Use this list to locate a Certified Teacher of the Compassion Cultivation Training course in your area.

California: Berkeley | Central ValleyOakland | Palo Alto | Petaluma | San Francisco Bay Area | Los Angeles | San Diego

Other US States: Arkansas | Colorado | Louisiana | Minnesota | Missouri | New York | North Carolina | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Texas | Utah | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin

Other Countries: Australia | Belgium | Canada | Chile | Colombia | Mexico | Spain | SwedenUnited Kingdom


Margaret Cullen, LMFT


Margaret Cullen is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teacher, having trained extensively with Jon Kabat-Zinn. She has also trained with Zindel Segal in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and in MB Eat with Jean Kristeller. For sixteen years she has been teaching and pioneering mindfulness programs in a variety of settings including cancer support, HIV support, physician groups, executive groups, teachers, and Kaiser Permanente patients. She collaborated on teaching and writing curricula for several research programs at UCSF, including “Cultivating Emotional Balance,” designed for teachers and “Craving and Lifestyle Management with Meditation,” for overweight women. In 2008 she launched a mindfulness-based emotional balance program (SMART) for teachers and school administrators in Denver, Boulder, Ann Arbor, and Vancouver, B.C. She has collaborated on the revision of mindfulness curricula for Kaiser Permanente in northern California and for the Center for Compassion at Stanford, and has spoken publicly on these and related topics, including forgiveness and conflict resolution. She has also been a facilitator of support groups for cancer patients and their loved ones for 20 years at The Wellness Community. A meditation practitioner for 30 years, she is a frequent contributor to “Inquiring Mind.”

Mary Gomes, PhD


Mary Gomes, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Sonoma State University, and a core faculty member in Sonoma State’s Depth Psychology MA program. She has been practicing Tibetan Buddhist meditation for 25 years at the Nyingma Institiute of Tibetan Studies in Berkeley. She integrates mindfulness and compassion practices into her undergraduate coursework at Sonoma State, and has a long-standing interest in nature awareness practices and a commitment to ecological sustainability. She is co-editor of the book “Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind.” Dr. Gomes received her BA from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford.

Hooria Jazaieri, LMFT

Hooria Jazaieri

Hooria Jazaieri  is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of a psychotherapy and consulting practice in Silicon Valley. Hooria is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and is also an accomplished scientist and teacher. Hooria’s research at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley in the areas of mindfulness, compassion, emotion, and emotion regulation has been published in leading academic journals in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience. Hooria completed the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) Teacher Certification Program though Stanford University and is enthusiastic about teaching mindfulness and compassion in a variety of contexts. In addition to being a certified CCT teacher, Hooria is a certified teacher of Search Inside Yourself (SIY), a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence program developed at Google, and is an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University. For information about upcoming CCT classes or to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, please email her.

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Central Valley

Meika Hamisch, LMFT


Meika Hamisch, LMFT, has practiced psychotherapy for over 30 years. She has been a trainer and educator in the area of compassionate communication skills, substance abuse, counseling skills, psychology, cross cultural perspectives in therapy, mindfulness and self-compassion cultivation methods. She is a certified teacher in Cultivating Emotional Balance. Meika provides consultation, groups and training in mindfulness and CCT in both Sacramento and Monterey, California. Meika can be contacted through her website,

Lori Wong


Lori Wong   is the founding teacher of  Insight Meditation Central Valley, a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader program, a board member of Sati Center for Buddhist Studies, and has been offering mindfulness meditation and Buddhist teachings in the Central Valley since 2009. She was a founding director of the Buddhist Insight Network and has volunteered for the Buddhist Pathways Prison Project. She has offered workshops on mindfulness and compassion for Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services as part of their Community Capacity Building Initiative. She is collaborating with Stanislaus County Department of Aging and Veteran Services to teach CCT to family caregivers and to social workers who provide services for veterans.  She has been practicing Insight Meditation and mindfulness since 2003 under the guidance of Gil Fronsdal, who is the principal and founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Center (IMC) in Redwood City, CA. For information on upcoming CCT classes, workshops, or other teachings in Modesto and the Central Valley, please visit the  Awaken Compassion  website.

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Mary Doane


Mary Doane is a training facilitator and Mindful Caregiver Education instructor at Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco. Her service in the end-of-life field began in 2005 as a volunteer caregiver, sitting at the bedside of the dying and supporting their loved ones and clinical care providers. Having explored contemplative practices since her teenage years, Mary ultimately found resonance in the Dharma and trained in Buddhist Chaplaincy at the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies. After making the choice to be a full time at-home parent to a child on the Autism Spectrum, Mary experienced the life-altering power of compassion as a daily practice. She believes compassion is the truest response to our human experience. Mary teaches in Oakland and San Francisco, and welcomes contact by email.

Erika L. Rosenberg, PhD

Erika Rosenberg

Erika Rosenberg, Ph.D. is scientist and a meditation teacher. At the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis, she is a senior investigator on the Shamatha Project, a multi-disciplinary study of how intensive meditation affects cognition, emotion, and neurophysiology. Dr. Rosenberg is a world-renowned expert in facial expressions of emotion who trains and consults on facial measurement with academic, corporate, and entertainment industry clients. She is a senior teacher at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, where she contributed substantially to the development of the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program with Thupten Jinpa and others in 2009. In 2010 she offered the new course at Google, Inc. and presented the CCT program to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dr. Rosenberg is Faculty at The Nyingma Institute of Tibetan Studies in Berkeley and has offered meditation trainings in such diverse international venues such as: Lerab Ling Monastery, Upaya Zen Center, The Telluride Institute, and Burning Man. Erika Rosenberg is co-author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, Psychology: Perspectives and Connections, 3e, and numerous scientific articles and chapters on facial expression, emotion, and meditation.

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Palo Alto

Adam Burn, MA

AdamBurnAdam Burn is a proud veteran of the United States Air Force who holds a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. While engaged in graduate studies, Adam became fascinated with research into the neuro-scientific bases of contemplative practices as empirically demonstrated avenues toward wellbeing for persons suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety, and burnout. He has served in patient support capacities in neuropsychological assessment and therapeutic services at Mayo Clinic, Stanford University Medical Center, community-based mental health agencies, private psychology practices, and in detention centers. Adam’s current interests involve exploration into the nature of cultural implications underlying alternative treatment methodologies for veterans in need. He has found compassion meditation practice to be a deeply empowering vehicle through which resilience and thriving can be achieved in the face of life’s inevitable challenges. For more details, visit his website at

James Hallenbeck, MD

James Hallenbeck is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University in the Division of General Medical Disciplines. He is Associate Chief of Staff for Extended Care and Director of Palliative Care services at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System. As a hospice physician, Dr. Hallenbeck has worked extensively with veterans at the end of life over the past 20 years. Building on a personal interest in meditation, in 2011 he was trained as a facilitator in Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training course. Over the past year he has been teaching the course to veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder at VA Palo Alto. He is also interested in adaptations of the course for healthcare workers, who may be struggling with burnout and compassion fatigue. He is the author of the book Palliative Care Perspectives, published in 2003 by Oxford University Press. He has received awards from the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association and the Journal of Palliative Medicine as a pioneer in palliative care.

Nanja Holland Hansen, MC, LPCC, NCC

Nanja Holland Hansen received her BS in Psychology at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and her MC at Arizona State University. She has published several articles and book chapters on the history and current trends of counseling and psychotherapy in Denmark. Nanja is a licensed psychologist in Denmark (cand.psych.aut) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in California. She is currently working at Stanford University Faculty Staff Help Center. Nanja H. Hansen has trained at Stanford University as a Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) teacher and is a Certified CCT teacher through the Center for Compassion Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. She originally got involved with compassion through her work as a therapist, as she often engaged with people who were highly self-critical and feared self-compassion. The search for new and effective ways to work with clients developed into the interest in cultivating compassion for self and others. She finds great joy, curiosity, and courage as she teaches the CCT course and as she continues to engage and learn about all the different facets of compassion. Nanja H. Hansen teaches in the Palo Alto area. For more information on her teaching schedule please visit

Monica Hanson

Monica Hanson

Monica Hanson specializes in introducing and adapting meditation with specific populations. As an instructor for the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), Monica piloted the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program with military veterans in the Palo Alto VA Healthcare System, and currently teaches CCT in the Be Well program for undergraduate and graduate students at Stanford University and in public classes offered through the Stanford School of Medicine. In addition, she has taught meditation with corporate and healthcare professionals, teachers, families, and people experiencing chronic pain and stress. Her background includes training in mindfulness, nonviolent communication, and therapeutic yoga at Duke University’s Integrative Medicine Center.

