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faculty & directors

Faculty and Visiting Lecturers

Elazar Aslan

Elazar Aslan is the CEO of Caterfly Solutions, a company engaged with CEOs and other executives to help them achieve better results through greater personal responsibility and greater service to the community at large. Elazar combines his 20 years of Buddhist practice with his classical business training from the Wharton Graduate School to create a Buddhist inspired approach to more effective leadership. Elazar has brought his meditative practice and his leadership principles to Fortune 100 companies such as American Express, ADP, Chase, D&B, MasterCard, as well as small and mid-sized companies.

fiona brandon

Fiona Brandon, MA, MFT is a psychotherapist who draws upon Buddhist psychology, depth psychology, expressive arts therapy and dream imagery in her work with adults and couples. She also works somatically with clients using Sensorimotor psychotherapy and her experiences as an authentic movement practitioner. Ms. Brandon is a graduate of the Masters program in Counseling Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her research focused on the meditative practice of Authentic Movement and the use of symbols and dream imagery in psychotherapy. She has taught mindfulness practices at the UCSF Chronic Pelvic Pain Center, as well as been a teaching assistant at the California Institute of Integral Studies and at the Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has a private practice in San Francisco.

Bill Bushell

William Bushell, Ph.D., is Director of Research at Tibet HouseUS/The Menla Center, and is affiliated with the Anthropology Program at MIT and the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University. He has been conducting integrative research on meditation and yoga for many years, and has helped to develop several integrative scientific conferences with Professor Robert Thurman and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Desirée Caban is a Jungian analyst-in-training and Somatic Experiencing (SE) practitioner with a clinical practice in NYC, focused on supporting the unique, creative expression of being. Deciding to delve into the deeper aspects of human experience, she went on to graduate from Columbia University’s Master of Arts, clinical psychology program and wrote her thesis on mindfulness-oriented models of psychotherapy. This was following a fourteen-year career as a human resources executive. From here, Desirée provided contemplative care to individuals facing illness or the end stages of life, while undergoing a yearlong chaplaincy training program. She holds certification in SE’s professional training, a three-year trauma intervention program. Desirée is now preparing for the NY state license in Psychoanalysis and in the last stages of training to be a Certified Jungian Analyst.  Collaborating in diagnostic research efforts, she is also a part-time officer at Columbia University Medical Center.

john campbell

John Campbell started practicing Ashtanga Yoga in India eighteen years ago with the late Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. He began teaching in 1995 with Eddie Stern at the first center in New York City devoted to this traditional practice, and in 2003 became one the few Certified teachers of Ashtanga Yoga worldwide. While a graduate student in Sanskrit and Tibetan Studies, he began practicing Tibetan Buddhism, studying with HH the Dalai Lama and Denma Lochoe Rinpoche. In 2009, he was granted his Ph.D. from Columbia University in the Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Tantras. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey and runs daily classes in Ashtanga Yoga at Pure Yoga West in New York City.

mariana caplan

Mariana Caplan, Ph.D., MFT, RYT 500, is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and the author of six books in the fields of psychology and spirituality, including the award-winning Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path, Halfway Up the Mountain: the Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment, and The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher. She is founder of The Yoga & Psyche Method™ and The Yoga & Psyche Conference™.

stephen cowan

Stephen Cowan, M.D., F.A.A.P., is a board-certified pediatrician with 25 years of clinical experience working with children. He has a subspecialty in Developmental Pediatrics and is certified in Medical Acupuncture. He has developed a holistic approach to evaluating and treating children struggling with chronic physical, emotional, and cognitive disorders that combines biomedical nutritional support with meditation, acupuncture and Qi gong. Dr. Cowan is the author of Fire Child, Water Child: How Understanding the Five Types of ADHD Can Help You Improve Your Child's Self-Esteem and Attention

He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a member of the AAP Section on Children with Disabilities, member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture and clinical faculty at New York Medical College. He is a founding and Advisory Board member of the Holistic Pediatric Association. He practices in Mt. Kisco, NY (The Westchester Center for Holistic Families) and New York City (The Shen Center for Integrative Health). He has taught internationally on holistic approaches to care of children and has contributed chapters to several books on integrative medicine.

