DVA Chapters play a vital role in fulfilling Dharma Voices for Animals‘ mission of raising awareness within the Dharma community of practices that lead to unnecessary animal suffering. Located throughout the world, chapters serve two important functions.
- Bringing together like-minded people in local communities
- Acting as the grassroots agent for promoting DVA’s goal of bringing awareness to the suffering of animals within their Buddhist/Dharma communities
Local chapters engage in activities that promote DVA’s message within the wider dharma community as well as get together for events such as film screenings (for example, Animals and the Buddha), readings, guest speakers, group discussions, and potlucks. The activities of every chapter are different, reflecting the remarkable diversity of DVA’s membership. Chapter leaders and members also have opportunities to connect with members from other chapters around the world.
Join or Start a Chapter
If you are interested in attending a chapter event and live in the area of one of our local chapters, please feel free to contact the group’s leader listed below. If there is no chapter near you, please contact us if…
- You are interested in engaging with DVA or offering your time and talent as a volunteer
- You have leadership experience, energy, enthusiasm, and passion for animals and the Dharma and would like to start a chapter in your area
USA: California (Chico, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley), Connecticut, Illinois (Chicago), Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York (New York City), Oregon (Eugene, Portland), Texas (Dallas), Washington State (Seattle), and Washington DC
Worldwide: Australia (Perth), Brazil, Sri Lanka (Colombo, Kandy), England, Finland, Germany, Malaysia (Penang), Myanmar, and Thailand
Sherry has been practicing Zen Buddhism in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh since 2010, although she began meditating in 1981 after reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi. She practices with the Slowly Ripening Sangha at Sky Creek Dharma Center in Chico, California. She loves sharing the Buddha’s message of compassion for animals through her personal example of living as a peaceful and joyful vegan, as well as active advocacy on their behalf.
California: San Diego
Chapter Leader: Bob Isaacson contact
Bob has practiced the Dharma in the Vipassana/Theravada tradition for twenty-two years. He was a civil rights-human rights attorney for twenty-five years, specializing in defending people against the death penalty. Bob currently teaches the Dharma, leads two Sanghas, and leads day-long and weekend retreats in the San Diego area, having been trained in Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader Program. Bob is a DVA co-founder and president.
Andrew, a hospice chaplain, first took refuge with Thich Nhat Hanh in 1991 and was ordained in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing in 2015. He has also studied and practiced in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He is involved with the Earth Holding Sangha, a movement within Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition that is dedicated to caring for the Earth and all beings by learning ways to stop contributing to climate change and environmental destruction, such as eating a plant-based diet. Andrew is a board member of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC). Andrew also volunteers as a wildlife rehabilitator at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley and as a wildlife search and rescue responder with Wildlife Emergency Services. Andrew humbly hopes to use his life to protect living beings and dreams of someday living with animal friends on a farm animal sanctuary. Andrew finds joy in practicing a vegan way of life, as every bite of food, every piece of clothing put on, and every mindful step becomes an act of compassion.
Chapter Leader: Vee Cangiano contact
Upon starting to study Buddhist psychology and Insight meditation in 2000, Vee became vegetarian, and later vegan, out of compassion for animals. Through guest speakers, film screenings, and digital media efforts (including redesigning the DVA website), Vee advocates for plant-based eating as a means to end animal suffering. In addition to facilitating groups to support mindful eating among spiritual vegans, Vee has led mindfulness meditation sitting groups and trainings, and incorporated mindfulness practices in clinical mental health as a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Vicki is an ordained lay member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing and practices with Fierce Compassion Sangha in Evanston, Illinois. She feels fortunate to be able to practice right livelihood, as a clinical psychologist, and to have found Dharma Voices for Animals, which helps her to actively combine her two spiritual paths of a vegan lifestyle and Buddhist practice. Practicing and creating compassion for our animal companions is an essential part of her spiritual aspirations.
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Chapter Leader: Zack Barnes contact
Zack Barnes sought refuge in the liberation teachings of the Buddha as a teenager in the 90s to cope with debilitating depression. In September 2002, Zack went vegan after witnessing non-human animal suffering and experiencing overwhelming empathy and compassion. He realized he could survive and be happy and healthy without intentionally harming other sentient beings, and so there was no morally principled way to justify causing harm for pleasure, convenience, habit or tradition. Zack has an athletic background and enjoys lifting weights. He’s part of a growing movement of vegan athletes passionate about challenging the myth that animal products are necessary for strength and performance. Zack has been working as a cook and yogi job coordinator at The Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts since 2007.
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Bhante Sathi is from Kandy, Sri Lanka, and lives in Mankato, Minnesota, USA. Emerging spiritual interests in his early teens led Bhante Sathi to be ordained as a novice monk (bhikku) at age 19 in the Theravada tradition in his native country. After three years of education and training under Wattegama Dhammawasa Maha Thera at Sri Subhodaranaya International Bhikku Center, Sri Lanka, he received higher ordination as a fully ordained monk. As a monk, he taught meditation and insight practices and counseled people from many walks of life using Buddhist teachings.
Invitations from people interested in meditation led to Bhante expanding his teaching to Europe, Canada and the United States. In 1999 he became a resident monk at the Great Lakes Buddhist Vihara in Southfield Michigan and traveled around the US and Canada teaching meditation and mindfulness practices, the teachings and philosophy of Buddha (Dhamma), and leading retreats.
