Teachers' Council

Vinny Ferraro

Guiding Teacher San Francisco

is the Senior Trainer for Mindful Schools in Oakland, California and his work was the subject of MTV’s If You Really Knew Me, He is a Dharma teacher and a nationally recognized leader in designing & implementing interventions for at-risk youth. In 1987, he began volunteering his time to be of service. He went on to to help establish Dharma Punx in the mid 90’s. In 2001, he began teaching for Challenge Day, teaching emotional intelligence and other social skills, eventually becoming their Training Director, and leading workshops to more than 100,000 youth. He then became the Training Director for the Mind Body Awareness Project, a non-profit that teaches meditation to the incarcerated.He is a Guiding Teacher for Against the Stream, and for 12 years has led a Friday night meditation group in San Francisco. He doesn’t like talking about himself in the 3rd person.

Mary Stancavage

has practiced meditation, yoga, and cultivated a spiritual practice for over 30 years. She began studying with Noah Levine in 2005, and in 2009 completed his first teacher training program. She currently serves as Program Director of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society.  She has taught meditation at recovery centers in Los Angeles, has co-facilitated Year-to-Live groups since 2008, and has a weekly class at ATS. She completed the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at the Sati Center and served as volunteer chaplain at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. She also served as Executive Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project from 2016 to 2018. Mary sits on the boards of the Buddhist Insight Network and CLUE-LA: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice . In addition, Mary has a Masters from UCLA, and worked as an archaeologist in the Middle East.

Matthew Brensilver

PhD, served as a Buddhist chaplain at USC for four years and teaches about the intersection of mindfulness and psychotherapy at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Matthew was trained by Noah Levine and teaches at Against the Stream. He is currently in the Spirit Rock/IIMS teacher training program and is mentored by Gil Fronsdal. He conducts research on addiction treatment at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine.

Cheryl Slean

has been practicing Buddhist meditation since 1995. She was authorized to teach in 2007 and has offered mindfulness meditation and dharma at many venues including Seattle Insight, Against the Stream, Michael’s House, Refuge Recovery, Mindful Schools, Swedish Hospital, and Insight Community of the Desert. She’s received teacher training from Rodney Smith, Noah Levine and the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC). Cheryl is also a writer, filmmaker and educator working in the arts and sustainability, and is executive producer of VisionLA, Climate Action Arts Festival.


Enrique Collazo

is a new generation Buddhist meditation teacher.  He spends most of his energy bringing mindfulness to teens. He is well loved, and known for his work at Challenge Day during the school year, where he empowers thousands of teens to use their emotional intelligence and social skills.  Enrique teaches teens internationally for Inward Bound Mindfulness Education.  He’s also a passionate advocate for bringing meditative interventions into jails and addiction treatment facilities.
Enrique was trained by Noah Levine and Vinny Ferraro at Agains the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society and is a teen facilitator at Sprit Rock.

Chris Crotty

is a Buddhist teacher, pastoral counselor, and adjunct professor in wellness and alternative medicine. Practicing meditation since 1998, he has taken retreat with Burmese monastics Sayadaw U Inndaka and Sayadaw U Tejaniya, scholar-practitioner Bhikkhu Analayo, western monastics of the Zen and Thai Forest tradition, and senior western Vipassana teachers. Chris was authorized to teach Buddhadharma in 2015 by Noah Levine & Vinny Ferraro and in 2016 was encouraged to teach vipassana and metta by Sayadaw U Inndaka (Chanmyay Myaing, Myanmar). In addition to serving as the guiding teacher at Against the Stream Boston Chris offers individual mentoring and Buddhist pastoral counseling.To learn more about Chris and to view his full teaching schedule, visit chriscrottydharma.org.

Josh Korda

has been the dharma teacher at the New York and Brooklyn Dharmapunx meetings since 2005, and is a regular visiting teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist community in Los Angeles. He has a large buddhist mentoring private practice and has written for the buddhist magazines Shambhala Sun, Tricycle and Buddhadharma. He has been profiled by The New York Times, Village Voice and CBS News (interviewed by Dr. Jon LaPook). For the last four years Josh has also led classes at ZenCare.org, a non-profit organization that trains hospice volunteers. Josh has had the honor to study with countless spiritual teachers in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition, including Noah Levine, Vinny Ferraro, Ajahns Geoff, Sucitto, Amaro and Tara Brach to name a few. Josh’s dharma talks are followed by a large online community at dharmapunxnyc.podbean.com.

