affiliated trainers

Affiliated council trainers lead programs and workshops in schools, businesses, faith-based and non-profits organizations, healthcare systems and prisons. Trainers work in communities around the world, from Southern California to Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Many of our affiliated trainers have extensive training as therapists, artists, teachers and professors, chaplains, and legal and medical professionals. Collectively, they represent a tremendous breadth of experience and skill and many years of work as stewards of council across the spectrum of venues and contexts. All affiliated council trainers, including those listed below, have agreed to abide by Beyond Us & Them's Code of Conduct.

Beyond Us & Them's affiliated trainers also offer workshops and community drop-in council sessions. These events are hosted and operated by those trainers, independent of Beyond Us & Them. See what is offered and contact them directly for more information.

search our affiliated trainers

camille-ameen-Beyond Us and Them affiliated trainer

Camille Ameen

Since 1991, Camille has had the privilege of working with kindergartners through graduate students, youth with disabilities, the deaf/hard of hearing, students at high risk of dropping out, young women in transitional housing, homeless youth, people who have been incarcerated in the prison system, Christian, Muslim and Jewish educators and students, all coming together in council circles.

She co-facilitates Council Trainings 1 & 2 and has mentored numerous teachers, council interns, and staff in social justice organizations and theater-based organizations.

Recognizing a need to bring more play, joy, and community to these covid times, she developed a Games Booklet for online gatherings.

Camille co-founded Inside Out Community Arts (1996), a nationally award-winning non-profit that nurtures self-worth, and fosters understanding between diverse middle and high school youth through theatre, with council elements. Now merged with PS ARTS, she continues to train artists in the curriculum/methodology.

Camille is a core instructor for the UCLArts & Healing Social Emotional Arts Certificate Program. She's created a curriculum for social-emotional learning, combining her love of theater, art, writing, and council.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Theatre, she’s had a long career as a professional actress in New York and Los Angeles including Broadway, television, and film.

lori-austein-Beyond Us and Them affiliated trainer

Lori Austein

Lori Austein is a council trainer, hypnotherapist and coach. Past experiences as a lawyer and program coordinator for the Cowichan Intercultural Society have informed her appreciation for justice and diversity. Council has been part of her personal and professional life for over 22 years.

Lori has facilitated programs for youth, educators, non-profits and in the field of mental health in British Columbia and California. She currently facilitates the Bereavement Group for Cowichan Hospice. In response to the pandemic, she started Circles of Resilience with partner Leon Berg to bring council in the online realm, knowing that connection is always possible.

jodi-magaram-bell-Beyond Us and Them affiliated trainer

Jodi Magaram Bell

Jodi Magaram Bell was first introduced to council by a fellow parent and council facilitator at her daughter’s elementary school who spied Jodi teaching yoga to the kindergarteners.

Observing that Jodi led her yoga class in a circle and had the children creating poses that built upon, and grew out of, the previous child’s poses, the parent suggested that Jodi learn about council.

After facilitating councils at Open Charter Magnet School for several years, Jodi became a Certified Council Trainer and helped establish council programs at several other public schools in Los Angeles. She has also brought the practice to children in a battered women’s shelter, and has worked as a trainer in both Beyond Us & Them's (formerly Center for Council) Organizational Wellness Project and the prison program, Council for Insight, Compassion and Resilience.

In 2018, Jodi published a book entitled What’s Your Story: Questions that Spark Connection and Understanding as a resource for council practitioners to consult for prompts when crafting a council and for the layperson who wants to try the practice with friends or family.

Jodi's education includes an A.B. in Political Science from Brown University (magna cum laude) and a law degree with distinction from Stanford Law School. A Los Angeles native, Jodi enjoys speed walking in the hills, backpacking in the Sierras, getting creative in the kitchen, spending time with her husband and four children, and practicing yoga.

Leon Berg_Advisory Board_Beyond Us And Them

Leon Berg

Leon Berg is a founding member of the Ojai Foundation. He is a Senior Trainer for Center for Council and a Founding Advisory Board member. Leon has been facilitating council groups in the U.S. and abroad for over twenty years.

In 2001, he went to Israel to seed the practice of council among Israeli Jews and Arabs, co-founding the Israeli non-profit organization Ma’agal Hakshava (Listening Circles).

In 2008 Leon and his partner, Glori Zeltzer, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, began to teach their council-based relationship workshops, Art of Intimate Conversation, to couples seeking to enrich and/or heal their relationships. They now teach the practices to couples in the US and abroad ( Most recently Leon has partnered with long-time colleague Lori Austein to create Circles of Resilience.

Also check out Leon's TEDx talk on the Power of Listening.


andrea brown-Beyond Us and Them affiliated trainer

Andrea Brown

Andrea Brown, M.A., began her circle practice with Dolores LaChappelle in the early 1980s. Since then, Andrea has worked in the private sector, academia, and nonprofits and was a National Science Foundation and James Irvine Foundation fellow.

Certified as a council trainer, she has trained, mentored, and facilitated councils in both English and Spanish for participants in prisons, nonprofits, corporations, schools, and public offerings both locally and internationally, including in Colombia and Mexico.

Most recently, Andrea has brought Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into her council practice. Specifically, she has been holding space for multiracial councils.

Kate Bunney

Kate Bunney

Kate was born and raised in the UK. Surrounded by water on all sides, she learnt to swim and sail as soon as she could. From an early age she witnessed many disparities in our human world – and began searching for the places where change was happening, for the better.

