Local Teachers


Acharya is a Sanskrit word that means “teacher.” It refers to individuals that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has empowered to represent him and the Kagyu, Nyingma, and Shambhala lineages he holds. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche chose these individuals because of their knowledge, wisdom, and commitment to the confluence of teachings found in Shambhala.

mmoore1Acharya Melissa Moore
Melissa Moore, PhD., has been a student of Shambhala since 1979. She has an MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University, attended the 1985 seminary, has been teaching internationally since 1990, and was empowered as a Shastri in 2010. She co-founded, and continues to teach and develop, The Karuna Training, a 3-year professional certificate training in Contemplative Psychology and a division of Shambhala Europe.

Melissa is a Senior Executive of Family Service Agency of San Francisco and since 2005 has been the founding Director of The Felton Institute dedicated to research and training in community mental health services for marginalized populations suffering from mental illness. Melissa has a PhD in Psychological Anthropology from California Institute of Integral Studies and a Post Doctoral degree from University of California San Francisco in Community Based Research and Psychiatric Treatment. She has extensive experience as a clinician and manager of several clinics developed for the treatment of eating disorders, dissociative disorders and trauma related illnesses.

Alan_Schwartz 200x200Acharya Alan Schwartz
Alan Schwartz became a student of Shambhala in 1970, when the Druk Sakyong first arrived and began to teach in North America. For four years he resided at Karmé Chöling and Maitri, both newly-founded meditation communities, until taking up residence in Boulder, where he founded numerous businesses.

In the 1980′s, Alan served for five years as the principal executive officer of 3-month seminary programs. It was during this period that he received his “basic training”, working closely with the Druk Sakyong on these seminal teaching events. During that time he was also appointed to serve as teacher-in-residence to Shambhala’s San Francisco community, which he did for nine years. In 2010 he was appointed a Shastri. In 1989 Alan married Kerry Golemon Schwartz. They have raised two children, and continue to teach actively in the Bay Area under the guidance of the Sakyong.

Alan is particularly inspired by the Sakyong’s leadership and vision for social transformation and applying profound Shambhala Buddhist teachings in areas of worldly impact, such as working with the energy of business and wealth, and transforming materialism to activity which benefits society.



In Sanskrit, shastri literally means “teacher learned in the texts and commentaries”. The shastris have been selected from our dedicated senior teachers, as well as from newer, younger teachers and will serve a term of three years.

The shastris’ role is to bring the current understanding of the Shambhala Buddhist vision and teachings to their centers, to be a reference point for questions about the path, and in particular to help establish The Way of Shambhala curriculum as the core path. A major role of the shastri is to personally mentor and strengthen the local teaching mandala.

Shastris will also support the leadership in Shambhala centers in building community and strengthening the vision of enlightened society.

charlene leung 200Shastri and International Diversity Chair Charlene Leung
Charlene Leung has been a student of the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche since 1983 and is currently a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.  She is the Chairperson of the Diversity Working Group for Shambhala International and aspires to bring awareness of diversity and inclusion to Shambhala meditation instructors and teachers.


Sandra Ladley 200x190Shastri Sandra Ladley
Sandra Ladley, M.A, draws on a wide spectrum of experience to offer guidance on leadership. For Shambhala, she is a senior student and teacher/leader, has served in several leadership roles and coordinated many programs. She was educated and has worked as an artist and therapist and, for several years, managed software development and support in the financial services industry. Sandra’s current focus is “coming to our senses” and teaching and counseling on topics including Art in Everyday Life and Radical Acceptance. 

Amy ConwayShastri Amy Conway
Amy Conway works as a senior managerial consultant for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, working with physicians to improve the quality of healthcare particularly in the areas of depression treatment and women’s health. She also enjoys chi kung, hiking, yoga, cooking, and spending time with sangha. She is the former director of Northern California Shambhala.

Manny MShastri Manuel Medeiros
Manuel Medeiros became a student of the Druk Sakyong in 1980. In 1981 his wife Patricia and he became founding members of what is now the Davis Shambhala Center. He served as Chair of the Northern California Shambhala Board of Directors from 2007 to 2013, when he was appointed Shastri. He recently retired from the California Attorney General’s office, where he held the position of Solicitor General since 2002. His wife Patricia is the Regional Representative of the Shambhala Office of Culture & Decorum. They have two adult daughters living in Southern California and expect to become grandparents in June, 2013.


