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Our Team

Guiding the mission of Compassion Institute

Staff

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Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D

President

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Stephen Butler

Executive Director

Julie Learmond-Criqui

Program Director

Law Enforcement and Public Safety

Shari Carlson

Program Director

Health and Systems Transformation

Lisel Joseph

Digital Operations Manager

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Tori Sarris

Program Manager

Training

Solange Nirere

Program Associate

Health and Systems Transformation

Shireen Mansouri, M.D.

Content Lead

Health

Miroo Kim

Content Lead

CCT Teacher Training

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Yayoi Wakabayashi

Website and Systems

Hrayr Artunyan

Technical Advisor

Board of Directors

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Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D

Chairman, Co-Founder

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Katharine C. “KC” Branscomb

Director, Co-Founder

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Beth Cross

Director

Kirk Hanson

Director

Raymond “Rip” Gellein, Jr.

Director

Faculty

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Margaret Cullen

Founding Faculty

Monica Hanson

Founding Faculty

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Erika Rosenberg

Founding Faculty

Kelly McGonigal

Founding Faculty

Leah Weiss

Founding Faculty

International Colleagues

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Maria Paula Jimenez Palacio

CCT Teacher Training

US and International

Gonzalo Brito-Pons

CCT Teacher Training

International

Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D. was trained as a monk at the Shartse College of Ganden Monastic University, South India, where he received the Geshe Lharam degree. Jinpa also holds a B.A. in philosophy and a Ph.D. in religious studies, both from Cambridge University.

Jinpa has been the principal English translator to H.H. the Dalai Lama since 1985, and has translated and collaborated on numerous books by the Dalai Lama including the New York Times Bestsellers Ethics for the New Millennium and The Art of Happiness, as well as Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World. His own publications include A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives and translations of major Tibetan works featured in The Library of Tibetan Classics series. Jinpa is the principal author of Compassion Cultivation Training™ (CCT©) developed while at Stanford University in 2009. In 2021, Jinpa’s online self-paced course, Building Compassion from the Inside Out, was launched to the general public.

A frequent speaker at various international conferences on mindfulness, compassion, and contemplative practice, Jinpa serves as an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University, Montreal and is the founder and president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics. He has been a core member of the Mind and Life Institute and its Chairman of the Board since January 2012.

Stephen leads the management staff at Compassion Institute, overseeing development and growth of all our programs around the world.

Prior to joining Compassion Institute, Stephen served as content director and producer for ‘A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment’, a top-rated nonprofit meditation podcast and blog that adapts Tibetan Buddhist analytical meditation and mind training techniques to a secular audience. Stephen also served as Program Manager and Producer at San Francisco’s Tse Chen Ling Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies.

For 20+ years Stephen served as an Executive Producer and Director of Production for Native American/Indigenous music label Canyon Records. Stephen produced and managed talent across 200+ productions while upholding a culture-preserving mission and successfully navigating a nuanced genre of music to a global audience. His productions earned 21 Grammy nominations.

As Compassion Institute has identified, the local and global pressures of fast-paced living can often lead to feelings of burnout, loneliness and conflict. Stephen is dedicated to connecting compassion training with the world to create greater individual and societal happiness and peace.

Julie has a 25-year career in strategy, marketing, communications, and business development, working alongside executives from leading global technology companies, and start-ups. More recently, she was Director of Programs in Executive Education at Stanford University. In parallel, Julie has pursued contemplative studies and healing practices for 20 years. She completed a year of French and Italian at University College London, and earned a B.A. Business Studies and French from the University of Westminster.

In 2015, she took a leap of faith and quit her job to take a year off, recover from Silicon Valley-style burnout, and redirect her career to align with her personal passions. Her first action was to attend Compassion Cultivation Training™ at Stanford; it was transformational, and she was hooked! Since then, as a consultant to education, and team and organizational development startups, and the nonprofit sector, she has been grateful to fulfill her dream to focus on supporting the well-being of people who endure high-stress workplaces. She is humbled and thrilled to contribute to reawakening the compassionate nature within our human family, and to spreading the practice of compassion cultivation around the world.

