Center Teachers and Ministers
Our Founder and Spiritual Director, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian, eleven Kriya Teachers (Associate Ministers), and many other CSE Teachers and interns support the work of the ministry at our CSE World Headquarters and beyond. See listings below to call or email a minister or leave a message on the main line (408) 283-0221.
Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian
Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian is a Founding Teacher and the Spiritual Director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment (CSE) with headquarters in San Jose, California, serving seeking souls since 1981. CSE is a meditation center in the spiritual tradition of Kriya Yoga that serves people from all faith backgrounds who are seeking Self- and God-realization.
Yogacharya O’Brian was ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda who brought the teachings of Kriya Yoga from India to the West.
Publications She is the author of several books on meditation and spiritual practice including Living the Eternal Way: Spiritual Meaning and Practice in Daily Life, and is the Founding Editor of Enlightenment Journal, a quarterly yoga magazine as well as author of CD lessons on the classic spiritual works: The Gospel of Thomas, The Bhagavad Gita and The Upanishads. A published author of devotional poems, she is also the lead singer of Gitanjali, a kirtan band that offers devotional chanting.
Rev. Sylvia Karuna Lunt was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1987 and ordained in 2000. She serves as a Senior Kriya Yoga Teacher and Executive Minister. Karuna leads the Ministry Services Team which is responsible for worship services, youth spiritual education, and all aspects of community ministry. As VP of Board Operations, she draws from decades of experience in the business sector as she oversees Center-wide operations, which includes fundraising, upkeep of the ashram grounds, human resources, and administration. Additionally, Karuna supports the ministerial team, and oversees development of affiliated meditation centers in the community.
She can be reached at ext. 16
Rev. Sundari Jensen met her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, in March of 1992 and was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her in 1999, and ordained in 2002. She serves as a Senior Kriya Yoga Teacher and Executive Minister. Sundari leads the Core Teachings Team which is responsible for all classes and retreats related to yoga and meditation. As Provost of Meru Institute, Sundari draws on her vast experience as an educator as she oversees the training and preparation of teachers and leaders. Sundari acts as editor-in-chief for CSE’s quarterly magazine, the Enlightenment Journal. She oversees CSE Press and the global marketing team that is responsible for publishing books, audio/video production, artwork, websites, digital and print media. Sundari also serves as executive assistant to Yogacharya.
She can be reached at ext. 27
Rev. Marcella Shanti Macartney was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, in 2002 and ordained in 2006. She serves as an Executive Minister and oversees the Compassionate Care Ministry. Shanti drew on 25 years of experience with end-of-life care to develop the Sacred Care Giving certification training program to support hospice and healthcare providers, as well as those who are caring for a loved one. She also oversees Sacred Ceremonies, which includes weddings, memorials and blessings. Shanti serves on the Board Leadership Fundraising Team.
She can be reached at ext. 28
Rev. Pat Kirti Hall was initiated into Kriya Yoga by her spiritual teacher, Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, in 2002 and ordained in 2006. Kirti serves as faculty for Meru Institute, teaches hatha yoga at CSE, and serves on the Volunteer Services Board Leadership Team.
Rev. Elena Kanti Fritchle was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2002 and ordained in 2007. She is an Associate Minister and serves as the Youth Spiritual Education and Family minister and youth teacher. She oversees the Sunday Youth and Teen program, Living in Joy Afterschool programs, and annual Living in Joy: Summer Spirit Day Camp. She provided home schooling for her children for 12 years.
She can be reached at ext. 20
Rev. Paula Vandana Whang-Ramos was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2007 and was ordained in 2012. She is an Associate Minister at CSE with a ministry focus in developing the South Santa Clara County meditation and yoga center. She is a graduate of Meru Institute and serves on the faculty as well as teaches meditation and Tai Chi/Qi Gong. She is a psychologist with a private practice in Gilroy.
Rev. Malika Lynn Pojhola was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2002 and ordained in 2007. Malika is an Associate Minister and leads the CSE Prayer Ministry. She teaches prayer, affirmation, and meditation and offers support in the Compassionate Care ministry.She is a graduate of the Meru Institute as well as a faculty member. She is a Benefits Analyst and volunteers as a Pathways Hospice Volunteer.
