ChI Talks

June 18 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Open House and Info Session

July 2 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Rev. Katrina Leathers, M.A.

Faculty, Arts for Awakening
Email: katrinaleathers13(at)gmail.com
Phone: (510) 843-1422

LinkedIn Profile

Rev. Katrina Leathers, M.A., oversees ChI ’s Arts for Awakening curriculum. Katrina began her professional career as a psychotherapist specializing in Expressive Therapies, with a particular focus on dance therapy and other expressive arts for healing childhood trauma and abuse. Raised as a Baha’I, Katrina later discovered shamanism and completed The Three Year Program in Core Shamanism with The Foundation for Shamanic Studies. Over time, her spiritual focus became primary and in March 2012, Katrina was ordained as an Interfaith Minister at The Chaplaincy Institute. Subsequently she was certified as a Spiritual Director. Now working in both interfaith ministry and spiritual direction, she particularly enjoys teaching and envisioning new forms of transformational creativity and working with people who are “non-affiliated,” spiritual-but-not-religious, agnostic or atheist. Katrina also trains Unitarian Universalist (UU) youth chaplains on suicide prevention and intervention and works as a retreat chaplain for UU youth conferences. She presented a paper on “Spirituality and Aging” at the 2015 conference of On Lok, a nonprofit organization working to enable seniors to continue to live independently in their communities.

Rev. John Mabry, Ph.D.

Director, Interfaith Spiritual Direction Program and Faculty, World Religions & Theological Literacy (Interfaith Wisdom)
Email: apocryphile(at)me.com
Phone: (510) 843-1422
LinkedIn Profile

Rev. Dr. John R. Mabry, PhD serves as director of the Interfaith Spiritual Direction certificate program at ChI . A United Church of Christ minister, John pastors Grace North Church (UCC/NACCC) in Berkeley, CA and has taught spiritual guidance, pastoral ministry, world religions, and comparative theology at various Bay Area schools. He holds an M.A. in Creation Spirituality (Holy Names College, 1990) and a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Religion (California Institute of Integral Studies, 1997), as well as certificates in Spiritual Direction (Mercy Center, 1998), Spiritual Direction Supervision (Chaplaincy Institute, 2004), and Anglican Studies (Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 2016). John is the author of more than twenty books, including Spiritual Guidance Across Religions; Growing Into God: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Mysticism; Noticing the Divine: An Introduction to Interfaith Spiritual Guidance; Faithful Generations: Effective Ministry Across Generational Lines and Faith Styles: Ways People Believe, and many others.

Read John’s Articles

Rev. Jürgen Schwing, M.A., BCC

Faculty, Spiritual Care (Interfaith Ministry & Service)
Email: jurgen.chaplaincyinstitute(at)gmail.com
Phone: (510) 843-1422

LinkedIn Profile

Jürgen Schwing, M.A., BCC, has taught spiritual care and interfaith theology as a ChI Faculty member since 2000, drawing on 20 years of experience providing spiritual care in hospitals and hospices, and with the homeless. Jürgen is currently the Director of Spiritual Care and Clinical Pastoral Education at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals Diablo Service Area (Kaiser Diablo). This service area includes the Walnut Creek and Antioch Medical Centers and the Diablo Hospice Program. Jürgen has also trained and worked as a facilitator for the Acts of Reconciliation Project, bringing together Jews and Germans to commemorate the Holocaust. Kaiser Permanente has featured his work in interfaith spiritual care in clinical video conferences throughout its system nationwide.

Jürgen was ordained as a United Church of Christ minister and his work is rooted in Eastern and Western contemplative traditions, pluralistic and integral theology, and depth psychology. He has taught at Pacific School of Religion Summer Session and has given presentations internationally, including in Germany and at the World Congress on Psychology and Spirituality in India, as well as at conferences of the Association of Professional Chaplains and the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology. He received the Len Cedarleaf Award for best theory paper from the ACPE and received an award for his essay entitled “Theology of Supervision: Awakening and Transformation in Clinical Pastoral Education.” Jürgen completed his undergraduate studies and some graduate studies at Frankfurt and Heidelberg Universities in Germany, where he received a merit scholarship for a paper on theory of sciences and theology. He received an M.A. in Religion and the Personality Sciences from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a ACPE-Certified Educator.

(Disclaimer: Rev. Schwing’s teaching at ChI , as well as his writings on the ChI website, are his own and not endorsed by Kaiser Permanente).

Read Jürgen’s Articles

Rev. Lauren Van Ham, M.A.

Faculty, Interfaith Chaplaincy and Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Leadership & Development
Email: lauren(at)laurenvanham.com
Phone: (510) 843-1422
LinkedIn Profile

Raised under the big sky of the Midwest prairie, Rev. Lauren Van Ham, M.A., began her professional life as a performing artist in NYC before pursuing interfaith seminary studies in California. She served, for 9 years, as a hospital chaplain focusing in psychiatry, palliative care, and bereavement support. Moved by spirituality and ecology, Lauren’s ministry called her to a consulting firm where she custom-designed employee engagement sustainability programs for multi-national corporations. For nearly a decade, she served as Seminary Dean for the Chaplaincy Institute, and interfaith seminary and community. Lauren’s passion for spirituality, art and Earth’s teachings have supported her specialization in eco-ministry, grief & loss, and sacred activism. Her essay, “Way of the Eco-Chaplain,” appears in a collection of women’s work; and her work with Green Sangha is featured in Renewal, a documentary celebrating the efforts of religious environmental activists from diverse faith traditions across America. She is a guest writer for “Progressing Spirit.” Lauren holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Naropa University. Currently, Lauren serves as Climate Action Coordinator for URI (the United Religions Initiative). She is a spiritual director and guest faculty for several schools in the Bay Area.

Rev. Megan Wagner, Ph.D.

Faculty, Spiritual Psychology
Email: meganwag(at)gmail.com
Phone: (510) 843-1422

LinkedIn Profile

Megan Wagner, Ph.D., is Director of Spiritual Psychology at ChI and Co-Director of Tree of Life Teachings International and Kabbalah School with her partner, Jim Larkin. A therapist, Kabbalah Teacher, Artist and Ritual Leader, Megan has been guiding people for 30 years on the path of inner transformation and psycho-spiritual awakening. She offers several training programs: Tree of Life Personal Mastery Training, The Feminine Path of Power for Women, Spiritual Psychology Certification and Ritual Facilitator Certification. In her work she combines Depth Psychology, Kabbalah and Astrology with the sacred arts of drumming, chanting, storytelling, psychodrama and ritual.

Megan holds a B.A. from Stanford University, M.A. in Theology & M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Masters of Metaphysical Science & PhD in Transpersonal Counseling from University of Sedona. An ordained Interfaith Minister through the Chaplaincy Institute, she is also a certified Pranatherapist from The School for Spiritual Healers in Damanhur, Italy. Megan is author of Awakening with the Tree of Life: 7 Initiations to Heal Body, Soul and Spirit and 6 initiation stories: The Story of Majah, The Story of Chiman, The Story of Oyuna, The Story of Pujai, The Story of Salima and The Story of Ariadne. Soon she will publish Women’s Initiations: Stepping into Full Feminine Wisdom. She has created over 60 Guided Meditations, a CD of Sacred Chants and 33 Sacred Robes of her own design and creation. Megan also hosts a podcast show called 18-Minute Enlightenment and also leads transformational journeys around the world for personal and planetary healing.

Visit Megan’s websites at www.MeganWagner.com and www.TreeofLifeTeachings.com and www.AncientFuture.today

Read Megan’s Articles

Rev. Theresa “Rivka” Gevurtz M.Div.

Faculty, Prophetic Voice and Social Transformation
Email: rivkagevurtz(at)comcast.net
Phone: (503) 819-7101

Rev. Theresa “Rivka” Gevurtz is an interfaith minister, chaplain and spiritual director, ordained through The Chaplaincy Institute in 2018 and earning her MDiv. at Starr King School for the Ministry in 2019, as well as graduating the ChI Spiritual Direction program at that time.  Rivka’s area of focus, culminating her master’s degree, was addressing the ways religious wounding impacts not only the queer and BIPOC communities, but the society at large.  

Her ministry is influenced by the social justice commitment of her Jewish Renewal tradition, faith-based advocacy for the LGBTQ community & the environment, as well as by contemplative and mystical traditions and Reiki energy healing.  She has been a public speaker on LGBTQ and environmental issues, spearheading community action initiatives as well as advocating to legislative bodies.  Rivka has led Shabbat In The Woods retreats, service learning collaborations, taught and coordinated at national and local conferences, and served as an adult & child educator in congregational religious education programs.  She has written in a variety of print media on the intersection of faith and justice.  She is currently working on a book about her family’s journey; as a bi woman, married to a trans man and parent of a gender fluid young adult, navigating the tensions between politics and religious wounding. In addition to her new role at The Chaplaincy Institute, she provides spiritual direction and related spiritual services in private practice at Shelter For The Spirit.


