The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society is a 501-c(3) non-profit organization based in Northampton, Massachusetts. We work to transform higher education by supporting and encouraging the use of contemplative/introspective practices and perspectives to create active learning and research environments that look deeply into experience and meaning for all in service of a more just and compassionate society.
- Lila Mereschuk
Acting Executive Director
- Carrie Bergman
- Mirabai Bush
- Tom Doherty
Finance and Development Officer
- Maya Elinevsky
Event Coordinator and Operations Assistant
Board of Directors
- Bradford C. Grant, President
Professor of Architecture and Design, Howard University
- Jeff Genung, Treasurer
Founder and President, Contemplative Life
- Angel Acosta Doctoral Student, Columbia Teachers College
- Joseph W. Belluck Founding Partner, Belluck & Fox
- Michelle Chatman
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Youth Studies, University of the District of Columbia
- Oliver Hill
Professor of Experimental Psychology, Virginia State University
- David Levy
Professor, The Information School, University of Washington
- Paula C. Sager
Co-founder, The Mariposa Center
- Linda L. Slakey
Professor and Dean Emerita, University of Massachusetts Amherst
- James Autry
Author of Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching
Former President, Meredith Corporation Magazine Group
- Rachel Bagby
Author, Vibralingual Artist, Teacher
- Anne Bartley
President and Trustee, Rockefeller Family Fund
- Leroy Little Bear
Former Director of the American Indian Program, Harvard University and Professor Emeritus of Native Studies, University of Lethbridge
- Robert Coles
Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities, Harvard University
- Rabbi Rachel Cowan
Director, Institute for Jewish Spirituality
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Davidson Professor of Management, Claremont Graduate University
- Rev. Harlon L. Dalton
Professor Emeritus of Law, Yale Law School
- Ram Dass
Spiritual Teacher and Author of Be Here Now and Still Here
- Marian R. David
Director, Sustaining the Soul that Serves
- Richard J. Davidson
Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Michael Edwards
Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action
Senior Visiting Scholar, New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service
Senior Visiting Fellow, Brooks World Poverty Institute at Manchester University
- Howard Gardner
Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Gelek Rimpoche
Tibetan Lama and Spiritual Director of Jewel Heart
- Daniel Goleman
Journalist and author of Emotional Intelligence
- Amy Gross
Former Editor-in-Chief, O, the Oprah Magazine
- Paul Hawken
Founder, Smith & Hawken
Author of The Ecology of Commerce
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
Founder and former Executive Director, The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of Full Catastrophe Living
- Fr. Thomas Keating
Cistercian Abbot and Founder of Contemplative Outreach Ltd.
- Joan Konner
Professor and Dean Emerita, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
- Michael Lerner
- Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man
Founder, Metivta: A Center for Contemplative Judaism
- Dr. Dean Ornish
Founder, President, and Director, Preventive Medicine Research Institute
- Charles Terry
- Robert A. F. Thurman
Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies, Columbia University
- Dr. Andrew Weil
Professor of Internal Medicine, Director and Founder, the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Founder, National Integrative Medicine Council
Mirabai holds a unique background of organizational management, teaching, and spiritual practice. She co-developed the curriculum for Search Inside Yourself for Google, the first program in mindfulness-based emotional intelligence; it has been attended by thousands of Google employees. A founding board member of the Seva Foundation, an international public health organization, she directed the Seva Guatemala Project, which supports sustainable agriculture and integrated community development. Also at Seva, she co-developed Sustaining Compassion, Sustaining the Earth, a series of retreats and events for grassroots environmental activists on the interconnection of spirit and action. She is co-author with Ram Dass of Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service, published by Random House; co-author with Daniel Barbezat of Contemplative Practices in Higher Education: Powerful Methods to Transform Teaching and Learning; and editor of Contemplation Nation: How Ancient Practices Are Changing the Way We Live.
Mirabai formerly taught writing and English literature at SUNY Buffalo, and directed an innovative program there for diversifying the university and preparing students of color for academic challenges.