She has worked in safe houses for women and children experiencing domestic violence, adults with learning difficulties, schools, a child abuse study unit, with young offenders, young girls working on the streets and as a consultant for the UK police force, National Unions and NGO’s. She has a degree with honors in Psychology and a Masters in Women’s Studies with focus on epistemology leading her to carry the question of what do we do with what we know.

For 15 years, Kate lived in one of the most progressive communities in the world and held a focus on educational programs and consultancy for communities in conflict areas, fundraising, global networking, organizing and public relations. One of her main roles was organizing and walking Pilgrimage, through Israel and Palestine, Colombia and Europe, as a way of empowering social action and re-discovering our potential as agents of change.

In 2012 Kate co-founded Walking Water – a pilgrimage with the waters – as a way to inspire us to be in community, be in relation with the waters and the places we live and ultimately to experience the huge potential we all have to create change. Walking Water already has a strong global following and is seen as a model in social action.

​Kate is a member of the Beyond Boundaries team, a council trainer and community consultant and is part of the Weaving Earth team in California.​

Leonelda Castillo de Urena

Leonelda Castillo de Urena

Leonelda is the founder of Leonela Castillo: Viviendo desde el Corazon in the Dominican Republic, an organization that offers a series of on-online and face to face workshops on personal growth, council facilitation and the creation of new family and organizational cultures that have acceptance and equality at their core. In 2020, she started Corazonando podcast where she co-facilitates a weekly episode for speaking and listening from the heart in Spanish. Leonelda’s work gives us on-going access to a council consciousness—a new perspective—that stems from the heart’s energy and invites us to connect and manifest in life-giving ways.

Leonelda Castillo is a council trainer and facilitator, an educator with a PhD in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and a Masters from the School for International Training (SIT) where Council was deeply rooted in the methodology.  The MA program was deeply transformative for Leonelda, largely because of the power of the circle. Here, she learned to be with silence, to listen and speak from the heart, as well as to build true communities where people could co-create intentional spaces that also invite what’s emergent. All of this sent her heart ablaze and sparked a deep curiosity for the promises of council in our world today,

After several years of weaving Council into language classes, teacher training and administration at her Language Institute—ELI— in Santiago, DR, she stepped onto the Council Trainers’ Path to become a Certified Council Trainer. At the same time, she began her PhD at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), where she researched  what it means to carry council in our world today. The stories of council facilitators from all over the world along with the ideas of Biologist Dr. Humberto Maturana, showed that council allows us to build personal, family and work cultures that are more in alignment with our biological needs.

Yamin Chehin

Yamin Chehin

Yamin Chehin is a council trainer and facilitator, a doctor in Oriental Medicine, and has a bachelor’s degree in communications. She has explored a variety of philosophical and spiritual traditions that range from the descriptions shared by the Shamans of Ancient Mexico to Taoist and Buddhist teachings. These practices inform her work of partnering up with clients and groups to understand and meet with the healing potential implicit in the story enacted by the body.

Yamin has facilitated council circles in English and Spanish (her native language), for youth at risk, women, teen-age girls, and nonprofits. She lives and practices council at home with her family and co-leads monthly couple’s circles with her husband and life partner, Alan Mobley.

Hannah Eden Chodos

Hannah Eden Chodos

Hannah Eden Chodos is an actor, director, teaching artist, and council facilitator.  She has been a member of the Los Angeles-based theater company, The Actors’ Gang since 2004 and she is Program Manager for The Actors’ Gang Prison Project – working in partnership with currently and formerly incarcerated men and women to bring ensemble theater into prisons throughout the state of California as a vehicle for rehabilitation, and working to effect systems change by partnering with and centering those who are systems-impacted.

She is a founding member of RE^ATHETA Collective ( – an international community of artists committed to life-long learning and embodied relational theatre practice.

Hannah holds a BA in Religion from Dartmouth College and an MA in Ensemble Theatre from Rose Bruford College (London), where she trained with the Polish company, Song of the Goat Theater (Teatr Piesn Kozla).  Her work integrates ensemble theatre practice and modes of facilitation that bring people together to listen.

​Jeannie Daly-Gunter

​Jeannie Daly-Gunter

Jeannie Daly-Gunter, M.A., P.C.C., has been a facilitator of personal and professional growth programs, a coach and a ceremonialist for twenty-five years. She has worked nationally and internationally as a workshop facilitator, rites-of-passage guide, organizational consultant, and trainer.

She is a certified Shadow Work® facilitator, a Certified Council Trainer and Facilitator through The Ojai Foundation, a certified professional coach, and a Voice Dialogue coach. She has been a rites-of-passage guide since 1999 and is a vision fast guide trained through the School of Lost Borders. She is Co-Founder of the Center for Soul Actualization and Transformative Loving with her husband Mark.

Jeannie is also the author of The Love Map: Reignite, Reconnect and Repair your Relationship, a book based on medicine wheel teachings for couples. She is also the CEO and Founding Director of Transformative Training, an organization that provides executive coaching and training for conscious businesses in leadership development, communication skills, conflict management, council, and team development.

In her free time Jeannie loves to spend time in nature, hike, travel, salsa dance and drive with the top down! Carpe diem!

Goreti da Silva

Goreti da Silva

Goreti da Silva is an educator, actor, teaching artist, drama coach, council facilitator and council trainer.   She is a first generation Canadian born to Portuguese parents and an immigrant to the United States.

