Professional practitioners of Compassion serving organizations all over the world

Thought Leaders will facilitate our Learning Journey through a wide-ranging subject matter and focus on a shared dialogue and conversation. We will explore the role of the individual and the lived experience, the role of the organization's policies, procedures, and other operational frameworks, and everything in between relating to making organizations more effective through a compassionate-based framework of being.



Dr. Nikki Mirghafori

Dr. Nikki Mirghafori is an internationally known Buddhist teacher and Artificial Intelligence scientist. She is a lineage holder in the Theravada tradition, empowered by the Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, with whom she practiced the jhanas and detailed analytical (Abhidhamma-style) vipassana.  She also received empowerment from the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, Insight Meditation Center, and is a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor.

She serves as a Stewarding Teacher and on the Board of Directors at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, and also as a Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Nikki is Iranian-American, has taught contemplative practices internationally, and aspires to serve as a champion for wisdom and compassion.

Additionally, Nikki has been a researcher and inventor in AI, holding multiple patents and co-author of 40+ scientific research articles.  She has directed international research programs as the Principal Investigator, mentored post-docs and PhD students, taught graduate courses at UC Berkeley, and been a scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups. She is interested in the ethics of AI, among others.

Spirit Rock

Lakiba Pitman

Lakiba was certified by Stanford’s Center for Compassion & Altruism Research & Education (CCARE) in 2014, to teach Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) workshops.

Working with the Compassion Institute, Lakiba develops and delivers public workshops, including culturally relevant specialized workshops for a range of clients. In addition to Stanford’s CCARE program, Lakiba has trained with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, Mindful Schools, Mission Be, The Greater Good of U.C. Berkeley, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics & Transformative Values @ MIT, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) and Stanford’s Designing Your Life for Women (DYL).

Lakiba is a Senior Adjunct Professor at Menlo College and Notre Dame de Namur University. She holds a B.A. in Creative Arts, an M.A. in Organizational Development and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in Consciousness, Spirituality & Integrated Health.

Compassion Institute
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Claude Silver

Claude is an emotional optimist, coach, manager, and mentor. As the first ever Chief Heart Officer it is her great honor to lead at VaynerMedia. She works for aprox 2000 Humans, and she is in touch with the heartbeat of every single person in the company. Her role is to infuse the Agency with Empathy. It's her purpose.

Culture is a texture. It’s a vibe. A feel. And culture is alive. It’s definitely not one or two-dimensional—She thinks culture is very three-dimensional. Culture is, in a nutshell, the heartbeat for me. It is something that absolutely lights up an entire system — if it is in place, and if it is thriving.

She constantly asks herself, how do I hold space for people? How do I make it not about my agenda? She has had an enormously fortunate career. And now this is about her life’s work. It’s bringing together every single personal and professional growth workshop she has attended, every corporate team-building session she has led, every trust fall she has caught. She doesn't necessarily have all the answers; She is helping her employees find their answers.

The CHO was created to scale Gary Vaynerchuk and to make sure that VaynerX and VaynerMedia’s 2000+ employees have a place they can find a home. Her hope is that in our 15-30 minute meetings, they will feel a lot clearer and that they leave with a newfound path to a solution. Which in turn creates success for them and VaynerMedia.

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Lori Hanau

As Founder & CEO of Global Round Table Leadership (GRTL), Lori is on her way to creating another world herself: one that takes a holistic and human approach to business. Inspired by her father’s humanistic leadership at work, Lori wondered why such practices were seldom seen in the business world. Her deep connection to nature, entrepreneurial mindset, and understanding of interconnected systems were grounds for what GRTL would become.

Lori learned her unique approach to leadership from experiences in the natural world, mindfulness, artistry,  sportsmanship, and diversity. Her global travels exposed her to new ways of perceiving the world, and cemented the “common humanity” mentality she continues to develop and practice at GRTL. 

On Lori’s business path, she has been president and COO of a ceramic manufacturing company and was 11 years as faculty and two years as co-chair in Marlboro College’s Graduate School’s Sustainable MBA program. She founded GRTL 22 years ago. As a leader of leadership training, Lori remains a continuous learner through humility: staying open to understanding how to really share power and dismantle old paradigms of leadership. It's a part of her commitment to approach everything she does mindfully (with curiosity and a sense of the sacred), with compassion, love and wisdom.

BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 23: Portrait of Nick Whitaker at Google on November 23, 2022, in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/A&D Creative)

Nicholas Whitaker

With 20+ years of experience at the intersection of media, marketing, education, and technology, Nicholas integrates deep skills in communication and partnerships with subject matter expertise in mindfulness, compassion, and wellbeing.

Nicholas supported learning and development programs at Google and was a key Lead for gPause, Google's mindfulness meditation program.