She is or has been a board member of Shambhala Sun, Omega Institute, Seva Foundation, Military Fitness Institute, the Dalai Lama Fellows, and Love Serve Remember.
Her spiritual studies include meditation in Bodh Gaya, India, with Shri S.N. Goenka and Anagarika Munindra; bhakti yoga with Hindu teacher Neemkaroli Baba; and studies with Tibetan lamas Kalu Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Kyabje Gehlek Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and others. She was also a student of aikido master Kanai Sensei.
Tom became a father in 2011 and cites his parenthood as the impetus for his developing interest in the role contemplative practices can play in the development and evolution of one’s mind and self-awareness. He is an avid reader of history, physics, and cosmology, and aspires to write comedy and children’s literature, someday.
Biographies: Board of Directors
Mr. Belluck previously served as counsel to the New York State Attorney General, representing the State of New York in its litigation against the tobacco industry, as a judicial law clerk for Justice Lloyd Doggett of the Texas Supreme Court, and as Director of Attorney Services for Trial Lawyers Care, an organization dedicated to providing free legal assistance to victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Belluck has lectured frequently on product liability, tort law and tobacco control policy. He is an active member of several bar associations and in May 2016 was elected as the new chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates allegations of misconduct against state and local judges in New York.
Michelle is vibrant leader on her campus and is enthusiastic about spreading culturally relevant contemplative practices among her campus community. Michelle has shared her “Coltrane Meditation” and “Ancestor Vision Exercise” in workshops, faculty development session, and in her classes. She co-leads UDC’s Contemplative Learning Community, a collective of faculty, students, and staff exploring contemplative approaches through teaching, research, and practice. She is also the Faculty Leader for the Initiative in Civic Engagement and Equity (ICE-E), which supports with social justice related paid internships. The ICE-E program is yet another platform through which Dr. Chatman shares contemplative approaches.
As a contemplative educator, Michelle weaves meditation, song, and reflective practices into her instruction to facilitate students’ connection to themselves, their communities, and the broader world. A practitioner in the Yoruba tradition, Michelle is deeply involved in the DC Pan-African & Black Nationalist communities. In her TEDx talk “How Africa Changed My Life,” Michelle traces her links her contemplative journey back to her volunteer service in The Gambia, West Africa. Michelle is particularly interested in exploring contemplative traditions within the African Diaspora and translating them into viable resources for HBCUs and public universities with diverse student populations. A practitioner of the Yoruba/IFA belief system for 17 years, the teachings of this ancient tradition, along with her Christian upbringing, serves as the basis of her personal, contemplative practices. Along with her teaching and service, Michelle’s life is fulfilled by her husband and their daughter, Zora.
Jeff has studied the contemplative practices of many of the great traditions as well as the development of many contemporary secular practices. He is experienced in working with all age groups in engaging contemplative practices, including the development of a rite of passage program for young contemplatives transitioning to adulthood. He has also served many years as a hospice volunteer, integrating end of life practices and programs that address the contemplative needs associated with those experiencing grief and loss.
Mr. Grant was the Director of Hampton University Department of Architecture Urban Institute, the community design center and a service learning arm of the University. As part of the Urban Institute, Mr. Grant had conducted many urban and community design studies including the North King Street Urban Corridor, Hampton, VA., the Monticello Street Corridor, Norfolk, VA, and the Poindexter Street Commercial Corridor in Chesapeake, VA. along with architecture design assistance work with the City of Virginia Beach’s office of Housing and Community Service. His community design work has earned him the Hampton Clean City Commission Award, a Proclamation of Appreciation from the City of Hampton, the Universal Design Education Award from Adaptive Environments, Boston and Award of Merit from the Virginia Downtown Development Association.
Professor Grant has served as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA 2001-2004) and was a member of the Board of the Hermitage Foundation, Museum and Slone Collections, Norfolk, VA. He is involved in research, practice and teaching of architecture accessibility and Universal Design, Fair Housing and cultural issues in architecture. He is currently working on or has completed several commissioned projects and planning assignments including the addition the Guiding Light Church, Portsmouth, VA, the Blair Middle School addition, Norfolk, VA and Arbor Music, a site specific environmental sculpture for the Botanical Gardens, Norfolk, VA.
