Practice Leaders

Senior students at Berkeley Zen Center present public talks, lead classes and ceremonies, and offer practice discussion (formal and informal one-on-one meetings) with individual students. The following presents brief introductory information about these sangha members for those wishing to know more about the practice leadership in our community. Senior students may be contacted with information provided below, or in the membership directory, or as posted on the patio bulletin board.

Leslie Bartholic

Shinko Seiwa (Deep Lake Clear Peaceful)

Leslie began Zen practice in the early 90s with a Thich Nhat Hanh sitting group, and also participated in monthly sittings at Green Gulch Zen Center. She began her practice at Berkeley Zen Center in 1999 and received lay ordination from Sojun Roshi in 2002. She has held several practice positions at BZC, and served as Shuso in 2011. She currently co-leads a dharma group with her husband Jake. Leslie is co-teacher at Mount Diablo Zen Group in Pleasant Hill. She retired from teaching in the public schools in 2013, having worked as an inclusion specialist facilitating the education of students with severe disabilities. She volunteers at Mount Diablo State Park, and enjoys hiking Bay Area trails and exploring the wilderness areas of California. She lives in Pleasant Hill with Jake and their two cats.

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  Ross Blum with Sweetpea, the temple cat

Seishi Tetsudo (Pure Determination Penetrate Way)

Ross has lived in Zen temples over half his life. He began his practice in 1984 under the abbacy of Bernie Glassman at The Zen Community of New York. In 1987 he entered residency at Berkeley Zen Center and became a Lay Entrusted student of Sojun Roshi.

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Mary Duryee Mary Duryee


Mary is a retired psychologist and mediator.  She first walked through the gate at BZC in 1993; received lay ordination from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2004; and was shuso in 2017.  Her dharma name is Honkyo Josu:  Original home, Stillness.

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AlexandraF Alexandra Frappier

Seishi Yusho (Clear Resolve Courageous Life)

Alexandra started formal practice in 1974 as a resident of an ashram for seven years, then joined the San Francisco Zen Center in 1987. She moved to Boulder, Colorado, practiced Tibetan Buddhism for 3 years, and returned to SFZC in 1993 as a resident. She received lay ordination in 1995, and in 1997 moved to Berkeley to practice at Berkeley Zen Center, whe shenow resides. She received priest ordination from Sojun Roshi in 2007, and was shuso in 2010. She has retired after working 30 years as a legal assistant.

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 img_4048 Susan Marvin

Sen Tei Ko Kyo  (Spring Garden Virtuous Presence)

Susan grew up in Vermont and came to San Francisco in 1980.  A circuitous route led her to formal practice with Sojun Mel Weitsman at Berkeley Zen Center in 1991, where she immediately felt at home.  She received lay ordination in 1995 . She left temple practice in 2003 for about a decade when she and her husband Victor were raising their child. She happily returned when their daughter was about to begin high school, and she was the head student (Shuso) in 2015. She was given Lay Entrustment in July 2019. She teaches English as a second language at Contra Costa College and City College of San Francisco.  She studies voice and quite enjoys gardening, skiing, backpacking, and family life as well.

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RaulM Raul Moncayo

Imo Denkei (Suchness Field of Blessings)

Raul was born and raised in Chile as a Chilean-American citizen and has had continuous and intensive practice at Berkeley Zen Center since 1978. Lay ordained in 1985 and shuso during the BZC 1992 practice period, he received priest ordination in 1999 and dharma transmission in 2010. In the past he has led a practice period in Chile, as well as programs on Zen and Judaism within the Bay Area Jewish community and the Jewish renewal movement. Raul leads a meditation group for clients in a public clinic context, as well as a dharma group for students undergoing mental health and psychoanalytic training. Raul is also a psychologist and a supervising psychoanalyst.

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Ron photo 09 Ron Nestor

So On So Do (Kind Plain Simple Ancestral Way)

Ron grew up in Berkeley and joined Berkeley Zen Center in the early 70s. He was a resident both at BZC’s first home on Dwight Way and later at Russell street. Ron was head student (shuso) in the early 90s and received lay recognition in 2012. He lives with his wife in the Grand Lake district of Oakland, and is a manager at a massage and yoga center in San Francisco. He is currently BZC class coordinator.

