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Spirit Rock Board of Directors

  Guy Armstrong
Guy Armstrong has been practicing Insight meditation for over 30 years, including training as a Buddhist monk in Thailand.with Ajahn Buddhadasa. He began teaching in 1984 and has led retreats worldwide. Guy is a Governing Teacher at Spirit Rock and a Guiding Teacher of Insight Meditation Society. He is co-chair of Spirit Rock’s Design and Capital Campaign committees.
Sally Armstrong   Sally Armstrong
Sally Clough Armstrong 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, and is also on the Executive Committee and the Design Committee.
  James Baraz
James Baraz 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.
  Sylvia Boorstein
Sylvia Boorstein 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.
  Daniel Bowling
Daniel Bowling is a staff attorney, mediator, and trainer for the ADR Program, US District Court for Northern California. Previously, he managed an international dispute resolution organization in Washington, DC and co-founded the first mediation organization in South Carolina, where he practiced law for many years. He was the first Public Defender in Charleston, SC and on the founding faculty of Antioch Law School, following his graduation from Harvard Law School. He co-edited/co-authored Bringing Peace into the Room, a book that introduced the concept of the importance of the mediator’s personal qualities to resolving conflicts. He founded Chrysalis, a spiritual/educational center in Charleston in 1983 and then was on staff at Kripalu Yoga Center in Lenox, MA, serving as general counsel, founding the Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association, and teaching a course in yoga philosophy and meditation, Life is Transformation. He is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders training program and has practiced yoga and meditation since 1976, and started teaching both in 1983.
  Delia Brinton
(Board Emeritus) Delia Brinton 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. Currently she serves on the Design Committee for the new buildings. She is a psychotherapist, mother and grandmother.
  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 was educated at Stanford University and Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall). She began practicing meditation at Spirit Rock and Mission Dharma in 2008, has extensive retreat practice, and has volunteered with both, including serving on the Capital Campaign Committee to help raise funds for the new Community Meditation Hall.
  Rob Cook
Rob Cook was the co-architect and primary author of Pixar's RenderMan software, which creates photo-realistic computer images used in animation, special effects, and design. In recognition of this, he and two colleagues were awarded the first Oscar ever given for software. He holds a Bachelors degree in physics from Duke and a Masters degree in computer graphics from Cornell. He has been named to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and to the National Academy of Engineering. In addition, he has over 20 years of experience as a business leader, including being the VP of Software Development at Pixar, running two startup companies, and serving on numerous corporate and non-profit boards.
  Dana DePalma
Dana DePalma 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.
  Carolyn Zecca Ferris
Carolyn Zecca Ferris first joined the Spirit Rock board 1987 and came back onto the Board two years ago. She also serves on the Board of The Tricycle Foundation. She is an artist and lives in San Francisco near her children and grandchildren.
  Jack Kornfield
Jack Kornfield 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 husband and father. 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; Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart; After the Ecstasy, the Laundry; The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace; and The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology.
  Michelle Latvala, Executive Director
Michelle Latvala has served as Executive Director since spring of 2011, and has been a practitioner at Spirit Rock since 2000. Prior to working at Spirit Rock, she was most recently Vice President of Leader Development at Backroads, a world-wide active travel company. Michelle has  almost 20 years of human and organizational development experience in for-profit and non-profit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University. 
John Mifsud   John Mifsud
John Mifsud 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 in 2012.  John has extensive retreat experience across the country and traveled throughout Asia on four Buddhist pilgrimages.  He teaches nationally with a special interest in delivering mindfulness tools to marginalized communities.  He is a Community Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center and the founding leader of EBMC’s Deep Refuge Sangha for Alphabet Brothers of Color.  He is the Executive Director of Next Step Housing and develops affordable housing for people living with special needs.
Phillip Moffitt   Phillip Moffitt
Former Esquire magazine editor-in-chief and C.E.O., Phillip Moffitt left the publishing world for the spiritual life at age 40. He leads the Marin Sangha, which meets in San Rafael on Sunday evenings, and teaches meditation retreats at Spirit Rock, Insight Meditation Society, and other centers throughout the country. Phillip also works with leaders and individuals in transition through the Life Balance Institute. He is the author of Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, and co-author of The Power To Heal and Medicine's Great Journey, and has written numerous magazine articles on living the dharma in daily life. Phillip was recently named Co-Guiding Teacher of Spirit Rock and is committed to transforming Spirit Rock into a "learning community." He is deeply involved in training programs at Spirit Rock and is particularly interested in developing ways for Spirit Rock to offer its unique knowledge to the greater community.
  Lyle S. Poncher
Lyle co-founder of Voyager Management, which manages hedge fund portfolios for its clients.  With a daily practice since 1967, Lyle has taught meditation and related practice since 1972.  In 1970, he was one of the original American students of Oscar Ichazo, teaching 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, is a graduate of its Jewish Meditation Teachers program, 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 and from 1996-2001 was its Board President. He’s also a long-time Director and former Board chair of Metivta.  Lyle has a B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. He is married to Elizabeth Rona, has four children and one (newborn) granddaughter.
  Renee Rivera
Renee has been a student of the Dharma since 2004, and has been a part of the EBMC Alphabet Sangha since 2008. She is currently on the board of EBMC, has participated in the Commit to Dharma and Practice in Action programs, and helped to launch the Friends of the EBMC monthly giving program as part of the Generosity Committee. She is the Executive Director of Bike East Bay (formerly the East Bay Bicycle Coalition).
david samuels   David Samuels
David joined the Board in 2013. David has been working as a CFO-COO for 20 plus years in several different companies and industries in both the United States and France, and most recently at a large non-profit in the Bay Area. David first started practicing yoga and meditation in 1972, regularly sits retreats, and works to integrate his practice with every aspect of his daily life. David is a graduate of UC Berkeley, holds an MBA and CPA, a BS in Agriculture, is a husband and father, a Californian native, and a nature and cycling enthusiast.
gail seneca   Gail Seneca
Gail has served on Spirit Rock's Board since 1998. Her professional career was in investment management. Since her retirement, she has concentrated on writing fiction. She continues to serve on non-profit boards, with special interests in global development work, nuclear disarmament and land conservation.
  Tempel Smith
Tempel is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council. He spent a year as a monk in Burma with Sayadaw U Pandita and Pa Auk Sayadaw. Tempel organizes the Dedicated Practitioner Program (DPP) and Living Dharma retreats for Spirit Rock and teaches classes in the East Bay.





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PO Box 169 • Woodacre, CA • 94973