Bipin and Rekha Shah Conference on Nonviolence

Care, Compassion, and Mindfulness Conference, November 7-9, 2014 Speaker and Panelist Bios

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Bios of speakers and panelists are listed below in an alphabetic order.

MELISSA AMBROSE, LCSW/PPS, completed her Master's degree in Social Work at San Francisco State University where she earned the highest academic honors award. Prior to her current job as Wellness Counselor, she taught Humanities for nine years at Oceana High School in Pacifica, CA. She participated in Mindful Schools’ curriculum training in 2010, is currently enrolled in their year-long teacher training, and teaches mindfulness at Oceana. She also participated in the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) Summer Institute for Educators in 2013. She is a board member of the Daly City Youth Center and of Pyramid Alternatives, a local mental health agency.

RANDALL AMSTER, J.D., Ph.D., is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University, and serves as Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His articles have appeared in journals including Peace Review, Contemporary Justice Review, and the Journal of Sustainability Education, and he has been a regular contributor to online publications such as Common Dreams, Huffington Post, and Truthout. Included among his books are Peace Ecology (Paradigm Publishers, 2014), Anarchism Today (Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2012), and Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008).

CHRISTOPHER KEY CHAPPLE, Ph.D., is Navin and Pratima Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Theology at Loyola Marymount University.  A specialist in the religions of India, he has published more than a dozen books, including In Praise of Mother Earth: The Prthivi Sukta (2012), Yoga and the Luminous (2012), Reconciling Yogas (2003), Jainism and Ecology (2002), Hinduism and Ecology (2000), Nonviolence to Animals, Earth, and Self in Asian Traditions (1993), and Karma and Creativity (1986). He serves on the advisory boards for the Forum on Religion and Ecology (Yale), the Green Yoga Association (Oakland), and the Ahimsa Center (Pomona). He edits the journal Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology (Brill) and serves on the advisory boards for the Forum on Religion and Ecology (Yale), the Green Yoga Association, and other organizations.

SAMANI CHARITRAPRAGYA is the Vice- Chacellor of Jain Vishva Bharti University, Ladnun, India. She received her initiation in 1990 from Ganadhipati Gurudev Tulsi and Acharya Mahapragyaji. She was a visiting faculty at the Florida International University where she spearheaded the establishment of Bhagwan Mahavir Chair in the department of Religous Studies. She has two Master's degrees in Sanskrit and in Jain Philosophy and Comparative Studies. She has led numerous Preksha Meditation camps in India, Europe, and the United States, where she has also delivered invited lectures on Jain Philosophy and Culture.

JAMES R. DOTY, M.D., is Founder and Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at the Stanford University's School of Medicine where he is a Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery. As Director of CCARE, Dr. Doty's research interests include the effect of compassion training on immunologic and other physiologic determinates of health, the use of mentoring as a method of instilling compassion in students, and the use of compassion training to decrease pain. He has interviewed internationally acclaimed practitioners of compassion, including the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma). Dr. Doty serves on the Board of Directors of numerous non-profit foundations, including the Dalai Lama Foundation of which he is the Chairman; and on the International Advisory Board of the Council for the Parliament of the World Relgions. For more click here.

PETER FLUGEL, Ph.D., is Reader in the Department of the Study of Religions, University of London. He is the founding Chair of the Centre of Jaina Studies at the London School of Oriental and African Studies(SOAS). Dr. Flugel, has published widely on Jaina history and culture. He is editor of the Routledge Advances in Jaina Studies, the International Journal of Jaina Studies, and the Newsletter of the Centre of Jaina Studies. He hosts the Annual Jaina Studies Workshop at SOAS.

KOZO HATTORI is a counselor for men and parents at Kozo received his Masters Degree from UC Santa Barbara where he focused on Asian American Masculinity. He is also a certified graduate from Interchange Counseling Institute and the Cultivating Compassion Class at Stanford University. His life and his work are dedicated to cultivating compassion in men and boys, himself included. He is currently working on a book entitled Raising Compassionate Boys. His articles have been published by The Greater Good Science Center, The Good Men Project, Mindful Magazine, and Yes Magazine.

VEENA RANI HOWARD, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Asian Religions at California State University, Fresno. Her publications include the book Gandhi’s Ascetic Activism: Renunciation and Social Action (SUNY Press, 2013), and several articles such as “Rethinking Gandhi's Celibacy: Ascetic Power and the Empowerment of Women” (The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 2013), “Non-violence and Justice as Inseparable Principles: A Gandhian Perspective” (Justice and Mercy Will Kiss: The Vocation of Peacemaking in a World of Many Faiths, 2008), and “Gandhi, The Mahatma: Evolving Narratives and Native Discourse in Gandhi Studies” (Religion Compass, May 2007). Her article, “Gandhi on Death Penalty: Extending the Idea of Metaphysical ‘Unity of all Beings’ to Compassion for All Beings,” will be published in Interreligious Perspectives on the Death Penalty (Forthcoming, 2014).

