Our community of advisors
To help design and spread Learning Circles, our small intimate groups that meet regularly to meditate, study, and support one another in practice, we have created two advisory boards. Our Strategic Advisory board is comprised of leaders from around the country who are experts in spreading meditation and organizing community. They generously share what they have learned in their work with us. Our Community Advisory board members are leading Learning Circles in their communities, ground testing the model and helping us evolve it.
Learning Circle Strategic Advisory Board
Joshua Gorman is a writer, speaker, changemaker, community builder, and a leading voice championing the paradigm-shifting role of the Millennial Generation. He is the founder of Generation Waking Up, an organization that ignites young people to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world. Through speaking, workshops, and leadership trainings, Joshua has the opportunity to connect with thousands of young people each year.
He self-designed a major titled ‘Global Youth and Social Change’ at George Mason University and supports youth-led projects and movements internationally. He is a founding member of Youth Passageways, a network of individuals and organizations working in the fields of youth and community development, contemporary rites of passage, intergenerational collaboration, and cultural renewal. A student of human development and transformational education, Joshua specializes in the experiences, knowledge, and skills that people need to thrive in the twenty-first century.
Currently, Joshua is working on a number of projects relating to the future of religion, spirituality, and secular culture with a focus on Millennials and the religiously unaffiliated called ‘the Nones’. He is a co-founder of Thrive East Bay, a new kind of purpose-driven community bringing people together at the intersections of science, spirituality, and social change.
Joshua lives in Oakland, California where he is completing a book titled Generation Waking Up: The Rise of Global Millennials and A Thriving New World.
Kalia LydgateKalia Lydgate is Dream Corps’ National Coordinator for the #LoveArmy. Kalia is a cultural creative interested in building new models that make the old obsolete. In 2007, Kalia co-authored the first-in-the-nation legislation to fund green jobs training programs in Massachusetts. From 2009-2012, she co-led a green jobs program in New Bedford, Mass., that developed innovative, whole-systems solutions for environmental, economic, and social justice challenges. During that time, she served as a Mayoral Fellow for the City of New Bedford, where she developed partnerships between the city, the local utility company and grassroots organizations to increase access to livable-wage jobs in the Green Economy. Kalia has developed environmental and climate justice curriculum for a number of after-school and summer programs using hip hop and creative expression to teach and engage young people. For the past five years, she has been immersed in sustainable agriculture and alternative economies at the local level. Since 2013, she has worked with the Olohana Foundation to restore traditional Hawaiian agroforestry practices as part of a climate adaptation and food security strategy. Kalia graduated from Wesleyan University in 2007 with a degree in Social Ecology. She is a mother, kitchen herbalist, spoken word artist and salsa dancer.
Marianne is co-founder of The Engage Network. She incubates, researches, and advises on building decentralized, people-led networks. This practice marries the best online organizing strategies with a unique, small circle approach to build field that emphasizes building a deep network of love and trust. Current and past partnerships include: the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, Greenpeace International and Mobilisation Lab, Sierra Club, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy/SEIU International, Farm Sanctuary, Everytown for Gun Violence/Moms Demand Action, as well as co-designing Off the Mat Into the World - the largest yoga and social change non-profit organization and network.
Prior to co-founding The Engage Network, Manilov spent 25 years in organizing. She co-founded several c3 and c4 efforts, including The Center for Commercial-Free Public Education, which brought the corporate takeover of public schools onto the national agenda and created grassroots networks in 23 states.
Marianne writes on social change and has been quoted extensively in the media, including The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Nation. She has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, the BBC, and Good Morning America. Her own inner practices include dance and meditation.
Konda Mason is a social entrepreneur, earth and social justice activist, and spiritual teacher. Her current work speaks to the intersection of the next economy, social justice, and spirituality. She is the Co-Founder and former CEO of Impact Hub Oakland, a beautiful co-working space that supports socially engaged entrepreneurs and changemakers. She is the Project Director of the Runway Project Oakland, a micro-lending fund for African American entrepreneurs intended to close the “Friends & Family” gap funding that is often unavailable to them. Additionally, Konda is the co-founder of the annual COCAP (Community Capital) conference in Oakland, with a focus on “Building the We Economy.” Konda is also one of the co-founders and co-facilitator of The Well-Being In Business Lab–Oakland, a cross-sector initiative guiding prominent business owners, non-profit leaders, and government officials to a deeper level of intention within themselves and their businesses.
