Board and Officers
Hitesi Cyndia Marcous
President and Board Chair
Hitesī (Cyndia Marcous) began meditating in 1995, focused on Buddhist teachings since 2004. Since then she has practiced almost two years of silent meditation in the Ajahn Chah and Ven. Pau Auk Sayadaw lineages, and also studied with Lama Palden Drolma (Kagyu) for two years. Hitesi met the Ayyas in 2008 and managed their first meditation retreat in California before they moved to San Francisco. In 2009/10 she was a resident at Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery and afterwards lived with the Aloka Vihara nuns in San Francisco for several months.
With a professional background in marketing and strategic planning, she mostly spends her spare time with Dhamma-related endeavors. She has served for many years on boards of Buddhist foundations, managing meditation retreats, and hospice volunteering.
Vice President and Board Member
Joan felt an immediate connection with the monastics at Aloka Vihara after her first residential retreat with them in 2015 and has attended many more retreats, dhamma talks, and sutta studies with them since then. She feels very grateful to have access to their compassionate wisdom and to be inspired by their dedication and teachings. After finishing a decades-long career in public service, where she honed her skills in organizational development, facilitation and strategic planning, she has been delighted to put those skills to use assisting the Aloka Vihara community in meeting their organizational needs.
Secretary and Board Member
Amy recently came to the Dhamma in 2015 and met the sisters soon after at Sacramento Insight Meditation. She was immediately drawn to their teachings, kindness, and commitment to building a Bhikkhuni training monastery. She is very grateful to have the opportunity to serve on the Saranaloka board and assist the nuns in their vision.
Treasurer and Board Member
Susan is a founding member of Sierra Insight Sangha in Placerville and first met the sisters in July 2013, when they were on a tour of rural areas searching for a site for the future monastery. She helped to introduce the nuns to the community, and worked on The Rural Vihara Search Team to help find the property now known as Aloka Vihara. She has been practicing since 2007 and has been most inspired and influenced by the teachings of the Ajahn Chah lineage.
Susan’s work career as the founder (with her husband, Greg) of the first winery in El Dorado County has given her broad business and board experience that she sincerely hopes will be of benefit to the Saranaloka Board. To be asked to be a part of this unfolding of the Dhamma in the West – in Placerville no less – was irresistible.
Julie was drawn to the Buddhist teachings in 1995 and has been an active member of the Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group since 1997. She has had the honor of serving on their Board and participating on their scheduling committee for two terms. She also served as a founding member of the Sacramento Dharma Center Board. In 2000, she participated in a retreat with the monks and nuns from the Thai Forest Tradition, lineage of Ajahn Chah, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Since that time she has actively participated with the monastic and lay community of Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley and the early establishment of Aranya Bodhi Hermitage in Jenner. She has been profoundly moved by the multiple Bhikkhuni ordinations that have taken place here in central California and feels deeply privileged to serve the Aloka Vihara Community through the Saranaloka Foundation.
Robert’s first encounter with Buddhism was through the Soto Zen tradition of Shasta Abbey in the early 1980s. He started exploring other Buddhist practices and attending some Vipassana retreats in the early 1990s. At the opening ceremony of the Meditation Hall at Spirit Rock he heard Ajahn Amaro chant the Dhammacakka Sutta and was totally entranced. That led to visits to Abhayagiri and eventually a year-long stay at the monastery as an anagarika. Robert met up with the nuns at Aloka Vihara when he volunteered to help build the yurt platform. He is pleased to be a member of the board and looks forward to helping out the nun’s community in any way he can.
San Francisco, California
Trip met the sisters in San Francisco in 2010 and was moved by their teachings and their desire to build a nuns community in California. He has been practicing in the Theravadan tradition since 2004, including for a brief time as a monk in Burma. He serves on the Board of San Francisco Insight, where he also leads sitting groups and teaches meditation classes.
He is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco and a former attorney. He feels very grateful to be able to serve Saranaloka and the Aloka Vihara community.