Stephanie Romero, Ed.D., Founder & Executive Director
Stephanie has over twenty years of experience in teaching all levels: from elementary, middle school, high school to college. Stephanie has been a meditator and mindfulness practitioner since the early 2000s. She found that her meditation practice profoundly influenced her life. In 2013, wanting to understand how to bring mindfulness practices to others, Stephanie was trained in the Path of Freedom Mindfulness Curriculum, which she delivered through the HOPE pre-release program in the Allegheny County Jail. Stephanie’s dissertation was the culmination of three years of research into mindfulness in education. Stephanie is a member of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies.
Fitzhugh Shaw, Board President
Fitzhugh Shaw lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and daughter, where he is completing a Master's of Arts in Food Studies. He has served as the director of the Pittsburgh Shambhala Meditation Center for three years. He is a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.
Iris Whitworth, Board Treasurer
Iris (Riis) Whitworth is originally from Maine and has been calling Pittsburgh home for 14 years. Iris has been a meditation practitioner in the Shambhala tradition for 7 years. Iris works in community economic development. They are currently completing projects in affordable housing and homelessness services for clients including Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Riis recently became the Director of Operations at Karme Choling, a Shambhala Meditation retreat land center in Vermont.
Adam Lobel, Board Member
Adam began the path of meditation when he was 16 years old after his first taste of real pain, outrage at social and ecological injustice, and wondering a bit too much about what reality was all about. He soon encountered the writings and vision of the Tibetan meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Inspired by the path of warriorship and the vision of enlightened society, he pursued meditation retreats and training in the Shambhala Buddhist path. Adam traveled in Tibet, Nepal, and India, studying Buddhism with masters from various traditions. He pivotally connected with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, head of the Shambhala lineage, while on retreat in Parphing, Nepal in 1997.
In 2008, the Sakyong named Acharya Lobel the Kalapa Acharya. The Kalapa Acharya presides over the Pillar of Practice and Education within Shambhala. Acharya Lobel is particularly responsible for curriculum and path development as well as training Shambhala teachers.
Adam is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his wife and two sons.
Meenal Patel, PhD, Board Secretary
Meenal is a software engineer and has been practicing meditation for several years. She is also trained in the Path of Freedom Mindfulness Curriculum.
Sandra Quinones, PhD, Board Member
Sandra Quiñones (PhD, University of Rochester) is an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education in the Department of Instruction and Leadership in Education at Duquesne University. Her qualitative scholarship focuses on Latina/o education and family-community engagement issues, with an emphasis on bicultural-bilingual elementary teachers’ experiences and perspectives of ser bien educado and being well educated. Sandra has published in several peer-reviewed journals, including the Anthropology & Education Quarterly, School Community Journal, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, and the International Journal of Qualitative Methods.
As a practitioner and advocate of mindfulness in education, she participated in a professional development course for teachers called Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE for Teachers, see www.care4teachers.com) held at the Pittsburgh Shambhala Meditation Center (Spring 2016). She also conducted a year-long self-study to explore her journey with mindfulness practices. What prompted this inquiry was a deep desire to pay attention to her sense of well-being, particularly as a tenure track faculty member in the field of teacher education. She has a forthcoming book chapter, “Mindfulness in Teacher Education: Using Self-Study in the Process of Cultivating Awareness and Wellbeing,” that forms part of an edited volume about Self-Study in Teacher Education.
Sandra is a member of the WE-PEACE: Western Pennsylvania Educators for Awareness, Compassion, and Empathy. She joined the Board of Directors of Awaken Pittsburgh in April of 2017 with the intention of supporting the visibility and capacity of the organization via resources, grant-writing, and research practices.
Danae Clark, Program Manager
Danae Clark, Ph.D., is an educator and nonprofit consultant who has provided assistance to organizations in the environmental, creative, and social service sectors. She is currently working on mindfulness-based curriculum to be offered to adults recovering from addiction.
Carrie McCann, Program Manager
Carrie McCann has roughly 13 years experience working with youth and has been working as social worker and program manager for the last 6 years. She received her Masters in Social Work in 2011 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore where she was first trained in Restorative Justice. From there, she went on to New York City and furthered her training and experience in the field, focusing her work on court involved youth and adults as well as the education system. She is currently in school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to deepen her education in hopes to create social impact through holistic wellness for individuals and communities.