Visiting Teachers

Skilled and Compassionate Guidance Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center guided meditation retreats are led by the most skilled and capable teachers...

Skilled and Compassionate Guidance

Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center guided meditation retreats are led by the most skilled and capable teachers within various dharma and wisdom traditions. Our teachers have dedicated their lives to awakening and service. At our center each teacher brings their own unique and powerful experience of waking up in wild nature.  You will be in good hands with all who teach at Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center.


Amana Brembry Johnson

Amana Brembry Johnson is a Core Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA and a Guiding Teacher for the center’s Spiritual Teacher and Leadership (STL) training.  Four decades of contemplative practice in multiple traditions contributes to a form of teaching, meditation guidance and mentoring, that offers a diverse range of access to practice.  Amana’s life work emerges from the intersections of spirituality, social justice, body awareness, and intuitive creativity.

Anne Cushman

As a writer and teacher, Anne Cushman explores the intersection between spiritual practice, creative expression, and the down-to-earth details of embodied human life. A practitioner of yoga and dharma since 1982, she is a member of the Teachers Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Director of Mentoring for the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program. She is the author of the memoir The Mama Sutra: A Story of Love, Loss, and the Path of Motherhood; the novel Enlightenment for Idiots; the spiritual India travel guide From Here to Nirvana; and Moving Into Meditation, a mindfulness course for yoga practitioners.…

Anu Gupta

Anu Gupta is a lawyer, scientist, educator, and the Founder of BE MORE with Anu. He developed BE MORE’s science-backed method by applying existing neuroscience and organizational psychology to 15 years of original research on the causes of and solutions to organizational diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) challenges. A peer-reviewed author and the principal investigator behind BE MORE’s research, Anu is a sought-after expert in DEIB, mindfulness, and breaking bias. He has written and spoken extensively, including on the TED stage, the Oprah Conversation, Fast Company, and Newsweek. Anu worked as an attorney, a research scientist, and a teacher…

Anushka Fernandopulle

Anushka Fernandopulle has trained for over 30 years in the Theravada Buddhist tradition in the U.S., India, and Sri Lanka. Anushka is on the Teacher’s Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, lives in San Francisco and teaches retreats and workshops around the world. She also serves as a leadership coach and consultant, influenced by a BA in anthropology and religion from Harvard and an MBA from Yale. Her teaching is informed by nature, creative arts, political engagement and modern urban life.

Bill Morgan, PsyD

Bill Morgan, PsyD is a clinical psychologist who has been practicing meditation for over 35 years in both Zen and Vipassana traditions. He has participated in more than 6 years of silent retreats, and once lived in a Trappist monastery for 6 months. He has a private practice in two Boston locations. Bill is a board member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a non-profit organization in Boston, which offers seminars, courses, retreats and a certificate program for mental health professionals. He is a contributing author to Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, a best selling text in its second edition. billandsusan.org

Bonnie Duran (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta)

Bonnie Duran, PhD met the Dharma in 1982 when she sat a month in Nepal and learned Vipassana in Bodh Gaya India. Since then, she has taken teachings from many western teachers as well as Thai, Burmese, and Tibetan Monastic teachers. Bonnie attended the very first People of Color Mediation Retreat at Vallecitos decades ago and we are proud to have her sit on our Teachers’ Council today. Bonnie is a core-teacher of the IMS Teacher Training Program, the SRMC Dedicated Practitioners Program and is on the SRMC Guiding Teachers Council. Bonnie teaches long and short retreats at IMS, Spirit…

Brian Lesage

Brian has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught since 2000. He has studied in the Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan schools and was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996.  His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India as well as numerous retreats in the U.S.  He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide.  Brian also has a private practice in Somatic Experiencing, which is a naturalistic approach to healing trauma.

