Our bios share a small part about who we are and who we are not.
We look forward to you getting to know us as we get to know you!

Tanzanite Msola, Instructor

Tanzanite has a long-term interest and passion in supporting young people academically, emotionally, and helping them achieve a creative outlet. Tanzanite has spent the past 6 years in Massachusetts working with young people from all different cultural and economic background, with all levels of ability and disability.  Tanzanite was introduced to meditation at a young age by attending the Insight Meditation Society's (IMS) Family and Teen Retreats. As Tanzanite leaned into "adulthood" she returned as a staff volunteer for IMS Teen Retreats and for Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) Teen Retreats. In 2017 Tanzanite entered into the iBme Teacher Training Program. Tanzanite has found it truly rewarding and a privilege to witness the positive effects of hands-on projects, building a personal connection, and understanding that each moment is a learning experience through mindfulness. Now, as a recent transplant to New York City, Tanzanite is excited to connect and engage with the community, and assist the growth of the Awake Youth Project.


Lissa Edmond, Instructor

Lissa (they, she) started consistently practicing mindful movement and meditation in 2008. Lissa studies in the traditions of Soto Zen and Vipassana and identifies meditation practice as a deep form of love and care for which Lissa feels immense gratitude. Lissa has a deep desire to share the practice particularly with vulnerable populations less likely to have exposure or accessibility to contemplative practices. Lissa has multiple 200-hour yoga certifications and is certified to teach children's yoga. Lissa presently shares trauma-informed meditation practices through engagement as a yoga and mindful movement instructor, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and as a sangha facilitator at the Brooklyn Zen Center. Lissa has helped to support the Awake Youth Project since fall 2017 and is in awe of the strength, wisdom, and authenticity of the teens. Lissa is presently engaged in a year-long certification program in teaching mindfulness to adolescents through Inward Bound Mindfulness Education as well as a 200-hour meditation teacher training through the Interdependence Project. Lissa also continues to study and learn mindful movement modalities and is currently studying to offer an improvisational movement and communication style called InterPlay.


Sara Shapouri, Curriculum Development and Instructor

Sara Shapouri has been practicing meditation since 2008 and participated in numerous retreats at the Insight Meditation Society, including a 3-month silent retreat. Sara also sits on IMS’ Board of Directors. She graduated from the University of Virginia’s School of Law, with a particular interest in human rights and social justice. Her desire to promote the welfare of children has taken her around the globe, including legal reform advocacy for incarcerated children in Bangladesh, analysis of the plight of child soldiers in Sierra Leone, and a published policy paper on child sexual abuse and exploitation in Iran.

Jozen Tamori Gibson, Program Director

Jozen (they, he, ze) is an engaged advocate for youth, families, and community health and wellness. Jozen began a formal meditation practice in 2004 through Zen while living in Japan, which was joined by a Theravada practice in 2010. In 2017 Jozen entered the Insight Meditation Society's Teacher Training Program. With certifications in Mindfulness Facilitation through the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and in 200-Hour Yoga and Wellness with Breathe for Change, Jozen provides and holds learning environments in self-awareness and liberation for youth. For 18-years throughout New Jersey, New York, California, and Japan, Jozen has worked with youth to help them face and be with our co-created human conditioning as a path for healing, true self-expression, and resiliency. Looking forward to learning with the teens of Awake Youth, Jozen is motivated to learn from and exchange with other educators, social workers, administrations, organizations, and families. Through collaboration the goal is to create effective spaces that acknowledges, serves, and embodies liberating practices that recognizes and cherishes the brilliance and wisdom of our youth. Jozen is honored to follow the Awake Youth work of Greg Snyder, Beatrice Anderson and all facilitators.

Greg Snyder, Founding Instructor

Greg has been practicing meditation in the Zen tradition since 1998. He is the co-founder and guiding teacher of Brooklyn Zen Center as well as founding instructor of Awake Youth Project. In addition to an entrepreneurial and executive business background, Greg has many years of experience in the social service sector, including refugee resettlement, human rights work, life and employment skills training for those with barriers to employment, and direct care in psychiatric facilities. Having done post-graduate training in Human Rights at Columbia University, Greg has worked with their Center for International Conflict Resolution on violence and genocide prevention. His current concerns include ensuring that meditation and mindfulness practices are available to everyone and supporting young people in this practice.