Margy Lim, LMFT

IMG_1112Through Margy’s years working as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist both in private practice and as a staff clinician at the Stanford Faculty Staff Help Center, she has observed that compassion for self is in short supply. In our hard-driving, high achieving area, many people are hard on themselves and suffer as a result. Margy finds great satisfaction in introducing people to the concept of compassion for self and ultimately for others. Self-compassion is, in the deepest sense, self-care and fosters resilience and a feeling of connectedness, often reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. In teaching Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), her aim is to provide the skills necessary to cultivate and maintain a sense of kindness toward self and others in order to enhance the sense of wellbeing in our homes, communities and places of work and to prepare us for life’s inevitable challenges. She can be reached via email.

Lakiba Pittman, MA

1189200LAKIBA FACEBOOK PHOTO 8_10207617395576291_6680089485907663890_n (1)Lakiba Pittman is an educator and creative artist with more than 30 years experience with meditation and contemplative practices in Christian, Buddhist and non-denominational traditions. She is offering Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) to the general public in Palo Alto and in the broader bay area, and for Concrn (the Compassionate Response Network) as part of their overall training program. She also teaches and consults with children, youth, adult and senior-serving organizations that want to integrate mindfulness, meditation, and compassion and art journaling into their program offerings. She is the Director for the Office of Diversity at Notre Dame de Namur University, an Adjunct Professor at Menlo College and business consultant with Corporate Creative Solutions. She is the founder of Creating New Images, a motivational and inspirational business focused on presentations, products and services that open hearts and minds. Her latest book, “Bread Crumbs From The Soul… Finding Your Way Back Home,” is a showcase featuring her original art, poetry and autobiographical revelations and reflections. In addition to Stanford’s CCARE – CCT training, Lakiba has trained with Mindful Schools, MissionBe and The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. Lakiba holds a B.A. in Creative Arts and an M.A. in Organizational Development. She received an honorary Doctor of Ministry for her decades of artistry and community service from the Belle Grove Theological Seminary and is a new doctoral student in Psychology with a specialization in Transformative Social Change at Saybrook University. Her current work and focus is investigating how cultivating compassion can help mitigate bias, soften the construct of ‘the outsider’ and foster respect and authentic and humanitarian connections between the varied dimensions of diversity. To find out about upcoming CCT classes, you can email her.

Leah Weiss, PhD, LCSW

Leah Weiss

Leah Weiss is a contemplative educator whose research focuses on the application of meditation in secular contexts. She has taught in a variety of settings, including Harvard-affiliated hospitals, the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2008, Leah co-founded the Foundation for Active Compassion, a nonprofit organization that provides meditation practices of compassion and wisdom to people involved in social service and social change work. Leah has an appointment as a Lecturer in Stanford’s Religious Studies department and teaches courses in Stanford’s Continuing Studies department. Leah received her BA from Stanford University, her MA in clinical social work from Boston College, and her PhD in theology and education from Boston College.

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Sylvia Dolce, MA, ATR


Sylvia Dolce, MA, ATR is the founder of Integrative Self Care (ISC) in Petaluma, California – She directed Stanford Medical Center’s Art for Health Program and established Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Jose California’s innovative ArtCare program. A meditation practitioner for over 25 years, Sylvia holds a master’s degree in Art Therapy with a focus on emotion regulation and health from Concordia University, Montreal. Sylvia is trained to teach the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program, is certified as a guided imagery practitioner and as a yoga instructor. She is committed to providing evidence-based tools to empower individuals in developing skills and in accessing inner resources to promote health and wellbeing.

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San Francisco Bay Area

Jennifer Block

Jennifer Block

Jennifer Block’s life work is providing spiritual care to people in crisis, mentoring caregivers, and teaching people how to access their innate capacity for caring and healing. She is an Interfaith minister and Buddhist chaplain who works in healthcare settings. Jennifer is also an educator and consultant who bridges spiritual, hospice, and contemplative care modalities through the curriculum developed from her many years of hospice and chaplaincy service.

Keryn Breiterman-Loader


Keryn Breiterman-Loader received a BA in Psychology, with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa, from Stanford University. She completed an honors thesis on the relationship between self-compassion and personal growth, investigating how we can best relate to our challenges so that we actually make the changes needed to live the life we want. At Stanford, she was a fellow at CCARE and initiated and led a course on Nonviolent Communication. Keryn is inspired by teaching people about their own agency in relating to themselves (including our thoughts and emotions) and others to live a life of compassion, happiness, and wellbeing. In addition to teaching CCT, Keryn works writing and designing coaching messages for a health app called lark and is a professional modern dancer. To find out about upcoming CCT classes, you can email her. For more information, see her website:

Robert Cusick

Robert Cusick

Robert Cusick is a longtime student of Gil Fronsdal, PhD. He is a former Buddhist monk who has practiced insight meditation since 1997. Trained in 1998 by Frank Ostaseski, as a Zen Hospice Project EOL (end-of-life) volunteer caregiver, he has worked at the bedside of the dying and with their families, loved ones, co-workers, and companions. In 2009 he trained and currently serves as a bereavement counselor at KARA, in Palo Alto, CA, where he provides one-on-one grief support for adults and leads men’s grief groups. He trained in the Soto Zen tradition at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, in the Ridhwan School’s Diamond Approach with A.H. Almaas (Hameed Ali), and in Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s multiyear Dedicated Practioner’s Program with Jack Kornfield and others. He ordained in Burma under the world-renowned Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, and studied there with him for a number of years. Robert is a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor and currently sits on the board of directors at the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies. His practice is focused on recognizing and cultivating compassion through the application of mindfulness. You can contact him by email or listen to his talks on Audiodharma.

Michael Downs, M.Ed., MA

DownsMichaelMichael Downs is a teacher, retreat leader, outdoor educator, and coach.  He currently serves as religious studies department chair and teacher of Ethics and Social Justice at Bellarmine College Preparatory, a Jesuit high school in San Jose, California.  After living abroad for three years and returning to study theology, Michael has taken a particular interest in compassion as an agent of transformation in the classroom,  as a parenting practice, and as a means of inter-religious dialogue.  His graduate thesis focused on adolescent spiritual development, and Michael regularly incorporates mindfulness and compassion practices into his pedagogy with teens and parents.  He earned his undergraduate and M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame, and his M.A. in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. He can be reached via email.

