THE DEBOCHE PROJECT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Daniel Mazur Head of Mount Everest Foundation For Sustainable Development in Nepal, President of Deboche Project
Dan is one of the world’s leading climbers and expedition leaders. Born in the flat lands of Illinois, he has lived and studied in both the US and the UK and now splits his time with his family between homes in Seattle and Kathmandu. Among other academic accomplishments, he holds a PhD from Brandeis University. His climbing resume includes 8000 meter peaks in both Nepal and Tibet, but he has also climbed and led expeditions in South America, China, Africa, Canada and the US. He is known for his dramatic rescue of Australian climber, Lincoln Hall, who was left to die on the summit of Everest. Dan was also the leader of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea K2 expedition. He is dedicated to giving back to the people and environment of the Everest region and is currently heading up an important project to design an eco-conscious sanitary system for the Everest Base Camp, and the surrounding communities. He has long been actively involved in developing programs to aid the nuns of Deboche and is the best and knowledgeable person to lead the Deboche Project to its completion of all phases of reconstruction and future development.
Marcia Macdonald Project Leader, Secretary and Treasurer of Deboche Project
Marcia has spent most of her life traveling the far places of this earth. After receiving a BFA and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design, she set out for adventure and to photograph her travels which eventually led her to her second home in Nepal in 2001. She has returned almost every year since to climb and trek in the most outrageous real estate on the planet. While leading a trek in 2004 she came upon Deboche, and with Susie Leiper, vowed to help these courageous women who dedicated their lives to alleviating the suffering of all beings by giving them safe, warm places to live, food to eat and a place to teach and practice their Buddhist tradition while preserving the Tibetan/Sherpa culture. "It has been an amazing journey with many challenges that now lie ahead but I am so grateful to dedicate my purpose in giving back to this beautiful part of our planet and to this very special place." Marcia is a practicing Buddhist and considers Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche her teacher.
Mingma Tenzin Sherpa Project Coordinator in Nepal
Mingma was born in the Sherpa capital of Namche Baazar and graduated from ‘secondary’ school with the highest academic scores in the region. He attended Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu. Since graduating he has been an integral part of designing and engineering the construction of the new eco-conscious water system for the village of Thame in the Khumbu. He has also worked with an important research and development project in Lobouche. Mingma is certified in mountain rescue and is one of Nepal’s most popular trekking guides. He has been leading treks for the past 13 years –summiting many of the Everest’s regions leading peaks with clients from across the globe. Mingma often is referred to as the ‘Mayor’ of the Khumbu because he knows most of its inhabitants. He speaks five languages and is often accompanied by his wife, Yangji, who is also highly qualified both in academics and mountaineering, as well as managing prominent Nepalese businesses. Both Mingma and Yangji are committed to helping their Sherpa community to progress into the 21st century, but always with a deep concern for protecting and preserving the Tibetan/Sherpa culture and Buddhist traditions. Mingma is an exceptional choice to serve as the leader of our renovation and construction projects for Deboche as our Project Coordinator in Nepal.
Bianca Gray Board Member
Bianca has worked as an editor, education policymaker, arts administrator, and teacher for most of her professional life. She holds degrees in English and Italian and a PhD (ABD) in English, French, Italian and Russian. Bianca speaks a number of foreign languages, reflecting her academic focus and upbringing in Europe. She is dedicated to using the arts across the curriculum and worked with the Coalition of Essential Schools and the Annenberg Institute at Brown University. One of her favorite projects was What Kids Can Do program at Central High School in Providence, Rhode Island featuring student essays, interviews, school reform updates, photography, music, theater and art projects. During the past ten years, Bianca has traveled the world as an international teacher, working in schools in Europe, Asia, South America and North Africa. She is a proud mother of Amanda Spalding Gray, writer and co-working devotee, living in Berlin and Ljubljana. While climbing in the Himalayas, she fell in love with Deboche and the Sherpa world. A practicing Buddhist for more than 25 years, she is a member of the Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche community and the Benevolent Street Zen family. She has extensive experiences with the non-profit world and has raised millions of dollars to advance the status of many philanthropic projects. She is invaluable in her ability to craft grant proposals for the Project.
Ann Leamon Board Member
Ann was educated at McGill University and holds degrees from the University of Montana and Bennington College. She is a writer, editor and the COO of Bella Research Group, a consulting firm specializing in private equity, venture capital and innovation with a focus on emerging markets.. She has written over 120 cases for Harvard Business School and co-authored a text book with Josh Lerner and Felda Hardymon on Venture Capital, Private Equity and the Financing of Entrepreneurship (2012). “I became involved in Deboche because it seemed less hazardous than other projects that Marcia has talked me into, like, for example, downhill mountain bike racing (I finished last!). I honor the Deboche nuns’ efforts to preserve religion and culture and to give women an alternative way of life in their patriarchal society. I hope to contribute my background in fiance, economics and marketing to this important project.”
