Governing Council

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The Governing Council of the Baltimore Shambhala Meditation Center is composed of the heads of the Three Pillars: Practice & Education, Protection, and Government. The Pillar of Practice and Education embodies and guides the teaching of the view and practices of the Shambhala Buddhist dharma. The Pillar of Protection embodies and presents the teachings and practices of the Dorje Kasung, and is responsible for the protection of the teacher, teachings, and the community. The Pillar of Government embodies, presents, and manifests the principles of enlightened leadership and serves to integrate all three pillars. Throughout the mandala, these pillars work together with the aspiration to create enlightened society. The Governing Council is the policy-making body of BSMC and articulates the vision of the BMSC within the broader context of Shambhala Vision. Its members are volunteers. The Governing Council carries out the forms, policies, and procedures prescribed by Shambhala International. It has overall management and fiduciary responsibility for the BSMC.

Below are listed the members of the council:


Open Position

Center Director

The Center Director is head of the Government Pillar and is the chief executive officer. The Center Director chairs the Governing Council and the Executive Council. The Center recommends someone to serve as the Director, and then s/he is appointed by the Kalapa Court with the approval of the Sakyong. Email: director@baltimoreshambhala.org.


Tom Abrams

Chagdzö (Finance Officer)

Tom Abrams is the Chagdzö (Finance Officer). The Chagdzö is the chief financial officer of the BSMC and a member of the Government Pillar. S/he sits on the Governing Council and reports to the Center Director. The Chagdzö is broadly responsible for the financial sustainability of BSMC and, as such, recommends actions to the Governing Council and Center Director regarding the management of revenue and expenses. The Center Director and the Governing Council seek the advice and consent of the Chagdzö for any major capital expenditures or other activities that would affect the Center’s financial stability. To contact the Chagdzö email finance@baltimoreshambhala.org.


Märta Vigerstad and Jess Locke

Directors of Practice and Education

Reach Märta and Jess at p&e@baltimoreshambhala.org.


 Amy Vernon

Representative of Culture and Decorum

Culture and Decorum is part of the Government pillar. Culture is the binding factor of a society, and reflects the embodiments of the Shambhala teachings in a community and a kingdom. Through shared rituals, symbols and experiences – we become a people, give our children a rich sense of heritage, and invite others to share in the celebration. This is how we invoke drala, infuse the community with authentic presence, and create an atmosphere that is conducive to practice and genuine communication. The decorum of Shambhala is a series of gestures and forms used to invoke wakefulness, uplift us, the environment, and therefore other beings. All forms should be based on generosity, put others at ease and create harmony with a bit of perky edge. It is essential that Shambhala forms always evolve and progress, so that they do not become a conventional system of rules, but rather serve as a setting within which the jewel of Dharma can sparkle. You can email Amy at culture@baltimoreshambhala.org.


 Tom Burkhart

Representative of Societal Health & Well-Being

Societal Health falls within the Pillar of Government. The Representative of Societal Health upholds the view of developing a culture of kindness as an integral part of practice. The mission of Societal Health is to promote and support the ongoing development of community within the Baltimore sangha. In short, we aspire to create enlightened society – right here and now – rather than to become a collection of “enlightened individuals.” An enlightened society is achieved by creating what Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche calls “a culture of profound kindness.” We also work with others in the broader community of Baltimore and Maryland, finding ways to be of service to others in the greater community. You can email Tom at SHWB@baltimoreshambhala.org.


 Evan Mayfield

Rusung, Pillar of Protection

Rusung is the head of the Dorje Kasung at the Center. The Dorje Kasung is modeled on the ancient tradition of Dharma protectors. Its members are trained in protecting the space in which practitioners are able to hear and practice the teachings. The protection extends to the teacher who presents the teachings, the teachings themselves, and the community who practice the teachings. The term Dorje Kasung means indestructible (Dorje) command (Ka) protector (sung). Indestructible refers to the indestructibility of space – complete openness – that cannot be destroyed or defeated. Ka or command refers to the teaching of the lineage, which present the truth of things as they are and the possibility of establishing enlightened society. The motto of the Dorje Kasung is “Victory over War”. War represents the struggle with the three poisons identified by the Buddha: passion, aggression, and ignorance. Victory is being willing to face these poisons and meet them head-on with insight and loving kindness. You can reach Evan at kasung@baltimoreshambhala.org.

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