Since 1981 he has been on the path of Siddha Yoga under the guidance of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. He has designed and taught meditation courses and workshops both nationally and internationally. Hill received his undergraduate training in History at Howard University in Washington, DC, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan.
In 2008, she received a degree from the Barfield School at Sunbridge College for Witness Consciousness and the Development of the Individual. Paula is co-author with Lizbeth Hamlin of Red Thread, Two Women, (2006) published by Pacific Editions in a limited and handcrafted edition by book artist, Charles Hobson.
Her interest in the applications of movement-based and contemplative learning led to co-founding The Mariposa Center of which she is board president. Mariposa, a non-profit education and social justice initiative, is one of only seven state-wide program providers for the Rhode Island Department of Education’s PreK Demonstration Project. Mariposa’s goal is to create a nurturing learning environment that supports creativity, growth, and friendship among children in partnership with families and community.
She was Head of the Department of Biochemistry from 1986 until 1991, and Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM) from 1993 until 2000. From September of 2000 through August of 2006, she was Dean of Commonwealth College, the honors college of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As Dean of NSM and of Commonwealth College she was active in supporting teaching and learning initiatives throughout the University, with particular attention to engaging undergraduate students in research, to faculty development activities that promote the transition from lecturing to more engaged pedagogies, and to the support of research on how students learn. She served at the National Science Foundation from 2006 through 2011, as the Director of the Division of Undergraduate Education, and as a Senior Staff Associate in the Office of the Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources. At present she has a consulting practice in Washington, DC, focused on bringing about a shift in the culture of undergraduate teaching from one in which lecture is an acceptable norm toward one characterized by personal and institutional expectations of more student-centered teaching practices.
Dr. Slakey was a Dominican Sister, a member of the congregation whose motherhouse is in Adrian, Michigan, from 1956 to 1969. She has been a student of Zen, under the direction of Richard Clarke, since the mid-1980’s. Her work as a leader and consultant has been informed by Zen practice, and also by a long standing commitment to the practice of listening with full and open attention.
Biographies: Advisory Council
Rachel and Paul are the co-authors of the books, Mixed Blessings: Untangling The Knots In an Interfaith Marriage and A Torah is Written.
Rabbi Cowan has spent many years leading workshops for interfaith couples and speaking out on the need for Jewish communities to be more open to non-Jewish spouses and to encourage their commitment to Judaism. She has worked for a number of years to support religious pluralism, social justice and environmental protection in Israel. Rabbi Cowan has previously served as the Director of the Jewish Life and Values Program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York. Her interests also include Jewish healing and Jewish contemplative practice. She completed the two-year Mindfulness Leaders Training Program at Elat Chayyim with Sylvia Boorstein. She leads classes and weekend retreats on Jewish contemplative practice. She was twice named to the Forward’s Top Fifty list of Jewish leaders.
His research and theories in the psychology of optimal experience have revolutionized psychology, and have been adopted in practice by national leaders such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair as well as top members of the global executive elite who run the world’s major corporations. Csikszentmihalyi is the author of several popular books about his theories, the bestselling Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience; The Evolving Self: A Psychology For The Third Millennium; Creativity; and Finding Flow. The Wall Street Journal has listed Flow among the six books “every well-stocked business library should have.”
After receiving his A.B., from Harvard University (1969) and J.D., from Yale University (1973) Harlon’s professional commitment to combating discrimination began while serving as Law Clerk to U.S. District Judge Robert L. Carter. Judge Carter is known for having provided council for the NAACP in the Brown vs. Board of Education trial. Harlon then worked for the Legal Action Center, a law and policy organization that fights discrimination against people with histories of addiction, AIDS, and criminal records (1973-79). Then, as Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States he helped to supervise and conduct government litigation in the United States Supreme Court (1979-1981). He has also worked for the Center for Legal Ed. And Urban Policy at CUNY (1979).