She can be reached at ext. 47
Rev. Devin Atma Sodt was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2009. He is an Associate Minister and serves at CSE headquarters. Devin is a Meru Institute graduate and teaches meditation and spiritual growth practices as well as hatha yoga since 2007, having completed a 500 hour hatha yoga teacher training program.
Rev. Ann Sarasvati Hayes was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2000 and ordained in 2007. She is a CSE Associate Minister, Meditation Teacher, Meru Institute graduate & member of Meru Faculty. Ann and her husband, Rev. Collins, lead a Kriya Yoga meditation group in Santa Rosa, CA. She is a retired Registered Nurse and serves as a Hospice volunteer. She also volunteers as a director on the nonprofit board of Carry the Vision, a community nonviolence education organization. (www.carrythevision.org).
Rev. Jeff Collins was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2000 and ordained in 2007. He is a CSE Associate Minister, Meru Institute graduate, Meditation Teacher, and Men's Ministry Leader. Jeff and his wife, Rev. Hayes, lead a Kriya Yoga meditation group in Santa Rosa, CA. He is an Information Technology Director for Health Metrics Systems.
Rev. Nancy Amrita Ballinger was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1998 and ordained in 2000. She is a Meru Institute graduate and Associate Minister and the Founding Minister of Awakening Spiritual Community in Los Osos. She is a retired mental health therapist.
Rev. Tara Fukuda was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2004 and ordained in 2009. She is a Meru Institute graduate, Meditation Teacher, Arts Council lead and previous CSE board treasurer. Tara is the Controller at Charities Housing Development Corporation, a member of the California Society of CPAs, and the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens previous treasurer and current member. She has served as Board Treasurer for the educational nonprofit, Carry the Vision from 2010 to present.
Rev. Kay Shama Will was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2002 and was ordained in 2012. She serves as CSE Worship Services manager, providing leadership with weekly worship services and the volunteer teams that support it. In addition she is a member of the CSE Board of Directors and the Volunteer Services steering committee. She is a graduate of the Meru Institute and a Registered Nurse at Pathways Home Health and Hospice.
Rev. Shawne Anandamayi Smith was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2006 and ordained in 2012. She is a Meru Institute graduate. A former Social Worker, she currently serves as CSE Retreat Ministry manager and as a member of both the Women’s Ministry and the Tree of Life Welcome Center steering committee.
Rev. Christine Kamala Sodt was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2009. She is a Meru Institute graduate, Meditation teacher, Special Worship Services lead and teaches classes for adults and families, including the Teen Rite of Passage. Kamala is a Social Worker supporting at risk youth in Santa Clara County. She is an early childhood education specialist and part time college instructor teaching child development.
Rev. Joy-Ellen Laksmi Lipsky was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2001 and ordained in 2012. She currently serves in the Prayer Ministry and is a graduate of Meru Institute. Lakshmi is the Secretary/Board Member of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC), a member of the Partner Cities Group, and an Advisor at San Jose State University for the Campus Unitarian Universalists and The Listening Post at SJSU. She is a Marketing and Project Manager.
Rev. Chandra Jyoti Shelley Swan was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2010 and is a graduate of Meru Institute. She serves as the Executive Director of Carry the Vision (CTV). She is a meditation instructor and teaches meditation to children in schools and adults in service sectors in the community as part of CTV’s Restore Program.
Rev. Beverly Rajni Kam, M.Div., was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2007 and ordained in 2014. She is a graduate of Meru Institute, serves on the Board of SiVIC as a representative of CSE in the community interfaith dialog. She is on staff as CSE Executive Assistant, and serves as Secretary on the CSE Board of Directors. She maintains an active private practice as a licensed Marriage & Family therapist.
Ann Bhakti Fisher, M.Div., was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2004, graduated from Meru Institute in 2012, and ordained in 2014. She serves as the President of the CSE Board of Directors and participates on the Resource Development team. She is a Meditation Teacher. Ann is a Managing Director of Client Relations.