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Gerry Oliva Gerry Oliva

Seisen Ikushin (Pure Spring Nourishing Heart)

Gerry began Zen practice in 1989 at Green Gulch Zen Center and has studied with Tenshin Reb Anderson. She transitioned to practice at Berkeley Zen Center in 1996 and was lay ordained by Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1997. She was Shuso at BZC in 2008. She spent several 3-month practice periods at Tassajara Mountain Zen Center. She received priest ordination from Sojun Roshi in September of 2012 and Dharma Transmission in 2017. Gerry facilitates the BZC Wednesday night drop-in group and the 20’s 30’s Dharma group. Gerry is a retired pediatrician with a focus on community public health on the faculty of UCSF Medical School for over 20 years. She still does some part-time consulting for UCSF. She has two grown sons and one grandchild and delights in kayaking, birding, hiking and family life.

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 Peter Overton

Unzan Kakudo (Cloud Mountain  Realize the Way)

Peter first came to Berkeley Zen Center in 1969, and practiced here, at Zen Mountain Center, and at San Francisco Zen Center until 1984, when he and his wife Susan returned to Berkeley to raise their family. He has made Berkeley Zen Center his practice home since that time. While in San Francisco, he managed the Tassajara Bakery for six years, and was ordained by Zentatsu Baker Roshi in 1978, and served as shuso at Tassajara in 1983. He received dharma transmission from Sojun Roshi in 2015. Peter has an ongoing interest in how we speak with each other, both inside and outside of sangha settings, and has held study groups at BZC on non-violent communication (NVC) and right speech.

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 Laurie Senauke

Kosei Nyokai (Radiant Vow, Ocean of Suchness)

Laurie started formal Zen practice in 1980 at San Francisco Zen Center; she worked at Greens restaurant back in the day, and lived at Tassajara for three years. In 1989 she married Hozan Alan Senauke, moved to Berkeley Zen Center, and raised her 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 recognition in 2006. In April 2018, she received priest ordination from Daito Steven Weintraub as Kosei Nyokai – Radiant Vow, Suchness Ocean. She practices hypnotherapy and has been co-leading “Write What You Don’t Know” retreats at San Francisco Zen Center.

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Karen Karen Sundheim

Nyu U Ho Sho (Gentle Rain Dharma Blossom)

Karen has practiced at the Berkeley Zen Center since 1976. In addition, from 1978 to 1993 she studied Tibetan Buddhism with Choygam Trungpa Rinpoche and Vipassana meditation with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield. She received lay ordination at BZC 1996, was shuso in 2006, and received Lay Entrustment from Sojun Roshi in 2010. During her nearly 35 years at BZC she has held many practice positions, including sesshin director, tenzo, and librarian. She currently co-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 and two cats in Oakland.

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Andrea Thach

Yakuso Ryushin (Healing Source / Dragon Heart)

Andrea began formal practice in 1994 in the Vipassana tradition. In 1997 she joined a Buddhist Peace Fellowship program for socially engaged study and practice and met Kushin Maylie Scott, who became her first teacher and lay ordained her in 2000. Andrea has practiced at BZC since 1999, was ordained in 2005, was shuso in 2009 and received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2015. She also has studied with Shohaku Okumura for many years. After a rewarding “post transmission fellowship” at Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, WA, she returned  in 2019 to continue practice at her home temple and medical practice in the communities she loves.
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Jake_Van_Akkeren Jake Van Akkeren

Hoshin Bokuren (Dharma Faith Unadorned/Straightforward Practice)

Jake began practicing at Berkeley Zen Center in 1998 and was lay ordained in 2001 by Sojun Roshi. He was shuso in 2013 and received lay entrustment in 2017. He currently co-leads a dharma group with his wife Leslie Bartholic. Over the years he has held a variety of practice positions at BZC and also served on the BZC board for ten years including being president. Now retired, he taught for many years in the California public school system. Jake lives in Pleasant Hill with his wife and their two cats. He enjoys his volunteer work with the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, Sierra Club and Burton Valley Elementary School. His interests include reading, hiking, backpacking, bicycling and senior softball.

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