Our Team

​Jill Satterfield, Founder and Director

is the founder of Vajra Yoga + Meditation, a synthesis of meditation and yoga, contemplative and compassion in action practices. She was named “one of the 4 leading yoga and Buddhist teachers in the country” by the Shambhala Sun Magazine, and is also the founder of the School for Compassionate Action: Meditation, Yoga Therapy and Educational Support for Those Who Serve Communities in Need.
Jill is a founding faculty of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Mindfulness Meditation for Yoga Training and guest teacher for UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. Jill recently completed the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies Chaplaincy Training and volunteers at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland. She teaches embodied mindfulness locally and internationally, has been training teachers for over 25 years, is a guest speaker for conferences and in corporations, and creates wellness programs.

Spiritual Advisor, Venerable Ajahn Amaro

Born in England in 1956, Ven. Amaro Bhikkhu received his BSc. in Psychology and Physiology from the University of London. Spiritual searching led him to Thailand, where he went to Wat Pah Nanachat, a Forest Tradition monastery established for Western disciples of Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah, who ordained him as a bhikkhu in 1979. He returned to England and joined the newly established Chithurst Monastery. He resided for many years at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hemel Hemstead, UK, making trips to California every year during the 1990s.

In June of 1996 he established Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley, California. Ajahn Amaro has written a number of books, including an account of his 830-mile trek from Chithurst to Harnham Vihara called Tudong – the Long Road North, republished in the expanded book Silent Rain. Other works published by him include Small Boat, Great Mountain (2003), Rain on the Nile (2009) and The Island – An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana (2009) co-written with Ajahn Pasanno. Ajahn Amaro returned to Amaravati in July, 2010 and is currently the Abbott.

Advisor, Mark Coleman

Mark is an inner and outer explorer, who has devotedly studied mindfulness meditation practices for three decades. He is passionate about sharing the power of meditation and has been teaching mindfulness workshops and meditation retreats in six continents for the past fifteen years. Mark holds a MA in Clinical Psychology and works individually with people as an executive coach and consultant, drawing on his extensive experience in working with people as a therapist. Mark is a senior meditation teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, a renowned leader in the mindfulness field, and teaches regularly with pioneering teachers such as Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg.

Mark has always been keen to share the fruits of meditation to wider audiences and founded The Mindfulness Institute, where he has brought mindfulness trainings to Fortune 500 companies and the non profit sector across North America and Europe. Through the Mindfulness Training Institute Mark leads Professional Mindfulness Teacher Trainings in the US and UK annually.  Mark is a trainer for Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, developed at Google and leads their mindfulness and emotional intelligence leadership programs worldwide.

Mark is writer and author of Make Peace with Your Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Help Free You from the Inner Critic, and Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery. He is an unabashed nature lover and through his organization Awake in the Wild, Mark likes nothing more than sharing his passion for integrating meditation and nature. He has led wilderness meditation retreats from Alaska to Peru, taking people on inner and outdoor adventures.

Mark lives in Marin County, California and enjoys spending his free time hiking, biking and kayaking.

Advisor, Diana Winston

Diana Winston is the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA Semel Institute’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) and the co-author, with Susan Smalley PhD, of Fully Present, the Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness (DaCapo, 2010). She teaches mindful awareness practices to the general public to promote health and well-being. Called by the LA Times “one of the nation’s best-known teachers of mindfulness,” she has developed curriculum and taught mindfulness since 1993 in a variety of settings including hospitals, universities, corporations, non profits, and schools. She has taught mindful awareness to health professionals, leaders, teachers, activists, seniors, and adolescents in the US and Asia.

Diana is the founder of the Certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation, a pioneering year-long UCLA program that provides training, support, and supervision to those wishing to incorporate mindfulness into their occupation or to share mindfulness with individuals, groups, communities, or institutions. She is considered one of the early founders of meditation programs for youth, and taught on the seminal mindfulness and ADHD research study at UCLA in 2005. Her work has been mentioned in the New York Times, O Magazine, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and in a variety of magazines, books, and journals. She is also the author of Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens (Perigee Books, 2003), the CD “Mindful Meditations,” and has published numerous articles on mindfulness.

Diana is a member of the Teacher’s Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California. She is a graduate of Brown University and has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 1989, including a year as a Buddhist nun in Burma. Currently Diana’s most challenging practice is mindfully parenting a kindergartner.

Faculty

Hal Adler 

Prior to founding Leadership Landing Inc, Hal was President of Great Place to Work® Institute, the global research and consulting firm best known for creating the gold standard in workplace recognition; the annual FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For. Hal joined the Institute in 2004 as a consultant, and in 2006 was asked to be President of the company.

Hal’s success over the years has been attributed to his keen and intuitive understanding of leadership, workplace culture and change. Hal is often touted as someone with a unique and special understanding of what makes organizations tick and what individual leaders can do to support and foster high trust and high engagement in any organization. Cited by clients as “Trusted Advisor” and “Master Guide”, Hal deeply understands cultural transformation, and knows how to facilitate it, one leader at a time.

Hal’s range of practical, hands-on leadership experience spans from managing within multi-national publicly held companies, to being the first hire in boutique consulting firms. Hal has years of experience working with leadership across such industries as healthcare, airline, finance, manufacturing, insurance, retail, hospitality and gaming, technology and construction.

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/IMS teacher training program. He spent years doing research on addiction treatment at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine and continues to be interested in the unfolding dialogue between dharma and science.

