MLP Admin Team
MLP Admin Team
Founder and Executive Director, Board Member
JG is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, where he received his B.S. in Psychology and was a 4-year scholarship player on the baseball team. After graduating from SMC, he felt a deep desire to work with children. At age 22 he was hired to work as a Site Coordinator for Sports4Kids (now Playworks) at Laurel Elementary in Oakland and then Coronado Elementary in Richmond. In these early years he built a strong connection with the communities he served, and was focused on equity and creating a safe, fun, and engaging playground. After seeing immediate results on the playground and in seeing the affect it had on the school climate, he enrolled in the WCCUSD intern- credential program through Cal State University East Bay.
His work in and out of the classroom was driven by the need to have high expectations for his students, and guide them into being leaders around the community. He built an invaluable relationship with the students, families and community. During this time he started to implement culturally relevant pedagogy, with an emphasis on the social-emotional needs of the students. He was recognized with a Teacher of the Year award in 2011.
In the last 7 years he has led Mindful Life Project into being the biggest direct service mindfulness nonprofit in the country. Mindful Life Project is highly regarded for its innovative direct service programs and its highly engaging and culturally relevant curriculum and programs that specifically have been created to support students who have been exposed to high levels of adverse childhood experiences. He has completed various mindfulness training programs including being in the Mindful Schools year-long certification program. He has not missed a day of practice since the first time he practiced in December of 2011!
JG brings a passion for providing youth deeply impactful mindfulness services and programs that support student and educator mental and emotional wellness so that students can thrive socially and academically both at school and beyond. He is driven to work from a strong equity, social justice, and holistic lens in all the work he does, He is honored to have opportunities to work with schools, students and families. In creating Mindful Life Project he had the vision to provide programs in the lowest income and underserved schools so that all students feel valued, empowered and given equitable educational opportunities. He is joined by an amazing and dynamic team that serves over 10,000 students in 9 cities across the Bay Area and leads trainings and supports for schools across the nation.
COO/CFO, Board Member
COO and CFO Jason Young joined Mindful Life Project as an Advisory Board Member and quickly developed a passion for using mindfulness in schools to cultivate empowered students and compassionate learning environments. Throughout his childhood, and as a young adult, he had a passion for athletics, specifically baseball. After graduating from Berkeley High School, he earned a scholarship to attend Stanford University as a student-athlete. After a short career playing Major League Baseball for the Colorado Rockies he naturally progressed into coaching at the high school and NCAA levels. During his time as a professional baseball player he completed his BA from Stanford University and during his time as a coach he completed his MA from the University of San Francisco.
Director of HR and Culture
Theresa comes to Mindful Life Project with more than a decade of experience in education, including serving on the administrative staff of Washington Elementary School in Richmond for many years.
Joanna Lopez brings passion to the table but also an extremely impressive resume with a combination of ten plus years in the non-profit sector, 10 plus years in real estate, and five plus years in Entertainment marketing. With all of her experience in these fields. Joanna brings not just the great experience of working with Non-Profits but also a great mind for organizing and executing all aspects of creating and running a successful company. Joanna also knows what it means to have to fight for every opportunity while balancing her family life and from a life filled with adversity she has learned to empower not just herself but all those around her as well. Practicing mindfulness is one of the single most powerful things you can do for your wellbeing. Being mindful is about learning to respond intelligently, rather than react blindly. This practice can boost your health, happiness, and relationships.
Senior Program Manager
Carolina comes to MLP after working in the field of Expanded Learning Programs for the last 8 years. She has been serving youth in the East Bay Area for the past 9 years and has been in WCCUSD for the past 2 years. With a background in Psychology, Carolina is passionate about providing opportunities for mental health support as well as Social Emotional Learning programs in schools and hopes to one day become a middle school or high school counselor.
Working in education for the last decade has shown me the lasting effects on trauma on the minds and bodies of our young people and our disenfranchised communities as a whole. Mindfulness is a tool that all of our youth and families can use that is both understandable and accessible in a time and space where many resources are unreachable. Mindfulness will be something our communities can use to address challenges and traumas they encounter throughout the rest of their lives. That to me is irreplaceable.
In addition to being passionate about mindfulness in education, Carolina enjoys spending time in nature, reading psychological thriller novels as well as playing with her newly adopted bunny James.
I come to Mindful Life Project with more than a decade of experience in education, youth development and program management in the mindfulness and meditation ecosystem, including roles at Camp Winnarainbow, West Contra Costa Unified School District, and Waldorf Education.