Gene Lushtak

has been practicing meditation for nearly 20 years. Inspired by his experiences with multiple month-long retreats, he moved to Thailand to ordain as a monk in 2004. Since returning to the U.S., Gene has continually explored how to integrate the teachings into ordinary, daily life. He completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Training and taught mindfulness in grade schools as part of InnerKids in Los Angeles. He has led numerous ongoing meditation groups, and currently teaches with Against the Stream and Mindful Schools. He is certified in Somatic Experiencing – a therapeutic modality that emphasizes nervous system regulation. Gene co-leads our Monday night group and has been teaching in our sangha for the last 10 years. 

Joseph Rogers

has been sitting and studying meditation with Noah Levine and the Dharma Punx since 2005 and is a member of the ATS teacher-training cohort. Especially interested in meditation as an outgrowth of recovery work, he has been teaching mindfulness and meditation practices to teens with substance abuse issues since 2007 and helped found the Refuge Recovery weekly groups at ATS. Joseph is obtaining his MDiv in Buddhist Chaplaincy from the University of the West and works as a professional healthcare chaplain.

Michael Zittel

is a Buddhist meditation teacher, meditation mentor, and a therapist intern at Refuge Recovery. With over 30 years of personal practice and training in Mindfulness and the Dharma, his teaching values balancing Dharma theory and making meditation practical to today’s life. He has studied Vipassana with Shinzen Young  since ’98, and is a Senior Facilitator in that tradition. He has studied Tibetan, Zen, and Theravada lineages in retreat settings in Asia and the U.S.; and studies Buddhist Suttas under Venerable Dhammananda of Maithri Vihara. In 2015 Michael was empowered to teach meditation and Buddha Dharma by Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society founder Noah Levine. He currently teaches classes, leads workshops and intensive series at ATS. Michael has extensive experience working with individuals mentoring their meditation practices in methods that genuinely respects one’s innate ability to awaken. Private mentoring sessions are available via Skype/Facetime. 310-800-8043.


Frank Baird

identifies as a postmodern Buddhist polyatheist. He was introduced to Buddhism by the 1972 TV show “Kung Fu”. His study and practice have improved since then. He is dedicated to helping people cultivate inner peace, live more fulfilling lives and be active contributors to their communities and the world. He is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, a UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) Certified Mindfulness Facilitator, and founder of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence  (www.walkamileinhershoes.org). You can find out more about Frank at www.frankbaird.com 

Devon Cresci

has been a dharma practitioner since 1997. Devon identifies as a queer woman and is heartfelt about the power of practice to increase peace and freedom for all. Currently she works part time for Mindful Schools as a guiding teacher for their online classes and full time as a Social Worker in a public high school in San Francisco. There, she teaches mindfulness to both students and staff. She is passionate about bringing these practices into SF public schools. In her summers, she teaches retreats with iBme and has assisted the Young Adult retreat at Spirit Rock. She is sober and finds the dharma deeply supportive on the path of recovery.

Casey Crossan

has been practicing Theravada Buddhism for a decade. He has completed the ATS Facilitator 1 training with JoAnna Hardy and Vinny Ferraro as well as a year long study course with Dave Smith on Integrated Dharma. He is currently co-facilitating the Teen Group, a group in South Central LA and the Groundless Meditation Crew.

Valerie Cusson

came to meditation through yoga and has been practicing mindfulness since 2002. She completed Level I Facilitator Training with Noah Levine and JoAnna Hardy in 2012 and Level II Facilitator Training with JoAnna Hardy and Vinny Ferraro in 2016. She completed the Year To Live practice in 2012 and co-facilitated the Year To Live practice, with Mary Stancavage, in 2016. Valerie is also one of the facilitators for the POC Group and Dharma Collective. Recently, she has been leading mindfulness workshops for educators with the intention of developing heartfulness and compassion in those who serve our youth. She is grateful for her job as a high school teacher because it provides her with Right Livelihood and allows her to spend her days with some pretty awesome kids.

Stephen Dansiger

PsyD, MFT has been a practicing Buddhist since 1989.  Steve practiced in the Zen tradition for most of that time, including numerous retreats and a one-year residency at a Zen Buddhist monastery. He has taught mindfulness for over 25 years in a variety of settings, including meditation centers, schools, businesses, government agencies and treatment centers. He now teaches classes regularly at Against the Stream Meditation Society in Los Angeles, and also leads short retreats and workshops locally and nationally. He was the original Clinical Director for Refuge Recovery Centers where he created the treatment model now known as the MET(T)A Protocol - Mindfulness and EMDR Treatment for Trauma and Addictions/Adverse Life Events. He is the author of Clinical Dharma: A Path for Healers and Helpers, and (with Jamie Marich) EMDR and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care. More about Steve can be found at  DRDANSIGER.COM.