Meika Hamisch, LMFT


Meika Hamisch, LMFT, has practiced psychotherapy for over 30 years. She has been a trainer and educator in the area of compassionate communication skills, substance abuse, counseling skills, psychology, cross cultural perspectives in therapy, mindfulness and self-compassion cultivation methods. She is a certified teacher in Cultivating Emotional Balance. Meika provides consultation, groups and training in mindfulness and CCT in both Sacramento and Monterey, California. Meika can be contacted through her website,

Emily Hine


Emily Hine dedicates her life to advancing peace and compassion in the world, with the belief that inner peace is the path to world peace. In 2008, Emily served on the Executive Team for Seeds of Compassion, a global event with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu that brought 150,000 people together and contributed to the current worldwide compassion movement. While moderating a panel discussion, Emily made a commitment to the Dalai Lama on stage to expand compassion education. She is fulfilling her promise by teaching Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) and by hosting an annual Global Compassion Summit – an online educational program designed to inspire, inform and involve a global audience in the movement. Emily spent many years in the high-tech corporate sector at Microsoft and enjoys bringing CCT into organizations. Emily is a faculty member of The Shift Network’s Peace Ambassador Training and she leads mindfulness workshops for businesses interested in creating more harmonious work environments. Emily is an inspirational writer at She has also studied nonviolent communication (NVC) and Vipassana/mindfulness meditation. To connect with Emily, please email her or visit her website:

Dawa Gail Lorien, MA, PhD

2015-03-21 13.19.42

Dawa has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for over 35 years and completed the traditional Tibetan Buddhist three-year retreat under the guidance of Kalu Rinpoche in 1985. Her life’s objective is a seamless integration of Buddhist practice and ethics into daily life—balancing a contemplative retreat life with family and work. Following her retreat she moved to Hawaii where she co-directed the Paleaku Meditation Center and began working in social services. In 1992 while living in Hawaii, Dawa met the Dzogchen Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and began studying Vajra Dance and Dzogchen. In 1995 Dawa moved to the Bay Area to pursue a Ph.D. while continuing to work in the field of social services for Alameda County, serving families and children impacted by abuse, neglect and violence. Her doctoral research employed ethnographic methods to study identity transformation resulting from long-term mediation practice in three-year retreats.  She currently serves on the board of directors of the Dzogchen Community West Coast. Dawa teaches CCT in the San Francisco Bay Area (2012 – 2015). She is currently compiling her research on three year Tibetan Buddhist retreats into a book. She can be contacted via email or through her website, Practicing Compassion.

Nikki Mirghafori, PhD

Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori is a scientist and a dharma teacher. She has studied meditation on intensive silent retreats with well-known Western and Eastern Buddhist teachers. In 2008, she was authorized by her teacher, the renowned Burmese meditation master, Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw to teach in the Theravada Buddhist lineage. In addition to Stanford CCT training, Nikki is also a UCLA-certified mindfulness facilitator. Invited by Jack Kornfield, she is part of the 2013-16 Spirit Rock/IMS/IMC teacher training, where she teaches silent retreats. Concurrent with her contemplative practice, Nikki is a senior research scientist at ICSI, an academic research institute affiliated with UC Berkeley, where she received her Ph.D. in computer science. She has led research teams as the Principle Investigator, taught graduate-level courses at UC Berkeley, mentored post-docs and grad students, published over forty peer-reviewed scientific articles and patents, given talks at international conferences, and served as a consultant for Silicon Valley startups. For a list of her contemplative courses and retreats see

David Nielsen


The greatest opportunities are found in the presence of the greatest needs. I know of no greater opportunity than using informed methods to enable people to grow their natural abilities to be kind and compassionate to each other; and themselves.
I know the value of this learning from my own experience. Acts of compassion freely given to me made it possible for my life to become a journey towards self-compassion. The personal experience of self-compassion enabled transformative positive change within myself and in my relationships. This experience allows me to be an authentic witness for those who may doubt the value of this kind of experiential learning.

Meditation first became an always-evolving part of my life forty-five years ago. My experience during that time has included a broad range of meditation and science-based trainings, seminars, retreats, and courses including professional training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Mind-Body Medicine. I have also experienced a transformative Recovery.

It is an empowering gift to be certified as a teacher of the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) Program by CCARE in the Stanford University School of Medicine. My Intention is to honor that gift in the actions of my daily life.

I am credentialed as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and certificated by the Core Strengths Coaching Program at San Francisco State University. My B.A. was in Behavior Sciences.

My business background included being the founder of Suburban Equity Investments, Inc. and Cybernetic Electronic Commerce, LLC.

It is a privilege and fulfilling joy to teach CCT and coach a limited number of clients in Silicon Valley. Please feel welcome to call or text me at 650-966-1166; or send an email to

Richard Cranch Scott

Richard cranch Scott

Richard Cranch Scott has had a dedicated spiritual practice for more than thirty years, with an emphasis in Buddhism, that includes study and long-term retreat practice with highly respected Asian and Western meditation teachers. He has also studied the Diamond Heart teachings. He has participated in and led Buddhist study groups, has given a number of dharma talks and has taught meditation. He completed the Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s multiyear Dedicated Practitioner’s Program and is currently enrolled in their multiyear Heavenly Messengers course which is training for service to those dealing with aging, illness and death. Formerly he served as President of the Board of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is a volunteer with Hospice By the Bay.

Matthew Skinta, PhD, ABPP

Matthew Skinta

Matthew Skinta is a board-certified clinical health psychologist with a private practice in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco. His past research has focused on the impact of shame and stigma on health and wellness, primarily among persons living with HIV/AIDS. Matthew earned his Ph.D. in clinical health psychology from Kent State University in 2007 and completed a clinical post-doctoral fellowship in HIV Behavior Medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. After completing his training in the Los Angeles area, Matthew relocated to San Francisco, where he has spent five years as the manager of the Research Program at the UCSF Alliance Health Project. More recently, he has provided training and consultation in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Functional Analytic Psychotherapy, and compassion-based approaches. His work on stigma and shame has appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals of health psychology and health education, as well as chapters on psychotherapy with persons living with chronic illness. Matthew has also practiced Zen Buddhism since 2005, and is a member of the Hartford St. Zen Center. For information about upcoming CCT classes, or to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, please visit his website.

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Los Angeles

Nicholas Brüss, LMFT

Nicholas Bruss

Nicholas is the Director of CompassionLA, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit offering compassion and mindfulness programs. In addition to being a certified CCT teacher, he has been trained to teach Mindful Self-Compassion  (MSC) by founding teachers Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer. He also teaches the heavily researched Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and is a Certified Mindfulness Facilitator by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
Nicholas is a perennial student of wisdom and compassion practices and has been cross-trained in multiple arenas with compassion at their core such as mindfulness, Internal Family Systems psychotherapy, somatic-based trauma resiliency, nonviolent communication and end of life presence. He has practiced Vipassana meditation intensively in the US, Burma, and Thailand and is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner’s Program.

Albert Grabb


Albert Grabb is a practicing radiologist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center located in the greater Los Angeles area. Having practiced yoga and meditation for over fifteen years, his primary focus has become sharing these practices with fellow healthcare workers. In 2013 he completed the Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation program offered through the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA and became certified to teach CCT in 2014. Dr. Grabb currently co-teaches CCT within the Torrance Memorial Health System with Compassion LA founder Nicholas Bruss, another CCT certified instructor. For information about CCT facilitation in the greater Los Angeles area, please contact:

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San Diego

Erik Conklin, Ed.D.

ESuitDr. Erik Conklin, M.A., Ed.D. is a Compassion Cultivation Facilitator certified at the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) Teacher Certification Program at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education housed at Stanford University’s Medical School. Dr. Conklin is a frequent presenter at peer-reviewed research education conferences and enjoys presenting and discussing work at universities, social-service organizations, and private businesses in order to help individuals and organizations inventory and close the gap between what they truly value and how they actually operate. He frequently works in public schools with at-risk adolescents and teaches at the University of California, San Diego integrating mindfulness-based practices into the doctoral program for Educational Leadership. His teaching and coaching experience includes working with athletes, students, parents, researchers, teachers, and leaders in athletics, education, and social service agencies. Dr. Conklin teaches CCT in the southern California area and offers workshops worldwide. To reach him, please email or visit his website.

Ed Harpin, PhD

Ed Harpin

Ed Harpin received a BA from Boston College, an MA from Stanford, and a PhD in clinical psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has been a clinician, teacher and researcher at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, the University of Maryland Medical School/Hospital, the University of California at Irvine Medical School/Kern Medical Center, and Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, where he is head psychologist in the Sharp Pain Rehabilitation Program. He is on the faculty of the California School of Professional Psychology. He studies and practices meditation (20 years) with Ezra Bayda and Elizabeth Hamilton at the Zen Center of San Diego. He studied in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) professional training program with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, and taught MBSR at Sharp HealthCare for 10 years. He has trained in the Compassion Cultivation Training Teacher Certification Program at Stanford University and now teaches the CCT course at Sharp HealthCare.