Abby Eletz is a graduate of Nalanda's two-year Certificate in Contemplative Psychotherapy. After receiving her bachelor's degree in Government from Cornell University, Abby went on to pursue formal training as an actress at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. This journey allowed her to immerse in the study of how the physical, mental, and emotional body connect. With over fifteen years of experience exploring eastern and western mind-body traditions, Abby will graduate in May with an MSW from New York University. She is currently a trainee at the Fifth Avenue Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy where she is integrating contemplative and somatic practices within a clinical therapeutic setting.

Art Greenberg

Art Greenberg has been a contemplative psychotherapist in New York City for 30 years. He holds an M.A. in Theology from Drew University and an M.S.W. from City University. As a clinician he combines the disciplines of mindfulness training and cognitive reframing in the context of core spiritual exploration. He is an AASECT certified Sex Therapist and Educator who integrates the more familiar aspects of sexual wellness with the ancient principles of Indian Tantra. He is also a Certified Psychotherapy Supervisor and a Superior Court appointed Divorce Mediator and Parent Coordinator.

pilar jennings

Pilar Jennings, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst in private practice who has focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation. She received her Ph.D. in Psychiatry and Religion from Union Theological Seminary, and has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. Prior to this training, she earned a Masters in medical anthropology from Columbia University, where she focused on illness narratives, and a Bachelors in interdisciplinary writing from Barnard College of Columbia University. Pilar is a researcher at the Columbia University Center for Study of Science and Religion and Co-chair of the Columbia Faculty Seminar on the Slavery of Memory, where she explores the intergenerational transmission of trauma. She is the author of Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism.

ingrid kemperman

Ingrid Kemperman, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City.  She completed her residency training at Weill Cornell Medical College and has had psychoanalytic training at New York University.  She has a long interest in integrating Buddhist psychology and mindfulness practice with various psychotherapies, especially Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)- a treatment which utilizes mindfulness as one of its core skills. Dr Kemperman developed the DBT program at Cornell Medical Center and has served on the faculty at both Cornell and Columbia. She has published articles and chapters on the biology of self-injurious behaviors and personality disorder and gives frequent talks and workshops on DBT.

ted kenny

Edward Kenny, M.D., is an adult psychiatrist and psychoanalyst with a deep interest in the points of convergence between psychoanalysis and the Buddhist disciplines, in particular the practices of Zen meditation. He completed psychiatry residency training, a fellowship in Consultation Liaison Psychiatry, as well as psychoanalytic training at Columbia University. He chairs the study group on Buddhism and Psychoanalysis at the American Psychoanalytic Association meetings and is on the faculty of the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.


sat bir singh

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., is an instructor of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, director of research for the Kundalini Research Institute and the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has conducted yoga research trials on insomnia, stress and anxiety disorders, and yoga in schools. He is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy and the medical textbook The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care, and author of the Harvard ebook Your Brain on Yoga.

Jacob Kyle, MSc, MA, is a yoga asana teacher, writer, philosophy educator and the Founder of Embodied Philosophy, an online educational platform for Eastern philosophies and practices. Kyle holds two Masters Degrees in Philosophy: an MSc in Political Philosophy from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an MA in the History of Philosophy from the New School for Social Research. He studied Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research in London. His ongoing studies in Western and Eastern philosophies have included the study of the Yoga Sutras with Edwin Bryant and Tantrik philosophy with Christopher Wallis. He was initiated into Neelakhanta Meditation and has since then been enrolled in Blue Throat Yoga programs under the tutelage of esteemed Kashmir Shaivism scholar Paul Muller-Ortega, studying the texts and practices of the Trika Kula lineage of Kashmir Shaivism. To augment his yoga teaching practice, Kyle has completed over seven hundred hours of training and workshops with many master teachers.

aaron lauber

Aaron Lauber, M.S.Ed., MHC-LP, is a mindfulness-based coach, counselor, and psychotherapist with a special interest in integrative mind/body group therapy. He holds a master's degree in mental health counseling from Fordham University, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. In addition to his private practice, Aaron currently works as a psychology extern at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. A student of Dr. Loizzo and a member of the Nalanda community since 2007, Aaron teaches basic meditation and stress reduction, and is currently a participant in Nalanda’s Certificate Program in Contemplative Psychotherapy.

