Akos Kokai
Alphabet Sangha Coordinator

Akos is an environmental scientist, dryland gardener, and sometimes music-maker based in Oakland. He is Californian in spirit, and grew up in Canada after immigrating from Eastern Europe. Meditating and volunteering at EBMC is part of his personal path to help build a sustainable and just society.

Allison Shore
Every Body, Every Mind Sangha Coordinator
Allison has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 2003. A graduate of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teacher Training Practicum at El Camino Hospital, she also trained at the Sati Chaplaincy Training Program, and is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock. Allison has taught in a variety of academic, clinical, and community settings, and volunteers at a local hospital as an interfaith chaplain. Part of the Every Body Every Mind teaching team since 2016, and the Program Committee since 2017, she is passionate about social justice, and making dharma communities accessible for everyone.
Arisika Razak
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Arisika Razak, RN, NM, MPH

Arisika is the former Chair of the Women’s Spirituality Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Her teachings incorporate diverse spiritual traditions, women’s health and healing, multicultural feminisms, queer theory, and contemporary diversity theory. Arisika has led national and international spiritual and healing workshops and ritual celebrations for women for over three decades, as well as embodied spiritual workshops for women and men, including several daylong workshops at EBMC. She has also co-facilitated workshops for POC with Marlene Jones at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

Blake Tolbert
POC Sangha Coordinator

An educator with Oakland roots, Blake has been a Zen practitioner for a couple decades. Lay ordained in 2004, he first sat with the EBMC sangha when it resided on Broadway and has recently rejoined the sangha and POC Leadership Committee. His interests are in cultivating the dharma in people of color communities as well as participating in prison dharma projects. 

Debra Kerr
Every Body, Every Mind Sangha Coordinator
Debra Kerr has meditated since 1991, and is influenced by both Vipassana and Dzogchen practices. A graduate of Community Dharma Leader training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, she cofounded and served on the board of the East Bay Meditation Center from 2000 to 2006. Deb is the guiding teacher of the Every Body Every Mind sangha, and also teaches and mentors others in various groups around the Bay Area. She is especially interested in how wisdom practices support the development of loving and diverse communities.
Evan Hashi
POC Sangha Coordinator

Evan Hashi has been practicing at EBMC since 2016, and has lived in the East Bay since 2013.  As a musician and artist, he is interested in how the dharma and mindfulness practices can be in conversation with creative visions and relationships, and as a Hawaii-born, 4th-generation Japanese American, how he can bring his full self in supporting people of color communities, and beyond.

Lev Fresh! White
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Fresh! White, CPCC, is a Certified Professional, Mindfulness & Life Coach. He has been practicing Mindfulness since 2007, and a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Dharma Leadership Program. In addition to Co-leading the Teen Sangha at EBMC, Fresh! is also a rotating teacher at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and leads a group for Trans* and Gender Variant folks in Oakland as well. Fresh! earned his Early Childhood Education Credits at Skyline College when he committed to being a classroom assistant and volunteer back in the 90s. Since 2003, Fresh! has facilitated or co-led over 100 discussions in San Francisco and Marin, in schools and workplaces, with a goal of ending bullying for all, with a focus on creating safety for the LBGTQI communities.

Jenn Biehn
Dharma in Motion Leader
Jenn Biehn has practiced in Zen, Vajryana and Vipassana traditions over the past 30 years and recently ordained as a lay minister of Embracing Simplicity Hermitage Contemplative Order. Passionate about sangha building, Jenn helps to facilitate Awakening in Deep Refuge and Dharmacharya Deep Refuge Group and is on the coordinating committee for Restorative Practices for Dharma Practitioners and the Midday Sangha. She was on the organizing/teaching team for the 2015 six month program of White and Awakening in Sangha. Jenn loves teaching/practicing Tai Chi, is lesbian, married to her partner of 23 years and active with Neighbors for Racial Justice.
Jess Schlesinger
Dharma in Motion Leader
Jess is a recent graduate from Niroga Institute’s Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher Training. She began practicing yoga 16 years ago in an attempt to manage the chronic pain resulting from disabilities and traumas. She found that most yoga classes she attended were not accessible for her needs. Jess continued to practice yoga and explored spiritual, psychological, and physical tools for healing trauma. Passionate about social justice, she decided to pursue yoga teacher training so that she could offer accessible classes to members in her community and to share a practice that has helped her relieve and accept her chronic pain.
Jessy Zapanta
Dharma in Motion Leader
Jessy Zapanta is a mixed Filipinx and East Asian healing justice facilitator, born and raised in culturally-rich but under resourced Bay Area cities. They are committed to increasing accessibility of embodied mindfulness practices in a respectful, non-Orientalist way to those who need it most–meaning everybody and every body! Having taught POC Yoga, All Bodies Centering, and Mindful Movement at EBMC, Jessy has also supported youth of all ages, social service staff, and formerly houseless individuals in moving through stress and trauma using these practices. Jessy brings compassion, lightness, and body wisdom to class, using knowledge gained from ancestors, eastern medicine, and the guidance of Raja Yoga teacher B.K. Bose.
Julio Rios
POC Sangha Coordinator

Julio was born in Peru and lived there until his family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s. He formally studied engineering and still works as an engineer, although he spends much of his time volunteering for social justice causes and practicing mindfulness in all aspects of his life.

