Faces Of June 2016 Laddership Circle!

Posted by Audrey Lin on Jun 1, 2016
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As we gear up for our June Laddership Circle, we’re thrilled to dive into a summer of designing for transformation with fellows from Australia to Spain, UK to Lebanon, India to across the United States!

After four rounds of these circles, we look forward to kicking-off another batch of 2 concurrent circles with a spirited team of 8 volunteers! :) 

Here's more on our inspired crew! One circle includes...

Penny Elsley is motivated by a deep sense of connectedness with all living things. After years teaching music, she gave away all her possessions and volunteered around the world—a journey that spanned 2.5 years. Upon returning home to Australia, she found herself working in remote aboriginal territories and with refugees in Sydney. A dinner to introduce established locals with migrants led her to launch Joining the Dots, a social movement to inspire deeper connections among communities, with “Welcome Dinners” and beyond.

Donna Pinto has been a seeker of life’s deeper meaning since she was a teenager, and her trademark simplicity and extensive travels have deepened her understanding and capacity for life. After being diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer in 2010, she was overwhelmed with being gifted hours of coaching and healing treatments from a holistic health practitioner. Transformed by the process, she became an avid researcher, blogger, Certified Nutritionist, health coach, and most recently founded Give Wellness to educate, inspire, and support individuals and groups towards greater health and healing.

Based in Vietnam, Hang Mai seeks to build business that “cares for the universe first.” After a decade working in Corporate Social Responsibility for a global sporting goods brand, she realized the importance of change coming from within. She was propelled on an inner journey, where she learned to observe her mind with Chi Gong, care for her body with macrobiotics, and tune into the art of “doing nothing”. In 2009, she founded Xanh, a business consultancy and shop that promotes sustainable solutions and offers local, organic products to her community. Most recently, she’s channeling her passions towards a local economy and experiments in radical generosity. More in her Sensing Journey with the Global Wellbeing Lab.

Jaideep Rao is based in Bangalore, India. By day, he works in software development and by nights, weekends, and all other hours, he serves around the clock—orchestrating a volunteer-run Saturday school for underprivileged rural youth, developing an open-source values-based educational curriculum, amplifying stories of unknown changemakers and supporting an annual inclusion summit for individuals with disabilities.

From San Francisco, Amir Chima is a father of two, husband, and son who seeks to draw out deeper values in all around him—whether by inspiring mindfulness practices in the 200-person real estate company where he works, running a marathon in honor of his mom and to support research of the cancer from which she passed away, pilgrimaging along the Camino Inglés, or dreaming up a chai business centered on community and the betterment of others with core ingredients of compassion, humility, and love.

Hailing from Nebraska, Ameeta Martin is a mother of two and has been a practicing pediatric cardiologist (with remarkable stories!) for 30 years. In recent years, her journey of inner reflection has found her diving deep into invisible service, acts of kindness, Ayurveda, and a resounding reverence for life.


After a childhood in Argentina, Monica Dabos lived around the globe. After 15 years in monastic life -- where she lived and served in temples from Germany to Uraguay to India to Tallahassee -- Monica is now based in Santa Barbara, California. She's a statistics professor and dedicated convener of a volunteer-run dance community whose potential for transformation inspires her on a daily basis.


After a decade in the corporate world, Manu Granados redirected her focus towards community service. Inspired by the burgeoning movement of social innovation, and a strong believer in the importance of building bridges, she’s an active coordinator (with Penny!) for Joining The Dots in Sydney, Australia. In other hours of the week, she serves as a mother, friend, graphic designer, and enthusiast of the pay-it-forward spirit.


And the faces of our other batch are…

Laurie Mulvey creates classroom spaces that revolve around students rather than lesson plans. An instructor of sociology at Penn State University, a series of incidences led her to co-found and direct World in Conversation, a cross-cultural dialogue program that has become the largest in the United States. Each year, 1,200 undergrads facilitate face-to-face dialogues with 8,000 peers. The work has inspired a groundbreaking Social Conflict course, and worked in conjunction with programs like UNDP, NATO, and organizations whose localities span from Pakistan to Iran, Kuwait to Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Italy, Belgium, Thailand, and beyond.  More in this recent conversation.

