The Board of Directors “BOD or Board”of Zen Mountain Monastery, Dharma Communications and the Zen Center of NYC is the governing body of the Mountains and River Order. MRO Board governance differs from not-for-profit governance because the MRO as a religious corporation is engaged in supporting the MRO mission, the vision of the Abbot and teachers, and the Sangha of Zen Mountain Monastery, not a group of owner shareholders. The Board meets each quarter to discuss, make decisions about, and conduct oversight regarding the ethical, financial and structural health of ZMM, DC, ZCNYC, the Order, and its affiliates. The Board does not make decisions relating directly to spiritual training within the MRO, but issues the Board addresses do, at times, impact ongoing training of students and sangha members.
The Board is comprised of 16 members: lay students, monastics and teachers who each serve a four-year term, with the option to be reappointed for a second term. A goal of board membership is inclusion and diversity in all its many forms. Aside from full time monastics, the board includes lay students with an array of professional backgrounds. Currently and within the past decade, this has included health care workers, business and accounting specialists, teachers, attorneys, consultants, social workers, artists, writers and more. Along with their personal, professional, and vocational activities, they bring decades of experience in the dharma and, specifically, commitment within the MRO sangha.
New Board members are nominated by the MRO teachers in collaboration with the Nominating Committee, a subcommittee of the Board, and members are voted on by the Board itself. The Nominating Committee’s purpose is to create transparency and inclusion in the Board selection process in order to ensure that the MRO Board is strong, well-functioning and represents the diversity of the broader sangha.
The Board meets quarterly and meetings are open to all MRO students to attend as observers. At present, the Board is meeting via Zoom. Those interested in observing can contact the training office for the Zoom link and relevant guidelines on attending.
The Board welcomes feedback on matters that individuals feel should be addressed. To raise a concern, you can contact a Board member directly, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For matters related to MRO Ethical Guidelines or to contact our Ethics Committee, please look here.
Upcoming board meetings are listed in Mountain Notes, the Monastery’s e-newsletter.
Another facet of the Monastery’s governance is the Board of Governors, comprised of all MRO Students who wish to participate. Board of Governors meetings are held every five years and help inform the evolutionary vision for the Monastery and the Order in practical terms as well as aspirationally and culturally. For a look at the suggestions and ideas that came out of our most recent Board of Governors meeting in 2020, click here.
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi is the Head of the Mountains and Rivers Order, abbot and resident teacher of Zen Mountain Monastery. Shugen entered full-time residential training in 1986 after studying mathematics and receiving a degree in classical music. He received dharma transmission from John Daido Loori, Roshi in 1997. His teachings on Zen, social justice and environmental stewardship have appeared in various Buddhist journals.
Shoan has been in full-time residential training at ZMM since 2007, including about two years where she lived full time at the Temple in Brooklyn. Before ordaining, Shoan taught in several different arts and education programs in New York City, Ulster County, and Poughkeepsie. In addition to being Board Secretary, she is also the MRO Training Coordinator and oversees the Tenkozan line of handcrafted products for the Monastery Store. She has been a Board member since 2015.
Richard Kokuan Lawton has been a formal MRO student since 1996. He is the founding executive director of the New Jersey Sustainable Business Council – a network of companies working to advance market and policy solutions to create a more just and sustainable economy. He also serves as board treasurer for Investor Advocates for Social Justice, which uses shareholder advocacy strategies on behalf of investors whose faith-based values promote human rights, climate justice, racial equity and the common good. Kokuan holds an M.B.A. in Sustainability from Antioch University New England. He and his wife Tracy make their home in New Jersey.
Sandra Joshin Del Valle was a civil rights lawyer for over twenty years before becoming a high school English teacher. While a lawyer, she wrote a book on language rights and the law. She is currently teaching and learning at Brooklyn Technical HS. She is also a hike leader with the Appalachian Mountain Club and serves on their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee which seeks to bring more people of color to the outdoors. She is a member of the Temple Advisory Council and was a member of the MRO’s Beyond Fear of Differences group. She became a student of Shugen Roshi in 2011 and a jukai student in 2016.
After returning to full time residency in 2012, Yusen entered the monastic path and received tokudo from Shugen Roshi in 2021. In 1994 she became a student of Daido Roshi’s, entered into residency at the Monastery and received Jukai soon after (and the dharma name Taikyo). During her lay life between 1996-2012, Yusen was a non-profit development consultant with a background in photography, videography and print production, a volunteer Qi Gong instructor, and a health care and environmental activist. In residency she has served as cook and tenzo, in various web media and print productions, and is currently the program coordinator.
