Board of Directors

The duty of the BZC board of directors is to serve the sangha by ensuring that BZC fulfills the organization’s mission: to offer daily zazen and other intensive practice opportunities to lay and resident practitioners under the guidance of our abbot, Hozan Alan Senauke, and with the support of our zen center community. In addition it is the board’s responsibility to:

  • Take care of BZC’s finances,
  • Manage BZC’s residences,
  • Keep up BZC’s physical properties,
  • Materially provide for our Abbot and Office Manager, and
  • Generally administer Berkeley Zen Center

Meditation – zazen or “sitting in stillness” – is the center of our practice as well as following and adapting the traditions of Soto Zen Buddhism and our founder Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. At BZC, our everyday activity, as it extends from zazen, is the field where practice finds its full expression.

 Karen Sundheim


Karen has practiced at the Berkeley Zen Center since 1976. She also studied with Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche, Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield. She received Lay Ordination at BZC in 1996, was Shuso in 2006, and received Lay Entrustment from Sojun Roshi in 2010. During her nearly 44 years at BZC she has held many practice positions. She currently leads a dharma study group and teaches Dharma in prisons and libraries. She worked for many years at the San Francisco Public Library, where she was Program Manager of the James C. Hormel LGBT Center. She lives with her wife Nancy and cat Bella in Oakland.

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 Rob Lyons

Vice President

Rob moved to California from the East Coast
in 1976 and raised three children who are
now straddling 40. He has three
grandchildren. He had a career in urban
redevelopment as a project manager and
negotiator, and in the early 2000’s worked
with then-mayor Jerry Brown on a program
to develop thousands of units of housing in
downtown Oakland. Rob has practiced at
BZC since 1996. He received lay ordination
in 2001, and did practice periods at Green
Gulch in 2001 and at Tassajara and City
Center in 2016. He has also been an activist:
he was involved with the Buddhist Peace
Fellowship during the run-up to the Iraq War,
and has been a regular participant in the
Buddhist Election Retreat project, which was
created by fellow BZC members. Rob has
served in several positions at BZC, including
project manager and sesshin director. He is
an amateur practitioner of jazz guitar.

read more about Rob

Erna Andre 


Erna started practicing with BZC in
October of 2022, after moving to
Emeryville from Occidental, CA.  There
she had been sitting with Back Porch
Zendo, a small SFZC-affiliate maintained
by Elizabeth and Ken Sawyer. She
received Jukai from Steve Weintraub in
2018, receiving the name Myosui Yodo
(Luminous Water, Gentle Way), from
Elizabeth Sawyer.  Erna does creek
monitoring work in the Sonoma County
watershed, and served on the Board of
Managers for the South Berkeley
YMCA’s after school program.  She ran
her own business including doing the
accounting for many years. Her work life
was with software engineering for
scientific instrumentation and
telecom/datacom equipment

read more about Erna

Ellen Webb

Member at Large

I grew up in Berkeley and my mother was a “friend” of BZC many years ago. I started my Zen practice with Joko Beck and Diane Rizzetto at the Bay Zen Center in 1992. In 2002 I joined BZC and this has been my sangha since that time. I have held several positions at BZC and was Shuso, or head student, in 2018.  I was a dancer and choreographer in New York, Paris, and the Bay Area and at present teach yoga and run a dance studio in West Oakland. I am married and have two grown children and a new grandson.

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Fulani Offutt

Member at Large

Fulani Offutt began her spiritual practice at a young age through her family’s involvement with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her great grandfather was an AME Bishop. At age 12 her father shared a family bible which featured religions of the world; there she learned about the life of the Buddha. Growing up in LA Fulani witnessed the National Guard driving through the neighborhood in tanks. Seeing the disenfranchised in her community she decided to serve with the Black Panther Children’s breakfast program.

Fulani came to Berkeley with her son in 1980 and in the 90s she began her practice while raising three children down the street from BZC. She received lay ordination in 2012 from Hozan, with the name Sin Shin Hon Go, (on the lion’s seat searching the way, you attain wisdom of the Buddhas)She teaches in Berkeley Unified at King Middle School.

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Heather Sarantis

Member at Large

Heather Sarantis is a longtime environmental and human rights advocate. She worked with community groups to lead environmental health and justice research, and developed California’s plan to prevent breast cancer. She currently works in climate philanthropy. She has repeatedly dipped her toe into Buddhism over the past 30 years, and finally broke through to fully embrace the practice a few years ago. She studied with Maylie Scott in the 1990s while participating in the Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement (BASE) through the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She will receive the precepts this October at BZC, with Hozan Senauke as her preceptor. She lives in Berkeley with her husband, Rob, and her 12 year old son, Dylan, who is currently attending BZC’s coming of age program.

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Jonathan Koltz

Member at Large

Jonathan Koltz (Hokai Gendo/Dharma sea, subtle way) came to practice at Green Gulch, started sitting intermittently at BZC in 2011, and has been a regular member since 2018, taking the precepts from Hozan in 2021.  Since 2021 he has also served as the Board Secretary and as Hozan’s assistant.  Jonathan is a lawyer for the State, focusing on telecommunications issues.  He lives in Oakland with his wife, kid, dog, two cats, and seven chickens.

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Member at Large

Rob Walker

Rob Walker has practiced at BZC since 2017 and at SFZC since 2010. He received jukai from Anshin Rosalie Curtis in 2015 and is a student of Kogen Jamie Howell, a lay entrusted teacher in Sojun-roshi’s lineage. An attorney by profession and a writer by avocation, Rob has experience helping non-profit organizations with governance, organizational, and legal issues. Rob lives in Central Berkeley with his wife Lisa and their two dogs, Charlie and Jolene.


read more about Rob

Member at Large

  Dan Jackson

Member at Large

Dan started practicing at BZC during the 2019 Practice Period. He had a daily sitting practice on his own most of his adult life, and also spent time at SFZC.   He’s been married for 36 years and has two children in their early 20’s.  When his kids were younger, he got involved at their school, and served on the Berkeley Montessori School Board of Directors from 2002 – 2009, including two terms as Board President.  He says, “Although the two organizations are very different, hopefully my experience on another non-profit board could be helpful on the BZC Board.”  He is an environmental chemist by profession.
read more about Dan