The role of the Program Committee is to cultivate programming, classes, series, daylongs, and other curricula to realize EBMC’s mission and promote safety and inclusion to create the refuge of the Buddha Dharma Sangha. The Programming Committee works with the greater center’s Sangha, composed of the Teacher Sangha, many Practice Groups, Deep Refuge Groups, and Leadership Sangha (Board). We strive for engagement with the Dharma through a social justice lens that not only guides but holds refuge in Sangha.
Program Committee Guidelines
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.
Amana began her journey of dharma practice and study as a result of the early People of Color Retreats offered at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She is currently a participant in the fifth iteration of the Community Dharma Leaders Training at Spirit Rock, and is a graduate of “Commit To Dharma”, a one-year course offered through EBMC. Amana teaches contemplative yoga practices and provides mentorship to Theravada practitioners who wish to deepen their understanding of the dharma and find continuity of practice within daily life. She creates visual art that poses personal and spiritual inquiries into the heart.
Candi Martinez Carthen
Candi is a native Californian with over twenty years of experience in professional Event Production, Artistic Curation and Publicity. Her passion is curating events that serve as platforms to celebrate cultural heritage, promote social justice and foster community. In 2012, she was introduced to East Bay Meditation Center's POC sitting group and decided to become part of EBMC's beloved sangha. Her hobbies include volunteering, surfing, yoga and cooking.
Grace Gilliam has been a Buddhist meditator since 1994, practicing with SF Zen Center, Naropa University Shambhala, and Spirit Rock Theravada traditions. She began participating with EBMC at its beginning in 2007. Since that time, she has volunteered as Temple Keeper, Registration Assistant, and Newsletter Designer. As well, along with many other workshops and daylongs, she completed Commit2Dharma in 2014 and took the Bodhisattva Vows in December 2017 and received the Dharma name Shining Practice Heartmind. She joined the Program Committee in August 2017. Grace considers both Pacific School of Religion, where she works, and EBMC, where she practices, to be the Heart Centers of her spirituality, as both are committed to radical hospitality and social transformation grounded in ethical values. She especially appreciates the Gift Economics practiced at EBMC and considers the practice of dana to be what brings fierce joy to her life.
JD has been an active part of the East Bay Meditation Center since it opened, co-founding the LGBTQSGLI (Alphabet Sangha) and volunteering in many roles, including as Board Member and Core Teacher. In 1997, they started practicing Buddhism and have attended retreats in the U.S., Thailand, and Burma, as well as completed Spirit Rock's Community Dharma Leader Program, Dedicated Practitioner Program, and currently is in the Spirit Rock Dharma Teacher Training Program. They are committed to celebrating the diversity of our human sangha, addressing the impact of racism on our communities, expanding concepts of gender, and living in ways that honor the sacredness of the Earth.
Sierra Pickett has a passion for accessible Sangha building. At the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) — a gift economy based, social-justice Buddhist center that Jack Kornfield has called “the most diverse Sangha on the planet” — she has been serving as a long-time Coordinating Committee member of the People Of Color Sangha, a weekly sitting group offering safe(r) space for POC practitioners, and currently sits on the Programming Committee for EBMC at large. An addition to Buddhist Peace Fellowship's board of directors, Sierra is a web weaver who sees networking as an intentional act of love connecting us together in reciprocal support and interdependence. Volunteering with East Point Peace Academy for 3+ years, she values Kingian Nonviolence as a true avenue in transformation and is honored to have witnessed and experienced it first hand. An American Sign Language interpreter, Sierra loves expanding linguistic and cultural accessibility within a social justice framework. Easily spotted in bright colors, she will greet you with an infectious smile.
Xiaojing discovered a spiritual home at EBMC after attending the first Introduction to Meditation class for People of Color in 2006. She was also a member of EBMC’s first Commit to Dharma program in 2009. Prior to joining EBMC's staff, Xiaojing organized in D.C. Chinatown for immigrant healthcare access, and worked as a policy advocate for the Health Initiative of the Americas and the City of Oakland. As a licensed acupuncturist, Xiaojing also practices Chinese medicine.
Born and raised in the Yay Area (Karkin, Bay Miwok, and Chochenyo territories), Jessy Zapanta is a community builder, cultural worker, and healing justice facilitator experienced in various forms of movement, trauma-informed counseling modalities, and bodywork. Jessy originally came to EBMC through the POC Sangha, is a co-founder of Dharma in Motion, and has taken on roles as part of the Family Sangha teaching team and EBMC Program Committee. Jessy has led or co-taught daylong workshops centering the experiences of queer, trans, gender-diverse, disabled, and neurodivergent practitioners. As a queer/pan nonbinary mixed POC with invisible illnesses and disabilities, Jessy is passionate about accessibility and facilitates a circle-based form of radically-inclusive movement meditation called Kapwa Flow which holds space for the collective needs of participants and draws from the Pilipinx concept of interconnectedness. A strong advocate for youth empowerment for more than a decade, Jessy’s path includes reclaiming diverse ancestral teachings, trusting intuition, and building intersectional, intergenerational communities of care.
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.