WE ARE HONORED TO welcome TWO EXCEPTIONAL KEYNOTE SPEAKERS FROM TIBET, AS WELL AS A DYNAMIC ROSTER OF SPEAKERS WHO REPRESENT A SPECTRUM OF CHANGE-MAKERS AND CIVIC LEADERS, AT THE 12TH ANNUAL MACHIK WEEKEND.
KEYNOTE & FEATURED
DR. YONTEN NYIMA
Navajo Elder, Rancher
Violet Ben, comes from the Navajo Nation from the Navajo community of Tohatchi, NM. She is from the Many Hogan Clan, born for the Weaver clan, and Salt People clan are her maternal grandfathers and Towering House Clan are her paternal grandfathers. Violet is married to DJ Ben from Round Rock, AZ for 38 years and is the mother of four children and has three grandchildren. Violet and DJ have raised their children on the bases of Navajo traditions and a ranching/rodeo culture. Violet and DJ operate their family 4B cattle ranch with their children and grandchildren in Tohatchi, NM. Violet and DJ both have their roots in traditional teaching methods and strongly support higher education for their children and grandchildren. Violet, is the matriarch of her family and is the backbone of support for her children and Navajo people.
Native American Program Manager
Grand Canyon Trust
Deon Ben is originally from the community of Tohatchi, New Mexico, and rejoined the Trust’s Native America Program in 2016. Prior to joining the Trust, Deon worked for the Grand Canyon National Park’s Vegetation Program. He earned his B.S. in environmental studies at Northern Arizona University and is currently completing his M.S. in environmental science and policy at NAU. Growing up on Navajo land, Deon experienced the perfect mesh of traditional knowledge and environmental education, which led him to his graduate work focusing on incorporating traditional ecological knowledge to address animal husbandry and grazing within tribal communities that are facing climate challenges. Deon enjoys the isolation and natural beauty of his traditional homeland and looks forward to positive environmental change.
Program Director of Latse, New York City
Pema Bhum is Program Director of Latse in New York City, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion and support of Tibetan language use and literacy. Previously he served as Director of Latse Library, from 2003-2018. He holds an M.A. in Tibetan Studies from the Northwest Nationalities Institute in Lanzhou, Gansu Province (PRC), where he also taught Tibetan language and literature. After his arrival in India in 1988, he founded the first independent Tibetan language newspaper in exile, Dmangs-gtso, and the Tibetan literary magazine, Ljang-gzhon. From 1992-1996, he served as founding director of the Amnye Machen Institute in Dharamsala, India, and for two years taught Tibetan language and literature at Indiana University. He is author of two memoirs of the Cultural Revolution — Six Stars with a Crooked Neck (2001), and Dran tho rdo ring ma (2006)–as well as Heartbeat of a New Generation, now translated into three languages. His short stories have appeared in the literary journal Words Without Borders, and the anthology Old Demons, New Deities. He has also authored several articles, the most recent of which are published in issues of the Latse Library Newsletter. He teaches classical Tibetan language at Columbia University.
SONAM T CHASHUTSANG
Poet under construction
Sonam Tsomo is a poet who writes in Tibetan, English and Hindi. Born in Bir, India, she completed her high school from CST Shimla and later studied at the Sarah Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala. Through a scholarship, she got the opportunity to pursue her undergraduate studies at Miami University in Ohio where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in Communications. Her work is published in Khabdha, an online journal noted as one of the most popular Tibetan literary sites. She currently works as a paralegal at an immigration law firm in New York City.
DR. TENZIN CHOEPHEL
Aerospace Engineer at Pratt and Whitney
Tenzin Choephel was born in India and educated at the Tibetan Children’s Village Schools in Dharamsala. Choephel earned a PhD in aeronautics and astronautics from the Pennsylvania State University with a focus on helicopter aerodynamics. He is currently a senior aerospace engineer at Pratt and Whitney, one of the two major American jet engine manufacturers, specializing in aircraft performance and design. Besides his work, Choephel also serves as a board member of Tibetan Scientific Society, an organization that strives to promote higher education and specialization in scientific and technical fields among Tibetans in exile.