Lorraine Hobbs

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 10.31.23 PMLorraine Hobbs is dedicated to teaching mindfulness and compassion cultivation to adolescents and parents. She currently serves as the Director of the Youth and Family Programs at the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness, where she has created curricula in mindfulness based interventions for multiple age groups and parents.  She has recently co-authored a Mindful Self-Compassion curriculum for teens, Making Friends with Yourself, adapted from the adult version created by Drs. Neff and Germer.  Lorraine is also the Director of the Adolescent Mindfulness Training & Mentoring Program for Professionals, which focuses on training core competencies in teaching mindfulness and self-compassion to professionals working with adolescents and families.  Lorraine is currently involved in several research projects focusing on mindfulness and chronic pain in teens and the benefits of mindfulness and self-compassion as mediators of stress for teens and parents.  Lorraine is a certified/mentoring MBSR teacher, and is certified in Mindful Self-Compassion and Compassion Cultivation at CCARE (Center for Compassion and Altruism Research & Education), a program endorsed by H.H. The Dalai Lama and offered through Stanford University. She also consults with educators on the integration of mindfulness-based programs in schools and offers teacher training workshops and courses. To reach her, please send an email.

Susan Knier, MBA-PM, OTR/L

Susan Knier is a Licensed Clinical Occupational Therapist, Senior Rehabilitation Education Specialist, Project Manager, Lean/Six Sigma Facilitator and Stanford University Certified Compassion Cultivation Teacher serving the community of San Diego, California through her work at Sharp HealthCare (1989–present). Susan’s mission is to influence healing via education, altruism and leadership (iHEAL!™).  She provides educational training, consultation, and outreach, including, but not limited to professional development planning, teaching and mentoring to service-oriented professionals, leaders, consumers, and teams at Sharp HealthCare and organizations in third sector communities in India and Sub-Saharan Africa, facilitating self-sustaining support, development, safety, and wellness outcomes. As a life-long learner, Susan continues to develop her understanding of transformational learning with an interest in the universality of mindfulness- and compassion-based contemplative and “real world” experiential learning sciences. She is a resource, often called upon to guide teams in the innovation of structures and processes that incorporate mindfulness and compassion as a framework to achieve desired organizational outcomes.

Robert McClure, LCSW, CEAP

Robert McClure

Robert McClure, LCSW, CEAP, was trained by Stanford University CCARE in 2011 to teach Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). He has practiced meditation for 17 years. His current focus is to provide CCT training for staff, professionals, and leaders at Sharp HealthCare, a large integrated healthcare system in San Diego, California. Robert is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Employee Assistance Professional and manager for the Sharp Employee Assistance Program. His areas of expertise include employee assistance, brief counseling, critical incident management, and consultation and training in the workplace. His experience as a mental health professional has included positions with Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, United Airlines, Pacific Bell (AT&T), United Behavioral Health, and Blue Cross of California/WellPoint. He serves on the Expert Panel for ICANATWORK, a service of Community Health Improvement Partners.

Judy Ray

Judy Ray is the Manager of Spiritual Care at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, California. Judy is a clinical chaplain and an ordained interfaith minister. She is trained as a Certified Compassion Cultivation (CCT) Teacher through Stanford University School of Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). Judy is currently enrolled in the Certified Mindful Facilitator training through UCLA and brings over 20 years of mindfulness meditation practice to her teaching.

Janina Scarlet

Janina Scarlet

Dr. Janina Scarlet is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, a scientist, and a certified CCT teacher. She uses acceptance and commitment therapy, as well as compassion and mindfulness practices to help patients with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and trauma at the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management and Sharp Memorial Hospital. Dr. Scarlet is also a professor at Alliant International University, San Diego. She is teaching CCT at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California and is also studying the effects of CCT on burnout prevention in healthcare providers.

Sara Schairer

Sara Schairer

Sara Schairer  is the founder and CEO of COMPASSION IT, a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions. She created the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT wristband that is now prompting compassionate actions on six continents, 40+ countries and nearly all 50 states. Wristband sales fund compassion education programs for youth, teens and adults. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives, and she is a contributing author to the book The Neuroscience of Learning and Development: Enhancing Creativity, Compassion, Critical Thinking and Peace in Higher Education.  Sara has taught CCT at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, Kaiser Permanente and the Naval Medical Center, and she (along with fellow CCT teacher Susan Knier) led compassion trainings in Africa sponsored by the Botswana Ministries of Health and Education.

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Dent Gitchel, PhD

Dent Gitchel

Dent Gitchel is a faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His current research and teaching interests involve contemplative and self-reflective pedagogy, adjustment to disability, differential response patterns on self-report instruments, and the operationalization and measurement of compassion. Dent was a Walton Distinguished Doctoral Fellow at the University of Arkansas, receiving his PhD in Rehabilitation Research and Education in 2010. He also received Post-Master’s Certificates in Quantitative Research Methodology and Educational Assessment. He is quite passionate about data analysis, particularly item-analysis techniques and multivariate techniques. Prior to academic work, Dent worked for 10 years in Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Psychosocial Rehabilitation programs servicing individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses. He has a strong interest in secular and scientific approaches to spirituality and human development. Dent discovered Buddhism through Dr. Jay McDaniel, at Hendrix College, in January 1991, and has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1995. He met Geshe Thupten Dorjee in 2006 and encountered the Mind Training tradition of Atisha. Dent is a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Little Rock. For information about upcoming CCT classes, or to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, please contact him by email.

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Mary Lou Keller

Mary Lou Keller practices law and teaches CCT in the central mountains of Colorado and the Denver metro area. In almost two decades as a Child Welfare Attorney she has represented children in divorce, post-divorce, and abuse and neglect cases throughout Colorado. She has served for many years on boards of various nonprofits dedicated to supporting early childhood education as well as victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Mary Lou has particular interests in cultivating compassion in law schools and throughout the legal profession, making the course available in colleges and universities, bringing the course to children and families who have experienced traumatic events or circumstances, and employing CCT to prevent burnout and vicarious trauma. She received her B.A. from Stanford and a J.D. from the University of Denver. To learn more about Mary Lou’s programs and course offerings, please email her.

Amanda D. Mahoney, MA

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Amanda D. Mahoney, MA is a private practitioner in Colorado who has been dedicated to supporting grieving children and families for almost a decade. She has and continues to speak on the local and national level on the topic of children’s grief, teen grief, pet loss, compassion fatigue and self-care.  She has provided hospital-based, home-based, school-based and office-based therapy to individuals, families and children grieving the death of someone close.  Amanda received her BA from Boston College and her MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University.  Amanda is co-founder of Grief Support of the Rockies and offers Compassion Cultivation Training in Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver. For more details, visit

Tommy Lee Woon

Tommy Lee Woon is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Naropa University. Previously, Tommy served in senior positions directing diversity programs and multicultural education at Oberlin College, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Macalester College, and most recently, at Stanford University. His teaching experience includes 9 years of teaching emotional self-care classes at the Stanford and Dartmouth Medical Schools. He is a board member of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, an organization with a global mission to prevent and heal trauma; a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP); and a training assistant for all three levels of SE training. Tommy works and lives during the week in Boulder, CO, and on weekends in Minneapolis, MN, and hopes to offer classes in both locations.

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Lara Naughton

Lara Naughton photo

Lara Naughton is Director of CompassionNOLA. With more than twenty years teaching and facilitation experience, she has worked with students K-12 as well as adults, and has led workshops with individuals who have faced challenging circumstances, including homelessness, HIV/AIDS, wrongful conviction, incarceration, and torture.  As a writer and documentarian, she also teaches personal narrative, and assists individuals who wish to tell their own stories. She is Chair of Creative Writing at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and is a certified Compassion Cultivation Trainer through the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University.

