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

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

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.

Sarah Hsia

PRESIDENT

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.

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.

Non-Officers

Kvann Smith

Ya’ateeh’ shi ei Kvann Smith yiniishye’; Toodiichiinii nishlii; Tootsohnii daa shi chei, dii ghii ateegoo azsdgaanii nishliii. (All is well and good, my name is Kvann Smith. My maternal clan is Bitterwater and my maternal grandfathers are Bigwater clans, this is the woman I am.) From this most sacred place; the precious foothills of our most sacred Dookoosliid and upon the sacred living and breathing ancestral lands of so many beautiful and vibrant indigenous relatives, I am honored and happy to be asked serve FIMC as a board member. After a 25 year career right here in Kinlanii and Coconino County, I retired in January 2018 and decided to therapeutically and spiritually “return to my body, mind and spirit” by attending massage school. It was just the medicine I needed in every way imaginable. I graduated as a licensed massage therapist from ASIS in downtown Kinlanii, October 2018. It is my great honor and blessing to serve humanity in this manner. My first language is Dine’. I am proud to serve my people by interpreting in the court system, as well. I am an avid hiker of these sacred lands with my dog, Buddy Redbow. I LOVE retirement and meditation, reading many different kinds of books and drinking local coffee is my pure delight. I come to this new request with an open mind in honesty and willingness to learn from you, my relatives, to share some positive breathes and moments to exchange our healing energies. Aho’ doo Axhe’he’, Kvann Smith

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.

FIMC Flagstaff Dharma Leaders

Below are many of the individuals whom give dharma talks, hold discussions, offer study groups or other events to our community.

* Individuals ordered by first name.

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.

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

Cathy Small

Cathy Small is an author and retired professor of anthropology who has been practicing vipassana meditation for more than twenty years. She has completed numerous extended meditation retreats focusing on awareness, loving kindness, and concentration in the U.S. and Asia, and has taught meditation since 2010. She currently co-teaches a six-week course in mindfulness every semester for FIMC and Northern Arizona University, and offers a mindfulness course for inmates at the Coconino County jail.

Janine Schipper

I was introduced to Vipassana meditation in 1990 when I took an undergraduate class on the “Social Psychology of Consciousness.” I meditated on my own until 2003 when I began sitting with the Flagstaff Vipassana Sangha and attending retreats. As a professor of sociology at Northern Arizona University I integrate contemplative practices into my teaching and writing. I have written about Buddhist Sociology as well as about how contemplative practices may help us address environmental crises. More recently I have had the opportunity to facilitate “mindfulness circles” and offer workshops on “Mindfulness for Social Activists.” I live with 4 wild beings (my husband and 3 children) and find their presence a continual reminder to breath and experience the aliveness of the present moment.

Kan Yan

Kan Yan has been practicing mindfulness meditation for over a decade in various Zen and Insight traditions both in the US and Asia. He has a meditation teacher certification from the Interdependence Project and participated in Spirit Rock’s Advanced Practitioner Program. He has worked as a documentary filmmaker, an international humanitarian for the United Nations, a lawyer for the US Federal Courts, and a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he designed and facilitated mindful leadership retreats for senior executives. He is also an avid dancer and teaches contact improvisation, which has been as influential as silent retreat in deepening his understanding of the dharma.

Michelle McClatchie

Michelle’s passion for Vipassana meditation first began in 2012. Through her own meditation practice, joining the Flagstaff Insight Meditation community and attending numerous retreats she experienced a personal transformation which inspired a strong desire to teach and share this practice with others. In 2016 she earned a Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation through UCLA and is now an Internationally Certified Mindfulness Teacher. She also works in private practice as a Counselor, specializing in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and offers Introduction to Mindfulness classes throughout the Flagstaff community. You can visit her website at www.manymindfulmoments.com Michelle is an avid outdoors woman and loves to get out in Nature with friends and her two dogs. She lives with a bright and grateful heart and is dedicated to sharing kindness, compassion and wisdom with all those she meets.

Namu KangNamu Kang

Namu Kang is an explorer of consciousness in this brief interval between birth and death. His curiosity about how much freedom and beauty is possible has taken him to monasteries and meditation centers across Myanmar, Thailand, India, and the U.S. In the past, Namu has managed products at Google, traveled the world making videos, and built software tools to help people be more mindful online. He loves long retreats and emphasizes the importance of enjoyment, play, and experimentation in practice. His most impressive accomplishment is eating oatmeal every day during a 3-month retreat and loving it every single time.

Robin Craig

Robin Craig is a Teacher in The Mind Illuminated tradition, which is rooted in Theravadan and Tibetan Karma Kagyu traditions with lineage to the Venerable Ananda Bodhi. She is exploring the ways that Meditation and Organic Intelligence® interweave to support the potential for living an unencumbered or unburdened life. Robin appreciates the ways in which joy is an integral part of the path to the deep spirituality and interconnection that is ours by nature. Her dharma teaching lineage comes from teachers who have studied the early Buddhist tradition as well as teachers in modern Theravada lineages. Robin is also a Licensed Professional Counselor and Faculty of Organic Intelligence®. Her understanding of the ways spirituality is shaped by our biology and physiology support an approach to meditation practice that is non-shaming and flexible and brings an emphasis on the joyful exploration and insight that arises from there.

Sarah Hsia

PRESIDENT

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. Sarah can be reached at sarah@flagstaffinsight.org.