Remembering Cheri Maples, Buddhist Teacher and Life-Long Advocate of Peace and Justice

Remembering Cheri Maples, Buddhist Teacher and Life-Long Advocate of Peace and Justice

By Editor | Aug 1 2017


A friend and beloved mentor of many in our community, Cheri Maples, died on Thursday, July 27, from complications of a bicycle accident in September 2016.

Following her first jobs for the Dane County Advocates for Battered Women (now known as DAIS), and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (now End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin), Cheri became a career police officer in Madison, Wisconsin. She joined the police force in Madison, Wisconsin in 1984 and rose to the rank of Chief.

After leaving the police force, Cheri became head of Probation and Parole for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and then Assistant Attorney General in the Wisconsin Department of Justice. In both roles, she was a pioneer, using her study of Buddhism under Thich Nhat Hahn (she was ordained as a Zen Buddhist nun in 2008) to teach the practice of mindfulness to her fellow officers. She felt that mindfulness would encourage patience and compassion in their work as “social workers with guns”. Cheri was a reliable, active voice in holding officers fully accountable while remaining compassionate of the complex challenges they face.

Similarly, her Dharma teachings were a delightful blend of compassion and challenge. In our meditation communities, dominated by upper middle class, straight, white, cis-gendered practitioners, Cheri's willingness to confront and explore dynamics of race, class and gender set a new standard.

Her integrity and courage inspired us at every turn and her devotion to justice on the Path held us accountable. She was a blast to hang out with. She lovingly supported some of the most tender places in our hearts. Like so many, we feel we've lost a great mentor, model and friend.

IMCW invites you to join us as we live-stream parts of a daylong meditation retreat on August 26 honoring Cheri Maples in Madison, Wisconsin. The event is sold out, but details on the live-stream can be found at later in August.


Cheri’s obituary can be found here:

A tribute in Lion’s Roar can be found here:

More information on Cheri’s service in law enforcement can be found here:


Charitable donations may be made in Cheri’s memory to:

Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation


Dane County Time Bank


Freedom Inc.


Wisconsin Transgender Health Coalition


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