Mandisa Amber, M.A, M.F.A. Radical Creativity is a sacred practice created by Mandisa, an artist, dancer, educator, food justice activist, and urban farmer. Through painting, movement, and honoring the earth Mandisa nourishes her connection to her ancestors and the divine. She is grateful for the opportunity to travel, teach, and learn in places where love is a key to resilience, wellbeing, and liberation. Mandisa is initiated in the Lucumí tradition; a nature based spiritual tradition indigenous to West Africa and present throughout the diaspora. Mandisa is adjunct faculty at Napa Valley College in the Humanities Department. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Sustainability Education from Prescott College. Her research (still in the development phase) will employ sacred research methods to examine the healing modalities used by activists, community members, and scholars in low-income communities of color in the Bay Area, CA. Her research is grounded in theories and approaches that are inclusive and accessible to those impacted by systems of oppression, while also providing a critical lens for the analysis of structural racism, femicide, and other social issues.

Penny Andrews is a graduate of the University of Creation Spirituality and ChI circa 2000. After these two stellar educational experiences, she became a hospital chaplain, regular presenter at a Unitarian congregation, organized Earth Charter community summits and coordinated a house church for several years. Upon retirement, Penny helped start what has now become a webinar known as Global Kinship and became a facilitator with the Work that Reconnects network. Additionally, she went through the Deep Time Network Leadership Program where she now serves as their coherence guide. Penny currently serves on the Board of Creation Spirituality Communities where she teaches a class on the new cosmology. She has lived on ten acres in Wisconsin for 30+ years where she and her partner are using permaculture principles to create a food forest.

Sister Carmen Barsody, OSF, was born and raised in Minnesota and studied Theology and Pastoral Ministry at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. She worked as a Pastoral Associate in a predominantly Hispanic parish in Chicago, and then spent seven years ministering in Managua Nicaragua where she worked with women and youth. In 1998 she co-founded Faithful Fools Street Ministry together with Rev. Kay Jorgensen in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, where she currently lives and works.

Tara Bedeau, is a recovering Attorney, after almost 20 years of licensure. She is the Founder and Principal of The Alchemical Workshop. It is a change management organization dedicated to the cultivation and optimization of *individual* and *organizational* health. Through its three divisions, The Alchemical Workshop addresses the “root cause(s)” of the issue at hand, using a dynamic, interdisciplinary approach leveraging instinct, intuition, intellect and inspiration. Collectively, it reflects Ms. Bedeau’s more than two decades of professional experience and education in the fields of religion & spirituality; U.S. employment law & DEI; leadership & organizational development and [systems]change management.

Website: www.thepreciseaim.com/alchemical or www.hummingbirdcall.com

Father Tom Bonacci, C.P. is a Passionist Priest from Pittsburgh, PA who has ministered in the Diocese of Oakland, CA, since 1990. Tom is a graduate of St. John’s University, New York City, NY. After Ordination to the Catholic priesthood in 1972, he served as religious superior and Retreat Director in Pittsburgh, PA and New York City. He also served as chaplain at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and Carlow University at Pittsburgh, PA. Tom has served as hospital chaplain for several hospitals for the past 40 years. He served as Executive Director and Chaplain at St. Paul’s Manor for the Elderly in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2001, he established the Interfaith Center at Carlow University where he taught Sacred Scripture. Tom is the founder of the Interfaith Peace Project of Contra Costa County, a home-based educational outreach providing introductions to the religions of the world. He is also Director of the Interfaith Center in Antioch, CA, which opened in October 2007. Tom conducts Interfaith Seminars for the School of Applied Theology, Oakland, CA, The Chapliancy Institute in Berkeley, CA, and adult educations classes in Interfaith Spirituality and Sacred Scripture. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Interreligious and Ecumenical Commission for the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, CA, and the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County.

Faryn Borella is a Jewish educator, ritual leader and community organizer, working with people aged 2-72 to uncover and rediscover the liberatory practices within Judaism with and through its relationship to Christianity and Islam. She has taught courses on Jewish Liberation Theology and Decolonial Pilgrimage at Starr King School for the Ministry and is currently studying to be a rabbi at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Dr. Charles Burack is an award-winning teacher, scholar, poet, and essayist. A professor at John F. Kennedy University, he specializes in integrative, contemplative, and creative approaches to psychology, spirituality, and the creative arts. Author of two books (Songs to My Beloved; D. H. Lawrence’s Language of Sacred Experience) and numerous of articles, stories, poems, prayers and meditations, he has a new poetry collection (Leaves of Light) coming out this year. His new collection of prayers, meditations, and poems inspired by the Kabbalah (Tree of Life) is currently under review. He is also working on another book on the Kabbalah. A trained spiritual director and lay chaplain (at Kaiser-Permanente Hospital) as well as a former rabbinical student, Chuck is active in interfaith education, counseling, and arts. He worked with Rev. Dr. Gina Rose Halpern to create CHI ’s interfaith curriculum, and for many years taught at CHI and also directed its interfaith spiritual direction program.

Pollyanna Bush specializes in the spiritual and healing dimensions of music. A performer since the age of five, her formal music studies were at College of Marin, Mills College in Oakland, and San Francisco State University in classical, choral, jazz, popular music, and music theory. She has studied with renowned composer and Windam Hill recording artist, Alaudin Matthiey, and East Indian classical musician and master, Pandit Pran Nath. Under his guidance, she moved more deeply into the spiritual and healing dimensions of music. Ms. Bush has worked in dance, as an accompanist, dancer/ choreographer, and teacher. She trained in modern dance for 15 years, including work in New York City with the Martha Graham Dance Company. She has been the choral director for “Sing for Your Life” at Grace Cathedral and the Interfaith Chapel in the Presidio, San Francisco. Her CD of original music, “Dying to Be Born”, can be ordered through her website www.pollyannabush.com.

Rev. Rika Casseres is an Interfaith Minister, Spiritual Director, and Transformation / Integration Coach. As a queer daughter of the African diaspora, she approaches these roles with a clear understanding of the value of transformation and of connecting with spirituality and inner wisdom. She centers teachings and practices to bring about the liberation of all beings through paths of compassion and understanding.

Currently, she is a Spiritual Director for private clients, including seminarians and community activists, and is the wedding officiant at San Quentin Prison.

Rika holds certificates in Spiritual Direction (Phoenix School of Spiritual Direction), Coaching – Psycho-Spiritual Integration and Addiction (Being True to You), and Interfaith Studies (Chaplaincy Institute, ordained 2021.) She has studied Movement Trauma Healing (Global Citizenry School Training Program) and Buddhism and Shamanism (Foundation of the Sacred Stream, Berkeley, CA.) She earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from California State University at Sacramento. She is a former member of the Deep Culture Committee, a ChI committee of faculty and students that works to integrate cultural competency and social justice teaching into the curricula and workings of ChI.

Pir Issa Chishti is the son and successor of the late Pir Dr. Ibrahim Baba Chishti (Prof. Ibrahim Farajaje) in the Ajmeri Chishti Sufi lineage. He is currently pursuing his academic studies in the Bay Area. The Chishti path which he represents is grounded in the teachings and life of Hazrati Moinuddin Chishti, Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, the Friend of the Poor and marginalized, who taught a message of radical inclusivity and openness of heart to all manifestations of the Divine.

Jiwon Chung is past president of the national organization for Theatre of the Oppressed, is the artistic director of Kairos Theater Ensemble and adjunct professor at the Starr King School at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, where he teaches Theater and Social Justice. The focus of his work is in the application of theater as a tool for social and political change, using Theatre of the Oppressed to challenge, resist and transform systemic oppression and structural violence, and to redress large scale historical atrocity and injustice. His approach to individual, interpersonal and institutional change is informed by his background as a veteran, martial artist and over 3 decades of vipassana meditation.

Rev. Dr. Tony Clark’s formal education included a Bachelors of Science in Microbiology, and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Ohio State University; and a Masters of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He is ordained in the United Church of Christ. While in St. Louis, he trained as a Clinical Pastoral Care intern (1 unit CPE) and resident (4 units CPE) at the VA Medical Center. Before entering church ministry, he worked as a hospice Chaplain at a private home health care group in St. Louis. He was then called to Duluth, MN, where he served as an Associate Pastor for youth and small groups. He has also served as an interim minister in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and is currently the Senior Minister for Arlington Community Church UCC in Kensington.