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Tommy Lee Woon

Tommy Lee Woon is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Naropa University. Previously, Tommy served in senior positions directing diversity programs and multicultural education at Oberlin College, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Macalester College, and most recently, at Stanford University. His teaching experience includes 9 years of teaching emotional self-care classes at the Stanford and Dartmouth Medical Schools. He is a board member of the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, an organization with a global mission to prevent and heal trauma; a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP); and a training assistant for all three levels of SE training. Tommy works and lives during the week in Boulder, CO, and on weekends in Minneapolis, MN, and hopes to offer classes in both locations.

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L. Lewis Wall, MD, DPhil

July 22, 2015 -Lewis Wall James Byard/WUSTL Photos

L. Lewis Wall, MD, DPhil is the Selina Okin Kim Conner Professor in Arts and Sciences for Medical Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.  He is Professor of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the School of Medicine.  He has extensive experience with women’s healthcare issues in sub-Saharan Africa, and has been involved in numerous charitable and philanthropic activities there for over 20 years.  He is the founder of The Worldwide Fistula Fund, a not-for-profit charity devoted to helping African women with childbirth injuries.  He also serves as the President of Hamlin Fistula USA, the charitable trust supporting the work of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia and the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital.  Along with his wife, Helen, he founded Dignity Period, a charitable organization that provides menstrual hygiene supplies to adolescent Ethiopian girls to help them stay in school.  He is currently developing a course on “The Anthropology of Compassion” and has taught Compassion Cultivation Training through the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University.  He can be reached via email.

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New York

Kelly McGonigal, PhD


Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist at Stanford University and a leading expert on the mind-body relationship. She co-authored the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) course and taught the first CCT class in 2010. In addition to teaching for CCARE, she teaches for the School of Medicine’s Health Improvement Program. Her popular public courses through Stanford’s Continuing Studies program — including “The Science of Willpower” and “The Science of a Calmed Mind” — demonstrate the applications of psychological science to personal health and happiness, as well as organizational success and social change. She received her PhD in psychology from Stanford University, with a concentration in humanistic medicine. She was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship for her work on how different strategies for handling difficult emotions influence physical health and close relationships. Her scientific research has been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. She is the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal of mind-body research, healthcare policy, and clinical practice, and an ad hoc reviewer for medical journals such as Pain and the Journal of Aging and Health.

Elizabeth Pyjov

Elizabeth Pyjov

Elizabeth Pyjov is currently teaching Compassion Cultivation Training at Columbia University to graduate students and faculty, as well as to the general public at the renowned Tibet House in New York City. She has taught workshops about compassion at Columbia, NYU, Tibet House, and the Harvard Club of New York, where she leads a special-interest group about compassion. Elizabeth was born in Moscow, Russia, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from Harvard magna cum laude, with a degree in Romance Languages and Literatures and the Classics. She has worked for Global Justice in New York City, for Italian television at RAI International in Rome, at the United Nations in Geneva, and at the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford, CA. Elizabeth is fluent in Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, and English. She has traveled around the world and has worked or studied in Argentina, Italy, France, Peru, Switzerland, and Russia. Her international experience has led her to understand that among those of various traditions, customs, and religions, people still find happiness in many of the same ways. They want to be healthy, do meaningful work, and be close to their loved ones, and what is truly helpful is kindness, a caring attitude, and compassion. Elizabeth studied the neuroscience, philosophy, and pedagogy of compassion at Stanford Medical School while working for CCARE. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Stanford’s Compassion Journal. To learn more or to bring the Stanford compassion curriculum to your university, community, or business, you can contact her by email.

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North Carolina

Robin Hart

Robin Hart

A former Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, Robin Hart completed the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) in 2014. Robin has worked for over a decade as a Programs Director for EngAge (, a nonprofit organization devoted to life-enhancing programs for senior citizens living in independent living housing communities. Robin has recently relocated to the Triangle region of North Carolina and can be contacted by email for speaking engagements or to schedule a workshop.

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Dawn-Starr Crowther, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

Dawn-Starr Crowther

Dawn-Starr Crowther is the owner and founder of Jade River Healing Arts Center, an integrative medicine clinic in Portland, Oregon. She practices Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture, and particularly enjoys working with people with chronic and/or severe illness, autoimmune conditions, cancer, chronic pain, those recovering from trauma, and at end of life. She finds compassion practices, coupled with mindfulness, a joyful and deeply enriching way to serve her patients. In addition to her private practice, she leads medical service trips to Fiji and the South Pacific to bring Oriental Medicine to under-served populations. She also participates in developing the Mindful Medicine program for physicians at Providence Medical Center, Portland. She has practiced meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for more than 20 years, studying in the Nyingma non-sectarian and Kagyu lineages. She is a Meditation Teacher with the Foundation for Active Compassion, and has led regular meditation groups in Portland, Oregon, since 1997. Since her first introduction to compassion practices in 2001 at a retreat shortly after 9/11 — when Lama John Makransky stressed the necessity of bringing compassion practices forward in the world — the heart-practices of compassion and loving-kindness have been her main practice and refuge. Her completion of the Stanford CCT Teacher Certification Program in 2013 has been an important milestone in manifesting her dedication to the integration of compassion practices for self and others more fully into the training, practice, and business of medicine. She teaches CCT in Portland, the greater Northwest, and other areas in the United States and abroad. For more information about her teaching, please visit her website or email her.

Lisa Emmerich

Lisa Emmerich

Lisa Emmerich teaches Compassion Cultivation Training courses in the Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon metro area. She is a high school principal in the Evergreen School District and specializes in working with educators including teachers, administrators and para-professionals. She received a BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon, a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Western Oregon University and her educational leadership credentials from the University of Oregon. For more information about Lisa and CCT in the Portland-Vancouver area, please visit her website, Journeys to Compassion or email her.

Celedra Gildea, PhD

Edit 3 Lala .7Celedra Gildea, PhD is the founder of Portland Center for Compassion where she offers Compassion Cultivation Training, Mindful Self-Compassion training and meditation groups. Celedra has been a practicing psychotherapist for 20+ years focusing on the many skills of depth therapy from years of advanced trainings. She spent a decade learning from the hundreds of men and women she had the privilege of being with through hospice work which was further informed through her dedication as a student of meditation for over 30 years with teachers in the Tibetan and Vipassana traditions. In 2007 Celedra’s spiritual connection to Tibetan Buddhism led her to a rural mountaintop in Eastern Tibet where she started a nonprofit for the Nangchen Nuns – an experience that continues to be transformative. “To study and teach compassion is both a privilege and a blessing that I never take for granted.” She can be reached via email.

Aly Waibel, PhD

WaibelAlyAly Waibel, PhD specializes in lifelong learning, professional development, somatic learning, contemplative education and community development. She has over ten years of experience teaching adults in a variety of businesses and communities. Aly’s passion is to inspire individuals and communities to view compassion as a powerful source of motivation, strength, courage and connection. As a certified instructor of CCT, Aly began teaching CCT in Tucson, AZ. She now lives and teaches in Bend, Oregon. Aly is currently working as a part time educational consultant at CCARE to evaluate and develop the CCT teacher training program. She received her B.A. in International Studies at Taylor University, her M.A. in Adult Education at the University of Arizona and her PhD in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona. Her dissertation research is a qualitative study of CCT, titled Living What the Heart Knows: Learners’ Perceptions of Compassion Cultivation Training. For more information or to contact Aly, please visit

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Mary Bit Smith, MS, MAPP


Mary Bit Smith is a meditation instructor and a medical student in Philadelphia, PA. She has practiced meditation for the past ten years and finds deep joy in sharing compassion-based practices with others. Before pursuing medicine, she earned her masters in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University and has a masters in applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently teaches meditation within her medical school community and looks forward to continuing to offer CCT in the Philadelphia area. She can be reached via email.