In Canada, she was a High School teacher in the inner city.  When she moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career she studied with Camille Ameen who invited Goreti to join the Inside Out Community Arts program.  This is when she first heard about and experienced Council circles; Goreti was home.  It was a way to build deep community quickly.  Years later, Goreti became a certified council facilitator and then trainer.

She has co-facilitated Council 1 trainings, and trained some non-profits in the Organizational Wellness Project.  Goreti has facilitated council circles for underserved children in schools, teen mentors, people in transitional housing, strangers in the wider community, friends and family.

Kirstin Edelglass

Kirstin Edelglass

Kirstin is a co-founder of the New England Council Collective and a certified trainer in the Way of Council tradition.  As a wilderness guide, meditation teacher, and psychosynthesis counselor, she has facilitated councils for a wide variety of groups over the last twenty-five years.

Council practice is central to Touching the Earth, the annual 3-week meditation retreat she now co-leads on her homestead in Marlboro, Vermont through the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

Kirstin is also a facilitator of the Work That Reconnects (developed by Joanna Macy) and leads workshops for people whose despair for the world animates their work in the movements for social justice and ecological sustainability.


Chris Elder

Chris Elder is passionate about authentic communication as a path to deeper relationships, greater social understanding, and a more peaceful world. She has been facilitating council circles since 1995 in various settings, including schools, corporations, prisons, and nonprofit organizations. Currently she facilitates circles for a global high-tech company, and is also active in our prison program, Council for Insight, Compassion and Resilience and Organizational Wellness Project.

In these ventures and during three decades working in public and private schools, Chris has often specialized in using council to support diversity and inclusion within organizations. She was a founding member of New Roads School in Santa Monica, where for 18 years she served as a teacher and middle school director. New Roads School is dedicated to diversity and social justice, and council has been a cornerstone of the school from its inception. In her time there, Chris facilitated weekly classroom councils with students as well as councils with parents, faculty, and staff.

Previously, Chris was a bilingual teacher and BTSA mentor in the Los Angeles and Hawthorne Unified School Districts. A life-long learner who has attended 14 colleges over the years, Chris earned her bachelor’s degree in communications (magna cum laude) from the University of California at San Diego and a master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica.​

Siri Gunnarson

Siri Gunnarson

Siri Gunnarson (she/they) was first called to council through community, following the longing  for a sense of belonging and wholeness. Siri apprenticed with Gigi Coyle and others, focusing on cross-cultural council explorations, serving organizations and guiding Nature of Council.

Siri has moved with purpose between places, projects, organizations, and programs with transformational vision including Three Creeks, Tamera, The Ojai Foundation, Ways of Council, School of Lost Borders, Soma Source, Naropa University LEAPNOW Gap Year Program, and Beyond Boundaries: an intergenerational ‘response team for our times’.

Siri is a mentor, coach and consultant, currently offering council to non-proffits having hard discussions about boundaries, difference and organizational development. Currently Siri serves on the Youth Passageways Stewardship Council and Education and Consulting Collective. A deep believer in ‘nature as teacher’ and self-study as ways of insight into the human being, Siri is passionate about love and community, liberation and equity, embodiment and movement, and permaculture and water.

Visit Siri’s website at:

Aura Hammer

Aura Hammer

Aura Hammer is a teacher of sustainability, an activist with Women Wage Peace, and is working to extend the ways of council to a wider spectrum in order to encompass a vision of possibility. Born in New York in 1957, Aura moved to Israel with her parents and siblings in 1973. She studied architecture at the Technion in Haifa and worked as an architect for many years until she discovered her passion for working for peace.

She began by co-founding a local grassroots co-existence group in Galilee, studying facilitation and organization, and facilitating women’s groups, summer camps, dialog groups, and twin-kindergartens. Through her studies and work with Arab and Jewish women she met Ronit Rinat, and discovered council in 2004.

After studying council, she became involved in Amutat Maagal Hakshava, both as a facilitator and as a member of the Leadership Council. She is a long-time council trainer who is committed to living council and bringing council to everyone in her life.

Lotara James

Lotara James

Lotara was first introduced to the practice of council while attending The Oak Grove School in Ojai, California. The invitation to listen deeply and share from the heart was something that would influence the rest of her life.

Having found meaningful work assisting people on their healing journey through her work as a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner, she still felt called to connect with people in the wider community. The answer came in 2017 with the opportunity to become a council trainer through Center for Council’s Training Leadership Initiative. Since then, Lotara has worked in non-profit, private and recovery spaces with people of all ages and continues to be inspired by the discovery, building, growing and healing that can happen in the circle.

Currently living in Victoria, Australia, Lotara continues to practice council, study permaculture and explore new methods for body-mind healing.

​Paul LeVasseur

​Paul LeVasseur

As an educator for over forty years, and a community activist for twenty, Paul LeVasseur continually explores ways to incorporate dialogic practices, including Way of Council, to enhance deep understanding across differences and foster vibrant, sustainable communities and relationships.

He regularly uses Way of Council in a broad range of personal and professional contexts: the workplace, academic classes, meetings with local activists, in his relationship with his life partner, Bonnie Mennell, and any context that calls for deep listening and authentic speaking.

Paul teaches graduate level classes in council at SIT Graduate Institute in Vermont and offers council trainings in the New England/New York area. He is a certified trainer in The Way of Council, and co-founder of The New England Council Collective.

Kate Lipkis

Kate Lipkis

Kate Lipkis has been working in communication dynamics for almost 50 years. She is a former advertising copywriter, home-birth midwife’s assistant, and environmental activist. She began facilitating circles in 1999 and helped establish council programs in five public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.


