Board of Directors

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The governing Board of Directors of the Mind & Life Institute is comprised of leaders from the fields of higher education, scientific research, contemplative scholarship and teaching, as well as from business. Each brings a unique perspective and makes an invaluable contribution to the important task of governing the Institute. Together with the President whom they appoint, the Board engages in strategic planning, sets the vision, mission and values for the Institute. The Board sets policy and is the fiduciary agent responsible for the financial well-being of the Institute, working closely with the President to ensure adequate resources are available for its programs and services.

The Mind and Life Board of Directors determines the organization’s mission and vision, evaluates the CEO, establishes governance and policy, and ensures adequate funding and fiduciary responsibility. Board members serve a three-year term with a maximum of three terms.

Honorary Board members include:

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Honorary Chairman

Francisco J. Varela, PhD
Co-Founder (1946-2001)

R. Adam Engle, JD, MBA
Co-Founder, Past Chair

Arthur Zajonc, PhD
Amherst College
Mind and Life President
Board Member ex officio

Board of Directors

Diana Chapman Walsh, PhD
Wellesly College,
President Emerita

Diana Chapman Walsh was the twelfth president of Wellesley College, from 1993 to 2007. Her tenure was marked by educational innovation, including a revision of the curriculum and expanded programs in global education, internships and service learning, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

In 1998, Wellesley’s Program in Religious and Spiritual Life helped catalyze a national movement by hosting “Education as Transformation,” a gathering of more than 800 participants from more than 250 institutions. President Walsh evolved a distinctive style of self-aware leadership rooted in a network of resilient partnerships and anchored in the belief that trustworthy leadership starts from within.

Currently, she chairs the inaugural board of the Broad Institute, and serves on the boards of the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. She was a director of the State Street Corporation (1999-2007) and a trustee of Amherst College (1998-2010).

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she writes, speaks, and consults on higher education and leadership. Before assuming the Wellesley presidency, Dr. Walsh was professor and chair of Health and Social Behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Richard J. Davidson, PhD
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Richard J. Davidson is the Director of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and Director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was educated at New York University and Harvard University, where he received his BA and PhD, respectively, in psychology. Over the course of his research career he has focused on the relationship between brain and emotion. He is currently the William James Professor and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author or editor of thirteen books, including Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature and The Handbook of Affective Science.

Professor Davidson has also written more than 250 chapters and journal articles. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Mental Health. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in May, 2006 and in November, 2006 he received the first Mani Bhaumik Award from UCLA for advances in the understanding of the brain and the conscious mind in healing. In 1992, as a follow-up from previous Mind and Life meetings, he was a member of a scientific team doing neuroscientific investigations of exceptional mental abilities in advanced Tibetan monks.

Raymond J. Gellein, Jr., MBA
RBG Capital Advisors, LLC
Mind and Life Vice-Chair

Raymond L. “Rip” Gellein, Jr., often referred to as a “timeshare industry pioneer,” resigned from Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in March of 2008 where he held the position of President, Global Development Group. In this position, Rip had overall management responsibility for the full range of Starwood’s global real estate-related functions.

Prior to his position as President, Global Development Group, Rip served as Chairman and CEO of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., the vacation ownership division of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., (1999-2006). In this capacity, he led the integration of the company’s successful timeshare operations with the brands, resources and assets of Starwood. He was a Director of Starwood Vacation Ownership Inc. from 1999 to 2008.

He holds an MBA in Finance, Accounting and Marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (1974), as well as a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology from Denison University (1969). Between college and graduate school, Rip taught mathematics and psychology as well as coached basketball, football and golf at two private secondary schools, the last two years at the Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts.

Rip has served as a board member of the Florida Chapter of Junior Achievement, the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, and served as Chairman of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). Rip is currently serving as an advisor to the ARDA board and the ARDA executive committee.

