Leadership

All Common Ground leaders, teachers, and facilitators follow Common Ground’s Ethical Standards for Harmonious Community Life.

Staff

Guiding Teachers

Shelly Graf

Shelly has been practicing at Common Ground since 2003. In May 2021 they graduated from Insight Meditation Society’s four-year teacher training program and in October 2021 they were hired as Common Ground’s Co-Guiding Teacher. Currently they teach a variety of programs at the center including co-leading residential retreats with Mark Nunberg and Wynn Fricke. Shelly’s administrative role involves developing and clarifying the center’s vision, policies, and priorities. In addition, they take the lead role in overseeing what programs are offered at the Minneapolis center. Professionally, Shelly has been a clinician and administrator in the Social Work and mental health fields since 2005. They have a special interest in waking up to whiteness as part of this total path of awakening. Whatever Shelly’s role may be, they will always be a grateful student of Buddhist Practice first.

Mark Nunberg

Mark began his practice in 1982 and has been teaching meditation since 1990. He co-founded Common Ground Meditation Center in Minneapolis in 1993 with Wynn Fricke and continues to serve as Co-Guiding Teacher along with Shelly Graf. Mark has studied with both Asian and Western teachers and finds deep inspiration in the teachings of the Buddha. Mark practiced as a monk for five months in Burma and completed four three-month retreats at Insight Meditation Society Retreat Center, as well as many months of intensive retreat practice at The Forest Refuge. Mark continues to be a grateful student of Buddhist practice.

Office Manager

Gabe Keller Flores, gabe@commongroundmeditation.orgGabe Keller

Gabe is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the center, including volunteer coordination, communications support, and program support.

Gabe is a dedicated dharma practitioner, having spent about one year of his life doing intensive retreat practice. He’s been practicing at Common Ground since 2008, and his appreciation for the dharma continues to deepen. Gabe is also a teacher at the center, currently leading the teen group, the retreat for millenials, and subbing for the Weekly Practice Groups.

Bookkeeping Manager

Gail Iversonbookkeeper@commongroundmeditation.orgGail Iverson

As bookkeeper, Gail is in charge of ensuring that all donations are recorded and deposited properly and that the center’s bills are paid. The bookkeeper also sits on the Finance Committee, which does budgeting and oversees the financial health of Common Ground.

Gail has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 1987 and practicing at Common Ground since 2002. Her first volunteer position was being in charge of the bulletin board at the previous building. Since then, she has been an integral member of our community and served in many important roles. She was chair of the Board of Directors for 6 years. She currently is part of the Operational Team for Common Ground’s retreat property in Wisconsin. She also is one of our main teachers and has led the Intro to Mindfulness Meditation workshop for many years.

Board of Directors

Ramesh Sairam, Board Chair

I have been part of the Common Ground sangha since 2006 and joined the Board of Directors in 2016.  I am a Geriatric psychiatrist and have a deep professional interest in understanding the complex and dynamic interplay between our minds and bodies that often underlie many physical and mental health illnesses.  My spiritual practice too is guided by the BuRamesh Sairamddha’s advice about the deep wisdom inherent in our bodies – “within this very fathom-long body, with its perceptions and inner sense, lies the world, the cause of the world, the cessation of the world and the path that leads to the cessation of the world.”  I share some of my experiences through workshops at Common Ground on mindfulness and chronic pain, and finding wisdom in our bodies.
I am drawn to Buddha Dharma by the simplicity and universality of its message, and its focus on practice and self-reliance, without the compulsion to believe specific creeds or dogmas.  I especially value the importance given to ethical conduct, compassion and generosity.
Contact Ramesh and the board via board@commongroundmeditation.org

Arleta Little, Vice-Chair

I have been practicing meditation at Common Ground for more than 18 years and have deep gratitude for the teachings and community at the center. I was introduced to Theravada Buddhism in 1993 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, where I participated in intensive silent retreats at Wat Suan Mok and other temples. I have maintained both meditation and retreat as vital foundations for my spiritual practice. Buddhist teachings nourish my development along with the teachings and writings of Howard Thurman, Thich Nhat Hanh, rev. angel Kyoto williams, and others. My practice also includes social justice work, writing, yoga and other liberation practices. I am trained in social work and public affairs and have worked in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors for over 20 years. I am a published poet and essayist and currently working on a collection of daily meditations. I am a member of the BIPOC Sanghas for Direct Action, a network of BIPOC meditation practitioners that organized following the murder of George Floyd. I view board service as a form of community organizing. I have served as a past board member for the Dwelling in the Woods Hermitage Retreat. I currently serve as a board member for Headwaters Foundation for Justice and TruArtSpeaks. I am happy to serve the community as a board member at Common Ground.

Rick Condon, Treasurer

I was first introduced to the Dhamma on a meditation retreat in 2009 and in 2015 started practicing meditation and studying the Dhamma at Common Ground. Since, I have been participating in the Buddhist studies program and regularly joining weekend and residential retreats.

I am a dedicated practitioner and my practice continues to evolve. Currently I am working with perceptions of emptiness, loving kindness, and compassion in meditation and daily life. I am deeply grateful for the programming and teachings that have been freely and generously offered by the center.