Kristal Ip
Alphabet Sangha Coordinator

Kristal found a home in EBMC and became an Alphabet Sangha coordinator in 2020. She works as a certified massage therapist and is self employed. She volunteers at other community-oriented nonprofits to provide massage or support for events. Her studies about the human body, stress, and trauma have led her to pursue a life of balance, joy, and compassion. She enjoys helping others do the same. Along with Buddhism, meditation, and yoga, Kristal also practices with tarot and the enneagram. Her favorite pastimes are swimming, camping, listening to music, and being with loved ones.  

Patrick Brown
Alphabet Sangha Coordinator

Patrick Brown is originally from Chicago and a graduate of the EBMC Commit to Dharma Program. He is currently practicing in the Community Dharma Leaders Training Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is part of the EBMC Alphabet Sangha Coordinating Team and the Alphabet Brothers of Color Deep Refuge Sangha.

Rachel McLean
Alphabet Sangha Coordinator

Rachel McLean is a public health practitioner, crafter, and wanderer who got hooked on the dharma after experiencing metta (lovingkindness) meditation at the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta in 2007. She was introduced to EBMC by her friend Lisa Moore in 2008/2009, and soon began volunteering at Alphabet Sangha, partly for an excuse to talk to people! She is a graduate of the Practice in Transformative Action (PITA) program and leads a monthly mindfulness meditation group at her workplace. She is deaf in her right ear so if you say hello, please do so from the other side!

Rebekah Eppley
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Rebekah Eppley is a writer and librarian living in Oakland. S/he was first introduced to meditation and the Dharma through Mindful Writing workshops taught by he/r beloved late teacher Chris Malcomb. S/he found her way to EBMC in 2014 and has been practicing with the Maha Sangha since that time. S/he volunteered as a Temple Keeper in 2018 and found this to be one of he/r most rewarding volunteer experiences. S/he is grateful for the spiritual family and community that has embraced he/r at EBMC. S/he is married to Carmen Cortez, h/er partner of 23 years.

René Rivera
MidDay Sangha Coordinator

René Rivera is a leader and bridge-builder, working and learning in all the spaces in-between race, gender, and other perceived binaries, as a queer, mixed-race, trans man. René has been a student of the Dharma since 2004 and has been a part of the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) Alphabet Sangha since 2008. He has participated in the Commit to Dharma and Practice in Action programs at EBMC and the Community Dharma Leaders program at Spirit Rock. He currently serves on the EBMC Program Committee and Midday Sangha coordinating committee.

Sarwang Parikh
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Sarwang Parikh (he/they) was borne into the Dharma within a devotional Hindu Gujarati Indian culture from an immigrant, working-class family in the South. They have been steeped in the practice and study of  the Yogic sciences and Buddhism, primarily within the Theravada Vipassana lineage, for over 16 years.

Sarwang strives to weave ancient wisdom traditions with a decolonized approach to mental health as a psychotherapist primarily serving BIPOC masculine-of-center folks. He also regularly facilitates mindfulness-based trauma resilience trainings within school systems and organizations. 

Sarwang's devotion to the Dharma has been sustained through Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioners Program, being a long-time sangha member East Bay Meditation Center (currently a part of STL: Spiritual Teacher Leadership training); mentoring youth with iBme; and supporting Engaged Buddhism at Buddhist Peace Fellowship (link needed). Sarwang is most at home in a forest, playing flute/handpan drum, immersed in a sci-fi novel/film or on the dance floor.

Satya de la Paz
POC Yoga Coordinator

Satya de la Paz began practicing yoga in 2004, seeking relief from chronic injury from years as an athlete. She quickly fell in love with yoga's ability to heal the mind, body, and heart. She has been teaching yoga and practicing healing arts since 2007 and has studied with Bridget Kramer Woods, Chrissy and Kenny Graham, Jazz Poiter, and Paula Tursi. Drawing from the traditions of Anusara Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, and Buddhism, she challenges students to play at their edge while cultivating awareness and connection to their highest potential.

Maha Sangha Coordinator

Shay is a Buddhist-Marxist computer scientist/gardener with a deep love for books, plants, and the struggle. Thanks to EBMC she began a meditative practice 4.5 years ago that has not only saved her life but transformed it.