Steve Baker has been a student in the Shambhala mandala for 38 years. He served as Ambassador to Los Angeles (1978-1983) and then as Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Europe (1983-1990). His business background includes: work as a creative writer and film producer and as President and Chief Operating Officer of an international travel services company. He is a practitioner of martial arts and was Regional Director, Western Canada, for United Studios of Self Defense. Steve moved to Halifax on February 1, 2009. He has three children, and two grandchildren. And a Labrador Retriever.
Melissa Howell has worked in human services for most of her career. In 1998 she became the first certified Benefits Specialist in the State of Alaska, teaching people on Social Security Benefits how to get back to work using Social Security work incentives. She provided training for human service professionals in various cities in Alaska and co-authored two manuals on The Impact of Work on Social Security Benefits and Entitlements and How to Be a Benefits Specialist. Melissa began her management career in 2000 in Alaska as the Director of Juneau Works, a program that helps people with disabilities find jobs. Then she became the Home and Community-Based Services Regional Coordinator for Southeast Senior Services in Juneau in 2003.
She began working for Shambhala in 2005 as the Centre Manager at Dorje Denma Ling in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. Then Melissa served as the Director of Programs for Karme-Chöling from 2008 – 2010, before becoming the Administrative Manager for the Kalapa Capital Centre, her current position. Melissa is authorized as a Meditation Instructor and as a Shambhala Training Director. She has taught at both Dorje Denma Ling and Karme Choling.
Richard Reoch is the President of Shambhala. He was born into a Buddhist family in Canada in 1948 and has devoted his working life to the protection of human rights, environmental protection and peace efforts. He was the global media chief of Amnesty International, a trustee of the Rainforest Foundation and was active in the search for peace in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka. He works closely with the project team for the Kalapa Capital Centre.
Wendy Friedman has volunteered with Shambhala in a variety of capacities over the years – primarily working with major cultural events such as the Sakyong’s wedding, and the Sakyong Wangmo Empowerment. She has had an ongoing interest in the decorum tradition of Shambhala, and was made Director of the new Shambhala Office of Culture and Decorum in 2010. In 1985, Wendy was designated as a member of the Mukpo Family and given the title of Sangyum Drukmo Wangmo by the Dorje Dradul.
Wendy lives with her husband, Benny, and owns a boutique department store in downtown Halifax. She has also been active in civic duties, and served on the Board of the Heritage Trust, the Downtown Business Commission, the Centre for Youth in Business and as a business mentor. She is a voracious reader, loves hosting and is an avid traveler.
Mr. Torbert was a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche beginning in 1970 and is currently a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. His path in Shambhala Buddhism began in NYC where he was co-director of the Dharmadhatu, followed by a 7 year stint in Boulder, CO. He moved to Halifax in 1987 where he is a senior teacher and Meditation Instructor.
Professionally, Mr. Torbert is the principal of James Torbert & Associates since 2003. He has been providing health planning and architectural services for over 37 years. His firm specializes in providing health facility planning services for acute and long-term care facilities including Role Studies, Strategic Planning, Master Programs, Master Plans, Functional Programs, and Program Interpretation. Since moving to Nova Scotia, he has developed Facility Programs for over 80 health care and long term care facilities located in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Trinidad and Tobago and Nunavut. In October of 2011 he formed the Atlantic Centre or Contemplative Science and Technology with Dr. David Whitehorn. This non-profit charitable society, based on an academic model with 16 faculty, provides research, education and training in contemplative practices.
Marguerite Drescher is a visual artist and graphic recorder/facilitator, trained in cultivating vivid expressions for learning. As a second-generation Shambhala Buddhist, she is dedicated to fostering community and culture, and to bringing mindfulness and compassion into everyday activities.
Marguerite is actively engaged with communities around Halifax including the Shambhala School and The Hub Halifax. Through her work with the ALIA Institute and Windhorse Farm she has developed skills in leadership, communication, and sustainability. Marguerite is an unwavering Nova Scotian, with deep roots in this raw and magical place, and currently lives in Halifax with her husband Noel and their two children, Gabriel and Esmé.
Johanna is an award winning producer/director with over 20 years of experience in the film and television business. She is dedicated to creating films that inspire personal and social change, films that illuminate the context and consequences of human action in the world.
In 2007 she returned to independent production, as director and producer of the critically acclaimed award winning documentary Forgiveness: Stories For Our Time. Since then, she directed several episodes of Remedy Me, which aired last fall on W Network and lent a hand in producing a number of web based projects.
Prior to this, she was Director of Programming for IFC The Independent Film Channel Canada. She was critical to the launch of the channel and was responsible for all content produced, commissioned or acquired on the channel. Johanna came to IFC from CTV where she was Head of Independent Production for Atlantic Canada with the mandate to develop quality programming for the network and its family of channels. She was responsible for commissioning award winning documentaries, dramas and comedy series.
Since 2000, Françoise has served as President and founder of Elephant, a Website and marketing tools development firm. Between 1991 and 2000, Françoise taught multimedia courses at both the university levels and assisted in developing the college curriculum in multimedia at Maisonneuve College in Montreal. On the creative side, she received a Felix award for the design of Mara Tremblay’s CD titled Le Chihuahua. In 2010, she also received a Boomerang award as an Art Director for the Website Mille Vies. Her latest project includes a children’s portal for Ville de Montreal Libraries.
As a recipient of a NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) grant, Françoise spent three years in the doctoral multimedia program at the University of British Columbia. Françoise holds a bi-disciplinary degree in Computer Science and Art from the University of Montreal. She is also a painter and a multimedia artist.