Meet Our Team
Head of Program
Head of Program
Before joining Mindful Schools, Mia was the Chief Program Officer for the national nonprofit, Girls Leadership. As Chief Program Officer, Mia led the organization in developing culturally responsive curriculum and training to address the needs of girls across the socioeconomic spectrum. Mia also introduced mindfulness and self-compassion as a foundation through which social-emotional learning skills would grow.
Mia received her Bachelors Degree in Political Science and East Asian Studies from Yale, and her M.A. in School Leadership from Columbia Teachers College Summer Principals Academy.
Mia is inspired to join Mindful Schools to build an expansive mindfulness movement in diverse schools and communities, where all young people thrive.
Senior Director, People & Operations
Senior Director, People & Operations
Martha is a heart-centered and pragmatic leader with more than 20 years of experience in operations, communications, and human resources management.
As the Senior Director of People and Operations, Martha oversees Mindful Schools’ technology, project management, school enrollment, and customer care efforts, in addition to leading the organization’s human resources and internal learning initiatives.
Martha has been with Mindful Schools since 2013, and has been a key contributor to the organization’s continued growth and success as it evolved from offering its first online course during her first year to serving more than 60,000 educators and schools by 2020.
Under her leadership, Mindful Schools has grown to include a diverse team of 34 staff members and teaching faculty, developed a competitive benefits package that encourages work/life balance, cultivated a values-driven culture with a commitment to educational equity, and reorganized internally to better serve the growing needs of schools.
Prior to joining Mindful Schools, Martha had an eclectic career spanning hospitality and tourism; TV and film production; PR and media communications; and performing arts education. She also spent several years running after school programs for the City of Oakland, working as a substitute teacher for OUSD, and serving as a one-on-one aide for autistic children.
Martha received her BA in Communications and Ethnic Studies from U.C. Berkeley. She holds a credential in copy-editing and a Society for Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) credential.
Martha continues to be inspired by working with a diverse team of passionate, powerful change-makers. She is a Bay Area native and currently resides in Richmond with her husband and young son. Martha enjoys singing, traveling, camping, and cooking.
John is our kind-hearted Accounting Associate. He’s a Bay Area local and UC Berkeley graduate who brings over 30 years experience in accounting and finance. He first introduction to mindfulness was through a high school meditation class.
Seewan is a lifelong learner and educator with a deep commitment to and experience in leading for equity in education non-profits, start-up charters, and urban public schools.
As Executive Director at Mindful Schools, Seewan has built organizational capacity, vision, and presence in order to meet the unprecedented need for social and emotional well-being, mental health, and equity in schools. Seewan joined the organization initially as Interim Executive Director in January 2020 with the charge of restructuring operations, assessing organizational strategy, and cultivating a culture of trust.
Prior to joining Mindful Schools, Seewan served as VP of Digital Transformation at the New Teacher Center where she led key initiatives to scale tech-enabled, people-centered solutions supporting teacher professional growth and teacher retention. At WestEd, she conducted fast-paced research, evaluation, and online product development as part of a new Innovation Studies team. She also has nine years of classroom teaching experience, most recently as a middle school teacher at San Francisco Community, a teacher-run school in SFUSD with a focus on project-based learning.
Seewan is passionate about empowering teachers and building a community of educators that drives for resilience, compassion, equity, and justice in schools. She received a B.A. in American History/Educational Studies from Brown University and an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Seewan also earned her National Board Certification as a middle school teacher in 2003.
The firstborn daughter of two Chinese immigrants, Seewan was raised in the New England area of the United States and currently resides in Berkeley, California, with her husband and young daughter. She enjoys hiking, learning to snowboard as an adult, and deepening her lifelong ballet practice.
Recent interviews, news, and writing include:
Be Curious, Be Kind, Be Brave, School 180 Podcast
Mindful Schools Announces Equity in Action Fund, Mindful Schools
Nurturing Change from Within, Mindful Schools
For speaker inquiries please contact Beck Engwerda at email@example.com
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Beck brings more than 15 years of non-profit communications and development experience to the Mindful Schools team. She is passionate about creating positive change in the world through programs that develop mindfulness, self-awareness, and social-emotional skills. Her previous experience includes managing communications strategy for nonprofits, including the GO Project and DREAM in New York City, and Inner-City Arts in Los Angeles. Beck also worked as a fundraiser for the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, and for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Charlotte, NC.
Beck loves working within positive, mission-driven teams. She is originally from Australia, where she earned her B.A. in Arts/Professional Writing and Editing, and now resides in Oakland with her husband and two young boys.
