THE TEAM

Meet Our People

Meet our team of caring and committed facilitators with years of experience in education, health care, social work, contemplative studies, community organizing and activism. 

Our Team & Facilitators

Ed Porter, M.S., M.A.

Courage Council, Board & Core Faculty
Ed Porter, M.A., M.S. 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. . 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.

Brooke D. Lavelle, Ph.D.

Courage Council & Co-Founder
Brooke is the Co-Founder and President of Courage of Care. She holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and Cognitive Science from Emory University, an M.A. in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism from Columbia University and a B.A. in Religion and Psychology from Barnard College. Brooke was a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Germany, where she co-developed a climate justice program for ecological sustainability researchers. She served as a lecturer at San Francisco State University where she taught a contemplative-based course on compassion and social justice. She was a consultant to Teacher’s College, Columbia University's new initiative on Spirituality and Education and was the Senior Education Consultant to Mind & Life's Ethics, Education, and Human Development Initiative. Brooke served on the core curriculum team for the Student Flourishing Initiative, a collaboration between the Universities of Virginia, Wisconsin-Madison and Penn State, and previously co-led the Summer Institute for Educators at the Greater Good Science Center. Brooke recently completed a book manuscript on courage and spiritual activism and is co-writing a book on compassion and equity in education with a collaborative she founded in Oakland.

Maha El-Sheikh

Core Faculty
With 20 years working in the international humanitarian sector, Maha’s work currently focuses on the social injustices underlying our global crises. As a facilitator, she is inspired by 15 years living and working in Palestine and Lebanon, learning how connection to heart, beloved community, mutual aid, joy, and compassion can serve as antidotes to oppression, colonization, injustice and violence. She is the co-founder of the first non-profit, volunteer-run yoga center in Palestine, and brings her experience in studying and teaching trauma-informed yoga, somatics, and meditation to explore the interconnection of healing, social transformation, and justice. She is core faculty at Courage of Care, and a member of the International Solidarity Movement, where she partners with relational facilitators and leaders in the economic, racial and climate justice movements. She also partners with international humanitarian groups to reimagine aid through compassion-centered, counter- oppressive frameworks.

Abra Vigna, Ph.D.

Core Faculty and Director of Research
Abra is an Action Researcher and Evaluator in the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In this role she provides training, technical assistance and consulting related to community change efforts regarding health equity and offers expertise in transformative education, relationship-building and applied research. A long-term practitioner of contemplative practices, she infuses her capacity building efforts with compassion building practices. Prior to earning her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison she worked as a crisis counselor and youth development specialist at a local Runaway and Homeless Youth agency. In addition to providing weekly life skills development programming for LGBT youth, crisis counseling, case management and youth mentorship, Abra has extensive experience supporting youth service providers on the journey toward transforming their organizational infrastructure and personal practice to be more inclusive and explicitly anti-racist.

Vaishali Mamgain, Ph.D.

Board and Core Faculty Member
Vaishali (she/her) serves on the Board of the Courage of Care Coalition and is an Associate Professor of Economics and the Director of the Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion at the University of Southern Maine. She received her PhD in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her past research focused on the contributions of (im)migrants and refugees in the Maine economy. Her current research is in contemplative pedagogy where she is passionate about deconstructing epistemology. She specializes in using somatic and immersive nature practices to undo internalized oppression and the “colonization” of contemplative practices. She regularly leads compassion training and anti-racism workshops for faculty and community groups in the US and abroad. A working contemplative, she has meditated, wandered and ‘retreat’ed for many years. In 2017, she completed a three year meditation retreat at Samten Ling Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado and now lives in beautiful, coastal Maine where she enjoys swimming in the sea, admiring seaweed, running, hiking and cooking.

Emma You Biermann

Faculty
Growing up in a family heavily impacted by war and genocide, Emma‘s initial organising was focused on raising funds to support survivors. Whilst valid, Emma questioned what this really changed long-term and began working with others to challenge the root causes of injustices they wanted to shift. From here, Emma began stepping into group work as a transformative facilitator and trainer, believing that the process towards the outcome is part of bringing our dreams of liberation and justice to life. They work with socio-political groups and movements to invite creativity, power analysis and healing practices. Emma loves dancing, resting and sharing tea.

Kai Horton

Core Faculty
Kai (they/them/theirs) is a non-binary, queer, non-black person of color, and child of immigrants. They are devoted to dismantling societal binaries – the either/or thinking that is imposed upon us in our culture. Kai is passionate about helping QTBIPOC folx on their healing journey and quest for liberation. Kai has a rich background in leading teams – they are passionate about learning what makes people who they are and loves to celebrate and witness them in their wholeness and expression. They believe in the power of nature and how it is constantly sharing wisdom of deeper ways of relating and connecting. When they aren’t leading anti-oppression trainings, you can find them out in nature, dancing, talking about astrology, or writing poetry.

Wangui wa Kamonji, M.A.