Bill Duane

loves sharing a practice and path that has had so much positive impact in his life. He came to practice 10 years ago, realizing the way he was living and working was not working. He found his way to the path via science and secular mindfulness but quickly found the depth of Buddhadharma to be useful, satisfying and liberating. He teaches and facilitates with ATS, Veteran's PATH, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and Wisdom Labs and does executive coaching. His main teachers are Noah Levine, Shinzen Young, Sharon Salzberg and Phillip Moffitt. He enjoys cat gifs and speaking about himself in the third person.

Mollie Favour

began her interest in Buddhism in her twenties. She took vows and studied with Thich Nat Hanh in the eighties. Then she became a student of Charlotte Joko Beck for 11 years, until Joko died. The last several years, Mollie has been involved at ATS where she has completed a year of facilitator’s training with Noah Levine.

Paul Friedman

Loves dogs and avocados. Dharma and meditation practice have thawed his heart and radically changed his life over the past 15 years. Paul has been studying with Noah Levine since 2003. In 2016 he completed the certified mindfulness facilitator training at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and is currently in facilitator training with Vinny Ferraro and JoAnna Hardy.

Steve Levitt

After years of acting in and then writing Hollywood Film, Steve has learned a little about suffering and the end of suffering.  He is honored to be in the middle of his teacher training under Noah Levine, Vinny Ferraro and Joanna Harper. 

Amy Love

is a public school educator with 25 years of experience in the field. Her work in schools includes direct services with students as well as training and coaching other teachers. Amy is dedicated to bringing mindfulness into inner city public schools and has worked in that capacity for many years. Amy received her certification as a secular mindfulness teacher and trainer through Mindful Schools in Oakland, CA. She also completed facilitator training with Against the Stream Buddhist Mediation Society. Amy holds a bachelors degree in sociology and African American studies from Howard University and a masters degree in education from California State University Long Beach. Amy came to the Buddhist path after having practiced Islam with the Nation of Islam during her youth as well as Science of Mind. Amy sits regularly with Against the Stream’s People of Color and People of Color and Allies sanghas.

Jason Ryterband

is a mindfulness facilitator and musician from New Jersey. He began meditating in 2008, seeking relief from anxiety and loneliness, and he quickly became fascinated by the intersection of meditation and the relational world. These days, he provides science-informed mindfulness tools to help individuals develop emotional intelligence, access their creativity, and deepen their connections to others. Jason has trained extensively with meditation teachers Shinzen Young and George Haas.  He is a certified meditation facilitator through Against The Stream, and he is currently enrolled in a year-long mindfulness facilitation training through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Jason’s offerings include ongoing classes in LA and online, mindfulness workshops for organizations, and one-on-one meditation mentoring for individuals. Sign up for his free 7-Day Meditation Challenge or a free one-on-one mentoring session at his website: www.insightmeditationsupport.org.

Kate Spina

is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has completed two years of facilitator training with Noah Levine, JoAnna Harper and Vinny Ferraro. Her primary teacher is Matthew Brensilver. Kate began practicing meditation in 2006 and has been practicing in the Theravada tradition since 2012. She is passionate about exploring how Early Buddhist teachings apply to 21st Century life. For more information visit: www.katespina.com

Harry Um

has been practicing meditation since 2009, and completed the Against the Stream Facilitator training with JoAnna Hardy and Vinny Ferraro in 2017. He has been facilitating various groups at Against the Stream since 2013, including the Teen Meditation Group, the People of Color Group, and the POC/Allies Group. He completed the Training in Mindfulness Facilitation through UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center in 2016, and has staffed numerous teen meditation retreats with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education since 2012. He holds a Masters in Social Work degree from UCLA, and currently works in a community mental health clinic. He is trained in Dialectic Behavior Therapy, a mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral treatment.

