Berkeley Center Leadership


Rees 150 x 150Rees Sweeney-Taylor, Center Director: Rees was born and raised in Groton, Massachusetts. He was first inspired to study dharma by his father, Hoyt Taylor, a practitioner who studied at the New York Dharmadhatu. Rees was a Morehead-Cain Scholar at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature. As a senior he began to attend Shambhala Training weekends. After graduation, Rees lived and volunteered at Karmê Chöling and Sky Lake Lodge before moving to Oakland where he became the Program Director at Squash Drive, a youth enrichment program. You can reach Rees at director [at] berkeleyshambhala [dot] org.

Governing Council:

Scott Tracy, Director of Finance

Martha Silverspring, Dorje Kasung Coordinator

Dave Dubois, Representative of Culture and Decorum

Evelyn Borchert, Director of Societal Health and Wellbeing

Vickie Self, Desung

Mina Dadgar, Council Secretary

Executive Committee:

Jo Simpson, Executive Coordinator of Way of Shambhala

Kelsey Blackwell, Coordinator of Oakland Shambhala

Dave Dubois, Head of Culture and Decorum

laura-burrLaura Burr, Membership





martha-silverspringMartha Silverspring, Dorje Kasung Coordinator: Martha Silverspring is the new Rusung, or Dorje Kasung coordinator for Berkeley. Martha has been a member of the Berkeley Shambhala Center since 1983, a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche since 1999, and a member of the Dorje Kasung since 2011.



Bill 150 x 150Bill Barstad, Facilities: Bill is a writer. He has been a social activist, a secretary, a welder’s assistant, and has harvested olives in the Peloponnese.




Tyler 150 x 150Tyler Thompson, Shambhala Art: Prior to moving to the bay in the summer of 2012 Tyler taught middle and high school language arts for several years in Colorado. Tyler plays well with others. His big passion these days is practicing mindfulness-awareness vis-à-vis the creative process, i.e., dharma art. He co-runs an art/appreciation group at the Center and loves pretty much anything to do with the topics of sensory awareness, meditation, and perception. He’s also a graduate of Karuna Training in the bay. Tyler is married and has two brats (i.e., cats), Butters and Beans.

Rhoda 150 x 150Rhoda Climenhaga, Children and Family: Rhoda has been hanging around Berkeley Shambhala for a while now and currently coordinates the Children’s Program.  She has both a deep love of the dharma, and of children. During her 21 years so far as a Mom, she loves to get down on the floor and play, color, and dance, has volunteered in schools and coached soccer, and has often been called a cool mom.  In her spare time, she is an Acupuncturist and Herbalist, hikes, does yoga, and writes.


Nancy Flores, Website Support:   Nancy was born in San Francisco and raised in Fremont.  She has wandered around the world and lived abroad on boats in the Caribbean and Turkey, and most recently in the Far North of New Zealand where she is a permanent resident.  She’s happy to be back in the Bay Area where she’s taught as an early childhood educator and continues to serve children and families by teaching Family Yoga.  She is currently participating in the Enlightened Society Leadership Training at Berkeley Shambhala (Spring 2017). 


Laura Dunn

Laura Dunn, Social Media: Laura is a doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, where she studies both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. She’s been an avid yoga practitioner and teacher for the last nineteen years, and was introduced to Shambhala during a semester at Naropa University in Boulder. She is interested in how the teachings and practices of Dharma traditions are translated and applied in the West.

Local Teachers:

For local teachers, please see our Local Teachers page.