Circle Ways Coaches, Specialists, and Regional Coordinators
Primary Grades Specialist
Jane is a 30-year veteran LAUSD teacher with National Board Certification and a council trainer specializing in primary grades. Jane began using council 13 years ago to build an inclusive community in her classroom and deepen children’s connection to the academic curriculum. She uses council as a vehicle for developing students’ social, emotional, physical, and academic potential. She has been a pioneer in fostering full school implementation of a culture of circle ways by including circles for school staff, for parents and families, and with community members. She has used council for school governance, student leadership, and as part of a restorative approach to school discipline. Jane has developed circle ways curriculum for our youngest learners, as well as for parents and teachers.
Ray is a retired school police officer and a certified council trainer since 1995. He has convened circles in many diverse communities, including public and private schools, a special needs school for the deaf, law enforcement, prison, foster youth, and many more. Ray co-authored a 6th grade council curriculum. His participation in the practice of council has inspired him to share the process with anyone who will take time to listen.
Kate is a certified council trainer who has been working with communication dynamics for 40 years, beginning as a Clio-award-winning advertising copywriter, authoring several community-organizing books as Vice President of TreePeople in Los Angeles, and empowering women as a homebirth midwife’s assistant. In 1999 she helped launch a program for teachers, parents, and children at the Open Charter School – the first time council had been rolled out in a public elementary school in Los Angeles. Since then, she has introduced the practice, mentored teachers, and led trainings, retreats, and community councils at numerous Los Angeles schools. She has facilitated council in prisons and trained the staffs of several social profit organizations to use the practice of council in their work. She is host to regular councils and council-based explorations in her home and in the wild. In 2013, Kate and her adult daughter relaunched the "Mother Daughter Council Retreat" – an annual celebration at The Ojai Foundation.
Lili, a recent graduate of UCLA, was introduced to Circle Ways practices at the age of 12 through a school program. This early exposure to mindfulness and storytelling fostered her interest in arts and culture, leading to a focus on Anthropological studies at UCLA. Her undergraduate research focus included analysis of children's imaginative play and the way children co-create and embody their cultural identity on the playground. For Lili, art and activism has been a rewarding experience that has generated opportunities for herself and communities to engage in creative expression and critical discussion.
Itaf Awad is an international trainer and leader in the Way of Council and Capacitar, two modalities that enhance individual and collective well-being. Fluent in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, Itaf is Circle Ways’ Program Coordinator for Israel/Palestine and the Middle East. Itaf holds a Masters degree in politics from the University of Haifa, and for the past 15 years has facilitated hundreds of councils for businesses, NGO’s, educators, and private groups in many places from the Middle East, and Europe to the United States. She has been instrumental in training teachers to implement circle practices into Arab/Jewish Waldorf schools, paving the way for a collaborative, peaceful future. Itaf is carrying the Way of Council and Capacitar to Arab communities while working on translating training materials into the Arabic language.
Tara joins the Studio School after six years as a resource specialist (RSP) teacher in the Westlake area of Los Angeles. Her first teaching experiences were in South Korea where, along with her parents and siblings, she taught Korean children at summer camps from 1995-2001. That led her to take a full-time teaching position for two years in Busan, South Korea, after graduating from UCLA with a bachelor’s in World Arts and Cultures. On her return to the U.S., she worked as a lead teacher for the after-school program for Para Los Ninos on the outskirts of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. There she saw the critical need for well-rounded educational programs in the inner city and learned about inclusion of students with special needs – and also realized she needed to brush up on her Spanish. After her PLN stint, she went to Central America, where she studied Spanish in Guatemala and El Salvador. In 2008, Tara was accepted by the Teach for America program and became an RSP teacher at John Liechty Middle School while earning her master’s degree in special education from Loyola Marymount University. At Liechty, Tara served as the School Council Leadership Committee Coordinator where she supported teachers in holding Councils in their classrooms, led parent and family Councils and ran the student Council Club. She also coached the Students Run L.A. team, training teams of 15-30 students to run the Los Angeles marathon. Tara’s wide-ranging experiences in education have instilled in her the belief that every child has unique strengths and abilities that must be tapped into and nurtured. She advocates for instructional programs that meet the diverse needs/learning styles of each student and for access to the arts and other extra-curricular opportunities.