Shari Carlson (she/her/hers) is excited to support the self- and collective-care of providers in the health sector and to partner with organizations navigating their own systems transformation journey.  She recognizes that fostering a more caring world and promoting well-being requires that together we engage in advancing social justice, celebrating our diversity, and improving equity and inclusion throughout our organizations and systems.

Shari began her career as a Peace Corps volunteer serving in the Republic of Congo and the Côte d’Ivoire before working in multiple nonprofit social service agencies serving individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness or seeking asylum as survivors of torture and severe trauma.  She also had the pleasure of working with medical and pre-medical students across the globe who sought out supplementary learning and leadership opportunities.  For ten years prior to joining the Compassion Institute, she served as a director in a state government department of social services supporting hundreds of employees working to assist families and children.

Shari holds her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley with a double major in social welfare and dramatic arts.  She also earned her Master in Business Administration from George Mason University.  Outside of work, Shari enjoys volunteering, spending time at the beach, reading, and being a mother and grandmother.

Lisel Joseph is proud to have been Compassion Institute’s first employee, beginning in early 2017. Since then, Lisel has had a hand in many aspects of CI’s operations, including coordinating the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 CCT Teacher Training programs and managing CI’s first foray into live online courses, which currently make up the majority of its offerings.
Today, as Digital Program Manager, Lisel continues to oversee the seamless delivery of CI’s online educational programs, as well as all improvements to the public-facing website. She has personally designed portions of the site, including its home page.
Prior to joining Compassion Institute, Lisel graduated from Scripps College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In her free time, she enjoys making art in various media including painting, ceramics, and collage.

Tori Sarris (she/her/hers) manages training programs and public facing offerings for Compassion Institute including CCT Teacher Training, training programs related to CI’s sector-specific work, and Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) offerings taught by Founding Faculty and senior teachers across the world.

Tori graduated from University of Puget Sound in 2015 with a degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Art History. She is a certified yoga teacher and enjoys incorporating mindfulness & meditation into her practices. She began her career as an AmeriCorps member, working to improve financial insecurity in the Seattle area. She has spent her career working in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, launching innovative pilot programs that support the growth of her community and working to reduce racial disparities. Tori continues to work toward being anti-racist, pursuing non-optical alllyship, and educating herself on issues of cultural appropriation & systemic racism in her community. She is excited to continue exploring ideas of mindfulness, compassion, and anti-racism as part of the Compassion Institute team.

In her free time, Tori can be found outside- hiking, camping, and backpacking with her dog in Central Oregon.

Solange (she/her/hers) graduated from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in 2020 with a master’s degree in political science. She has worked on political campaigns, interned with municipal departments, and served in the private sector as a project coordinator. In 2022, Solange shifted her focus to finding a career in support of a cause true to her values. Solange believes that now, more than ever, is the time to create a more compassionate world through cooperation. She is thrilled to join the CI team in their efforts.

In her free time, Solange enjoys biking, hiking through the Sandia mountains, and volunteering with her fiancé.

Shireen is a family physician who has worked the majority of her career in the Northwest Territories of Canada.  She first took CCT in 2014 and found it transformative for herself and her practice of medicine.  She became a certified CCT teacher in 2019.  Since then she has worked to bring Compassion Cultivation to health care communities.  She is excited to be exploring the ways that Compassion Cultivation can support health care providers to thrive in their work.  

She completed her medical degree at Queen’s University in Ontario Canada, and then obtained her training in Family Medicine in Newfoundland Canada.  She also has training in emergency medicine and obstetrical ultrasound.  Over her career she has provided full spectrum family practice including obstetrical care and remote medicine, and has worked in both Canada and the US.  She currently lives in Calgary Alberta and continues to work as a GP Oncologist and family physician in Yellowknife NWT Canada.  In her spare time she enjoys cooking and being out in nature with her husband.

