Randima (Randy) Fernando was a product manager for several award-winning projects over 7 years at NVIDIA Corporation (Forbes Magazine’s 2007 Company of the Year), where he also served as an inaugural member of the employee-run NVIDIA Foundation Board.
He has successfully managed large projects with over 100 people and has worked on all aspects of product development, from technical aspects to public relations and marketing. He has published three highly acclaimed books (two of which held the #1 spot on Barnes & Noble’s “Graphics Programming” list for most of 2003 and 2004), written several papers, and given numerous presentations on real-time computer graphics. (Full Resume)
Randy is from Sri Lanka, grew up in the Philippines, and attended Cornell University, where he received his BS in Computer Science and MS in Computer Graphics. Randy was drawn to Mindful Schools because of the program’s compelling results and preventive nature, and he is excited to combine best practices from Silicon Valley with the sincere core values and intentions of the Mindful Schools team. Randy learned mindfulness as a child, and has been practicing it formally since 2004.
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Co-Founder and Program Director
Megan Cowan comes to this work with over 15 years of formal and intensive mindfulness training, a background in teaching and education, and a degree from UC Berkeley in Alternative Health. Megan is the primary author of the Mindful Schools Elementary School Curriculum, and created their first Adolescent Curriculum. She has taught more than 3500 youth via Mindful Schools’ in-class direct-service program, trained more than 2000 educators, mental health professionals, and parents in mindfulness practices and applications for youth, and has been leading the Curriculum Training domestically and internationally since its inception in 2010. She has been the sole trainer for the dozens of instructors who have taught for Mindful Schools. In 2012, Megan was featured in “Room To Breathe,” the first feature-length film documentary on the effort to integrate mindfulness training into U.S. public schools.
From 2009-2012, Chris McKenna was the Executive Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project, a nonprofit that pioneered the development of mindfulness-based interventions for at-risk adolescents. Chris oversaw a period of significant growth – both programmatically and financially – for the organization. During his tenure, MBA published the first formal research on the impact of mindfulness programming on youth in the U.S. juvenile probation system. In collaboration with Colorado State University, MBA also developed mindfulness training programs that met the specific needs of diverse youth populations, including Native American youth on the South Dakota’s Flathead Reservation, and military youth with parents on combat deployment. Chris has spent over a decade working with diverse communities suffering from high incidents of trauma, including five years with an organization launched out of Amnesty International that provided legal and psychosocial services to victims of torture and war crimes from over 20 countries. He has a eighteen-year history with mindfulness meditation and has taught mindfulness practices to refugees with post-traumatic stress disorder and other severe mental health conditions. He is on the Curriculum Advisory Committee of Dalai Lama Fellows and the Advisory Councils of the Mindful Community (UK) and Honoring the Path of the Warrior – a project which teaches mindfulness to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He holds a degree in Religion & Asian Studies from Columbia University.
Vinny Ferraro is a long-time mindfulness practitioner and instructor and a nationally recognized leader in designing and implementing interventions for at-risk adolescents. The child of an incarcerated father, Vinny spent the majority of his teenage life hustling and living on the streets. In 1987, after recovering from drug addiction, he began leading youth groups in drug rehabilitation centers, juvenile halls, schools and half-way houses through the Hospitals and Institutions Program of Narcotics Anonymous. Vinny continued this work for nearly a decade before transitioning to a more intensive focus on mindfulness and emotional intelligence work. In 2001, he began teaching for the Challenge Day organization, a nationally recognized, school-based emotional intelligence and life skills program, eventually becoming Challenge Day’s Director of Training and leading workshops for over 110,000 youth on four continents. In 2008, Vinny became Training Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project (MBA) and is the principle author of MBA’s mindfulness-based curriculum for incarcerated youth. Vinny has received national media coverage for his work with adolescents; he is the subject of the MTV series “If You Really Knew Me…” In addition to his work with youth, Vinny teaches mindfulness retreats to adults around the U.S. and the world.
Christina Costelo received her MA in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her BA in Psychology from San Francisco State University. With a passion in progressive and innovative learning environments, Christina has worked in education for 9 years in a variety of settings. Most recently, she worked as a Camp Director for 3 years for Camp Galileo during the summer and an afterschool program quality assessor for OUSD during the school year. She has also worked as a Program Director for a nonprofit afterschool program funded by No Child Left Behind where she managed academic programming and wrote extensive guided reading curricula for elementary and middle school students in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Mountain View.
The role of Training Coordinator has allowed Christina to bring her love of connecting to people and her project management experience to a mission she feels strongly about. She has cultivated her own mindfulness practice since joining the team.
Director of Technology
David Rogers is an experienced technology manager with extensive expertise in the for-profit financial services sector and the nonprofit education and instructional technology sectors. Formerly the Chief Technology Officer at the GreenPoint Mortgage division of Capital One, David has successfully built multiple online businesses, and brings with him a Wharton MBA and a Masters in Teaching from New York University.
Instructor, Mindfulness Fundamentals
Since Bonnie began practicing meditation in 2005, she’s spent almost a year on silent retreat, spread out over 1 month, 2 month and 3 month periods. She is passionate about practice and has found it has benefited her life in innumerable ways. She teaches mindfulness to children in Cambridge and Boston, both in the classroom and in an after school program. She also teaches non-violent communication to youth and adults.
Matthew Brensilver, PhD, holds a master’s degree in clinical social work and has done psychotherapy with adolescents, adults and groups. He received a PhD from USC, where his research investigated explanations of psychiatric comorbidity. Currently, Matthew conducts research on addiction treatment at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine. He also teaches at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center on the intersection of mindfulness and psychotherapy.
Instructor, Year-Long Certification
For over 10 years, Pam Dunn has been a leader and teacher trainer for Challenge Day, one of the best known organizations in North America teaching empathy, compassion and other core social & emotional skills to students. She has worked with well over 100,000 youth in middle schools and high schools across the U.S., Europe and Canada. Her work with youth was recently featured in the Dutch Documentary series “Over De Streep (Cross the Line).” In addition to her work with Challenge Day, Pam has been a lead facilitator and curriculum developer for Be Present, Inc. (BPI), supporting individuals of all ages, genders and cultures in developing leadership in their own lives as well as in their families and communities. Pam has consulted with numerous youth & family service agencies on youth program development, staff training and program evaluation, including the Family Childcare Training Project, The Mind Body Awareness Project, The Edgewood Center for Children & Families, Mission Neighborhood Centers, & Urban Tilth.
Devon Rath has been practicing mindfulness since 1997. She graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. Since that time she has worked with teens in many different capacities. Currently she works in a public school in San Francisco, teaching mindfulness, facilitating therapeutic groups and doing emotional triage. She is passionate about sharing mindfulness and hopes that it may help people find greater peace and happiness.
Former President & Chief Executive Officer
Asha for Education
University of California, Davis
Former CEO & Co-Founder
Marriage and Family Therapist
Founder, Mindfulness Research Guide
Researcher, Preventive and Behavioral Medicine
Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior
University of California Los Angeles
Assistant Professor of Social Psychology
and Health Psychology
Department of Psychology
Virginia Commonwealth University
University of Oregon
Professor of Business
University of California, Davis
Director of the Initiative on Contemplation and Education
Research Assistant Professor of Human Development, Prevention Research Center
Pennsylvania State University
Department of Education
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