation.

Julia Forsythe


Board of Directors

Julia is a co-founder and guiding teacher of the Foundation for Active Compassion. She has been a student of Surya Das and John Makransky since 1995 and she has completed many meditation retreats in the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. She serves as a practice leader in these retreat settings, and in weekly practice groups in Putney, VT and Northampton, MA.

Julie served as secretary on the national board of the Dzogchen Center for eight years where she focused on development of community contemplative practice groups. She has been President of the Foundation for Active Compassion Board for five years, and was on the national board of the American Friends Service Committee for six years during which time she focused on international programs of relief and reconciliation.

Julie was introduced to Buddhism in 1969 when she was working at the Quaker Rehabilitation Center for Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War. A lifelong Quaker, she is also rooted in that contemplative western mystical tradition. Julie is retired from her position as an Assistant Professor at Landmark College, a college for students with learning disabilities and ADHD. Beyond her teaching and departmental chair responsibilities, she regularly taught meditation to learning disabled students.  She is an active participant in community work for the elderly in Putney and currently serves as Secretary of Putney Cares.

Ana Hristic, MSW, MA


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Senior Program Faculty 

Ana holds an MA degree in Psychology from Boston College, and an MSW degree from Portland State University. The heart of Ana’s education, however, comes from years of direct service experience working with children, teens, and families in Special Education, acute residential care, therapeutic wilderness camps, foster care and adoption, and outpatient behavioral health. Ana seeks to facilitate open dialogue and collaborative skill building among social service professionals, building individual and group resilience and healing and confronting the impacts of burnout and secondary stress. Ana integrates into her work her study and practice of meditation and contemplative practice, along with formal and informal education and research, as well as the voices of many individuals she has been honored to work with, including her clients, colleagues, and mentors alike.

S. Martins Vitorino, PhD


Program Design Team

Martin is a researcher and educator who teaches classes and facilitates workshops that promote well-being among LGBTQ+ youth and adults. He teaches innovative self-love practices to counter stigma, shame, and internalized bias around SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression).  Martin incorporates elements of positive psychology and contemplative practices to help LGBTQ+ folks nurture inner wounds and revel in their resilience. At Courage of Care, Martin applies an LGBTQ+ conscious lens to the receiving, extending, and self-care modes of sustainable compassion.

Martin also facilitates trainings on best practices for supporting LGBTQ+ young people in systems of care.  He holds a Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University.

Ivee Cruz, MA


Program Design Team

Ivee was born in Marikina, Philippines, grew up in Chula Vista, California on the borderlands of Mexico, and currently calls the islands of Hawai’i home. Ivee holds a Bachelors in Global & International Studies and Sociology from the University of California Santa Barbara. She holds a Masters in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Ivee has participated in various fellowship programs in the Solomon Islands, Philippines, Vietnam, Washington D.C., New York, and studied abroad in Granada, Spain. Her contemplative training has included People of Color Retreats at Deer Park Monastery and Mindful Schools – Educator Training. As a counselor, educator, and facilitator, she aspires to bridge culture, diversity, spirituality, social justice, leadership, and mindfulness within the field of education. Ivee is grateful to be the mother of Chirayu, the greatest teacher! 

Wendy Farley, PhD


Program Design Team

Considered a leading theologian, Wendy Farley has written extensively on women theologians and mystics, religious dialogue, classical texts, contemporary ethical issues, and contemplative practices.

Professor Farley received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988. Her teaching and research interests include women theologians, religious dialogue, classical texts, contemporary ethical issues, and contemplative practices. Her first book, Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion: A Contemporary Theodicy (Westminster John Knox, 1990) considers the problem of evil by focusing on suffering rather than sin and abandons the forensic model of God in favor of one emphasizing compassion as a dominant metaphor for the divine. A second work, Eros for the Other: Retaining Truth in a Pluralistic World (Penn State: 1996), also takes up the relationships between ethical and philosophical issues in religion. In 2005, she published The Wounding and Healing of Desire: Weaving Heaven and Earth (Westminster John Knox), which combines attention to contemplative practices, folk traditions, and inter-religious dialogue to reflect on suffering and transformation. Her most recent book, Gathering Those Driven Away: a Theology of Incarnation (Westminster John Knox, 2011), reflects on the meaning of Christian faith and tradition for women, queers, and others that the church has had difficulty recognizing as part of the body of Christ. She also recently edited (with Emily Holmes) a collection of essays called Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion.