Monica has been a council facilitator, trainer, and program specialist since 1995, facilitating council in public and private school classrooms. She co-founded Council In Schools in 2006 and served as Program Advisor for the CIS office in LAUSD's Office of Instruction from 2006-13. She has received training in restorative justice and has worked as a dialogue facilitator for The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), a human relations organization dedicated to promoting social justice. She holds a masters degree in School-Based Family Counseling from California State University, LA and is a credentialed Child Welfare and Attendance counselor in the State of California.
Special Needs and Second Language Learners Specialist
Camille is a certified council trainer. Since 1991, she’s had the privilege of working with kindergarteners through graduate students, students with special needs (autism, attention deficit, developmentally delayed, deaf and hard of hearing), English Language Learners, students in continuation high schools and young women in transitional housing. She has mentored numerous LAUSD teachers and has led council trainings, including a personalized training for SPED teachers. In 1996, Camille co-founded Inside Out Community Arts, a national award-winning, theatre-based program working with underserved middle and high school youth to foster communication, understanding, problem resolution, and leadership skills. She co-wrote their Artist Leader Manual, and continues to train new teaching artists in the curriculum and methodology, which incorporates council elements. Camille is an Instructor for UCLArts & Healing’s Social Emotional Arts Certificate Program and UCLA’s undergraduate course, “Maximizing the Social-Emotional Benefits of Arts Education.” Working with Collective Voices and ArtworxLA, she’s combined her love of theatre and council into a curriculum for performance art and social emotional learning. At Imagination Workshop, 1987-1996, she worked with psychiatric forensic clients, homeless families and homeless/addicted veterans in recovery. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Theatre, she’s had a long career as a professional actress in NY and LA including Broadway, TV and film.
Program Coordinator, Ventura County
Chris has been facilitating council circles since 1995. An award-winning educator in public and private schools for 25 years, Chris was a founding member of New Roads School in Santa Monica, California, where she served as a teacher and middle school director for 18 years. She has introduced council into all of Ventura Unified School District’s middle schools and is expanding into elementary and high schools.
David Listenberger came to Council through his work in music. Hired as a singing teacher and choral director at Crossroads School in 1999, David quickly found a home practicing and witnessing the power of Council with students, parents, teachers, alum – all members of a school community. David has a B.A. in English from Chapman University, and an M.S. in Education from the University of Southern California. He is currently Chair of the Life Skills program at Crossroads School and has facilitated Councils for all manners of groups for over 15 years, including men's circles, women's circles, circles of prison inmates, religious and Rites of Passage circles. David is a firm believer in the power of ceremony and ritual in everyday life; and is specifically interested in the intersection of art, performance and Council, utilizing the Council circle to enable greater levels of openness and radical honesty in all who choose the path.
Bonnie has been a council carrier for 22 years and has developed and practiced council at Crossroads, SMASH, Palms Middle School, Archer School for Girls, The Katherine Michiels School, and GirlFest Hawaii. Whether with council, music, or art, Bonnie loves bringing people together to celebrate life and tell their stories, exploring the power of relationship and extracting meaning from our shared realities. Bonnie embraces the harmony and discord alike, and values the journey we all take together.
Presently, Michelle teaches at New Roads Upper School in Santa Monica, California. With more than 25 years of council experience she weaves council into a variety of classroom situations: from Spanish instruction to helping students and staff explore an event happening in the world or on campus. Michelle began practicing council in 1991 with Los Angeles youth in Watts, California where she taught creative writing at I Have a Dream Foundation. At the time council was remedy to the blank stares and frequent student protest “We have nothing to write!” It continued to be an integral part of the workshop from 7th grade until high school graduation.In 1998, she began training with Joe Provisor and has continued facilitating circles ever since. Her work with schools is vast and varied. She has facilitated councils at schools in California and Mexico where she lived for eight years. She has created and facilitated retreats for youth and adults exploring themes such as community, restorative practices and mentorship. From 2014 thru 2015 Michelle co-directed Council in Schools and was actively involved in all aspects of the organization from designing custom programs for individual schools to serving as the site-coordinator at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Burlington. She has served as mentor, parent council facilitator and trainer. Michelle graduated USC in business administration and has a background in dance, poetry and yoga. She is bilingual and has translated council materials into Spanish. She is also a contributor to the CIS Educator’s Training Manual.