Harlon is a member of the Board of Directors of American Civil Liberties Union, Legal Action Center, and Legal Affairs. He is author of Racial Healing: Confronting the Fear between Blacks and Whites, 1995; AIDS Law Today: A New Guide for the Public (ed. With S. Burris and J.Mill), 1993; and AIDS and the Law (ed. with S. Burris), 1987.
Since then, he has pursued a variety of spiritual practices and has written many books, including Be Here Now (1971) and Journey of Awakening (1990). In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, which has developed many projects, including the Prison-Ashram Project, designed to help inmates grow spiritually during incarceration. He also helped develop the “Living/Dying Project”, with Stephen Levine which provides support for the conscious dying. In 1978 Ram Dass co-founded and became a board member of the Seva Foundation, an international organization dedicated to relieving suffering in the world.
Ram Dass suffered a serious stroke in 1997 and is recovering. “The stroke made me aware of silence,” he said. “Of the vulnerability of my body…how fragile my faith is.” His latest book, Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying (2000), examines conscious aging. “The next message you need,” he advises, “is right where you are.”
He has published more than 250 articles, chapters and reviews, and has edited 13 books. Dr. Davidson was the founding co-editor of the new American Psychological Association journal, EMOTION, and is also past-president of the Society for Research in Psychopathology and of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.
In 2000, he was recipient of the most distinguished award for science given by the American Psychological Association – the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. In 2003 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2004 he was elected to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006. In 2006, he was also awarded the first Mani Bhaumik Award by UCLA for advancing the understanding of the brain and conscious mind in healing.
Prior to joining the Ford Foundation he was the World Bank’s Senior Adviser on Civil Society in Washington DC, where he led a program designed to improve the agency’s understanding of, and engagement with, a wide range of civic groups. Before moving to the World Bank, Michael spent 15 years as a senior manager in international relief and development NGOs, including periods with Oxfam-UK (as Regional Director for Southern Africa), and Save the Children-UK (as Director of Research, Evaluation and Advocacy). He has lived and worked in Colombia, Mexico, Zambia, Malawi, India, the UK and the USA.
Michael’s many books and articles have helped to shape our thinking about philanthropy, civil society, social transformation and international cooperation, and to break down barriers between researchers and activists across the world. He graduated from Oxford University with a congratulatory double-first and was awarded a PhD by the University of London for his work on low-income housing markets in Latin America. He lives with his wife Cora (a non-profit fundraising consultant) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Swan Lake in upstate New York, where they are renovating one of the first houses built by settlers in Sullivan County.
In the late 1970s, Gehlek Rimpoche was directed by both the Senior and Junior Tutors to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Ling Rimpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rimpoche, to begin teaching Western students. Since that time he has taught Buddhist practitioners throughout the world. He is an example of kindness, generosity, good humor and inspirational insight. He is particularly distinguished for his thorough knowledge of English, his familiarity with modern culture, and his special effectiveness as a teacher to Western practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism.
Before going to Columbia, Ms. Konner worked in both public and commercial television for 26 years. During that time she produced and wrote more than 50 documentaries and served as Executive Producer of several major public affairs series. Her work has been honored by almost every major award for broadcast journalism, including 16 Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Television and Radio. As President and Executive Producer of Public Affairs Television Inc., in partnership with Bill Moyers from 1986-1988, Ms. Konner produced Moyers: In Search Of The Constitution, God And Politics, and Joseph Campbell And The Power Of Myth.
During her 12 years as a writer, director and producer with NBC News from 1965-1977, she produced such documentaries as Danger! Radioactive Waste; Mary Jane Grows Up; Marijuana In The 70’s; Of Women And Men; The Search For Something Else and New World Hard Choices: American Foreign Policy In 1976. In recognition of her body of work, she was awarded the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Alumni Award in 1975 and the New Jersey Press Women’s Association Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in 1990.
In 1977, Ms. Konner joined WNET/13, public television in New York, as Executive producer for National Public Affairs Programs. She served as Executive Producer of Bill Moyers Journal until 1981. From 1981 to 1984, she was Vice President, Director of Programming and Executive Producer for the Metropolitan Division of WNET/13. Among the programs she conceived and produced were New York & Co; Hizzoner; My New York; Walt Whitman And Friends; Innovation and Currents. Under her leadership, the station earned numerous honors, including 11 Emmy Awards.
