Cindy Garner, MFA, RP, Executive Director
Cindy comes to the Rocky Mountain Mindfulness Center from a wide experiential background. She is an anthropologist and Fulbright Scholar, an author, a teacher, a therapist, a mindfulness facilitator, a single mother, and a student of the human experience.
Growing up near Baltimore, Cindy was raised in an altruistic household in the company of an adopted brother and sister from El Salvador. As a teenager, she volunteered regularly both in her home community and on annual trips to Costa Rica. There she encountered the sensory aliveness of the "Pura Vida" lifestyle and developed a passion for living life to the fullest, and for investigating the world's diverse cultures. As an adopted child herself, she also developed a deep curiosity about her own identity and her place in the world. The questions of belonging and self-acceptance were ones she began to ask with determination during her challenging high school years.
In college at Franklin and Marshall in Lancaster, Pa., she studied archaeology and anthropology, attended field schools in Marshall's Pen Jamaica, and earned a Fulbright Grant to live abroad in Guatemala, immersed in the Mayan culture in a small village on the shores of Lake Atitlan. She spend many years there, enduring near-death experiences, collecting stories, connecting with the Tz'utujiil people, and observing how the culture had been affected by grief and rapid globalization. Her memoir, Out of Grace, is the story of this extraordinary journey.
Upon returning to the States in her late 20s, Cindy settled in Oakland, where she learned to play bluegrass music, earned a Masters Degree in Writing Creative Nonfiction, and trained to become a teacher. Migrating to Colorado in 2009, she embarked upon a career teaching Language Arts, Social Studies, and Spanish in the St. Vrain Valley Public School District. After seven years of this career, which she loved passionately, she found herself overwhelmed in a failing marriage. Throughout the divorce, she navigated her ex-husband's battle with debilitating mental illness, and embarked upon a study of mindfulness to help her manage her own stress and anxiety. Seeing the benefits of the practice in her own life, and aware of a calling to address emotional needs of her students, she began to offer short mindfulness lessons in her classroom. As she witnessed the positive impact upon the decision-making, awareness, and emotional regulation of her students, she grew more vocal about the need for mindfulness and mental health education for her students. She was especially affected by the suicide of a teen Latino student that was handled poorly by the school. However, her administration was not receptive to her advocacy efforts, and she was ultimately released from that job as "not the right fit".
In the wake of that experience, Cindy began to study counseling and, during an advocacy project assignment in her ethics class, she realized that her passion for offering mindfulness to students, especially teens, was still very much alive. In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting, and with her own daughter reaching school age, she grew more and more determined to have a voice and an impact in a way she saw as truly meaningful. As her own personal practice developed, she trained in Hakomi, a mindfulness-based somatic psychotherapy, as well as facilitation of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and the Mindful Schools curriculum. Soon after she started facilitating 8-week MBSR groups, she began to turn her attention and efforts towards teachers, a population she saw as characteristically overwhelmed, under appreciated, in dire need of permission for self-care, and in a position to be agents of social change in the classroom. She is deeply passionate about the mission of the Center, and has made it her life's work to advocate for mindfulness in schools for students and teachers, and to make the practice accessible to those most in need.
Joshua Andert, Mindful Schools Programs, Denver
Joshua Andert was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He attended the University of Puget Sound where earned a Bachelor Arts in History with an emphasis on the cultural history of the United States. Looking to engage that historical legacy in a meaningful and practical way, Joshua joined Teach For America and began working in alternative schools in New Orleans. From there he and his wife took a year off from teaching and traveled abroad spending several months in India and Nepal. Upon his return he began teaching at Strive Preparatory schools where he would also go on to serve as Dean of Instruction. Most recently he served as the Boys Series teacher at the Boys School of Denver where he taught social emotional learning and mindfulness.
Joshua’s tenure as a classroom teacher came to a close in the spring of 2018 when he began to realize that the current state and capacity of our schools are often in adequate to address the social and emotional needs of both our youth and the adults who serve them. Throughout his 10 years in urban schools he too often saw and experienced firsthand how teachers and administers feel the pressure to achieve academic results with their students and thus erroneously miss the fundamental need of addressing their own basic humanity and that of their students first. He believes that with simple and consistent mindfulness-based practices we can begin to cultivate greater awareness of our present moment states and then interact with the world in more responsive and less reactive ways. In the world of education, this translates to adults being more present and readily able to meet the needs of their students. For students, this means they have the tools they too need to navigate their highly stressful worlds.
Joshua also believes that this chronic stress lifestyle is not unique to just our education system and adolescents. In our current world of high paced information technology, social media and political discontent, we all are susceptible to losing our bearings and foundation. Joshua is convinced that now more than ever we need to build the capacity within ourselves and our society to show up fully to our world with greater awareness and compassion for both ourselves and others.
Outside of working to bring mindfulness programing to communities in need, Joshua is a general partner in a real estate development group, a builder of tiny houses, an avid ultrarunner, and a father of three.
Rachel is thrilled to be part of a team full of amazing subject-matter experts working tirelessly to increase the quality of life for adults and children alike.
Rachel comes to Rocky Mountain Mindfulness Center with a broad range of skills. Over the last 10 years, she has been fortunate enough to work directly with executive leaders across multiple organizations to develop sound HR policies and procedures, implement organizational development strategies and manage cross-functional employees. Holding titles from HR Associate to Chief of Staff, she strives to learn everything about the organizations in which she serves in order to deliver results based on best practices. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Colorado, a certificate in Strategic HR Management from Employers Council and is SHRM-CP certified.