An avid Earth activist, Konda leads annual eco-tourism trips to the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador in order to wake people up to become active stewards of this vital earth ecosystem that is being threatened by the extractive oil industry. Ms. Mason is an accomplished filmmaker and artists manager, and the recipient of an Academy Award nomination and a Grammy Award winner. Konda holds a Permaculture Design Certificate, is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher and a vipassana meditation teacher. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Good Work Institute and Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she is in a four-year Dharma Teacher Training with Jack Kornfield as her personal mentor.
Konda’s work is fueled by a passion to witness in her lifetime a world that is environmentally regenerative, spiritually fulfilling, socially just and economically equitable.
Ms. Mason is honored to be on the Advisory Board of the Namchak Foundation’s Learning Circles.
Brando first received formal meditation instruction at Dhamma Dhara, a S.N.Goenka center in Shelbourne, Mass. in 2011. Since then, he has completed numerous eight- to 10-day silent meditation retreats at Goenka centers, IMS, and IMCW. In 2016 he completed a 100-day residence training in the Rinzai Zen tradition at Dai Bossatsu Zendo and a 60-day silent meditation retreat at Panditarama Forest Meditation in Myanmar under the guidance of Sayadaw U Pandita. He is currently interested in integrating the teachings of reincarnation and karma in a professional/institutional setting.
meckell milburn is originally from Louisiana but has called the Bay Area, CA home since 2012. She is a Health Educator with UC Berkeley’s University Health Services. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana and her master’s degree in Integrative Health from California Institute of Integral Studies. meckell has a passion for supporting people in becoming healthier versions of themselves in ways that center their needs and individual experiences, with a deep commitment to supporting the black community and queer & trans communities of color. Her philosophy is that the whole person (mind, body, spirit) must be considered in order to reach optimal wellness. She has a special clinical interest in physical movement, eating habits, mindfulness and meditative practices, and spirituality.
Rachel is a dedicated and passionate educator and dancer as well as the founder and director of Embodied Dance, Embodied Youth, and Embodied Life LLC. Her deep passion is to empower others and build community, as well as to inspire an embodied and compassionate life through dance, movement, and mindfulness practices. Her enthusiasm for teaching has inspired both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education. She has been working with school-aged children and adolescents for over 18 years. She holds secondary teaching certificates in five different states in addition to certificates and training in Spirituality, Health, and Healing; Reiki; Mindfulness Fundamentals; The Power of Awareness Mindfulness Training; Learning to Breathe: A Mindfulness Curriculum for Adolescents, and Multi-Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness.
Over the years, Rachel has been committed to traveling, training, teaching, and organizing local and destination events to bring people, schools, and communities together through social dance, mindful movement, healing and empowerment work, and meditative practices. Additionally, she enjoys collaborating with budding Zouk communities to assist them in cultivating vibrant Zouk scenes, as teaching and dancing Brazilian Zouk is one of Rachel’s greatest dance passions.
Joe Previte received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and now works as a digital marketer/web developer. He’s been meditating since 2013 and now leads a virtual learning circle via Google Hangout. Fun fact: he used to be Wilbur The Wildcat, the mascot at his university.
Ashley Taraban is an oil painter who creates energetic landscapes. She dispenses with the traditional concept of the landscape as the representation of concrete forms and transforms the genre to lyrically express both visible and unseen realms of existence. Such paintings give expression to sprits and elements of the natural world coexisting with sensate reality. She explores her own understanding of and relationship to nature and energy, which translate visually as a dialog between the micro and macro cosmos. Within the paintings, small clusters of lines and dots reference subatomic particles and cells morphing to interact with larger organic shapes. Colors cross the sensory barrier and become feelings and states of being. Where pure energy becomes matter and cycles back again, the landscape allows the viewer an awareness of the presence of a transformative energy. Her paintings are visual representations of how the energies of nature are conducting and making themselves manifest in the material world, reflecting dynamic processes rooted in nature and shared universally below the threshold of consciousness.
Ashley graduated with a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.