Eileen Ybarra

began studying Buddhism and sitting meditation in 2004 when she attended a two day non-residential retreat in L.A taught by Trudy Goodman and Noah Levine Since 2004 she has studied with Trudy Goodman, and since 2006 has primarily studied with Noah Levine. She has also studied with Gil Fronsdal. Her profession is public librarianship, a meaningful practice of service and mindfulness which she is grateful for. Currently, she is a facilitator for the monthly People of Color (POC) meditation group where she leads guided meditations and group discussions. She has completed two year-long practice/study groups with Noah Levine, and has completed a year-long sutta study group with Gil Fronsdal, and has completed the Against the Stream Facilitator Training with Noah Levine.

Gabrielle Zhuang

has been practicing with Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society since 2008 and is a current participant in their Community Facilitator Training Program. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and in her last 9 years of service has worked with survivors of human trafficking, older adults with chronic mental illness, homeless children and families and Veterans.  She is currently the Adjuct Supervisor of The Relational Center, a community wellness center. Gabrielle is also the Assistant Director of the National Association of Social Workers Region-H.  She recently received an MA in Depth Psychology with an emphasis in Community, Liberation and Ecopsychology (CLE) from Pacifica Graduate Institute, her interest and emphasis in writing and research​ has been on the​ intersection of spirituality and social justice. Gabrielle also has a holds a small private practice in Mid-City and West LA www.koretherapy.org


Ayya Anandabodhi

first encountered the Buddha’s teachings in her early teens, igniting a deep interest in the Buddha’s Path of Awakening. She lived and trained as a nun in the Forest Tradition at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries in England from 1992 until 2009, when she moved to the US to help establish Aloka Vihara, a training monastery for women.Her practice and teaching are guided by early Buddhist scriptures and through nature’s pure and immediate Dhamma. In 2011 she took full Bhikkhuni Ordination, joining the growing number of women who are reclaiming this path given by the Buddha.

Devin Berry

has practiced meditation since 1999 and has undertaken many longer-term retreats. He practices primarily within the Theravada lineages as taught by Mahasi Sayadaw, Sayadaw U Pandita, Anagarika Munindra, Sayadaw U Tejaniya and Dipa Ma. Devin teaches nationally and at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland. He co-teaches the SF POC Insight Meditation group and guest teaches at Against The Stream in San Francisco. He has completed Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioners Program and is currently a participant in the 2017-2021 IMS Teacher Training Program.Devin Berry has practiced meditation since 1999 and has undertaken many longer-term retreats. He practices primarily within the Theravada lineages as taught by Mahasi Sayadaw, Sayadaw U Pandita, Anagarika Munindra, Sayadaw U Tejaniya and Dipa Ma. Devin teaches nationally and at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland. He co-teaches with the SF POC Insight Meditation group and guest teaches at Against The Stream in San Francisco. He has completed Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioners Program and is currently a participant in the 2017-2021 IMS Teacher Training Program.

Kusala Bhikshu

(teaches the 4th Sunday of the month)  is an American born monk ordained in the Zen tradition of Vietnam. He began practicing meditation in 1979 and received full ordination as a monk in 1996. He lives and works at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in the Korea-town section of Los Angeles, and has an extremely busy schedule teaching throughout Southern California.  The Rev Kusala has taught in Juvenile Hall, to youth groups, college students and churches. He facilitates meditation and discussion groups on Buddhism and social action. He is also an accomplished musician and plays blues harmonica and ukulele, and has written several Buddhist songs. (When we’re lucky, he plays for us on Sunday mornings.) Rev Kusala also maintains a website Urban Dharma, which is a compendium of the best of Buddhism in America, and is an invaluable resource.

Lopön Chandra Easton

is a teacher and translator of Tibetan Buddhism, focusing on the lineage of Machig Labdrön and Lama Tsultrim Allione. She has taught Buddhism and Yoga for 15 years and co-translated Sublime Dharma: A Compilation of Two Texts on the Great Perfection. She is currently on the Tara Mandala Bay Area coordinating committee, through which she teaches and organizes events in the Bay Area. Visit www.shunyatayoga.com and www.taramandalasf.org.