I come to Mindful Life Project with more than a decade of experience in research, counseling and program management in the mindfulness and meditation ecosystem, including roles at Mind and Life Institute, Seneca Family of Agencies, and Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. I am passionate about mindfulness in education because I believe that it is an essential skill for not only cultivating personal well-being, but it also poses the potential to support radical transformation of school systems into more just, equitable, and healing spaces for all.
The simple practice of slowing down to engage with one's present moment experience in a kind and non-judgemental way can unlock inner resources, capacities, and a greater awareness of the world –– a precious gift in this era of so much stress, speed, and overstimulation.
David is a Richmond native with 11 years of experience as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. During this time he has been an after school poetry teacher for Scores America, led the school science fair, organized music classes and poetry slam for students, and has served as a teacher mentor for the BTSA/TIP program. He has been the recipient of the Ed Fund teacher of the year award, District teacher of the year award, Grant School teacher of the year award, and has been recognized for his work with youth by former mayor Gayle McLaughlin of the Richmond City Council. David continues to be committed to the Richmond community and is passionate about giving back through mentorship, education, and the arts.
Development & Marketing Associate
Bousa is a Richmond native and multimedia artist joining Mindful Life as a Marketing & Development Associate with 10 years of experience in photography & design.
Bousa has also worked with Art of Health & Healing and Contra Costa Health Services for the past 6 years in bringing the arts and healing through the arts to patients and staff within the county’s healthcare system. She is passionate about using the expressive arts as a tool for healing and social change. Bousa is also an advocate for Mindfulness in education as a health intervention and passionate about Mindfulness in education because it teaches young students and teachers positive coping skills to deal with their stressors and cultivate personal well-being in and out of the classroom.
Bousa also enjoys travelling, photography and hiking.
Mindfulness is a radical act of love for self, others, and the global community. The more we allow ourselves moments of peace, the more peace there is in the world. Young people are the intersection of all the world's crises and at the same time being asked to focus on their academics so that they can become part of the world. Young people deserve a moment where they aren't being asked to do anything but breathe.
I am passionate about teaching mindfulness in an educational setting because it provides an alternate and more natural way of developing a healthy sense of self, insight, and options. Mindfulness offers a safe space to explore ways in which to attain a higher level of perception, control and choice concerning one's thoughts and reactions.
In an educational setting this can be very empowering for children who have difficulty focusing, or who are overwhelmed by stressors. Mindfulness offers students the opportunity to find a place of focus and peace. In this place, the further development of self love, acceptance, and empathy helps one to maintain positive, healthy choices rather than reactionary ones.
Following the philosophy "Each One, Teach One", students are encouraged to share mindfulness with their schoolmates, friends, family, and community. Not only are students learners/practitioners of mindfulness, but they often become facilitators, teachers of mindfulness as they share what they have been learning with others. It is truly an enlightening and empowering experience for all involved. In my spare time, I enjoy martial arts, language, performing spoken word poetry, advocacy work, reading, meeting new people and traveling.
Alana (AB) Banks
Mindfulness is a tool that improves mental, emotional, and physical health. It’s backed by science that it improves the quality of life, and once upon a time, it saved my own. I believe in teaching the youth all they need to know about life in school. emotional and social development is a cornerstone to their overall growth into adulthood. its crucial. ab is from north Oakland who is also an alum of UC Berkeley. they believe in global healing, love, laughter and good food.
Getting to see students grow and develop self-awareness is the greatest part of teaching mindfulness. It's great for everyone that practices it. Test scores go up and suspension rates go down but most importantly they also form self love and presence. With mindfulness you're able to present different forms of practices and essentially merging them into the same environment making it the perfect way to include every student regardless of their learning type. Mindfulness makes people feel seen and we want our students to be in the spotlight.
I believe that practicing mindfulness in education cultivates benefits that surpass the academic world. Students enrich their health by managing stress and improving their cognitive ability. Even short sessions of mindfulness have long term impactful effects.
Angelo Monsalve Restrepo
I am passionate about mindfulness in Education because of the school to prison pipeline. Along with being a mindfulness educator in Antioch California; I have spent the past 4 years working within California jails and prisons as a trauma informed yoga instructor. From my experience, it is evident that the social/emotional intelligence of our most at risk communities has not been prioritized in schools or in many homes. My goal is to share the life-changing tools of mindfulness, meditation and yoga with today's youth;To empower them to make better choices and lead happier healthier lives and break the school to prison pipeline.
What makes me passionate for mindfulness in education is that I am able to reach children in a way that can help them develop a deeper sense of themselves. In this time and age everyone is always busy being on the go or worried about the next thing and the beautiful thing about mindfulness is that we are able to pause for just a moment and really focus on just the present. I am here to help make an impact and make a difference in a child's life. They are the next generation and need that love and support that mindfulness can bring.