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Amelia (Amy) Anthony, PhD

Anthony_AmyAmy Anthony is a clinical psychologist who teaches CCT to both Veterans and staff at VA North Texas Healthcare System. Teaching CCT offers a way to help staff connect with each other, experience personal growth, and better meet the challenges of caring for Veterans at a large medical center. In her work with Veterans, she has found CCT to be a powerful intervention to address depression, anxiety, PTSD and a variety of problems in living related to undeveloped self-compassion, interpersonal alienation, loss of meaning, and fearfulness. Amy is also involved to a lesser degree in teaching CCT in the community as a pathway to rejuvenation and developing compassion for oneself and others. Additionally, she teaches mindfulness skills classes to staff and Veterans, and is involved in several meditation groups in the community. Amy has been practicing zazen meditation with the Maria Kannon Zen Center since 1998. She lives and works in Dallas, TX. To contact her regarding professional issues, please use her work e-mail. For social contacts, please use her personal e-mail.
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Christelle Estrada, PhD

Christelle Estrada

Christelle Estrada is the English Education Specialist at the Utah State Office of Education and the President and CEO of an education nonprofit, EON (Education Opportunity Now). Christelle received her doctorate in Education and Religion from Claremont University (1993) after graduate studies in psychological sciences, comparative religion, and process philosophy. She was previously the Chief Academic Officer for Stanford New Schools at Stanford University. She was an Urban Senior Research Fellow at Brown University and an Eisenhower Citizen Ambassador with the University of Rutgers’ delegation to China. She has presented papers on organizational collaboration and learner diversity in urban settings as a member of the Oxford Roundtable at Lincoln College in Oxford, UK, and as a participant in the International Whitehead Conference at the University of Salzburg, Austria. She was the recipient of the 2013 Inaugural Jane Vella Dialogue Education Award. Christelle’s research interests are grounded in her interdisciplinary background in the contemplative wisdom traditions, socio-cultural ethics, and the emerging field of affective neuroscience as it applies to policy studies and project development, specifically in low-income communities. Christelle teaches the Compassion Cultivation Training in the fall and spring of each year in Salt Lake City. Her most recent writing, presented at the 2014 Bounds of Ethics Conference in Bangalore, India, is published on the Cultivating Compassionate Wisdom website.

Becca Peters, LCSW

Peters_BeccaBecca Peters is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Salt Lake City. She has practiced mindfulness meditation since her early 20’s while growing up in Southern California. She has since opened a Mindfulness Center in Salt Lake City as a way to share the benefits of Mindfulness, Meditation and Compassion Cultivation with her community. Becca’s clinical expertise is with children, adolescents and adults. Over the years she has created and contributed to adolescent Mindfulness Programs in Salt Lake City schools and after-school programs. She has recently begun working as an organizational consultant designing programs to cultivate a culture of wellness in professional settings. Her love of teaching and group facilitation led her to become a Certified Mindfulness Facilitator, an Authorized Mindful Awareness Practice Teacher, and an Intensive Practice Program Mentor through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. She is deeply passionate about her role as a Certified Compassion Cultivation Training teacher; in fact it is the essence of her approach to living and to teaching. The depth of practice and authentic discussions born from the CCT curriculum is transformative and essential whether facilitating a parenting group, delivering a keynote address to middle schoolers, teaching a Mindfulness Course, or sitting with an individual client in her therapy practice – Becca’s approach is grounded in the principles and practices of CCT. To learn more about upcoming classes visit or email her.

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Sermsak “Sam” Lolak, MD


Sam Lolak is currently a staff psychiatrist/psychooncologist at Inova Life with Cancer, which provides comprehensive psychosocial and other support services to cancer patients and their families in the Northern Virginia area. Dr. Lolak served as a faculty member and psychiatrist at University of Pittsburgh, Stanford University – where he received CCT teacher training, and most recently George Washington University before joining Inova. In addition to treating medical patients with psychiatric issues, Dr. Lolak also has a special interest in mind-body and contemplative practices especially mindfulness and compassion cultivation, as well as the issue of clinician burnout. He is hoping to offer CCT for cancer patients and clinicians in the near future through Life with Cancer. For cancer patients in Northern Virginia who are interested in the service, please check out the website:

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Tim Burnett

TimBurnett-fromSciFair (1)

Tim Burnett practices and teaches meditation, mindfulness, compassion and stress reduction in several settings. He founded a regional mindfulness training agency, Mindfulness Northwest, in 2011 as a way to offer the benefits of mindfulness meditation and practices to the greater Pacific Northwest. Tim has been teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction since 2010, and practicing meditation since 1986. He brings a background in traditional Dharma practice to his mindfulness and compassion work. He ordained as a Soto Zen priest in 2000 and over the course of a 20 year apprenticeship with the well known Zen teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer, Tim received permission to teach Zen independently in 2011. As a Zen teacher, Tim directs Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham. Tim also has a varied professional background including work as an educator and scientist. Mindfulness takes the essence of a core Buddhist practice and makes it accessible and non-religious: a powerful coming together of modern psychological and medical understanding with ancient wisdom practices. Tim is happy to have strong background in both sides of this new (and old) way of healing and growth. To learn more about Tim please see and He is based in Bellingham and Seattle.

Amy Colvin


Amy Colvin first discovered compassion meditation through a Taoist teacher in 1996, and has studied and practiced in the areas of mind-body wellness, meditation, and compassion cultivation since that time. She is currently employed as a massage therapist at Google, and began facilitating meditation for Google employees in 2011. In June of 2013 she was invited to create post for the Google Official Blog discussing her facilitation of meditation in the workplace. Through her years as a massage therapist, Amy has seen that self-compassion is in short supply. Instead, often people live stress-filled lives, over which they have more control than they may realize. She is inspired to help people help themselves by offering access to tools and techniques that may in turn assist them in cultivating self-acceptance, self-compassion, and compassion for others. If you’re ready to move beyond criticism and judgment for self and others, and embrace peace and acceptance, or if you’d like to move through and beyond depression and anxiety into a place of resilience, creativity, and joy, please join us for our next course. Amy facilitates Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) in the greater Puget Sound region (Seattle to Bellingham). She also facilitates a different compassion meditation curriculum online and in weekend workshops. For more information about Amy or her upcoming courses please visit her website or email her.

Diane Hetrick

Diane Hetrick

Diane Hetrick is a physical therapist with Swedish Medical Center working with individual patients, and as a teacher for Compassion Cultivation Training classes and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes. Her years of experience working with patients with chronic pain and/or illnesses led her to explore various body and movement practices, such as yoga and qigong, and to explore the area of mindfulness meditation both personally and professionally, in order to help people with stress, pain, or dysfunction find more ease and well-being in their lives. After receiving a Certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation through the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA, Diane completed the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) Teacher Certification Program through Stanford University. This education and experience has been transformative for Diane, helping her see the world through the lens of compassion and wanting to share this information with others. For information about upcoming CCT classes, or to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, please visit her website or contact her by email.

Nancy Isenberg, MD, MPH

Nancy Isenberg

Nancy Isenberg is a Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at University of Washington. She co-directs the Center for Healthy Aging, at Virginia Mason Medical Center. As a cognitive neurologist and neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Isenberg has worked extensively with patients and families along the course of dementia over the past twenty years. She has practiced meditation and yoga for many years, as well. She trained as a facilitator in Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) course in 2014. For the past year she has been teaching CCT to family caregivers of patients with dementia. Her current focus is to provide CCT training for family caregivers, staff, professionals, and leaders at Virginia Mason Medical Center, a large integrated healthcare system in Seattle, Washington. For information about upcoming CCT classes, or to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, please contact her by email.