Miroo Kim is a changemaker for systemic wellbeing inside corporations and organizations. In her 18+ years of career, she loved bringing meaningful impact on the lives of people with technologies, working at Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. Ironically, working on the latest technologies of our time, she realized that the best technology was already inside us – our awareness. She feels passionate about cultivating human minds individually and systemically. She hopes to empower others to feel whole as human and help them imagine and achieve big dreams together in organizations, enabled by systemic wellbeing.

She has led various roles at Apple, Microsoft, and Meta for 18 years. Some of her works includes launching new iPhones, Windows Phone, and internet.org in underserved parts of the world. One of her most recent projects was to lead and grow the Mindfulness Community, an employee club at Meta, offering mindfulness programs to cultivate a mindful and compassionate community at the workplace. She is a certified instructor for the Search Inside Yourself, Compassion Cultivation Training and yoga. She loves playing with her first grader and enjoys having Dharma conversations with her partner. She also loves going for a long walk or run in her neighborhood in SF with a good podcast.

Yayoi holds M.A. in Media and Governance, and B.A. in Environmental Information from Keio University, Japan.

She studied computer graphics/interactive art in Keio. After working in an exhibition production firm BOCTOK in the mid-90s, she became an exhibition coordinator at the curatorial department of NTT Inter Communication Center in Tokyo. During this time she worked with artists from different parts of the world and traveled extensively attending various art festivals/conferences.

Yayoi moved her base to Colorado in 1999, and has been working in various fields including software development, website design, and managing an artist-in-residence program.

Yayoi continues to work in an area where technology meets creativity, and art that explores mental/physical boundaries. She is a regular face at the annual Burning Man event in Nevada where she brings large scale Mammoth skeleton quad cycle that is propelled by the ad hoc participants. She very excited to take part in the mission of Compassion Institute and to learning more about CCT™ and its positive benefits, not only for individuals, but for the world as a whole.

K.C. is a board member at Compassion Institute. From 2017 to May 2020, K.C. served as volunteer full-time Executive Director, and led the development of CI’s program portfolio, and management of staff in the important start-up phase of the organization.

K.C. is a retired software industry CEO and serial entrepreneur who has served as a senior operating executive and/or board director of several high growth companies both public and private. In 1989, Branscomb was recognized by the Wall Street Journal’s Centennial Edition as one of the 28 highest potential young executives in America. Education includes Stanford University (MBA 1980), Polytechnic Institute of New York (BS/MS Applied Mathematics 1976), and BA Sarah Lawrence College (‘76).

She is Vice President of the Branscomb Family Foundation, which secured the exclusive license to CCT™ from Stanford on behalf of Thupten Jinpa and the Compassion Institute in 2016.

Beth Cross, co-founder and CEO of Ariat International, was born and raised on a thoroughbred farm outside of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Beth received her BA from the University of Colorado in 1986, and her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1988.

In 1990, Beth and co-founder Pam Parker, a classmate from Stanford GSB, met while working at Bain & Company in San Francisco. While focusing on strategic marketing and product development for Reebok, they saw an opportunity to apply the principles of athletic shoe technology and sports marketing to the equestrian footwear market.

In 1992 Ariat International was founded, and the first Ariat riding boots shipped in 1993. Today, Ariat is the largest equestrian footwear and apparel brand in the world, and continues to lead the market in designing, developing and manufacturing the most innovative footwear, apparel and denim for the world’s top equestrian athletes.

Beth was honored as Entrepreneur of the Year® 2018 in the Consumer Driven category by Ernst & Young. She is a member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, and is a past member of the Stanford GSB Management Board. Beth currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Two Ten Footwear Foundation as well as Compassion Institute. She is also an active member of the Barbary Coast/Exiles Chapter of Young Presidents Organization (YPO). Beth currently resides in San Mateo, CA with her husband, and they have three grown children.