Currently, she works as a trainer, facilitator and mentor for Circle Ways and was previously a trainer for Beyond Us and Them (formerly Center for Council’s) Organizational Wellness Project and the prison program, Council for Insight, Compassion and Resilience.


Kate has been a member of the Council of Advisors for The Ojai Foundation and its Trainers Mentoring Circle. During the pandemic, she increased her online offerings, including council trainings, which will continue to be offered virtually. Her website lists a variety of council programs, both online and in person.

David Listenberger

David Listenberger

David Listenberger came to council through his work in music. Hired as a vocal arts instructor at Crossroads School in 1999, David quickly found a home practicing and witnessing the power of council with students, parents, teachers, alum – all members of a school community. David has a B.A. in English from Chapman University, and an M.S. in Education from the University of Southern California.

He is currently Chair of the Life Skills program at Crossroads School and has facilitated councils for all manners of groups for over 18 years, including men's circles, women's circles, circles of currently and formerly incarcerated, religious and Rites of Passage circles.

David is a firm believer in the power of ceremony and ritual in everyday life; and is specifically interested in the intersection of art, creative self-expression, and council; utilizing the council circle to enable greater levels of openness and radical honesty in all who choose the path.

John McCluskey

John McCluskey

John W. McCluskey, teacher, council carrier, activist, trainer, principal of Centennial Middle School, in Boulder, Colorado, co-founded the Colorado Center for Council Practice in 1996. He has been working to change the way we think about education and schools since 1989. Council practice has played a critical role in his efforts since 1991.

He is a long-time faculty member with the PassageWorks Institute. John has held council in diverse settings for youth, educators, men, couples, civic groups, and has been instrumental in bringing council as a practice into many public and independent schools in Colorado and beyond.

John is living in council with his wife and three children in Longmont, Colorado.

Bonnie Mennell-Beyond us and them affiliated trainer

Bonnie Mennell

Bonnie Mennell's work in and for the world is informed by her many years of language teaching, teacher training, teacher supervision and program management in diverse educational contexts around the world, her studies of and uses of Psychosynthesis in education, Vipassana meditation, Dialogue practice, council practice, her work as a visual artist and the stewardship with her partner, Paul LeVasseur, of a beautiful 10 acres of hilltop land in Putney, Vermont. Weekly council walks and morning check-ins have been a central and life-giving part of their 43-year relationship.

Her consulting work in education, group dynamics and team/community building has allowed her to offer Way of Council as both explicit and implicit parts of the teacher training, curriculum development and team building work she does in educational settings (both private and public), non-profit organizations and community groups around the US and overseas. In 1996, she co-founded the New England Council Collective:

She is an adjunct professor at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Alan Mobley

Alan Mobley

Alan Mobley is Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Criminal Justice at San Diego State University. He teaches courses in law and society, community-based service learning, and restorative justice. His research explores the security dimensions of global interdependence and social sustainability, particularly as they affect the size and scope of corrections populations.

He has a deep commitment to experiential education, participatory action research, and peer-driven communicative strategies. Alan is a founding member of All Of Us Or None, an organization working to restore full civil rights to the formerly incarcerated.

He is also a practitioner-in-residence at the Sweetwater Zen Center in National City, California and Carrier of Council at the Ojai Foundation.

Taylor Morgan

Taylor Morgan

Taylor Morgan spent several years as a morning radio host before studying various healing arts. Experiencing Council for the first time was a revelation: after all those years of striving to find the "right" thing to say to engage or entertain, she discovered how powerful listening can be.

Taylor is a Certified Council Trainer, writer, creative coach, massage practitioner, and ceremony officiant. The co-founder of Circle Work Coaching, she offers council programs for corporations and non-profits, as well as community circles. She is the founder of Kinetic Creativity, which provides coaching and support for writers, integrating the principles of deep listening and authentic expression.

Taylor has used and taught council in schools and prisons and has facilitated ceremonies for weddings, memorials, and other significant events.

Nora Novak

Nora Novak

Nora was introduced to council in 2015 when she was mentoring young adults transitioning out of foster care. Ever since, she has been on a vigorous path to deepening her understanding and utilization of the practice. Her career in corporate settings and the entertainment industry allows her to communicate and connect with a range of people; as a certified Facilitator and Junior Trainer, she’s had the honor of working with (among others) teachers, lawyers, chaplaincy students, and various creative types.

Being a refugee from Vietnam, Nora is familiar with adversity and a desire to belong. She is energized by creativity and loves to use art and imagination in her council circles. She also finds much gratification in facilitating dyadic councils.


Kristy Pace

Kristy Pace, M.A. is a life long lover of circles of sharing. She has been cultivating community through theatre, artivism, and volunteerism for over 20 years. Her deep respect and desire to connect to the earth and all of its beings led her to hear the call of the circle and the Center for Council's Trainer Leadership Initiative.

As a Certified Council Trainer and Facilitator she holds space for families, friends, colleagues, students and communities to listen and speak from their hearts, building bridges of connection, communication and empathy. With a Masters in Communications and Performing Arts from Emerson College, she continually extends this invitation to share personal stories and practice deep listening into her work as an educator, coach and Playback Theatre Practitioner.

Judith Piazza

Judith Piazza

Judith Piazza served The Ojai Foundation as Program Director from 2010 through 2016, and has been facilitator for TOF youth and adult programs for 15 years. Her exploration into the mysteries and spirit of council has deepened exponentially over time.