Karen Lesniak, PhD

Karen Lesniak is a health psychologist whose extensive career has been devoted to supporting an integrative and whole person approach to health, healing, and well-being. She is a highly skilled teacher, clinician and researcher with expertise in improving health, health practices and outcomes in chronic and acute medical conditions, as well as the promotion of health enhancing behaviors. She has engaged in this work through multiple venues.  These include teaching, the training of physicians and other healthcare providers, clinical practice, research, and clinical program development and implementation across several major healthcare systems in the US. She has also held academic faculty positions at Loma Linda University and Medical Center, and Jackson State University. In addition to her Ph.D. in Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine from the University of North Texas, she holds a master’s degree from Springfield College in Exercise Science and is a Certified Health Fitness Specialist by the American College of Sports Medicine. Karen is currently on staff at Madigan Army Medical Center, one of the premier military medical centers in the US Department of Defense. During her time at Madigan she has been at the forefront of introducing compassion and other meditative disciplines into Army clinical care delivery as well as training Madigan Army Medical Center healthcare providers and hospital leaders in meditation. She is also a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher and directs Madigan Army Medical Center’s MBSR program. Her personal meditation training and practice has included both western contemplative practices, as well as compassion and mindfulness meditation. She has held a long standing interest in a bridge between spirituality and science, and this has also been an area of her own research in examining aspects of spirituality and religion and their influence on health. She is also an ad hoc reviewer for several scientific journals whose focus is on health psychology, alternative and complementary medicine, as well as spirituality, religion and health. Karen is also deeply interested in the role compassion may play in healing and enhancing relationship with the natural world. She is intent on bringing compassion cultivation to individuals and organizations involved in working with environmental issues to support their own resiliency and well-being in this time of tremendous environmental challenge across many issues. For information about upcoming CCT classes, to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, or discuss development of programming to meet you or your organization’s unique needs, please email her.  Karen currently teaches CCT in the Seattle area, and is available to teach in the greater Pacific Northwest as well as other areas in the United States, and abroad.

Maya Nader

Maya Nader

Maya Nader is a native of Beirut, Lebanon. After earning her BA in Political Science from the American University in Beirut, she moved to the US in 1989, at the height of the Lebanese War. As she continued her quest for peace in her country and region, Maya obtained a master’s degree in Communication and Marketing from Boston University. She speaks French, Arabic, and English and is grateful for the cultural richness these languages encompass. Through this lens, Maya views compassion as a bridge between cultures and religions and as the cornerstone of a more peaceful world. Maya currently teaches CCT in the yoga community and to yoga teachers in training in urban Seattle. She continues to practice self-help and assist others with broadening compassion, which ultimately creates opportunities for peace.

Irakli Soulakvelidze, MD

SoulakvelidzeIrakliIrakli has taught CCT in the health care setting, and to faculty and graduate students at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where he practices pain medicine. Irakli’s main interest is to teach CCT to diverse populations but especially in health care, to faculty, staff and graduate students. He also believes that introducing compassion cultivation in medical education can improve patient-centered health care, as well as help trainees to develop resilience as they face realities of medical practice that can differ from their original expectations. Irakli plans to introduce CCT to pain clinic populations and is interested in scientifically studying effectiveness of compassion cultivation in chronic pain. Irakli is also very interested in the interface between compassion and mindfulness practices and has completed all educational requirements toward teacher certification in mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). He can be reached via email.

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Angela Rose Black, PhD


Angela Rose Black, PhD is a Complementary & Integrative Health Research Fellow at The University of Wisconsin-Madison where she explores the cultural relevance of existing mindfulness and compassion training for African American women. Dr. Black’s interdisciplinary background in Psychology, Human Development and Family Studies, Women’s Studies, Public Health, and Mind-Body Medicine is supported by training at Tulane University, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, Stanford and the Mayo Clinic. For the last 15 years she has committed her journey to making room for black women’s voices in health disparities research and practice. Dr. Black also seeks to increase access to culturally-relevant mind-body training for communities of color. She advocates for mindfulness and compassion research that is self-reflexive and community-engaged—an “inside-out” approach that provides a necessary “pause” for researchers and re-centers the voices and lived experiences of communities of color as expert bodies of knowledge. In between teaching CCT and conducting community-engaged research in Madison and Milwaukee, Dr. Black serves as a proud board member of COMPASSION IT and Founder/Senior Practitioner at OneBreath Wellness.

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Petrina Barson, MBBS, FRACGP, DRANZCOG, Grad Dip MHS (Clinical Hypnosis), BA

Petrina BarsonDr. Petrina Barson is a medical general practitioner, and teaches medical students at the University of Melbourne. She has a longstanding interest in promoting empathy and compassion within medical education, and is currently teaching CCT to 2nd year medical students. She is a mother of three, and has a passion for educating people to access their natural compassion. One day, her tomb stone will read: ‘we have more in common than divides us.’ She teaches in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Amy Finlay-Jones, BPsych, MClinPsych, PhD

amy finlay jonesAmy Finlay-Jones is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and group facilitator committed to helping others realize their personal growth, wellbeing, and performance goals through compassion and mindfulness-based training. Amy is compelled by the innate nature of compassion and her work is oriented in the desire to help people nurture this capacity through self-reflection, education and experiential practice. Her research examines how cultivating compassion for oneself and others can promote more balanced, connected, and meaningful lives, and aid in the provision of compassionate care. She is a Compassion Cultivation Facilitator in Training enrolled in the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University. She is also a Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher Trainee enrolled through the MSC Teacher Training program at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness. She teaches in Perth, Australia, and London, UK.

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Stephania Verhaegen

Stephania Verhaegen

Stephania Verhaegen grew up in Belgium where she earned degrees in law and philosophy from the Université catholique de Louvain. After 3+ years as a corporate lawyer, she gave birth to two little girls while relocating to Switzerland and then to the U.S. She completed the Stanford CCT Teacher Certification Program in 2015. Stephania is passionate about the connections between CCT and religion, has taught CCT in church communities in San Jose (U.S.A.) and is excited to bring CCT to Belgium, her home country. Stephania is fluent in French, Dutch and English.

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Laurisa Dill, M.Ed.

Laurisa is a Registered Psychotherapist and has been helping clients for more than 10 years. While completing her graduate training in Counseling Psychology, she began her own personal practice of Mindfulness and Yoga for self care. She has since become a certified yoga instructor and has facilitated Mindfulness-based programs for depression, anxiety and healthy eating. She has helped to develop yoga programs for mental health inpatient populations and has taught mindfulness to hospital-based health care workers. She facilitates workshops and provides training to counselors and social service workers on the benefits of cultivating compassion to facilitate positive change and help prevent stress and burnout. She is currently practicing at the Mindfulness Clinic in downtown Toronto. For information about upcoming CCT classes, or to schedule a workshop or speaking engagement, please visit:

Dawn MacDonald

Dawn MacDonald’s belief in the resiliency of the human spirit has inspired her to lead Compassion Project education and formation programs as a way to co-create cultures of compassion within Health and Human Services in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. For twenty years Dawn journeyed with people living with severe and persistent mental health struggles in acute inpatient psychiatry and adolescent trauma units as a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. In addition to CCT certification, Dawn has completed all the professional training courses offered at the Oasis Institute for Mindfulness-based Professional Education and Training at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, is an instructor for the Institute of Mindful Leadership, and is a qualified teacher of Mindful Self Compassion. She is currently completing an MSW and is passionate about the practice of yoga, loves her family, big hairy dogs, and oatmeal. You can contact Dawn via email @ or by telephone @ 204-235-3700.

Micheline St-Hilaire

Micheline St-Hilaire has been passionate about community and organizational change and development for the past 15 years. Inspired by a commitment to continuing a 300 year old legacy of compassion and hope begun by Marguerite D’Youville, Micheline has been instrumental in creating, leading, and launching the Compassion Project – an initiative designed to find and offer creative, innovative, and evidence-based ways to co-create cultures of compassion within health and human service. As Executive Producer of This Film is About Compassion, she co-created a resource toolkit to bring this documentary out into the world in impactful ways. Dedicated at heart to community development, Micheline has studied and offered compassion-based programs including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self Compassion and most recently Compassion Cultivation Training. Micheline is also fluent in French and is a graduate of the MBA program at the Asper School of Business and holds a Masters of Science from the University of Manitoba specializing in Family Studies. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, affectionately known as the Heart of the Continent, with her spouse and two sons. For information about upcoming classes, including CCT, please visit the Compassion Project’s website.