LAURIE HUGES teaches humanities at the Oceana High School in Pacifica, CA. She was recognized as Educator of the Year for California Region 4 in 2008. She is the founder of the Oceana Garden Project, which won a 2013 California School Board’s Golden Bell Award, and is the Coordinator of the Oceana Senior Exhibitions, which received a 2009 Russell J. Kent Award. She is a recipient of Ahimsa Center Fellowship and participated in the 2009 Ahimsa Summer Institute. Following her participation in the the Mindful Schools’ curriculum training, she has led her students in the daily mindfulness practice.  

SHAMINI JAIN, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist in the Brain, Mind, and Healing Center (BMH) of the Samueli Institute, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego. Her clinical research focus is on biofield and whole-systems approaches for healing. Her current extramurally-funded research includes a prospective outcomes trial to examine the impact of a comprehensive cancer clinic (InspireHealth) on quality of life and survival in late stage cancer patients, the examination of the impact of gratitude on psychoneuroendocrine functioning in pre-symptomatic heart failure patients, and the development and testing of systems biology-based models for understanding and tracking resilience and wellness. Dr. Jain has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications in integrative medicine and psychoneuroimmunology, and has received several awards from scientific organizations for her work.

RICHARD JOHNSON, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Germanic Languages at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne where he co-founded Women’s Studies and directed the Peace & Conflict Studies Program. As a community activist, he co-founded the Rape Awareness Program and the Center for Nonviolence. He received his mindfulness training at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has published a wide range of research articles, including several with a focus on Gandhian nonviolent social transformation, and two books, Ich schreibe mir die Seele frei (I Write my Soul Free) in German in 1990, and Gandhi's Experiments with Truth in 2006. He is interested in exploring the inter-connection between inner peace and peace around us.

KALTRINA KUSARI is a native of Kosova. She left home shortly after the Kosova war of 1999 to pursue an education that would allow her to return and help her country with its post-war development. She graduated from Quest University Canada, with a Bachelor degree of Liberal Arts and Sciences. While at Quest, she was guided by the question “How can we create happier societies?” This led to her thesis, "Happiness Through the Ages," in which she draws upon positive psychology, philosophy and history of happiness, all of which allowed her to make connections between trust and social happiness. She is currently enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Calgary, Canada.

MARK MALISA, Ph.D., teaches at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. His research interests include international education and (anti) globalization as well as the preservation of African languages. He is currently working on a book chapter on the role of intellectuals in the creation of apartheid. He is drawn to the impact and influence of the South African years oin the thought of Mahatma Gandhi, and Ubuntu and the caring of orphans in Southern Africa (South Africa and Zimbabwe).

LISA DALE MILLER, MA, LMFT, LPCC, SEP, is a private practice psychotherapist in Los Gatos, CA, specializing in mindfulness psychotherapy and Somatic Experiencing therapy for depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction and chronic pain. She is also an outpatient provider for the VA San Jose. Lisa is the author of a highly regarded textbook on Buddhist psychology for mental health professionals, Effortless Mindfulness: Genuine mental health through awakened presence. Training clinicians in the practical application of Buddhist psychology is her greatest joy. Lisa has been a yogic and Buddhist meditation practitioner for four decades. For more, visit: or

VLAD MOSKOVSKY is the co-founder and executive director of Compassionate Leaders (CL), a unique Bay Area non-profit that is redefining leadership to bring more wisdom into the world. Focusing on teens through a 12 week program, CL teaches engaged mindfulness practice. Student learn to use mindfulness in daily life through a collaborative social justice project based on design thinking. Vlad has been practicing meditation since 2000 and teaching since 2009. He teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Esalen Institute. Vlad holds a bachelors of science from Rutgers State University in Environmental Planning and Design. He is also a certified advanced yoga teacher.

RODERIC OWEN, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Program at Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia. Dr. Owen is a contributing scholar in the fields of Ethics, Mediation, and Peace and Justice Studies. His areas of research and publication include character education, interdisciplinary approaches to teaching of ethics, and itnerfaith dialogue and conflict resolution.

JENNY PHILLIPS, Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist, writer, and psychiatric nurse. Over the past ten years, she has worked with men in both state and county prisons, teaching courses on emotional literacy skills.
In 2008, Phillips released the documentary, The Dhamma Brothers,
which challenges the assumptions about the nature of prisons as solely places of punishment, and prisoners with no prospect of reform. Deeply rooted in the Vipassana meditation program at Donaldson Correctional Facility, the story of the Dhamma Brothers serves as an example to other prisons. While working on the film, she received more than 200 letters from the Alabama prisoners documenting their changing lives in the prison and their quest for inner peace. These letters were published in a book she edited, Letters From Dhamma Brothers (2008). For more, visit:

LOBSANG RAPGAY, Ph.D., is a research psychologist and Director of the Study on Sustained Attention, and  Working Memory in Anxiety Disorders, and Learning at the Department of Psychiatry, UCLA.  He was the Clinical Director of the UCLA Behavioral Medicine Clinic and Program, a training clinic for psychiatric residents and psychology interns. His basic research focuses on studying  internal sustained attention and its neural correlates.  He also seeks to translate these findings into clinical application for treating anxiety disorders and learning issues. He was a Tibetan Buddhist monk for 18 years and is well versed in Tibetan Buddhist theory and practice. He is the author of many books, including Tibetan Medicine: A Holistic Approach to Better Health. For more click.

