La Sarmiento has been practicing Vipassana meditation and has been a member of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW) since 1998. La's practice and approach to the Dharma has been influenced greatly by the teachings of Tara Brach, Pema Chodron, Larry Yang, Eric Kolvig, Michele McDonald, Cheri Maples, Joe Weston, and Ruth King. In September 2012, La graduated from the Community Dharma Leadership IV program sponsored by Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA.
Since 2005, La has been the guiding teacher/leader of the IMCW Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) Sangha and the IMCW People of Color Sangha. They* integrate the Kalyana Mitta process and the concepts of Respectful Confrontation and Non-violent Communication into their gatherings to create a sacred space for group wisdom to arise. Between 2011 and 2016, La also co-led the DC Monthly Teen Sangha for youth between 13-19 years of age.
La is a senior retreat/event manager committed to bringing diverse teachers and programs to IMCW and to making the Dharma accessible to all. La has been a lead teacher of mindfulness teen retreats in Virginia through Inward Bound Mindfulness Education since 2011, has co-taught the LGBTIQ Retreat at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY since 2014, and has co-taught the Young Adults Retreat at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center since 2014.
Larry Yang, a longtime meditator, trained as a psychotherapist, has taught meditation since 1999 and is a core teacher at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA. He has practiced in Southeast Asia and was a Buddhist monk in Thailand.
Luisa Montero-Diaz has been practicing meditation since 1987 and teaching meditation since 1993. She completed the first three-year Community Dharma Leadership program offered by the Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Luisa has been affiliated with IMCW since its inception and was on the founding Board. Prior to her exploration of Buddhist meditation, she was involved in Gurdjieff's Fourth Way spiritual study.
Mary Aubry has been meditating and attending insight retreats for over 25 years. In 2009, she attended her first jhana retreat with Leigh Brasington, who authorized her to teach the jhanas in the tradition of the Venerable Ayya Khema. Other than Leigh, her primary teachers include Joseph Goldstein, Tara Brach, and Bhikkhu Analayo. She is a teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. and teaches retreats nationally on insight, the jhanas, and the brahma viharas.
Mushim (Patricia) Ikeda-Nash is a Buddhist teacher, writer, diversity consultant, and community activist. She is a core teacher and Leadership Sangha member at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California (www.eastbaymeditation.org), and she appears in two documentary films, Acting on Faith: Women's New Religious Activism in America; and Between the Lines: Asian American Women's Poetry.
Noliwe Alexander has been a student of Vipassana meditation for over 15 years. Throughout this time of deep devotion to the Dharma, Noliwe has become a dedicated practitioner, teacher of various sitting groups around the Bay Area, facilitator of community workshops and Buddhist meditation day longs and class series programs. She is a Life & Business Coach dedicating both her coaching & Dharma practice to the POC, LGBT, At Risk and Elder communities. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s CDL4 program and completed EBMC’s Commit 2 Dharma program in 2010. Noliwe is a wisdom keeper and humbled by the presence of her ancestors spirit that lives within and walks beside.
Pat Coffey, MEd, began his meditation practice over 30 years ago and has taught meditation since 1996. He studied with numerous Asian and Western teachers in the Theravada, Tibetan and Zen traditions. Pat is the founder of IMCC and the co-founder of the Blue Ridge Prison Project. Pat was selected and trained as a meditation teacher in the joint teacher training program of The Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock Meditation Center under the tutelage of Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Down-to-earth real world practical dharma is the hallmark of his teaching. The father of two children, owner of several businesses and the holder of several patents, he draws on his varied and rich life experience to articulate the dharma.
Rebecca is deeply devoted to meditation, movement, and applied mindfulness. She enjoys creating continuity of awareness from ‘on the mat’ to ‘off the mat’ in everyday life – and being a support to others in the endeavor to live an awakened life. She first discovered these practices through yoga in her early twenties, which provided tremendous support when she was facing acute anxiety. After benefitting from the gift of yoga over a number of years, her practice evolved to include meditation and mindfulness. Rebecca enjoys sharing her love of the many practices that bring us back home into presence and greater freedom.
She appreciates the joys and challenges of aligning the inner and the outer—ultimately, coming to experience trust in oneself and in life. Rebecca’s passion is to create and hold space for this exploration of ‘dancing with life’ for herself and others, including the dance of work-life balance and bringing wise action to the challenges facing the world.
Rebecca is an affiliate teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington and also has been working in the public health field within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since 1993. She participated in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) professional training program in 2006 and has been teaching the eight-week MBSR course in the Washington DC area since then.
As a life-long learner, she continues to deepen her study and practice of mindfulness, meditation, and movement graduating from Spirit Rock’s Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training Program; the Spirit Rock Heavenly Messengers – Awakening Through Illness, Aging, and Death Program; the Meditation Teacher Training Institute; and the Kripalu 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program.
Ruth King is an insight meditation teacher and emotional wisdom author and life coach. Mentored in Theravada Buddhism and the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, King teaches at insight meditation communities nationwide and offers the Mindful of Race Training program to teams and organizations. King is on the teacher’s council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and is the author of several publications including Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism From The Inside Out. www.RuthKing.net
Sebene Selassie is a meditation teacher and certified Integral Coach®. She has been studying Buddhism since majoring in Comparative Religious Studies as an undergrad at McGill University. For over 20 years she worked with children, youth, and families nationally and internationally for small and large not–for–profits. Her work has taken her everywhere from the Tenderloin in San Francisco to refugee camps in Guinea, West Africa. Sebene is a two–time breast cancer survivor.