Announcing Seattle Shambhala Center’s New Co-Directors

Dear Seattle Shambhala Community Members,

With warm hearts and a feeling of celebration, we are delighted to share with you the selection of Annica Holder and JoAnn Schindler as Co-Directors of Seattle Shambhala and to confirm that Annica and JoAnn have accepted the Council’s offer to serve in leading our community for the next two years.

We received multiple applications for the position, all from people who have been active in our local community and who showed great heart and devotion in stepping forward to apply in the midst of challenges related to upheaval at the center of our mandala. We have offered our sincere thanks to the candidates who were not selected, as well as our hopes that they will apply their considerable talents to providing leadership to our community in other ways.

Annica and JoAnn bring to their new roles a unique and powerful combination of qualifications, including excellent skills and extensive experience with both the day to day operations of the Center and its governance. For people who may not be aware, Annica has served as the Center’s Facilities Manager since 2017 and JoAnn as Governing Council Secretary since 2013. During the selection process, both of our new co-directors demonstrated not only the ability to work together in making the most of these skills and experience, but also tremendous inspiration for and dedication to preserving and building on the strengths of our community. Equally important was their evident passion for improving the community’s ability to prevent interpersonal harm and for actively working with people of color and those who may be marginalized because of their gender identity, sexual orientation or other factors.

For those of you who don’t know them, we’d like to share some additional biographical information:

  • Annica has been a member of Seattle Shambhala and an active volunteer since 2013 and has worked with multiple nonprofits. She has marketing, fundraising, donor development, and grant writing experience in the non-profit field. As half-time Facilities Manager of the Seattle Shambhala Center since July 2017, Annica has held a broad range of responsibilities, including facilities maintenance, volunteer support and coordination, program marketing, outreach, and supporting open house and other regular offerings. Her role also includes providing support to the satellite locations, affinity groups, childcare, the newsletter team, the membership team, the development coordinator, the Practice and Education Pillar, and the Governing Council. Annica is dedicated to the Shambhala dharma, the lineage, and the wellbeing of our sangha, and is committed to hearing, holding, and elevating the wide range of voices in our community.
  • Annica has been and will continue to be the hands-on, “go to” person to get things done at the Center. She will be leaving her non-Shambhala part-time job to take up her role as Co-Director, but will also continue as Seattle Shambhala Facilities Manager. Thus, she will be devoted to our sangha full time – you can expect to see a lot of her around the Center!
  • JoAnn has been a member and active volunteer at Seattle Shambhala since 2011, and Governing Council Secretary since 2013. She has a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology and an extensive background in organizational and leadership development, especially in times of change. For many years, JoAnn has been and continues to be an independent consultant supporting the design and delivery of organizational development efforts across a wide range of public and private sector clients throughout the U.S. She is also a co-director of the West Coast Regional Team of the Authentic Leadership in Action Institute (formerly known as the Shambhala Institute) of Naropa University, which is dedicated to bringing the teachings and practice of authentic leadership to our region. In addition, she has been active in a non-profit that helps people in economically disadvantaged countries around the world who are affected by global issues such as clean water, food security, economic development, education, and human trafficking.
  • JoAnn is a strong team player with the ability to hold the big picture and work with the details of a situation. She is a strong believer in feedback, open communication, and listening deeply as essential to the health of a community.

Together, Annica and JoAnn have the talents, skills, commitment, time, and sense of humor needed to guide our sangha forward in this challenging time. We are fortunate, indeed, that they are willing to take on the responsibilities of Co-Directors.

We would also like to share a bit about the process that resulted in their selection. This process was developed collaboratively and with significant input from many members of our community. It was designed with the intention of specifically acknowledging both the issues of power dynamics with which our larger international community is struggling and ongoing local discussions about the need to change the structure of our Center’s governance. As the CDSC shared with the community in its March 19th email, the process included the following very deliberate steps:

  1. Discussion, among many community members, as to what kind of leadership our center needs at this juncture;
  2. Development of a job description;
  3. Development of an application assessment process;
  4. Solicitation of applications;
  5. Organization of a Community Forum comprised of representatives of the sangha’s major stakeholder/interest groups;
  6. Scheduling of Community Forum and follow-up interviews of the applicants, with equal time given to all applicants;
  7. Provision of feedback from Community Forum members;
  8. Evaluation of all input received by the CDSC;
  9. Consideration of the merits of all applications; and
  10. Discussion leading to a recommendation.

The Governing Council signed off on this process and then worked carefully to assure a fair and objective evaluation of all of the candidates and to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, especially in light of the co-application for the Director position of Annica, who has worked closely with the Council, and JoAnn, who served on the Council and is the spouse of another Council Member, Sydney Munger. Both JoAnn and Sydney recused themselves from all Council discussions about the evaluation of the candidates and the CDSC recommendation. Council Members John Gilvar, Terry Jaworski, and Ladan Yalzadeh each participated in forums at which the candidates had considerable dialogue with representatives of the CDSC and the affinity groups identified by the CDSC. These three Council Members then received, reviewed, and approved the final CDSC recommendation.

We would like to note that in the process of choosing our new Co-Directors, numerous issues related to the governance of our community arose and were discussed by the CDSC, the participating Governing Council members, and Community Forum participants. These were debated as part of the Director search process, but this is only the beginning. Our new Co-Directors will need to lead the community in an ongoing discussion of issues of concern, as our sangha evolves in this new era of openness and change toward a more enlightened society. We hope that all sangha members will participate wholeheartedly in this continuing process.

Please join us in warmly congratulating and supporting Annica and JoAnn as they embark on their Center leadership journey.

Yours in the Vision of the Great Eastern Sun,

Andrea D’Asaro (Search Committee)
John Gilvar (Governing Council)
Stacy Hall de Gomez (Search Committee)
Randy Harris (Search Committee)
Keith Hitchcock (Search Committee, Chair)
Terry Jaworski (Governing Council)
Alan Ness (Search Committee)
Ladan Yalzadeh (Governing Council)

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