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.

Baruch Golden
Family Practice Coordinator

Baruch Golden is a long-time practitioner, hospice RN and mindfulness teacher. He taught mindfulness practices to children in elementary, middle and high school for the non-profit Mindful Schools for many years and offers dharma talks at Bay Area sanghas. He is a graduate of Community Dharma Leader's Program in 2012 at Spirit Rock and the Buddhist Chaplaincy Training program at the Sati Center of Buddhist Studies in Redwood City. He teaches in the Family Sangha and the White Awakening in Sangha Programs at EBMC.

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. 

Chinh Nguyen
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Chinh was ordained as a member of the Order of Interbeing of the Plum Village Zen tradition. Chinh also received the precepts, Jukai, in the Soto Zen tradition. He is a student of the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and is currently empowered as a Shambhala Guide, Meditation Instructor and Assistant Director, a preliminary teaching position in the Shambhala lineage. He is also an InterPlay leader, and uses movement, improvisation, artistic expressions and storytelling to play and connect with others to build community. He is part of the team playing with dirt and plants in the InterPlayce sidewalk garden and has been enjoying arranging flowers and greenery that come from it.

Crystal Johnson
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Crystal Johnson has been involved at EBMC almost since it opened its doors, first as Volunteer Coordinator for the Friday night practice group (now the Mahasangha), then as a founding member of the Program Committee from 2010-2017.  She has recently joined the LSangha as part of the Finance Committee.  She is a graduate of the Commit2Dharma program at the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC), and of the Dedicated Practitioners Program (DPP4) and Community Dharma Leader (CDL5) Program offered by Spirit Rock.  During her time in CDL5, she worked with other white practitioners to develop an 8-session, peer-facilitated, Whiteness and Racism Study Group curriculum that was used by about 2/3 of the white practitioners to support their participation in the CDL community.  She has co-created, and co-teaches programs for white dharma practitioners seeking to build awareness, knowledge and skills to challenge the dynamics of white privilege and race-based oppression, and to create truly diverse sangha. 

Darren Lee Brown
Midday Sangha Coordinator

Darren Lee Brown has been attending and volunteering at EBMC since 2015.  An organizer, syncretist, former academic, artist, DJ, go-go dancer, avid cyclist and mechanic, Darren identifies as a multiracial, working-class queer.  He participated in the third cohort of Practice in Transformative Action (2015-16),  earned a doctorate in American Studies at Michigan State University (2012), and helped establish the baccalaureate in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State (1998). An empath, Darren aims to heal through the wisdom of the dharma in combination with various modalities ranging from somatic exercises to the spiritual.  

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.
emiko yoshikami
Midday Sangha Coordinator

emiko yoshikami began practicing Vipassana meditation over two decades ago. She is honored to be a part of EBMC and is committed to co-creating a more just and compassionate world. She spends a lot of time thinking about power in relationship to the multiple realities we live in. As a mixed-raced queer, she practices holding contradictions in merciful tension and open discernment. She works as a healer, using intimate touch.

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.

Hilary Berwick
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Hilary Berwick is a writer, code monkey, researcher, and meditation practitioner from Brooklyn, Oakland, Texas, and some points in between. She has been volunteering for the Friday Sangha since 2012, as well as contributing to the teaching team for White and Awakening in Sangha since 2018. When she’s not meditating, she writes queer radical historical fantasy and loves on her big-headed dog.

JD Doyle
Maha Sangha Coordinator

JD Doyle founded the East Bay LGBTQ meditation group that has grown into EBMC's Alphabet Sangha for LGBTQI and same-gender loving practitioners. JD has been practicing for  20 years and participated in long retreats in the US, Thailand, and Burma.  They graduated from Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner Program (DPP2) and Community Dharma Leader program (CDL4).  JD focuses their practice on developing inclusive, multiracial, multi-gendered sanghas that welcome and celebrate the breadth of humanity.

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.  

Lisa Moore
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Lisa Moore began practicing in 1998, with the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. She joined the EBMC community by participating in the first Commit2Dharma study series where she began to deepen her practice of sangha. She is currently working with the programming committee of the Center and in Dharmacharya training with the Ven. Pannavati. She teaches at San Francisco State University where she supports the next generation of public health, harm reduction and social justice advocates.

Marge Sussman
Midday Sangha Coordinator

Marge Sussman has been practicing at EBMC since 2012, since her retirement from a long career as a  public librarian. Her introduction to EBMC was through the Alphabet Sangha; then she joined the Library Sangha, and finally was drawn into the loving arms of Midday Sangha.  Marge is also active in social justice, especially working with Jewish Voice for Peace and connecting that work with the rest of what needs to be done to create a world that we want to live in, one that supports all people as well as the planet herself. Meanwhile, she's trying to enjoy as many moments as possible with friends and family, especially outdoors in our beautiful Bay Area environment.

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.

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.

Syra Smith
Maha Sangha Coordinator

Syra Smith is an artist, organizer and mindfulness educator interested in deep ecology and manifesting a culture where we can turn toward fearless abundance and generosity.

Syra teaches with the East Bay Meditation Center’s Mahasangha in Oakland California, where she is co-creating space with one of the most diverse communities of practitioners in the US. She supports and works with Resolve to Stop the Violence, an award winning program in the San Francisco County Jail System utilizing contemplative and restorative practices to impact violence and recidivism in our prison communities. Syra is the founding co-guiding teacher for EBMC’s Young Adult Deep Refuge Group. She has been educating and working with young people for nearly 20 years. She coordinates and co-facilitates East Bay Meditation Center’s weekly Teen Sangha and has been committed to offering tools for resiliency to at-risk and incarcerated youth. In the late ‘80s, Syra began her personal practice as a teen herself and has been practicing in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 2009. She graduated EBMC’s Commit to Dharma study program in 2011 and became a Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader in 2017. Syra teaches Insight Meditation and mindfulness throughout the SF Bay Area and is a regular visiting teacher with Napa Valley Insight Meditation, San Francisco LGBT Sangha and Oakland Against the Stream.