Kokomon Clottey holds a Master’s Degree in Business Management with an emphasis in international business and is the co-founder of the Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc. He is the co-author of “Beyond Fear: Twelve Spiritual Keys to Racial Healing and the author of Mindful Drumming: Ancient wisdom for Unleashing the Human Spirit and Building Community. Kokomon is an indigenous wisdom teacher from the Ga Adagbe tribe of Ghana, West Africa. He has captured the richness of his culture and the essence of mindful drumming as a healing modality in his latest book, Mindful Drumming. Mindful Drumming is an experiential and interdisciplinary workshop that uses synchronistic drumming, rhythm, movement and storytelling to explore trans-cultural communication and personal relationships. Mindful Drumming process heals ancestral wounding and increases community ties. Manifestation of this connection is through rhythmic inter-play of the participants. Mindful drumming emerges from the Ga Adagbe tradition of Ghana West Africa. In addition to his accomplishments he has 30 years of musical experience in performing and recording. He has produced three CD’s: Love Is The Answer, Mystic Vision and The Journey. Kokomon is a lecturer and a facilitator on how Mindful Drumming can be utilized as a healing modality and a tool for community building.

Rev. Susan P. Conrad is an ordained and fellowshipped minister with the Unitarian Universalist Association, is a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains, and is a certified Supervisor with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. Susan serves as Manager of Spiritual Care at UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. Susan previously served as Chaplain, CPE Resident, Clinical Fellow, and CPE Supervisor at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. She holds a Bachelor of Art’s degree from Hampshire College, an Master of Art’s degree in Urban Planning from UCLA, and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. Susan is active in the Unitarian Universalist movement, having served as a chaplain and guest worship leader at her home church and as a mentor for UU chaplains in the fellowshipping process. Susan serves on the Development Committee of the ACPE Pacific Region. She has a special interest in conflict transformation, and has been trained in Conflict Mediation with the Community Boards of San Francisco.

LaVera Crawley, MD, MPH, MDiv (Equivalency) is the Program Manager for Palliative Care Education & Research and serves as an ACPE Certified Supervisory Candidate and Palliative Care Chaplain for the Department of Chaplaincy Services at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, California. She came to chaplaincy after a 30+ year career in medicine and ethics and a successful academic research career in health disparities in end-of-life care for which she received national and international recognition. LaVera received her MD from Meharry Medical College; completed her Family Medicine residency and chief residency at USCF; her MPH from UC Berkeley; an Ethics Fellowship at Stanford; and a Palliative Care Education Fellowship at Harvard. She was among the first graduates of the Living School for Action and Contemplation founded by Fr. Richard Rohr. After completing required seminary coursework at the Catholic Distance University and the Pacific School of Religion, she received MDiv Equivalency status through both the Association for Professional Chaplains and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. She is also currently a Fellow at the Program in Medical Humanities at the UC Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society. As a Catholic lay woman, LaVera is active in the social justice programs in her parish. She is also on the Board of Directors for Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Nancy Dougherty has provided compassionate bereavement support and facilitated grief support groups through Sutter Hospice in Santa Rosa, CA since 2001. She knows the experience of deep grief intimately as a parent who lost a child to suicide in 1998. Her journey through grief and loss led her to a path of service to accompany others.

Nancy is certified through ChI as a Spiritual Director and is a Certified Provider of Compassionate Bereavement Care through the MISS Foundation. She holds an Integrative Somatic Trauma Therapy Certification through the Embody Lab, and is a member and student of Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing Institute.

As a practicing Theravadan Buddhist for over 25 years, she is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Dedicated Practitioner’s program and the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy program. Her work is grounded in compassionate presence, embodied awareness, and a deep and abiding trust in each individual’s inner wisdom and unique journey. Nancy finds joy and connection through the natural world, gardening, dancing, and hiking the hills of Sonoma County with her husband and their little rescue dog, Carmelita.

Rev. Robert Drake, MSci, MDiv, is an interfaith hospice and palliative care chaplain at Pathways Hospice, an educator for Compassion and Choices, teaching California’s End of Life Option Act, and he operates OceanSoulRenewal.us for healing from grief, loss and change. He is a graduate and Governing Board member at CHI and former adjunct faculty of the Graduate Theological Union. Bob has a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution and a Master of Divinity from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Pastor Jacqueline K. Duhart teaches in the Interfaith Studies Certificate Program at the Chaplaincy Institute (ChI ). Pastor Jacqueline K. Duhart is a 2008 graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry. She  served as the Interim Developmental Minister at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland in Oakland, California until June 2019. She identifies as African descent, lesbian and her preferred pronoun is she and they. She is a mother, civil right activist, avid hiker and gardener and she shares being human with her life partner Cynthia. Her favorite spiritual practices are dance/sacred movement, prayer and sitting/walking meditation.

Email: pastorduhart(at)gmail.com
Phone: (510) 388-3123

Della Duncan (She/Her) is Renegade Economist who supports individuals working to better align their values with their work as a Right Livelihood Coach, offers consulting to organizations contributing to equitable and sustainable economic systems change, and hosts the Upstream Podcast, challenging mainstream economic thinking through documentaries and conversations including the following podcast documentaries: Our Struggles are Your Struggles: Stories of Indigenous Resistance and Regeneration, Feminism for the 99 Percent, and Worker Cooperatives: Widening Spheres of Democracy. Della is also a Senior Fellow of Social and Economic Equity at the International Inequalities Institute in the London School of Economics, the Course Development Manager of Fritjof Capra’s Capra Course on the Systems View of Life, a Gross National Happiness Master Trainer, a founding member of the Doughnut Economics California Coalition (DECC), a Senior Lecturer at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Santa Cruz Permaculture, Vital Cycles Permaculture, and Gaia Education. She holds an MA in Economics for Transition with Distinction from Schumacher College, a BA in International Relations and Sociology with highest honors from the University of California, Davis, a graduate certificate in Authentic Leadership from Naropa University, and has completed Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects Intensive Program.

Prabha Duneja is the founder/president of The Geeta Society, a scholar of the Gita and the Vedas. (The Holy Geeta, the version of the Bhagavad Gita that is one of this month’s assigned readings, is her translation.) Mrs. Duneja spent her childhood in a small town of Punjab, India, where her devotion to Lord Krishna and her fascination for the study of Geeta began at the early age of eight. Later she graduated from the Sanskrit University of Kurukshetra as a teacher of English and Music. During her career as a schoolteacher, she developed an increased interest in the study of comparative religion, philosophy, and mysticism. Her life is now dedicated to teaching about Hinduism and the wisdom of the Vedas. For more information about her activities and her numerous publications and instructional CDs, see her full bio at the end of this document, as well as www.holygeeta.com.

Ramana Erickson has been a tabla player and kirtan singer for over thirty years. In addition he has led Sanskrit and yoga philosophy workshops and courses for more than 20 years in the United States, India, and Japan. Ramana first started practicing yoga and singing kirtan at the ripe old age of ten under the tutelage of Swami Vishnudevananda at Vrindavan Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA. At 13, Ramana became the youngest hatha yoga student to graduate from the Sivananda Yoga teacher training course taught by Swami Vishnudevananda himself. He also teaches tabla, harmonium, kirtan and Vedic chanting to private students throughout the Bay Area. His classes are noted for their emphasis on correct pronunciation and rapid acquisition of Sanskrit reading and chanting skills. In 2006, Ramana was touched by hearing Mukti lead vocalist Prajna sing kirtans for a Saturday evening program at MA Center. Her heartfelt devotion and vocal virtuosity would send listeners into a state of blissful absorption. Ramana asked if she would be interested in collaborating in a spiritual music project; Prajna agreed, introducing Ramana to Don Fontowitz (guitarist extraordinaire!), and, after an unforgettable first practice together, Mukti was born. Soon after that first practice, Ramana brought in his sister Veena, also well versed in Sanskrit and kirtan from their ashram childhood, to provide backing vocals and expert hand cymbal playing. Ramana cannot properly express the gratitude and happiness he feels being a member of Mukti, surrounded by a talented assortment of friends and family, all with the united purpose of sharing the peace and blessings of kirtan music with each other and the world.

Deseree Fontenot (She/Her or They/Them) grew up between Southwest Louisiana and the Los Angeles area where she began her movement building journey as a student organizer working on queer and trans liberation struggles in 2008. After almost a decade of working within the LGBTQ movement, Deseree shifted her focus towards land-based work as a scholar, activist and farmer. In 2015 she became a co-organizer of the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network and in 2016 she co-founded the Queer Eco-Justice Project, organizing at the intersection of ecological justice and queer liberation. Deseree holds an interdisciplinary MA in Social Transformation focused on African-diasporic spiritual traditions, queer ecology and land-based movements. Deseree is also an alumna of the ecological farming apprenticeship at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. She enjoys growing food and medicine, eating spicy foods, and nerding out over cats, movies and books. Deseree is excited to be a part of the next chapter of weaving together the mycelium of movements for liberation with MG. Click below to watch a short video of Deseree breaking down Black food history on IG TV

Elder Don Frew is a Wiccan Elder and serves as High Priest of Coven Trismegiston in Berkeley, CA. He is a National Interfaith Representative for the Covenant of the Goddess (www.cog.org) and has represented CoG and the Craft in interfaith work for over 25 years. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Berkeley Area Interfaith Council, the Assembly of the Parliament of the World’s Religions (www.parliamentofreligions.org), and the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative (www.uri.org). He is founder and Director of the Lost & Endangered Religions Project and President of the Adocentyn Research Library.