I believe in teaching youth to respond rather than react, I believe that people who are taught to pay attention to their emotions, thoughts, bodies as kids will become compassionate adults, parents, and politicians. I believe in education that invites the student to practice non judgement in self and others. Mindfulness does all this and more and I'm excited to provide this necessary service for our youth. Davin Aka Do D.A.T. is a life long Emcee=/Educator and an Oakland representative.
What truly makes me passionate about mindfulness in education is seeing growth within children. Working day to day with the youth and seeing how consciousness and self awareness can be impactful in their decisions, is rewarding. Teaching about observing their life as it is happening and allowing feelings to exist without letting them drive their actions, is how we thrive to self regulate and mindfully be present in the moment. Mindfulness is the start to a promising future for our youth.
I come to Mindful Life Project with four years of experience as an environmental and arts educator. I believe mindfulness education can be paradigm shifting, and I am passionate about co-creating opportunities for youth to deepen their sense of self and belonging.
I am passionate about mindfulness in education because it provides the tools necessary for a student to calm down, focus, and improve their well-being in class. Students also learn how to make better decisions, experience self-love, and learn how to be kind to one another in a school environment.
I love my Family, singing, learning, being in nature and traveling. I enjoy practicing and sharing wellness and mindfulness through TaiChiChiGung and Gung Fu. At the core of everything I do, I’m committed to cultivating and connecting commUnity Locally and worldwide, centering individual self transformation, to create equitable, healthy, and sustainable collective social change.
Julio (Somos) Magana
As an artist susceptible to the weight of the world, mindfulness has helped me to prioritize and protect my own mental health and creative spirit. As a lifelong educator I discovered the vital import of socio- emotional learning as the mortar that holds the educational experience together. As a living legacy of the multicultural United Farm Workers movement, I have long ago learned the importance of organizing the heart and the minds of all stakeholders. Mindful Life Project allows me the opportunity to apply these learnings and mindfulness techniques in order to help students rediscover their power to take care of themselves, to notice and change their neural processes in order to change the world around them.
What makes me passionate about mindfulness in the educational system is students being able to recognize and awaken their authentic power. Also, students learning ways to self-regulate, build confidence, gain self-awareness and be the best version of themselves. My passions are based on literature, writing, self development, spiritual growth, and mindfulness. A mindful life is a meaningful life.
Lizbeth Gonzalez Garcia
I am passionate about mindfulness in education because mindfulness helps heal and process generational trauma. It gives students a way to thrive academically, physically, mentally and socially by learning the necessary skills to overcome life’s challenges in a positive way.
What makes me passionate about mindfulness in education is the community and generational ~HEALING~ that can occur when our youth and families rise up to better themselves and those around them. Mindfulness teaches us that it is okay to slow down, okay to be in our feelings, okay to just be. This daily reminder and practice sparks such pure joy and contentment; that no matter what crosses our path, we can overcome and learn from it. We are grateful and giving. We are laughter and love. Our youth deserve to experience their truest inner child: carefree and curious. A mindfulness practice can help even our elders find that playful inner child within.
Mindfulness is a passion of mine because it has the ability to transform the whole person. When included in education there is a unique opportunity for students, teachers, and community at large to grow together in their practice and self discovery. I love to spend time with Mother Nature, study philosophy of mind, and bake delicious treats (mostly to practice mindful tasting!)
I'm extremely passionate about infusing mindfulness practices into our classrooms. Our world is a loud and busy existence. We're finding ourselves increasingly disconnected from what we're doing and how we're feeling. Through mindfulness we can cultivate confidence, self-awareness, and empathy. I truly feel that by calming and focusing the mind, mindfulness can develop and support overall happiness in our students lives.
Associate Research Scientist,
Prevention Research Center
Dr. Robynn Battle, Ed.D., MPH has 20 years of experience conducting evaluations for community level programs involving education and public health issues within the various urban communities. Dr. Battle’s current work includes working as an evaluation specialist with the University of California, San Francisco’s The LOOP that provides technical assistance to grantees conducting tobacco control work among priority populations. She also is co-principal of CAMI Consulting, an evaluation research group with experience across a broad range of communities developing and conducting evaluations for community level programs, and an adjunct faculty member at Holy Names University, Oakland in the Education Department’s Masters of Education program.
MD, Kaiser Permanante
Teresa was born and raised in Mexico City and then attended medical school at University of California, San Diego where she earned her medical degree in 2007. She went into the medical profession because she enjoyed understanding the pathophysiology of disease. Her goal is the well being of all my patients, and to strive to do her best all the time and to treat everyone equally and with respect. She chose to practice at the Kaiser Richmond Medical Center because of the chance to work with amazing doctors who are not only knowledgeable, but kind and helpful. She also enjoys serving the Richmond and surrounding communities. When she is not caring for patients, her interests are nutrition, yoga, running and spiritual growth, as well as learning to be a good parent.