Daniel Goleman, PhD
Psychologist, Author

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and science writer best-known for his worldwide best-seller Emotional Intelligence, published in 40 languages. He taught at Harvard University before becoming an editor and journalist, covering the brain and behavioral science for the New York Times. He is a co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Intelligence at the University of Illinois, co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, and board member of the Mind & Life Institute.

He received his PhD in psychology from Harvard University. For two years he traveled in India studying Buddhist and other spiritual systems of psychology, the first year as a Harvard Traveling Fellow, the second as a Research Fellow of the Social Science Research Council. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has received many awards for his writing. He is the author of numerous books, including The Meditative Mind, Destructive Emotions, Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, and, most recently, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

Joan Halifax, PhD
Upaya Zen Center

Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her PhD in medical anthropology in 1973 while teaching at the University of Miami Medical School. She has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions, including Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, and University of Virginia Medical School, Duke University Medical School, University of Connecticut Medical School, among many others. She received a National Science Foundation Fellowship in Visual Anthropology, was an Honorary Research Fellow in Medical Ethnobotany at Harvard University, and is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress.

From 1972-1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and to teach health care professionals and family caregivers the psycho-social, ethical and spiritual aspects of care of the dying. She is Director of the Project on Being with Dying, and Founder and Director of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. For the past 25 years, she has been active in environmental work. She studied for a decade with Zen Teacher Seung Sahn and was a teacher in the Kwan Um Zen School. She received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was given Inka by Roshi Bernie Glassman.

A Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, her work and practice for more than four decades has focused on applied Buddhism. Her books include: The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness; Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death;Being with Dying: Compassionate End-of-Life Care (Professional Training Guide) and Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death. She is a Lindisfarne Fellow and Co-director of the Fellowship and a Mind and Life Board member.

Barry Hershey, MFA

Barry Hershey is an independent filmmaker whose first feature, The Empty Mirror, premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival. His most recent work, Leading To War, was described as a “staggering film” by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He has directed eight films and has participated in various capacities in numerous other films.

He studied filmmaking at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree. Earlier, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. He also attended the London School of Economics. He is currently a Visiting Fellow on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

He has been involved with the Mind & Life Institute for more than twenty years and joined the Board of Directors in 2012.

Carolyn Jacobs, PhD
Smith College
School of Social Work

Carolyn Jacobs is Dean and Elizabeth Marting Treuhaft Professor and Director of the Contemplative Clinical Practice Advanced Certificate Program at Smith College School for Social Work. She was also the chair of the Board of Directors of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and a member of the Boards of Trustees of Our Lady of the Elms College, Fetzer Institute Health Advisory Council, and Naropa University, where she is the first African American woman on the board.

Dr. Jacobs’ areas of teaching and professional interest include research, religion and spirituality in social work, clinical practice, and organizational behavior. She has written and presented extensively on the topic of spirituality in social work. Recently she was guest editor of Smith College Studies in Social Work’s “Special Issue: Spirituality and Clinical Social Work Practice.” In 2001, she was elected to the National Academies of Practice as a distinguished social work practitioner. She participated as a panel member in the Hospice Foundation of America’s 18th Annual Living with Grief Program, Spirituality, and End-of-Life Care.

Dr. Jacobs received her BA from Sacramento State University, her MSW from San Diego State University, her doctorate from the Heller School of Brandeis University, and her training as a spiritual director from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. She maintains a spiritual direction practice.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is founder and former executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is also the founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic, where mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) originated. He received his PhD in molecular biology from MIT in 1971 in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Salvador Luria.

His research since 1979 has focused on mind/body interactions for healing and on the clinical applications and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness meditation training for people with chronic pain and stress-related disorders, including a work-site study of the effects of MBSR on the brain and how it processes emotions, particularly under stress, and on the immune system (in collaboration with Dr. Richard Davidson). He has trained groups from a wide variety of professions in mindfulness.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn is a founding fellow of the Fetzer Institute, and a fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. He received the Art, Science, and Soul of Healing Award from the Institute for Health and Healing, California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco (1998), the 2nd Annual Trailblazer Award for “pioneering work in the field of integrative medicine” from the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, California (2001), the Distinguished Friend Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (2005), and an Inaugural Pioneer in Integrative Medicine Award from the Bravewell Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine (2007).

