Vinny Ferraro has been practicing meditation since 1993. In 1998, he spent a year sitting bedside with the dying through the Zen Center Hospice Program in San Francisco, as well as experiencing 'A Year to Live' practice (based on the book by Stephen Levine). He has studied with several renowned spiritual teachers including the Dalai Lama. In 2001, Vinny trained to lead Challenge Days in schools throughout the U.S. and has become an integral member of that organization. He also teaches the weekly insight meditation group Urban Dharma in San Francisco on Friday nights.
Walt Opie was introduced to the dharma in 1993 and began attending regular insight meditation retreats in 2005, which he says greatly reduced his suffering. He is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders program and the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program. Walt has led sitting groups for people in recovery since 2011. He has served as a volunteer Buddhist teacher with Buddhist Pathways Prison Project for over four years. He is currently a trainee in the Insight Meditation Society’s 2017-2021 Teacher Training Program. His most influential teachers include Sayadaw U Tejaniya and Gil Fronsdal.
Wendy Johnson is a lay Dharma teacher ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh. Wendy has lived and practiced at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in northern California since 1975. As a wife and mother of two, Wendy combines her 30-year training in organic agriculture with a commitment to teaching meditation engaged with the life of the world. She has been involved for many years in establishing gardening programs in Bay Area schools. She is completing a book on Zen practice and gardening to be published by Bantam Press.
Wes `Scoop’ Nisker is a teacher of Buddhist meditation, an author, radio commentator, and performer. His books include the bestselling classic Essential Crazy Wisdom; The Big Bang, The Buddha, and the Baby Boom; Buddha’s Nature; and his latest, Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! Wes is also the founder and co-editor of the international Buddhist journal “Inquiring Mind.” He is an affiliate teacher at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and does regular workshops at Esalen Institute and other venues. For the past several years Wes has been performing a comic monologue entitled Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! which was recently staged at the esteemed Berkeley Rep theater. Wes’s famous tag line is: “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.”
Will Kabat-Zinn has practiced Vipassana meditation intensively in the U.S. and in Burma. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and teaches regularly at SF Insight, Spirit Rock and California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS). For the past eight years Will has taught meditation and awareness practices to incarcerated youth, first in New York City and currently in Alameda County. As an MFT Intern in private practice in San Francisco and Berkeley, Will sees individuals and couples for psychotherapy. He is in teacher training with Jack Kornfield.
Ying Chen was born in China and came to US when she was in College. She took refuge with Venerable Ji Ru in 1995. She was exposed to Mahayana Buddhism early on. Since 2001, she was drawn to the Theravada tradition through sutta studies with Shaila Catherine and other Chinese dharma teachers and practitioners. Since 2005, she has been practicing primarily under the guidance of Gil Fronsdal. Ying is a graduate of the Sati Center Chaplaincy program and Local Dharma Leader program from Insight Meditation Center led by Andrea Fella and Gil Fronsdal. She worked as a part-time spiritual care volunteer in Kaiser Hospital for 3 years and she currently facilitates the Insight Meditation Center support group for people living with illness and volunteers at Insight Retreat Center. Ying worked in technology companies for 18 years.
YVONNE RAND is the resident teacher at Redwood Creek Dharma Center, located in Marin County. She is a Zen Buddhist priest and meditation teacher. She studied with Suzuki Roshi and later received Dharma transmission from Katagiri Roshi in 1989. Yvonne's other primary teachers are His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the late Ven. Tara Tulku; Yaeko Nakamura (Japanese Tea Ceremony and Noh Theater chanting); and Harry Kellett Roberts (Native American Wisdom traditions). She is well versed in the fields of psychology, Buddhist sacred art, contemporary art, and women's issues.