Carol Cano

Carol Cano, M.A., began her practice over 30 years ago at Wat Kow Tahm in Thailand and has actively engaged in building communities and teaching Dharma internationally. Carol is Founder and Executive Director of Braided Wisdom, a BIPOC led cross-cultural mindfulness organization. She is a graduate of the 2017-2020 Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Teacher Training program and a teacher at Spirit Rock often. She is a core teacher and a former board member of East Bay Meditation Center. Carol co-founded Philippine Insight Meditation Community in the Philippines. Her unique teachings are deeply grounded in Basque, Native American and Buddhist influences…

Carole Melkonian

Carole Melkonian has been practicing meditation for decades; spending four years in residence at Zen Mountain Monastery and 12 years studying closely with Thich Nhat Hanh, helping start his publishing company, Parallax Press. She has attended many three-month Winter Retreats at monasteries in the Ajahn Chah lineage in the UK and dedicated all of 2015 to practicing meditation at monasteries. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock/IMS Community Dharma Leader Program. She draws inspiration most deeply from the nuns and monks in the Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, is especially drawn to the teachings of Ajahn Sucitto and former…

Chas DiCapua

Chas has been practicing mindfulness and Buddhist meditation, primarily in the Early Buddhist school, for over 30 years, including over two years of combined time in silent, intensive retreat.  He has trained with Burmese meditation masters, western monastics of the Thai Forest tradition and senior western Vipassana teachers.  In 2003 Chas was invited to be the Resident Teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA where he continues to serve in that role.  Chas is a graduate of the four year Insight Meditation Society (IMS) / Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program led by Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and others.…

Cheryl Slean

Cheryl Slean has been practicing Insight meditation intensively since 1995 and has taught classes and retreats worldwide for 15 years in both spiritual and secular settings. Cheryl is also a writer, filmmaker and climate advocate, and is manager of Sustainability and Storytelling at Netflix.

Dave Smith

Dave Smith is an internationally recognized Buddhist meditation teacher, addiction treatment specialist, and published author. His background is rooted in the Insight Meditation tradition and he was empowered to teach through the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. He has extensive experience bringing meditative interventions into jails, prisons, youth detention centers and addiction treatment facilities. Dave teaches residential meditation retreats and classes, provides trainings and consulting in both secular and Buddhist contexts, and works with students through his meditation mentoring program. He recently founded the Secular Dharma Foundation and lives in Paonia, Colorado.

Devin Berry

Devin’s practice primarily focuses on daily life and long retreat practices. He is passionate about the power of witnessing and storytelling, knowing that through the integration of reflection and insight, clarity and wisdom give rise to wise action and liberation. He is an empowered teacher in the IMS lineage. For more information, visit www.devinberry.org.

Elvina Charley (Diné)

Elvina Charley, Ed.S. is Diné (Navajo) school psychologist practitioner and integrates mindfulness as a part of serving children and youth. Charley has been practicing mindfulness since 2013, introduced to her by Bonnie Duran, Ph.D. as a way to heal from historical trauma. She found parallels between her Diné philosophy of life – Sa’ah naaghái bik’eh hózhóón and Buddhism. Charley continues to cultivate her practice through people of color retreat programs through the Insight Meditation Society and Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center. Charley received training through Mindful Schools to bring back mindfulness to reservation schools.

Erin Treat

Erin’s love for wild nature, her passionate commitment to serving collective liberation, and decades of working as a bodyworker are all palpable in her Dharma. Erin is Guiding Teacher at both Vallecitos and the Durango Dharma Center, and is a Core Teacher at Spirit Rock.  She served as core faculty of the sixth Community Dharma Leaders (CDL) Program, and is a graduate of Thanissara and Kitissaro’s Dhammapala Training, designed to bring forth an embodied bodhisattva ideal within the lineage of Theravada Buddhism. Erin was born and raised in the prairie of Fargo, North Dakota to a family of Irish and British heritage.…

Hakim Tafari

Hakim Tafari is originally from the UK and currently resides in the Los Angeles area. In the mid 1990s, after an injury and illness that led him to acupuncture, he was introduced to a life of mindful movement and herbal medicines that helped him to adopt a lifestyle that supported his wellbeing. For over 20 years Hakim has been practicing martial arts, specializing and sharing the practice of Tai Chi Chuan and Qi Gong. He has also become vastly skilled in Eastern bodywork of Shiatsu/Thai Yoga Massage and the Five Element Theory. Among other expertise, Hakim is a Buddhist Dharma…

JD Doyle

JD Doyle(they/them) serves as Guiding Teacher at Insight Santa Cruz and was a Core Teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center for 5 years. They graduated from Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Teacher Training, the Community Dharma Leader training, and the Dedicated Practitioner Program. JD began studying and practicing Buddhism in 1995, at Insight Meditation Society and at Spirit Rock and continued with extensive retreat practice in Thailand and Burma in the Theravadan lineage. 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…

Jeanne Corrigal

Jeanne Corrigal has been practicing since 1999, is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Program, and the guiding teacher for the Saskatoon Insight Meditation Community.  Jeanne is a member of the mixed heritage Métis Nation, one of three Indigenous communities recognized in Canada. One of her first teachers in loving presence was Cree Elder Jim Settee.  She is a participant in the 2017-2021 IMS teacher training program.

