The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche
The Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche, Head of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and the global network of Shambhala Meditation Centers
The Sakyong, literally translated as “earth protector,” is a dharma king and lineage holder of the Shambhala lineage, guiding thousands of students around the world in the path of meditation.
The Sakyong’s teachings show us how to use everyday life as a means to ripen this spiritual potential. We practice turning the mind toward others as a discipline that creates confidence and compassion –the ability to attain success that occurs from acting virtuously.
Born in Bodhgaya, India, in 1962, the Sakyong is the eldest son of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Lady Könchok Palden. He is the incarnation of Mipham the Great, a renowned Nyingma scholar and meditation master. As part of the Mukpo clan of eastern Tibet, he is a descendant of the Tibetan warrior-king Gesar of Ling.
The Sakyong is also an avid runner who has completed nine marathons. He is author of the bestselling Turning the Mind into an Ally, the award-winning Ruling Your World, and Running with the Mind of Meditation. Through the Sakyong Foundation, he engages in supporting organizations and projects whose activities exemplify the vision of Shambhala. He teaches all over the world, using his unique blend of Eastern and Western perspectives to the benefit of his students in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.
With her powerful talks, bestselling books, and retreats attended by thousands, Pema Chödrön has taught many people how to deal with life’s difficult moments and the value of embracing fear and suffering. She teaches how difficulty and uncertainty can be opportunities for awakening. Among the best-selling books Pema has written are: When Things Fall Apart, The Places that Scare You, No Time to Lose and Practicing Peace in Times of War. She has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show and on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday show. She was also interviewed by Bill Moyer.
Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936, in New York City. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three grandchildren. As one of the first Western women to be fully ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun, in 1981, she believes we all have the capacity to awaken to fuller, more conscious lives. Pema studied under the meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and currently studies with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. Pema Chodron is the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey, a monastery in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Chris Dancy, touted as “the Most Connected Man on Earth,” has been featured in Wired, Mashable, TechCrunch, the Wall Street Journal, and Businessweek. For 25 years, Dancy has served in leadership within the technology and healthcare industries, specializing in the intersection of the two. He has been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, and Fox News. He has been both a purveyor of TED talks and subject of TED talks. He is now headlined by Showtime’s Dark Net. Chris entered the public dialog concerning digital health as the media started to focus on wearable technology. He earned his moniker by utilizing up to 700 sensors, devices, applications, and services to track, analyze, and optimize his life–from his calorie intake to his spiritual well-being. This quantification enables him to see the connections of otherwise invisible data, resulting in dramatic upgrades to his health, productivity, and quality of life.
Gaylon Ferguson, PhD, is a core faculty member at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, teaching both Religious Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies. He is also an acharya, or senior teacher, in the Shambhala International Buddhist community.
His latest book, Natural Bravery: Fear and Fearlessness as a Direct Path of Awakening, was recently published by Shambhala Publications. This book makes the powerful claim that it is possible to live without fear; that there’s a natural fearlessness in us that goes far deeper than fear.
In addition, Gaylon Ferguson is the author of Natural Wakefulness: Discovering the Wisdom We Were Born With. Additionally, his article, “Making Friends with Ourselves,” was selected for inclusion in The Best Buddhist Writing 2005, and his essay “No Color, All Colors” appears in the book,Mindful Politics.
After studying meditation and Buddhist philosophy with Tibetan master Chögyam Trungpa in the 1970s and 1980s, Ferguson became a Fulbright Fellow to Nigeria and completed a doctoral degree in cultural anthropology at Stanford University. Previously, Gaylon received a his BA from Yale College, and was awarded the Pickens Prize for Scholarly Excellence from Yale. He received his MA from Stanford University. After several years of teaching cultural anthropology at the University of Washington, he became teacher-in-residence at Karmê Chöling Buddhist Retreat Center. In 2005, he joined the faculty of Naropa University. He has led meditation retreats since 1976, recently taught a week-long meditation retreat for Howard University Master of Divinity students, and is currently also teaching meditation in prisons.
The Rev. Dr. B. Herbert Martin, Sr.
Dr. B. Herbert Martin, Sr., Pastor of the Progressive Community Church, has 50 years of pastoral and related experience, with more than 47 years of ministry work in the Chicago area. He provided pastoral care and support to Mayor Washington and became known as the Mayor’s Pastor” and “The Pastor to the City of Chicago and Vicinity speaking truth to power.”
Pastor Martin was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. He is sibling to five sisters and four brothers. He has five children, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas in 1967, his Master of Divinity in 1971 from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University in Evanston; his Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) in 1986 from Monrovia College, Liberia, West Africa; in 2009 his Doctor of Ministry Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago; and the Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) from Chicago Theological Seminary. He has been a civil and human rights activist since 1955 and a leader for African American unity and self-determination all his adult life. Pastor Martin is a tenacious activist for global citizenship and the building of the beloved community.
Pastor Martin served as the Chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, Executive Director of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Executive Secretary and President of the NAACP – Southside Branch. Governor Edgar appointed him to the Illinois Human Services Reform task force. In 1995, he was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder and organizer of the Progressive Institute for Biblical Studies and Leadership Formation, the Progressive Boys to Men Mentoring Ministry, the National Progressive Institute for Community Development, Inc. He is the President and CEO of Martin LLC, a local organization with a global perspective that offers consultation in business development for companies. He is Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the Center for Cultural Connections and a founding member of The Interfaith Global Peace Initiative.