I have served on the Finance Committee at Common Ground for the past 2 years and have recently joined the Board of Directors as the Treasurer. I also serve as a Practice Leader at the Prairie Farm retreat center.

In the community I work as a small business owner and offer my time and support to a number of non profit organizations who aim to reduce the effects of global warming and help communities struggling to adapt to the challenging consequences from these effects.

I am married and parent to our four children and two cats. I plan on retiring this year from my business to spend more time with my family, on practice, and in support of the inspiring work that many of the non-profits in our community are engaged in.

Phillip Cryan, Secretary

Phillip Cryan serves as Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, a union of more than 40,000 healthcare workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and consumer-directed in-home care across the state. He has been an organizer, activist, educator, writer and policy analyst in pursuit of social, racial and economic justice for more than two decades. Not coincidentally, he has been a meditator and student of the dharma a bit longer than that. After graduating from high school in 1997, he was invited by a friend to check out a Young Adults retreat at IMS, and has been hooked on the Buddha’s teachings ever since, practicing primarily in the Chan/Pure Land tradition of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and the Thai Forest Theravada tradition of Ajahn Chah. He became an active member of the Common Ground community in 2013. He has led a monthly Common Ground practice group for organizers and activists since 2016.

scottie hall, Director

Meski Mebatsion, Director

Meski Mebatsion has been practicing meditation at Common Ground since 2010. She is a student of life and the Buddhist teachings. She is a graduate of Common Ground’s Dharma Leadership Training Program and has completed over 100 days of silent retreat practice. Meski co-facilitates the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) sangha and serves on Common Ground Board of Directors.

Mark Nunberg, Guiding Teacher

What Once Was Is Now

 

Shelly Graf, non-voting attendee

What Once Was Is Now

 


Find out more about our Ethics and Reconciliation Council (EAR).

Annual Board Reports

Annual Treasurer Letter 2021 (Feb 2021)

Annual treasurer letter to the community summarizing 2019 as well as a more current summary of the center’s financial status. (May 2020)

Annual Board Letter 2020

Annual Board Letter 2018

Annual Treasurer Letter 2018

Minutes from past board meetings

Advisory Board

Steve Armstrong

Steven Armstrong

Steve has studied the dhamma and practiced insight meditation since 1975. He served for many years at the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts as Executive Director, Board member and senior teacher of the annual three month retreat. As a monk in Burma for 5 years, under the guidance of the late Sayadaw U Pandita, he undertook intensive, silent practice of insight and lovingkindness meditations and in Australia, he studied the Buddhist psychology (abhidhamma) with Sayadaw U Zagara. He continues his practice under the guidance of Sayadaw U Tejaniya at the Shwe Oo Min Meditation Center in Rangoon. Steve is a co-founding teacher of the Vipassana Metta Foundation’s dharma sanctuary on Maui. He has been leading meditation retreats internationally since 1990, presenting the core teachings of the Buddha; and offering a variety of Buddhist mindfulness practices, encouraging cultivation of insightful awareness, and liberating understanding in all life activities. He encourages spiritual development of an unshakeable sense of well-being. On Maui he plants trees for a dhamma sanctuary and directs the Burma Schools Project building schools and clinics in Burma and supporting monastics and nuns.

James Baraz

James Baraz

James has been a meditation teacher since 1978, and currently leads retreats, workshops and classes in the U.S. and abroad.  He is the creator and teacher of the Awakening Joy course (since 2003).   He is a Co-founding Teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA.  He is the Co-author of Awakening Joy, the book based on the course
(with Shoshana Alexander).  He is a Guiding Teacher for One Earth Sangha, a website devoted to expressing a Buddhist response to Climate Change.  James lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, Jane and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Joseph Goldstein

Joseph has been leading insight and lovingkindness meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. He is a cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where he is one of the organization’s guiding teachers. In 1989, together with several other teachers and students of insight meditation, he helped establish the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

Joseph first became interested in Buddhism as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand in 1965. Since 1967 he has studied and practiced different forms of Buddhist meditation under eminent teachers from India, Burma and Tibet. He is the author of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to AwakeningA Heart Full of PeaceOne Dharma: The Emerging Western BuddhismInsight Meditation: The Practice of FreedomThe Experience of Insight, and co-author of Seeking the Heart of Wisdom and Insight Meditation: A Correspondence Course.

Kamala Masters

kamala masters

Kamala is one of the founders and teachers of the Vipassana Metta Foundation on Maui. She teaches retreats in the Theravada tradition at venues worldwide, including being a Guiding Teacher and member of the Board of Directors at the Insight Meditation Society at Barre, Massachusetts. Practicing since 1975, her teachers have been the late Anagarika Munindra of India and the late Sayadaw U Pandita of Burma, and Sayadaw U Tejaniya of Burma with whom she continues to practice. Kamala has a commitment to carrying and offering the purity of the teachings of the Buddha in a way that touches our common sense and compassion as human beings, and allows the natural inner growth of wisdom. She lives on Maui where she raised four children, and is now blessed with five grandchildren. Kamala practiced both insight and loving kindness meditations intensively under the guidance and preceptorship of Sayadaw U Pandita, in the USA, Australia and in Burma as a nun and a lay woman.