She has experience weaving council into Rites of Passage retreats, nature-based council retreats, gender-based gatherings, music and drum workshops, women's groups, university retreats, staff retreats, conflict resolution, corporate groups, ongoing staff circles, and more.

Her deep respect and joy in council as practice has been grounded by her recognition that listening is an act of love, and that opening a space for sacred communication provides opportunities not often experienced in today’s world.

Find out more at She can be reached at

Lise Ransdell

Lise Ransdell

Lise Ransdell, M.A., is a Certified Council Trainer with Center for Council and Council in Schools. She began in council circles 18 years ago at Palms Middle School. A group facilitator, trainer, presenter and coach, Lise comes from a professional foundation of over 20 years experience in intercultural dialogue and human relations.

Lise has been an invited presenter at many conferences, exploring the complexities of race and culture in a changing world. She holds a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations from Antioch University and the Intercultural Communication Institute.

Jane Raphael

Jane Raphael

Jane is a thirty-year veteran Los Angeles Unified School District teacher with National Board Certification and a council trainer specializing in primary grades. Jane began using council 13 years ago to build an inclusive community in her classroom and deepen children’s connection to the academic curriculum. She uses council as a vehicle for developing students’ social, emotional, physical and academic potential.

She has been a pioneer in fostering full school implementation of a culture of council by including circles for school staff, for parents and families, and with community members. She has used council for school governance, student leadership, and as a part of a restorative approach to school discipline.

Jane has developed curriculum for our youngest learners, as well as for parents and teachers.

Jaime Reichner

Jaime Reichner

Jaime Reichner, M.A. is a teaching artist, facilitator, and arts integration specialist. In 2007, she sat in her first council circle as part of the artist faculty for Inside Out Community Arts and has since participated and facilitated circles for youth, educators, and non-profit organizations. Jaime was honored to participate in the first cohort of Center for Council’s (now Beyond Us & Them) Trainer Leadership Initiative.


She has a Master’s degree in Applied Theatre Arts (USC) and continues to explore the connection between council, Theatre for Social Justice, and Liberation Arts.

Marc Rosner

Marc Rosner

Marc Rosner, JD, is a council trainer, a restorative justice/restorative practices trainer and facilitator, and the founder and director of Circle Ways – an organization dedicated to bringing council and restorative practices to schools. He is also a lawyer and mediator in private practice, providing conflict resolution services to families, businesses, organizations, schools, and communities. ​

Adam Rumack

Adam Rumack

Adam is the director of Mysore Oakland Yoga School, founder of The Open Circle consultancy, and former Executive Director of The Ojai Foundation. He has been practicing council since 1996 as a student of Crossroads High School and has since incorporated council into all he does.

Anita Samaha

Anita Samaha

Ani Samaha has been leading circles with corporate teams, the LGBTQ community, and various schools and universities for 15 years. Before becoming a circle facilitator in 2006 she taught extracurricular classes and also ran the outdoor program at a semester abroad high school in New Zealand.

She fell in love with circle practices in 2006 when she began working with the Ojai Foundation. In 2017 she became a circle trainer- leading trainings for the public, teachers, graduate students, and incarcerated persons. In addition to her circle work, Ani has a Masters Degree in Chinese Medicine and is an avid outdoor enthusiast.

Lui Sánchez

Lui Sánchez

Lui Sánchez is a Certified Council Trainer and Facilitator. In 2009, he was introduced to council through the Inside Out Community Arts program that serves to empower youth with the tools, confidence, and inspiration to make a positive difference in their lives and their communities through the arts.

Lui now administers this program for P.S. ARTS as Director of Extended Learning. Lui has also established himself as an artist working in various mediums and fields throughout Los Angeles with professional and volunteer experience in creating and implementing visual and performing arts projects and events.

He is a member of Company of Angels where he spearheads their arts community program that provides theater expression for adult disenfranchised members of various Los Angeles communities. Lui is continually inspired by the stories and emotions that the practice of council root in all his work with youth and adults.
… they all give me
they share me
they trust me
that I will find the roots of my own story – in my own indigenous
of where councils are laid …​

Ann Phillips Seide, MD

Ann Phillips Seide, MD Phillips Seide is a practicing internal medicine physician at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California, with a focus on Integrative Medicine. She has co-led council training workshops in Auschwitz, Rwanda, Santa Fe, Ojai, Chicago,  Los Angeles, Honolulu, Salinas Valley State Prison, and Greyston Foundation, in Yonkers, NY.

Ann has facilitated council circles at Zen Peacemaker Bearing Witness Retreats in Poland and Bosnia, as well as in her own family and with groups of nurses, military veterans and incarcerated people.

Ann obtained her MD from Loyola University Chicago, then went into the US Navy for residency in internal medicine at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. She subsequently served as an internist in Charleston, SC, where she was an initial innovator in the field of Hospitalist medicine; she was honorably discharged as Lieutenant Commander just prior to 9/11.

A life-long learner and lover of "important talk," as her father called it, Ann has pursued her interest in palliative and end-of-life care by seeking out further training at Upaya in its chaplaincy program, Being with Dying program, and GRACE trainings.

In her medical practice she is committed to finding ways in which council practice can address the syndromes of burn-out and isolation felt so deeply throughout the healthcare system.

Ann is a Fellow of The University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, a member of Zen Center of Los Angeles, a steward of the Zen Peacemaker Order and an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at California Lutheran University, where she teaches a course on The Medical Ethics of Living and Dying. She is the mother of three budding young adults, who also finds time to enjoy the practice of yoga and the garden she created with her husband Jared.