Her latest book, “The Thirst of God: Contemplating God’s Love with Three Women Mystics” (Westminster John Knox, 2015), explores the spirituality of medieval mystics Marguerite Porete, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Julian of Norwich. In Farley’s words, “These women have important things to tell us about our faith, the same as contemporary contemplatives, with the emphasis on divine love.”

Melanie L Harris, PhD


Melanie Harris Bio Pix-3-2Program Design Team & Advisory Board

Melanie is Associate Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX where she teaches and conducts research in the areas of Religious Social Ethics, Environmental Justice, Womanist Ethics, and African American Religious Thought. Dr. Harris is the author of numerous articles and several books including Gifts of Virtue: Alice Walker and Womanist Ethics and co-editor of the volume Faith, Feminism, and Scholarship: The Next Generation. Her books engaging ecowomanism and the intersections between environmental justice and African American Women’s Religious Life and Spirituality are scheduled to be published by Orbis Books in 2016. Dr. Harris offers academic leadership in administration at TCU and has experience serving on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion, The Society of Christian Ethics and KERA-TV/Radio. She also leads retreats with her mother, Rev. Dr. Naomi O. Harris and co-facilitates teaching workshops with The Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

Annie Hardison-Moody, PhD


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Program Design Team

Annie works at the intersection of religion and health, and has research experience in the areas of women’s reproductive health, health promotion, nutrition and food, conflict, and gender-based violence.  She holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Emory University.

Annie is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Youth, Family, and Community Sciences at NC State University, where she directs the Faithful Families Eating Smart and Moving More Program, a practice-tested faith-based health promotion intervention out of North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the North Carolina Division of Public Health.  She is also Co-Principal Investigator for Voices into Action: The Families, Food and Health project, a USDA-funded study of the family food environment.

Jason Thompson, PhD


Program Design Team

Jason is a clinical psychologist and Postdoctoral Scholar at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. His research focuses on social justice-oriented education as a pathway for resilience, resistance and wellbeing for children and youth in historically marginalized communities.

Jason completed his PhD at Palo Alto University, where his dissertation investigated the neural basis of decentering, a mechanism of mindfulness. His psychology predoctoral internship and clinical postdoctoral fellowship at the UCSF/San Francisco General Hospital Child and Adolescent Services multicultural clinical training program. Prior to psychology, he worked as a journalist in the UK and as a public school teacher in Oakland. He is a longstanding practitioner of Zen and yoga, and a trail runner and father.

Tori Lopez, MSW, CSWA


Program Design Team

Tori holds a Masters of Social Work from Portland State University and a Clinical Social Work Associate Certificate with the State of Oregon. She has extensive experiencing working with adolescents, communities of color, and families. Her approach is strength-based, with emphasis on building mindfulness and insight.

Tori has experience working with adolescents that have experienced difficulties in school, the community, at home, and have also engaged in substance use and abuse. She takes a holistic approach when working with youth, and believes it is imperative to have the family involved in the process as well.

Tori aims to help people become the leaders of their own journeys of self-discovery.

Kelly Conroy Moore, PhD


Program Design Team

Kelly studied to be both a teacher and social worker  because she could never decide what she liked more. After working in many settings, including schools, psychiatric hospitals and private practice, she settled on doing both, which she currently does at a middle and high school in the Seattle area.  Kelly received her BA from Occidental College, her MSW from USC and her PhD from University of Texas.