John is a certified council trainer and the principal of Centennial Middle School in Boulder, Colorado, and has been carrying council in schools over the past 22 years. He entered the teaching profession dedicated to holistic educational alternatives, which has led him down a dynamic career path. He has traveled extensively with students from Guatemala to across the desert Southwest. He has been a faculty member at Colorado State University, a director of a summer camp for Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, has taught 1st-12th grades. He co-founded the Colorado Center for Council Training in 1996. In 1999 he joined the faculty of the PassageWorks Institute to support school-based rites of passage work. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Education from Colorado State University. A mountain man at heart, John spends his leisure time enjoying life above 8000 feet with his wife Emily and their three children.
Teen Rites of Passage Specialist
Irasha is a certified council trainer. She has been connected to The Ojai Foundation since its beginning in 1975 and has been a longtime leader of its Youth Team, leading rite of passage retreats for high school students. She is a naturalist and has worked with projects such as M.E.S.A., Naturalists at Large, Camp Whittier, Forest Hills, Taft Garden, and Wolf. She has worked as a substitute teacher for the Oak Grove School since the early 1980s. Through her work as an educator and a naturalist, she has designed many programs over the years, all starting and ending with council. Her most powerful experiences are with at risk youth and newly released prisoners.
Program Coordinator, Eastern US
Jill began her council work in 2001 following her first training at The Ojai Foundation. Jill is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and holds a B.A. in Psychology from Boston College and a Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She has been a counselor and educator in schools for the past fifteen years in both California and Boston and has created life skills programs in all of her schools for grades 5-12, with council as the foundation of the curriculum. She has led parent, student, and faculty councils in addition to council-based retreats for adolescents focusing on issues of identity, body image, rites of passage, sexuality, and leadership. An artist and photographer, Jill utilizes the council process in her “I Am A Woman Who” photography campaign that seeks to empower women and girls worldwide through stream-of-consciousness writing, storytelling, and portraiture.
Julia is a National Board Certified third-grade teacher and mentor teacher in Los Angeles. A veteran council trainer, she trains school faculties and organizations and develops council-based lesson plans and activities. She has written about council for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and the Huffington Post. Julia is particularly interested in how council's storytelling culture promotes students' language arts development. In her Huffington Post blog, Julia shares stories of the passionate and heartfelt people who contribute to Los Angeles.
Middle School and Parochial School Specialist
Natalie sat in her first council circle with educators in 1990 and knew immediately that this practice would change the way she taught, communicated, and listened in both her professional and personal life. A certified council trainer, Natalie has worked in the leadership and classrooms of Palms Middle School, Daniel Webster Middle School, Paul Revere Middle School, and the Marlton School for the Deaf, and coordinates the Pressman Academy Middle School council program. She was also a trainer and mentor in two non-profits as part of the Social Justice Council Project through Center for Council. Natalie was a Language Arts teacher for 24 years. She has her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in West Los Angeles.
Jodi has been a certified council trainer since 2008 and has been facilitating councils and mentoring teachers in using the practice since then, with a specialty in the elementary grades. She is also a lawyer and a yoga teacher.
Program Coordinator, Canada
Lori Austein is a council trainer and facilitator, hypnotherapist and coach, and Waldorf teacher. Past experiences as a lawyer and program coordinator for the Cowichan Intercultural Society have informed her appreciation for justice and diversity. She is about to celebrate 20 years of making council a part of her personal and professional life. Lori has facilitated programs for youth, educators, non-profits and in the field of mental health. She lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia where she lives Council with her husband and delights in being a step-mother to an adult step-daughter and a mother to an adult son. She mentors a group of council facilitators as we continue to grow the practice of council in Canada. She likes to spiral in to serve the trainer community now and again, serving currently on the Trainers Mentoring Circle. She continues studies in transpersonal psychology and hypnotherapy at The Wellness Institute and she and her husband recently spent some time training in Flesh & Spirit with Jack Zimmerman. “I have a deep love for human beings and a great trust in the power of authentic expression to bring forth inner peace, deep and satisfying relationships, and more peaceful communities. I bring compassion to the tender places, my own and others, encouraging health and growth.”
