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.

Acharya Charlene LeungAcharya Charlene Leung has served as Chairperson of the Shambhala International Diversity Working Group since 2009. She was appointed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche as a Shastri in 2010 and an Acharya in 2018. She first became a student of the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1983. Over the years, Charlene has led Way of Shambhala and parenting as path programs. She facilitates workshops for the UNtraining, a Shambhala inspired organization devoted to healing personal and social oppressions. Her current teaching focus is developing programs that join Shambhala dharma with social justice and inclusion.

Professionally she practices Chinese medicine and teaches qi gong in the San Francisco Bay Area. She lives in a Shambhala household with her husband, Robert Pressnall, where they raised their two, now adult sons, Steven and Gabriel Pressnall.

Personal Statement
I identify as a Chinese American woman and person of color. I grew up in a family of six children in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1947, my mother, at age 17, left China on a ship to the United States to attend college. She had been awarded a scholarship from Catholic missionaries. My father’s family, peasants from southern China, came to the US shortly before he was born. With 11 children crowded into a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco Chinatown, they lived frugally, working as domestic servants, in restaurants and laundries. My father, trying to assimilate, eventually became a successful small businessman and moved our family into white neighborhoods. There I became a “model minority” by overachieving in school and dissociating from the trauma of racial violence I witnessed against my brothers.

While my interest in social justice began in college, I found my way to Shambhala (then Vajradhatu) and focused my early adulthood practicing and studying dharma. I worked in community based non profits in Oakland Chinatown and began having children. A couple of decades later, in the mid 2000’s I got involved with the Shambhala Diversity Working Group (DWG). It wasn’t until after I took the oath as DWG Chair, was appointed a Shastri, and joined a process group for Chinese people to heal racism and internalized oppression, that I began to uncover and heal the trauma of racial violence I experienced as a child.

My passion for doing “diversity work” began as an aspiration to help others, and led to a powerful personal healing journey that is intimately linked to my Shambhala path. Dharma supports racial healing, and diversity work deepens my understanding of dharma. The two are inextricably linked. This journey of awakening from the delusion of separation has yielded my greatest sense of community.

Acharya Melissa MooreAcharya 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 was the founding Director of The Felton Institute between 2005 and 2016. The Felton Institue 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 has managed of several clinical sights in her career. She has extensive experience in developing  curriculum and treatment protocols for care providers on the front lines of mental health, for the treatment of eating disorders and for the treatment of dissociative disorders and other mental health related issues.




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.

Shastri Joanne Martin Braun, PhD became a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1978, and has been a student of both Sakyongs since that time. She has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, and has been teaching meditation in business and healthcare settings for twenty years. Most recently she served five years as Regional Director for Northern California, where she produced a number of public events and conferences on the applicability of Shambhala teachings to our work and personal lives. Joanne and her husband Lou have a daughter and currently live in Sonoma CA.

Shastri 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.

Shastri Charlotte Linde Shastri Charlotte Linde met the Druk Sakyong at the Naropa Summer Institute, and has been a student of the Sakyong lineage since then. She is an anthropologist and linguist, who has taught at CUNY, University of California, and Stanford, and most recently worked as a researcher at NASA. She is the author of two books on the ways stories are used to create individual and group ego. She lives in Redwood City California, where she serves as a teacher and council member of the Silicon Valley Shambhala Center.

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.