Student at American University
Pema Choekyi, was raised in Northern Virginia and attended the Capital Area Tibetan Association Tibetan School. She holds a Business Administration Associate’s Degree from Northern Virginia Community College where she was on the executive board for their Student Government Association, a student representative for College Senate, College Campus Council, and was a co-founder/tutor for the Northern Virginia Community College English Learning Café where she tutored students learning English through music and pop culture. She is currently attending American University as an undergraduate in Washington DC. There she studies Business Entertainment and is the president of American University Friends of Tibet which she co-founded along with other Tibetan students. In the Spring semester of 2018 she lived in NYC interning for one of the largest independent music licensing and publishing offices called MPL Communications as well as Eastman&Eastman, an entertainment law firm. Pema first actively became involved with Machik as an intern in her senior year of high school and now continues to volunteer occasionally while in university.
Assistant Manager of Himalayan culture programs and partnerships Rubin Museum of Art
Tashi Chodron is the assistant manager of Himalayan culture programs and partnerships at the Rubin Museum of Art. She leads the series, Awakening Practice, a Saturday meditation and mindfulness class in the Tibetan Buddhist shrine room and curates a monthly program on Himalayan heritage. Tashi leads gallery and university group tours as well as teaching adult classes at The Rubin. She also provides trainings to guides and docents on Himalayan and Tibetan Buddhist art and culture. Tashi is the founder and current director of Voices of Tibet, an organization dedicated to conducting interviews with Tibetan elders to save their stories for future Tibetan generations and also to educate the world about Tibet.
DR. JEFFREY CUPCHIK
Founder of Mentoring2Success
Dr. Jeffrey Cupchik is an accomplished composer, academic, mentor, and entrepreneur. He is one of the world’s experts in studying Buddhist liturgical music and ritual, lived in India for three years, and has been on faculty at several leading universities. He teaches ethnomusicology, research methods and ethics, and anthropology. His first book is coming out in March 2019. Over the years, he has succeeded with grants and scholarships in academia, and so, he began to counsel and advise professionals in various fields and different career stages and transitions, etc. He is best known for his signature “MindMappingMakeover” program, which helps people really zone in on their true calling and develop the action steps to reach their goals. He mentors clients through the company he began a few years ago, Mentoring2Success (mentoring2success.com), and plans to scale his social business.
Co-founder and the President of YindaYin Coaching
Chime Dolma holds a M.A. International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and completed her B.A. Political Science and Chinese (double) at Middlebury College, Vermont. She is currently the Assistant Director of Service Learning and is a faculty in the History and Global Studies at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx. Chime is also a Co-founder and the President of YindaYin Coaching, which is non-profit organization that provides quality education to immigrants in Queens. Prior to her current positions, she was a history teacher at Asheville School in North Carolina and ESL teacher at Taft Summer School in Connecticut. Chime grew up in Tibet as an illiterate nomadic yak herder until the age of thirteen. It was no coincidence that she left behind everything she had known to make a perilous journey from Tibet to India in pursuit of education; she eventually immigrated to the United States as a teenager and landed in a tough neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. She is a recipient of several notable scholarships and has served as a speaker for various venues. Chime’s past experiences deeply shapes the work she currently does as an educator. Her love of learning and teaching stems from the belief that everyone is a life-long learner until one reaches complete nirvana (enlightenment)—that is until one leaves this temporal world.
TENZIN YANGCHEN DONGCHUNG
Data Analyst at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Yangchen currently works as a data analyst in the Division of Epidemiology at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. She earned her MPH degree from Georgia State University, Atlanta. While at Georgia State, she led an IRB approved primary survey research study about health insurance knowledge, attitudes, and experiences at GSU’s School of Public Health. Previously, Yangchen received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Manipal University. She has worked as a utilization review nurse and health educator in India, serving Tibetan communities in areas of health insurance and general public health division. At present, she also teaches Tibetan language at New York and New Jersey’s Sunday school program and enjoys playing music in her free time.
Independent and Self-taught Scholar from Serta in Kham
Tsultrim is an independent and self-taught scholar who originally hails from Serta in Kham. Work for his business has taken him all over Tibet, which has enabled him to learn and research different topics of Tibetan culture. He is a cultural expert in Nyingmapa rituals, ritual music instruments and notation, torma and mudra, and traditions of folk and religious culture such as tsa-tsa and the rosary.