Kelly first learned to meditate when she was nine when father introduced her to a meditation teacher in Boulder, CO. While that specific style of meditation never took, a love of the contemplative life did. She attended her first retreat in 2000 and has an active practice ever since. Kelly has begun to integrate her contemplative practice into her work in schools. She completed a year long training in Mindful Schools, participated in the Call to Care program at Mind and Life and has been teaching mindfulness and compassion to students, teachers and parents in her current school community.  Additionally, she has recently begun co-leading an equity, inclusion and compassionate leadership study group where she hopes to continue to integrate the power of compassion with social action.  Kelly lives in Seattle, WA with her husband Gary and her two amazing teachers/children, Elizabeth and Conor. 

Veta Goler, PhD


Program Design Team

Veta holds an MFA in dance and a Ph.D. in African-American studies. She began her career as a modern dance artist, and has performed, choreographed and taught dance nationally and internationally. Later, as a dance historian, she focused her research on contemporary African-American modern dance artists, particularly women choreographers. In recent
years, her research interests have expanded to include the intersection of dance and spirituality in popular culture and to explorations of spirituality and contemplative practices in education and the workplace.

Veta has taught Spelman College for almost 30 years. In addition to teaching, she leads meditation sessions for students, faculty and staff and, as co-director of the Teaching Resource and Research Center, she leads a contemplative faculty learning community. She is committed to helping others discover the ways contemplative practices can enrich their lives and facilitates retreats and workshops for personal and professional renewal at colleges, universities, K-12 schools and retreat sites throughout the country. Veta is a national Circle of Trust® facilitator, and many of the retreats and workshops she leads are based in the work of education innovator Parker J. Palmer, who has written extensively on the value of living an “undivided life,” in which one’s work is in harmony with one’s values.

Liz Aeschlimann


Program Design Team

Liz is passionate about incorporating contemplative practice and social transformation to sustain and empower the work of change makers. She has focused much of her research as a student at Harvard Divinity School on the intersection of spirituality and social justice, traveling across the county to interview community organizers and activists about spirituality in their work.

Liz holds a BA in Cognitive Science from Carleton College and will graduate from Harvard this May with a Masters of Divinity. During her time in divinity school, she worked for The Conversation Project, supporting religious communities and seminaries in facilitating conversations about end of life wishes. She went on to train in spiritual care as Chaplain Intern at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, where she launched a Tea for the Soul program for staff. A member of the HDS Racial Justice and Healing Initiative, Liz worked with colleagues to develop curriculum for embodied anti-racism training for white people and won the Billings Preaching Prize with a sermon that interrogated whiteness through the lens of religious rituals concerning leprosy. Active in her Jewish community, Liz began to study and practice meditation in 2011 while working as an interfaith community organizer in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Rachel Rutkie


Program Design Team

Rachel is currently pursuing her PsyD in clinical psychology, while expanding her mediation practice and discovering the workings of her internal world. She feels passionate about exploring the possibility that mindfulness-based interventions may cultivate shame-resilience, whether in the context of eating disorders, substance use disorders, or the more general human experience. In her clinical work, she strives to integrate facets of motivational interviewing, behaviorist principles, and mindfulness techniques when working with clients. In particular, she strives to share her time with “misunderstood” populations (e.g. people who have been abusive). Her practicum work thus far includes working with individual clients on various mental health concerns, while also co-facilitating Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention groups within a women’s residential center treating substance use disorders. In addition, she now works in a community mental health center where she provides therapy for individuals and groups who are victims or offenders of domestic violence. She is currently consulting with Courage of Care to create courses that address the unique and complex experience of those who identify as people of color. All in all, Rachel hopes to offer individuals an opportunity to cultivate self-compassion and self-awareness, leading to a softer present moment where individuals are empowered to make conscious choices.