Magdalena Szpala

Magda Szpala

Magdalena Szpala is an experienced facilitator and Senior Sustainability Advisor for a social housing agency in British Columbia. In the last 15 years, she has led many educational sessions in a variety of settings including businesses, the public sector and non-profits. She has been teaching the Compassion Cultivation Training program since 2013. Magda is passionate about offering the CCT program as a way to build inner resilience to face personal and global challenges. She received her master’s degree in Strategic Leadership toward Sustainability from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, and a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Psychology from Hull University, U.K. She has also studied the non-violent martial art of Aikido for the last ten years and holds a first-degree black belt. Magda is currently offering Compassion Cultivation Training courses in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. To inquire about the next CCT course, please visit

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Gonzalo Brito, MA, PhD(c)

Gonzalo Brito

Gonzalo Brito is a Chilean clinical psychologist who has worked with diverse populations in Chile and Peru, integrating Western psychological approaches with local traditional medicine, mindfulness, and yoga. As a certified yoga teacher and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) instructor, he has included these practices in his clinical work and workshops for health care professionals and educators over the last eight years. His current doctoral dissertation involves developing and teaching the first Spanish version of Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) course, assessing the adaptability of CCT for South American populations, and comparing the effects of CCT and MBSR. He has led mindfulness and compassion cultivation workshops in English and Spanish in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chile, and Argentina. Gonzalo is also the founder of Red Mindfulness, a Spanish-speaking network of 2,000 members that focuses on bringing contemplative practices and insights into education, work, and society at large. More information is available at Gonzalo’s Spanish-language website, Cultivar la Mente.

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Maria Paula Jimenez Palacio

Maria Paula Jimenez

Maria Paula Jimenez is a psychologist in Colombia and has a minor degree in business administration, both from Los Andes University in Bogotá. She is an expert in integrative medicine from El Rosario University School of Medicine and an expert in Corporate Social Responsibility from La Sergio Arboleda University. As a therapist, Maria Paula combined contemplative practices, integrative medicine and clinical psychology on her private practice. Maria Paula is also a corporate consultant on the fields of strategic planning, marketing research and corporate social responsibility specifically for non-profit organizations and foundations. Maria Paula moved to Palo Alto in 2013 to participate as a full time trainee in the Compassion Cultivation Training Teacher Certification Program at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford. She had the chance to be trained in the Cancer Support Community at Walnut Creek by Margaret Cullen, one of the Senior Teachers of the program. Currently, Maria is a full time CCT ambassador in Colombia and Latin America, offering the training in Spanish for a wide variety of entities including healthcare providers, corporations, universities as well as the general public. She’s based in Bogotá and Medellín but offers the Compassion Cultivation Training across Latin America having recently hosted sessions in Ecuador and Chile. Ms. Jimenez is fluent in Spanish and English.
More information is available in Maria Paula’s Spanish website: She can be contacted by email in Spanish or English.

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Yanel González Mogas, MA

GonzalezMogasYanelYanel González Mogas has been practicing contemplative practices since the year 2000 under the guidance of teachers like Ven. Alan Wallace and Marco Antonio Karam. She is a UCLA Certified Mindfulness Facilitator and a Stanford University trained Compassion Cultivating Training teacher. Yanel holds a master´s degree in Humanistic Studies from Instituto Tecnológico de Estucios Superiores in Monterrey. She is a mindfulness and compassion facilitator and curriculum designer for AtentaMente Consultores, a Mexican organization that believes that by cultivating an attentive mind that is more calm, clear and kind, each and every one of us can contribute to global cultural change…from the inside out. She offers different mindfulness and CCT workshops in Monterrey, México. If you want to know more about the programs, you can visit her website or contact her directly in English or Spanish via email.
Read this biography in Spanish here.

Valentín Méndez

Valentin Mendez_reduced size

Valentín is a Mexican psychologist whose main interest has been the intersection between Buddhist contemplative practices and western sciences like psychology, neuroscience and education. He is certified by Paul Ekman PhD and the Alan Wallace PhD´s Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies as teacher for the “Cultivating Emotional Balance” program, and he is also a certified teacher of the “.b” program, for teaching mindfulness to the youth, a curriculum developed by “The mindfulness in schools Project”. His training includes retreats of one, two and three months for the practice and study of Bhuddist contemplative practices. This training has taken place in several retreats centers and monasteries in India, Nepal and Thailand, where he has lived for more than two years in several periods of study and practice.
Currently he is leading a Project called “Cien por México” (One hundred for (the service) of Mexico) aimed to create a constructive impact in society. It consists in spreading several evidence based protocols for the cultivation of compassion, mindfulness and emotional balance to society, in a very accessible way. You can find resources as guided meditations, articles and more information about the programs he teaches in (in Spanish).
Read this biography in Spanish here.

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Silvia Fernández-Campos, PhD

Silvia Fernandez Campos

Silvia is a Spanish psychologist, empathy researcher, yoga teacher, and hospice care volunteer. Her intention is to foster compassion and healing among populations facing death, trauma, and violence. She received her PhD at The New School for Social Research in NYC. For her dissertation, she lived one year in Varanasi investigating how diverse groups in India manage death and dying. She did a documentary reflecting this work. Trailer: She has years of experience teaching social psychology, research methods, and empathy at The New School and CUNY. She has created and implemented research-based empathy and emotion regulation workshops for rape crisis advocates at New York hospitals and lawyers working at the International Justice Project. Silvia was trained at CCARE Stanford’s School of Medicine to become a certified CCT instructor. For the past year, she has been teaching CCT to lawyers and social workers involved in criminal justice at Columbia University. Silvia is moving back to Spain with the intention to teach CCT in Madrid and Barcelona and continue to promote social justice and compassion through her work. For information about upcoming CCT classes, or to schedule a workshop visit her website or email her.

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Jan Gunnarsson


After 25 years in a hectic career as a CEO and entrepreneur, two panic attacks changed the course of his life. Instead of only chasing short term goals and deadlines, he wanted to explore what creates real and sustainable success for individuals and organizations. This led him on a journey into contemplative traditions and science and to the fields of culture, values and relationships that everything rests on. He developed The Hostmanship Philosophy as a way to harmonious individuals, organizations and societies. The approach is spread by his books, lectures, workshops and Keynotes around the world. Today there are Hostmanship offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands and Uganda.
Jan gives lectures and workshops on the art of making people feel welcome. Often we encounter people who suffer, where cultivating compassion is a way to be at service to others and to strengthen ourselves in these interactions.
In 2015 Jan was certified as a teacher after completing the CCT Teacher Certification Program at CCARE. For more information, visit his website at:

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United Kingdom

Amy Finlay-Jones, BPsych, MClinPsych, PhD

amy finlay jonesAmy Finlay-Jones is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and group facilitator committed to helping others realize their personal growth, wellbeing, and performance goals through compassion and mindfulness-based training. Amy is compelled by the innate nature of compassion and her work is oriented in the desire to help people nurture this capacity through self-reflection, education and experiential practice. Her research examines how cultivating compassion for oneself and others can promote more balanced, connected, and meaningful lives, and aid in the provision of compassionate care. She is a Compassion Cultivation Facilitator in Training enrolled in the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University. She is also a Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher Trainee enrolled through the MSC Teacher Training program at the UCSD Center for Mindfulness. She teaches in Perth, Australia, and London, UK.

Emily Oliver

Emily Oliver

Alongside CCT training, Emily’s work varies from consultancy to teaching kids fire making. This diverse experience helps her relate CCT to wide ranging walks of like. As a Londoner, Emily particularly appreciates the calming, energising nature of CCT which can help deal with our often hectic modern lives. Emily brings over fifteen years of practise to classes (ranging from corporate to community groups) – along with a British sense of humour! For more information please visit or email her.

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