DR. YANGBUM GYAL
Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Licensed Acupuncturist
Yangbum Gyal, DTM, L.Ac, is a practitioner of traditional Tibetan medicine and licensed acupuncturist who has practiced Tibetan medicine for over 20 years. He received his Bachelor in Tibetan Medical Science (BTMS) from Malho Medical School in Qinghai Province (Eastern Tibet), his Menrampa (Doctor of Tibetan Medicine) from Men-Tsee-Khang (Tibetan Medical & Astrological Institute) in India, and his Master of Acupuncture from Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in Racine, WI. Dr. Gyal served as a resident doctor, research fellow, and professor at Men-Tsee-Khang, India and its branch clinics in Nepal. He also served as a resident doctor at
Hargay Health Center, Qinghai Province (Eastern Tibet) and taught Tibetan language and topics on Tibetan medicine at Indiana University-Bloomington, IN. He authored the Tibetan Medical Dietary Book: Vol. I, The Potency and Preparation of Vegetables (Men- Tsee-Khang, 2004) and translated One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn into Tibetan, which was published by Gansu Nationality Publishing House (2013), China. Furthermore, he has published and presented various papers on Tibetan medicine and general health topics. Dr. Gyal is currently practicing Tibetan herbal medicine and acupuncture at Tibetan Herbs & Acupuncture in Madison, WI; Medicine Buddha Healing Center in Spring Green WI; Life Force Healing Center in Evanston, IL. Additionally, he also serves as a translator, interpreter, and training officer at Cultural Linguistic Services department, University of Wisconsin - Madison.
Founder & Director of Harlem Grown
Tony Hillery is the Founder and Executive Director of Harlem Grown. Tony founded Harlem Grown to address the health and academic challenges facing public elementary school students in Harlem. In 2011, Tony began volunteering with a local elementary school and was witnessing first-hand the lack of resources allocated to the schools and the poor nutrition of students. While volunteering, Tony noticed an abandoned community garden across the street from the school: students called it “the haunted garden.” The garden was being used as a dumping ground and was completely overrun. Tony rallied volunteers and raised the funds needed to transform the lot into a thriving urban garden, kicking off Harlem Grown’s first-ever growing season. The first year, Tony worked with 400 students to plant 400 seedlings. He watched as students transformed their eating habits and learned skills like patience and responsibility. The first season, they grew 38lbs of produce. In 2016, Harlem Grown expanded to partner with six local Harlem schools, reach over 4,500 youth and grew over 2,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables that are then distributed to families-in-need throughout the community. This year Harlem Grown will open a brand new farm on 127th Street to continue reach more youth in Harlem and inspire them to lead healthy and ambitious lives. Tony continues to inspire youth and adults alike through his work at Harlem Grown.
Founder of the Hatan Foundation
Tunga Jargalsaikhan is founder of the Hatan Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping empower women in her home province of Sukhbaatar, Mongolia. She is a public health and management professional with experience at the local and regional level in Mongolia. She earned her Bachelor's in Science in Psychology from the Mongolian National University of Education and received training from the United States Peace Corps and the World Health Organization. While at the Sukhbaatar Provincial Health Department she led trainings in nutrition, fitness, reproductive health, youth development, and community wellness and helped manage wellness programs across the province tackling challenges like obesity, smoking, drinking. Tunga received her Masters of Arts in Service, Leadership and Management from SIT Graduate Institute focused on international development and nonprofit management. She lives in Vermont with her husband who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia and their puppy Bodhi.
Dr. DECHEN JAMLING
Med-Surgical Nurse at Mercy Hospital
Dechen Jamling earned a Doctorate Degree in Tibetan Medicine from Men Tsee Khang, Dharamsala, India. She served as a resident doctor at Dharamsala Clinic for five years before moving to the United States in pursuit of further education. She was a recipient of the Berea College Scholarship where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. With her training in various healing techniques such as acupuncture, pranic healing and integrative health, Dechen believes that integrative healing is the future model of medicine, and taking charge of one’s health is the key to a healthy living. She currently works as a full-time Med-Surgical Nurse at Mercy Hospital and is a part-time Tibetan Medicine Practitioner in Minnesota. She also serves as the Vice President of Tibetan Nurses Association (TNA) Minnesota where she actively engages in health promotion and education programs in the MN Tibetan Community.
Elizabeth Cheng Krist was a long-time photo editor with National Geographic and is currently editing a book and exhibition on China for them. She curated the Women of Vision exhibition and book, as well as an auction for Christie’s. Krist has judged competitions for The Fence, POYi, Getty Instagram, the RFK Journalism Awards, and has nominated for the Joop Swart masterclass and the Prince Claus award. She has won awards from POYi, Overseas Press Club, and Communication Arts. She has reviewed portfolios for The New York Times, PhotoPlus, and LOOK3. Krist has taught for Syracuse University, CUNY, Santa Fe Workshops, and Kalish. She served on the board of the Eddie Adams Workshop, spoke at GeekFestDC, and helped organize the first Women Focus event at the Newseum.