Faculty
Wangui wa Kamonji is called to be a retriever and bearer of indigenous Afrikan lifeways and practices for the regeneration of the continent. This manifests through research using academic and indigenous methods, Afrikan dance and movement practice, storytelling in written and oral forms, and facilitating public spaces for critical consciousness, decolonisation and transformation. Her current research is a decolonial project exploring Earth-centred governance, regenerative justice, Afrikan spirituality, life-centred economics, holistic education and food sovereignty as pathways to regeneration through the wisdom encoded in indigenous Afrikan ontologies (ways of being, knowing and doing). Wangui has a Masters in African Studies with Environment, and a Bachelors in Environmental Studies and Urban Studies.

Sarah McAdam

Faculty
Sarah (she/her) currently focuses her energy and time on work that explores and supports transformational governance, regenerative culture and meaningful solidarity. She spent the bulk of her career in the UK public sector - working in local and central government in roles that involved advocacy and the independent review of services as well as leading operational delivery in fast-changing contexts. In 2011, she came into contact with the emerging Transition movement - an international grassroots movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world. By 2013, she had joined the Transition Network team and was learning how to catalyse, support and amplify the work of groups seeking to deliver systemic change and build resilience in the face of multiple interrelated crises. Sarah played a key role in Transition Network’s shift to a shared governance model and remains active in the Transition Hubs Group, a transnational experiment in collaboration across difference and distance and the transparent distribution of power, resources and accountabilities. She has skills and experience in facilitation, process design, network weaving and practices which nurture healthy culture.

Jason Thompson, Psy.D.

Faculty
Jason is a writer and clinical psychologist. He holds a BA in English literature from Oxford University. He completed his psychology training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he conducted research on the brain mechanisms of meditation and the physiology of trauma. He is an ordained lay practitioner in the Soto Zen tradition, and a certified instructor of Bhakti Flow yoga. Jason currently serves as a staff psychologist at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. He is the author of Running is a Kind of Dreaming (HarperCollins), a literary memoir about ultrarunning and recovery from child trauma.

Miko Brown, M.A.

Core Faculty
Miko (she/her) has been working with nonprofit and governmental organizations over the past decade to help foster a more just and compassionate world in partnership with individuals and communities throughout the United States. That work has included several terms of national service with AmeriCorps as well as mental health and wellness work. She is a healing facilitator and Certified Hypnotist who operates her own hypnosis business. Miko also has experience managing social justice programming and facilitating social justice and equity initiatives through work in the farmed animal sanctuary movement. She received her Master’s Degree in Social Change and has contributed writing to the anthology Veganism of Color: Decentering Whiteness in Human and Nonhuman Liberation edited by Julia Feliz and the story of her work is featured in the book A Better World Starts Here: Activists and Their Work by Stacy Russo. She was also selected as a 2021 fellow with the New Leaders Council, a training program for young progressive leaders. Miko is passionate about healing, justice, collective care, self-love in action, and committing to liberatory practices for the benefit of all beings and our planet.

Katrine Bregengaard, M.A.

Faculty
Vaishali (she/her) serves on the Board of the Courage of Care Coalition and is an Associate Professor of Economics and the Director of the Bertha Crosley Ball Center for Compassion at the University of Southern Maine. She received her PhD in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her past research focused on the contributions of (im)migrants and refugees in the Maine economy. Her current research is in contemplative pedagogy where she is passionate about deconstructing epistemology. She specializes in using somatic and immersive nature practices to undo internalized oppression and the “colonization” of contemplative practices. She regularly leads compassion training and anti-racism workshops for faculty and community groups in the US and abroad. A working contemplative, she has meditated, wandered and ‘retreat’ed for many years. In 2017, she completed a three year meditation retreat at Samten Ling Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado and now lives in beautiful, coastal Maine where she enjoys swimming in the sea, admiring seaweed, running, hiking and cooking.

Our Board

Chrissy Colon Bradt, M.S.Ed.

Ana Hristic, LCSW

Core Faculty
Ana Hristić, MA, LCSW is a core faculty with the Courage of Care Coalition. As the training coordinator for Trauma Informed Oregon, Ana specializes in providing programming and consultation to organizations and providers on topics related to implementing trauma informed care. Ana has years of direct service experience working with children, teens, and families in special education, acute residential care, therapeutic wilderness camps, foster care & adoption, and outpatient behavioral health. Ana’s work and facilitation is also informed by years of affiliation with the Foundation for Active Compassion, as a meditation student and teacher.

Vaishali Mamgain, Ph.D.

Lerone Martin, Ph.D.

Bobbi Patterson, Ph.D.

Wendy Farley, Ph.D.

Wendy Hasenkamp, Ph.D.

Ed Porter, M.S., M.A.

Ed Porter

Lila Shane

Lila Shane

Our Advisors & Friends

We are indebted to many mentors and collaborators who have contributed to Courage and helped us grow.

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