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leadership team

The Leadership Team of TBC consists of the Board of Directors, Officers, and Committee Chairs. Please reach out to us if you have any questions! Email: info@tibetanbuddhist.org

Board

Losang Samten
Spiritual Director

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The Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia (CTBC) was founded in 1991 as a non-sectarian, non-profit organization, open to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

The main goal of our Center is to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness, based on the philosophy and methods taught by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

 
As the Founder and Spiritual Director of the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center, Losang is an accomplished Tibetan scholar and former Buddhist monk.

 

In 1959, Losang and his family fled to Nepal, and then moved to Dharamsala, India.  In 1985, he earned a Master Degree from Namgyal Monastery in Buddhist Philosophy, Sutra, and Tantra.

Losang also served as His Holiness' Personal Attendant, as well as the monastery's Ritual Dance Master.

In 1988, at the direction of His Holiness, Losang traveled to the U.S. to demonstrate the meditative art of sand mandalas for the first time in the West.  

It was at a mandala offering in 1989 that a group of students requested that he stay in Philadelphia and teach the authentic dharma.  His Holiness accepted the request due to Losang's desire to teach when sincerely asked.

More than 25 years later, Losang Samten continues to bring his warm and open hearted nature, deep understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, and fascinating personal experiences and practice to the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia.

http://losangsamten.com

Barbara Montgomery
Director

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Barbara is a Board Member of CTBC and former Vice-President and President and has been a member since shortly after the Center was begun.  Her Buddhist practice began in Southeast Asia and has been a mainstay in her life for over 50 years. Her path has led her to deeply explore the practice of Dzogchen. She is profoundly grateful to her root teachers, Thich That Hanh, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Venerable Losang Samten for all the kindness, compassion and wisdom they have shared, along with the many other teachers and our precious sangha with whom she has had the privilege to study. 

 

Her professional career has taken her from working in the television and film industries to her own music production and publishing companies.  She is also an international performing and recording jazz musician.  For the past 15 years she has focused on two areas of her life: The Farmhouse Retreat and Wellness Center in Kennett Square, PA, with its roots beginning in her volunteer work as the President of the PA Brady Campaign/Million Mom March for ten years, dedicated to preventing gun violence; and her wellness practice as an Integrative and Orthomolecular Medicine Health Practitioner.  The latter had its foundation in her 20 years of clinical work with brain-injured children and their families.  Her Buddhist practice provides a vital foundation for all of these endeavors.

Ken Klein
Director

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Ken Klein has been an active member of the Tibetan Buddhist Center since its beginning in 1989. He has served as President, building maintenance manager, marketing and fundraising, coordinating visits from India of traveling monasteries tours in Philadelphia and visits from notable Teachers. His current role is serving on the Board of Directors along with our Teacher, Losang Samten, Barbara Montgomery and President Sue Passante.

 

Ken has said often, “ I am not a teacher, but I am willing to share whatever experiences I have had over the years”.  

 

Ken has traveled numerous times to India and Nepal over the years. He has received teachings and empowerments from His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Losang Samten, Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa, Zazap Rinpoche, Garchen Rinpoche, Sogyal Rinpoche, Lama Rinchen and others.

 

Ken has been married to TBC member Marjon van Kempen for 47 years, together they have two adult sons.

Sue Passante
President

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On January 1, 2012, Sue experienced a profound realization of the Three Jewels and became wholly devoted to Buddhist practice from that moment onward.   Sue’s Dharma path began with calm abiding meditation and the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and Bhikkhu Bodhi.  

 

Over the next few years, Sue became deeply immersed in the Theravadin vipassana meditation tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Kin under the direction of S.N. Goenka.  She attended several 10-day meditation retreats and made Dharma service the cornerstone of her Buddhist practice.  

 

By the end of 2017, Sue felt drawn to pursue an even deeper connection and found her true spiritual home in CTBC and Tibetan Buddhism.  Sue joined CTBC shortly after the new center opened in late 2017 and became a Leadership Team member in August 2018.   Sue is profoundly grateful to call herself a student of Ven. Losang Samten.  It has been her heart’s joy to serve Lama Losang and dear Sangha members across North America for over six years.  

 

In July 2021, Sue started on the Kalachakra path and became a student of non-sectarian Tibetan Buddhism master, Shar Khentrul Jamphel Lodrö Rinpoché, of the Jonang lineage.  

 

Outside of her Buddhist practice and Dharma service, Sue is a hospice volunteer, as well as Chair of the Haddon Township Backyard Chicken program.  Sue retired from the corporate sector in April 2018 having worked for over twenty-five years leading enterprise-wide information technology and organizational change initiatives.  