Rev. Dr. Laurel Prema Trujillo was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2003 and ordained in 2014. She is a member of the CSE Board of Directors. She is currently a guest host sitting in for Yogacharya on the Yoga Hour online radio program. She is a medical doctor who formerly worked at a multi-specialty medical group with a focus in Quality Improvement.
Rev. Molly Burke was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and is an intern at Awakening Interfaith Community. She serves on the Board of Directors at Awakening, teaches meditation classes in Avila Beach, and offers Spiritual Direction.
MINISTRY INTERNS: CSE, San Jose
Tina Rama Margason, M.Div., was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2008 and is a graduate of Meru Institute. She serves as CSE Labyrinth leader and is a certified Labyrinth facilitator. A former school teacher, she developed a program for middle school to teach students how to use a labyrinth to resolve conflict. She currently trains students, teachers, and parents in this conflict resolution intervention.
Brian Rajendra McIntyre was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2007. He currently serves on the CSE staff as the Ashram Facilities Manager and as an independent professional handyman. He is currently studying in Meru Institute and completing his 200hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training. He teaches meditation and Hatha Yoga, serves on the CSE Board of Directors and the Board Leadership Facilities Team.
Claire Hayes was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2009 and leads the Morning Sadhana team. She is a graduate of Meru Institute and completed her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training certification program in 2015. Claire teaches meditation and hatha yoga at the Center and other locations. She serves as Treasurer on the CSE Board of Directors.
Kim Sri Bick-Maurischat, M.Div., was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1988 and is a graduate of Meru Institute. She is a Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher and is also a certified hatha yoga instructor. She teaches meditation and serves as the Volunteer Manager of CSE’s Meditation Gardens.
Jim Levins, M.Div. was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2010 and graduated from Meru Institute in 2014. He serves on the CSE Board of Directors and as CSE Volunteer Services Manager. He is a classroom volunteer at his son’s school, Washington Open Elementary School, a Relay for Life participant, and actively involved with CSE’s Men’s Ministry Group. Jim's vocation is as a mechanical engineer.
Sue Evanicky has been a devotee on the Kriya Yoga path for five years. She continues to study with her teacher Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian, a disciple of Roy Eugene Davis. Sue is completing her Masters of Divinity degree and is also enrolled in Yoga Teacher Training at Meru Institute. She is a business owner of a small accounting practice specializing in supporting non-profit organizations with their accounting and bookkeeping needs.
Olivia Soza-Mendiola was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and graduated from CSE's Meru Institute in 2015. Olivia was certified as a CSE Youth instructor and Meditation Teacher in 2014. She currently serves as volunteer Manager of CSE's community Satsang's with Yogacharya O'Brian and as Co-Manager for the Annual Sheltering Tree of Compassion Event. Olivia is currently serving on the Sunday service greeter team, morning Sadhana meditation services, the Compassionate Care Ministry Committee and serves as a Meru Institute volunteer.
Genie Palmer, PhD. was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Roy Eugene Davis in 2013 and then later with Yogacharya O’Brian. She completed Meditation Teacher Training (MTT), is a certified meditation teacher, and enjoys teaching meditation. She is Team Lead for the Welcome Ministry and for Community Orientation, and serves on the Temple Team as an usher and Space Holder. She previously held the position of Executive Core Faculty at Sofia University where she served as Director of the Writing & Research Center and Dissertation Director. She is also a retired RN, having worked in the medical field for over 30 years.
Zachiah Viveka Murray has been a community member at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment since 2003. She is a graduate from the Meru Institute class of 2012, teaches meditation classes, is the Teen Program Leader for the YSE Program, and is the Assistant teacher in the Teen Rite of Passage program. Professionally, she is a Registered Landscape Architect, Certified Massage Therapist and Active Release Practitioner, and is the author of Mindfulness in the Garden: Zen Tools for Digging in the Dirt.
MINISTRY INTERNS: Los Osos
Julie Hitchcock was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 and is an intern at Awakening Interfaith Community. She teaches meditation and Sacred Parenting class.
Nita Kenyon was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 2011 at Awakening Interfaith Community. She was ordained in 2016 and is currently the Spiritual Director at Awakening in Los Osos. She is a Meditation Teacher and serves on the Board of Directors at Awakening. She is an Adult Education Coordinator and Website Coordinator.