Meet Our Leaders

Many sangha members hold significant leadership positions. Current Board Members are identified with asterisks (*), Senior Teachers names are in bold

For a description and email address for each of the various leadership bodies at GBZC, please see Our Shared Leadership.  

 Rebecca Behizadeh

Rebecca Behizadeh began her practice of Buddhism in Nepal and India in 2011, and lived for a year at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School and worked for a number of years for Life Together, a leadership development program of the Episcopal Diocese of MA. She served as the president of GBZC’s board of directors for a number of years and coordinates the Resilient Sangha Project.

Inger Daishi Bergom

Inger Bergom began Zen practice in 2008 and has been practicing with GBZC since 2020. Inger is a higher education researcher and student of Iyengar yoga, and she lives in Arlington with her daughter and husband, Spencer Piston. She is a practice leader on occasional Tuesday evening sits and part of GBZC’s Community Working Group.

Pierce Shinki Butler

Pierce Butler is an emeritus professor of English at Bentley College where he taught English literature and writing for 32 years, including a signature course entitled Literature of the Spiritual Journey. He’s been a student of Zen for more than 20 years, he has practiced with this community since 2013, and is an Assistant Teacher at GBZC. 

Leilani Chen

Leilani Chen is a Member at Large on the GBZC Board, who started sitting with the GBZC community in-person in January 2015, and now sits with them virtually in Minneapolis. Before moving to Minnesota, she facilitated the Persons of Color sitting group and led chants during Tuesday evening sits. She is a social worker who specializes in serving older adults and caregivers. In her free time, she gets outdoors with her family, curls up in bed to read a good book, and/or tends to her many houseplants. 

Vincent Togen Cho

Vincent Cho currently serves as Clerk on the GBZC board and is co-practice leader of the Persons of Color Sitting Group at GBZC with James Peregrino. He is an associate professor at Boston College in the field of educational leadership. He has two children and innumerable pets. Although he has been scared off from Zen more than once, he has always come back. 

Hussein Tetsugen Elgridly

Hussein Elgridly has been sitting with GBZC since 2015, is a Practice Leader on Tuesday evenings, and currently serves as the the president of GBZC’s board of directors. He wants you to know that there is nothing you need to be, or do, or know, to come here. When not practising not-thinking, he likes to cook, climb, and sail.

Sarah Fleming

Sarah Fleming leads the Communications Working Group. 

Jill Shishin Gaulding

Jill Gaulding is an Assistant Teacher, a Practice Leader on Saturday mornings,  lead for the Programming Working Group, and a participant in Watering the Seeds and the LGBTQIA+ Group. A former attorney and co-founder of the advocacy group Gender Justice, she’s currently a chaplain and executive director for Chaplains on the Way in Waltham.

Harry Gordon

You’ll generally find Harry Gordon at GBZC on Saturday mornings, where he gratefully serves as a practice leader during our regular sit. If there’s a Sesshin being offered, he’s there. In his daily life he’s a freelance copywriter, comedian, and commercial actor.

Jim Shōun Lopata

Jim Lopata is a Practice Leader at GBZC. He loves the challenge of employing skillful means to slip Buddhist principles into his work as an executive coach. He holds a master degree from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied Buddhism. He’s fascinated by the concept and reality of Boston Common, where you may see him wandering around aimlessly, or with great intent.

Fran Kainyo Ludwig, Senior Assistant Teacher

Fran Ludwig began her Zen practice in 2007. She’s been practicing with this community since 2019. Fran has an interest in exploring ways to bring our unconscious shadows into our conscious awareness so that we can incorporate them into our practice, reduce the harm we cause in the world, and live more fully and freely.  She loves the natural world, and lives with her two adult children and four cats in the woods in central Connecticut.

Karen Kyoko McCormack

Karen McCormack is a founding practice leader of GBZC’s LGBTQIA+ sitting group and has been practicing with this community since 2007. She’s also a transition and employment specialist at Perkins School for the Blind who, along with her partner, is the loving parent of two dogs. Karen occasionally co-teaches GBZC’s Introduction to Zen Series.

Jennifer Mercer

Jennifer Mercer is member-at-large on the GBZC Board. She came to GBZC in 2020 and became a member in September 2021.  Jen works in home health care as an occupational therapist, and usually attends the Tuesday evening sitting group.

