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Who We Are
Ethan Nichtern, Founder, Head of Buddhist Studies, Senior Teacher
Ethan founded The Interdependence Project in 2005 with a few people studying meditation together in the East Village, and in September 2007 it became a nonprofit organization dedicated to Buddhist-inspired meditation and psychology, integral activism, mindful arts, and meaningful media.
In the summer of 2010, Ethan was empowered by his teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, as a Shastri, a senior teacher of the Shambhala tradition, representing the New York region. For the past eight years, Ethan has taught ongoing meditation and Buddhist psychology classes and retreats in New York City and around North America. He was on the part-time faculty at Eugene Lang College at New School University and lectures regularly at universities. He has also studied in the Theravadan and Soto Zen traditions, and is an avid yoga practitioner.
He is the author of the novella/poetry collection Your Emoticons Won't Save You and the acclaimed nonfiction book One City: A Declaration of Interdependence (Wisdom Pubs). His writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Beliefnet, Tricycle Magazine, BuddhaDharma Magazine, Sentient City, and Reality Sandwich, as well as other online publications. He has been interviewed by Rick Sanchez on CNN and Michel Martin for NPR. He is currently at work on a second book on Buddhism.
Kimberly Brown, Secular Buddhist Studies Program Coordinator, Teacher
Kimberly is both a student and a teacher at The Interdependence Project. She's a graduate of the first year-long IDP Training Immersion Program, studies Tibetan and American Buddhism, and practices Kriya Yoga with Alan Finger. Kimberly has degrees in physics and literature, and spent several years in post-graduate training as a psychodynamic psychotherapist. She teaches dharma classes and meditation at IDP and privately, and is filled with tremendous gratitude for The Interdependence Project community and its founder, Ethan Nichtern.
Meredith Arena, Coordinator, IDP Seattle, Teacher
Meredith is a facilitator, teacher, writer, and sometimes performer. She has curated group exhibitions and regularly organizes large-scale art projects with children. In 2011 she completed the first year-long IDP Training Immersion Program. She lives in Seattle and is the regional coordinator of IDP Seattle. She has been studying at the IDP since fall of 2008. http://munchess.wordpress.com
Michael Carey, IDP Prison Project Coordinator
Michael sits at the Zen Center of New York City. He leads IDP’s Prison Project. He is the director of the College Initiative, a nonprofit re-entry education organization that supports formerly incarcerated people in their pursuit of higher education. He was born in a very small town in Australia and lives with a 6-year-old Zen master in Brooklyn.
Jerry Kolber, Board Member
Jerry is an award-winning writer, producer, and executive producer of television series, including "Inked" (A&E), "Confessions of a Matchmaker" (A&E), "Gastineau Girls" (E!), "The Agency" (VH1), and more than 40 episodes of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (Bravo). In the last year, Jerry wrote and executive-produced a four-hour documentary for fuse tv about the final world tour of seminal punk band NOFX, "NOFX: Backstage Passport"; a 15-episode extreme adventure reality series for MSN.com, "Fearless," which has received 25 million views and counting; and a one-hour special for Animal Planet about the world’s greatest animal communicator, Sonya Fitzpatrick. He is currently producing a new prime-time reality soap opera about young adults reducing personal consumption and getting out of debt.
Ellen Scordato, Board Member, makes her living as the co-owner of The Stonesong Press, LLC, a book producer of high-quality nonfiction bestsellers for the popular market. She taught English at the New School for more than 10 years and is a published author. A graduate of Wellesley College, where she studied Classics and art history, she lives in Manhattan with her husband and cats. Ellen is grateful to be a member of the board of the IDP.
Gina LaRoche, Board Member
Gina is a founder and director at Seven Stones Leadership, a professional services firm that develops organizational leadership and works with individuals on their personal journeys. She brings respect, clarity, truth, and love to all of her work. She is committed to work with individuals and organizations to create a context for sufficiency for all. She writes extensively on the subject through her blog and on Twitter. She has also published Living in Sufficiency: A daily journey (2009). Feel free to connect with her on Facebook or at www.sevenstonesleadership.com.
Nancy Thompson, Website Editor
Nancy Thompson is an editor at a regional daily newspaper, which offers infinite opportunities to experience impermanence, emptiness, and suffering. She sees editing as an art, like Ikebana done with words, that involves precision, attentiveness, and serial commas. She studies at the Interdependence Project, in the Shambhala lineage, and with Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. She leads a weekly meditation group, writes a Saturday morning post for the IDP blog, and teaches Buddhism overtly and through example as much as possible.
Robert Chender, Board Member, Teacher
Robert Chender is a student of the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and is a senior teacher at IDP and at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York. He frequently speaks to groups about the application of meditation practice to daily work life, and serves as director of the Contemplative Lawyers Group of the NY City Bar Association. Robert has also taught at IDP about the relationship between Buddhist and shamanic practices. He is very happy to be on the board of IDP.
