IMCW is committed to expanding the diversity of its board and committees, and especially encourages individuals from a diversity of race, sexual preference and age to offer their services. The Board of Directors is the governing body of IMCW, a 501 C3 non-profit religious corporation. Board members serve as the stewards of IMCW, its resources, programs and activities. Officers include the President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. The Board meets quarterly to discuss issues, deliberate policy, and to vote. The Board seeks to be an increasingly diverse group bringing a wide perspective of views and skills in service of IMCW and the Dharma.

You are always welcome to contact Board members to ask questions, offer suggestions, or give feedback and input.

Board Members

La Sarmiento

President

La Sarmiento (they/them) has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1998. They are the Board President and a Teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW), the Guiding Teacher of the IMCW People of Color and LGBTQIA+ Sanghas, and a mentor for the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program. They were the Lead Teacher fo the Virginia iBme Teen Retreats for 7 years. They completed the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader Training in 2012 and teach retreats around the country.

As an immigrant, non-binary, Filipinx-American, La is committed to creating access to and sharing teachings and practices that alleviate suffering, cultivate true happiness, and support the liberation of all beings, especially through song and laughter. They live in Towson, MD with their life partner Wendy and two rescue pups Annabel and Bader.

Laurie Cameron

Vice President

Laurie is dedicated to practicing and teaching awareness with compassion to live with meaning and purpose in an embodied way. She is the National Geographic author of The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm and Joy from Morning to Evening, March 2018 and the NG magazine Everyday Mindfulness, June 2019.

A student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for over twenty years, Laurie is a Senior Mindfulness Teacher at the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute born at Google, a certified meditation teacher with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield’s two-year program, and a professor of Mindful Leadership at the R. H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. A former leader at Accenture and the founder of PurposeBlue Mindful Leadership, Laurie shares the science of mindfulness, compassion and emotional well-being in the US, Europe and Asia.

Paul Beaton

Treasurer

Paul Beaton is dedicated to walking a path toward awakening and cultivating greater compassion and loving kindness for himself and for all others. Paul began his formal meditation practice in 2013 through one of IMCW’s neighborhood classes and began a yoga-based mindfulness of body practice in 2006. The dharma and IMCW have given so much to Paul--he is delighted to be able to give back through service on the IMCW board.

Anna Johns

Board Member

Anna grew up in India, where yoga and mindfulness practices were an integral part of life. From a young age, she watched her father meditate in the woods and was encouraged to join in.

These seeds began to sprout when she moved to Hong Kong where she was drawn to the practices and began her training with Indian Master, Kamal Srinivas in 2001, followed by extensive training in the U.S. including Duke University’s Therapeutic Yoga and the 2-year Mindfulness Meditation Certification Program with Dr. Tara Brach and Dr. Jack Kornfield, through UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. 

Anna's teaching is also influenced through her studies with luminaries such as Jonathan Foust, Rick Hanson, Lama Surya Das and ongoing learning from the teachings of HH The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Gil Fronsdal, Pema Chödrön, Frank Ostaseski and Ajahn Brahm.  
Anna’s life has transformed through her practices and she brings her gifts forth through her family, her classes and with clients. She co-founded IMCW’s Asian Sangha and lives with her husband, two human and two non-human children.

Booma Venkataraman

Board Member

Booma (pronouns: she/her) has been practicing Vipassana meditation for 7 years and has attended several residential retreats. Booma graduated from the 2-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (MMTCP) in 2021. 

Booma is born in Kolkata, India, and was drawn to the mystery of spirituality from a young age. She dedicated herself to Hindu meditation practices, including the reading of Bhagavad Gita. Her professional work brought her to the U.S. in 1997. In 2011, she moved to the Washington D.C. area, and she felt a strong urge to explore and enhance her spiritual journey. She chanced upon Joseph Goldstein’s “Insight Meditation” in a library one day, and this created a profound shift. The moment planted a powerful seed in her, motivating her to explore the Insight path. With research, soon thereafter, one Wednesday evening in 2015, she walked into Tara Brach’s sangha -- the teaching was like a cool, clear, fresh fountain. This felt like “a spacious home” for Booma and there was no turning back.

Booma works for the Federal Government. Booma is trained as an engineer and has a Master’s degree in business administration. She has held several leadership positions, including championing the promotion of diversity and inclusion activities at her work.  She is delighted to serve as the IMCW board member. Booma sees this as an opportunity to deepen wisdom, collaborate, and serve all beings by the rippling of compassionate action.

Elena Baylis

Board Member

Elena Baylis was introduced to meditation through IMCW’s Wednesday night class and is a member of the Center for Mindful Living sangha. Her focus is on the benefits of daily meditation practice and integrating mindfulness into everyday life. Professionally, Elena is a law professor who writes about post-conflict justice and international law. Elena is originally from Oregon and now lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter. 

Fred Persi

Board Member

Fred began teaching Mindfulness Meditation classes to families and children in 2012 and has been teaching continuously since then. Recently he began teaching to children and adults in high risk communities and to 12 step groups. His dedication to these teachings is founded on the premise that all beings can be free.

Fred completed Year of Living Mindfully program in 2010 and graduated from The Meditation Teacher Training Institute’s two-year program in 2013. He has practiced Insight meditation for over 15 years and has attended numerous residential retreats.