vance lavelle

Vance LaVelle advises leaders of Fortune 100 multinationals and business start-ups in building sustainable growth and brand innovation strategies. Synthesizing C-Suite perspective with mindfulness practices, she coaches executives on delivering premium value to their clients and teams. Business leaders gain practical approaches to enhance focus and effectiveness for more successful navigation of complex, ambiguous global markets. Personally understanding the pressures of business, Vance has rich business experience in executive roles at AT&T, JP Morgan Chase, SIRIUS XM, and PNC. Clients include: IBM, Citi, KPMG, Accenture and entrepreneurial ventures. Vance has an MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Cyndi Lee is the first female Western yoga teacher to fully integrate yoga asana and Tibetan Buddhism in her practice and teaching. In 1998, she founded the OM yoga Center in NYC, which became a mecca for yogis worldwide. Her newest book is the The New York Times critically-acclaimed May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga and Changing My Mind. Other books include Yoga Body, Buddha Mind and OM yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice. She writes regularly for Yoga Journal, Shambhala Sun, Yoga International and Tricycle Magazine.

geri loizzo

Geri Loizzo is a Nalanda meditation faculty member and has served on its board of directors since 2007.  She's had a regular practice of Hatha Yoga since 1982 and since 2006 has studied with Nalanda Yoga Faculty, Mary Reilly Nichols. In addition, Geri has been studying and practicing Tibetan meditation since 1999, and has been leading weekly morning meditations at the Institute since 2011. Her mentors include Khyabje Gelek Rimpoche, Venerable Robina Courtin, and Kathleen McDonald.

Joseph (Joe) Loizzo, M.D., Ph.D. (See biography on our Director's page.)

michael mcdermott

Michael McDermott, CPC, RMT,  is a Certified Professional Coach, Reiki Master Teacher, Certified Master Hypnotherapist and a Certified Master Practitioner of NLP and Time Line Therapy. Founder of the Arcadia Group, he has over 23 years experience working with individuals and groups to enhance professional performance, quality of life and connection to spirituality. A former Global Head of Leadership and Organizational Development for Goldman Sachs and Chief Learning Officer at Merrill Lynch, he co-developed the Program in Sustainable Living for Leaders with Dr. Joe Loizzo as well as the Shift Program and the McDermott Method. He is currently writing a book about his methodology.

rachel mcdermott
Rachel McDermott, Ph.D., is Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College. Her research interests focus on Bengal, in eastern India and Bangladesh, and she has published extensively on the Hindu-goddess-centered religious traditions from that part of the subcontinent. She is committed to the study of comparative religion, and teaches comparative courses in which important religious themes are traced across cultures. She is the author of Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal: The Fortunes of Hindu Festivals and Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal, among other titles.

Marlie McGovern, E-RYT, RYPT, MA, teaches meditative and somatic practices from the contemplative traditions of Yoga and Buddhism, informed by contemporary insights from Western psychology. With an educational background in cultural anthropology and psychology, Marlie explores how we experience ourselves and others in the world. She specializes in Restorative Yoga, a deep and nuanced practice of fully supported asana that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and facilitates exploration of the subtle limbs of yoga. She created and leads Restorative Yoga Teacher Trainings for physicians, therapists, yoga teachers and caregivers across diverse professions. Marlie is a teacher in the Meditation Teacher Training Program with Nalanda Institute, The Path, and Pure Yoga, and a teacher in Nalanda Institute's Yoga, Mind & Spirit Training. She is a graduate of the Nalanda Institute’s two-year Certificate Program in Contemplative Psychotherapy. In addition to teacher trainings, weekly classes, and one-to-one private sessions, Marlie leads workshops for cultural institutions, such as New York University, The Rubin Museum, and Tibet House U.S.

kristen mckee

Kristen McKee is a contemplative psychotherapist, yoga therapist, and meditation teacher with a deep interest in the teachings of emptiness and wisdom, particularly Mahamudra. She believes these teachings can help us embrace and nurture radical openness for self and others. She has a B.A. in anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and an M.S.W. from New York University. Kristen is a graduate of Nalanda’s certificate program in Contemplative Psychotherapy, and has completed over 1000 hours of formal study on the integration of ancient spiritual principles and modern psychology. As a meditation teacher, Kristen attunes to the social-emotional needs of students in order to create a safe and fulfilling learning environment. Through both psychotherapy and meditation instruction, she strives to empower individuals from within by encouraging them to view all of life’s experiences as opportunities for growth. Kristen values a free-spirited, joyful, and connected approach to life and has spent her free time traveling, surfing, spending time with those whom she holds dear, and completing silent, solitary retreats.