Head of Instruction
Head of Instruction
Argos is an equity-driven educator and thought-leader who leverages his lived experience and mindfulness practice to engage communities in creating positive systems change. Argos became part of the Mindful Schools family in 2013 when he joined our inaugural Mindful Teacher Certification Program. It was his tenth year as a high school English teacher in a diverse, resilient community in the Bronx, and his second year working with pre-service and inservice teachers at Hunter College, CUNY. Argos was searching for practices to support his high school students and student-teachers in tapping into their resiliency and sense of agency. During his certification program, Argos discovered a network of educators he could trust to begin his own healing and to strengthen his work in supporting others to cultivate loving, thriving communities. Inspired to share the transformative practice of mindfulness further, Argos’ work grew to consulting and teaching in many NYC Department of Education schools, and in various school districts in Westchester and New Jersey.
At Mindful Schools, Argos has been a guiding teacher for our online courses, community content editor, mentor, and a lead teacher for our Mindful Teacher Certification Program. Currently Argos serves as Head of Instruction, where he uses the power of storytelling and embodied leadership to share mindfulness as a tool for healing and transformation, especially for school communities most impacted by systems of oppression.
Argos grew up in Queens, New York, and currently lives in the New York City area with his wife, son, daughter, and two cats. Argos enjoys going on long walks with his family, and as his children have gotten older, he has rediscovered skateboarding, playing video games, and watching superhero movies.
Head of Technology
Head of Technology
Darius Ingram is an IT professional with more than 15 years of experience in systems administration and database management. He has worked almost exclusively in education-based nonprofit organizations, choosing to devote his energies to the support of his community. His relationship with Mindful Schools began as the business analyst. As the head of technology, he brings strategy, logic, and empathy to his work. When not overseeing tech, you’ll find him mixing his own music or volunteering his tech-spertise to other nonprofits.
Head of Marketing & Project Management
Head of Marketing & Project Management
Alison is a Bay Area native and passionate about sharing the Mindful Schools story with the global community of educators. She brings more than 15 years of marketing experience–from product marketing and sales roles in Bay Area tech and at Warner Bros. in Southern California. When she returned to Oakland to raise her children near family, she immediately engaged in the community. Prior to joining Mindful Schools, Alison managed Development and Communications for one of the largest nonprofit parent organizations in the Bay, and also co-founded a children’s apparel brand. Alison received her B.A. in International Economics from UCLA. She is excited about progressive and bilingual education and is trying her best to raise her two daughters with resilience, joy, and kindness.
Curriculum & Research Manager
Sarah Rudell Beach
Curriculum & Research Manager
Sarah Rudell Beach taught high school social studies for 17 years before founding Brilliant Mindfulness, LLC. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Minnesota, and is a licensed teacher in the state of Minnesota. She served in the Wayzata Public Schools from 1998 to 2015, and was honored as an Esteemed Teacher seven times by the district. Additionally, she writes about mindfulness, mindful teaching, and mindful parenting for the Huffington Post.
Sarah has had a personal mindfulness practice for many years, and describes mindfulness as life-changing. She firmly believes that teaching compassionate attention and self-care to students, teachers, parents, and families can change the world.
COURSE OPS & GROUP ENROLLMENT SPECIALIST
COURSE OPS & GROUP ENROLLMENT SPECIALIST
Matthew is a Bay Area native and brings over two decades of customer service to the Mindful Schools team. His experience spans a wide range of sectors including non-profit, hospitality, and wellness. Matthew has dedicated his life to serving people and communities through various not-for-profits including cultural, educational, environmental, humanitarian, and social justice organizations. His unique life path has helped him hone a diverse array of skills including Public Relations, Design, Technology, Event Management, Marketing, and Sales.
Before coming to Mindful Schools, Matthew co-founded a wellness company and managed corporate wellness accounts from end-to-end for small and large corporations throughout the Bay Area.
Matthew thrives on connecting and communicating with people. He has been practicing presence and awareness in his own life for over 15 years. He most enjoys mindfulness movement practices and is certified to teach unique forms of dance, yoga, and breathing exercises. In his free time you may find him gardening, camping, learning new skills, and most importantly, trying to model mindful behavior, together with his wife, for their young son and daughter.
Course Ops & Group Enrollment Specialist
Course Ops & Group Enrollment Specialist
Beth has spent her career in nonprofits administration and public accounting. As a parent and volunteer PTA board member, she’s worked closely with teachers, parents, and children to support public schools. She is now excited to combine her finance and nonprofit experiences to support the Mindful Schools mission – giving children the positive tools they need to handle their complex emotions and supporting educators with professional development opportunities.
