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 spent many 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 2018 Tanzanite completed 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) 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 began practicing meditation in 2008, studies in the traditions of Zen and Theravada Buddhism, and identifies practice as a deep form of love and care. Lissa has two 200-hour yoga certifications, a children’s yoga teacher certification, a mindfulness teacher certification, and is completing teacher training programs to teach mindful self-compassion as well as to become a certified InterPlay leader. Lissa presently shares culturally-informed and trauma-sensitive meditation practices through engagement as a yoga and mindful movement instructor, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, sangha (community) facilitator, and mindfulness instructor. Lissa has a deep desire to share embodied meditation practices for the wellness and liberation of all beings and is particularly moved to work with populations less likely to have exposure or access to contemplative practices.
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.
David Hart, Program Support
David has been fortunate to volunteer with the Awake Youth Project for many years and to serve as a mentor and manager on youth and adult retreats for the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) and Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme). In his daily life, he serves as a meditation instructor for companies in New York, and works as a media producer and educator for museums and nonprofits. David finally got serious about meditation in 2010 and has since studied with multiple lineages. He has trained with The Lineage Project, Mindful Schools, and completed a teacher training program with The Interdependence Project. When he used to work teaching computers with teens in NYCHA community centers they said he looked like Eminem, but now he just looks like someone's uncle.
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.