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Commumity Dharma Leaders

Brock Brown

Brock Brown is a founding member and Chair of the Victoria Insight Meditation Society where he teaches and leads meditation retreats. He has been dedicated to the study and practice of the Buddha’s teachings in the Theravada tradition for the past 27 years, and is inspired by the Thai Forest tradition. He is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Dedicated Practitioners Program and the Community Dharma Leader Program and completed the Birken Forest Monastery Upasika program. Brock enjoys studying the suttas and making them relevant to our everyday lives.

Karen Lawrie

Karen has been practicing meditation for over 30 years, with experience in both the Zen and Vipassana traditions.  She spent ten years in residential training at the Rochester Zen Centre under her teacher Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede. Upon returning to the West Coast 15 years ago, she also completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader program under James Baraz and Tara Brach.   She currently leads weekly sitting groups and monthly Days of Mindfulness in Vancouver. She is actively involved in supporting her own and others practice in meaningful ways that promote the embodied integration of Buddhist meditation practice in everyday life.

Rachel Lewis

Rachel completed Spirit Rock's Community Dharma Leader program in 2012, as well as the Dedicated Practitioners Program in 2010.


She began retreat teacher training at IMS in 2017. 

She has spent over 350 nights on silent retreat since 2003, and is planning a 3 month retreat in 2017. She has taught at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women and in Vancouver since 2011, as well as via her alter egos Buddhist Hulk and Bhante Mixalot. Rachel’s paid work at UBC 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.

Janet Lironi

Janet Lironi is a Community Dharma Leader on Gabriola, who received training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center.  After years of exploring diferent meditation and spiritual practices, she has, for the past 20 years, dedicated herself to the practice and study of Buddhist teachings from a Theravada or Insight perspective. In her support of Sangha on Gabriola, she leads weekly sits, yearlong study groups, beginner meditation classes, and daylong retreats. She is beginning to assist her core teacher Arinna Weisman at residential retreats. Janet is also trained as a counsellor and has taught Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn). Janet’s intention is to live with kindness and compassion for herself, all beings, and the earth. 

James Lowe

James completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Program in 2012.  

He began retreat teacher training at Spirit Rock in 2017.


After experimenting with meditation since the mid 1980’s, James made a commitment to Theravada practice in 2004 that includes annual three- to four-week retreats. James has been an adult educator since 1992 and is a counsellor and instructor in his work life. He’s interested in the workable day-to-day practice of Metta and Mindfulness at home, work, school and community. He incorporates the dharma in his counselling and leadership work, thereby translating the dharma into everyday language and practice.

Margo McLoughlin

Margo completed her training to be a Community Dharma Leader in 2012. A writer, storyteller, and teacher, Margo holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard where she studied Pali and Sanskrit. As an inter-faith chaplain at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Margo led a number of storytelling series for patients, families and staff. As a storytelling consultant with the Fetzer Institute, Margo gathered more than 200 folktales on the theme of generosity. Many of those stories are gathered in two anthologies, edited by Margo: Seeds of Generosity: Storytelling in the Classroom and The Giving Heart: Folktales for Exploring Generosity. Currently, Margo is a board member of the BC Association for Living Mindfully (BCALM) and leads retreats and classes with the Victoria Insight Meditation Society.

Pari Ruengvisesh

Pari was born and raised in Thailand. Growing up in a predominantly Theravada Buddhist culture, she became familiar with Buddhist teachings and living the teachings as an embodied way of life.  She has been living in Vancouver since the late 90’s. In 2004, she started formal Vipassana and Metta Meditation practice with Linda McDonald, and later on, with Michele McDonald and Steven Smith, as well as other western teachers and Asian monastics.  Pari is committed to formal meditation practice on intensive retreats and applying the teachings in her daily life. Her primary practice is the Four Establishments of Mindfulness in the Mahasi Tradition. She has practiced under the guidance of the late Sayadaw U Pandita and Sayadaw U Lakkhana of Burma, and since 2010, Sayadaw U Vivekananda of Panditarama Lumbini, Nepal.

In 2012 she completed the Community Dhamma Leader Program at Spirit Rock, California. She has been sharing the Dhamma in Vancouver, and since 2013, has been assisting Michele McDonald, Steven Smith, and Jesse Vega-Frey with their annual Spring retreat at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, BC. 

Margot Sangster

Margot has studied at meditation centers and monasteries in the USA, Thailand, Nepal, England, and Canada. She lived/volunteered at Spirit Rock and Wat Kow Tahm Meditation Center in Thailand.

In addition to the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Program, Margot completed the Buddhist Peace Fellowship BASE Program (Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement), and the Zen Hospice Training. She has been teaching meditation to people from all walks of life since 1998.

Margot holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. Her professional experience is diverse, and includes social services, non-formal education, and international development. Her work has taken her to Afghanistan and the Philippines.

For practice interviews email Margot or phone 604.831.9226

Judy Witheford

Judy began her spiritual training in the late 1970’s in the Rinzai Zen tradition under Joshu Sasaki Roshi. In 2000, she ordained as a Buddhist nun in Burma and from 2000 - 2008 spent 24 months in intensive silent meditation retreats in Burma at Chanmyay Yeiktha, Panditarama Forest Center and Sayadaw U Tejaniya's Shwe Oo Min.  In 2008, she and Sayadaw U Indaka organized a free medical/dental clinic to serve 1900 poor rural families in two Myanmar villages. She completed the Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock in 2008. In 2015 and 2016, she spent 4.5 months in intensive silent meditation in Lumbini, Nepal under the guidance of Sayadaw U Vivekananda and Sayalay Bhaddamanika. She has also participated in several six-week retreats at the Forest Refuge in Barre with Ajahn Sucitto, Joseph Goldstein and Sayadaw U Vivekananda.  Judy teaches Beginning Vipassana Meditation and leads an ongoing meditation group on Vancouver's East side.

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