The San Francisco Steering Committee

The San Francisco Shambhala Steering Committee is the chief governing body responsible for ensuring that the center is in line with Shambhala Vision as articulated by the Sakong’s of Shambhala, long-term planning, overseeing the wellbeing of the center and community and providing financial oversight.

Its members represent different areas of the Shambhala organization and are often representatives of the international offices of Shambhala International providing further linkage with the Kalapa Council as well as external oversight of center policies and operations.

If you would like to reach the SF Shambhala Steering Committee, please send an email to steeringcommittee [at] sfshambhala [dot] org.

  • Eric Wise
  • Irene Okupnik
    Sunday Open House Coordinator
  • Kelsey Brown
    Young Meditators Night Coordinator
  • Susan Arnesen
    Member, Steering Committee
  • Scott Birkey
    Member, Steering Committee
  • Jennifer Overbury
    Member, Steering Committee

Regional Leadership

  • Cody McGough
    Regional Director of Northern California Shambhala and
    Interim Chair
  • Gayle Young
    Northern California Shambhala

Overview of Shambhala Governance

The San Francisco Shambhala Center is governed by an appointed Council of community and staff members in accordance with the governing structure that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche wishes to see established at Shambhala Centers throughout the mandala. This structure brings to life the Three Pillars model for the Kingdom of Shambhala originally set forth by the Druk Sakyong.

The Governing Council aspires to develop and put into practice forms of governance that reflect and uphold the view, values, and vision of Shambhala. The Council’s work is guided by the general principles of policy governance in keeping with the unique characteristics and tenets of Shambhala as a consultative social monarchy.

In Shambhala governance, natural hierarchy includes genuine participative consultation. The Council seeks to govern in a manner that ensures transparency and communication with the community. Minutes of Council proceedings are available to community members on request.

For a description of the structure, role, and function of the San Francisco Shambhala Center Governing Council, click here.

Council/Community Connection and Reporting

The SF Shambhala Governing Council is committed to serving the needs of the SF Shambhala Community and maintaining healthy communication around center policies, strategies, finances and major capital campaigns.  The Council works to maintain strong communication with the community in the following ways:

1. Member to council communication
All members of the governing council serve as its representatives to the community.  Community members are welcome to contact any member of the Governing Council with their concerns regarding the Center’s operations, staff, office holders or community life.  Council members are empowered to submit major issues to the Council Agenda for discussion and consideration by the Governing Council.  Community members may also express general concerns publicly in the context of a quarterly community meeting.  For major issues of concern regarding the behavior of other practitioners, teachers or center office holders, please see the care and conduct policy and guidelines below.

2. Council to member communication
The council is committed to submitting a quarterly center report to the community both in the context of a quarterly community meeting and through email and website availability.  Center reports will include both the status of objectives outlined in the strategic plan, new policies by the Governing Council and a year to date financial report.   During community meetings Center members are invited to give commentary and feedback regarding Center leadership, operations, and strategic goals.

3. Annual Members Congress and Strategic Plan Review
The council is committed to hosting an annual members congress where it will present a draft one-year strategic plan for the coming year for review by the community in order to gather community input and address concerns.  In addition, after six months of implementation, the council will host a community meeting to gather community input towards the six-month revision of the strategic plan.

4. Governing Council Commitment to Transparency
The Governing Council is committed to posting its minutes on the website, as well as the latest center report including the year to date finances.   In addition, all major center staff and leadership opportunities will be announced to the community.  For details please see the SF Shambhala Transparency Policy.

Community Care and Conduct Policy

Like all Shambhala Centers, Sharchen Dzong seeks to create a supportive and safe environment for all people interested in exploring meditation, the study of the Shambhala teachings, and other contemplative and social activities that support and sustain the expression of enlightened society.  Toward that end, it is natural for conflicts and problems to arise.  We try to work with these directly in accordance with our values.  Thus it is helpful to have the following guidelines for addressing them.Here is a link to Shambhala’s international Care and Conduct Policy and a brief summary on how the policy works at our center:

1. Conflict Resolution between community members
At any time community members can request mediation from a teacher, office holder or our Center “Desung” Alice Tarkeshi.  The Desung is a special position in the Dorje Kasung who is responsible for promoting harmony within the community.  Mediation is one of the best ways to address interpersonal conflict in a safe and protected way, with one or two third-party people helping to create a space for compassionate exchange and greater understanding.

2. Complaints about practitioners
If a community member should ever be concerned about the potentially harmful behavior of another practitioner, he or she should feel free to make a confidential informal or formal complaint to any member of the Governing Council or the Center Desung, Alice Tarkeshi.   Governing Council members and contacts are listed above.

3. Complaints about office holders
If a community member should ever be concerned about the potentially harmful behavior of an office holder, teacher,  or meditation instructor he or she should feel free to contact any member of the Governing Council.

In order make a formal complaint about a council member, you can either contact another council member for local action, or one of three regional representatives including our Regional Director, Joanne Martin Braun, Acharya Alan Schwartz or Acharya Melissa Moore.

Either a council representative or one of the regional representatives will then investigate the complaint and try to bring harmony and well-being to both parties involved.  This may include mediation or corrective actions including temporary suspension of a position.

Contact information for the regional care and conduct representatives:
Cody McGough, Regional Director of Northern California Shambhala, pcmcgough [at] gmail [dot] com
Acharya Alan Schwartz: aschwartz101 [at] gmail [dot] com