Paul Miller

Paul Miller (he/him) has been sitting with GBZC since the fall of 2015. He usually sits on Wednesday nights and enjoys leading the chants on those evenings. Also, he is currently GBZC’s Ethics Ombudsperson. When not engaged in these ways, he practices as a psychotherapist and tries to squeeze in time for his photographic pursuits, the nature of which he finds hard to categorize. He lives in unwedded bliss with the writer Catherine Sasanov in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

Rebecca Moonspike

Rebecca Moonspike works as an Interfaith hospital chaplain, drawing from Zen practice.  She loves the ways poetry and Zen speak to one another (you can read her chapbook Every Present Thing a Ghost from Slapering Hol Press), and co-leads an Arts as Spiritual Practice group at GBZC. Rebecca is a Practice Leader on Saturday mornings. She loves the forest, swimming in lakes or sea, and making art for friends. She has found the GBZC community deepens her practice on this path.

Cheryl Kinzen Morrow

Cheryl Morrow is a Practice Leader for weekend sits. She has been practicing with this community since 2011. For over 20 years she has run her own business as an engineering consultant with clients all over the world. She is now semi-retired and loves gardening and long walks with her dog in the woods. 

Caro Jiryū Murphy

Caro Murphy (they/them) is vice president of the GBZC board, and has been practicing with GBZC since 2018. As a part of GBZC’s Watering the Seeds working group and a co-leader of the LGBTQIA+ group, they bring an intention towards social justice into their embodied practice with the Sangha. Outside of GBZC, Caro is a professional game and interactive experience director/designer, teacher, and nonprofit leader. 

Julie Seido Nelson, Dharma Holder

Julie Nelson is the Teaching Coordinator at GBZC. She has practiced Zen since about 2003. She is a professor of economics (emeritus) at UMass Boston; a writer on gender, ethics, economics, ecology, and Zen; the mother of two grown children and grandmother of one. She received Denkai transmission from Kate Hartland, Sensei in May 2021 and is now studying with Susan Myoyu Andersen, Roshi. Julie teaches at Tuesday evening and some Saturday morning sits at  GBZC. Some of her writings on Zen are available on her blog. She has taken on the golden brown rakusu  on the understanding that the sangha will help her (in the words of another Zen teacher) be honest, try her best, follow the precepts, and not pretend to be anyone.

James Musoku Peregrino

James Peregrino has been practicing with this community since 2006. He currently serves as practice leader on Tuesday nights and co-practice leader for GBZC’s POC sitting group. He has been working in IT at Harvard since before the dawn of the Internet and dancing Mexican baile folklorico all his adult life.

Jeff Kōgen Seul, Sensei

Jeff Kōgen Seul is a Zen teacher and preceptor in the White Plum Asanga (the lineage of Taizan Maezumi, Roshi).  He received Denbo transmission from Kevin Jiun Hunt, Roshi, in 2018.  Tibetan monks taught Jeff to meditate in the late 1980s.  Raised a Roman Catholic, Jeff then practiced Centering Prayer under the direction of Thomas Keating for a few years while also sitting zazen and studying Kyudo (Zen archery) with Kanjuro Shibata XX, Sensei, the Imperial Bowmaker of Japan.  Jeff became part of GBZC’s predecessor sangha after moving to Cambridge many years ago to attend Harvard Divinity School.  A practicing lawyer, Jeff is engaged in conflict resolution and peacebuilding work through the Peace Appeal, an international NGO, and he teaches at HDS as Lecturer on the Practice of Peace.  Jeff lives in Boston with his wife, Esther Whitfield, and their two children.

Vince Shingetsu Storie

Vince Storie began practicing Zen in 2018 and began attending the Tuesday evening practice sessions at GBZC shortly after. He is deeply grateful for this practice and this community, and does his best to remember the countless interconnections we all share as the sangha of all beings. Outside the zendo, Vince is a physician and medical educator specializing in emergency care. He enjoys running, cycling, reading, and aimless wanderings with friends.

Phil Zen’etsu Surette

Phil Surette is a Practice Leader on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and is a part of the GBZC Community Working Group. He began his Zen practice at the GBZC in 2019. He grew up in the Boston area and after some time in Los Angeles, is currently living in Chelsea. During the day he is the assistant director at a large catering company in Boston. Phil loves to cook (especially baking) and volunteers and is on the board of directors at Community Cooks in Somerville. 

Lindsay Timcke

Lindsay Timcke, who has been sitting with GBZC since 2020, is the current Treasurer on the GBZC board. Lindsay is a Boston resident and usually attends the Saturday morning sits. Lindsay is a Director of Cyber Security and Risk Management for a national CPA and consulting firm in his day job. In his free time Lindsay a huge foodie and enjoys gaming with his wife.

Luis Valles

Luis Valles leads the Ethics Council.