Faculty

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In-Person Program

Jennifer Block is an Interfaith minister and Buddhist chaplain who provides spiritual care to people in crisis, mentors caregivers, and teaches people how to access their innate capacity for caring and healing. As one of the first Buddhist chaplains in the country, Jennifer brings 20+ years of hospice, grief, and chaplaincy experience to her work with caregivers, clinicians, chaplaincy students, and especially those who are facing the spiritual and emotional issues related to aging, sickness, dying and grief.  Jennifer completed her undergraduate degree at Boston University, and her theology degree at Naropa University

Gil Fronsdal is the Vipassana teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City and teaches retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County. He is a Zen Priest through the San Francisco Zen Center. He holds a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford University.

Paul Haller is a Zen priest and former Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. For many years he was the head of Zen Center’s jail outreach program as well as an adjunct faculty member at the Zen Hospice Project of San Francisco.

Online Program

Vanessa Able is a Soto Zen priest and practice facilitator. She is the leader of the online Introduction to Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at the Sati Center. Vanessa completed her Chaplaincy training at Stanford Healthcare, where she continues to serve as a member of the hospital’s Professional Advisory Group. Vanessa has also served in hospice and jail and is an active member of the European Buddhist Union Chaplaincy Network. She is based in southern France.

The Rev. Trent J. Thornley is the Executive Director and Director of Clinical Pastoral Education at the San Francisco Night Ministry. He is an ordained Buddhist Dharma Leader in the Nyingma lineage of Anam Thubten and Dharmata Sangha. He holds a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from the Graduation Theological Union and a Certificate in Buddhist Chaplaincy from the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Trent is also an ordained minister in the Metropolitan Community Churches, a progressive Christian denomination with an outreach to the LGBTQ+ community.

Dawn Neal is the incoming Guiding Teacher for Insight Santa Cruz. She’s a Vipassana teacher, professional Interfaith chaplain, and ordained Buddhist Minister, who offers spiritual support and guidance to people throughout their lifecycle. She holds an MA in Buddhist Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, and certificates in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Theravada Buddhism from the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Dawn is in the final phase of IMC’s Dharma Teacher Training, and now teaches and assists retreats.

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