Jared Seide

Jared Seide

​Jared Seide is the Executive Director of Beyond Us & Then and the author of Where Compassion Begins. He has designed, piloted and coordinated council-based programs in prisons, assisted living facilities, youth groups and a variety of non-profit, faith-based organizations, social service and law enforcement agencies, including the:

  • Co-Mentoring Project, for emancipated foster youth,
  • Organizational Wellness Project, for the staff of scores of community-based organizations,
  • Council for Insight, Compassion & Resilience, active in more than twenty prisons throughout California and winner of the American Correctional Association’s Innovations in Corrections award,
  • Trainer Leadership Initiative, supporting emerging council leaders serving impacted communities, and
  • The council-based Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resilience (POWER) Training Program for law enforcement and correctional officers.
  • Compassion, Attunement & Resilience Education (CARE) for Healthcare Professionals is a program he developed with Dr. Ann Philips Seide that focuses on burnout and dysregulation amongst physicians, nurses and other first responders and utilizes innovations mindfulness science and compassionate communication techniques like council to support a culture of professional wellness in healthcare.

Jared has coordinated, mentored and facilitated council programs at over a dozen schools in Southern California and has led trainings and retreats focusing on reconciliation and community-building around the world.  Jared directed the Center for Council Practice initiative of The Ojai Foundation, the antecedent of Center for Council.

He co-led the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Conference on integrating council and SRM in California and Rwandan prisons and was a Resident Fellow at the Bellagio Center.

He has been a presenter at conferences and seminars, speaking on the integration of council into varied arenas, including:

  • South by Southwest,
  • California Rehabilitation Oversight Board,
  • Association of Change Management Professionals,
  • Bellagio Fellows Gathering,
  • Monterey County Community Restorative Justice Commission and the
  • Restorative Justice in Motion Conference, at Eastern Methodist University.

Jared’s educational background includes a BA with high honors from Brown University.

Prior to his work with Beyond Us & Them (and previously Center for Council), Jared led careers in the entertainment industry and the corporate world. He is a member of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, a graduate of the Upaya Institute Chaplaincy Program and has been a Spirit Holder for Zen Peacemaker Bearing Witness Retreats around the world.

Find out more about Jared, his authored books and publications here

Sheila Siegel, Ph.D.

Sheila Siegel, Ph.D.

Dr. Sheila Siegel has been a council trainer for the past three years. While she was at Harvard Westlake School as the school psychologist, she used council with Peer Support trainees and students in her Choices and Challenges class.

After retiring, she began working as a volunteer with Free the Slaves, traveling to India, Haiti, Nepal, and Ghana teaching lay staff about trauma-informed mental health care for freed slaves, as well as offering Council Training 1. She worked to help those involved in the daily struggle to liberate others develop counseling, body calming, and self-care techniques that would make their lives and the lives of those they rescue much easier.

Currently, she works as the clinical supervisor at Safe Place for Youth (SPY), a drop-in center for homeless youth located in Venice, California. She is involved in bringing the practice of council to her work.

Sharon Shay Sloan

Sharon Shay Sloan

Sharon Shay Sloan (she/her) is a second-generation community steward committed to nurturing communities and communities of practice. In 2007, she went through her first community-supported rite of passage, met The Ojai Foundation, and began working in international conservation. Since that time, she has engaged in the practice and evolution of the field of rites of passage, including with Beyond Boundaries, Wilderness Reflections, Global Passageways, and Youth Passageways.

In 2012, she became a council trainer and the founding director of the Indigenous & Community Lands & Seas program for The WILD Foundation, working to build a bridge between the mainstream conservation movement and Indigenous Peoples. Through this work, and other opportunities over 20 years, Shay has had the honor of learning from and working with Indigenous Peoples from more than a hundred nations.

Shay’s early work focused on youth development, and for 18 years, she worked to expand youth presence and leadership at Bioneers. She is co-editor of the book Protecting Wild Nature on Native Lands and co-author of the report “Cross-Cultural Protocols in Rites of Passage: Guiding Principles, Themes and Inquiry.”

She currently serves as Co-Director of The Ojai Foundation. When not working, Shay can be found in the ceramics studio, working in the garden, and enjoying her son, Kian.

Alexis Slutzky

Alexis Slutzky

Alexis Slutzky, MFT, is a mentor, guide, facilitator and ceremonialist whose work explores cultural regeneration through practices of council, dream work, nature reverence and connection, grief tending and community ritual.

Working with soul through the frameworks of healing, initiation and liberation informs her work and she is passionate about peace, justice and beauty. Alexis has been practicing council since her involvement with The School of Lost Borders and The Ojai Foundation in 1998.

She also holds an MA from Pacifica Graduate Institute, has been licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and serves as adjunct faculty at Antioch University.

Alexis is based in Santa Barbara, and offers groups, trainings and one-on-one mentoring out of her private practice, Wild Belonging, and in affiliation with other organizations

Sofia Rose Smith

Sofia Rose Smith

Sofia Rose Smith is a writer, facilitator, teacher and council trainer. She is rooted in a lineage of teachings that center healing as a form of justice. Sofia is committed to transforming the conditions of oppression and injustice that do harm as much as she is committed to practices of healing and transformation at the individual level.

Council found Sofia while she was a service provider at an internationally renowned LGBT organization, working with queer and trans youth of color. Council became a practice that was supportive for Sofia as a service provider, and impactful for her clients and staff. Close to a decade later, Sofia has become a steward of this practice, and is excited to be among the group of trainers bringing this to communities on the frontlines.