Eve Ekman

is a social scientist and teacher in the field of emotional awareness and burnout prevention. Eve’s path began early as a social justice activist in her home town of San Francisco and lead her to social work in health care, criminal justice and social welfare systems. Working in these environments deeply inspired Eve to pursue doctoral training in social science research to study the stress and burnout associated with these professions. Eve is the co- lead instructor for Cultivating Emotional Balance, an evidenced based meditation and emotion regulation training developed by Dr. Ekman Sr. and Buddhist scholar Alan Wallace at the destructive emotions meeting in dharam sala in 2000. Eve is a second generation emotion researcher and has had meaningful collaborations with her father, renowned emotion researcher Dr. Paul Ekman. Their most recent project, The Atlas of Emotions, is an online visual tool to teach a language for improving our emotional awareness was a project commissioned and supported by the Dalai Lama.Eve Ekman PhDUCSF Osher Center For Integrative Medicineeveekman.com

Tara Mulay

has been a practitioner of the Buddhadharma since 2003.  She co-founded the San Francisco People of Color Insight Meditation Group in 2015 and has been a leader of Mission Dharma since 2010.  She is a current participant in the 2017-2021 Insight Meditation Society teacher training program and a graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader’s Program.  Tara’s dharma practice and offerings have been heavily influenced by Burmese styles of insight meditation. She combines a deep love of classical Theravada teachings with a focus on bringing the practice alive in modern daily life.

Michael Owens

is a Buddhist teacher, translator, and author. He has been leading meditations and giving dharma talks for over 15 years. His unique teaching style incorporates humor and storytelling that weaves traditional Buddhist texts, legends and parables with modern scholarly research. He holds an MA in Buddhist Studies and has lectured at colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 2006 Michael co-authored translations and wrote essays on two Chinese Buddhist sutras and he founded the Red Lotus Society - an educational non-profit organization that promoted meditation as an inter-faith practice. Since 2007 he has been a guest teacher for Dharma Punx and Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, LA. He now leads a Buddhist Studies group at Against the Stream, San Francisco (1st and 3rd Sunday of each month). 

Ayya Santacitta

was born in Austria and has a multifaceted background in hotel management, ethnology and avant-garde dance theatre. Her first teacher was Ajahn Buddhadasa, who sparked her interest in Buddhist monastic life. She has practiced meditation for almost 30 years and trained as a nun in both the East and West since 1993, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since meeting Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche in 2002, she also integrates Dzogchen teachings into her practice.Ayya Santacitta is co-founder of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery, where she resides since 2009 and received Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2011. She is particularly interested in learning from nature and bringing faith traditions to the climate justice movement.

Michael W. Taft

is a meditation teacher, bestselling author, and neuroscience junkie. As a mindfulness coach, he specializes in secular, science-based mindfulness training in groups, corporate settings, and one-on-one sessions. Michael is the author of several books, including the bestselling The Mindful Geek, as well as the editor of such classics as Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson and The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young.He regularly teaches meditation at Google, is core faculty at Wisdom Labs, and worked on curriculum development for SIYLI. Michael is also a featured teacher on the Simple Habit app, and an official advisor to the Therapeutic Neuroscience Lab. He was previously editor-in-chief of Being Human, and was the long-time editorial director of Sounds True.From Zen temples in Japan to yogi caves in India, Michael has been meditating for over thirty five years and has extensive experience in both Buddhist Vipassana and Hindu Tantric practice. Michael is a senior facilitator in Shinzen Young’s Unified Mindfulness system, and is a teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. He currently lives in Oakland, California, and is founding editor of the iconoclastic mindfulness meditation blog Deconstructing Yourself

Beth Sternlieb

is a senior teacher at InsightLA and a graduate of the Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Society teacher training. As co-director of mindfulness and yoga research at the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program, Beth has taught and co-authored several research studies on yoga for young adults with chronic pain and health problems, and breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue. Beth is a certified Mindful Self Compassion teacher.

Deborah Eden Tull

founder of Mindful Living Revolution, is a Zen meditation/mindfulness teacher and sustainability consultant. She spent seven years as a monk at a Zen monastery and teaches the integration of compassionate awareness into every aspect of life. Her teaching style is grounded in experiential learning and an unwavering commitment to personal transformation. Eden also teaches for UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Practice Center and also facilitates The Work that Reconnects, created by eco-philosopher Joanna Macy. More info

Christiane Wolf

MD, PhD is a physician turned Vipassana, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher and teacher trainer.It’s still at times surprises her that for more than a decade she has been transforming people’s life with the Dharma instead of the scalpel.  She is a senior teacher at InsightLA in Los Angeles. She has received teacher transmission from Trudy Goodman in 2011 and has completed the 4- year Dharma and retreat teacher training with Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. She teaches individuals, groups and retreats in the US and in Europe. Christiane is the co-author of the book A Clinician’s Guide To Teaching Mindfulness.To contact her and for more info please visit: www.christianewolf.com