, teaches moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. Research interests include: Virtue Ethics, medical and sexual ethics, the intersection of ethics and spirituality, and Ignatian spirituality. Published essays include: “Toward a Virtue Ethics of Marriage: Augustine and Aquinas on Friendship in Marriage,” “Teresa of Avila’s Liberative Humility,” “Sex in 3-D. A Telos for a Virtue Ethics of Sexuality,” and “Ethics in Spiritual Guidance.” In 2008, she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. The view from the top is just glorious, she says.

Rev. Paul Gaffney, M.Div., is currently the Director of Spiritual Care at The Ritter Center in San Rafael, CA. He is also a Certified Educator Candidate in the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) and the Shaw Fellow for Chaplaincy and CPE at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Paul was born and raised in western PA, the son of a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Paul received his BA from Hiram College, where he majored in Sociology, minored in Music, and met his wife, Annie. After their wedding in August of 1998, Paul and Annie spent two years in Cleveland, OH before moving to San Anselmo, CA where Paul attended San Francisco Theological Seminary. During his third year at SFTS, Paul began working with the Marin Interfaith Homeless Chaplaincy (now the Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy). In 2004, he graduated from SFTS with a Master of Divinity degree, and in 2005, Paul became the sole chaplain of the Street Chaplaincy, providing emotional and spiritual support to people in transition. Paul was ordained into Christian Ministry by the Northern California/Nevada Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Lafayette Christian Church on June 4, 2006. Rev. Gaffney also is a lay-ordained student of Taigen Leighton in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition. Paul and Annie both live and work in San Rafael.

Rev. Sue Gimpel, M.Div., is a recent SKSM graduate and death midwife certified through Final Passages.  Sue is dually ordained from the Sophia Foundation and CHI. Sue also holds certifications in: Anthroposophic Counseling Psychology, Buddhist Chaplaincy, Family-Directed Funeral Guidance, Simplicity Parenting Counseling, and Waldorf Collaborative Counseling. Sue participates in her local Sacred Threshold Guild, leads Hospice Grief Support Groups, and has a private practice as a Family Transitions Counselor and Spiritual Director, in Sebastopol, CA, where she raised three children with her husband.  suegimpel.com

Rev. Lily Godsoe is an Interfaith Minister, Board-Certified Clinical Chaplain, CPE Educator, and Spiritual Director. She received the call to chaplaincy while serving as a volunteer with Zen Hospice Project. As a lapsed Catholic and 12-stepper, a clear path to chaplaincy initially seemed out of reach. Gratefully, she was led to the Chaplaincy Institute and was ordained in 2011.

Rev. Lily has worked as a chaplain in various clinical settings, including hospices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and skilled nursing facilities. Rev. Lily also serves as the President of CSCPF – The Center for Spiritual Care and Pastoral Formation (www.cscpf.org), an organization committed to creating and sustaining inclusive professional communities that offer safe harbor to interfaith and under-supported expressions of faith and spirit.

Rev. Lily lives in Half Moon Bay with her husband, James and their dog, Tito.


Corrina Gould is a Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone woman, born and raised in Oakland, CA- or the ancient village of Huichin. She has three children and two grandchildren. She is the Co-Founder and a lead organizer for Indian People Organizing for Change, a small Native run group that works on Indigenous peoples’ issues. In April 2011, Corrina joined Johnella LaRose, Wounded Knee De Ocampo, and a committee of allies, to bring together dedicated warriors for a spiritual encampment at Sogorea Te, a 15 acre sacred site in Vallejo CA. The occupation lasted for 109 days and resulted in a cultural easement between the City of Vallejo, the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, and two federally recognized tribes. This struggle set a precedent for this type of work going forward, inspiring others that are working on sacred sites issues. Corrina’s current focus includes creating an Ohlone land trust within the urban setting of her ancestral territory in the Bay Area. She also works full time at the American Indian Child Resource Center, where she assists in directing an after school program that provides services for Native students in Oakland. Corrina also sits on the California Indigenous Environmental Association Board, the Board of Directors for the Oakland Street Academy Foundation and is the treasurer for the Edes Ave HOA. Last but not least, she is an avid Raiders Fan.

As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a servant leader with a heart of compassion, service and integrity, Hermeisha Green is no stranger to being a change agent in her community.

She is a PhD student in Integrative Medicine with over 12 years of robust clinical skills, mixed with a keen understanding of human behavior. She utilizes her gifts and exemplary executive and influential leadership style as the Clinical Director and lead therapist of Jacksonville’s premier trauma practice: Refuge Counseling Wellness Services. Hermeisha is on a mission to help society become more trauma informed by expanding their understanding of psychological trauma. She does this through providing quality accessible mental health services, building psychologically safe churches and organization through speaking and training services, and individual and group coaching programs through her coaching practice Coaching with Compassion, LLC.

Hermeisha continues to help thousands of trauma survivors tap into their natural built in healing system of their mind & body and have been featured in Christianity Today, NBC, ABC and FOX news affiliates. She continues in this inspiring endeavor for the purpose of creating healthier communities and families, while leaving a strong legacy for her two daughters.

To learn more about her therapy and coaching services, visit: www.RefugeCounselingWS.com and www.HermeishaGreen.com

Nikira Hernandez holds a Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion, and has a dual ministry in Christian and Native traditions. Her mixed heritage includes Paiute ancestry, and she has been participating in a Native-led ceremony for over ten years. With the support of her elders and community, Nikira stepped into a leadership and ministerial role in this community in 2011. Nikira is currently pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ. Nikira has facilitated workshops on healing and social justice for over fifteen years. She is the owner of Light Hands Healing, an energy healing practice in Berkeley focused on empowering social and environmental change.

Jackie Hider, M.A., graduated from University of California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and attended San Diego State University where she earned a Master’ s Degree in Education. She taught developmental reading and writing for a Community College in El Cajon, CA. She has been a Zen practitioner for the last thirteen years and was ordained into Buddhist Chaplaincy in March 2013 at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her focus of study was Street Chaplaincy. During 2014 and 2015 she has worked with the Faithful Fools as a Community Intern.

Rev. Grant Helbley (they/them) is a white, non-binary, transmasc, Animist-Christian who calls the Pacific Northwest home and currently resides in Portland Oregon. They hold a Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling from the Methodist Theological School of Ohio. Grant worked as a mental health professional in Portland for a couple years before completing a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Emmanuel Medical Center.

They are currently an associate chaplain at Mt Hood Medical Center where they love being present with people in crisis and particularly working with the dead and dying. In addition to their work in the hospital, Grant is privileged to be co-parenting two kids and to serve as associate minister at the Metropolitan Community Church of Portland. Grant has presented dozens of workshops in both professional and community settings on topics of gender, power dynamics, and consensual relationship styles. To nourish their connection with Spirit they talk to plants, follow deer trails, spin wool, and seek to listen deeply to the stories of others.

Rabbi Daniel Isaacson is the Director of Spiritual Care Services at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, a nonsectarian social service agency serving San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Daniel holds a Bachelor’s degree in religion from Dartmouth College. He received a master’s degree and his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. During his rabbinic training, he lived and studied in Israel for four years. Prior to JFCS, Daniel trained and worked as an interfaith chaplain at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and as a spiritual care counselor for Pathways Hospice, both in the East Bay. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and three children.

Ameena Jandali, M.A., is a founding member and Content Director for Islamic Networks Group an educational non-profit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. She co-designs and develops ING’s educational presentations and cultural competency seminars. Ameena has delivered hundreds of presentations in schools, colleges, universities, churches, and other venues on Islam and related subjects. She’s also appeared on many news outlets speaking on issues relating to American Muslims. She currently team teaches a class on Islam and Women in the Middle East at San Francisco City College. Ameena received her M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. in History from the University of Illinois.

Rev. Anthony Mtuaswa Johnson, Mississippi born, and Chicago bred, is an Ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister, speaker, writer, poet, producer, soldier, teacher, mentor, and Elder. He is the former Minister of the Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bayside, California, and former Assistant Minister/Director of Congregational Life at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix, Arizona. He served his Internship at the Sedona Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Sedona, Arizona, and did his Ministerial fieldwork at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, California. His Ministry is dedicated to Removing Unconscious Bias from the Soil of the Soul.