Rabbi Sheila Weinberg


DSC_8280_LRAdvisory Board

Rabbi Weinberg has served in multiple capacities in the Jewish community – including Hillel director, day school teacher and community relations professional. She is a 1986 graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and has served as a congregational rabbi for seventeen years, including thirteen years at the Jewish Community of Amherst. In the last twenty- four years Rabbi Weinberg has studied mindfulness. She has introduced meditation into the Jewish world as a form that can enliven and illuminate Jewish practice, ideas and community. She teaches mindfulness meditation and yoga in a Jewish idiom to lay persons, rabbis, cantors and other Jewish professionals and was a founder and senior and teacher for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, a retreat based program for Jewish leaders ((jewishspirituality.org). She also serves as a spiritual director to rabbis, cantors and educators across the USA. She is a developer and teacher of the Jewish Mindfulness Teachers’ Training. Weinberg has written extensively on a variety of subjects including Jewish spirituality, social justice, feminism and parenting. She is a major contributor to the Kol Haneshamah prayer book series. Her CD, Preparing the Heart: Meditation for Jewish Spiritual Practice integrates Jewish sacred text and meditation. Her first book, Surprisingly Happy: An Atypical Religious Memoir was published in 2010.

Katherine Bonus, MA


Program Design Team

Katherine has been a student of both Christian and Buddhist Meditation practice since 1976. Her primary Christian tradition teacher is James Finley PhD, psychologist and former Trappist monk. Within the Buddhist tradition she has participated in numerous vipassana retreats and teacher trainings led by various teachers including: Sharon Salzberg, Kamala Masters, Steven Armstrong, and Matt Flickstein.

As the founding teacher, Katherine expanded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, which encompasses 14 teachers and multiple program offerings. She received MBSR teacher certification from the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and for 20+ years she developed and offered trainings and retreats for various populations including MBSR participants, patients, and healthcare providers (front desk staff, integrative medicine staff, and physicians). Since 2008 she has collaborated in multiple research projects with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

In July 2014 Katherine retired as manager of the UW Health Mindfulness program but she continues to offer programs and collaborate.

Paul Gilbert, FBPsS, PhD, OBE


Program Design Team & Advisory Board

Paul Gilbert is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at the Derbyshire Health Care Foundation Trust. He has researched evolutionary approaches to psychopathology for over 35 years with a special focus on shame and the treatment of shame based difficulties, for which he developed compassion focused therapy (CFT). He has published and edited 21 books, over 100 academic papers and 50 book chapters. In 2006 he  Compassionate Mind Foundation.

In 1993 Gilbert was made a fellow of the British Psychological Society for his contributions to psychological knowledge and was president of the British Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapy in 2003. He served on the government’s National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for depression. Gilbert sits on the Emotion, Personality and Altruism Research Group at the Wright Institute (1992 – present) and is Visiting Professor at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and the University of Coimbra (Portugal).

  In 2011 Gilbert was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his continued contribution in mental healthcare.

Paul Knitter, PhD


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Program Design Team & Advisory Board

Paul is the Emeritus Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions, and Culture at Union Theological Seminary, New York, as well as Emeritus Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. He received a Licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1966) and a doctorate from the University of Marburg, Germany (1972) Most of his research and publications have dealt with religious pluralism and interreligious dialogue. Since his ground-breaking 1985 book, No Other Name, he has been exploring how the religious communities of the world can cooperate in promoting human and ecological well-being. This is the topic of: One Earth Many Religions (1995). More recently, his writing and speaking engagements have focused on what Christians can learn in their dialogue with Buddhists, which is the topic of his 2009 book Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian and of his 2015 co-authored book with Roger Haight, S.J. Jesus and Buddha: Friends in Conversation. Since 1986, Paul has been serving on the Board of Directors for CRISPAZ (Christians for Peace in El Salvador). From 1996-2015, he was also on the Board of Trustees of the International Interreligious Peace Council (formed after the 1993 World Parliament of Religions, to promote interreligious peace-making projects).

Jona Genova


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Community Outreach Team

Jona is a meditation teacher and Founder of Samadhi for Peace. She has practiced meditation for many years and is a teacher with The Foundation for Active Compassion.

Jona’s background is a marriage of brain mapping research, entrepreneurship and dedicated practice.  She is the creator of Community Meditation–a free, weekly, online meditation gathering and podcast and is currently designing a meditation program for a national chain of premier health clubs.