Journalist & Poet
Born and raised in Amdo, eastern Tibet, Tsering Kyi has been educated in Tibet, India, England and Germany. While in India, she became Miss Tibet in the early 2000s and later traveled to many countries to speak on Tibetan women’s and children’s lived experiences. Afterwards, Tsering studied English, Chinese and journalism while in Europe. For the past 15 years, she has written poems, lyrics, and articles in Tibetan and published three books of poetry. The high regard for her poetry in Tibet has led people to publish her collected works. Tsering Kyi is known to be the longest running Tibetan female blogger with readership totaling over 1 million, and was the sole woman in the well-known writers group Mirab Sumpa in Tibet. Tsering’s work reaches a wide audience of mainstream readers, including pastoralists, monks and nuns, students, educators, etc… Currently, she is active with several writers associations and works as a broadcast journalist for TV and radio.
Intern at Center for Healthy Mind
University of Wisconsin Madison
Pema is currently a research intern working on a study that investigates the impacts of well-being intervention on the brain and body at the Center for Healthy Mind, University of Wisconsin Madison. She holds a master degree in Life Sciences from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi, India. She was born and raised in Ladakh, India and completed all her schooling from the Tibetan Children Village (TCV) schools. During her volunteer period at Tibet Corps at Dharamsala, she succeeded to initiate a free educational program on “Menstrual Hygiene Management” at schools and nunneries reaching more than 500 women and also did a pilot study to learn more about the myths and social meaning relating to menstruation and women’s hygiene in the Tibetan community in exile. She prepared a Brochure on "Menstrual Hygiene Management" in Tibetan language and was also able to inspire the young generation to openly speak about menstrual health. Now Women Empowerment desk under the Central Tibetan Administration is collaborating with Eco Femme on a pilot project to expand the ongoing initiative on a larger scale in the Tibetan community. She also recently initiated a Breathe Kindness project that inspires people to be KIND.
Nomadic Survival Charity
Youdon is a retired UK midwife, public health nurse and lactation consultant. She works to find ways to increase maternal and child health awareness in remote communities and provide basic midwifery training. Her main aim is to protect maternal and infant lives. Born in Tibet, educated in India and the UK. In her private life she has always maintained a special interest in Tibetan dance and music. She is an active participant in the Theatre of The Oppressed, a dramatic arts group associated with Shakti Women's Aid who provide support for minority ethnic women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence. She has authored and acted in plays performed by the group. In her private life, Youdon has always maintained a special interest in Tibetan dance and music. She set up the first UK Tibetan community dance group in 1995. She is an enthusiastic student of the dramyen.
Former UNICEF Representative
Samphe Lhalungpa was born in Darjeeling, India to Tibetan parents in 1950 and later moved to New Delhi, the UK, and then Canada. For twenty-three years, he worked for the UN through UNICEF in Burma, Sudan, Laos, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Turkmenistan on a variety of projects, many involving education in conflict. Given his early years in India and his language and cultural skills, Mr. Lhalungpa was also charged with managing UNICEF’s largest education program. Throughout his career, he has worked with countless national and local governments, NGOs and CBOs, donor partners, and national and subnational groups to take solutions based approaches to global issues. Since retiring, he continues to pursue his work by undertaking yearly projects. Some of his projects include the management of emergency situations with an education focus in Haiti, a Girls Education program in Nigeria, working as an Education Cluster coordinator in South Sudan and Jordan, and working with UNICEF in Amman in response to the current crisis in Syrian. Mr. Lhalungpa is also the fundraising coordinator on the Tibetan Resettlement Project Ottawa.
GREGORY SONAM MULLENS
Former MLB Pitcher, Lawyer
Gregory Sonam Mullens is a Tibetan of mixed heritage. He was born and raised in Canada, but his athletic talents brought him to New York where he played NCAA Division I Baseball for Columbia University. In 2005, at 20, Greg signed a contract with the New York Mets, becoming the first professional baseball player of Tibetan ancestry. After earning Pitcher of the Year honors in his first year, he advanced with the Mets organization and pitched for the Brooklyn Cyclones. Greg's baseball career ended after an arm injury in 2008, leading him to later attend the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. After graduation, Greg first clerked for a judge in Hudson County, New Jersey before becoming a prosecutor for Hudson County. In just a few years, Greg tried over 20 cases, including those involving domestic violence, gun possession, assault and homicide. Currently, Greg is starting a new chapter in his legal career by working for a boutique litigation firm in New Jersey that focuses on criminal defense and internal investigations.