Dana Berenson Board Member
Dana is the sole proprietor of Dana Berenson Photography, a portrait photography business, and owner of StoneCrop Gallery, a fine art photography gallery in Southern Maine. She attended Bradford College and Lesley University. She journeyed to Nepal and the Everest region in 2010 where she visited the Deboche Convent to photograph these incredible women. “Once meeting, photographing and spending time with the nuns, I knew that I wanted to volunteer my time to help improve the conditions of their lives and their spiritual practices. I would like to return to Deboche, as this project moves forward, to continue to document the progress and success of the nunnery.” We are extremely fortunate to have Dana take on this project. She has produced a series of photographs of outstanding quality which have become one of the foundations for sharing information during our grant presentations. One of her goals is to join forces with Marcia and to create a beautiful art book to be sold for the benefit of the Deboche Project.
Kristen Rinaldi Board Member
Kristen comes to the Deboche Project from a corporate background and received her MIP from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. She divides her time between the Boston office of Fidelity Investments Corporate Procurement, and her business venture Onyx in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Kristen joined the 2014 Deboche Adventure/Service Trek, and like so many who make this journey, was inspired to help the nuns. “I became involved with the Deboche Project because of the conditions under which the Ani’s currently live and function. There needs to be a vast improvement for even the most basic daily living and improved conditions to enable their Buddhist spiritual practice. I hope that by supporting the convent's growth and change it will inspire not only the nuns that are now living at Deboche but the Anis who will become part of this beautiful spiritual place in the future.”
Laura Rose Board Member
Laura leads a team of 10 talented architects designers and landscape architects from Architects Without Borders (AWB), Seattle Chapter, who have chosen to take on the project of designing all three phases of Deboche renovation and restoration; the construction of a new residence and a mediation/teaching center that will serve the nuns at Deboche but also the inhabitants of surrounding villages. She and her team have undertaken the challenging task of revising designs to create a new living space for the nuns following the devastating earthquakes that all but destroyed Deboche. Laura has a BS in Architectural Studies from Washington State University and MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. After working for architectural firms in Colorado and Washington, she spent 20 years at REI managing store design projects, architectural consultants and championing sustainable design strategies. In 2013 she joined AWB, which provides pro-bono ecologically sensitive and culturally appropriate design assistance to communities both locally and internationally. Laura considers the Deboche Project to be a perfect match for AWB on many levels – especially the focus on improving the nuns’ educational opportunities as well as their facilities. After AWB had sent a team to study the convent and its environs, Laura was able to journey with the Deboche Service trek in 2014 to see first hand the scope of the design challenges that lie ahead. She used this opportunity to delve into every facet of the project including the importance of community and integration of all parts of Buddhist tradition and study. “As AWB project manager, I lead a team of volunteer design professionals who collaborate on design solutions with the delightful team of Dan, Marcia, Mingma, Ani Heather and the Deboche nuns. It’s an honor to be part of such a dedicated and inspiring team. I look forward to the journey ahead!”
Ani Sangye Chodron Board Member
Ani Sangye Chodron (Heather Daniels) graduated from Brown University with a BA in Holistic Studies in 2007. Following graduation, she spent two years conducting research in Nepal under an Arnold Fellowship, and was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in 2010. She has spent five years at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Kathmandu, receiving MA in Buddhist Studies in 2014. Ani is currently on a medical leave from the monastery/nunnery and will be returning to her dharma center in Nepal in 2016. “I became involved with the Deboche Project because I fell in love with it as a place of spiritual awakening for anyone who lives in or visits this region. It is a place where many cultures and peoples intersect and I hope that Deboche can be a place to help in this process of learning, growing and awakening. As a western nun I hope that I can help to be a bridge, both culturally and linguistically, between the nuns and those who feel inspired by them.” To say that Ani “Heather” has been invaluable in every aspect of our journey is an understatement. She is our resource for understanding the complexities of Buddhist studies, she is a working partner with Laura Rose and her AWB team on the appropriate approach to designing the new buildings that will eventually exist in the beautiful environs of Deboche, and an important spiritual guide for translating the monastic Tibetan and Nepali traditions to the wider community of Deboche supporters. We are deeply grateful for her presence on our Board.
Rebecca Stanley Board Member
Until very recently Becky managed instructional technologies for a large training organization affiliated with the University of Albany, State University of New York. She has worked in the instructional technology field for over 25 years and led a creative team in developing an award-winning e-learning projects for many different state and federal agencies. She collaborated with a colleague in developing the Deboche’s web presence. “I have known Marcia for many years and consider her one of my personal heroes. Because I feel that nuns of any faith are very special people, I am grateful to be involved in supporting the Deboche Project and will enjoy watching these projects come to fruition.”
ADVISERS TO THE DEBOCHE PROJECT
Nawang Tenzin Jangpo Incarnate Lama of Thyangpoche, (Tangboche) Monastery
Tsedam Sherpa Technical Advisor for Construction
Susie Leiper Planning Advisor for for the Project