Sofia is also proud to co-host retreats for women of color as well as a transformative program called the Queer + Feminist Visionary Immersion. For more on her current projects, visit her website.

Lillian Soderman

Lillian Soderman

Lillian discovered council in April of 2011 at the memorial service of a friend, which was being lead by John McCluskey, a veteran council trainer. The two immediately connected and decided to reconnect at a Council Training 1 in the summer. After this training, she was hooked.

She left her career as an alcohol and drug counselor in Portland, Oregon and moved to Los Angeles where she could be closer to the council action. A few years later, she was certified as a trainer. She was a part of the pilot prison program, which brought the practice to a Northern California prison. She also joined the youth program and continues to facilitate high school rites of passage trips for Los Angeles students.

She now resides in the mountains of Colorado, but frequently visits Southern California to continue the work. When she's not practicing council or being a data nerd consultant, Lillian is a musician and plays shows frequently around Colorado.

Irasha Talifero

Irasha Talifero

Irasha has been connected to The Ojai Foundation since its beginning in 1975. She has made her home in Ojai and has been a naturalist ever since, working with projects such as M.E.S.A., Naturalists at Large, Camp Whittier, Forest Hills, Taft Garden, and Wolf.

She has worked as a substitute teacher for the Oak Grove School since the early 80s. Through her work as an educator and a naturalist, she has designed many programs over the years, all starting and ending with council.

Her most powerful experiences are with “at risk youth” and newly released prisoners. She looks forward to deepening her practice with others already on this path. She is presently serving on the Trainer's Mentor Circle.

Bonnie Tamblyn

Bonnie Tamblyn

Bonnie Tamblyn is a Certified Council Trainer and Facilitator with Beyond Us & Them and Circle Ways. She served for three years in an advisory body called the Nine for the The Ojai Foundation Board. She has written council curriculum for the Council in Schools Program.

Bonnie first interned as a council facilitator in 1993 at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences and then taught there for seventeen years in the Human Development Department. She facilitated council at Palms Middle School, where she met Joe Provisor, and brought the program to Santa Monica Alternative School (SMASH) and Archer School for Girls.

She has conducted yearly Council Intensives for GiRLFeST Hawaii, whose mission is to prevent violence against women and girls through education and art. Bonnie is the Council Mentor for the Katherine Michiels School in San Francisco, and currently serves on the Trainers Mentoring Circle, a certifying body for Trainers and Facilitators of the Ojai Foundation’s Way of Council Path.

A singer-songwriter as well, Bonnie’s passion is building community and giving voice to the human story, whether told in a council circle, or shared on stage with a guitar in her arms. “While I was an Artist in Residence at SMASH in the 80’s, I discovered Council through my colleagues at Crossroads. As a music and art teacher, I found council to be wonderful process to develop authentic expression, and find meaning through our shared realities and stories.


Whether through council or music, I love bringing people together to celebrate life and tell our Stories. I embrace the harmony and discord alike on the journey we take together. I am delighted to share my curriculum with new teachers and council facilitators. The Ojai Foundation has been my heart-place for personal growth as well. I am honored to be included in this circle of extraordinary individuals.”

Inez Tiger

Inez Tiger

Inez Tiger, Director of Wellness at The Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy, holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Originally from South Africa, Inez has over three decades of experience working as an elementary and middle school teacher, as a facilitator and trainer in the practice of council, has been a middle school counselor, and a middle school principal. Currently, as the Director of Wellness, she develops the Social Emotional Learning curriculum for K-8th grade; coaches teachers, students and parents; and affects school culture.

Specializing in the areas of self-regulation and trauma, Inez has become increasingly interested in Resiliency-Informed practices and is a teacher of The Community Resiliency Model® (CRM).

Inez is committed to supporting people in creating their new narratives through stories of resilience, connection and wellbeing.

Ray Tucker

Ray Tucker

Ray Tucker is a Certified Council Trainer for Beyond Us & Them and Council In Schools (CIS). In 1995, after an extended career in law enforcement, he successfully completed comprehensive training to become a practitioner of council. Since that time, he has convened council circles in a variety of diverse communities from public to private schools, special needs school for the deaf, law enforcement, foster youth in transition and many more.

He co-authored the 6th grade curriculum currently used in the council training manual for educators. Ray’s participation in the practice of council has inspired him to share the process with anyone who will take time to listen.

Stefani Valadez

Stefani Valadez

Stefani is a Certified Council Trainer in the Ojai Foundation Lineage. She has worked with the Way of Council for 10 years in public school classrooms in LAUSD Grades 6-11, 2 years as Seminal Team for Council Practices in classroom at Archer School for Girls grades 6-10. She’s led council retreats for middle school students and for Crossroads Seniors Rites of passage at the Ojai Foundation. She is a Rock’n Roll Grandma of 3 who still performs as a singer-songwriter, guitarist and percussionist singing in 5 languages with a diverse repertoire. Her travels led her to a love of World Music.

She was a panel participant and performer at the Parliament of World Religions held in Barcelona. Her World Music Ensemble performed for several years at the Los Angeles Sacred World Music Festival. Playing World Music sparked her interest in leading council trainings for Interfaith Educational Communities such as reGeneration. She leads a monthly women’s council in her home in Venice that is rich with women of various ages, hues and ethnicities. They have begun their 4th year together.