Ven. Lawrence Dō'an Grecco, Teacher
Ven. Lawrence Dō'an Grecco is a Zen Buddhist monk, Buddhist teacher, and certified Zen teacher. He was ordained in the Korean Zen tradition as represented by the Five Mountain Zen Order and the Vietnamese lineage of Ven. Dr. Thich Thien-An. Lawrence is a teacher at the Interdependence Project and holds a certificate in Foundations in Buddhist Chaplaincy from the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. He writes for The Interdependence Project in addition to his own blog Open Sky Zen, and works with individuals and couples as a life coach and wedding officiant. Lawrence is the Founding Director of Open Sky Zen Meditation & Buddhist Studies Group and Queer Sangha, which both meet regularly in Manhattan. He can be reached at email@example.com
Kate Johnson, Teacher
A lifelong dancer and longtime yogi, Kate finally learned to sit still at The Interdependence Project, where she completed the year-long Training Immersion Program in December 2011. A student in the Insight (Vipassana) meditation tradition, she will complete the Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation teacher training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center this year. Kate teaches yoga and mindfulness meditation to high school students in public schools throughout NYC, and is a co-owner of Third Root Community Health Center (www.thirdroot.org), a radically accessible holistic health care cooperative in Brooklyn, NY.
Patrick Groneman, Teacher
Patrick is a graduate of IDP's Year-Long Immersion and Instructor Training program. He studied painting and video art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, is co-founder of the multi-media artist collective Wunderkrafthaus, and is involved in developing a short dance film. He has studied meditation and Buddhism at the Insight Meditaton Center, the Village Zendo, and with the Shambhala Buddhist community. Learn more about him at his website, http://patrickgroneman.tumblr.com
Lani Feinberg-Rowe, Board Member, Teacher
Lani holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University and was the founding student coordinator of the MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics and Society. Her dissertation was entitled Love and War in the Writings of St. Augustine. She is currently a business and technology consultant for small businesses and non-profits and serves as Membership Director on the Board of IDP. A dedicated yoga practitioner and athlete who can often be found experimenting in music composition and oil painting, Lani is committed to embodied and artful mindfulness/awareness training.
Having been transformed by meditation practice, her enthusiasm and curiosity for all things Buddhist inspired her to finish the 2012 IDP Yearlong Immersion and Instructor Training. Although she claims no lineage, she is profoundly grateful for the community and home she’s found at IDP and is particularly influenced by the legacy and teachings of the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, as well as the living Zen luminary Thich Nhat Hanh.
Lineage MentorsBecause IDP is a nonsectarian, multi-lineage, Secular Buddhist Center, we're lucky to have the mentorship of master teachers in three Buddhist practice lineages, as well as a mentor who teaches about the crucial link between Buddhist and Western psychological approaches.
Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, PhD, is the Abbot of The Village Zendo. A Soto Zen priest and certified Zen teacher, she received dharma transmission in both the Soto and Rinzai lines of Zen Buddhism, through the White Plum Lineage. Roshi currently serves as the Guiding Spiritual Teacher for the New York Center For Contemplative Care. She also serves as co-spiritual director of the Zen Peacemaker Family, a spiritual, study, and social action association. Enkyo Roshi’s focus is on the expression of Zen through caring, service, and creative response. Her Five Expressions of Zen form the matrix of study at the Village Zendo: Meditation, Study, Communication, Action, and Caring.
“Coming back to the live moment is the greatest healing, the greatest compassion” -Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara
More information on Roshi O’Hara
Acharya Eric Spiegel
Since 1980 Eric has been active in the growth and development of the Shambhala Meditation Center in New York. As a senior teacher there, he finds that his background and experience help him present the teachings of both the Vidyadhara and the Sakyong.
In addition to teaching the traditional syllabus of the Shambhala community, Acharya Spiegel teaches about the transitions of life and death, and about relating with the power and energy of wealth from a sane, empowered view point – and on the general lack of insight into this topic that pervades our culture.
Eric has also been involved in the Stonewall Community Foundation, and the Queer Dharma and Diamond Metta groups. More info on Acharya Spiegel
Sharon Salzberg is one of America’s leading spiritual teachers and authors and is co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA. She has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The ancient Buddhist practices of vipassana (mindfulness) and metta (lovingkindness) are the foundations of her work. “Each of us has a genuine capacity for love, forgiveness, wisdom and compassion. Meditation awakens these qualities so that we can discover for ourselves the unique happiness that is our birthright.” More info on Sharon Salzberg
Buddhism & Psychology Mentor
Miles Neale, Psy.D., is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, a Buddhist meditation teacher, and the assistant director of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, where he teaches public courses on the Indo-Tibetan tradition and collaborates on state-of-the-art clinical research of meditation. Dr. Neale earned his doctorate in clinical psychology in 2006 from the California Institute for Integral Studies, and has taught meditation programs at several prestigious university hospitals, including Harvard Medical School, Columbia Presbyterian, Cornell Medical College, and Albert Einstein/Montefiore Medical Center.
Dr. Neale began practicing Buddhist meditation in India in 1996, and two years later met his primary mentor Dr. Joseph Loizzo, a Buddhist scholar, psychiatrist, and founding director of the Nalanda Institute. In 1999 he began studying under Dr. Robert Thurman, renowned professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism at Columbia University and president of Tibet House US. He has also received essential teachings and instructions in India and Nepal from several great Tibetan masters of the Gelugpa school, including Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Kyabje Gelek Rinpoche, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For more information, visit his website.