San Francisco Teachers

Seth Bregman has been a practitioner in the Shambhala Tradition for over 20 years. He is particularly interested in how conventional ideas about meditation and spirituality can become obstacles to genuine insight, relaxation and happiness. He’s grateful for his unexpectedly ‘normal’ life which includes a lovely wife, a house in the suburbs and an exceptionally good dog named Kiki. Seth has worked in the music, film and technology industries for many years and currently works as a Director of IT for Live Nation.

Jill Cohen is a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and has been a member of the Shambhala community for nearly a decade. She has taught meditation to a wide variety of individuals and groups including children, college students, and adults. She is currently studying herbal medicine and loves helping people connect with the magic of the natural world.

David Evans is a Shambhala meditation instructor and a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He’s an engineer and designer in the biotech industry. As such, David is interested in how we create enlightened society in a corporate and technology arena and cultivate awareness in a hyper-connected world.

Charlie Green is a social gerontologist who works with elders and also investigates the contemplative aspects of aging throughout the life cycle.

Janet Lott has been a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche for over 30 years. She has been a Tango addict for 16 of those years and has taught Tango at Shambhala land centers Dechen Chöling and Karmê Chöling. She was a distance runner for 15 years.

Charity Martin has been a Shambhala practitioner and teacher for many years. She is a longtime student of Pema Chödrön and serves as her Bay Area personal secretary. Charity is also a practitioner of Rosen Method Bodywork specializing in somatic experiencing. She frequently teaches Body and Meditation workshops at San Francisco and other area Shambhala centers. Charity has taught many classes in the Way of Shambhala curriculum. She teaches from her own experience and is known for her warm, engaging style.

Joanne Martin Braun, PhD, is the Regional Director of Northern California Shambhala. She is also a senior teacher with a particular passion for understanding how the Shambhala dharma can be applied to working with money as an uplifted part of our path. Joanne has been presenting money programs at centers throughout the country for the past 8 years.

Shabchi Mery Miguez received the title Shabchi after serving The Sakyong Wangmo for one year, in the Courts in both Boulder and Halifax, during The Sakyong Wangmo’s pregnancy and the birth of Jetsun Drukmo.

Robert Pressnall has been a student of Chogyam Trungpa and the Sakyong for over 35 years. He is currently the Head of Education in Northern California Shambhala, and he and his wife, Charlene Leung, have two grown sons active in Shambhala.

Lori Ruth has been involved in the Shambhala Buddhist community since 1995. She is a member of the Dorje Kasung, a service organization in Shambhala, as well as meditation instructor, and currently leads Queer Shambhala Meditation meetings every third Monday of the month at the San Francisco Dzong.

Kerry Schwartz has been a student of Shambhala Buddhism for over 30 years. She teaches the “Way of Shambhala” curriculum in the Bay Area. Kerry is also a Shambhala Art teacher and artist.  She is married, and has a teenage daughter and a college-age son.

Alice Tarkeshi has been a student of Shambhala Buddhism for countless years, and teaches Meditation with a special appreciation of its relationship to the psychology of Creative Process. She is also a certified Yoga teacher through the Integral Yoga Institute.

Alice, a long-time student and practitioner of the Ikebana sculptural art form, is pleased to offer her inspiration and expertise in Ikebana workshops that  enable students to grow into freer and fuller expression. Alice is guided in her teaching by the wisdom of Mindfulness/Awareness Meditation practice, along with the psychology of creativity.

Evan Topal is a jaded urbanite and a grizzled mountain wanderer. Yoga helps keep his feet steady on the path of life. His teaching emphasizes a safe and intelligent approach to the physical practice of yoga, encouraging a greater awareness of body and breath.

pearl ubungen is an award-winning, choreographer/cultural activist known for her investigations of place/site/memory. Ms. ubungen began her study and practice of Shambhala Buddhism in 1989 at the former SF Dharmadhatu and is a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. She teaches meditation, Shambhala Training and curates interdisciplinary projects and performance. ubungen is also a practitioner of somatic education and teaches Awareness Through Movement (ATM) of the Feldenkrais Method. Pearl is a native of San Francisco and a fourth generation Pilipina American.

Alex Van Gils is a professional composer and bassist whose music is influenced by his love of classical music and jazz and especially by his practice and study of Shambhala Buddhism under Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He is the founder of the Ziji Collective, a community for young meditators in Northern California.

Richard Vogler is a long time meditator and student of the Shambhala teachings. He is a painter and also studying Fine Furniture design in Oakland.