Adventure Cyclist & Writer
Tenzin "Nam" Namdol is an adventure cyclist and budding travel writer. She was born in India and immigrated to the US at age 10. Formerly a student climate change activist fighting extractive industries like coal and natural gas, she now rides her bicycle full time and advocates for more gender and racial diversity within the outdoors industries. Nam is a co-founder of WTF Bikexplorers, a nationwide group that brings together women, transgender, femme, and non-binary cyclists for a 3-day summit and organizes long distance bike-backing tours throughout the country. She started her cyclo-touring journey, Bike for Tibet, in 2016 giving presentations on climate change on the Tibetan plateau in various US cities. She has biked in many US states, Mexico, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Greece. Her writings can be found online at The Radavist, Brooks Cycling Blog, and Bikepacking.
DR. KUNGA NORZOM
Post-Doctoral Psychology Resident
Natalis Counseling & Psychology Solutions
Kunga is a Post-Doctoral Psychology Resident at Natalis Counseling & Psychology Solutions. She earned a Bachelor's in Social Work from St. Catherine University, and a Master’s in Social Work and a Doctorate Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She has previous experience working with adolescents and adults in hospital and community mental health settings. Her current practice includes individual and group therapy, and psychological testing with with adolescents, adults and marginalized populations. Kunga is an active member of the MN Tibetan community. She serves as a board member of the Tibetan Nurses Association-MN chapter where she engages in community outreach work to improve the health, mental health, and well-being of her community. Kunga's clinical interests include Acculturation, Historical Trauma, Immigration and Mental Health, Intergenerational Issues, Asian American Mental Health, Identity Development, and Impact of Oppression. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and photography.
Losang Nyima was born and raised in the small, rural village of Chungba, far from modern cities and therefore influenced by traditional Tibetan culture and religion. He entered Chungba Primary School in 2003 as part of the second cohort of students ever to attend. He was supported by Machik through middle school as well and then introduced to Appleby College in Canada in 2012. Now graduated from Appleby College, he is pursuing a B.A. in Interior Design from Conestoga College in Ontario.
YESHEY DOLMA PALSANG
Retired Civic Engagement Dynamo
Yeshey D Palsang was born in Bhutan and later moved with her family to the first Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe, India where she attended school. In 1963, selected to join the first group of Tibetan girls to travel abroad and study in Europe, she lived in Denmark and Sweden for five years. Later in India, Yeshey worked in the health and education sectors in various places, also as a translator and nourishment provider in the Mundgod settlement hospital; as an office staff member of the Handicrafts center run by Swiss Aid and as a part-time kindergarden teacher in Bylakuppe; as a Montessori teacher at the Tibetan Homes Foundation in Mussoorie; and as a volunteer translator and assistant to the health care provider in Sonada, Darjeeling settlement. In 1978, at age 30, Yeshey traveled to the U.S with her eight-year old daughter to join her husband Kuncho Palsang, the first Tibetan to settle in Boston. An early and active member of the new community, she was actively involved with the Boston Tibet-U.S Resettlement Project (TUSRP) and Tibetan Association of Boston (TAB). From 1988-2015, Yeshey co-founded and worked with the U.S. Tibet Society for School and Culture, a branch of the Swedish-based group that built 108 schools inside Tibet. After a long career of service, Yeshey is now retired and enjoys reading and spending quality time with her grandchildren. Each winter, she and her husband travel on pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, India for teachings and retreats.
DR. LOSANG RABGEY
Executive Director & Co-founder, Machik
Losang Rabgey holds a PhD in gender and anthropology from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies where she was the first Tibetan to become a Commonwealth Scholar. Losang and her sister Dr Tashi Rabgey co-founded Machik, whose mission is to incubate social innovation for Tibet. In 2006, Losang was recognized by the National Geographic Society as one of eight Emerging Explorer from around the world for her innovative work in bridging cultural divides. She also serves as a founding Mentor with National Geographic Society, guiding young explorers. Born in India and raised in Canada, Losang first returned to Tibet with her family in 1987.