Visit website https://amjspirittalk.com/

Jeremiah Kalendae is a spiritual teacher, activist, and dervish of the Chishtī Order of Sufism, having received Bay’at (initiation) from his esteemed shaykh and heart-friend, the late Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajaje. Jeremiah earned his Master of Science degree in social work from Case Western Reserve University and his Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry where he serves on the administrative staff and as a member of the adjunct faculty.

Leslie Leasure is a chaplain, spiritual director, and group facilitator. She has been working with recovering alcoholics and addicts for more than 25 years in various professional and volunteer roles, including serving on community boards, working at a half-way house for homeless women struggling with addiction, and serving as a chaplain intern on the psych/addictions unit at John Hopkins Hospital. She is currently the resident chaplain at Merritt Peralta Institute, the addictions treatment center at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland. Leslie was the founding program director at the Ignite Institute at Pacific School of Religion – a center specializing in connecting spirituality, social justice work, and innovation. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, an MDiv from Pacific School of Religion, and is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ.

Katie Loncke is a Co-Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), combining dharma with social justice. She connects with others similarly fixated on the paradox: how to love and accept the world as it is, while fighting like hell to change it. Nationwide she speaks, facilitates, and trains groups on combining Buddhist ethics with concrete skills for nonviolent direct action. Her writing has appeared in digital and print publications — most recently, she authored the chapter on race and racism in A Thousand Hands: A Guidebook to Caring for Your Buddhist Community (2016, Sumeru Press), edited by Nathan Jishin Michon and Daniel Clarkson Fisher.

Rev. Brenda Loreman is a spiritual director and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Drawn early into a love of the arts and language, she earned a B.A. in Drama at San Diego State University and taught high school English for many years. She received her MDiv from the Pacific School of Religion and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from CHI . She is the Associate Pastor at Niles Discovery Church in Fremont.

Moana Meadow was ordained by The Chaplaincy Institute in 2010, and completed CHI ‘s Spiritual Direction Certificate Course in 2013. She completed four units of CPE and the Hakomi Comprehensive Training. Having worked as a chaplain in both hospice and hospital settings, Moana is also a birth doula, and gave birth to her first child at home in 2015. Moana now sees clients in private practice, and leads groups and retreats with her husband, Isaac Meadow, MFT, at their private retreat center in the Richmond hills. With a Bachelor of Science from MIT, a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and an Master of Divinty from the Pacific School of Religion, Moana has explored many aspects of the divine in creation. She can be contacted through her website: http://moanameadow.com

A former facial surgeon, Will’s spiritual journey began in 1987 when he moved away from his atheist upbringing and toward the Quakerism of his ancestors. He began practicing Vipassana in 1999, and has taught biology-based mindfulness since 2012, first at Niroga Institute and later at College of Marin. The practice of ‘Mindful Biology’ helps us meet the human body with compassion and affection. As we understand and—more importantly—experience our living bodies, we feel more deeply connected with one another and the natural world. Will’s teaching is informed by a lifelong interest in biology and health, including forays into ecology, zoology, biophysics, neuroscience, environmental health, yoga therapy, and Chinese Medicine. Visit MindfulBiology.org for more information.

Nikki Mirghafori, Ph.D., is a Buddhist teacher and Artificial Intelligence scientist. She is a lineage holder in the Theravada tradition, empowered by the Burmese master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, as well as the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, Insight Meditation Center, and a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor.

She serves on the Teachers Council and Board of Directors at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, and also a teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Nikki is Iranian-American and aspires to serve as a doula for wisdom and compassion.

Additionally, for almost three decades, Nikki has been a researcher and inventor in AI, holding multiple patents and co-author of 40+ scientific research articles. She has directed international research programs as the Principal Investigator, mentored post-docs and Ph.D. students, taught graduate courses at UC Berkeley, and been a scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups. She is interested in the ethics of AI.

Rev. Dr. Polly Moore is on the staff of progressivechristianity.org as editor of the Liturgy Project. She also serves as Volunteer Associate Pastor of her home church, College Heights United Church of Christ in San Mateo. Polly received her Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in 2004, following a first career in mathematics and computer management. She has a Ph.D in mathematics, was the vice president of Genentech Inc, a major biotech firm, and is a recent Master of Divinity graduate of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. She is a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ. A gifted musician, she helps create unique liturgies in her church, College Heights UCC in San Mateo, CA.

Chaplain Perry Pike, M.A., M.Div., BCC, began teaching classes at ChI in 2009. They are a board certified chaplain (BCC) member of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC); a senior minister (siraj) and a Sufi guide (sheikh) with the Sufi Ruhaniat International (SRI); member of the Siraj Circle, the SRI ministry formation, education & ordination program; an initiate (semazen) in the Mevlevi Sufi Order of Turkey; and a hospice chaplain at Duke University Hospice in Durham NC.

Perry obtained an MDiv from Starr King School for the Ministry (SKSM/2009) in Berkeley. Currently they and their spouse Richard cultivate a 2-acre garden/farm in northern Durham NC where nature, gardening, fire circles, hospice care, singing with the Heart of Carolina A cappella Chorus, and ecstatic dance with the Durham Living Arts Collective, are primary spiritual practices. In 2023 Perry explored the connections between plants, western medicines, and spiritual care through Integrative Psychiatry Institute and certified as a psychedelic-assisted therapy provider. Passions for body prayer, the Dances of Universal Peace, West African dance, ecstatic dance, and the turning meditation/prayer practices of Anatolia inform their teaching and spirituality.

is a Filmmaker, Fire & Flood: Queer Resilience in the era of Climate Change; Educator, Queer Ecojustice Project; PhD student, Educational Theory and Practice, University of Georgia. Vanessa is a queer ecojustice educator and storyteller dedicated to community healing, opening access to land and resources, and fostering a thriving local economy based on human and ecological resilience. Vanessa was a founding member of the Queer Ecojustice Project in Spring 2016 together with Deseree Fontenot, co-director of Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project, and has continued educating and organizing at the intersection of ecological justice and queer liberation. They are now the Director of the in-production collaborative documentary project Fire & Flood: Queer Resilience in the era of Climate Change, which is part of their doctoral work in Education at the University of Georgia. The project addresses the contextual vulnerability of multiply-marginalized queer, trans, and two-spirit communities to climate change disasters, as well as the lessons for the climate justice movement from our communities’ resilience and histories of struggle for liberation. Learn more: https://greendreamer.com/podcast/vanessa-raditz-queering-resilience

Shivani Ray, J.D., is a meditation teacher and multi-disciplinary artist born into an ancient yogic tradition. Shivani is the founder of Living Sanskrit, an online school that teaches traditional wisdom and practices from the Hindu dharma tradition to students in over 40 countries. She has been teaching since 2001, and was a fellow at Berkeley Law School through the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness and Meditation. As a teacher, Shivani is passionate about protecting the integrity of ancient teachings in non-native contexts while also making them accessible and relevant to the modern seeker. She has a J.D. from the University of Southern California and a B.A. from UC Berkeley.

Shaikna Reinhertz, M.A., author of Women called to the Path of Rumi, is an educator, a storyteller, and throughout her 20 years of social service work, an advocate of women’s rights. She has followed the path of Sufism for 38 years. Since early childhood, devotion through movement has been the heart of her spiritual practice. Her longing for a faith tradition centered on the Unity of Being, lead her to the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Silent retreat, the practice of inquiry, and zikr (remembrance) has been the foundation of her spiritual work. She is a representative and retreat guide in the Sufi Order International. In 1982, Jelaleddin Loras, Pir of the Mevlevi Order of America, initiated her as a whirling dervish, and she is now a senior teacher and zikr leader. In 2013, she was initiated as a Postneshin (one of the first women to be given permission to lead the Dervish Ceremony). At the request of her teacher, she created a training manual for students and teachers, as well as instructions for all aspects of the dervish ceremony. She has taught at Starr King Ministry, Wisdom University, The Abode of the Message as well as The Chaplaincy Institute.

Vanessa Riles, is a Black, queer, sex positive, body positive, Oakland native seeking freedom from white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and American exceptionalism for all those marginalized and disenfranchised by these oppressive forces. She is committed to social transformation and spiritual development. Vanessa participates in direct actions throughout Oakland to protest the persistent and pervasive war on Black life. She has organized with Second Acts, #Interfaith4BlackLives, black.seed, the East 12th Coalition, Bay Area Restaurant Worker’s Movement, Stop Urban Shield Coalition and various other groups fighting for the lives and freedoms of Black, POC, and LGBTQI2S people and communities.