Neena comes to this work with 20 years as a classroom teacher and teacher leader. She has taught mindfulness in over 30 classrooms from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. Neena has also coached teachers, provided teacher and staff training, parent classes, as well as educator retreats and public speaking engagements.
A Bay Area native, she now lives in Southern Oregon, where she draws upon the natural world as a deep resource to embody her mindfulness practice. Neena is founder of Into the Forest Revelations, an organization that seeks to bring clarity and wisdom for those seeking their life’s purpose.
Alan Brown is Director of Integrative & Co-curricular Learning at Grace Church School in New York City, where he leads mindfulness & positive education programs for students, faculty, and for parents. He also consults privately for schools, providing professional development and plans to implement school- or district-wide mindfulness programs and speaks regularly on these topics. Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome in middle school, Alan came to mindfulness through yoga and a search for stillness in the body and regulation in the nervous system, so he has a keen interest in working with students with TS, ADHD, OCD, and other nervous system vulnerabilities. Over the past 15 years, Alan has taught in both public and private settings as a humanities instructor and dean, and has worked with many other schools and districts as a trainer for GLSEN (the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), where he now serves on the National Advisory Board. Alan is a passionate advocate of personal development as professional development, and the possibility of building organizations in which the whole system inclines toward wellness.
Devon is a queer woman who cares deeply about the power of mindfulness practice to increase peace and freedom. She has practiced meditation since 1997 and has been formally teaching mindfulness since 2010. Before joining Mindful Schools she was a Social Worker at a San Francisco public High School for ten years. Devon is passionate about making mindfulness accessible to all, specifically people who have a experienced trauma, are recovering from addiction, and historically marginalized populations, including people of color, trans and LGBQ folks, people of size and different body abilities.
Fontashia is an educator and a founder of a nonprofit where she develops and leads CTE courses and mindfulness programs for under-served communities. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Regent University and is a licensed teacher in the state of North Carolina. Fontashia has been practicing mindfulness for many years and believes that it has changed her perspective on life–not only does it allow her to be fully present for her four boys, it has also transformed her mindset to welcome abundance, practice self-love, and be grateful for all that life has to offer. As a graduate of the Mindful Schools Teacher Certification Program, she is excited to work for Mindful Schools because she gets to share her experiences, while empowering others in the present moment.
Dia Joyce Penning
Dia Penning is a connector. She has served in government, nonprofit, higher education, and K-12 as a curriculum developer, teacher trainer, arts specialist, mindfulness coach, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion professional, and program administrator. In all her roles she finds the themes that connect teams and organizations to one another and to a greater whole. Dia is committed to whole people, to the development of skills and resources that allow each of us to show up as our authentic selves and to support one another. With a Master in Interdisciplinary Studies from Columbia College, Dia leads international yoga and social justice workshops though Love Light Yoga out of Vancouver BC. She also coaches individuals in somatic awareness for social transformation. With 20 years of experience in integration, systems change, and a lifetime committed to mindfulness, Dia is very excited to be serving as a Program Facilitator. Dia lives in Oakland, CA, with her kiddo, wife and 16-year-old Labrador Retriever. She likes to garden, make pottery, and sew, and makes lots of opportunities to share these practices in her community.
Solissa has dedicated her career to mission driven work. As a champion for education, Solissa spent the last decade supporting and investing in the growth of adolescents and young professionals. She has been a 7th grade classroom teacher, a college academic advisor, and more recently, a program manager for a Kansas City area non-profit youth college access program. Solissa enjoys connecting people to meaningful experiences that will help empower and nurture their innate leadership skills. Her education includes a Bachelors of Arts in Middle School education and a Master’s in Higher Education Administration, both from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and is also a recent graduate of the 2021 Mindful Schools Teacher Certification Program. Solissa believes that we all have a place in mindfulness practice and our youth can benefit from having more mindful tools in their “life box”. Through mindful education, Solissa likes to focus on shining a light on communities who often don’t see themselves in the mindfulness movement or dominate culture, and is looking forward to learning, growing, and thriving with the Mindful Schools community.
April Frazier considers herself a lifelong learner of yoga and mindfulness as a tool for self-empowerment and social justice in diverse, resilient communities. In 2010, she completed her 200-hr teacher certification through Dharma Yoga certification and has since held space for yoga in under-performing schools, trauma centers, and addiction centers to cultivate inner healing.