Fred is an entrepreneur who has founded and managed several companies and continues to explore new business opportunities. As the son of a Foreign Service officer, he grew up in many countries, and was exposed to a variety of cultures and is fluent in Spanish. He currently lives in Washington, DC with his wife, teen son, cat and dog.

Mengqi Li

Board Member

Mengqi (she/her; pronounced: Men-Chi), grew up in Gansu, China, the region where Buddhism first entered China from India via the silk road. While Buddhist influences surrounded her upbringing, she did not practice meditation until she stumbled upon Tara Brach’s podcast in 2015. Within IMCW, Mengqi discovered a deeply supportive space in the affinity sanghas, and experienced profound learnings on weeklong retreats. Mengqi is a certified yoga teacher (RYT-200HR) and is currently training in Ruth King’s "Mindful of Race" program, as well as the MMTCP meditation teacher training with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.

Mengqi is a masters of social work student at George Mason University, where she hopes to practice psychotherapy with young adults and BIPOC communities upon graduation. She is spearheading efforts at her university to advocate for Asian American students in era of heightened anti-Asian racism. Mengqi also serves on the production team of This Is My Brave, a non-profit organization that aims to destigmatize mental illness through performing arts. Mengqi brings the lived experience as an Asian American woman and immigrant, and understands the complexity of learning the spiritual practice of her ancestors from Western teachers.

As a board member in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee, she aims to help decolonize the Western Dharma to be as supportive as possible for all practitioners.

Silvia Garcia-Pereira

Board Member

Silvia has been formally practicing Vipassana, Insight Meditation, for over 15 years. She graduated from the Year of Living Mindfully program in 2009 and in 2013 graduated from The Meditation Teacher Training Institute’s two-year program with teachers Tara Brach, Jonathan Foust, Hugh Byrne and Pat Coffey. That year, she also received a .b mindfulness in schools, teacher certification and has recently completed the Advance Practitioners Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, a one-year program for senior students of the dharma. She has been an IMCW Affiliate Teacher for several years.

Silvia holds an MFA in film and television from NYU and works as a video producer for Montgomery County Public Schools. She has contributed as video producer to several of IMCW’s videos and is happy to work on multiple video projects to spread her love for the dharma.

As a mother of two young adults, her practice is an integral part of daily life.

Stephen Gold

Board Member

Stephen started his journey in Vipissana meditation as one of Jonathan Foust’s early students in 2006. He is a graduate from the Year of Living Mindfully, has attended dozens of daylong and weeklong meditation retreats over the past 15 years, and is involved in three spiritual friends meditation groups, including administering one of IMCW’s virtual meditation groups.  

A strong believer in the need to bring insight meditation philosophy and practices into the workplace, Stephen introduced mindfulness practices into his own nonprofit company in 2016, and has presented on the topic of mindfulness in the workplace to other companies and at conferences. He has an M.A. in history from George Washington University and a J.D. from George Mason School of Law. 

Stig Regli

Board Member

Stig is a teacher for IMCW. He has practiced Vipassana meditation since 1984 and facilitated sitting groups and classes since 1997. He was introduced to the practice in Thailand in accordance with the teachings of the Burmese Mahasi Sayadaw tradition. He has been guided by numerous Asian and North American teachers with his primary teacher being Tara Brach. Stig is grateful for finding sangha through engagement with IMCWs formation, previously serving on its first board and as vice president. In 2008 he completed the three-year Community Dharma Leadership program sponsored by the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He is thrilled with now serving again on the board. 

Stig retired from USEPA in March 2021 after working for 40 years as an environmental engineer, regulation manager, and senior policy advisor and receiving a Distinguished Career Service Award. His search for “right livelihood” prior to EPA is described in the book he recently co-authored: The Road Taken: The Remarkable Story of a Transcontinental Bicycle Odyssey.   He and his wife, Melanie La Force, two daughters, and two dogs live in Arlington, Virginia.  

Susan Salek

Board Member

Susan is a compassionate practitioner who embraces the healing nature of meditation.  As a longtime and grateful member of the LGBTQIA+ sangha, she is committed to holding space and creating opportunities for the queer community on this path. In 2019, Susan graduated from the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher program taught by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.  She teaches from her heart and her lived experience to share and bear witness to this wild, difficult and beautiful life as human beings. Susan is currently enrolled in the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program at Upaya Zen Center where she is studying altruistic and compassionate service by integrating spiritual practice with social action.  

Valca Valentine

Board Member

Valca Valentine is a public engagement strategist and former journalist developing and leading communications programs for a variety of government, corporate and non-profit organizations. From 1994 to 2012 she oversaw program and public affairs as Director of Communications within the DC Mayor’s Executive Office, was Senior Associate at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, and Strategic Communications Contract Manager for the Veterans Health Administration and most recently, Senior Technical Editor for General Dynamics Information Technology. Her roles included management of cross-functional teams, public awareness campaign development and relationship management strategies.

A co-founder of Mindful Living in DC, Valca is a 2019 graduate of the two-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program for Teaching Awareness and Compassion-Based Practices founded and taught by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. Valca’s mindfulness and meditation practice evolved from a desire for healthy responses and ease toward an individual and shared spiritual path of enlightenment.