Through that work, with amazing groups of fierce freedom fighters, she has: shut down streets; shut down Oakland city council meetings; orated, prayed, and sung at rallies and marches; co-created public altars; become a member of the #Interfaith14; and a member of the #BayBridge25. Vanessa’s participation in direct action and her commissions of civil disobedience are deeply rooted in her faith and her beliefs that “it is our duty to fight for our freedom; it is our duty to win; we must love and protect each other; [and that] we have nothing to lose but our chains,” (Assata Shakur). Vanessa is searching for meaning and fulfillment in a world that keeps telling her that her voice, her vote, and her very life does not matter.

Rev. Jacquie Robb is an ordained Interfaith minister (CHI 2012) and the chaplain at Spring Lake Village, a continuing care community of 450 residents and 275 staff. She integrates a broad spectrum of spiritual training with a strong grounding in practical knowledge. She is a certified meditation teacher and trained grief support counselor. She leads Sunday services as well as developing and fostering spiritual based classes and meetings. She has lived in Sonoma County for over 30 years.

Ahmad Rashid Salim is a scholar of Islam and Persian mystical literature. He is the author of the best-selling book, Islam Explained. Salim leads religious services as in imam in Oakland. In addition to traditional Islamic studies, Salim earned a bachelor’s in Political Science, and a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies and Persian Literature. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at The University of California – Berkeley.

Chaplain Matt Sanders, M.A., is a full-time staff chaplain serving at two hospitals: Mercy San Juan Med Center, Carmichael, CA and Mercy Hospital Folsom. He’s a Board Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains, is commissioned by CHI , serves on the CHI Board of Directors, and is a volunteer with Tai Chi class at Folsom State Prison. Matt eearned his MA in Pastoral Ministry with emphasis in Spirituality from Santa Clara University; received a BA in Psychology and BA in Religious Studies from CSU Sacramento. His spiritual journey has taken him far and wide, East and West. His ecclesiastical endorsement is with the Roman Catholic church. He is a parishioner at St. John’s Catholic Church in Carmichael, CA, where he was the Youth Minister for 20 years.He also served as the Catholic Chaplain at Sacramento County Juvenile Hall for 12 years. Matt also likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Ven. Bhikkhuni Santussika entered monastic life in the Theravadan tradition of Buddhism in 2005. For a number of years prior to ordaining, she made one or two trips each year to Thailand to visit her son, who had become a monk, during which she stayed in monasteries and learned from master teachers. Also during that time, she trained in a four-year seminary to become an interfaith minister. Shortly after receiving an M. Div. degree and completing a ministry internship, she decided to ordain as a Buddhist nun. Since then she has lived in large and small monasteries in both England and America. In 2012, she co-founded Karuna Buddhist Vihara, where she currently lives, located in Mountain View, California. She teaches Dharma as it applies to life experience with a focus on engaged Buddhism and serves on the board of directors for Buddhist Global Relief.

Rabbi SaraLeya Schley was ordained as a Rabbi in 2005 by the ALEPH Rabbinical Program. She was the Senior Rabbi at Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley from 2008-2014. Prior to that, she served as rabbi to the Or Shalom Jewish Community (San Francisco) from 2004-2006 and she has been a service leader at many congregations across the spectrum of Jewish practice, including the Aquarian Minyan (Berkeley), Congregation Netivot Shalom (Berkeley), Temple Beth Abraham (Oakland), Congregation Shir Neshama (Contra Costa Co.), and B’nai Ha’aretz (Garberville). She continues as an active member of Congregation Beth Israel (Berkeley) and Congregation Netivot Shalom (Berkeley). She is widely accomplished. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she earned both B.S. in Psychology and M.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She received a Master of Philosophy in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and a Master of Counseling from the University of Phoenix, Tucson campus. She is also certified in Interactive Guided Imagery™ and Soul Memory Discovery. She is a mother of three and also worked as an Obstetrician-Gynecologist from 1981-2015.

Rev. Susan Shannon, M. Div., was ordained as an Interfaith Minister by The Chaplaincy Institute’s Interfaith Community in 2011. She went on to complete a Masters of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2012, with the focus of serving marginalized and oppressed communities. Susan has been a student and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism for over 40 years, and has studied with many of Tibet’s greatest teachers here and abroad. She has worked among diverse populations all her life in varying capacities. Since ordination, Susan’s ministry has focused on prison chaplaincy projects and transformational programs at San Quentin State Prison, including providing Buddhist Chaplaincy on Death Row. Susan resides in Northern California with her eclectic two and four-legged family.

Taya Mâ Shere plays passionately in realms of transformative ritual, embodied vocalization, and ancestral healing. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice of Organic Multireligious Ritual at Starr King School for the Ministry, and is a practitioner of Ancestral Lineage Healing and Somatic Experiencing. Taya Mâ is co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute — an ordination program for spiritual leadership in earth-honoring, feminist Jewish practices — and teaches online courses on Embodied Presence, Pleasure as Prayer and Jewish Ancestral Healing. She is co-author of The Hebrew Priestess and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. Her devotional chant albums are heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music.” She co-leads a multi-religious Jewish & Sufi spiritual community and is Spiritual Leader Emeritus of a Washington D.C. area Jewish congregation. She completed her graduate studies in Folklore of Religion at the University of Pennsylvania. www.taya.ma

The Reverend Jess Shine, MDiv (they/them/elle) served most recently as Associate Minister at First Congregational UCC in Eugene, OR. Jess earned degrees in theology and divinity, but says, “I still haven’t figured out how to walk on water.” In 2021, they completed the Privilege of Call process while serving at the national setting of the United Church of Christ. Jess was ordained to ministry by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and has continued offering spiritual care as a clergy member of The CHI Interfaith Community (based in Berkeley, CA). With over two decades of experience pastoring church communities, police officers, hospice patients and staff, teenagers, and as Community Minister of The Chaplaincy Institute, Shine brings a passion for people and a skill for communicating in transformative ways.

Jess is a descendant of Mexican, Indian, and Northwestern European immigrants. Their spirituality began in childhood and continues through expansive relationships, reading, music, wine, travel, theological processing, sports, and food! Shine co-hosted a podcast on death and dying called “Done For” (available on iTunes, Google, and at doneforpodcast.com). They have written for ProgressiveChristianity.org and ProgressingSpirit.org, and serve as CHI Seminary Guest Faculty. Jess celebrates life with their wife, Deshna (an ordained interfaith chaplain), bonus daughter Kaila, and their four-legged friends.

Maggid Jhos Singer (www.jhossinger.com) has serves as maggid at the Coastside Jewish Community in Half Moon Bay, CA, since 2000. He received s’micha/ordination from his community to act as their rabbi in a ceremony on the beach in 2002, and at the same time his teacher, Rabbi Gershon Winkler confirmed upon him the at-large title of Maggid. He is a frequent contributor to Jewish Mosaic’s Torah Queeries Commentatry (www.jewishmosaic.org) He lives in Berkeley, CA, with his lovely wife, Julie Batz (www.jewishmilestones.org) and their 3 delightfully wily children and one lazy cat. When he isn’t cooking dinner, helping with homework or watering the garden he is teaching, writing, davennen, appreciating wine, or performing marriages. He is a Koret Jewish Educator fellow and is in the midst of pursuing his Master’s degree in Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union.

From his Pilipino-American, cis-gender male positionality, Dennis Mateo Somera is committed to building intersectionally aware and awake Beloved Community through a Voice Articulation praxis in meditative poetics and performance, mindful peacemaking circles, and nature Earth inspiration & re/connection. He is currently a Restorative Justice Practitioner with SEEDS Community Resolution Center. He has been a circle keeper and facilitator with Restorative Practices for Dharma Practitioners (RPDP) at East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) since 2016. RPDP integrates Buddhist compassionate, mindfulness, and liberation practices with Indigenous circle (aka Restorative Justice) practices, strengthening and deepening community trust and connection, better able to hold intersectional power differences, collaboration, and conflict. Dennis has brought mindfulness to a circle of formerly and never incarcerated community members at Community Works West. He is a co-founder of the Men of Color Deep Refuge at EBMC. He is a co-founder of the Men of Color Deep Refuge (MoCDR) at EBMC. He has been practicing Buddhist mindfulness meditation since 1996, which became the fertile “grounding” for his poetry and performance art practices.

Rev Riley Sophia MDiv BCC is an APC board-certified chaplain whose calling is to tend to those who are dying, and their families, with compassionate presence. She expresses this calling by working as a hospice chaplain who weaves death doula skills into her care. In 2016, Riley received her Masters of Divinity at Starr King School for the Ministry while duel enrolled at The Chaplaincy Institute, becoming ordained through the ChI Interfaith Community in September 2016. She identifies as multi-path, spiritually fed from Earth-based, progressive Christian, Buddhist, 12-step and Sufi traditions, with a focus on our mystical interconnection with all living things. Some of her greatest teachers are trees, especially Redwoods. She brings song, intuition and deep listening into her work with the dying. Riley is a queer cis-woman who currently lives in Portland Oregon with her large black cat Prince Genevieve and works for Providence Hospice, along with occasionally attending births as a certified birth doula and offering intuitive bodywork.