megan mook

Megan Mook, has immersed herself for the last 15 years in the study of Buddhist philosophy and meditation, living with and studying closely with teachers in the Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan traditions. Megan holds a Master's in Buddhist Studies from the International Buddhist College in Thailand, and has studied Tibetan scriptural translation with Drs. Robert Thurman and Lozang Jamspal of Columbia University. Megan conducts corporate emotional intelligence seminars, writes about meditation for curious beginners, hosts immersive retreats, and is the head teacher of MNDFL Meditation, Williamsburg.

shaun nanavati

Shaun Nanavati, Ph.D. (Cand.) completed a Master's Degree in Comparative World Religion at Columbia, where he extended his awareness of the classical tradition and philosophic principles of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. This was followed by clinical training at California Pacific's Institute for Health and Healing, where he provided psychotherapy in a traumatic brain injury unit. He came back East where he completed a Research Master's at the New School for Social Research, focusing upon the Autonomic Characteristic of Affective States, while continuing clinical training and rotations at St. Vincent's (Palliative Care), Beth Israel (Dual Diagnosis), Four Winds (DBT for Adolescents), and NYU (Pediatric Neuropsychology). Most recently, Shaun has been conducting pediatric neuropsychological assessment at the Child Mind Institute and investigating the role of the vagal nerve during performance in the Tower of Hanoi task.

Miles Neale, Psy.D., L.M.H.C. (See biography on our Assistant Director's page.)

mindy newman

Mindy Newman, LMHC, is a mental health counselor and certified hypnotherapist who specializes in the creative use of hypnosis and meditation in attachment-based psychotherapy with adults. She has an M.A. in counseling psychology from Lesley University and an M.T.S. in world religion from Harvard University. Mindy began her study of Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Migmar Tseten in Cambridge, MA, and is delighted to continue on as a member of the Nalanda Institute community. She is currently a participant in Nalanda Institute’s Certificate Program in Contemplative Psychotherapy.

Susanna Nicholson, MPhil, CIHC, has taught meditation both privately and in hospitals for over fifteen years and is currently a student in the Nalanda Certificate Program in Contemplative Psychology.  Her vipassana background started with intensive, one-on-one training at Passadhi, a retreat center in Ireland run by Marjo Oosterhof, Buddhist translator and former nun. Her graduate-level Buddhism studies continued at the University of Virginia, Department of Religious Studies. For over two years she has studied with Ruth King, a dharma teacher on matters of race. Her teaching supervisor is Paul Harvey in the U.K.  She is credentialed in secular, mindfulness-based life coaching as a Certified Integrative Health Coach at Duke University, and through certification in Presence-Based Coaching.

erin olivo

Erin L. Olivo, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University, and the former Director of the Columbia Integrative Medicine Program, which she headed with Dr. Mehmet Oz. Dr. Olivo researches the benefits of mind-body strategies in medical and mental health care, especially for people facing cancer, cardiovascular disease and obesity. In her psychotherapy practice in New York City, she offers adults and teens a solution- focused approach that integrates traditional cognitive behavioral therapy with mind-body strategies. Dr. Olivo has intensive training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Clinical Hypnosis.

erin olivo

Helen Park is a graduate of Nalanda Institute’s Certificate Program in Contemplative Psychotherapy. She has integrated contemplative healing approaches in her work with children as a teaching artist and is currently developing these techniques for her clinical work with families. Helen is completing her MSW at New York University and is a trainee in family therapy at the Ackerman Institute.