She facilitates for drop-in council at Council Heart and volunteers at California Institute for Women performing and leading musical activities. Stefani enjoys creating one of a kind jewelry pieces, herbal gardening, is a licensed Massage Therapist and a dedicated practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism.

She is also a Certified Qi Gong Instructor and lead Taoist/Buddhist Somatic Meditation and more information can be found on her website.

Jill Valle

Jill Valle

Jill Valle, MA, MFT began her council work in 2001 following her first training at The Ojai Foundation. Jill is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and holds a B.A. in Psychology from Boston College and a Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.

Jill spent two decades in schools as a counselor and health educator in both California and Boston creating life skills programs for grades 5-12 with Council as the foundation of the curriculum. She has led parent, student and faculty councils in addition to Council based retreats for adolescents and young adults focusing on issues of identity, body image, rites of passage, sexuality and leadership.

An artist and photographer, Jill utilizes the council process in her “I Am A Woman Who” photography campaign. The campaign seeks to empower women and girls worldwide through cathartic stream of consciousness writing, storytelling and portraiture.

Jill is currently the Senior Manager of the Council Program at Snap Inc. where she has spent the past 5 years designing, scaling and growing a global Council program in over 30 countries.

Alea Wade

Alea Wade

Alea Wade, B.A., is an educator, certified council trainer, and community organizer. She creates and collaborates on social and emotional programs that support community, growth, and empowerment. Alea received an undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara with studies in Philosophy, English, and Black Studies. She was first introduced to the practice of council at age 9 and deepened her work with council after completing her undergraduate studies in 2014. Since her introduction to The Ojai Foundation tradition of council, she has worked with children, community organizations, schools, teams, corporate groups, and individuals - facilitating and training others on the principles and practices of council and working to further build bridges of access at the intersections of healing, council, social equity.

Alea is the co-founder of Blk Crcl – a community organization aimed to prioritize access to council and other healing practices to Black people while supporting mental health, personal development, and the generational healing of Black communities who have been impacted by systems of oppression.

She also serves as the Program Associate for Beyond Us & Them and the Administrator for the Trainer’s Mentoring Circle. And she has worked and collaborated with The Ojai Foundation, Youth Passageways, Crossroads School, Brentwood School, Campbell Hall, Celebrate Life, UCSB, UCLA, The Youth Justice Coalition-LA, Deutsch, Snap Inc., and Independent Living Resource Center.

Julia Wasson

Julia Wasson

Julia Wasson is a National Board Certified third-grade teacher and mentor teacher in Los Angeles. A veteran council trainer, she trains school faculties and organizations, and collaborates on a variety of council-based lesson plans and activities. She has written about Council for Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Huffington Post.

Julia is particularly interested in how the council storytelling culture promotes students' language arts development.

Julia and her teaching partner share stories on their Huffington Post blog of the passionate and heartfelt people who contribute to Los Angeles.

Natalie White

Natalie White

Natalie Plachte White sat in her first council circle with educators in 1990 and knew immediately that this practice would change the way she taught, communicated, and listened in both her professional and personal life.

Now a Certified Council Trainer, Natalie is an engaged member of Beyond Us & them and Council In Schools.

She has worked in the leadership and classrooms of Mar Vista Elementary, and Palms, Daniel Webster, Paul Revere and Marlton Schools, and coordinated the Pressman Academy Middle School Council Program for many years.

She has also trained and mentored in some non-profits of the Organizational Wellness Project and trained one group of incarcerated people in the prison program, Council for Insight, Compassion and Resilience through the Center for Council (now Beyond Us & them).

Natalie earned both her BA in English and a California Secondary Teaching Credential from UCLA, and was a Language Arts teacher for 24 years. She has her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in West Los Angeles.

Jack Zimmerman

Jack Zimmerman

Jack Zimmerman holds a BA, MA and PhD from Yale University, Harvard University, and the University of Southern California, respectively.

He is the co-author of Flesh and Spirit: The Mystery of Intimate Relationship (1998) and Jack and Jaquelyn: An Adventure in Evolutionary Intimacy (2014) with his life partner, Jaquelyn McCandless, and is the co-author of The Way of Council; Second Edition (2008) with Gigi Coyle.

His book of poems, An Exuberance of Love, includes images by South African artist Majak Bredell was published in 2017. Jack's new book, Love Beyond Boundaries: An Elder explores the Evolution of Intimacy, is available through Amazon and is about his relationship with Jaquelyn after her death in 2014 and intimacy in the senior years.

Jack held several leadership roles at The Ojai Foundation over a period of 30 years, including President and Co-Director. Jack co-founded the Oakwood Secondary School in Los Angeles in 1962 and in 1979 started Heartlight School in Los Angeles where the use of council in schools was initiated. The success of the council program at Heartlight led to council programs in other independent and public schools in California, and in other parts of the US, as well as abroad. J

ack continues to mentor couples, singles, and small groups exploring the journey of intimacy as a spiritual path and a way of creating more conscious relational communities. At 90 the path of learning continues.


The short answer:  Explore the trainer certification process through this site.

The long answer:  The curriculum included in Beyond Us and Them's three levels of trainings form the backbone for the path to stewardship of the practice.  Certification as a Council Trainer involves completing those trainings, along with a rigorous practice and mentorship path, a period of practice, observation, internship and discernment, as well as integration into one's life and work.  

If you have completed at least one Council Training Level 1 (CT1) workshop and are interested in exploring the formal path to becoming a certified council trainer, contact us for more details.