Diversity Committee

Our Intention

The FIMC diversity committee aims to foster a welcoming space for everyone to explore meditation, mindful living, and the teachings of the Buddha. This entails opening our doors and hearts to all social identities including, but not limited to: race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, culture, and ethnicity. The diversity committee does this through offering educational opportunities around diversity as well as addressing issues of inclusion that arise within our community.


Katie Pierce Headshot

Katie Pierce

Katie is a kid-at-heart who moved to Flagstaff in 2007 for the Doctor in Physical Therapy program at NAU. She loves nature, people, laughing, swimming, and spending time with her delightful husband and fuzzy dog. Katie discovered Vipassana meditation after a serious head injury challenged her academic and physical abilities, and Mindfulness provided a path for knowing herself free from the constraints of comparison and worldly identity. Katie has developed particular interest in diversity and inclusion issues, both through her work as a physical therapist, with individuals with a wide range of abilities and identities, and through her personal experiences adapting to a new set of physical and mental challenges after brain injury. Katie has been an active member of the Flagstaff Vipassana Sangha - now FIMC - since 2009, and has participated in a number of retreats and mindful hikes. She continues to be in awe of the power of this spiritual practice to contribute to deep personal and collective healing.

lore headshot


lore is on the faculty at NAU and directs doctoral training programs in the Department of Educational Psychology. He has flirted with mindfulness practice for a number of years and was happy to find the vibrant community here in Flagstaff. His passion is ensuring that under-served, marginalized people have the space they need to live fulfilling lives. He identifies as a White trans man with a lesbian history.

Derya Suzen Headshot

Derya Suzen

Derya was introduced to mindfulness meditation in 1998, when she was a doctoral student in Grand Forks, ND. Since then, she has been practicing and attending retreats in Vipassana and Thich Nhat Hanh tradition. As a psychotherapist, Derya has incorporated mindfulness and compassion in her counseling practice with her clients. She is very grateful to have Flagstaff Insight Meditation Community in Northern Arizona where she lives now.

Tamara Faust Headshot

Tamara Faust

Tamara has lived in Northern Arizona since 2013. She first learned meditation on a 10-day Vipassana retreat in India in 2007. During this retreat, she said to herself: "This is the most important self-healing work one can do." Since then, Tamara has been fortunate to participate in several Vipassana retreats and has found a sense of home with the Insight Meditation community in the U.S. In 2011-12, Tamara participated in the Mindful Yoga & Meditation Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center; a 12-month program guiding yoga instructors towards incorporating mindfulness techniques into their teachings and practices. Currently, Tamara integrates mindfulness meditation with her work as a massage therapist, Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga instructor at Enchantment Resort and in her private practice. Tamara enjoys living in the warmer environs of Cottonwood with her dogs and garden.

Brian Lesage Headshot

Brian Lesage

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