TAZEEN RASHID teaches AP/IB Economics at the Suncoast Community High School in Miami, FL. She is a recipient of 2011 Ahimsa Center Fellowship and participated in Ahimsa Summer institute, Gandhi, Sustainability and Happiness. In 2012 she went to India under the IISJ program. Tazeen earned a MSC in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics, UK; and a Bachelor in Economics from the Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, India. She has a growing interest in the role of ethics and mindfulness in education. Her article on Slum Children was published in the book A City for All by Zed publications.


SRINIVAS REDDY, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar, India. He received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley where he studied Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu literary traditions and wrote his thesis on the Vijayanagara emperor Krishnadevaraya and his grand Telugu epic, Amuktamalyada. Subsequently, his translation of this work was published as, Giver of the Worn Garland (Penguin Books, 2011). Dr. Reddy is also a professional concert sitarist and has given numerous recitals throughout the world. He has three albums to his credit: GITA (1999), Sitar & Tabla (2001) and Hemant & Jog (2008). He was trained by Sri Partha Chatterjeea, direct disciple of the late sitar maestro Pandit Nikhil Banerjee.


PEGGY SIA teaches at Palm Elementary school in Los Angeles County. She received her BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and MA in Education from the Claremont Graduate University.Her interests include character education, environmental education, social justice and empowerment, and nonviolent social change. She is actively involved with her school community where she has served as the secretary for her school’s Site Council. Peggy is a recipient of 2009 Ahimsa Center fellowship and participated in the Residential Summer Institute for K-12 Educators on Journeys of Nonviolence: Gandhi and King.

JEFF SMITH is co-founder and CEO of LUNAR DESIGNS, named by the Business Week in the top 10 award-winning American product design firms. He has received numerous design awards to his credit. Most recently, LUNAR has received the prestigious National Design Award for Product Design from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Jeff also co-founded Nova Cruz Products, Satellite Models and, most recently, T’emogique. Under his leadership, LUNAR, which is based in the Silicone Valley, has become a world leader in creating successful and memorable products for the consumer, technology, and medical industries.

VIKAS SRIVASTAVA has been a counselor, teacher, and an administrator in elementary, middle and high school settings—both public and private--which has given him experience in working with students drawn from diverse backgrounds. He is a recipient of 2007 Ahimsa Center Fellowship and participated in the ahimsa summer institute on Gandhi. He was initiated into mindfulness practice by Thich Nhat Hahn which inspired him to integrate the practice of mindfulness in his classroom. Recently, he founded the Center for Mindfulness, and launched the Mindful School Project in 2013. Vikas received his Bachelors degree in Sociology from University of California, San Diego and a Masters degree in Education from Harvard University.

MICHAEL TOBIAS, Ph.D., is a world-renowned global ecologist, author, filmmaker, historian, and explorer. He is the author of more than 35 books and director and producer of nearly 100 films, documentaries and T.V. series. His field research has taken him to some 80 countries. Tobias is the President and CEO of the Dancing Star Foundation, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation devoted to animal welfare, international biodiversity conservation and environmental education. For his work he has received numerous awards and honors, including the international “ Courage of Conscience Award” for his passionate commitment to animal rights, nature and nonviolence; and, the Parabola Focus Award for his long-standing body of work aimed at creating a better world. Dr. Tobias is director and producer of the film, Yasuni: A Mediation on Life, which premiered at the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012. Dr. Tobias is a Goodwill Ambassador for the Yasuni­-ITT Initiative to save Ecuador's heart of the Amazon.




B. ALAN WALLACE, Ph.D., is President and Founder of Santa Barbara Institute of Consciousness Studies. Ordained as a Buddhist monk by the Dalai Lama in 1975, he has taught Buddhist meditation and philosophy worldwide since 1976, and has served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including the Dalai Lama. After graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College, where he studied physics and the philosophy of science, he returned his monastic vows and went on to earn his Ph.D. in religious studies at Stanford University. He is one of the most prolific writer and translators of books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language and culture and the interface between science and Buddhism. His most recent books include Dreaming Yourself Awake: Lucid Dreaming and Tibetan Dream Yoga for Insight and Transformation; Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic: A Manifesto for the Mind Sciences and Contemplative Practice; Stilling the Mind; Minding Closely: The Four Applications of Mindfulness; Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism, and Christianity; and Hidden Dimensions: The Unification of Physics and Consciousness; Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind; Genuine Happiness: Meditation as a Path to Fulfillment; and The Four Immeasurables: Cultivating a Boundless Heart.

GIANFRANCO ZACCAI is Co-Founder, President and Chief Design Officer of Design Continuum, an internationally recognized design and innovation consultancy. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Design Management Institute (DMI) in Boston and on the Board of Advisors to the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. He is also a Visiting Lecturer at the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy. He has been associated with a variety of development projects in Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, India and Chile; and has a keen interest in finding innovative solutions to promote sustainable lifestyles. Zaccai has been awarded honorary doctorates from North Carolina State University and Syracuse University.





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