Marketing/Communications, SAP (Retired)
Geoff offers an accumulation of wisdom from 30 years of combined experience working in start-ups and Global 1000 companies. His tenure in high-tech marketing, branding, communications, and content strategy, has built a track record as a true trusted advisor.Most recently retiring from 13 years at SAP, a global enterprise software company, served as chief of staff to two CMO’s, one head of a market unit sales and one corporate president. Geoff’s last role at SAP was head of global content helping the company innovate its digital footprint thru effective content strategy, technology and creative talent. Geoff was one of the sponsoring executives and original advocates for the SAP Global Mindfulness Practice, now one of the largest corporate mindfulness programs in the world. One of his other proudest accomplishments was founding co-chairperson of what is now known as Partners in Education, the community education foundation for the Palo Alto School District. Geoff lives in San Francisco with his husband, Dan. They have five children and one grandchild who are scattered about the west coast. He’s an avid swimmer and self-prescribed yogi.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Cindy Chen works at Metropolitan Transportation Commission in finance department. She has 10 years’ experiences in grants accounting. While she was working at YMCA of the East Bay prior to MTC, she got introduced to MLP and oversaw its finances as the program started. Since then, Cindy is passionate about what MLP does for the youth and for Richmond and hoping to support MLP and its meaningful work.
Suman Raj’s day job takes her to Mechanics Bank where she manages bank wide business software applications and provides guidance, support and solutions to improve business processes. Suman is also one of the founders of Non Stop Bhangra, based out of San Francisco that promotes smiles, happiness and exuberance through music and dance, while introducing the culture and vibrancy or Bhangra music and dance. She is also a partner and dancer in Dholrhythms Dance Company which teaches Bhangra dance form as well as provides community outreach classes, workshops and performances via arts and cultural centers as well as other organizations and after school programs. Born in the Fiji Islands, Suman was raised in a small village learning to utilize the surrounding natural resources available to heal and sustain her well-being. Ayurvedic remedies, meditation and positive affirmations have been a big part of Suman’s life for a long time. Hence, introduction to Mindful Life Project by a friend brought great joy and excitement in discovering the amazing work being done by this organization. Immediately, she knew she had to be a part of this movement in some capacity to empower our youth with their own inherent and untapped capabilities while provide tools that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Tracy Smith, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist,
The Wright Institute
Josh Wright is a Senior Strategist at UnitedHealth Group (UHG), responsible for marketing the company’s key products to its largest clients. Prior to joining UHG, Josh founded Grant Consultancy, a grant writing and consulting firm focused on innovative workforce development initiatives for underserved populations in the Bay Area and across the country. In this capacity, Josh worked with a broad range of clients, including non-profit and community-based organizations, educational institutions, workforce and economic development agencies, labor unions, school districts, counties and employers. Josh began his career in Enterprise Risk Management at MSCI Barra, an investment analytics firm. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Josh strongly believes in Mindful Life Project’s mission and vision where all students are able to participate and excel both socially and academically. As a Berkeley native, Josh is passionate about the Bay Area and is excited to spread the word about Mindful Life Project across the region.
Conservatory Director Emeritus,
New Conservatory Theater Center
Andrew Nance is the Founder, Program Manager, and Lead Facilitator for Mindful Arts San Francisco (MASF),which brings mindfulness instruction to over a thousand students weekly. For almost two decades he was the Conservatory Director of San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC), providing educational theater experiences for thousands of Bay Area youth. His mindfulness training comes from Mindful Schools, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Omega and Esalen. He is the author of the book, PUPPY MIND. His second book, Mindful Arts: Practitioners Playbook for the Classroom and Beyond, will be available next fall. He attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned his B.F.A. in Theater. He is on the board because of the transformative work Mindful Life Project is doing for the young people of the East Bay
Head of Well Being Learning Programs and Strategy at Google
Ruchika is the Head of Well Being Learning Programs and Strategy at Google. She leads a powerful community of 350+ Googlers across 100+ office locations to bring secular and science based Mindfulness and Compassion Learning programs to Googlers globally. In her 14 years at Google, she has been an advocate of meeting people where they are on their path to ongoing development, optimal well-being and sustainable high performance. Her daily meditation and yoga practice is grounded in increasing clarity in mind, purity in heart and sincerity in action. Outside of Google, Ruchika is an advisor to non-profit organizations and social ventures that bring well-being through mindfulness and compassion to underserved communities. She lives in the bay area with her two wonderful children and a loving husband.
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