Melanie DeMore’s career is a multi-faceted one. She is a solo performer, facilitates vocal workshops for professional and community-based choral groups, and has taught her “Sound Awareness” program in schools, prisons, and youth organizations in the US, Canada, Cuba, and New Zealand. DeMore was a director of the Oakland Youth Chorus for 10 years and is a founding member of the critically-acclaimed vocal ensemble “Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir” and is also a long-standing member of “The Threshold Choir.” She is faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and at UC Berkeley.
Shelly Graf has been practicing at Common Ground since 2003. They are currently being trained by Insight Meditation Society as part of the four-year teacher training program. They are a staff dharma teacher, like Mark Nunberg, the Guiding Teacher. Currently they teach a variety of programs at the center including co-leading residential retreats with Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke. Shelly’s administrative role includes partnering with the Guiding Teacher to develop and clarify the center’s vision, policies, and priorities. Professionally, Shelly has been a clinician and administrator in the Social Work and mental health fields since 2005. They have a special interest in waking up to whiteness as part of this total path of awakening. Whatever Shelly’s role may be, they will always be a grateful student of Buddhist Practice first.
Sunil has been a student of empathy-based approaches, including Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Mindfulness, etc., since 2004. He’s been sharing NVC with the community since completing BayNVC’s year-long NVC Leadership Program in 2008. In 2021, he completed the 2-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program offered by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach to become a certified Mindfulness teacher. At present, Sunil is a trainee facilitator with GRIP Training Institute which offers a 1-year healing and accountability program to incarcerated populations
Holly is a knowledgeable and compassionate meditation teacher who is dedicated to helping individuals cultivate mindfulness and improve their overall well-being. She has completed a 300-hour teacher certification program with the Engaged Mindfulness Institute and is a certified mindfulness teacher with the International Mindfulness Teachers Association. Holly has developed practical skills in building resilience, compassion, and empathy and is equipped to guide basic mindfulness practices, including mindfulness of body and breath, body scan, and compassion meditation. She creates a safe and supportive environment for individuals and groups to explore mindfulness practice, utilizing a trauma-informed approach. Holly values cultural humility and strives to understand and respect the diverse backgrounds, interests, and health status of her students. She is an active member of the Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center and co-facilitates a weekly online sangha, providing a space of connection and support for those seeking mindfulness meditation teachings.
Kat is a yoga & meditation teacher, poet, architect, and co-creator of community. Through her embodied teaching style, Kat invites her students to witness their genuine connected presence that regenerates life and love. She believes that your personal power is activated by coming home to yourself and what works for you. Kat has a consulting business helping professionals on the verge of burnout bring soul health to work. Kat lives with her husband and 4-year-old twins in Denver, Colorado.
René Rivera is a leader and bridge-builder, working and learning in all the spaces in-between race, gender, and other perceived binaries, as a queer, mixed-race, trans man. René has been a student of the Dharma since 2004 and has been a part of the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) Alphabet Sangha since 2008. He has participated in the Commit to Dharma and Practice in Action programs at EBMC and the Community Dharma Leaders program at Spirit Rock. René is a community teacher at EBMC and also offers meditation and mindfulness instruction at other centers such as Spirit Rock Meditation Center, SF Dharma Collective, and others with a particular focus on offering the Dharma to QTPOC folx.
James has been meditating for over 30 years, beginning in 1987 with James Baraz. He is a graduate of InsightLA’s Facilitator Training Program and Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach’s Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (Inaugural Class). Currently, James also is a teacher-in-training for the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion.
James leads both secular and Buddhist- based mindfulness training, sits, and affinity groups (LGBTQI, Mental Health Professionals, White Awake). His areas of interest are community building for the LGBTQI/LGBTQI senior mindfulness community, and consciousness-raising around racism and heterosexism.
As a psychotherapist, James is the Director of Outpatient Programs for the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital. He intensively trained in Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, Mentalization-based Therapy, and Prolonged Exposure Therapy for post-traumatic stress. At UCLA Health he teaches staff about mindfulness and well-being. He also facilitates UCLA MARC.
Brian began his meditation practice in 1979 at the age of 19. After spending years of study and practice in the Vedanta tradition, he developed a great interest in Buddhism. Brian is ordained as a lay member in the Tiep Hien Order of Interbeing– a Thich Nhat Hanh Plum Village tradition. He serves as a facilitator for the Columbia Stillwater Sangha and is a recent graduate of the 2-year MMTCP Meditation Teacher Certification Program through Insight Meditation Society. Pre-pandemic Brian was part of the Prison Mindfulness Meditation Outreach Program. He is a retired High School teacher and lives in Derwood, Maryland with his wife. He enjoys playing the jazz piano and being in nature. He has a 24-year-old son.
Mrs. Vidhya Uma lives in Kerala (Thrissur), India, and has been teaching yoga since 2008. She is a Certified Teacher from Sivananda Yoga Vedanta International Centre, a Certified Yoga Therapist from S-VYASA, and a Certified 3rd Level Teacher and Evaluator for Ayurveda Yoga Unani Homeopathy (AYUSH). She is also a Yoga Consultant for an Ayurvedic Group (AVP) in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, India.