Vicki Cahill
Vice-President

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Vicki Cahill began her study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism in 1995 with Losang Samten at the Tibetan Buddhist Center in Philadelphia. At the Tibetan Buddhist Center, Vicki had the opportunity to study with teachers from Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. It was at the CTBC that she met Gelek Rimpoche in 1996, at his teachings on the Three Principles of the Path. Vicki became Gelek Rimpoche’s student and  a member of Jewel Heart. In addition to continuing her study with Losang, she has attended weekly teachings at Jewel Heart and annual Jewel Heart retreats. Vicki became a facilitator for Jewel Heart and ran Jewel Heart courses at the Philadelphia Meditation Center and various other locations throughout the Philadelphia area over the years. In 2015 she was invited to join the Buddhist Chaplaincy training program at Jewel Heart, which she completed in 2017. Vicki led classes on meditation and awareness training at the Philadelphia Department of Prisons to men, women, and juvenile populations from 2016 until the Covid-19 pandemic closed the prison to volunteers in March 2020. In 2018, she became a Buddhist chaplaincy extern at Pennsylvania Hospital, and she continued with another externship in 2019 at HUP. Vicki is honored to have been a guest speaker at the Tibetan Buddhist Center. Currently she facilitates the Thursday night Dharma Study group at the Tibetan Buddhist Center and leads a semi-monthly secular meditation class at the Lansdowne Public Library. 

In addition to her Buddhist studies and practice, Vicki is a mother of five and a grandmother of four. During her four-decade career in information and technology, she has worked as a systems engineer, an independent consultant, a computer programmer, a systems analyst, and an IT manager. Since retiring from IT, Vicki has worked at the Lansdowne Public Library serving her community. She maintains a yoga practice and a lifelong love affair with Ridley Creek State Park.

Atul Govil
Co-Treasurer

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Since 1994, Atul has contributed to sustaining CTBC of Philadelphia as a member and by taking on various roles in the Leadership team.  Since 2017, he is serving his second stint as the Co-Treasurer.  He teaches on the Wisdom aspect of Tibetan Buddhism.

 

He started his study of Tibetan Buddhism with Losang Samten in 1994.  In 1999, Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin, started Atul on studying the Heart Sutra.  Since then, he has received teachings from various lamas, including, HH Dalai Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, Gelek Rinpoche, and Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal.  Since 2018, Atul has also furthered his personal development in the area of psychology by attending coursework at Landmark Worldwide and completed as an Introduction Leader.

 

Atul completed his professional education with graduate-level degrees in Chemical Engineering and in Finance.  For more than 25 years, he has successfully delivered innovative products and efficiency of processes for multinational corporations in the areas of R&D, Manufacturing and Operations.  He immensely enjoys meeting people and other sentient beings while being in cities and places of natural beauty.

Soo Kyong Kim
Co-Treasurer

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Learn more about Soo Kyong Kim soon! Information coming!

Kathleen Aguilar
Secretary

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Kathleen Aguilar is a Buddhist practitioner from West Chester, PA.  Kathleen began practicing little by little, starting in August 2000, when her son was born.  An internet search on how to handle the feelings of being overwhelmed with new motherhood and complete exhaustion revealed teachings of a Tibetan Lama, and that is when she began her nascent practice. 

 

After moving back to West Chester, where she was born, to be closer to her parents, Kathleen began practicing in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition with a local sangha. 

 

Over time, that sangha diminished, and then Kathleen was introduced to the 5 Buddha families and wisdom dakinis taught by Lama Tsultrim Allione. This began Kathleen’s focus on Tibetan Buddhism.  

 

Over the last few years, Kathleen has deepened her practice and is now focused on Tibetan Buddhist practices.  In summer 2023, Kathleen discovered CTBC and Lama Losang and is so happy to find such a gentle and humble community to practice with in person. 

 

Kathleen still lives in West Chester with her son, Nathan.  For work, she began her career as a professional classical musician (French Horn) and later became an attorney.  She continues to practice law and advises companies on privacy and information security.

Jen Jaynes
Chair, Communications Committee

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Jen has been a member of TBC since 2017, and enjoys helping host TBC events via Zoom, editing our weekly e-newsletters, and keeping the website up to date! In addition to her TBC offerings, she is also the Associate Artistic Director of MacGuffin Theatre & Film Company, where she teaches theatre to ages 4-18 and directs productions among many other tasks full-time.

 

She became a member of the Sangha when she first walked through the doors in November of 2017, and Sangha member Marjon van Kempen offered her a pair of her own socks to wear in the center (which had cold floors that time of year!). Through this act of kindness, Jen sensed that TBC was the kind of community she wanted to learn from. Two years later in November of 2019, she had the incredible opportunity to join Lama Losang Samten and others on a pilgrimage to Northern India to visit the Buddhist Holy Sites and have a short but incredible teaching session from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. 

 

Her current dharma practices and interests are Dream Yoga, cultivating compassion and awareness through Chenrezig, learning to read and write Tibetan (shameless plug for the Tibetan Language Institute!). and studying/meditating with The Five Elements. She is grateful to Lama Losang Samten, Lama Lena, Tenzin Wangyal, Ven. Amy Miller, and all the members of the TBC Sangha for their teachings. She lives in Manayunk with her husband Brandon Everett, step-son Oliver, two parakeets, a one-eyed cat, and 20+ guppies.

