Board and Staff
Ayla Benjamin is a creative visionary, experienced yoga teacher, meditation evangelist, prolific communicator, social justice driven entrepreneur, and lifelong student. Ayla served as a volunteer teaching yoga and meditation at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) for several years. Ayla is a five hundred hour yoga teacher and a certified G.R.I.P. facilitator. Ayla co-founded Yoga For All Movement in Santa Cruz which is an organization providing yoga to individuals experiencing incarceration, domestic violence, homelessness, and recovery from substance use. When Ayla isn’t disrupting systems of oppression she enjoys creating and experiencing art, travel, and tending to plants.
Walt Opie served multiple roles in Communications/Marketing at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin for over seven years ending in 2013. He is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leaders’ (CDL4) program and the Sati Center Buddhist Chaplaincy program. He has served as a volunteer prison facilitator at Solano state prison since 2013. Walt is currently in the 4-year Insight Meditation Society (IMS) teacher training program. Prior to Spirit Rock, he worked at Amazon.com in online marketing and business development; as an associate at a prominent public affairs firm in Seattle; and as a writer and photographer for several newspapers in Virginia. He holds a BA in English and an MFA in Writing.
Founder & Board Member
Diane Wilde has studied meditation in various traditions since 1990. In 2001 she was a founding member of Sacramento Insight Meditation. She is the founder of Buddhist Pathways Prison Project, and helps in training volunteers who offer Buddhist services at numerous California prisons and jails. She is a graduate of Sati Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy program and Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leadership Training Program. She was lay ordained as a Buddhist Minister by Gil Fronsdal in 2015. Diane is a teacher at Sacramento Insight Meditation, as well as at a variety of prisons, and sits on the boards of Sati Center for Buddhist Studies, Buddhist Pathways Prison Project, and Sacramento Insight Meditation.
Lori began meditating and studying the path of the historical Buddha in 2006. She is a member Sacramento Insight Meditation and has attended their annual retreat for many years. Lori has served on two other non profit boards, including serving as the first treasurer for the Sacramento Dharma Center. Lori volunteers in the community. She is the CFO at the Child Abuse Prevention Center, home to four non profit agencies with a mission to end child abuse and promote safe, happy and healthy families
Ven. De Hong
Venerable De Hong is one of the co-founders of the Engaged Buddhist Alliance and has volunteered in seven California state prisons since 2013. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of the West since 2016, teaching Introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Living Buddhism. De was fully ordained in the Vietnamese Pure Land tradition in 2006 and in the Theravada tradition under Sayadaw Khippa Panno in 2014. He holds an MA and PhD in Buddhist Studies from University of the West, completed in 2010 and 2014 respectively. The topic of his dissertation was “Development of Buddhist Repentance in Early Medieval China.” De is fluent in Vietnamese and three Chinese dialects (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Teochew).
Sabrina is the Creative Director of Care2, where she focuses on brand development, user experience, and web design for progressive causes and leading nonprofits. Since 2017, Sabrina has had the great fortune to help facilitate Buddhist services, mindfulness meditation, and yoga in prisons with Buddhist Pathways Prison Project. Sabrina is thrilled to join the board and to bring the skills from her 25 year creative career to BP3. In her spare time, you can usually find Sabrina experimenting in the kitchen, dancing, or spending quiet time with her favorite people and animals.
Correctional Facility Advisors
President Emeritus & Grant Administrator
Influenced by Buddhist psychology for many years, Robin completed an introduction to meditation course at Sacramento Insight Meditation in 2006, and participates both at SIM and the Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Center. Robin worked for nearly 40 years as an attorney and administrator in multiple capacities in California State government and the private sector. He held appointments from three California governors as Undersecretary for Youth and Adult Corrections, Chief Deputy Director for Finance Policy for the California Department of Finance, Director of Correctional Health Care Services, Principal Consultant for the 2004 Corrections Independent Review Panel. He was an officer of two corporations, and for a decade was owner and principal consultant for RJ Dezember Associates, Consultants in Government Organization and Law. He is an inactive member of the California State Bar, and also holds the degree of Master of Public Administration in Health Services.
Gil Fronsdal is the co-teacher for the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California; he has been teaching since 1990. He has practiced Zen and Vipassana in the U.S. and Asia since 1975. He was a Theravada monk in Burma in 1985, and in 1989 began training with Jack Kornfield to be a Vipassana teacher. Gil teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center where he is part of its Teachers Council. Gil was ordained as a Soto Zen priest at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1982, and in 1995 received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman, the abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. He currently serves on the SF Zen Center Elders’ Council. In 2011 he founded IMC’s Insight Retreat Center. Gil has an undergraduate degree in agriculture from U.C. Davis where he was active in promoting the field of sustainable farming. In 1998 he received a PhD in Religious Studies from Stanford University studying the earliest developments of the bodhisattva ideal. He is the author of The Issue at Hand, essays on mindfulness practice; A Monastery Within; a book on the five hindrances called Unhindered; and the translator of The Dhammapada, published by Shambhala Publications.You may listen to Gil’s talks on Audio Dharma.
Jacques Verduin, MA Somatic Psych., is a father, community organizer and a teacher. He has an 18 year history as a subject matter expert on prison rehabilitation programming, a record of successful pioneering and sustaining programs, and has cultivated a sizable network of connections in the field. Currently Director of Insight-Out, Mr. Verduin founded and directed the Insight Prison Project, which under his leadership produced the VOEG program and spun off the Prison Mindfulness Initiative, the Prison Yoga Project, the Insight Garden Project, among other efforts. All of these organizations are actively replicating. In addition to California, he is a consultant to the US State Department, and he and his staff has travelled abroad to train professionals in Guatemala, El Salvador, Bosnia and the Netherlands. Mr. Verduin received several prestigious awards for community leadership, as well as signed commendations from Senators Feinstein and Pelosi, the CA. Legislature and local government officials.
Relations Advisor for Incarcerated People