Jennifer Berezan

Jennifer Berezan is a unique blend of singer/songwriter, producer, and activist. Over the course of ten albums, she has developed and explored recurring themes with a rare wisdom. Her lifelong involvement in environmental, women’s, and other justice movements as well as an interest in Buddhism and earth-based spirituality are at the heart of her writing. Her intense and personal approach to music as a transforming experience has brought her strong rapport with audiences from small clubs to large festivals throughout North America and Europe. Her ground breaking work as a recording artist and teacher has established her as a leading…

Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey’s teaching aims to inspire the skills, determination, and faith necessary to realize the deepest human freedom. He is a student of Michele McDonald and his approach is rooted in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. As a teacher of Vipassana (insight) meditation within the broader context of Theravada Buddhism his teaching encourages an exploration of the relationship between ethics, insight, and action. Perpetually intrigued by the dynamics between inner and outer change, Jesse is a writer of numerous essays and author of Insurgent Heart: A Vipassana Manual for the Guerrilla Yogi. Links to his writing can be…

JoAnna Hardy

JoAnna has been exploring and practicing multiple traditions since 1999. In 2005, her focus landed on Buddhism and Vipassana meditation. Helping communities and individuals that don’t typically have access to traditional dharma settings, social/racial justice, and building multicultural community are top on her list of priorities. She currently has weekly drops as a meditation trainer on the Apple Fitness Plus App and is on faculty teaching Mindfulness to undergraduates at USC (University of Southern California). She is an empowered teacher in the Spirit Rock, IMS lineage. For more information, visit www.joannahardy.org.

Kate Munding

Kate Munding sits on Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Guiding Teacher Council and is the guiding teacher for Assaya Sangha, a women’s Buddhist meditation community based in the San Francisco East Bay. In addition to her Dharma teaching, Kate has been a mindfulness educator in schools since 2008. She has developed multiple mindfulness curriculums for the classroom and provided professional training to thousands of educators and mindfulness teachers who want to bring mindfulness-based curricula to kids. Kate’s current focus is now on bringing mindfulness to parents and educators raising neurodivergent children. When she’s not teaching, Kate loves being mom to her…

Leslie Booker

Booker brings her heart to the intersection of Dharma, Embodied Wisdom, and Liberation. She speaks nationally on expanding our vision around culturally responsive teaching, and changing the paradigm of self and community care. Throughout her career, Booker has contributed to the advancement of her field both in theory and practice with NYC’s most vulnerable populations and taking her practice off the cushion. She is a co-founder of the Yoga Service Council at Omega Institute and the Meditation Working Group of Occupy Wall Street. Booker is a co-author of Best Practices for Yoga in a Criminal Justice Setting, a contributor to…

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is a senior teacher at Spirit Rock and has taught insight meditation worldwide since 1997. Mark is passionate about integrating meditation and nature and leads wilderness retreats through his organization, Awake in the Wild, as well as nature based meditation teacher trainings. Co-founder of the Mindfulness Training Institute Mark also leads year long mindfulness teacher trainings in the UK and US. He is author of Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery and Make Peace With Your Mind and his recent book From Suffering to Peace. He lives in Northern California and likes nothing more…

Michele McDonald

Michele McDonald has taught Insight meditation since 1982 and teaches extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Burma, and various locations around the world. Michele has been a quiet pioneer having being the first woman to teach a formal retreat in Burma, side-by-side with a senior monastic figure, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. Having worked with a wide range of Asian and Western teachers, Michele is most inspired by her practice with Dipa Ma and Sayadaw U Pandita and more recently in Burma with the Mya Taung Sayadaw. She appreciates teaching at many levels of practice and has enjoyed…