Patricia St. Onge, M.Div., is the founder and a Partner in Seven Generations Consulting and Coaching, where all of the work is culturally based. Deeply rooted in the concept of Seven Generations, we honor the generations who have come before us, are mindful of those yet to come, and recognize that the impact of the decisions we’re making now will last for seven generations.

Patricia has worked to support progressive social justice movements for all of her adult life. She’s worked as Executive and Interim Director of more than a dozen non-profits. She is a Board member at the Highlander Research and Education Center.

Ms. St. Onge holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Southern NH University (1981) and a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion (1995). She is lead author of Embracing Cultural Competency: A Roadmap for Nonprofit Capacity Builders,published by Fieldstone Alliance (2009). She has written chapters in Coming Back to Life,Revised Edition (2015) by Joanna Macy, The Handbook of Community Practice, Second Edition edited by Marie O. Weil, University of North Carolina at Durham (2012), andCollective Wisdom, edited by Donald Gerard (2009). Her article, Rituals That Heal was published in Yes! Magazine, (Summer 2015)

Patricia served as a core faculty member at The Chaplaincy Institute for Interfaith Studies in Berkeley, CA for three years. She also has been adjunct faculty at Mills College in Oakland CA and at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA.

Of Haudenosaunee (Mohawk) and Quebecoise descent, Patricia is a member of Idle No More and belongs to a circle of indigenous grandmothers. Between them, she and her life partner Wilson Riles, have ten grown children and six grandchildren. She is part of a growing community called Nafsi ya Jamii (The Soul Community), an urban farm and retreat center in East Oakland, CA.

Susie Stonefield Miller is an expressive arts facilitator, artist, teacher, and inspired life guide. She did her undergraduate work in Fine Art at UCLA, her graduate work in education at UC Berkeley, and her certificate in expressive arts facilitation from the Person-Centered Expressive Arts Therapy Institute. Her creative haven is Unfold Your Creative Spirit Studio in Sonoma County, CA, which she opened in 2014. There she holds space for transformation through creativity, inviting people to explore their inner artists, their shadows, and their innate creativity through process oriented, intuitive art making. She teaches regularly at Unfold as well as online. You can find her at www.unfoldart.com.

Tristy Taylor is a transformation teacher, dream worker, shadow worker, interfaith minister, and counselor. Raised by world-renowned dream worker Jeremy Taylor and dream artist Kathryn Taylor, she has been working creatively with her dreams and the realms of the unconscious for over three decades. She was ordained by the Chaplaincy Institute in 2005 and has been teaching for the ChI community off and on, ever since. She has a Master of Arts in Transformative Arts with a Dream Studies certificate from the Graduate School for Holistic Studies at John F. Kennedy University, and she offers her own unique, online workshops as well as one-on-one counseling which focuses on empowering people to live their most authentic life. Find out more by visiting https://tristytaylor.com.

Rev. Jan Thomas, MSW is an interfaith minister, interfaith spiritual director, and communications specialist. She launched her career in psychiatric social work, then morphed to a social change focus. Her realms of work have included environmental protection, peace, social justice, and interfaith spirituality. Previously she was ChI’s Program Director (2006-2010) and Community Minister (2020). Currently she is assisting Daniel Ellsberg with his writing and archive preparation. Jan’s musical passions are harmony singing, bedside singing, and gathering sacred songs. Part of the Threshold Choir network since 2005, she co-founded three bedside singing choirs and currently co-directs the Northbay Threshold Choir in the San Francisco Bay Area. She collaborated with ChI clergy Rev. Bill Sewall (of blessed memory) on a video about ministry and bedside singing. Links to song resources, as well as fruits of Jan’s longtime interest in the world’s sacred wisdom, can be viewed at her website.

was raised under the big sky of the Midwest prairie, and began her professional life as a performing artist in NYC before pursuing seminary and spiritual direction training at The Chaplaincy Institute (ChI). Lauren has served as an interfaith chaplain in healthcare and corporate settings, as well as at ChI where she was Dean from 2010-2019. In 2007, she renewed her ordination vows and professed herself an “Eco-Chaplain.” Her passion for spirituality, art and Earth’s teachings infuse her focus in grief & loss, creativity & courage, and responding to our human-caused predicament. Her essay, “Way of the Eco-Chaplain,” appears in the collection, Ways of the Spirit: Voices of Women; and her work with Green Sangha is featured in Renewal, a documentary celebrating the efforts of religious environmental activists from diverse faith traditions across America. She is a guest writer for “Progressing Spirit,” an online publication exploring theology, spirituality and public events. Today, Lauren serves as Climate Action Coordinator for the United Religions Initiative, a global interfaith grassroots organization. She is a spiritual director and guest faculty for several schools in the Bay Area.

Prajna Viera is the spiritual name given to Brianna Vieira by her Satguru (teacher), Amma. It means “pure consciousness”. The sacred chanting of mantras and hymns in Sanskrit awakened a deep longing that led her down diverse spiritual paths in her adolescence. Realizing the necessity of a Satguru for a spiritual aspirant, Prajna began praying earnestly to meet her own teacher. In 1998, Prajna met Mata Amritanandamayi, or Amma, and has been her grateful disciple ever since. 

Today, she is the lead singer and keyboardist of acclaimed kirtan ensemble Mukti, and is currently is co-writing and co-producing a new work with Ben Leinbach. Prajna performs regularly with Jai Uttal, and others such as Snatam Kaur, Donna DeLory, Tina Malia, Jaya Lakshmi, The Mayapuris, C.C.White, Manose, Suzanne Sterling, and many other gifted artists of the western kirtan world. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband (sound healer Anaghan Vieira) and step-daughter. She teaches regular vinyasa and yin yoga classes in the South Bay, teaches workshops on yogic philosophy and chanting, and continues to perform regularly.

M. Div., San Francisco Theological Seminary
Ruth T. West is an ordained PC(USA) Minister of the Word & Sacrament. In addition to a Masters of Divinity (MDiv), Ruth holds an MBA, Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction and a Certificate in Trauma & Spiritual Care. She is currently Associate Director of Advanced Pastoral Studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary (University of Redlands) which facilitates the Doctor of Ministry program.

A Blaxican American and Southern California native, Dr. Desiré Whitmore, aka “Laserchick”, began her education in Community College and holds degrees in Physical Sciences, Chemical Engineering, and Chemical and Material Physics. Her PhD and Postdoctoral research focus was in the development of very fast laser systems to study single molecules vibrating, electrons travelling across the surface of metals, and the fluorescence of semiconducting Quantum Dots. After her postdoc, Desiré has held positions as a science curriculum specialist with Amplify Science, a professor of Laser and Photonics Technology at Irvine Valley College, and is now the Senior Physics Educator in the Teacher Institute at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Her current work is focused on providing support and professional development to middle and high school science teachers to help them teach through inquiry. She is also a founding board member and Mentorship Advisor of the Council for the Advancement of Black Engineers, a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers with PhD’s, post-doctoral training and professional engineering registrations.

Website: tinyurl.com/laserchick

Twitter: @DarthScience

Instagram: @dr.laserchick

LinkedIn: @desirewhitmore

Rev. Lisa j Winston is an award-winning, published photographer and writer. A near-death-experience (NDE) opened her up to a new way of “seeing,” resulting in her practice of Zen contemplative photography. Lisa’s spiritual studies include Nine Gates Mystery School, Kabbalah, and the Aghor Yoga tradition. She holds certificates in Usui Reiki, BTB Feng Shui, Crystology and Spiritual Psychology. Lisa received her Interfaith Ordination through CHI where she is now studying Spiritual Direction. She co-leads Sisters-of-Spirit™ Healing-Photography Retreats for (continued) women in Hawaii, and is a member of the International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS) and will be presenting at its 2019 annual conference. https://ljwdivinesight.com/

Interfaith Spiritual Direction Program Guest Faculty

Barbara J. Broadbent, M.A., is a Commissioned Lay Minister in the United Church of Christ. She has a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education from Elmhurst College and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University. In the fall of 2014, Barbara completed requirements for certification as a Spiritual Director with the The Chaplaincy Institute. In addition to being a facilitator at SoulCollage and a Spiritual Director, Barbara consults with groups and organizations using The Appreciative Way, a faith-based application of the Appreciative Inquiry process. Her greatest joy is found in combining the life-affirming messages of all three of these disciplines in her work.

