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Our Team

We are a not-for-profit organization made up of a group of friends dedicated to Himalayan communities. Our multi-talented team each excels in their own areas of expertise. We volunteer our time, money, and skills while inspiring younger generations to do the same. We are committed to continual growth and evolution of our organization to meet the changing needs of the communities we work with.


Staff:

  • 4630561Nawang Tsering Gurung (Co-Founder/Director) is from Ghilling village in Upper Mustang, Nepal. He left his village to pursue his education in Kathmandu. After high school graduation, Nawang came to the United States in 2008 for college. He earned an Associate’s Degree from Quincey College in 2011.  He has also served as a translator and assistant for National Geographic filmmaker Liesel Clark, on a documentary entitled “Cave People of the Himalayas”. Nawang has also worked as a research assistant on several research projects of Sienna Craig, an anthropologist at Dartmouth College who has been working in his home region of Mustang for many years. This work has included ethnographic research in New York and back in Nepal. Nawang is a co-author on several presentations and publications based on this work, including “The Kora of Migration: Everyday Practices of (Well) Being and Belonging between Mustang, Nepal and New York.” In David N. Gellner and Sondra L. Hausner, eds. Global Nepalis: Religion and Culture in a New Diaspora (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).  Nawang hopes to understand and accommodate both his past and his future, working for the development of Himalayan communities and borderland Tibetan culture in the context of the wider world. Contact Nawang at nawanggurung@gmail.com

  • jon-imageJon Sege (Program Director) has nearly ten years of experience in environmental science and nonprofit management. He has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geoscience from Boston College and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Jon first went to Nepal in the fall of 2007 to study Buddhism. While there, he began volunteering with a ceramic water filter producer in Thimi. In 2009 he returned on a Fulbright fellowship to study the long term effectiveness of ceramic filters. After returning from Nepal, Jon served as the Development Coordinator for At The Crossroads, a small nonprofit in San Francisco, California. He then worked for three years a researcher in UC Berkeley’s Environmental Engineering department. Jon is interested in combining his technical and nonprofit experience to support Himalayan communities in Nepal as they prepare for and adapt to climate change. He is originally from the Boston area, and now resides in New York City. Contact Jon at jonsege@gmail.com.

 

Board of Directors:

  • David Saunders attended Boston College as an undergraduate, where he studied theology and completed pre-med requirements. He spent time living in a Tibetan refugee community in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he studied the history and philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism. After graduating from college, David returned to Nepal as a Fulbright Scholar, studying Tibetan religio-cultural perceptions of tuberculosis. David holds a M.D. from Weill Cornell Medical School and a PhD in Religion from Emery University, with a specific focus on Buddhist meditation theory and the philosophy of mind and self. For the last several years, he has taught mindfulness and compassion-based meditation—especially enjoying his time with children and teenagers—and decided to pursue child and adolescent psychiatry as well as adult psychiatry and research.

  • poncar

    Jaroslav Poncar was born in Prague in 1945. He now lives in Cologne, Germany, where he was a professor at the Department of Imaging Sciences at the University of the Applied Sciences until his retirement in 2010. His countless photographically motivated travels and university projects have taken him to the Himalayas and Tibet, Central Asia, India and Cambodia. In 1981, he began a twenty year long project of photographic documentation of early Buddhist wall paintings. In 1985, he was the first Westerner to cross Tibet from East to West. His publications include Ladakh – Land of PassesTibet – Gateway to Heaven and Alchi – Ladakh’s Hidden Buddhist Sanctuary. As co-director of the German Apsara Conservation Project, part of UNESCO program for the preservation of Angkor, he led the comprehensive photographic documentation of Angkor Wat.

  • craig

    Sienna R. Craig is Associate Professor and Chair at the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. She earned her BA in Religious Studies from Brown University in 1995  and her PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University in 2006. A medical anthropologist and writer,  she is the author of Horses Like Lightning: A Story of Passage through the Himalayas (Wisdom Publications 2008)Clear Sky, Red Earth: A Himalayan Story (Mera Publications 2009), and Healing Elements: Efficacy and the Social Ecologies of Tibetan Medicine (University of California Press 2012), among other works. She first visited Mustang in 1993 and has been returning ever since. She is also the co-founder of DROKPA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting sustainable development and social entrepreneurship in Himalayan communities. DROKPA is a fiscal sponsor of Yulha.

 

 

Advisory Board:

  • clearfieldAndrea Clearfield is an award-winning composer for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, dance, and multimedia collaborations. She has been praised by reviewers including the New York Times, which commented on her “graceful tracery and lively, rhythmically vital writing.” Among her 125 works are ten cantatas including one for The Philadelphia Orchestra. Dr. Clearfield is a recipient of the 2014 Copland House Residency Award and has held fellowships at the American Academy in Rome, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. She is the founder and host of the renowned Philadelphia Salon concerts featuring contemporary, classical, jazz, electronic, dance, and world music since 1986 and winner of Philadelphia Magazine’s 2008 “Best of Philadelphia” Award. Dr. Clearfield is currently writing an opera for NYC premiere on the life of the Tibetan yogi, Milarepa, to libretto by Jean-Claude van Itallie and Lois Walden.

  • chodronTashi Chodron is Assistant Manager of Himalayan Culture and Outreach Programs Rubin Museum of Art; founder of Himalayan Pantry Inc. and Voices of Tibet – Oral History Project to preserve the culture of Tibet for many future generations to come. Chodron is also spokesperson for the Heifer Project in Bay Area, a charity organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities. She is also a recipient of Gold Star Award from American Himalayan Foundation.

  • drdakA graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Maureen Drdak is the recipient of numerous honors, including the 2011-2012 U.S. Fulbright Senior Scholar Award for Nepal. Her previous work Lung-Ta—an interdisciplinary collaborative with international composer Dr. Andrea Clearfield inspired by the Tibetan Kingdom of Lo in the Nepalese Himalayas—enjoyed premieres in Philadelphia and Chicago. Her work is found in numerous collections, among them Asian art collectors Berthe and John Ford and Shelley and Donald Rubin.  Her exhibition history includes numerous solo exhibitions and international arts festivals; she lectures at museum and academic by invitation. She is represented by Siddhartha Art Gallery, Kathmandu, Nepal in Asia and the Middle East.  Drdak is currently the President of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

  • kobaysahiHisako Kobayashi grew up and was educated in Tokyo before moving to New York City to earn a Masters of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Kobayashi has been showing her art for the past 30 years on four continents. As an abstract painter, her art combines the diverse influences of a person who still feels a strong affinity for her native Japan, but who also received rigorous artistic training in the U.S. and who has lived in that country for most of her adult life.

  • wattJeff Watt is the Director and Chief Curator of Himalayan Art Resources (HAR), a website and ‘virtual museum’ featuring more than 65,000 images with detailed descriptions, making it the most comprehensive resource for Himalayan ‘style’ art and iconography in the world. One of the leading scholars of Himalayan art, he acquired his prodigious knowledge of Buddhist, Bon and Hindu iconography from a longtime study of Buddhism and Tantra. For eleven years, Watt trained intensively in India, Canada and the U.S., with teachers such as Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, and Sakya Jetsun Chimey. In 1985 he gave back his monastic ordinations but continued to study and translate sacred Tibetan and Sanskrit texts, along with completing numerous traditional retreats over years of periodic isolated practice, much of it in the rugged mountains of British Columbia, Canada.