Prior to being a yoga instructor, April was a middle school teacher at an under-served school in the South Bronx. She believes, regardless of background, we are all in our breath and body, so might as well tap back into our inner wisdom to navigate life’s challenges.
April was part of the first year cohort at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University where she combined education, social activism, entrepreneurship and mindfulness. April has also been certified in laughter yoga, yoga for 12 step recovery, off the mat and into the world, and various trauma-informed and mindfulness in-schools programs.
She earner her bachelor’s degree with a focus on Anti-Racist education from Mount Holyoke College and her master’s degree from Columbia’s Spirituality Mind Institute Masters in Education.
Kelli Love, M.Ed brings 15 years experience to the field of contemplative education since receiving her degree in Early Childhood Education from Naropa University in 2001, where mindfulness was integrated into the higher education experience. She develops mindfulness curriculum with a focus on self-awareness and emotion regulation and currently teaches at Girls Prep Bronx Elementary, where yoga and mindfulness are embraced as a school wide content area. In 2015 Kelli created a short film, Aliza and the Mind Jar, to demonstrate the impact of yoga and mindfulness curriculum on school communities. She is a former classroom teacher and believes all children have a right to experience the empowering life skills that yoga and mindfulness offer. Kelli is a national speaker at related conferences, is partnering with Columbia University and NYU to contribute to the research in mindfulness education, and consults organizations on implementation and curriculum development related to yoga and mindfulness in K-8 schools.
Anthony “T” Maes
Anthony “T” Maesa has been a teacher at Spirit Rock, East Bay Meditation Center, and Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, where he teaches retreats for people of all ages, with a focus on young people of the global majority (BIPOC). T has a BS in Psychology from UC Berkeley, and after graduating was a research psychology technician for UCSF, studying the effects of meditation on school teachers and their classrooms (Cultivating Emotional Balance Project). T has dedicated his life to practicing mindfulness since learning the practice as a teenager in 2000. He has completed over 200 days of silent mindfulness retreat practice, and over the past few years, has been teaching school teachers how to develop their own practice and how to implement mindfulness in their classrooms.
For over 20 years, Lucy has taught children and youth in a variety of classroom and therapeutic settings from instructing teens at North Outward Bound School to educating young people in preschool. She currently teaches Kindergarten.
As co-founder of Design to Connect, LLC, Lucy facilitates professional communities of practice focused on cultivating restorative school communities and increasing capacities of mindful well-being in students, educators, and families.
Lucy received her Masters In Education, Mindfulness for Educators, from Antioch University New England and her Early Childhood Montessori Credential form the Center for Guided Montessori Studies.
Nathalie Monin Voelker
Before joining Mindful Schools Nathalie worked for 15 years for non-for-profits providing continuing education, and arts for all programs for low income and immigrant families. She also managed wide community service events with corporate foundations in NY
Nathalie is French with a Caribbean and Parisian background. She practiced dance for 7 years before taking her first yoga in 2003 just after her daughter’s birth. Yoga and meditation has been a long and interesting journey ever since. A journey where learning was not only about the body, but the self. Tapping into her former study of philosophy, she loves to make mindfulness a simple and practical tool for our everyday life.
She led “Education & Art For All” programs in France for many years before coming to New York. Combining her passion for movement and philosophy, she teaches yoga and mindfulness on a regular basis to young students, teachers and parents in NYC public schools with The School Yoga Project.
Jelena is a school psychologist by training and a peacebuilder by heart. As a mom and Teaching Peace in Schools Leadership Council Lead for The Peace Alliance, Jelena aspires to educate, advocate, and mobilize others in co-creating a culture of peace. Her passion is facilitating dialogs that are grounded in mindful awareness and empathy.
Jelena spends most of her time in circle with educators and students, is a facilitation trainer for Soliya and Erasmus + Virtual Exchange where she guides others in facilitating virtual cross-cultural exchange dialogs. She serves on the advisory board for Cities4Peace, facilitates virtual circles for Millennium Forum and the Peace of Mind, and hosts weekly Hope Story Circle podcast series for the Peace Alliance. She guides mindfulness retreats for educators at the Copper Beech Institute, leads international At Home In the World family retreats, and is co-founder of Design to Connect LLC, an educational consulting organization, that assists schools in their efforts in skillful, integrated and sustainable schoolwide implementation of mindfulness and peace education practices. She believes in the power of storytelling, single-tasking, and the importance of starting conversations that create genuine connections, move us toward transformation and help us foster a culture of nonviolence.