A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Ms. Konner began her journalism career as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for The (Bergen) Record, Hackensack, NJ. For 10 years, she served as chairman of the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Awards, as a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board and as a juror for the National Magazine Awards. She is currently chair of the John Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Reporting. She also served as an advisor to the Markle Commission on the Media and the Electorate and on several committees of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
Ms. Konner has also been a Trustee of Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, the Rockland Center for the Arts, Radio and Television News Director’s Foundation and the Religion Newswriters Foundation. At present she is a Board member of the Providence Journal, Providence, RI. She is also a trustee of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation.
Lerner is the author of Choices in Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer, from MIT Press. He is also deeply engaged with environment and health issues. A former member of the Yale faculty, he received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship for contributions to public health in 1983. He also works with several foundations.
He has lectured at universities, colleges, and seminaries throughout the United States. In 1990 he visited the Dalai Lama in India, a journey that was described in Rodger Kamenetz’ best-selling book, The Jew in the Lotus. His work and ideas are also described in some detail in Kamenetz’ most recent work, Stalking Elijah: Adventures with Today’s Jewish Mystical Masters. For more than 25 years Jonathan Omer-Man lived in Jerusalem, where he worked and studied with some of the greatest contemporary Jewish teachers–including Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Professor Gershom Scholem–and was editor and publisher of Shefa Quarterly, a prestigious journal of Jewish thought and study. He was also revising editor of the Encyclopaedia Judaica. Among his published writings are numerous articles about spirituality and mysticism in the Jewish tradition, and some verse and fiction.
For the past 28 years, Dr. Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. He is the author of five best-selling books, including New York Times’ bestsellers Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Eat More, Weigh Less, and Love & Survival. He recently directed the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer.
The research that he and his colleagues conducted has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Circulation, The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Cardiology, and elsewhere. A one-hour documentary of their work was broadcast on NOVA, the PBS science series, and was featured on Bill Moyers’ PBS series, Healing & The Mind. Their work has been featured in virtually all major media, including cover stories in Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report.
Dr. Ornish is a member of the boards of directors of the U.S. United Nations High Commission on Refugees, the Quincy Jones We Are the Future Foundation, and the Wheelchair Foundation. He was appointed to The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and elected to the California Academy of Medicine.
He has received several awards, including the 1994 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the University of Texas, Austin, the Jan J. Kellermann Memorial Award for distinguished contribution in the field of cardiovascular disease prevention from the International Academy of Cardiology, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association, the Beckmann Medal from the German Society for Prevention and Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Diseases, and a U.S. Army Surgeon General Medal. Dr. Ornish has been a physician consultant to The White House and to several bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress. He is listed in Who’s Who in Healthcare and Medicine, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.
Dr. Ornish was recognized as “one of the most interesting people of 1996” by People magazine, featured in the “TIME 100” issue on alternative medicine, and chosen by LIFE magazine as “one of the 50 most influential members of his generation.”
Charles has had extensive experience in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, serves and has served as a trustee and advisor to a number of charitable trusts, foundations and nonprofit boards, has served as Chairman of the Council on Foundations Annual Family Foundations Conference, was a director of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers, and has been a speaker, consultant, and facilitator at conferences, professional meetings, family and foundation meetings.
Prior to his work with the Rockefeller family, Mr. Terry was Vice President of the International Center for Integrative Studies, a nonprofit organization promoting greater communication and collaboration among leaders in diverse disciplines, and served as an ICIS delegate to the United Nations. Prior to that, he helped to found and served for 10 years as the Executive Director of The Door – A Center of Alternatives, an internationally recognized multi-service health, education and arts center for youth, serving 5,000 inner city teenagers annually.
Charles is an honors graduate of both Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. Following law school, he practiced law at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison in New York City, and subsequently practiced urban, community and poverty law in New York. For eight years he was a Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, where he founded and directed the Urban Law Clinical Program.