Nancy Stinson
Special Projects Coordinator Member of Communications Committee

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Nancy Stinson became interested in Buddhism and Hinduism while taking a World Religions course in high school in 1967. She began studies in 1971 at the Kushi Institute, a  Zen Macrobiotic center in Boston. The practice of macrobiotics (Great Life)  was brought to the US from Japan by husband-and-wife Michio and Aveline Kushi in the 1950s. The Kushi Institute attracted students from all over the world who came to study the principles and practices of macrobiotics, including cooking techniques, using the healing power of foods, and Zen Buddhism. 

During that time, she founded a macrobiotic catering business specializing in weddings. She received her Transcendental Meditation mantra in 1972 and began a lifelong off-and-on yoga practice. She explored the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche at the nascent Karme Choling Shambhala Center in Vermont and attended teachings there and in New York by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.  She attended a teaching and was blessed by the 16th Karmapa on his first visit to the Western Hemisphere in 1974. 

Returning to college in 1978, Nancy earned a BA in Journalism from Penn State and worked for several newspapers before joining the public relations department at the Fortune 10 company AT&T in 1984. She spent the next 18 years handling internal and external communications for the company.  She met her husband Burke there and has been married to him for 31 years. 

Throughout her life, she has used meditation, pranayama and cooking techniques gained from her early teachers for health, relaxation and emotional peace, especially during a bout with cancer in 2009. Her spiritual focus turned back to Buddhism after discovering Lama Losang and the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia in about 2016.  Since then, practicing kindness and compassion has become central in her day-to-day life. She has been on the Leadership Team since 2021 and currently is the Special Projects Coordinator. 

Nancy also volunteers in garden management at Naval Square and as the communications coordinator for Trinity Memorial Church in Philadelphia.  She recently  began writing the story of a relative’s experiences during WWII, which may become a book or screenplay.

Esther Wieman
Chair, Membership Committee

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Esther was born and raised in the Netherlands. During her college years she did an internship with a theatre producer, where she worked with Gyuto monks and with performers from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) on a theatre production. This is where her interest in Tibetan culture and buddhism started. 

After completing college, Esther traveled and worked for a student exchange program for several years, working with students from around the world while bringing their program across North America, Europe, Mexico, and Japan. 

After her travels, Esther returned to the field of arts nonprofit and philanthropy. Almost 20 years ago, she moved to Philadelphia, where she continued to work for mission-driven organizations, wearing many hats in business development, program development, project management, and fundraising. She currently works as an Area Development Advisor for ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, focusing on raising awareness and raising funds for the patients, families, doctors, and researchers of St. Jude. This professional opportunity fulfills her with so much purpose and gratitude every day!

Esther lives in Belmont Hills, with her two children Tashi Dawa and Trinley Yangzom. These teenagers keep her on her toes and shower her with love and joy (and the occasional grey hair!). 

Esther has been a member of CTBC since 2015. 

 

Fun facts:

  1. First job: peeling tulip bulbs

  2. Unusual talent: singing songs in uncommon languages like Greek, Tibetan, Japanese

  3. Native language: Dutch (you might catch her still counting her numbers in Dutch)

  4. Side gig: online ESL tutor for Chinese kids

  5. Best recipe: traditional Dutch apple pie

Stephen Liu
Chair, Facilities Committee

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Stephen is grateful and overjoyed for the opportunity to serve as CTBC’s Facilities

Chairperson. He became aware of CTBC and began attending in the summer of 2021. The teachings and examples of Lama Losang and everyone here have struck quite a resonance for me. I’ve been asked to introduce myself in a biography and shall attempt mine as a sort of mind stream of rumination.

 

Now 67, I worked for over four decades, had so many jobs, but never a resume. Jobs always

seemed to emerge from knowing someone or getting interested in something. It’s always one thing leading to another, under the radar and around the fringes. Drawn to many forms of creativity, but it’s not like I have a special medium or mode. It’s more about the process and craft of learning and being useful. Time and again I have found a place as a sort of assistant or apprentice. So that may be my métier, as an assistant. The way one thing leads to another comes about from living in relationship; the weaving of relationships fosters community.

 

I’m all about what can happen in community: purpose, usefulness, learning, belonging. Tops for me are Mt. Tabor A.M.E. Love Kitchen (the joyous sense of communal labor!), my essential 12 Step Recovery Fellowship, foundational, and CTBC, center of Refuge. Essential to this biography is my family. My dear Mom and Dad came from different regions in China. From circumstances of war, they came to the US for education. From circumstances of more war, they remained and raised the family here. They adapted to so many circumstances, always giving their best to our family. And here I be’s.

 

The two most important things of this life: being able to care for my parents through their old age

and death. There was great sorrow for them to have never seen their parents again, great worry

and tenderness in our time together. And then there’s my partner dear Ronald. To learn to care

for one another, even in ordinary things the preciousness of life can be known. In the words of Ram

Dass, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Blessed as you walk with me.

Thank you, Lama Losang, and CTBC for your generosity, patience, openness and encouragement.

May I be teachable, may I be of use, may I not take myself too seriously. May kindness, joy, and

blessings increase for all.

officers

committEe chairs

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