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 cross-disciplinary projects and worked on all aspects of product development, from technical facets 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 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 its compelling results and preventive nature, and is grateful for how Mindful Schools combines Silicon Valley best practices with sincere core values and intentions. Introduced to mindfulness as a child, Randy has been practicing formally since 2004.
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.
Previous to joining Mindful Schools, Chris McKenna was Executive Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project, a nonprofit that pioneered the development of mindfulness-based interventions for at-risk adolescents. 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 diverse youth & adult populations. 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.
Certification Program Coordinator
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.
Christina moved from the Training Coordinator role to the Community Engagement Manager, allowing her to continue 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 in 2011.
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.
Martha Brown has a BA in Communications and Ethnic Studies from U.C. Berkeley and over 20 years of experience managing staff and operations. In an eclectic career that began in hospitality and nightclub management and spans roles in administrative management, tourism, travel management, PR and media communications, and TV and film production, Martha has worked for a variety of companies including Viacom for MTV Networks, the Shubert Organization for Broadway Inbound, Kaiser Permanente, and the Port of Oakland. She also spent three years as Director of Operations for a TV production company that produced children’s programming for the WB and G-4 networks and had a performing arts training program for kids.
After spending time at home with her new son, Martha wanted an opportunity to work with an organization that was positively impacting early education. Becoming part of the Mindful Schools team and furthering the mindfulness in education movement is very fulfilling to her.
Vanessa Ross brings over two decades of organizational and training experience to Mindful Schools. She has worked at a variety of innovative and successful companies including Pixar Animation Studios, Blue Sky Studios, salesforce.com, and Wells Fargo bank.
Her own personal mindfulness practice started in 2006 when her physician recommended “Full Catastrophe Living” to help deal with the stresses of a busy life. Learning and incorporating mindfulness had a profound affect including changing the focus of her career.
Vanessa feels so fortunate to be at Mindful Schools, considering it a privilege to be able to work with parents, teachers, educators and other professionals who want to learn mindfulness and share it with the children in their lives.
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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.
Instructor, Mindfulness Fundamentals & Curriculum Training
Oren J. Sofer is a teacher and practitioner of mindfulness meditation, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and somatics. In the early 2000s, he developed a deep interest in the relationship between mindfulness practice and communication. A graduate of the BayNVC North American Leadership Training, he began teaching NVC in 2006 and has taught classes and workshops to individuals and organizations nationally. Oren has extensive experience with mindfulness-based programs for children and adolescents; he was one of the first generation of teachers at Mindful Schools and made significant contributions to the development of the Mindful Schools curriculum. Oren is also trained and certified in Somatic Experiencing – a modality developed by former NASA-trauma specialist Peter Levine that emphasizes the role of nervous system regulation in the trauma healing process. He holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University.
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
Research Assistant Professor
Pennsylvania State University
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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