Spirit Rock Board of Directors

Sally Armstrong

Sally Clough Armstrong

Sally began practicing Vipassana Meditation in India in 1981. She lived in England for 5 years, where she managed Gaia House retreat center and helped to found the Sharpham meditation community. When she moved to California in 1988, she worked at Spirit Rock in a number of roles, including Managing Director. She began teaching in 1996 and is a co-Guiding Teacher at Spirit Rock. In this role, she also serves on the Governing Teachers Council and the Teachers Council. She is currently chair of the Spirit Rock Board of Directors and is also on the Executive Committee and the Design Committee.


James Baraz

James has been teaching Insight Meditation (Vipassana) since 1978. He is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. James started the Community Dharma Leader program, the Kalyana Mitta Network, and is teacher-advisor to the Spirit Rock Family and Teen program. He's been teaching the popular online "Awakening Joy" course since 2003. James is co-author with Shoshana Alexander of Awakening Joy (Bantam), which is based on the course. James leads ongoing meditation and "Awakening Joy" classes in Berkeley.


Marlena Byrne

Marlena is a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Francisco, specializing in land use and environmental law. A California native and San Francisco resident since 1996, Marlena comes from a large Mexican-Irish family in Southern California and was educated at Stanford University and Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall). She began practicing meditation at Spirit Rock and Mission Dharma in San Francisco in 2008, has extensive retreat practice, and has volunteered with both, including serving on Spirit Rock's Capital Campaign Committee to help raise funds for the new Community Meditation Center and on the Board of Mission Dharma.


Dana DePalma

Dana has practiced Insight Meditation since 1993. She holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is the Spirit Rock Staff Dharma Teacher and is the dharma teacher for Spirit Rock's weekly "Meditation and Yoga" classes. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock's first Community Dharma Leadership Program and has completed the four-year Spirit Rock Teacher Training. She continues to be mentored by Jack Kornfield.

Andrea Fella

Andrea Fella

Andrea Fella has been practicing Insight Meditation since 1996 and began teaching meditation classes in 2003. She is particularly drawn to intensive retreat practice and has done a number of long retreats in the US and Burma. During one long practice period in Burma, she ordained as a nun with Sayadaw U Janeka. Andrea is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council. She teaches at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City and teaches residential retreats at centers around the country.


Will Kabat-Zinn

Will has practiced Insight Meditation for over 15 years. He has taught mindfulness and meditation to diverse populations – neuroscientists at the Mind and Life Institute, incarcerated youth in NYC and Oakland, and business and technology leaders in Silicon Valley. Will co-developed and taught a mindfulness-based curriculum for parents as part of a long-term study on stress and cell aging at UCSF. He leads retreats regularly at Spirit Rock and at meditation centers around the country and is a member of the Spirit Rock Teacher's Council. Will lives in the East Bay with his wife and two children and leads a weekly sitting group on Sunday evenings in Berkeley. 


Scott Kerslake

Scott is the CEO of Nixon, a global accessories company. Prior to Nixon, Scott was CEO of prAna living, a progressive active apparel company known for its sustainability efforts and values-based approach, and was the President of Miraval Life in Balance™, one of the world’s top-rated destination spas and resorts. He also founded and was Chairman and CEO of Athleta Corporation, widely recognized as one of the premier women’s sports and active apparel brands. Scott was the creator of the Athleta brand, its strategic plan, and internal cultural development. Scott recently completed board terms of three organizations with social missions: The Stanford Center On Longevity, Insight Prison Project and the Outdoor Industry Association. The Stanford Center on Longevity studies the nature and development of the human life span, looking for innovative ways to use science and technology to improve the well-being of people of all ages. Insight Prison Project’s mission is to foster insight and lasting behavioral change by providing rehabilitative tools to prisoners in California correctional systems, including mindfulness and victim/offender programs. The Outdoor Industry Assoc. is the leading voice of the outdoor recreation industry and focuses on government affairs, corporate responsibility, outdoor consumer insights, industry trends and youth engagement.


Jack Kornfield

Jack trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He is a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology, and is a father and activist. His books include A Path with Heart; Buddha's Little Instruction Book; Teachings of the Buddha; Seeking the Heart of Wisdom; Living Dharma; A Still Forest Pool; After the Ecstasy, the Laundry; The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace; The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology; and Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are.


Michelle Latvala, Executive Director

Michelle has served as Executive Director since spring of 2011, and as a practitioner at Spirit Rock since 2000. During her time as Executive Director, she has led the organization to a time of growth by shepherding both Spirit Rock’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative in addition to the strategic planning process currently in the implementation phase. Prior to Spirit Rock, she was Vice President of Leader Development at Backroads—a worldwide travel company. Michelle has more than 20 years of human and organizational development experience in for-profit and non-profit organizations. In 2016, she was awarded the Excellence in Leadership Award by the Center for Volunteer and Non-Profit Leadership. She is a graduate of Stanford University.


Konda Mason

Konda was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism in 1982. Her love for Vipassana began in 1996, working with Jack Kornfield at the Vallecitos Retreat Center. She has been a regular yoga teacher at Spirit Rock since 1997, teaching many retreats including the annual Metta Retreat and many of the POC retreats. Konda’s dharma training includes the East Bay Meditation Center Commit to Dharma program, Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader and she is currently in the 2020 Spirit Rock Teacher Training program. Konda has taught daylongs, retreats and workshops. She sits on the Board of Directors of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and is on the Advisory Board of the Namchak Foundation Learning Circles.In addition to her spiritual pursuits, Konda is a social entrepreneur, earth and social justice activist. She is the Co-Founder and former CEO of Impact Hub Oakland, a beautiful co-working space that supports socially engaged entrepreneurs and changemakers.