Board of Directors
Anu Cairo, Board Chair
Anu is the Director of Programs at the Cowell Foundation. Previously, she served as Bay Area Director at the New Teacher Center, a national non-profit organization that works with school districts to build and sustain robust programs for teachers and school leaders to improve their instructional practice.
Anu also served as Senior Program Officer at Walter & Elise Haas Fund and Program Officer at the Bechtel Foundation. Earlier in her career, she worked in public school districts on the East and West coasts. Her prior roles included serving as Special Assistant to the Superintendent in San Francisco; establishing and directing the Washington, DC public school district’s Office of Parent Affairs; and serving as a Family Support Worker in the Seattle public schools.
Anu completed doctorate and master’s degrees in Administration, Planning and Social Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She also holds a BA from Swarthmore College.
Anne Roise, Board Vice-Chair
Anne oversees planning for retreats and classes at Spirit Rock. Earlier, Anne was an instructor of Urban Studies and Planning at Savannah State University, and the CEO of Roise & Associates, a consulting firm in Savannah, GA, specializing in strategic planning, project development and organizational coaching. For several years, Anne developed and managed community and economic development initiatives in collaboration with non-profit organizations, community groups, law enforcement organizations, the private sector and educational institutions. She is a Certified Economic Developer and former Director of Economic Development for the City of Savannah. She has served on numerous boards and community task forces, and was a trustee for the Historic Savannah Foundation. Anne has a master’s degree in City Planning from MIT, and a B.A. from Antioch University.
Dani Bowling, Treasurer
Dani is a mediator, conflict resolution trainer, and meditation teacher. They also identify as non-binary and given their childhood in South Carolina in the forties and fifties as the son of a Southern Baptist minister, their path to self-awareness and acceptance was challenging. They are a former staff attorney, mediator, and trainer for the US District Court for Northern California. They began mediating in 1986 and co-founded the first mediation organization in South Carolina and served as its first president for many years.
Dani was also the first Public Defender for Charleston County, SC, from 1974 to 1978, never losing a client to the death penalty. They previously were a staff attorney for the very first public interest law firm in the US, the Urban Law Institute in Washington, DC. They served as Chair of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Publications Board from 2005 to 2017 and have taught meditation, mediation, and public policy dispute resolution worldwide.
Dani began practicing meditation and yoga in 1976 and began teaching both in 1980. They taught at Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires from 1985 to 1995, served as its General Counsel, and founded the Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association. They are also a member emeritus and Past President of the Board of Directors of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA and continue to serve as Chair of its Ethics and Reconciliation (EAR) Council, as the first layperson to serve on that sensitive council. They graduated from Harvard Law School and from Furman University with Honors.
Richard is the co-founder of Mindful Schools. He has practiced mindfulness for 46 years, and has been a mindfulness teacher for more than 25 years.
Richard brings 25 years of management and individual contributor experience working for large corporations including Intel Corp., Cisco Systems and Advanced Micro Devices, as well as several startup companies. He managed engineering teams developing computer hardware at the computer chip and system levels.
Richard has been active in bringing mindfulness into prisons, jails and drug rehabilitation programs in California. He taught meditation in San Quentin State Prison, the Marin County jail Salinas Valley State Prison and the Men’s Correctional Training Facility.
Richard is the author of several books on meditation. He holds a BS degree in Electrical Engineering and an MA degree in Philosophy and Religion.
Dr. Nicole Shechtman, Secretary
As an education researcher for over 18 years, Nicole leads multidisciplinary teams to create innovative solutions to complex educational problems, building deep understandings of educational systems from all stakeholder perspectives to discern, design, and communicate actionable insights and strategies for educators, administrators, employers, technology designers, policymakers, and researchers. She is currently the Director of Evaluation and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford University where she received her Doctorate in Psychology. Additionally, Nicole is a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction leader, teaching the research-based curriculum based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn for using mindfulness practices to take a proactive approach to mental and physical health and well-being.
Spencer Sherman, MBA
Denis is a senior program officer with the George Lucas Education Foundation where he manages the strategic direction of the Foundation’s research related to project based-learning in the humanities. Prior to joining Lucas, Denis was a program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for eight years where he managed strategy and grants related to a wide range of areas including improving the quality of curriculum and instructional materials, California education policy, and classroom/school-level formative assessment, and at the Walter S. John Foundation where he focused on vulnerable, disconnected youth. Denis has also had a 10-year history with Outward Bound including helping to found Expeditionary Learning (now EL Education), a national school improvement network, and the New York City Outward Bound Center, Outward Bound’s first urban center. Denis is the founder of the North Oakland Community Charter School, and received an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.