PENCHO RABGEY, MSC
Pencho Rabgey, MSC, is Machik's visionary cofounder and a true driving force behind Machik's work in Tibet. Pencho spent the first thirty years of his life as a scholar monk, studying with great masters in Tibet and India. He spent the next thirty years working in a factory in Canada building caskets. As one of the first Tibetan families in Canada, the Rabgeys set up the Potala Tibetan Dance Troupe in 1975, and, in the 1990s, Pencho founded the Chompa Tibetan Cultural Foundation. Pencho returned to Chungba in the 1980s with his family and subsequently dedicated himself to building a school for the local community. He withdrew his retirement funds as the seed money to begin Machik and to build the Chungba Schools. For his lifelong dedication to community service and citizenship, Pencho received the 'Special Achievement Award' from the Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce, at its annual Evening of Excellence in 2014. In 2018, Pencho and family received the Meritorious Service Cross from the Governor General of Canada.
DR. TASHI RABGEY
Research Professor, George Washington University
Strategic Director & Co-founder, Machik
Tashi Rabgey is a Research Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School, specializing in contemporary Tibet and Sino-Tibetan affairs. Through interdisciplinary research initiatives she has led on public policy and governance in Tibet, Professor Rabgey's work has enabled the development of new inquiries into the institutional structure and process of China's policymaking in Tibet. Before joining the Elliott School, Professor Rabgey was a faculty member of the University of Virginia East Asia Center where she was co-director of the University of Virginia Tibet Center. She holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University specializing in political and legal anthropology, as well as law degrees from Oxford and Cambridge where she studied as a Rhodes scholar.
TSERING RABGEY, MSC
Tsering Rabgey, MSC has worked tirelessly to provide quality education for children and youth in rural Tibet. She continues to invest extraordinary time and energy to projects supporting the Chungba Valley community. She received the 'Special Achievement Award' from the Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce at its annual Evening of Excellence in 2014 for her lifelong dedication to community service and citizenship. In 2018, Tsering and family received the Meritorious Service Cross from the Governor General of Canada.
Agriculture Director at Harlem Grown
Ciara Sidell is the Agriculture Director at Harlem Grown. She first delved into New York City's urban agriculture scene through a high school internship at the Queens County Farm Museum. She went on to study Food and Environmental Studies at Wheaton College in MA, where she spearheaded the development of her campus' community garden. During and after college, she traveled extensively - pursuing academic and experiential agriculture opportunities in Israel, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Bhutan. Upon returning to NYC, she involved herself in urban agriculture education through an internship with City Growers on Brooklyn Grange's rooftop farms. In her current position at Harlem Grown, she oversees the daily operation of ten urban agriculture facilities and crafts farm-based experiences for youth and adults alike.
Native America Program Director
Grand Canyon Trust
Tony Skrelunas (Dine), a traditional person with some education, in this modern age was fortunate to be raised in the traditions of his Dine People by his great grandparents. This upbringing drives his belief that a future is possible where we still have our cultural values, our language, our songs and prayers, our daily practice, and we can mesh the modern societies in harmony. He is leading efforts to create respectful investment into culture-based industries like around the Navajo lamb, bed and breakfast, food, and tourism markets. He also is working to recreate traditional trade using an internet platform that will enable respectful services, finding help, sharing one’s business, enable secure payments, accounting, offer advertising, culturally relevant markets such as around sheep herders and their needs, food makers and their needs, artists and their needs. He teaches and motivates about his vision. He has ample experience in recreating systems of government based on old cultural practice and local community empowerment so communities can take care of themselves. He also is the former head of commerce for the entire Navajo Nation.
Director of YindaYin Coaching Center in New York City.
She obtained B.A from Duke University, North Carolina in 2016 and she will be pursuing her Master’s Degree in Comparative and International Education in Teachers College, Columbia University in 2019. Rinchen was born into a semi-farming family in Northeastern, Tibet and is one of the first generation college graduates in her hometown area. Before coming to the United States, she studied in TCV Selakui in Dehradun and United World College RCN in Norway. Rinchen strongly believes that holistic education is one of the most important tools to empower our community and prepare the next generation of leaders.
Co-founder of the Virginia Students Coalition for Mental Health
Choetsow Tenzin is a co-founder of the Virginia Students Coalition for Mental Health, through which she co-authored and lobbied for Virginia 2018 Senate bill 953. In addition to writing policy proposals and lobbying, throughout her high school years, Choetsow was heavily involved in student leadership, student activism, and community service. As a Tibetan American, she maintains a strong passion for human rights issues and international affairs. She is currently taking a gap year traveling and studying before heading to Harvard University next fall.