Nicholas is a mindful life coach and advisor to mindfulness and well-being startups. You can learn more about Nicholas and his work at nicholaswhitaker.com.

Carson Kelly

Carson is an entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in technology startup management, enterprise software sales, nonprofit governance, civic engagement, product development and positioning, business planning, and strategy.

He is the Founder of Benevolently (www.benevolent.ly), which is a web and app platform that creates opportunities for acts of altruism in order to create practices of compassion in people.

He is the Co-Founder of Humanize (www.humanize.com). Humanize aims to reconnect people to themselves, to other and to humanity by offering an evidence-based, inter-subjective mindfulness practice, called the Humanize Dyad.

Carson is also the Founder of Compassion 2.0 (www.compassion2.com), which is a community where professionals can bring compassionate based operational frameworks to their organization.

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Derek Lundsten

Derek Lundsten

To use business as a force for good, Derek Lundsten leads LifeGuides, as a transformative platform for conscious leaders and values-driven cultures. In addition to successfully building companies over the past decade, Derek has been a frequent speaker at key industry events around the globe on innovation. He is an invited contributor for the trades and a sought-after guest for renowned national podcasts, focused on business, technology, entrepreneurship, multi-generational learning, wellbeing, along with innovation and DEI topics.

Derek’s path to becoming President and Chief Culture Officer of LifeGuides was guided and inspired by its powerful destiny to help people minimize their struggles and ultimately thrive in their everyday lives.

Monica Worline

Monica Worline

Monica is an organizational psychologist and founder and CEO of EnlivenWork, an innovation organization that teaches businesses and others how to tap into courageous thinking, compassionate leadership, and the curiosity to bring their best work to life. She is a research scientist at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education; Executive Director of CompassionLab, the world’s leading research collaboratory focused on compassion in the workplace; and co-author of Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power that Elevates People and Organizations.

Monica holds a lectureship at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and is affiliate faculty at the Center for Positive Organizations. She is an award-winning teacher who has also served on the faculties of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University; the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine; and the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine.

U Michigan - Ross School
Chris Hutchinson

Chris M Murchison

Chris's career has spanned the higher education, for-profit, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors. This have given him a unique and diverse perspective on the experience of work and workplace culture.

He has held roles in student services, employee development, human resources, talent and organization development, and more. As a practitioner and consultant, his work is inspired by the research and frameworks of positive organizational psychology, art and movement, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry, and applied improvisation.

He is constantly learning and evolving my practice. He appreciates multi-disciplinary approaches and the unique solutions that are created as a result.

U Michigan - Ross School
Margaret Cullen

Margaret Cullen

Margaret Cullen is a licensed psychotherapist and was one of the first ten people to become a Certified MBSR teacher. For over 30 years, she has pioneered secular contemplative programs for a wide variety of populations including physicians, nurses, HIV positive men, cancer patients, overweight women, military spouses, college students, clinicians and educators.

As a clinician, Margaret has been a facilitator of support groups for cancer patients and their loved ones for 30 years.

In 2010, she was invited by Thupten Jinpa to contribute to the development of the Compassion Cultivation Training, first through the Center for Compassion, Altruism, Research and Education at the Stanford School of Medicine and currently as Founding Faculty for the Compassion Institute where she co-created the first online teacher training.

Margaret is also the Founder of Compassion Corps, a program offering grants to support compassion teachers to offer free programs to under-resourced communities and a Founding Board Member of the Compassion Education Alliance.

Compassion Institute

Ann Seide

Ann Seide obtained her MD from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine and completed Internal Medicine residency in the Navy at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. As a Naval internist in Charleston, SC, Dr. Seide was an early innovator in the field of Hospitalist medicine. After leaving the military in 2001, she began a Hospitalist program in Wenatchee, Washington, scaling it tenfold over the next decade. Both personally and professionally, Dr. Seide witnessed the effects of stress and burnout throughout the healthcare system, eventually leading her to the chaplaincy program at the Upaya Institute, where she focused on provider wellness and systems theory, eventually culminating in her move from Washington to California and a commitment to bring compassionate care and skills training to first responders, healthcare providers, and students. Through her affiliation as a trainer with Center for Council, Dr. Seide has led trainings in compassion-based communication with diverse groups: from inmates in maximum-security prisons, to lawyers and social activists around the world.

Dr. Seide partnered with Center for Council to develop its programs for law enforcement officers and healthcare providers. She is a board-certified Fellow in Integrative Medicine from the Andrew Weil Integrative Medicine Fellowship in Tucson, AZ, which aims to bring rigorous, evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine alongside traditional allopathic care.

In 2021 she formed Seide Integrative Health, a consultative Integrative Medicine practice through which she partners with individuals seeking optimal health.