Doug is a certified council trainer and has led numerous council training programs over the past decade. Doug has facilitated weekly council circles with students at five schools in Southern California, has guided rites of passage programs for hundreds of teenagers and adults, and served 11 years on the Ojai Foundation Board of Directors. A lifelong writer and editor who loves the power of language, Doug holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and brings to his council work the experience of 25 years in daily newspaper editing, mainly at the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times. His ongoing education also has included a vision fast and other programs at the School of Lost Borders, an initiation weekend with the ManKind Project, and a vision fast with Animas Valley Institute. Doug is an avid musician, hiker, ropes course facilitator, adventure diner, and tree house builder.
Jody has facilitated councils at Crossroads School, Malibu High School, where she also started staff and parent and councils, and the Malibu Leadership Academy, a home school group for middle school-aged children. Jody created The Green Team, a sustainability and community-building program at Marquez Elementary School, and started The Speaking Space, a forum to support adults in times of shared transitions. She currently works with families dealing with the transition of their children leaving home. After receiving her psychology degree from CSUN in 1992, Jody worked as a creative movement specialist with children and discovered that through movement and play with creative visualization children were able to access themselves, and then connect with other children. She uses this experience to integrate movement into her councils to help each child access their inner self.
Valerie Wildman, M.A. Psy.D.(c) graduated from Sonoma State University with a Masters of Arts in Counseling. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and has been certified as an Expressive Arts therapist at Meridian University. Fluent in Spanish, Valerie has worked with children, adolescents and adults from diverse backgrounds in numerous settings domestically and abroad. In addition to her work in mental health settings, Valerie has worked with “at-risk” youth as a VISTA volunteer in the housing projects of San Antonio, Texas, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in the “barrios” of Colombia, South America. Valerie has also done relief work in numerous countries with Operation USA (www.opusa.org) and coordinated trainings by child trauma therapists in Sri Lanka after the tsunami. At Children’s Institute (CII) (www.childrensinstitute.org), she earned hours toward MFT licensure working as an individual and group therapist in Children’s Mental Health programs and the MAT (Multi-Disciplinary Assessment Team) program. She often incorporates the Way of Council into her work domestically and abroad. As a consultant and school program coordinator for over 15 years with Council in Schools, Valerie has also been training, facilitating, and mentoring educators, counselors and students in the practice of "Council" in numerous schools throughout Southern California and has helped to implement sustainable Council programs, including Youth Council Leadership programs. Valerie has also mentored and facilitated Counciland retreats for students, educators and corporate employees at the Ojai Foundation. With a background in the performing arts for more than 20 years, Valerie also enjoys incorporating expressive arts and guided imagery into the Way of Council in various venues, including Council and Guided Imagery programs for USC’s Integrative Medicine Institute.
As a school counselor and educator, Josie has worked extensively with teens and their families. She has created mindfulness-based wellness curriculum for middle and high school students and brought her leadership to both human development and council programs. Trained through The OjaI Foundation and Council in Schools, Josie has led council in various settings and has facilitated rites of passage programs with adolescents. A psychotherapist and educator for over 20 years, Josie has a master’s degree in clinical social work from Tulane University and has worked in a variety of settings as well as different regions of the country including Southern California, Louisiana and the North East.
For over 30 years, Jasmyne has been a midwife to individuals in all fields, helping them successfully overcome personal stumbling blocks and to birth their business, career and projects. She uses her intuitive sense, her gift with the written word, and her years of experience to help bring ideas and aspirations into form. As a certified Council Trainer, Jasmyne has trained and coached individuals, couples, teachers, facilitators, students, communities and families in the art of authentic communication. Jasmyne is the mother of two grown men and lives in Los Angeles, California. She offers her services locally, nationally, and internationally and also spends time in Boulder, Colorado and on Maui, Hawaii. Besides enjoying the great outdoors wherever she is, Jasmyne coaches individuals and groups, and teaches writing in its many forms privately and at UHMC and the Maui Business Resource Center.