Dr. Kabat-Zinn is the founding convener of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, and a member of the Board of the Mind and Life Institute. He was co-program chair of the 2005 Mind and Life Dialogue: The Clinical Applications of Meditation, held in Washington DC.

He is the author and co-author of many books about mindful living, including Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, and most recently, Arriving At Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness, and with Williams, Teasdale, and Segal, The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.

Thupten Jinpa Langri, PhD
Institute for Tibetan Classics
Mind and Life Chair

Thupten Jinpa, PhD was educated in the classical Tibetan monastic academia and received the highest academic degree of Geshe Lharam (equivalent to a doctorate in divinity). Jinpa also holds a BA in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from the University of Cambridge, U.K, where he also worked as a research fellow for three years. Since 1985, he has been the principal translator to the Dalai Lama, accompanying him to the United States, Canada, and Europe. He has translated and edited many books by the Dalai Lama, including the recent New York Time’s bestseller Ethics for the New Millennium.

His published works include also scholarly articles on various aspects of Tibetan culture, Buddhism and philosophy, including the entries on Tibetan philosophy for Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy recently released by Routledge, UK. His two latest works are Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Poems of Awakening and Insight (co-authored) and Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Thought. He is on the advisory board of various educational and cultural organizations in North America, Europe and India, and is also the book reviews editor for Contemporary Buddhism, a bi-annual, interdisciplinary journal exploring the interface between Buddhism and modern society. He is currently the president and the editor-in-chief of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to translating key Tibetan classics into contemporary languages.

Bennett M. Shapiro, MD
Merck Research Laboratories (Retired)

Bennett Shapiro is a consultant in biotechnology. He was previously Executive Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and External Research, where he directed Merck’s research relationships with the academic and industrial biomedical research community. He joined Merck Research Laboratories in September of 1990 as Executive Vice President, Basic Research, Merck Research Laboratories. In this position he was responsible for all the basic and preclinical research activities at Merck worldwide.

Earlier, he was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington. He is the author of over 120 papers on the molecular regulation of cellular behavior and the biochemical events that integrate the cascade of cellular activations at fertilization.

Shapiro received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Dickinson College and his doctor’s degree in medicine from Jefferson Medical College. Following an Internship in Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, he was a Research Associate at the NIH, then a Visiting Scientist at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and returned to the NIH as Chief – Section on Cellular Differentiation in the Laboratory of Biochemistry, prior to joining the University of Washington. Dr. Shapiro has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and a Visiting Professor at the University of Nice.

He is currently a Trustee of Dickinson College and a Director of the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative-North America and the Tricycle Foundation, as well as of several biotechnology companies.

Aaron Stern
Founder and President, Academy for the Love of Learning

Aaron Stern is a musician, teacher, internationally recognized consultant on learning, and the founder of the Santa Fe based educational non-profit, the Academy for the Love of Learning. He conceived the Academy with his friend and mentor, musician Leonard Bernstein and serves as its President. Stern teaches and conducts workshops, trainings and consultancies throughout the US and Europe. During the 1980s Stern served as Dean and later Vice President for Academic Affairs at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. It was while there that he began to focus his attention on the learning process, developing innovative curricula for both the college and children’s programs that won national acclaim, including from foundations such as MacArthur and Ford. It was his innovative work in learning and education that laid the foundation for what today sits at the heart of the Academy for the Love of Learning.

Stern’s work aims to nurture and balance the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and creative lives of participants. His work recasts learning into a ‘practice’ that invites and supports a conscious rebalancing of the forces of the masculine and feminine and a deepening experience and expression of our humanity. Stern also founded the Ventana Consultancy Project, a project of the Academy for the Love of Learning, which sends teams of consultants to work with non-profit organizations and movements and for-profit social-value businesses. The work supports a deep reconnection with values, an alignment of values with practices and cultivates capacities for transformative learning within an organizational context. It is based upon the recognition that a transformative collaborative learning environment at the center of an organization’s life is vital to the well-being and ultimate success of any group working to benefit society.

