Ramiro Barrantes

Ramiro Barrantes

Ramiro was born in San José, Costa Rica, where he lived until moving to Vermont in 2001. He studied mathematics and computer science at the University of Costa Rica, and received his doctorate in Computational Biology at UVM. In addition to his Zen training, which began in 1996, Ramiro enjoys salsa dancing. Ramiro has been living at the Zen Center since he moved to Vermont. He is responsible for work days and oversees the maintenance of the Zen Center. He is also the guestmaster and the person who helps arrange personal retreats.

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Emily Cross

Emily Cross

Emily was born in Toronto, Canada, where she grew up. She went to high school at Emma Willard School in Troy, NY followed by university at the University of Toronto. There she studied physics and mathematics, with a minor in French. Her Master’s work was in Aerospace Materials at the Institute for Aerospace Studies. She was registered as a professional engineer in 2006. Emily has been a Zen practitioner since 2000. She works as an engineer in building commissioning and energy analysis. She studied violin and has practiced aikido for 18 years.

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Sandra Ross

Sandra Ross


Sandra was born in Tallahassee, Florida. She studied sociology, with a focus on criminology, at the University of Arizona.  She moved to Vermont in 2005 and began studying Buddhism in 2009. In 2011 she became a student of Roshi Graef's and became a resident of the Center in 2012.  She recently began a new job as assistant teacher for two year olds.

Ti'an Callery

Ti'an Callery

Ti’an was born in Boston, and grew up in Connecticut. She majored in Political Science at Smith College. Ti’an first encountered Zen in 1987, and began practicing seriously in 1989 when she discovered that there was a teacher near her home in Charlotte. In 2004, Ti’an became the first priest ordained by Roshi Graef. She works full-time at the Center as a priest and head gardener. Ti’an and her husband Jake have two married daughters and five grandchildren.

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Mitra Coulter

Mitra Coulter

Mitra was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Springfield College, MA and taught physical education in Princeton, NJ. She earned her masters in PE at the University of Wisconsin and taught at Wellesley College. Mitra worked for Outward Bound for three years. She and her husband spent two years as Peace Corp volunteers in Ghana. Mitra became a member of the Zen Center in 1989. After retiring from a 20-year career teaching kindergarden, she took charge of the Center’s kitchen, a position she has held for many years. Mitra was ordained as a Zen priest in September 2011.

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Dharman Rice

Dharman Rice

Dharman was born in Egypt and grew up mostly overseas—in Angola, England, and Nigeria—until he was 12. He spent the rest of his youth in Ohio. Dharman earned a Ph.D. in the history of ideas from Brandeis University and is now a retired teacher of philosophy and intellectual history. He began practicing Zen in 1988 and was ordained as a Zen priest in March 2009. Dharman monitors sittings and sesshins and works at the Center at least one day a week. He also offers private instruction in Zen to new members and teaches a twice yearly course in Lovingkindness Meditation.

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Nowa Crosby

Nowa Crosby

Nōwa was born in Elizabeth City, NC. His father was in the USMC and he grew up in North and South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, California and Virginia. Nōwa began playing music at five and at 20 studied the building and repairing of string instruments. Nōwa’s interest in Zen began in 1980 after hearing lectures of Alan Watts on public radio. He began sitting regularly around 1988 and joined the Zen Center in1994. Nōwa builds, repairs and designs string instruments, performs occasionally, and sculpts Buddhist figures. He is the father of four and grandfather of three. Nōwa was ordained a Zen priest in September 2009. He is also a hospital chaplain.

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Louise Piche

Louise Piché

Louise was born in Winooski, VT. She attended and taught at the University of Vermont, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree and worked with the National Office for Voluntary Action. Louise is also a Five Time National Judo Champion and taught judo in a number of settings while at the university. Louise is the founder of The Heartworks and Renaissance Schools and continues to work in the schools as a teacher and mentor for faculty and staff. Louise began Zen practice in 2004. She is passionate about Zen and the benefits of being a member of the Sangha. She can often be found working in the Center’s gardens, and every year she conducts the Center’s yard and bake sale. Louise became a priest novitiate in July 2015.

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Marcela Pino

Marcela Pino

Marcela was born in San José, Costa Rica. She studied dance and Spanish literature at the University of Costa Rica. She met Roshi Graef in Costa Rica and became her student in 1990. Marcela moved to Vermont in 1991 in order to study Zen and to be close to the Vermont Zen Center. Since then, she has taught Spanish and modern dance in the community, and worked for a women’s health international non-profit. She and her husband, Kevin Clayton live in Shelburne. Marcela often will be found working on flower arrangements at the Center, setting up for ceremonies, and monitoring sittings.

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Joan White

Joan White

Joan was born in Brockton, Massachusetts. She attended the University of Massachusetts where she received a B.S. and an M.S. in Natural Resource Economics. Joan began studying Zen in 1992. For many years she has been the editor of Walking Mountains, the Zen Center’s newsletter. Joan is also passionate about plants of any kind. You’ll often find her working in the gardens at the Zen Center, arranging flowers for ceremonies, and caring for the Center’s house plants.

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Kelly Story

Kelly Story

Kelly grew up in northern California. She earned a BA from Saint Michael’s college in Political Science and Russian in 1991. In 1990, Kelly took a course in Buddhism and began sitting immediately, becoming a member of the Vermont Zen Center in 1992. Kelly has worked in education her entire career. Kelly loves nature, the outdoors, and growing and learning through the interests of the children she spends her days with. In 2006, she and Dave Tisdell become the first two members of the Sangha who were ordained as lay priests.