A lifelong resident of Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, Juanita Irizarry is the Executive Director of Friends of the Parks, a 40-year old advocacy organization committed to preserving, protecting, promoting, and improving the use of Chicago’s parks. She comes to this work from a background of non-profit advocacy, organizing, and community development based in marginalized communities in Chicago. She previously served as executive director of Latinos United (now Latino Policy Forum) and has worked at the Christian Community Development Association, The Resurrection Project, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, and Olive Branch Mission.
Immediately prior to her current role, she served in the Office of Governor Pat Quinn, where she was a statewide housing coordinator, reforming the state’s system of affordable housing and social services for people with disabilities. She also previously served as a senior program officer in human services and community development at The Chicago Community Trust.
She also ran for alderman in Chicago’s 26th Ward in the most recent municipal election, coming 142 votes short of a run-off election.
Juanita’s board roles have included the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, Common Cause Illinois, Community Renewal Society, Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, Near Northwest Neighborhood Network, and the Olive Branch Mission, to name a few. She has been active in grass-roots and political organizing efforts in her community over the years through such entities as Grassroots Illinois Action, the Humboldt Park Empowerment Partnership, and the Puerto Rican Agenda.
Juanita has a BA in History/Political Science and Spanish from Greenville College, studied urban planning and policy at UIC, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Pastor Christopher Harris
Pastor Harris is the spiritual leader of Bright Star Church (www.BrightStarChurchChicago.com) in his native Chicago. A noted Gospel and Jazz singer, Pastor Harris has ministered in song in over 20 countries and recorded on over 15 projects.
He is also the founder of Bright Star Community Outreach (www.BrightStarCommunityOutreach.com) a 501c3 dedicated to youth anti-violence programs, educational enrichment and school improvement in the Bronzeville Community. He’s a National Council Member of AIPAC and travels the country building relationships between African-American and Jewish Clergy. Harris’ 2012 trip to Israel prompted the development of the Bronzeville Dream Center based on the Israeli model of NATAL in Tel Aviv.
Exavier B. Pope I, Esq.
Exavier B. Pope I, Esq. is impacting the lives of 10 million people globally by teaching through love, synchronicity, and unbridled optimism. In his words, “We stir the magic elixir for world shifting movements.” Exavier Pope is an award winning attorney, on air legal analyst, media personality, Fortune 500 speaker, content creator, writer, tastemaker, thought leader, yogi, and humanitarian. He is host of #SuitUP Podcast for his production company 528 Media Group. Exavier is also and a contributing writer and host of The Radical Inspiration Podcast distributed through Wanderlust Media. With over 200+ appearances in media, including BBC, Al Jazeera English, NBC Nightly News, HLN, Fox News Channel, CBS, Huff Post Live, ESPN Radio, NBC Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio, Forbes, CNBC, Jet, and The Hollywood Reporter, Exavier is one of world’s most highly sought after Fortune 500 speakers to companies such as BP, and speaks at conferences globally. He has also been profiled in top publications Forbes Magazine, Black Enterprise, Rolling Out, Uptown Magazine, & Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Exavier Pope was born on Chicago’s South Side, a baby in a brothel. His father was a pimp and his mother, one of his prostitutes. His mother was jailed when Exavier was six weeks old leading to Exavier living in a foster home for his formative years and being homeless at 14. Less than 3% of former foster youth attain a four-year college degree. Exavier has defied those odds and his life’s mission is to show the world anything is possible with belief.
Rev. Marcenia Richards
Rev. Marcenia Richards served as the president of The Life Center Ministries and as Executive Director of The Peace Coalition against Violence, and is the founder and president of Fierce Women of Faith. A motivational speaker, teacher, author, and host, Marcenia has dedicated herself to the cause of mentoring youth, and to teaching reconciliation through means other than violence. She has been “in the trenches” with high-risk youth in a variety of places and capacities, from individual mentoring, to hosting conferences with notable public figures, to working with other faith leaders to establish communities of non-violence. Her public comments on violence in Chicago have appeared in reporting by CBS, the Economist, the Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune and various other news outlets. She has spoken frequently in this country, Canada, Europe, Africa, the West Indies, and elsewhere on these and other issues of faith.
Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei
Called “the most intriguing (and vocal) African-American Buddhist” by Library Journal, angel Kyodo williams is an author, activist, master trainer and founder of the Center for Transformative Change. She has been bridging the worlds of transformation and justice since her critically acclaimed book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace was hailed as “an act of love” by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, and “a classic” by Buddhist pioneer Jack Kornfield. She is one of only two black women Zen “Senseis” or teachers. She applies wisdom teachings and embodied practice to intractable social issues at the intersections of climate change, racial and economic justice, and is a preeminent thought leader of Transformative Social Change. Her 27 Days of Change online program and 3rd Way Leadership supports changemakers in inner meets outer change worldwide. Her work has been widely covered, including in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Ms., and Essence. angel notes, “Love and Justice are not two. Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.” Her newest book collaboration, Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation will be released on Juneteenth of this year.
Damon A. Williams
Damon A. Williams is an organizer, radio host, artist and performer, speaker and teacher, but he considers himself a “Community Producer”. Damon was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and is the co-director of #TheLetUsBreathe Collective.