Mark Coleman

(see above)

Barbara Demman, MS, MSN, CNS, ACNP-BC 

Barbara Demman is a board certified acute care nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist. Her twenty years of nursing clinical experience has ranged from large urban teaching hospitals in varying specialties to small community international centers. She currently serves as lecturer and program director at UCLA School of Nursing.

Barbara’s passion for global health concerns has paved the way for extensive international nursing work extending from the Caribbean, Africa, to South East Asia. Most recently, she works with Ghana Emergency Medicine Collaborative training Ghanaian nurses. This program has successfully implemented the first ever-nursing certification program within Ghana.

Barbara has a strong interest in decreasing burnout symptoms and compassion fatigue among health care providers using mindfulness based interventions. After experiencing her own burnout in 2008, she greatly values health promotion and wellness in nursing.   She and her husband, an ER physician, have created and facilitate six week courses called S.H.A.R.P.- Stress in Healthcare: Awareness, Reduction, and Prevention.

Melissa Eaton, LCSW

is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in community mental health since 2005. Melissa currently works for the Center for Harm Reduction Therapy where she coordinates the Center’s community services on Sixth Street in San Francisco. Before coming to the Center, she worked with families and children in domestic violence programs and with adults with severe mental illness and substance misuse. Her education focused on community-based mental health and she integrates humanistic psychology with mindfulness practices. Her interest lies in holistic care and in the recovery of people with severe mental illness from the most debilitating of their symptoms. Melissa is co-director of the program committee for SCA.

Kate Johnson

​Kate’s favorite words are awareness, embodiment, and action. She is a lifetime dancer, a longtime educator and meditator, and an emerging organizer/ process queen. Currently, Kate teaches mindful movement and meditation to people of all ages, facilitates somatic approaches to organizational and leadership development for change agents and communities, and produces programs integrating spirituality and social justice at Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She received a BFA in Dance from The Alvin Ailey School/ Fordham University, an MA in Performance Studies from New York University. She recently began a four year meditation retreat teacher training in at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she also completed the Mindful Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training and Community Dharma Leader Training. Her first book, Friendship As Freedom: Mindful Practices for Resisting Oppression and Building Community, will be published by Parallax Press in spring 2018.

Daniel Khodabakhsh, MD

is a board certified Emergency Medicine physician working at Antelope Valley hospital, one of the busiest ERs in the state. He is also the Palliative Care Medical Director for the hospital, helping patients and families with end-of-life care. Medical missions abroad include extended time in Haiti after the devastating earthquake and cholera epidemic, as well as in Philippines, Thailand and Panama.
Khoda turned his focus from international work to focusing on caregiver burnout and co-founded Stress in Healthcare: Awareness, Reduction, Prevention (SHARP) with his wife Barbara Demman. This is a free multi-week course offered to hospital staff and their families using mindfulness based interventions. He has taken extensive teacher training through the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and InsightLA.

Zubin Schroff

is the Director of Piedmont Yoga and its Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program. He has been practicing yoga for much of his life, starting with instruction at a very young age from his grandfather as well as from his mother and family as they took instruction directly from B.Y.S. Iyegar in Mumbai. As Piedmont Yoga’s Director, he spearheads the studio’s outreach program to Oakland schools and healthcare centers and is committed to bringing yoga to underserved communities and to Oakland’s diverse population and to communities nationally.Zubin completed an expansive teacher training with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidmen that included guest teachers Richard Rosen and Richard Freeman. An award winning photographer, Zubin is also the author and creator of Conversations with Modern Yogis: Yoga for the 21st Century.

Support Staff

Charese Allen, LCSW

Charese is a licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who has worked in the mental health field since 2003 in various settings including Langley Porter at UCSF, University of Washington in Seattle, and Kaiser Permanente in Richmond. She obtained both her undergraduate degree in psychology and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington in Seattle. During her time at the University of Washington, Charese had the unique opportunity to work with Marsha Linehan, the developer of DBT, as a research assistant and clinical assessor on multiple studies on the efficacy of DBT. Charese received her training as both a skills trainer and an individual DBT therapist during her one year internship at a juvenile prison. In addition, to DBT, Charese has been trained in ​​Exposure Therapy including Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. Charese is a co-director of the program committee for SCA.

Vanessa Chu, Development Coordinator 

Vanessa has been integrating yoga into her life as a practitioner and teacher since 2009. Most recently, she completed Jill’s 200-hour Embodied Mind Training in San Francisco. After receiving her MBA from Columbia Business School, she has spent her career building fast growing wellness businesses. Her goal is to make wellness an accessible and integral part of others’ lives. She is pleased to join the SCA team to spread the benefits of this practice to others in her community.

Robert Valdmanis, Business and Strategic Planning coordinator

Robert Valdmanis is President of RVC Inc., a global communications and public affairs strategy firm based in Montreal, Canada.

With over 25 years of domestic and international experience Robert has played a key role in the strategic planning and execution for multiple high-value-at-stake negotiations, issues management and stakeholder engagement across a broad range of issues, industries, public sector and and non-profit organizations.

Before founding RVC Inc. in 2012, Robert served as Vice President and Partner at Gervais, Gagnon & Associates (GGA) in Montreal, as Principal at The Dilenschneider Group (DGI) in NYC, and as President of GCI Canada, a 40-person PR firm in Toronto.

Robert is a certified yoga teacher, has completed a 10 day Vipassana (silent meditation) retreat and was a Canadian medalist and member of Concordia’s CIAU National Championship Wrestling team. He has lived, worked and traveled to over 60 countries and speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese and English.