Past Meetup

Buddhist Leadership Conference: A Celebration of American Buddhist Diversity

This Meetup is past

3 people went

Location visible to members


Join the 2009 Buddhist Leadership Conference, Thursday, September 10, through Sunday, September 13, 2009, at Naropa University, in Boulder, Colorado. Please contact Jordan if you would like to explore options for attending at a student rate of $25 or all 4 daytime programs at $85. There are scholarships still available!

This Conference will feature as its keynote speaker, the renowned Tenzin Robert Thurman, who will challenge us with Is There An “American” Buddhism? (FRIDAY) As part of Naropa’s Lenz Foundation Distinguished Lecturer Series, Professor Janice Willis from Wesleyan University will address Dharma Diversity: The Many Faces of Buddhism in America; and the closing speaker, Naropa’s own outstanding Professor Judith Simmer-Brown’s will discuss Ten Years Later: Prospects For American Buddhism.

The Conference will include a presentation of Naropa’s work in contemplative education (sample a classroom experience) and the work of its Resident Fellows, who are funded by the Foundation. The roster is a vertiable 'Who's Who' in American Buddhism today. You won't be disappointed! The Conference is limited to 150 persons at the $200 registration level. Email Jordan for a Conference Information Sheet for lodging and transportation in Boulder.


The following is the Schedule of Events for the Lenz Foundation Buddhist Leadership Conference, September 10 to 13, 2009, on the Nalanda campus of Naropa University, 6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80302.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

HIGHLIGHT: 7:30 - 9:00 pm
Keynote address by Tenzin Bob Thurman: "Is There an 'American' Buddhism?"

1:00 - 5:00 pm:

5:00 - 7:00 pm:
Welcome Reception

7:15 - 9:00 pm:
Naropa's Lenz Foundation Distinguished Lecturer, Professor Jan Willis, "Dharma Diversity: The Many Faces of Buddhism in America", in Nalanda Events Center:

Jan Willis is Professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. One of the earliest American scholar-practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, Willis has published numerous essays and articles on Buddhist meditation, hagiography, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race. She has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland and the U.S. for four decades, and has taught courses in Buddhism for 32 years. In December 2000, Time magazine named Willis one of six spiritual innovators for the new millennium. In 2003, she was a recipient of Wesleyan University's Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and she was profiled in a 2005 Newsweek article about "Spirituality in America."

9:00 - 10:30 pm:
A special DVD preview presentation of the documentary, "With One Voice." In this landmark documentary, mystics from the world's greatest spiritual traditions share their vision of the reality that transcends all religious differences. Find further information on this inspirational piece, including a trailer sample at This film will remind us that the spiritual quest is a universal one, and that the advancement of American Buddhism is within the context of a larger spiritual movement that shares a common theme: the universality of all things and the journey of personal self-awareness to that realization.

Because of the film's length (78 minutes) and the late hour, please feel free to leave early and sample as much of the film as you desire. Copies will be available for sale at the book fair table, and comment cards will also be available so that we can send them back to the producer.

Friday, September 11, 2009

7:00 - 9:00 am:
Continental breakfast in Nalanda, Room 9180. Refreshments and complimentary beverage service available throughout the day (gold badge holders only).

7:45 - 8:45 am:
Discussion of meditation practice followed by sitting meditation led by Michael Zimmerman (Big Mind/Kanzeon Zen Center, Salt Lake City, UT). Mr. Zimmerman is a former chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court. (Nalanda Events Center)

9:00 - 10:30 am:
Introduction of new grantees and their programs as funded by the Lenz Foundation (grants added since our last conference in October, 2007) and an update from our existing grant partners on their ongoing programs. Norman Oberstein (Chairman of the Board of the Lenz Foundation) will present.

For a full list of all grant partners and a general description of their work, please go to and click on Grant Activity.[1]

10:30 am - 12:00:
Dennis (Genpo) Merzel's presentation of "Shadow Voices of American Buddhism." (Big Mind/Kanzeon Zen Center, Salt Lake City, UT)

Genpo is the author of the ground-breaking work entitled Big Mind - Big Heart: Finding Your Way, and the creator of the Big Mind process. "Big Mind is nothing short of a springboard to an evolutionary leap forward in consciousness, deftly transforming an already proven and powerful clinical technique into a nearly effortless process for discovering the purest, most transcendent experience of Who We Truly Are." Major Stuart Lloyd, USAF, Air Force Academy. "A brilliant breakthrough in spiritual practice. It helps people 'get' what ordinarily would take years, even decades of sitting meditation." Bill Harris, Centrepointe Research Institute.