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Dave Tisdell

Dave Tisdell

Dave was born and raised in Massachusetts. He studied Music and Education at Saint Michael’s College and received his Masters from Castleton State College. In 1985 Dave began practicing Zen at the Rochester Zen Center, then in 1988 became one of Roshi Graef’s first students at the newly established Vermont Zen Center. Dave teaches music to middle schoolers, grades 5–8. He and his wife Betsy have two young children, James and Andrew. In 2006, he and Kelly Story become the first two members of the Sangha who were ordained as lay priests.

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Jim Kahle

Jim Kahle

Jim was born in San Jose, California and grew up in the Bay Area. He went to school at Miami of Ohio where he studied Psychology. While at school, he attended a lecture by Roshi Philip Kapleau in a religion class. Jim started practicing Zen at the Rochester Zen Center in the 70's and began Zen training at the Vermont Zen Center in 1988, becoming one of Roshi Graef’s first students. In the summer, you'll often find Jim on the riding mower, keeping the Center's lawn neat and trim. Jim says, “Among other things, I am still trying to work through my attachment to the San Francisco Giants.”

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Cheryl Betz

Cheryl Betz

Cheryl was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up in various small towns in Wisconsin and Illinois. She received a liberal arts education with an emphasis in the visual arts from Northern Illinois University. After several years of editorial work in the Chicago publishing industry, she and her husband moved to Vermont where she returned to the study of painting and art history, including post-graduate work at Johnson State College and the Vermont Studio Center. She began practicing at the Vermont Zen Center in 1996, and currently divides her time between the Center, studio work, and her husband and son. For many years, Cheryl has worked as head cook at the Center, sharing responsibilities with Mitra Coulter.

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Kathy Clarke

Kathy Clarke

Kathy was born in Connecticut and moved to Vermont after high school to attend Royalton College, majoring in World Literature and ceramics. She began practicing Zen at the Vermont Zen Center in 1989. Kathy works at Frog Hollow Craft Center in Middlebury teaching and making pottery. She loves to travel, drink coffee with friends, walk through the woods or by any sea, read, listen to live chamber music, go to museums, eat fine food and creamies, notice light and feel the air in all seasons. Over the years, Kathy has made hundreds of cups, platters, and ceremonial dishes for the Center. Kathy says, “These years of Zen practice make me happy and profoundly grateful. I recommend it to anyone!”

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Susan Grimes

Susan Grimes

Susan was born in New Jersey and lived in New York, Illinois and Virginia before settling in Vermont  thirty years ago. She attended Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA obtaining a B.S. in Biology. Susan graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry in 1983 before coming to Vermont to do a General Practice Residency for a year. She fell in love with Vermont, met her husband Scott here, and never left. She has three children in school who are active in various sports activities. Susan has been at Vermont Zen Center for nine years and can be found helping in the kitchen or with flower arranging before ceremonies.

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Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner

Alison was born in Glenridge, New Jersey.  She received undergraduate degrees in political science and economics and a graduate degree in nutrition from the University of Vermont, and a second masters degree a number of years later in international public health from Tulane University.  Alison moved to the Burlington area to continue her career in public health nutrition in 1990, and shortly thereafter began practicing Zen at the Vermont Zen Center.  A dozen years ago, she turned her international nutrition work into a full-time business.  Since then she continues to travel to Asia and Africa to support development and emergency nutrition policy and programs.  When in town, you can find her helping out in the kitchen and gardens at the Center.    

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Heather Kelman

Heather Kelman

Heather was born in the Icelandic community of Gimli, Manitoba, Canada along the shores of Lake Winnipeg. She studied English Literature at York University in Toronto, and took a course called Wisdom Literature where the class was introduced to the practice of meditation. In 1998, she met a student of Roshi Graef's who referred her to the Toronto Zen Centre, and she immediately began practicing. She and her husband were married at the Vermont Zen Center and moved to Vermont in 2006 to live near the Center. Heather is part of the flower arranging team at the Center. 

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Josh Kelman

Josh Kelman

Josh was born in New York City. He studied engineering and currently works for an energy efficiency consulting company. Josh practiced Zen for several years in his early twenties and returned to practice as a student of Roshi Graef in 2000 in Toronto. He and his wife Heather were married at the Vermont Zen Center and moved to Vermont in 2006 to live near the Center. Josh raises vegetables with mixed results and chops a lot of wood. He is a contributor to the Zen Center's newsletter and can often be found at the Center performing small repairs and helping set up for events and ceremonies.

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Glenn Story

Glenn Story

Glenn was born and raised in Vermont. He earned a BA in education and a Masters in Community Mental Health from Trinity College of Vermont. Glenn became a member of the Vermont Zen Center in 1993. He teaches high school math at Vergennes High School. Glenn loves playing with yo-yo’s and was, for a while, a professional yo-yoist. He is an avid gardener with a special affinity for growing giant pumpkins.

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Manju Selinger

Manju Selinger

Manju was born in Northern  India. In India she received a B.S in Biology and Chemistry and an LL.M. and recently received  M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education from UVM. Manju moved to the U.S. in 1993 and to Vermont in 2000. She joined the Zen Center shortly thereafter. Manju teaches the Indian Vegetarian Cooking courses at the Center. She lives in Hinesburg with her husband, and has two daughters and two dogs.

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Eric Berger

Eric Berger

Eric was born in New York City. He received an M.D. in 1980 and practiced cardiology in Rhode Island. He became a member of the Zen Center in 1994 and continued to practice in RI until he moved to Vermont with his wife in 2013, to be close to the Center and the Sangha. He teaches Tai Chi at the Center, is involved with prison correspondence, and enjoys helping at workshops and other activities. His wife Jan and his son Josh are also members of the Center.

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