From Cork, Ireland, John Sweeney believes that kindness begets kindness. Inspired by the tradition of “caffè sospeso” in working-class cafés of Naples, Italy, in 2013, he launched a Suspended Coffees movement that’s inspired thousands of cafés to facilitate anonymous pay-it-forward coffees amongst their patrons. He speaks and writes passionately on Why Kindness Matters, its relevance in transforming bullying, and last year launched a 28-hour global video conference to shine light on diverse journeys in generosity.

Meghna Banker is a dedicated servant “ladder” based at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India. A talented filmmaker, graphic designer, and artist, to many of us, she’s perfected the art of invisible service—whether in supporting “heARTists in action” with Wisdom Crafts, hosting weekly meditation gatherings in her home (with some remarkable stories!), or as a down-to-earth mother, where she continually inspires with many profound lessons from her 5-year-old daughter.

Samar Zebian is based in Beirut, where she is a cognitive scientist, mother and wife with visions to hold space for deeper values amongst youth. Amid her academic research that spans cultural cognition and the development of modern psychology and its place in the Arab world, she comes alive when teaching undergraduate seminars on love and compassion, and is dreaming up a “Mind and Spirit Lab” for youth to learn and engage in inner reflection and practices in an open environment that welcomes all backgrounds and faiths.

Bill Acevedo wondered why expressions of compassion and empathy are not more mainstream. So he embarked on an educational journey and discovered that as our speed and ease of communication have evolved, certain forms of expression have devolved. For example, "Telephone your happiness" in 1911 versus "Can you hear me now?" in 2001. To remedy this, in recent years, Bill and a crew of partners and advisors (including his children, who are his chief feedback officers!) have been pouring their creative energies into BequeathIt, an app and platform to inspire expressions of gratitude and our interconnections.

Rina Patel is a recent graduate of Drexel University who carries a heart of service and lens of possibility in all aspects of work and life. A writer, social worker, storyteller, photographer, and explorer with a background in marketing and business development, upon graduating high school, Rina started Aahana, a nonprofit to empower communities in the U.S. and India through education. Then, after completing a 5 year university degree in 4 years, she backpacked across Asia, spending extensive time volunteering at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India. Now she's dreaming up designs for a "Voices of Altruism" platform to amplify the stories of youth activists working in rural Gujarat, India as well as documenting the powerful journey of her immigrant parents.

Joserra González is inspired by a “R-Evolution” across the planet. From immersive experiences volunteering in India, to hosting weekly grassroots expressions of stillness and service in his hometown of Burgos, Spain, to launching a weekly pay-it-forward restaurant with his local community, and spending his spare time gardening and translating values-based content into Spanish, his energetic spirit constantly weaves a community of stillness, sharing, and service to all around him.

Ani Devlia is a hidden treasure of London. From hosting monthly Awakin gatherings and spontaneous circles of sharing, to opening up her home for day-long ‘inner-service’ retreats, to spreading ripples from homeless shelters to inaugural Karma Kitchens in her city—at any given moment, you can find her organically planting seeds and connecting hearts from Europe to Asia!

To add to the mix, our spirited team of 8 anchors include Bonnie from LA, Liam in London, Mihir and Parag in India, and Somik, Birju, Nipun, and me in the Bay Area. On top of that, a team of invisible volunteers have thoughtfully revamped our curriculum, are scheming up guest speakers and other surprise possibilities as the circle unfolds!          

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Comments (7)

  • Liam Chai wrote ...

    Wooooooooooooooow what a line up!! I'm feeling super excited and honoured to be volunteering in this new round of ladders :-)

  • Meghna Banker wrote ...

    Yay!!!! :) super excited!

  • Pavi Mehta wrote ...

    Amazing to see the diversity and resonance (not to mention radiance!) in each snapshot and story. #GoLaddershipCircles! Thank you for tending to inner transformation in this unique way.

  • Jaideep Rao wrote ...

    #GoLaddershipCircles :) Excited to be a part :) :)

  • Preeta Bansal wrote ...

    What an amazing group!

  • Laurie Mulvey wrote ...

    Can't wait to meet all of you!

  • Zilong wrote ...

    Wow! #GoLaddershipCircles! :) Feel like falling in love with each of the shining faces just from reading these well-curated snippets of their wider magic! Thanks to all the ladders, visible or invisible!!