Board of Directors
Santa Aloi has practiced in the Vipassana tradition for over 25 years. She has sat many long retreats and has completed both the Dedicated Practioners Program (2010) and the Advanced Practitioners Program (2017) at Spirit Rock. She has been greatly influenced by the teachings of Ajahn Sumedho, with her main Vipassana teachers being Guy Armstrong, Phillip Moffitt, Adrianne Ross and, lately, Bikkhu Analayo. She has been authorized by Adrianne Ross and Phillip Moffitt to lead sitting groups and to teach classes. A former Professor of Dance at SFU, choreographer and dancer, she taught movement and improvisation from a place of mindfulness of body, mind and heart.
Vice-President; Chair, Fundraising Committee
Laura attended a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course in 2000 and soon after began practicing in the Theravadan tradition under the guidance of Joanne Broatch and Adrianne Ross. She lives on Bowen Island where she co-leads a weekly meditation group and attends as many residential and non-residential retreats as she can. She began to volunteer with the BCIMS Board in 2019.
Jason Leslie has been an avid meditator since 2004. He began practicing in the Theravada tradition in 2011 and recently completed the Spirit Rock Dedicated Practitioners Program. He regularly sits retreats and attended the 3-month retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in 2017. Formerly a lawyer, Jason is now pursuing a PhD in law, focusing on the nature of property and economic justice in the Canadian housing market.
Anieta finally realized her stress reaction is within her control and started her meditation practice in 2013 with a 6-week introduction course at a local community centre. Since then she’s seen the many benefits of continuous practice on her own, at UBC weekend retreats, and in long-term retreats. Since 2013 she is also a weekly participant in the Monday night sitting group in West Vancouver. She’s also realized her practice can deepen further by her generosity to give back to the local Sangha, and since 2017 regularly volunteers at BCIMS UBC retreats. In 2018 she started volunteering as a director on the BCIMS Board.
Chair, Retreat Committee
Michelle has been taking refuge in the Buddha, dharma and our wonderful sangha for 15 years. She lives in North Vancouver. Michelle recently retired, and enjoys spending time in Cochise Stronghold, Arizona.
Chair, Community Programming Committee
Rachel Lewis completed retreat teacher training at IMS in 2021, which included direct mentorship by Joseph Goldstein, Kamala Masters, Rick Hanson, and other senior Insight teachers. She has spent over 500 nights on silent retreat since 2003, including two 3-month retreats. She has taught at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women and in Vancouver and area since 2011, as well as via her alter egos Buddhist Hulk and Bhante Mixalot. Rachel’s day job at VCH is only barely related to her physics PhD. Her interest in bringing music into meditation practice led her to develop a songbook of Buddhist music for choirs. She also maintains BCIMS' Facebook page.
Chair, Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee; Editor, BCIMS Newsletter
In spring 2017, about a year after finishing the Dedicated Practitioners' Program (DPP5), I joined the BCIMS Board, taking on the role of Newsletter Editor. I live in Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast, enjoying the slower pace and connection to the wild beauty of earth and sea. A few years back my partner and I lived in a village in Sri Lanka, volunteering with Sarvodaya, a Buddhist organization (we found out about it through reading Joanna Macy). I'm still reading Joanna Macy and others engaged in activism rooted in spirituality.
Nancy Alima Ali
Nancy has been practicing meditation since 2013 when she was introduced to Vipassana meditation at the East Bay Meditation Center and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. Nancy is a co-founder and facilitator of the Sweet Refuge sangha for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) based in Victoria, BC, on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen-speaking people. As a complement to Vipassana, Nancy also practices Tibetan Vajrayana and Dzogchen meditation. Professionally, Nancy leads the Organization and People Development team at Camosun College in Victoria, BC. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking and freediving.
Neda studied Electrical Engineering in her undergrad and received a master's degree in Computer Science from SFU. She worked as a software developer and computer science researcher for a few years before beginning to teach in the computing department in BCIT in 2019. In 2015 she came across a class called "Introduction to mindfulness for those who can't meditate" very randomly on Facebook and learned about mindfulness meditation. It took Neda a couple of years to get comfortable with practicing every day. After seeing the value and benefits of daily practice, she started translating and recording meditations into Farsi to help her Iranian friends with their practice (you can see some resources at www.nedachangizi.com). Neda also holds virtual and in-person meetings to practice meditation and to help people establish a regular practice.
Julia Feyrer (b. 1982, Lkwungen Territory, Victoria, BC) is a filmmaker and artist who lives and works on the unceded lands of the Tsleil-Waututh, Skxwú7mesh and Musqueam. They graduated in 2010 with a Meisterschülerin from the Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany. Julia is also the co-editor of the audiozine Spoox and author of a half dozen artist books published by Perro Verlag.
Elise has been meditating regularly since 2020. She found her way to BCIMS through a set of classes the organization offers on Tuesday evenings. Teacher Adrianne Ross made a strong impact on her, and the classes provided her with a supportive community during the pandemic. Elise feels fortunate to call the Okanagan home - the unceded territory of the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation. For her day job, Elise is a CPA working in Financial Reporting. She is appreciative of the opportunity to use her education and skills to contribute to the BCIMS Board.