Tania Singer, PhD
Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

Tania Singer studied psychology at the University of Marburg and the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. Afterwards, she was a Pre- and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. For her dissertation, she was awarded the prestigious Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society. She left Berlin in 2002 to work with Prof. Chris Frith on the social brain at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, University College London, and later on the neural underpinnings of empathy and fairness in psychopathology (e.g. Autism) with Prof. Uta Frith at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London. In 2006, she accepted a position as Assistant Professor at the University of Zurich and later as Inaugural Chair of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics and became Co-Director of the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research. Since 2010, Tania Singer is Director of the Social Neuroscience Department at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. She has published her work in many high-ranking scientific journals like Nature, Science and Neuron, is editor of an electronic book on compassion and how to train it, and holds member- and fellowships in many renowned societies and organizations.

Tania Singer is interested in the foundation of human social behavior and social emotions from the perspective of social neuroscience, developmental, and social cognitive psychology as well as neuro-economics. Some of her projects are aiming at investigating the trainability of socio-affective functions in healthy adults by means of mental training. More specifically, she is conducting small- and large-scale longitudinal training studies to search for evidence for the malleability of competences such as empathy, compassion, affect regulation, cognitive perspective taking, mindfulness, attention, and memory. Her goal is to undercover whether such mental training induces functional and long-lasting structural, neuronal, as well as hormonal, health-related, and behavioral changes utilizing a multi-disciplinary and multi-method approach.


Lifetime Emeritus Board Members

Lifetime Board members are a distinguished group of Emeritus board members who have served three full terms (9 years) as board members, and who have been invited to become Lifetime board members. Lifetime Board members are nominated by the Board Development Committee and elected by the Board.

Current Lifetime Emeritus Board members include:

Tenzin Choegyal
Dharamsala, India

Tenzin Choegyal is the youngest brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He
was born in Lhasa in 1946, and at the age of four was recognized as the 15th Ngari Rinpoche. Rinpoche began his monastic education in Lhasa at Drepung Monastery in 1953 at the age of 7 and remained there until he fled Lhasa with the Dalai Lama and his family in 1959. Rinpoche enrolled in St. Joseph’s College in Darjeeling, India, from which he graduated in 1969. Also in 1969, Rinpoche left the monastic order and spent the next two years studying in India and abroad. In 1971, Rinpoche joined the Central Tibetan Administration (Tibetan Government in Exile), where he remained until 1988, with a two year break to serve in the Tibetan Unit of the Indian Army. During his tenure with the CTA, Rinpoche served in the Tibetan Children’s’ Village, Office of Security, and Private Office. In 1991, Rinpoche was elected to the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, where he served until 1995. Rinpoche currently lives in the Kashmir Cottage in Dharamsala, India with his wife, Rinchen Khandro. They have two children, who are both studying in the United States.

B. Alan Wallace, PhD
The Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies

B. Alan Wallace is president of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. He trained for many years as a monk in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland. He has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976 and has served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including H. H. the Dalai Lama. After graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College, where he studied physics and the philosophy of science, he earned his M.A. and PhD in religious studies at Stanford University. He has edited, translated, authored, and contributed to more than thirty books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture, and the interface between science and religion.

His published works include Choosing Reality: A Buddhist View of Physics and the Mind (Snow Lion, 1996), The Taboo of Subjectivity: Toward a New Science of Consciousness (Oxford, 2000), Buddhism and Science: Breaking New Ground (Columbia University Press 2003), Balancing the Mind: A Tibetan Buddhist Approach to Refining Attention (Snow Lion, 2005), Genuine Happiness: Meditation as the Path to Fulfillment (John Wiley & Sons, 2005), The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind (Wisdom 2006), and Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge (Columbia University Press, 2007).