Board of Directors

Meet our highly qualified board of directors. They are all sangha members experienced in financial, high-tech, government or education management and knowledgable about the realities of operations and governance:

Rachel Belash, Board Chair

Rachel has a BA and MA from Oxford, UK, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky, and has been a lifelong educator. She has taught Spanish and Latin American Literature at Dartmouth College and Vassar College. She has been an administrator at Milton Academy, and Head of School at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT, and at Branksome Hall School in Toronto. She has been a search consultant for Carney Sandoe and Associates, and served for a few years as Vice President at the Bank of Boston.

Michael Waldron, Treasurer

Michael is a partner at Mt. Tam Capital Management, a firm investing in a broad array of public and private securities. From 1997-2009, he was a partner at Cadogan Management, where he served as Director of Research while helping to manage several portfolios. Michael was closely involved in all aspects of managing the firm, where assets under management grew to over $7 billion during his tenure. Prior to joining Cadogan, Michael was a portfolio manager at the asset management firm L.J. Altfest & Co. in New York. Michael graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Santa Cruz, with BAs in Chemistry and Art History. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and has aided several non-profit organizations and foundations in New York and Santa Fe with finances and planning for growth while serving on their boards.

Damon Altomare

Damon Altomare is the founder of ThisWay Development, a software development firm in Santa Fe, NM. Prior to opening the firm, Damon worked as a software developer across a variety of professional sectors including financial services, healthcare and fine arts preservation. Damon received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh

John Braman

John Braman is principal at Braman Group International (BGI), a consultancy based in Santa Fe. He also co-directs (with Henry Shukman) the Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute (RGMI), a division of Mountain Cloud Zen Center. He is past president of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS), where he oversaw the accreditation of 250 schools in 14 states. Prior to that, he was a division director at Albuquerque Academy for 10 years, was executive vice president at Thompson Island Outward Bound, Boston, MA, and director of the Center for Peaceable Schools at Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. He graduated from Brown University, and has a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Teachers College at Columbia University, where he was a Klingenstein Fellow. He holds a certificate from Harvard’s Pluralism Project, and is a 2018 graduate of Inward Bound Mindfulness Education’s year-long teacher certification program.

Sondra Byrnes

Sondra J. Byrnes has had an extensive career in business and the law—working primarily in banking and utilities in Boston, Detroit and Chicago in the areas of general counsel, strategic planning, corporate communication, marketing and advertising. For twelve years, she taught at the University of Notre Dame Law School and Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. In the late ‘80s, she was the Director of Public Affairs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is a long-time Zen practitioner, who led a meditation group at Notre Dame for roughly ten years.  More recently, she served as Secretary of the Haiku Society of America, Committee member to bring Haiku North America to Santa Fe, and leader of the Santa Fe Haiku Study Group.  Sondra’s personal interests include chanoyu (tea ceremony), haiku and ikebana.

Jay Coghlan 

Jay Coghlan is Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a nonprofit organization that watchdogs the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Department of Energy’s nation-wide nuclear weapons complex. He has worked successfully against radioactive incineration at the Los Alamos Lab and in Clean Air Act, Freedom of Information Act and National Environmental Policy Act lawsuits against the Department of Energy. Among other things, he prompted a 2006 independent study that concluded that plutonium pits (the fissile “triggers” of nuclear weapons) last at least a century, leading to congressional rejections of new-design nuclear weapons and their production. He also sits on the board of directors of the Bodhi Mandala Zen Center in Jemez Springs, NM, and is an avid skier and climber.

Laura Cooley

Laura is a librarian at St. John’s College Meem Library in Santa Fe, where she has worked since 1995.  She graduated from St. John’s College in 1992 with a B.A. in liberal arts and in 1998 with an M.A. in eastern classics.  She earned a master’s degree in library science from the University of Michigan in 1994, and worked as a reference librarian at the Colorado College Tutt Library for a year.  She and her husband Paul, also a member at Mountain Cloud, have raised their children in Santa Fe.  

Peg Froehlich

Peg has an associate degree in Oral Hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh and spent years working with patients in various locations.  She later graduated from Wright State University with a BS degree in Environmental Health Science.  In her second career she oversaw compliance with OSHA, MSHA, RCRA, DOT and health and safety regulations.  Following her contract work for EPA Region 5, she moved to New Mexico and began practicing Zen, receiving lay ordination as a Rinzai nun in 1998.  She officially became a student at Mountain Cloud in 2014.  In addition to serving on other boards, she is currently Chair for the Supervisory Committee of the Jemez Valley Credit Union.

Chris Hebard

Chris Hebard is the founder of Pruett Media, LLC, which specializes in film, media, and international direct response advertising both online and offline. He has over 30 years experience in development, marketing, international distribution and team building for businesses including internet services, bank credit card issuance, catalog and online store development, and nonprofit enterprises. A member of the leadership committee for the nonprofit trade association GATE (Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment), Chris founded, a web-based not-for-profit aggregating text, audio and video of teachers of non-duality and self-inquiry, and was a board member of Peacelink Live. He has spoken, written and filmed on spirituality throughout the US and Europe.

Karen Klinefelter

Karen Klinefelter has been a clinical social worker since receiving her MSW from St Louis University in 1971. Her direct clinical work has included provision of individual, family and group therapies in both inpatient and outpatient settings for underserved popularions. She has been a clinical supervisor for graduate school interns and guest lectured at the community college and university level. Karen has worked in program development, grant-writing and administration in both public and nonprofit agencies with an emphasis on engaging local leaders and volunteers in focused multi-disciplinary responses to issues affecting vulnerable segments of the community. She currently maintains a small clinical practice, with a particular interest in aging and what it really means to be an elder in this culture.  She has had a zen practice for the past 17 years.

Henry Shukman (Ex-officio)

Henry is an Associate Zen Master of Sanbo Zen and continues his training under Abbot Yamada Ryoun Roshi. He has an MA from Cambridge (UK) and an M.Litt from St Andrews University. He has worked as a writer and poet for many years, publishing extensively, as well as teaching in various institutions in Britain and America, including Oxford Brookes University and the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is the Guiding Teacher of Mountain Cloud Zen Center.

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