Kirk O. Hanson stepped down recently as Executive Director of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, where he held the John Courtney Murray, S.J. University Professorship in Social Ethics for 17 years. Previously Kirk taught business ethics at the Stanford Business School for 23 years and is recognized as one of the founders of the academic field of business ethics. He has been an emeritus faculty member at Stanford since 2001.

Hanson has published widely on managing the ethical and public behavior of corporations and their leaders. His research interests include the design of corporate ethics programs and the responsibilities of boards for the ethical culture of organizations. Hanson has consulted with more than 125 corporations, nonprofit organizations, health care entities, and government bodies on the design of ethics programs and the resolution of ethical dilemmas.

Hanson was the founding president of The Business Enterprise Trust, a national organization created to honor exemplary behavior in business. He was the Honorary Chair of the first business ethics center in China and the first Chair of the Santa Clara County Political Ethics Commission in Silicon Valley. He currently serves on several foundation and non-profit boards, has been honored by the Aspen Institute’s Center for Business Education and the American Leadership Foundation Silicon Valley, and has received honorary doctorates from Santa Clara University and the University of Portland for his work on business responsibility.

From November 2012 until his retirement in December 2015, Gellein served as Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Inc., a publicly traded real estate investment trust (“REIT”) with a portfolio of luxury hotels. From August 2010 to November 2012, he served as Strategic Hotels & Resorts’ non-executive Chairman, and from August 2009 to December 2015, as a director. 

He served as President of the Global Development Group of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. from July 2006 through March 2008, and as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a subsidiary of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., a publicly traded hotel and leisure company, from October 1999 to July 2006. Gellein is also Chair Emeritus of the American Resort Development Association and served as Vice Chairman and Treasurer of the Mind and Life Institute for 12 years.

As a past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Resort Development Association, he also has extensive knowledge of the legislative and regulatory issues related to the vacation ownership business.

Margaret Cullen is a licensed psychotherapist and was one of the first ten people to become a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher. For over 20 years, she has pioneered secular contemplative programs for a wide variety of populations including physicians, nurses, HIV positive men, cancer patients, overweight women, military spouses college students, clinicians and educators.

She has developed and taught contemplative interventions for research studies at Stanford, UCSF, Portland State, Penn State, University of Michigan, and University of Miami. In 2013, she developed a mindfulness and compassion program (MBAT – Spouse) for military spouses that she piloted at Ft. Drum, Maxwell Air Force Base, and Joint Operations Special Command. In 2015, she co-authored a book on Mindfulness-Based Emotional Balance (MBEB), an evidence-based program that she piloted across the US and Canada. She has also designed and co-delivered teacher trainings for both MBAT-Spouse and MBEB.

As a clinician, Margaret has been a facilitator of support groups for cancer patients and their loved ones for 25 years. In 2010, she was invited by Thupten Jinpa to contribute to the development of the Compassion Cultivation Training. A meditator for over 35 years, she has sat dozens of intensive retreats ranging from ten days to three months and has written extensively on mindfulness. Nothing brings her greater joy than contributing to a more compassionate world.

Monica Hanson teaches the Compassion Cultivation Training program for the public at Stanford University in the School of Medicine. Her focus is on fierce compassion, choosing compassionate values, and compassion led social innovation.

In 2013, she was the lead teacher in a research study for Stanford Medicine Neuroscience and Pain Lab, examining the effects of compassion training, chronic pain and the impact on significant others. In 2017, Monica started a collaborative effort to identify and exchange emerging best practices in teaching compassion.

While the last decade focused on compassion and meditation, Monica’s earlier work focused on applying symbolic systems in innovative environments at Nike and Apple.

Erika Rosenberg, Ph.D., is a scientist and a meditation teacher. She is a senior investigator on the Shamatha Project, a comprehensive study of the effects of intensive meditation, at U.C. Davis’s Center for Mind and Brain.