After graduating from Ohio State University in 1976 with a Ph.D. In Clinical Psychology, Bruce Getsudo Glick moved to northern Maine, where he and his wife have lived for the past 45 years. As a licensed psychologist, Getsudo provided a variety of mental health services (counseling, cognitive and emotional assessment, crisis intervention clinical supervision, branch office management) in a rural community, specializing in neuropsychology for the last half of his career until his retirement in 2016. Getsudo attended his first retreat at ZMM in 2006, became a formal training student in 2011, and received the precepts in 2019. He is involved in the National Buddhist Prison Sangha program and has a passion for photography as an art practice.
Linda Shinji Hoffman began practicing at Zen Mountain Monastery in 2004. She became a senior lay student (shuso) in 2021. Shinji is an artist and an organic orchardist based in Harvard, Massachusetts. In 2001 she founded Old Frog Pond Farm and Studio, which now serves as a hub of practice, creativity and growth. Her recent memoir, The Artist and the Orchard, tells her story of restoring an abandoned apple orchard while growing a community writers, farmers, artists, and spiritual seekers.
Yunen has been training within the MRO since 2000. Before that, he practiced at the San Francisco Zen Center and at Kakunenji, in Wachendorf, Germany. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Yunen grew up in Northern Virginia, Salt Lake City, and the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds graduate degrees in biochemistry and English literature and is also a painter. He currently serves on the ZCNYC Temple Advisory Council (TAC) and is the Temple’s resident office manager.
Hojin Sensei serves as the Training Director for the Mountains and Rivers Order and Abbot of the Zen Center of NYC-Fire Lotus Temple . She began her artistic career early and has taught drawing, ceramics, and painting, opening people up to the wonders and mysteries of the creative process and continues to offer Art Practices as part of her teaching. She has been in full-time residential training at the Monastery since 1990 and now shares her time at the Brooklyn temple.
Degna Chikei Levister works as Associate Dean for Enrollment Management and Access Initiatives and is the Executive Director of CUNY Law School’s Pipeline to Justice program, which provides access to law school to those historically excluded from the legal profession. Chikei became a formal student of John Daido Loori, Roshi in 1997 and took Jukai in 2005. After Daido Roshi’s passing, she became a student of Shugen Roshi. In addition to her long service on the ZMM board, Chikei serves as a member of the MRO Ethics Committee and Board Nominating Committee.
Danise Eiko Malqui has been practicing within the MRO since 2007, and throughout that time completed several long-term residencies at both the temple and monastery. Her heart is especially in strengthening the BIPOC sangha, for which she is a founding member of the BIPOC Visioning Committee. Eiko has a Master’s in Urban Planning and more recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Brooklyn College in 2021. She teaches writing and is currently working on projects related to women of color and spirituality. She lives in Brooklyn but loves to get away from the City with long traveling trips.
Bio to come.
A graduate of the Yale School of Art, and past Professor of Painting, Taisho is currently the Senior Technical Specialist for Golden Artist Colors. She became a student at ZMM in 20014, and took Jukai in 2019. Describing what most galvanizes her Taisho says, “My love is painting, my passions are poetry and the forested spaces of Upstate NY, but I center my life around practice and service to the Sangha.”
Mukyo has been practicing with the Mountains and Rivers Order since 2016. She finds it amusing that it was not until she came to the United States to be on the path of awakening while she was born and raised in a Buddhist family in a Buddhist country. She is an avid houseplant collector and gardener. She resides in Brooklyn when she’s not at the Monastery.
Prabu Gikon Vasan lives with his wife, Hosui, in Kingston, NY. He has been practicing in the MRO since 1999, has been involved in the MRO’s Beyond Fear of Differences initiative, and currently serves on the MRO Ethics Committee. He is a clinical social worker and a project manager, most recently in the field of suicide prevention. He devotes far too much time to reading and writing poetry.
Tamara Hosui Vasan has practiced with the MRO since 2006, primarily at Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn. Her spiritual life began at an early age and led to questioning, searching, and ultimately finding a home in the Dharma. She has served on the MRO board since 2019. Hosui’s background is in social science, literature and writing, and art. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for 20 years, raising funds for safe and healthy communities, human rights, environmental justice, and climate change. She lives in Kingston, NY with Gikon.