Tsultrim Tenzin was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and is the first artist in his family. Tsultrim displayed a deep interest in art at an early age and it was in New York City, where he cultivated his talent. Tsultrim studied classical drawing and painting at the prestigious academy, Grand Central Atelier under the renowned artist Jacob Collins. He creates paintings that he finds beautiful through form, tone, and color as his heroes such as Rembrandt and Velazquez once did. He uses a synthesis of sorts, mixing the masterful language of the past with society as it is today, reminiscent of the Naturalists such as Bastien Lepage and George Clausen. Tsultrim’s oil paintings are an exploration of the world and the people around him. The Tibetan culture is a very personal theme that the artist continually finds himself exploring. Tsultrim continually expresses one of his life’s mission of creating timeless paintings that reflect the strength and beauty of the Tibetan people and culture. Tsultrim is a recipient of the Anders Larson-Toich Fund Scholarship, Alma Schapiro Fund Scholarship, Neil Patterson Award of Excellence, and the GCA Structure Prix. Tsultrim is currently living and working in his studio in New York City. "
Student at the University of Maryland
Tashi Tsering is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Before becoming an international student Tashi Tsering was born in Nyachuka, Tibet, where he spent his formative years. Later he moved with his family to the city of Tianjin, PRC, where he attended school. Along with his father, he moved to the US and attended high school while learning his third language. After successfully completing secondary school, Tashi Tsering took a gap year in order to return to Tibet and lived at a monastery to further his study of Tibetan language and culture. He is interested in both science and cultural studies.
PEMA TSEWANG, SHASTRI
Foreign Rights Manager, Wisdom Publications, Boston
Pema Tsewang was born in Tibet and schooled at Central School for Tibetans, Kalimpong and Dalhousie, and graduated from the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Varanasi, with a Shastri degree. A former Fulbright scholar at Harvard University, has served as the chairman of the board of directors for the Tibetan Association of Boston, and has served in various capacities – as principal, headmaster, and teacher of Tibetan language and literature – at schools in the Tibetan Children’s Village, and as principal and administrator at the Institute for Buddhist Dialectics Dolmaling, both in Dharamshala, India. He currently works as the Foreign Rights Manager at Wisdom Publications, and has also published many books in Tibetan, including poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and translations of works by Dr. Gene Sharp and Charles Dickens. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his family.
Freelance Photographer and Videographer
Anand Varma is a freelance photographer and videographer who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. He started photographing natural history subjects while studying biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He uses photography to reveal the invisible details around us with the goal of sparking a sense of wonder about our world. In 2010, he received a National Geographic Young Explorer grant to document the wetlands of Patagonia and has since become a regular contributor to National Geographic Magazine. His first feature story, called “Mindsuckers”, was published on the November 2014 cover of National Geographic. Since then, he has photographed stories on honeybee research, hummingbird biomechanics and carnivorous bats. Anand lives in Berkeley, California.
Ph.D. Candidate, Naomi Pierce lab, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Zhengyang Wang is a 4th year PhD candidate at Naomi Pierce lab, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University. His thesis research focuses on the evolution and conservation of biodiversity, especially that of Lepidoptera, in the northern Himalaya and Hengduan Mountain region. His most visited field site is Mount Gongga. He is a native of Chengdu, China.
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Massachusetts
Tenzin Woden is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse University from the College of Engineering. She currently works with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Massachusetts as an environmental engineer in the field of wastewater compliance and enforcement. During her time outside of work she is active in Boston Tibetan community. She is one of the founding members of the Tibetan Youth of Boston (TYB) where she leads the identity and culture pillar. She along with her sister and mother also lead the Online Tibetan Education’s Tibetan Language Class. They recently hosted their 5th Annual Mindfulness Retreat last week. Woden is passionate about preserving the Tibetan culture and language.
Student at Duke University
Tenzin Yangkey is a junior at Duke University studying Environmental Engineering and Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate. She grew up in India and attended TCV schools there. Before Duke, she studied A-Levels in UK for two years under Pestalozzi Scholarship. Yangkey’s primary interest lies in solving environmental challenges in the Himalaya and the Tibetan plateau using her technical skills with socio-cultural understanding of the region. This past summer, she interned at Dine’ Policy Institute in Navajo nation, AZ where she learnt more about the challenges that Navajos face, similar to that of Tibetans. At Duke, she is part of Duke Machik Chapter that creates dialogue on campus about various social environmental issues in Tibet.
