Board of Directors

The Board of Directors are a collection of appointed meditation practitioners that lead activities, manage the non-profits finances, and decide upon offerings for the local Flagstaff community. The directors are responsible for coordinating retreats, weekly reoccurring sits, help guide activities such as: Mindful Meals; Mindful Tea; hikes; children's courses; book study groups, and answer questions from the community.

Officers

Brian Lesage

Brian Lesage

Guiding Teacher

Brian Lesage has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1988 and has taught meditation since 2000. He has studied in the Zen, Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism. He was ordained in the Rinzai Zen tradition in 1996. His training in Vipassana Meditation includes doing extended meditation retreats in Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and India as well as numerous retreats in the U.S. He leads retreats and teaches meditation courses nationwide. Brian also has a private practice in Somatic Experiencing, which is a naturalistic approach to healing trauma. You can also visit his website for Somatic Experiencing at: www.liberatingawareness.com

Chris Taesali

Chris Taesali

President

Chris arrived in Flagstaff in 1999 and attended NAU. He’s frequently been attending sits and retreats with FIMC since 2013, and started participating in the Guiding Council (now called the Board of Directors) in late September 2013. You could find him outdoors hiking, mountain biking, and fly fishing. Chris is an assistant instructor for a local fencing group. He is interested in freedom, seeing clearly, and a greater understanding of the beautiful world we are a part of. Enjoys music, reading, photography, art & design, teaching, discussion, and appreciates the diversity, assistance, acceptance, and learning found within this community (also known as a Sangha).

Laura LaBranche

Laura LaBranche

Vice President

Laura has been meditating since the late sixties primarily on her own in the Zen tradition; in 2005 she began following the Tibetan and Theravada traditions. She arrived in Flagstaff in 1993 and in 2014 she found FIMC. In 2016 she joined the guiding council. She is a retired Physical Therapist having had a fulfilling career with the U.S. Public Health Service. Her hobbies include: fly fishing, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, sewing, and cooking. From a young age she has participated in various martial arts (Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, and Aikido). While living in Flagstaff she obtained her private pilot license and enjoyed many years of flying in the area.

Leslie McLean Profile Picture

Leslie McLean

Treasurer

I was introduced to Insight Meditation and the teachings of Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. I first traveled to Thailand in 2000 and was introduced to Theravada Buddhism and, more specifically, the teachings of Thich Naht Hanh. I began practicing and sitting at the Flagstaff Insight Meditation Community in early 2016 and joined the Board of Directors in June of 2017. In 1994 I moved from the east coast to the southwest to live and work on the Navajo reservation. After graduating from law school in 2006, I moved to Flagstaff with my two sons to begin practicing law and continue practicing parenting. I find comfort in hiking and practicing yoga.

Portrait of Tasha

Tasha Miller Griffith

Secretary

Tasha moved to Flagstaff with her family as a small child, and considers herself very lucky to have lived here on and off (mostly on) ever since. In the fall of 2017 she started looking for a practice and a community that could help support her through life's challenges, and found FIMC. She agreed to join the board in 2019. Tasha is an artisan working with all kinds of textiles, and teaches workshops around the country on mending, felting, knitting, and natural dyes. She finds that working with natural materials, especially those harvested from the local landscape, is a powerful way to connect with her sense of belonging to the wider world. She also enjoys baking bread, reading and writing, walking in the woods, and generally spending time outside whenever possible.

Non-Officers

Allen Atkins Profile Picture

Allen B. Atkins

Allen moved to Flagstaff in 1998 to work at Northern Arizona University (NAU) as a professor of Finance. He has been interested in meditation since first learning Transcendental Meditation (TM) in college. After college, in 1978, he was introduced to Vipassana and it has been his main practice ever since. He sits a retreat of at least a week or so almost every year. He sat the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) three month retreat three times and in 2000-2001 took a leave of absence from work to spend the year practicing at IMS and in Burma, Thailand and India. Allen taught yoga and meditation in Texas from 1979-1983. He has been teaching a six-week beginning Vipassana course each semester at NAU since 1999. The course is currently being taught with Cathy Small. His other main hobbies include music, singing and cycling.

Sarah Hsia Profile picture

Sarah Hsia

Sarah Hsia has been practicing Buddhism for four decades starting with Vipassana and then Zen traditions with Thich Nhat Hanh and others. Her most fruitful arena of practice has been in the work setting.  She has worked as an emergency physician for three decades, most of that time in Flagstaff, Arizona and feels deep gratitude for her rich encounters with all walks of human life inclusive of class, gender and race.  She is currently engaged with holding space for an Asian American Affinity Group, developing a curriculum for a local Children’s Sangha and is enrolled in the Chaplaincy program at Upaya Zen Center with Roshi Joan Halifax.

 

Byron profile picture

Byron Smith

Byron has been a member of the FIMC sangha since 2012, and is excited to help support the organization by serving on the board.  He has led meditation classes at the county jail, and insight meditation is a foundational part of his spritual practice.  A Flagstaff resident since 2004, he was drawn by the forests, mountains and canyons of Northern Arizona and can often be found exploring them by bike, boot or ski.

Board Code of Ethics

Please see the Board Code of Ethics page for more information about the code of ethics all board members agree to.