Joel Van Egbert or “Super Shark” is what the campers call him, has created and directed camps for nearly 20 years. Joel has worked with over 45000 youth and started nearly 2 dozen programs, He believes strongly that “camp makes you strong” and that “you arrive as the person you are and leave as the person you’ve always wanted to be.” Joel is the co-director of the Mind on Fire Camps and the director of Cal-Wood Camps. “I began meditating 2 years ago. That led into a better appreciation of myself and my time. I wish I had this superpower as a teen - I’m so grateful to be able to build something where kids can master this gift of inner peace and inner-fire.”
Joel lives just South of Boulder with his wife, Lori and kiddos, Ripley & Jasper. Joel enjoys mountaineering and SCUBA diving. His favorite things are sharks, bigfoot, pirates, cowboys and time travelers.
“As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was going to happen.” – AA Milne
Ray Howe MD, offers mindfulness training and has been practicing meditation for more than 15 years. He has trained at the Center for Mindfulness, the mindfulness training program created by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn and been approved to teach the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Some of his interests include helping people incorporate the benefits of mindfulness into their everyday lives, whether at work, home or school. He has been practicing as a Board Certified Family Medicine physician for over 15 years and has additional training in Functional Medicine, Medical Acupuncture and other integrative healing modalities.
Ray Howe, MD,
Daniel Rechtschaffen, Marriage and Family Therapist, is the author of The Way of Mindful Education and The Mindful Education Workbook. He is the founding director of Transformative Educational Leadership. He organizes the annual Mindfulness in Education Conference and Teacher Training at the Omega Institute. Daniel offers keynote speeches and mindfulness trainings at conferences, schools, communities, and businesses, such as University of Wisconsin Madison, Google, Esalen Institute, and schools around the globe. Daniel teaches mindfulness through music, sports, storytelling, games and other creative and engaging ways. He is inspired to utilize mindfulness to help us become more conscious, compassionate, and committed to taking care of this miraculous world we live in. He is the founding director of Mindful Education, a mindfulness-based social and emotional learning platform for educators.
Patricia Rockman is an associate professor with the University of Toronto, department of family and community medicine; cross appointed to psychiatry. She is the past chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians Collaborative Mental Health Network. She is a medical psychotherapist and leads MBCT and MBSR groups. She also provides mentorship and trains clinicians to deliver MBCT and MBSR. She has been educating healthcare providers in stress reduction, CBT and mindfulness-based practices for over 20 years. She is a founder and the Director of Education and Clinical Services at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies and the developer of the MBCT Facilitation Certificate Program.
Patricia Rockman, MD CCFP FCFP, Executive Director of the Centre for Mindfulness Studies
Thaxter Williams has senior level experience in financial services and business management, including accounting, taxation and financial planning. He also has extensive knowledge of risk assessment and insurance, as well as investment products. Thaxter has consistently demonstrated abilities to simplify complex problems, meet demanding objectives and easily gain the confidence of both staff and clients. He earned his Master of Science in Taxation at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California, and holds a B.A. in Business Administration. He is the past president of the Longmont Twin Peaks Rotary, the Chair of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, and also serves on the board of the Longmont Affordable Housing Corporation. Previously he was involved in the Longmont Chamber of Commerce, the St.Vrain Valley School District Leadership Program, and the Longmont Community Justice Partnership.
Thaxter Williams, CPA, MST, Longmont Downtown Development Association
Jessica Morey, MA is the Executive Director of iBme. She began practicing meditation at age 14 on teen retreats offered by the Insight Meditation Society (IMS). She returned every year for 6 years and then participated for 10 years in an IMS young adult mentoring group. Jessica has attended longer retreats (1-3 months) in Asia and the U.S., and is a founding board member and lead teacher for iBme teen retreats. Before joining iBme, Jessica worked in clean energy and climate policy and finance. She holds a BA in Environmental Engineering from Dartmouth and Masters degrees in Sustainable Development and International Affairs. Her published works range from the chapter ‘Ordinary Awakening’ in Blue Jean Buddha to Conflict Resolution of the Boruca Hydro-Energy Project: Renewable Energy Production in Costa Rica. Her experience of bringing mindfulness into her work and life was described in a 2012 Shambala Sun article ‘Dharma 2.0.’ More recently she wrote an article in the February 2014 Mindful Magazine, ‘Finding My Way,’about her experience learning and benefiting from mindfulness throughout her young adult years. She is an avid yoga practitioner and skier and loves dancing in any form.
Executive Director, iBme
Michelle Benedict is the Program Director of BeMindful, a Denver-based organization inspiring communities to engage in the practice of mindfulness. She brings years of classroom teaching experience, along with a strong background in sales, marketing, and management to the Rocky Mountain Mindfulness Center's advisory council. She incorporates mindful living into her personal and professional life, and advocates mindfulness and trauma-informed responsiveness for all sectors of our society. She earned a master’s degree in education from Lindenwood University and is currently resides in St. Louis, Mo. She has received training in several mindfulness and self-regulation programs and is certified in Mental Health First Aid for Youth.
In 2017, she presented “Rise Above with Mindfulness” at the TEDx Lindenwood event. Michelle has spent years giving lectures and enrichment workshops for children and adults, aimed at fostering a more connected and mindful world.
She is a proud parent of four young adults and spends her free time communing and camping in nature.
Janet’s passion for contemplative practice began at age 16 when she took her first course in Transcendental Meditation at a community center in Missouri. Her subsequent discovery of the profound healing available through yoga in her early 20’s and, 10 years later, mindfulness meditation, has fueled her commitment to offering these practices to others. A Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice, Certified MBSR teacher, trained MBSR Teacher Trainer, and a graduate from the University of Oxford’s Master’s in MBCT program, Janet has taught 35 MBSR & MBCT courses in the Four Corners region, including in the Durango Cancer Center and Telluride, CO. She offers presentations and workshops on mindfulness for wellness, cancer recovery, and Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness training to hospitals, cancer support organizations, schools and in the community.