Genpo will introduce Bill Harris from Centrepoint Research Institute, who will share with you how Big Mind has been incorporated into his own uniquely American meditation program which reaches hundreds of thousands -- an example of developments in spirituality which have grown out of American Buddhist practice.

12:00 - 1:00 pm:
Lunch buffet

1:00 - 3:45 pm:
An Afternoon with Naropa University, Nalanda Events Center:

Introduction: "The Many Gifts of the Lenz Foundation to Naropa University", by Stuart J. Sigman, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty.

Panel Presentation: "Contemplative Education at Naropa University: Many Views, Many Disciplines"

This panel explores the Lenz Foundation's support for a new general education course at Naropa, "The Contemplative Practice Seminar," and a summer workshop program that brings faculty from throughout the United States to Naropa to learn about contemplative pedagogy. In addition, each speaker will talk about the role of contemplative practice in their teaching and their discipline.

- Mark Miller, M.F.A. (Chair, Department of Music; Coordinator, Contemplative Learning Seminar; and Faculty,
Contemplative Pedagogy Summer Seminar);

- Lauren Casalino, M.A., L.P.C. (Chair, Department of Contemplative Psychotherapy); and

- Michael Franklin, M.A., A.T.R.-B.C. (Professor, Department of Transpersonal Counseling Psychology; Director, Art Therapy Concentration; and Faculty, Contemplative Pedagogy Summer Seminar)

Panel Presentation: "Lenz Scholarships, Supporting the Next Generation of Peaceful Warriors"

The Lenz Foundation has provided support for Naropa undergraduate and graduate students for several years. A recent graduate of the Masters of Divinity program will report on the various activities and learning experiences that Lenz scholarship recipients from across the university have had with their funding, and will highlight her work while at Naropa and since graduation to develop the field of eco-chaplaincy. Sarah Vekasi, M.Div. Eco-Chaplaincy (Ansted, WV)

Panel Presentation: "Assisting Naropa in Outreach to Professional Communities, The Lenz Foundation Residential Fellows Program"

The Lenz Foundation supports a residential fellowship program, which has attracted over 40 applications in its first two years of operation and provided funding for five fellows. Representing arts, humanities, social sciences and applied fields, the fellows work on a project that addresses some aspect of Buddhism and its relationship to American cultural and social life. Four of the fellows will discuss their projects.

- Elizabeth Lozano, Ph.D. (Loyola University, Chicago, IL), Fellowship project: Non-violent resistance in the U.S. and abroad;

- John Whalen-Bridge, Ph.D. (National University of Singapore), Fellowship project: Buddhism, literary adaptation and progressive politics;

- Kim Russo, M.F.A. (Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL), Fellowship project: Contemporary artists and Buddhist practitioners; and

- Hillary Stephenson, Ph.D. Cand. (California Institute of Integral Studies), Fellowship project: Addressing diversity issues through Zen practice.

6:00 - 7:30 pm:
Keynote Speaker's Dinner for gold badge holders only. A dinner buffet with complimentary beverage and bar service will be served in Nalanda, Room 9180, with dinner seating in the reserved gold section of the Nalanda Events Center next door.

7:30 - 9:00 pm
Keynote address by Tenzin Bob Thurman: "Is There an 'American' Buddhism?" Robert A.F. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, and co-founder and President of Tibet House US. He is a world-renowned speaker and writes and lectures frequently on Buddhism, Asian history, and critical philosophy.

Reserved seating in the Events Center for gold and red badge holders as marked

Introduction by James Shaheen (New York City), editor and publisher of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review (a Lenz Foundation grant partner)

Q&A will follow the address

9:00 - 9:30/9:45:
Special Preview DVD showing of "Meditate '08" presented by Nicole Langley of EarthNest Institute (Fort Garland, CO) and Karuna Eberl (Ventura, CA) (film maker), introduced by Gerry Shishin Wick, author of Great Heart Way (Great Mountain Zen Center, Lafayette/Boulder, CO). With a grant from the Lenz Foundation, Ms. Eberl filmed a meditation retreat in the midst of the Denver 2008 Democratic Convention, and captured a new spirit to infuse the American political process.