John Mifsud

John was born on the Island of Malta. He has practiced Insight Meditation since 2001 and graduated from the Community Dharma Leaders Training Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center where he is currently on the Board of Directors. John has extensive retreat experience and traveled throughout Asia on three major Buddhist pilgrimages. He is the Guiding Teacher of the Malta Insight Meditation Society and a Community Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland. He is the founding leader of EBMC’s Deep Refuge Sangha for Alphabet Brothers of Color. He teaches internationally with a special interest in delivering mindfulness tools to marginalized communities.

Niki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori is an Iranian-American Artificial Intelligence scientist and Dharma teacher. She received her PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 1998 and has had an active career in academia and industry. She has directed international research programs, authored over 40 scientific articles, taught classes at UC Berkeley, and mentored post-docs and graduate students. She holds multiple patents and has served as the scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups. Since 2003, Nikki has practiced in the Theravada tradition with a keen interest in intensive long retreat practice. She was instructed by her Burmese teacher, the renowned meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, to teach jhanas and a detailed analytical method of vipassana in 2008. She is a Stanford trained compassion cultivation instructor, a UCLA certified mindfulness facilitator, and a graduate of the Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC Teacher Training. She teaches nationally, and in particular, at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Center, where she also serves on their Boards.

Bill Park

Bill Park 

Bill Park joined DeepDyve, an online rental service for academic research, as Chief Executive Officer in 2008. Prior to DeepDyve, Bill served at Acxiom Corporation, a global leader in information management, where he led the company's data, digital and direct organization and oversaw all aspects of sales, services, development and operations domestically and internationally. Previously, Bill founded and served as chairman and CEO of Digital Impact, a leader in online direct marketing solutions for Fortune 1000 companies, which he sold to Acxiom in 2005. Before founding Digital Impact in 1997, Bill held numerous management positions at technology and enterprise software companies. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Bill is on the Board of Advisors for the Asian Pacific Fund, was formerly an officer in Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and is a founding board member of the Korean American Society of Entrepreneurs. Bill is interested in everyday applications of mindfulness and has been coming to Spirit Rock for about 10 years.


Lyle S. Poncher

Lyle is co-founder of Voyager Management, which manages hedge fund portfolios for its clients. Lyle has taught meditation and related practice since 1972. In 1970, he was one of the original American students of Oscar Ichazo, and taught the Arica system for more than 20 years. Since 1995, Lyle has studied with Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, founder of Metivta, a Center for Contemplative Judaism, and has led many Metivta retreats and meditation programs. He has been attending Spirit Rock retreats since 2010 and has been practicing Vipassana since that time. Lyle has been a Trustee of Wildwood School, a leading progressive K-12 independent school in Los Angeles, since 1991. He’s also a long-time Director of Metivta. Lyle has a B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. He is married, has four children, and one granddaughter.


Desmund Shirazi

Prior to joining Oaktree as a Portfolio Manager in 1995, Desmund spent eight years at Citicorp in credit research. While at Citicorp, he was responsible for reviewing the credit quality of prospective borrowers and monitoring existing loans. Desmund has since retired from the financial industry and lives in LA where he frequently attends retreats and classes offered by InsightLA. He has studied with Phillip Moffitt, has attended retreats at SR and served on a public company board and another non-profit boards.


Wendy Etsuko Siu

Wendy has been a practitioner at Spirit Rock for over 15 years and is currently part of the Dedicated Practitioner Program (DPP6).  She was involved over a decade ago with Spirit Rock’s Diversity Council, Diversity Task Force, and Re-Visioning Committee.  Wendy is a licensed clinical psychologist and multicultural organizational consultant who has taught at multiple California educational institutions and organizations. She previously served in the nonprofit sector and currently works at the Wright Institute.  Wendy is Japanese-Chinese American and lives in the East Bay.


Board Emeritus/Emerita


Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia has been teaching since 1985 and teaches both Vipassana and Metta Meditation. She is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center and a psychotherapist, wife, mother, and grandmother who is particularly interested in seeing daily life as practice. Her books include It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness; Don't Just Do Something, Sit There: A Mindfulness Retreat; That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist: On Being a Faithful Jew and a Passionate Buddhist; Pay Attention for Goodness' Sake: The Buddhist Path of Kindness; and Happiness Is an Inside Job.


Delia Brinton

(Board Emerita) Delia has been part of the community that became Spirit Rock since 1977. She served on the early Vision Committee and has been on the Board since 2002. She is a retired psychotherapist, grandmother, board member emerita and serves on the Design Committee.


Carolyn Zecca Ferris

(Board Emerita) Carolyn first joined the Spirit Rock board in 1987. She is an artist and lives in San Francisco near her children and grandchildren.

gail seneca

Gail Seneca

(Board Emerita, now Deceased) Gail served on Spirit Rock's Board since 1998. Her professional career was in investment management. Since her retirement, she concentrated on writing fiction, recently completing the book Geography Lessons: Finding the Way. She offered deep service to many non-profits and served on many non-profit boards, with special interests in global development work, nuclear disarmament and land conservation. May the merit of her generous actions throughout her lifetime be of benefit to all beings.








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