Kelsang Zhamdhen, was born and raised in Delhi, India and immigrated to the US at the age of 10. Kelsang's professional background is in Nursing but early this year, after attending Machik Weekend 2017, she rekindled her passion for art. Kelsang taught herself to paint and draw from a young age as a hobby. As a child in India, she participated in and won several junior level art competitions as well as had opportunities to exhibit her paintings at local art museums during high school, but unfortunately had to pause that part of her life when she entered nursing school 4 years ago. As a self-taught artist with no formal training, she challenges herself with various mediums and themes, while consistently drawing inspiration from her Tibetan roots. Recently, she has participated in local gallery shows and contributed as an artist for Art for Tibet 2018. Currently, Kelsang is considering to transition her art from a hobby to a profession. Through her artwork, she hopes to showcase and highlight Tibet's rich history and culture. In addition to inspiring and mentoring young Tibetan women artists who may be in a similar position as she was as a young girl.
Program Intern at Machik
Born in India, Tenzin Chokki was educated in India, the US and Greece. In 2009, she and her family immigrated to Boston where she recently completed her undergraduate degree from Tufts, majoring in Child Study & Human Development and Community Health. Her academic and research interests include topics around migration, belonging, mental health, identity development and community wellbeing. During college, Chokki interned and worked with various research and community-oriented organizations, such as Disparities Research Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital. These experiences pushed her to seriously consider and develop her passion for conducting community based participatory research work. Currently, she is a Program Intern at Machik while also contributing her skills in design, editing and program development for other projects. Previously, she has taught at Boston Tibetan sunday school and also worked as a Tibetan interpreter in a legal aid organization and in public schools. In her spare time, Chokki enjoys reading, cooking, music, photography and the outdoors with loved ones.
Co-founder of the Tibetan Youth Alliance Committee (T-YAC)
Chemi Lhamo, is currently the Vice President- Equity and the former Racialized Students’ Collective Coordinator on the Scarborough Campus Student's Union (SCSU) at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is also the co-founder of the Tibetan Youth Alliance Committee (T-YAC) that works on bridging the generational gap in her Tibetan-Toronto community by creating a platform for Tibetan Youth to re-connect with their roots and succeed. She is the youngest board member to serve the Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario as the Youth and Sports Coordinator and currently is a board member of Students for a Free Tibet. She is an organizer, a UofMosaic fellow and an MC on various local community engagements.
Intensive Permanence Services Therapist
Tenzin Paldon is originally from Madison, WI (born in Nepal), but recently made her move to New York a little over two years ago to pursue her MSW from NYU. She currently holds her LMSW and works as an Intensive Permanence Services Therapist serving underserved youth. Paldon’s professional background is in youth work and sees herself continuing to work with this population and field in the future as well.
Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project
Mariam Rauf is a community educator on gender violence (GV) and an advocate for social justice and women’s rights. As the Outreach Program Manager at the Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP), she leads the organization’s communications, training, and outreach programs. Mariam works closely with local and national leaders to address GV and the challenges faced by survivors. Prior to joining DVRP staff, she was on its board of directors including serving as board president. Previously, Mariam worked as the managing editor of a public health nonprofit’s external and internal communications. In between, she was a public servant with the U.S. government, where she stressed the importance of cultural competency and humility, while also advising officials on policy decisions involving regions in the Middle East and South Asia. Mariam is a proud Baloch and intersectional feminist who spends her free time photographing the streets of New York.
TENZING SEDON UKYAB
Program Intern at Machik
Tenzing Sedon graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 2017 with a degree in Art History and Public Relations. Her long-standing interest in Tibetan Art has led to internships with various creative communities and organizations such as Rubin Museum of Art, Tibet Museum of Dharamshala and Machik. She recently published a historiography paper on “Partha Mitter and his Works” in Sankofa: The McGill Journal of Postcolonial Studies, focused on post-colonialism and its effects on Indian Modern Art. Sedon is currently a Program Intern at Machik and was the Event Co-ordinator for Tibet GovLab 2018. She is passionate about Tibetan contemporary arts and antiquities and plans to work collaboratively with artists and craftsmen in the future to create a platform for a public voice for Tibetans in the art world. Born in Nepal, Sedon's education and experience span Nepal, India and the USA.