As adjunct professor at California Lutheran, Dr. Seide is excited to be teaching Medical Ethics of Life and Death to undergrads interested in pursuing future careers in healthcare.

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Jared Seide

Jared Seide

Jared Seide is author of the book, “Where Compassion Begins: Foundational Practices to Enhance Mindfulness, Attention and Listening from the Heart” and editor of "Leaving Prison Behind: A Council Before I Go."

He is the founder and Executive Director of Center for Council, a nonprofit organization that trains groups and individuals to promote wellness and resiliency, to foster compassion and to build community. Jared has worked extensively with schools, businesses, healthcare organizations, elder care facilities, prisons, law enforcement organizations and community based organizations to build resources and to help these groups thrive and grow. Jared has developed and shepherded: POWER Training (Peace Officer Wellness, Empathy & Resiliency) to promote health, relationality and compassion amongst police and correctional officers; CARE (Compassion, Attunement & Resilience Education) for healthcare professionals, focusing on burnout and dysregulation amongst physicians, nurses and other first responders; Council for Insight, Compassion & Resilience, an award-winning transformational insight and accountability-oriented rehabilitation program for incarcerated populations; the Organizational Wellness Project, to help build positive organizational culture within public and private companies; as well as other mindfulness and council-based programs to support and resource impacted communities and emerging leaders. Jared has led presentations, workshops, trainings and retreats focusing on compassion, reconciliation and community-building throughout the U.S., as well as in Poland, Rwanda, France, Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He is a graduate of Brown University and the chaplaincy program of the Upaya Institute.

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Rev. Dr. Diane Johnson

Diane Johnson, PhD

Dr. Diane J. Johnson has almost 30 years experience in the business, public and social sectors in a multitude of roles. They include change management consultant, trainer and executive coach, program director, evaluator and researcher, fundraiser, communications/pr lead, and organizational culture specialist. Extraordinarily skilled, purpose-driven, highly intuitive and analytical, Dr. Johnson, Ph.D. is CEO and Founder of Mmapeu Organizational Consulting. Mmapeu is a South African name that means “woman who carries ideas.” Mmapeu Consulting, a national consulting firm has trained, consulted and worked with more than 11,500 mission-driven individuals, businesses and organizations.

Clients include not-for-profits; colleges, universities and K-12 educational institutions; local, state, and federal governmental agencies; socially responsible businesses; multinational corporations; community based organizations; philanthropic entities; arts and culture groups; activists; volunteer associations and researchers. Dr. Johnson is the author of several books, including Proud Sisters, The Wit & Wisdom of African- American Women; Mother Love (which collectively have sold more than 170,000 copies), and The Cultural Diversity Fieldbook (with over half a million downloads).


Laura Berland

Laura Berland is the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Center for Compassionate Leadership. Through community, education, and research, the Center supports leaders as catalysts to open hearts and minds to our shared common humanity, and to urgently develop solutions to global crises and suffering at scale. The Center’s groundbreaking approach brings evidence-based principles of modern leadership and the latest scientific research together with the wisdom of contemplative practices. Laura developed the Center’s research proven Compassionate Leadership Model, which has been the foundation for engaging thousands of leaders from over 60 countries to embrace the practice of compassion from the inside out.

For over 40 years, Laura has been a weaver of transformative organizations and experiences, as a serial tech entrepreneur, Fortune 500 executive, meditation educator, yoga therapist, master facilitator, nonprofit board member, executive advisor, and digital media creator. Laura is an alumna of Cornell University and New York University.

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Evan Harrel

Evan Harrel

Evan Harrel is the Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Compassionate Leadership. He leads the Center’s thought leadership efforts, the integration of scientific and business research into the work of the Center, and the development and delivery of the Center’s leadership training programs. For the last fifteen years, he has worked in the nonprofit field, including as the executive director of a group of inner-city Houston preschools and of Houston Habitat for Humanity. More recently, as a consultant and board member to several nonprofits, he has focused on developing meaningful measurable outcomes and devising strategies to further organizational mission and impact for a number of clients. Evan has taught about compassion to both nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporate boards.

Prior to beginning work in the nonprofit sector, Evan was an investment manager for over twenty years where he managed a thirty-billion-dollar equity mutual fund. He was awarded a Master of Business Administration degree, with distinction, from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Princeton University.

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Ruchika Sikri

Ruchika equipped & empowered Googlers to live fully and perform sustainably through Mindfulness-based, neuroscience backed, Emotional Intelligence programs created at Google. She cultivated and scaled a powerful community of 100's of passionate volunteers across the globe within the company who bring mindfulness and compassion learning and practice to 100K+ employees globally.

Wisdom Ventures
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Compassion 2.0

Compassion 2.0 is a new community of organizational professionals creating compassionate organizations that generate tangible business results while changing the world for the better.

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