Peter Williams

Peter Williams has practiced meditation for 29 years in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. He has done more than 35 months of silent retreat. He has taught insight meditation (mindfulness) since 2003 and has completed the Community Dharma Leader training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Peter leads meditation retreats and dedicated practice groups based out of Longmont, CO. He has taught mindfulness to diverse audiences, from juvenile justices to school teachers to environmentalists. He is one of the founders of the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center in the mountains near Boulder, CO. Peter also practices as a transpersonal psychotherapist,…

René Rivera

René Rivera is a meditation teacher, restorative justice facilitator, and leader, working and learning in all the spaces in-between race, gender, and other perceived binaries, as a queer, latinx, trans man. René teaches heart-centered, trauma-informed meditation, at the East Bay Meditation Center and other meditation centers. He has co-led the first residential meditation retreats for transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive people. René is a restorative justice facilitator for the Ahimsa Collective, working to heal sexual and gender based violence.

Ron Siegel, PsyD

Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is Assistant Professor of Psychology, part time, Harvard Medical School; serves on the Board of Directors and faculty, Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy; is author of The Extraordinary Gift of Being Ordinary: Finding Happiness Right Where You Are; The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems, coauthor of Sitting Together: Essential Skills for Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy and Back Sense; coeditor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice; and professor for The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being produced by The Great Courses. He is also a regular…

Solwazi Johnson

Solwazi has been practicing and teaching Buddhism and mindfulness meditation for over 20 years, with a focus on Vipassana since 2003. He has studied/practiced in Thailand, Burma, India, and South Africa. He is certified as a Community Dharma Leader by Jack Kornfield and Spirit Rock Meditation Center and a graduate of the four-year Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program. Solwazi worked for over 20 years as a health educator and national trainer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. He leads mindfulness meditation classes and retreats in the Denver metropolitan area. He…

Susan Morgan, MSN, RN, CS

Susan Morgan is a psychotherapist in private practice in Cambridge, MA. She consults with therapists who are interested in deepening therapeutic presence. Susan completed a 4-year silent mindfulness meditation retreat along with her partner, Bill in 2013. She has co-led retreats for psychotherapists with Bill for the past 15 years and together also lead small on-line study-practice groups or sanghas for psychotherapists. Lovingkindness and mindfulness of the body are integral to her mindfulness teaching. Susan is a board member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a non-profit organization in Boston, which offers seminars, courses, retreats and a certificate program…

Syra Smith (Choctaw-Chickasaw)

Syra Smith is an artist, facilitator and mindfulness educator interested in deep ecology and manifesting a culture where we can turn toward fearless abundance and generosity. Her grandmothers are Choctaw-Chickasaw and include those among the first freed black African women to own land in her country. Syra’s studies and practices are deeply rooted in the heart and awakening more fully to the truth of freedom in our lives. A lifelong meditator and SF Bay Area native, Syra began her meditation practice as a teen in 1988 and has been practicing in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 2009. She graduated East…

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Victoria Cary

Victoria Cary has been practicing Insight Meditation and studying the Dharma since 2006. In 2017 she completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader program and went on to become a fully empowered Dharma Teacher. In 2016 she co-founded the San Francisco People of Color Insight Sangha and continues as one of the core teachers. She is a San Francisco Bay Area Native. She left her workplace of 20 years in 2017 to deepen into the Dharma. Since then she has spent time in and out of intensive silent meditation practice, including a 3-month retreat at IMS, 6-week amd 3-month retreats at…

Vinny Ferraro

Vinny Ferraro is a leader in the field of Mindfulness specifically working with educators and incarcerated populations. His experience includes teaching emotional intelligence and mindfulness workshops to more than 100,000 youth, and the adults that work with them. He’s also the Guiding Teacher of the Big Heart City Sangha in SF He’s been leading a weekly meditation group in SF for the last 18 years. His open-hearted teachings have touched hella people. Oh yeah, and he doesn’t like talking about himself in the 3rd person.

Yong Oh

Yong Oh began meditating through the Soto Zen tradition and eventually transitioned to study, practice and teach in the Insight tradition. Yong serves as a teacher on the Dharma Council for the Durango Dharma Center and has sat on the board of directors since 2019. He also teaches for the Chattanooga Insight Meditation group, and has taught retreats at Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Yong is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s two-year Community Dharma Leaders program and the Sacred Mountain Sangha two-year Dharmapala training, taught by his primary teachers Kittisaro and Thanissara. He is also a graduate…