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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   Hannah Meara

Vice President

Hannah began practice in the 90’s in Chicago temples and periods of work practice at Green Gulch Farm. She has had significant nonprofit board leadership and support experience.  In 2000 she retired at age 60 to move to Tassajara and lived 6 years at San Francisco Zen Center: Tassajara, City Center and Green Gulch. She was ordained as a priest in 2006. Since then she has moved to be close to young granddaughters, first in Santa Cruz and now Berkeley. She was active in Santa Cruz Zen Center (also in Vipassina Santa Cruz) and served as Shuso. In December 2015 she moved to Berkeley and to practice at Berkeley Zen Center. Her dharma name was given last year by her teacher Hozan Alan Senauke.

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 Laurie Schley Senauke


Laurie started formal Zen practice in 1980 at San Francisco Zen Center; she worked at Green restaurant back in the day and lived at Tassajara for 3 years. In 1989 she married Hozan Alan Senauke, moved to Berkeley Zen Center and raised their two children. After several years of intense focus on child-rearing, she gradually returned to more involvement in formal practice. She served as head student (shuso) at BZC in 2003 and received lay entrustment in 2006. In April 2018, she received priest ordination from Daito Steve Weintraub, who gave her the name Kosei Nyokai – Radiant Vow, Suchness Ocean. She received dharma transmission from Steve in September 2021. She also studies and practices hypnotherapy.

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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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Linda Hess

Member at Large

Linda began Zen practice in 1974 at San Francisco Zen Center and has practiced at Berkeley Zen Center since around the turn of the century. She has also practiced with Joko Beck and Diane Rizzetto and participated in vipassana retreats in India and the US. She met her husband Kaz Tanahashi in 1977 at San Francisco Zen Center, where they were married in 1980. Soon two kids, Karuna and Ko, emerged. Linda received lay ordination from Maurine Stuart in 1987 and from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2014.

Linda is a translator and scholar of devotional/mystical poetry from North India—especially the popular poet Kabir, who lived in the 15th century. She has published three books related to Kabir poetry and music and is currently translating a big collection of Kabir poetry from a 400-year-old manuscript! She retired in 2017 after teaching in Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies for 21 years.

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Sue Oehser

Member at Large

I walked through the gate to BZC in 1990 and was lay ordained in 1995 by Sojun Roshi. My dharma name is ju myo sei shin, bright pearl, pure faith.

I’ve held number of positions at BZC including head chiden, co zendo manager, co Saturday director and oryoki cloths maker. I had a Montessori morning preschool in my home for 13 years, have been active as a volunteer in the anti-poverty grassroots lobby called RESULTS. My kids live in Oregon. My granddaughter Sabrina is 22 and graduating from the California College of Art.

My husband Gordon, who died in October, 2019 and I were married 33 years. He used to suggest we use snickers bars in the oryoki bowls (formal meal) in the zendo.

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Penelope Thompson

Member at Large

Luminous Heart Penelope Thompson began practicing with Thich Nhat Hanh in 1987; she attended many of his US retreats and is a member of his Order of Interbeing. She led a sangha in Los Angeles for 10 years. In 2000, she studied with Roshi Egyoku Nakao. She was a resident at Zen Center of Los Angeles for 11 years, and was shuso there in 2009 for a year. She moved to the East Bay in 2016 and joined BZC, where she serves on the Membership and HEAR committees. She is a retired clinical psychologist and hospice chaplain.

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Member at Large

Dean Bradley

Dean Bradley is a long time member of BZC; she has held many practice positions, hammered many shingles, pointed out many songbirds, and asked many questions. Her skills are myriad, too varied to be further enumerated here.

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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.
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