Currently, Dr. Rosenberg serves as Founding Faculty at the Compassion Institute and has been a senior teacher at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education since 2009. In 2010 she offered the new CCT course at Google, Inc. and presented the CCT™ program to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Stanford University. Since then, she has been teaching CCT™ in regular and intensive formats worldwide.

Dr. Rosenberg is faculty at the Nyingma Institute of Tibetan Studies in Berkeley and has offered meditation trainings in diverse international venues such as Lerab Ling Monastery, Upaya Zen Center, Kripalu Yoga Center, the Telluride Institute, and Burning Man.

Dr. Rosenberg is co-author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, Psychology: Perspectives and Connections, now in its 4th edition, and numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles and chapters on facial expression, emotion, and meditation.

Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. As a pioneer in the field of “science-help,” her mission is to translate insights from psychology and neuroscience into practical strategies that support personal well-being and strengthen communities.

She is the author of several books, including the international bestseller The Willpower Instinct and her latest book The Upside of Stress. Her 2013 TED talk, “How to Make Stress Your Friend,” is one of the Most Viewed TED talks of all time, with over 19 million views.

Through the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism, she co-authored the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training and studies how social connection can promote health, happiness, and resilience.

She also currently serves as the psychology consultant to The New York Times’ Education Initiatives, helping educators around the world interpret the news and opinions of the day from the lens of psychological science.

In her free time, she is a passionate advocate for animal rescue and volunteers as an adoption counselor for Best Friends Animal Society.

Leah Weiss, PhD, MSW, is a teacher, researcher, and meditation expert at Stanford University specializing in the application of mindfulness and compassion in secular contexts. Her perennially waitlisted course at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Leading with Mindfulness and Compassion, is breaking new ground in an MBA program already famous for innovation. Her other courses at Stanford include Compassion and the World Religions and A Philosophical and Experimental Introduction to Buddhism.

Leah served as Director of Education at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education from 2010-2013. At HopeLab, Leah previously directed the contemplative education initiative. She now consults for the Omidyar Group’s 21st Century Leadership Initiative. Her book Heart At Work, published by HarperCollins, will be released in early 2018.

Leah has keynoted, taught, and consulted in diverse settings including Harvard-affiliated hospitals, Kaiser Permanente, the Young Presidents’ Organization, LinkedIn, and at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Concurrent with her graduate work, Leah completed the traditional Tibetan Buddhist teacher-training curriculum. She is a board member of the Journal of Interreligious Dialogue, writer for the Harvard Business Review, and reviewer for the Journal of Positive Psychology and Columbia Business Review. She lives in Palo Alto with her husband and three children.

Maria Paula is a Senior Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT™) Instructor. She served as a Faculty member of the Spanish version of the CCT™ Teacher Training offered in Spain through Nirakara Institute. Simultaneously she is the Administrator of the Live Online Mindful Self-Compassion program offered by the Center for Mindful Self Compassion. She is also a lecturer, organizational consultant and advisor to groups and individuals on topics related to well-being/ whole-being, change, contemplative practices, mindfulness, and compassion.

María Paula studied Psychology at Los Andes University, with a minor in business. She is an expert in Corporate Social Responsibility from Sergio Arboleda University and in Integrative Therapies from the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad del Rosario. In addition, she completed an Integrative Medicine Training with the International Sintergética Association.

She has offered trainings, talks, and conferences to different audiences in Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Spain, and the United States.

Gonzalo Brito Pons, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who has worked with diverse populations in Chile, Peru, and Spain, integrating Western psychological approaches with traditional medicine and contemplative practices. As a certified yoga teacher and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) instructor, he has included these practices in his clinical work and workshops for health care professionals and educators over the last decade.

Gonzalo is a certified instructor of the Compassion Cultivation Training© (CCT™) Program and serves as a supervisor for Spanish-speaking teachers in training.

Currently living in Granada, Spain, Gonzalo combines his therapeutic work with ongoing compassion-based and mindfulness-based programs, collaborating regularly with several educational and health organizations.