Board and Officers
Board Chair & President
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. Robert has served the Saranaloka Foundation since 2015.
Board Member & Finance Subcommittee Chair
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. Sue has served the Saranaloka Foundation since 2014.
Board Member & Treasurer
Asheville, North Carolina
Satima has been studying and practicing the Dhamma since 1999. In January 2012 she went forth as a lay renunciate to live a life completely dedicated to her spiritual development and selfless service. The 6 ½ year journey allowed her to serve, practice and study in a variety of Buddhist Monasteries, yoga ashrams and retreat centers in the U.S., Thailand, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Her relationship with Aloka Vihara began in 2011 and continues to this day. She was a volunteer resident at Aloka Vihara San Francisco and Placerville on numerous occasions. Additionally, she has been the Chair of the Saranaloka Foundation Board’s Finance Committee since 2015.
Her professional experience includes careers in software engineering, non-profit management, and the hospitality industry. She is filled with gratitude at the opportunity to support the mission of the Saranaloka Foundation, the monastic community and the Aloka lay sangha. Satima has served the Saranaloka Foundation since 2015.
Sheila Lenette James
Board Member & Secretary
Sheila was introduced to the Dhamma in the late 1990s at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She first and practiced with Larry Yang, Jack Kornfield, members of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, and Bhante Buddharakhita. So inspired by the teachings, Sheila volunteered managing daylong retreats at SRMC for a few years. Sheila’s relationship with the Nuns began in 2021 after hearing a Dhamma reflection by Ayya Anandabodhi on Dharma Seed.
Since that time Sheila has volunteered at Aloka Vihara community service days and sat their annual New Year’s Retreat. Sheila is committed to creating a container that allows for the continued unfoldment of the Ayye and holds a special place for them in her heart.
Emily first met Ayyas Santacitta and Anandabodhi in 2012 while on staff at the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts, and she was deeply moved and inspired by her encounters. She was a frequent visitor to Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery and along with Mindy Zlotnick, co-founded the Friends of Aloka Vihara (now Friends of Saranaloka) to support the development of Aloka Vihara and to further the nuns’ visions. Emily also organized the annual Kathina ceremony for several years.
Emily has been practicing insight meditation since 1998. She was on staff at the Insight Meditation Society from 2009-2012 and graduated from Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders program in 2017. She deeply appreciates retreat practice and has completed over a year of silent retreat, mostly at IMS. Emily calls Portland Oregon home where she owns Tunnel 7, a web design and marketing business, and also works as an IFS-informed life coach. In her free time, you can find her hiking and climbing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoors.
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. Trip has served the Saranaloka Foundation since 2011.