Mary Reilly Nichols holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Harvard University and completed five years of residency in meditation ashrams in India and the US.  A devoted student of Muktananda, she has taught yoga and meditation in New York City for over thirty years. Her teaching combines Iyengar, Integral and Anusara styles of Hatha Yoga with the Upanishadic tradition of the wisdom and experience of non-duality. She offers frequent workshops on classical yoga philosophy and psychology, including Advaita Non-Dualism and the Tantric methods of Kashmiri Shaivism. Currently, Ms. Nichols teaches stress management in psychiatric settings and is involved in ongoing research on the mind/body benefits of yoga and meditation.

elizabeth rovere

Elizabeth Rovere, M.A., Psy.D., is a psychologist with a Harvard master's degree in world religions who integrates Buddhist psychology and meditation into her practice of psychotherapy. Graduated from the Massachussetts School of Professional Psychology and trained at Harvard's Cambridge Hospital, she is on staff at The New School Student Health Services in addition to her private practice.

Sonia Sequeira, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist and Manager of the Drug Development Program for Clinical Trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYC.  Sonia is also interested in using rigorous scientific methodologies to study how meditation practice, in its many forms, can be used to improve health in diverse populations. She spearheads the Advances in Meditation Research Conference Series and the Institute for Meditation Sciences. Sonia has been teaching yoga since 1997 and is a certified Instructor in Hatha, Kundalini and Naam Yoga.


Tazuko Shibusawa, MSW, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the New York University Silver School of Social Work and previously served as the Associate Dean and Director of the MSW Program at Silver and Co-Director of the Global MSW Program in Shanghai & New York. Tazuko received her MSW and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed post-graduate training in family therapy, psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy, and trauma studies. She is a graduate of Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy program. Tazuko also completed her training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society (CFM). Tazuko’s research, which has been funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the John A. Hartford Foundation Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholars Program, focuses on the health and mental health of older adults and their families, elder abuse and mistreatment, and clinical practice with Asian and Asian immigrants.

dan siegel

Dan Siegel, M.D., is a Nalanda Institute visiting faculty member, neuropsychiatrist, clinical professor of psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine, co-director, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute. Known for his work in the developing field of Interpersonal Neurobiology, Dan is also an author whose books include The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being, The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal Experience, Parenting from the Inside Out, and Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. His latest book is The New York Times bestseller Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, which explores how brain development impacts teenagers’ behavior and relationships.

neil theise

Neil Theise, M.D., is Professor of Pathology and Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Senior Student at the Village Zendo in New York City. His research on human liver microanatomy led to the identification of liver stem cell niches and the marrow-to-liver regeneration pathway. Considered a pioneer in adult stem cell plasticity, he has published in Science, Nature, and Cell. Recently he has extended his work to defining a "post-modern biology," suggesting alternate models of the body needed to understand non-Western approaches to health. He co-edited the recent volume of the Annals of the New York Academy of Science "Longevity and Optimal Health: Integrating Eastern and Western Perspectives." 

robert thurman

Robert Thurman, Ph.D. is a recognized worldwide authority on religion and spirituality, Asian history, world philosophy, Buddhist science, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., Spiritual Director of Menla, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. He is author of many books, including The Central Philosophy of Tibet, The Jewel Tree of Tibet, and, most recently, with Sharon Salzberg, Love Your Enemies.

bart van melik

Bart van Melik has been teaching personal and interpersonal meditation since 2009, with a specific focus on working with diverse populations. He is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock and is currently in the Spirit Rock/IMS teacher training program.

Among other places, Bart teaches at NY Insight Meditation Center and is a senior teacher at the Lineage Project—an organization offering mindfulness-based practices for youth facing challenging circumstances. Bart holds an MA in Psychology of Culture and Religion from the Nijmegen University in The Netherlands. His passion is supporting people to discover how they can find new ways to relate to the stress created by our life circumstances.

Emily Wolf, Ph.D., M.S.Ed., is a Psychologist and University Mental Health Counselor who integrates the contemplative methods of Indian yoga and meditation into Western psychodynamic therapy, recovery and health education. Emily received her BA in Eastern Religion from Columbia College and received her Ph.D. from Fordham University's Program in Counseling Psychology with her ground-breaking dissertation on the positive health benefits and developmental effects of long term Tantric meditation and yoga practice. Emily is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and has studied under Ashtanga yoga masters both in the US and India for over a decade. Emily is currently the Assistant Director of Research and Program Director for the Contemplative Psychotherapy Certification Program at Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, and has been studying and working with Dr. Loizzo since 2002.