Pollyanna Bush, CHI ’s Music Director, specializes in the spiritual and healing dimensions of music. A performer since the age of five, her formal music studies were at College of Marin, Mills College in Oakland, and San Francisco State University in classical, choral, jazz, popular music, and music theory. She has studied with renowned composer and Windam Hill recording artist, Alaudin Matthiey, and East Indian classical musician and master, Pandit Pran Nath. Under Nath’s guidance, she moved more deeply into the spiritual and healing dimensions of music. Ms. Bush has worked in dance, as an accompanist, dancer/ choreographer, and teacher. She trained in modern dance for fifteen years, including work in New York City with the Martha Graham Dance Company. She has been choral director for “Sing for Your Life” at Grace Cathedral and the Interfaith Chapel in the Presidio, San Francisco.

Karen Erlichman has a private practice in San Francisco, where she provides psychotherapy, spiritual direction, supervision and mentoring. Karen is currently on the faculty of the Morei Derekh Jewish spiritual direction training program, and is a Professor of Jewish Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Foundation. She has also served on the faculty at a number of Bay Area educational institutions, including Sofia University (formerly the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology), Starr King School for the Ministry, the University of California-San Francisco in the Department of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences and San Francisco State University’s Department of Social Work. Karen received a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2015 from the Graduate Theological Foundation, and her doctoral project received the Mother Teresa Award for Spirituality and Community Service. She has served as a consultant for the National Welcoming Synagogues Project, and was a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations of the Bay Area. Karen trained as a Courage and Renewal® facilitator with the Center for Courage and Renewal, inspired by the leadership of Quaker educator Parker Palmer. Her writing has appeared in Women and Therapy, Zeek and Tikkun, and she writes regularly for Presence: the Journal of Spiritual Directors International.

Nikira Hernandez holds a Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion, and has a dual ministry in Christian and Native traditions. Her mixed heritage includes Paiute ancestry, and she has been participating in a Native-led ceremony for over ten years. With the support of her elders and community, Nikira stepped into a leadership and ministerial role in this community in 2011. Nikira is currently pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ. Nikira has facilitated workshops on healing and social justice for over fifteen years. She is the owner of Light Hands Healing, an energy healing practice in Berkeley focused on empowering social and environmental change.

Anne Huffman, Ph.D.,is the associate director of the Master of Arts in Spiritual Guidance (MASG) program at Sofia University and adjunct faculty in the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (MACP) program. She brings together nearly 20 years of experience in nursing, clinical research and spiritual guidance. All of these past work experiences inform Anne’s current interests in teaching, research and bringing spiritual guidance to a wider audience. Anne’s research is focused on the application and efficacy of spiritual guidance, generational research, and transpersonal theory and literature. She enjoys working with the spiritual guidance students as they explore spiritual guidance and its many and varied applications through their theses and professional training. Her additional areas of interest include the enneagram, dream work, diversity in transpersonal psychology and spiritual guidance, feminist theory, and qualitative research methods, such as narrative inquiry and organic inquiry. She earned her certificate in Spiritual Guidance from ITP, now Sofia University, and worked closely with Bob Frager to create and develop the Master of Art in Spiritual Guidance program at Sofia University in which she currently teaches.

Bruce Lescher is adjunct senior lecturer in spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (located in Berkeley), where he has served previously as director of sabbatical programs and as associate academic dean. He currently teaches both at the Jesuit School of Theology and in the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministry at Santa Clara University. He has been involved in the ministry of spiritual direction for over thirty years. He received his Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union.

Dr. Thom McCombs, the Ridgecrest Junction Way Teacher, is an osteopathic physician in private practice in the Napa Valley. He has trained Dao Dan Pai since 1974. He has published two translations of Ancestor Lu Dong Pin’s teachings in the Journal of the British Taoist Association. He was Abbot of the Golden Elixir Temple from 1993 – 2001. He is the 9th member of the Academy of Abbots of the Taoist Institute. He has travelled twice to China with Master Share K. Lew, the Phoenix Mind Way Teacher, visiting the Taoist temples of Mt LoFa where Dao Dan Pai was taught to him by Chen Poi, the Quiet Wind Way Teacher.

Moana Meadow was ordained by The Chaplaincy Institute in 2010, and completed CHI ‘s Spiritual Direction Certificate Course in 2013. She completed four units of CPE and the Hakomi Comprehensive Training. Having worked as a chaplain in both hospice and hospital settings, Moana is also a birth doula, and gave birth to her first child at home in 2015. Moana now sees clients in private practice, and leads groups and retreats with her husband, Isaac Meadow, MFT, at their private retreat center in the Richmond hills. With a Bachelor of Science from MIT, a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, and an Master of Divinty from the Pacific School of Religion, Moana has explored many aspects of the divine in creation. She can be contacted through her website: http://moanameadow.com

Reverend Joellynn Monahan, MDiv, MEd is ordained in the United Church of Christ and has practiced Vipassana Buddhist Meditation since 1998. Her ministry as a spiritual director and as Abbess of Heart of Wisdom Monastery reflects over 25 years commitment to education and activism on social justice issues including anti-racism, gender equity, LGBTQI/SGL advocacy, disability rights, and environmental & food justice. Prior to ordination, Joellynn worked in secular Higher Education as a therapist and training student leaders on issues of diversity. She completed a Masters of Education in Counseling & Human Development at St. Lawrence University, a Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union, and trained in interfaith spiritual direction at the Chaplaincy Institute. Learn more about her ministry at theSpiralWay.org​

Susan S. Phillips, Ph.D, has served as Executive Director at New College Berkeley, since 1994, and prior to that was the Academic Dean. New College Berkeley’s commitment to promoting the integration of Christian faith in everyday life is central to her sense of call as a Christian sociologist, spiritual director, and professor of sociology and Christianity. Susan did her doctoral studies at U.C. Berkeley, privileged to study with Robert Bellah, Guy Swanson, John Clausen, Richard Lazarus, Gertrude Jaeger, Michael Burowoy, Arlie Hochschild, and other scholars whose academic work is saturated with their interest in what it means to live a good life. As a graduate student she was a Fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health in Personality and Social Structure, which informed and clarified her interest in the relationship between social life, personality, and spirituality.

Clare Ronzani’s work includes teaching courses in spirituality, serving as the Jesuit School Career Advisor, and leading workshops and retreats. In addition to her teaching at JST, Clare’s work for many years included administration of the school’s international renewal program, the Institute for Spirituality and Worship. She has also served as the Director for Spiritual Formation at the Franciscan School of Theology. At JST, Clare especially enjoys classroom interaction that engages experienced ministers and those preparing for ministry in mutual reflection and learning. Clare has offered workshops and retreats in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Guatemala, and Nigeria. Her professional interests include the integration of spirituality with psychology, the arts, ecological concerns, and social justice/transformation.

Shakina Reinhertz, M.A. author of ‘Women called to the Path of Rumi,” is an educator, a storyteller, and advocate of women’s rights who has walked the path of Sufism for 33 years. Since early childhood, dance has been the heart of her spiritual practice. Her longing for a faith tradition centered on the Unity of Being, lead her to the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, the alchemical retreat process, and the practice of inquiry under the guidance of Taj Inayat, which has been the foundation of her spiritual work. She is a representative and retreat guide in the Sufi Order International. In 1982, Jelaleddin Loras, head of the Mevlevi Order of America, initiated her as a whirling dervish. She is now a senior teacher, a leader of zikr, (body prayer and chanting), and is training as a Postneshin, one who leads the Whirling Dervish Ceremony. At his request, she created a leader’s manual for teachers and students. She has taught at Starr King School for the Ministry, Wisdom University, The Abode of the Message, as well as The Chaplaincy Institute.

Swami Adaityananda Saraswati lives at the Devi Mandir where he has studied the Philosophy and Practices of the Santana Dharma (also known as Hinduism) and performed the daily worship services there for the past 3 years. His other major places of study were Bihar School of Yoga (in India), where he lived for 6 months and Pranavinyasa School of Yoga, where he originally learned Yoga and later taught. He was formally initiated into Sannyasa (the Hindu equivalent of becoming a Monk) by his Guru, Swami Satyananda Saraswati in the summer of 2015. His life is dedicated to the worship and service of God, who resides in all beings, to Sadhana (spiritual practice), and to Seva (selfless service as an expression of love.)

Val Szymanski is the founding teacher of Bamboo in the Wind, a Zen practice group that meets in Sunnyvale. She was ordained by Diane Martin in the Danin Katagiri Roshi lineage. Reverend Val is an esteemed calligrapher and offers calligraphy workshops, as well as dharma studies. After retiring from her position as Director of Engineering in the corporate world after 30 years in technology in February 2012, Val has devoted her time to developing the Bamboo in the Wind Zen Center in Sunnyvale. She lives in Cupertino with her husband.