In 2003 he made Minnesota his home and, with the support of friends, founded Triple Gem of the North in Mankato where he began living. He became a US citizen and traveled the state, sharing his knowledge and training in the Buddha’s teachings, meditation, and mindful living.
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Chapter Leader: Dale Lugenbehl contact
Dale Lugenbehl has for 14 years been the Principal Teacher for Ahimsa Acres Sangha, an affiliate of the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. He has over twenty-five years of Buddhist study, practice, meditation retreats, and teaching. He has taught both Eastern and Western philosophy classes for over 35 years in public colleges and universities, including 7 years of teaching Buddhist Meditation Traditions at Lane Community College, the first college credit Buddhist meditation class ever offered in Oregon. Dale is also Environmental Editor for American Vegan magazine, Director of Ahimsa Acres Education Center, and the author of *The Wisdom of the Buddha: Using Mindfulness to Change Your Life (2019), as well as over 50 scholarly and popular articles.
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Deleted: Dr. Sharon Methvin is a biocultural anthropologist. She has been a professor of anthropology since 1988, teaching engaged citizenship in the classroom and research resulting in over 25 papers and publications. In 1997, she was honored with a human rights award for her research on poverty. Her humanitarian concerns extend beyond human rights to the rights of animals as well. In this regard, she frequently provides public lectures and expert testimonies. In 2007, Dr. Methvin was invited to teach in Beijing, China. It was during that time; her research and activism took her into the animal markets of China and the lives of the brave animal activists there. Her efforts in Asia continue today, recently launching a TNR (Trap, Neuter Return) cat sterilization initiative in Nanjing, China. And, in Nepal, teaching classes on health and science to improve English for nuns at Kopan, her teacher’s monastery.
Sharon’s journey to being vegan began as a cat/dog loving child whose mother would save scraps and leave them for street animals. As her journey continued, she became vegetarian over 30 years ago after reading Peter Singer’s, Animal Liberation and watching, the Witness. Shortly thereafter, she realized it made little evolutionary sense to consume other species milk and eggs. What first began as an awareness of the immense suffering humans inflict on animals, shifted to a more fundamental life view, namely; that all beings have intrinsic value as co-participants in this beautiful dance of life. It is this perspective that ultimately led her over a decade ago to Mahayana Tibetan Buddhism which focuses on compassion to all sentient beings. Her root teacher is Lama Zopa Rinpoche (pictured here), the spiritual director of (FPMT) the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition. In her hometown of Portland, Sharon is an active member of the sangha of Maitripa College. When not in Portland, she can be found in Nanjing, China helping street cats and practicing martial arts or volunteering at the Institute for Lama Tzong Khapa (ILTK) in Italy and Omega Institute in upstate New York.
Ali is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Yoga Therapist, and Meditation Teacher. She primarily works with veterans, providing mind-body therapy and teaching mindfulness-based skills to help them heal from the wounds of war. Ali’s two main passions in life are helping animals and dharma. Since her teenage years, she has tried to help animals by adopting a vegan diet and raising awareness about their exploitation and suffering. She also started meditating as a teenager and ever since, has been a devoted practitioner and student of dharma. Ali believes that the path of dharma and animal protection are inseparable. If dharma is about awakening the heart and having compassion for ALL beings, how can we ignore the unnecessary and cruel treatment of animals for our pleasure, amusement, and convenience? Through her role in DVA, Ali wants to ask this question of dharma students and teachers, to get people reflecting on and talking about this issue, and ultimately, to support others in awakening their hearts to the suffering of animals and living a cruelty-free life.
Albert is a former vice-president of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia and a former treasurer of Hayagriva Buddhist Centre in Perth, Australia. He is currently a dharma teacher at the Buddhist Society of Western Australia giving lessons to the senior school class. He is a vegan, plays an active role in animal advocacy, the vegan way of living and social justice. He lives with a greyhound who was discarded by the racing industry after his racing career ended. Albert believes that when one contemplates suffering deeply one realizes that a life of minimum harm has to incorporate abstention from eating animal flesh and consuming animal products.
Chapter Leader: George Sturaro contact
George began practicing the Buddhadharma in 2007 and met his main teacher, His Holiness Phakchok Rinpoche, two years later. Since 2015, he has conducted a meditation and study group at his hometown, Curitiba, Brazil. George is also a long-time practitioner of classical Hatha Yoga and a Sivananda lineage authorized teacher. His yoga teachings go beyond asana and pranayama to embrace all aspects of the yogic lifestyle, including the vegetarian diet. George is an active member of the Brazilian Vegetarian society and occasionally collaborates with different animal rights organizations.
He holds an M.Sc. in International Relations and has worked as an Assistant Professor for almost five years. Currently, George manages the pedagogical department of a foreign languages school, where he also teaches English and Spanish. George’s passion for cooking and nutrition led him to pursue a certificate in Healthy Culinary Arts. He takes great pride in his vegan chana masala (chickpea curry). Whenever time and life allows, George can be seen in the woods camping and hiking.
Chapter Leader: Denise Jones contact
Denise was born in Anacortes, Washington in the US and currently lives near Bath in England. She was drawn to Buddhism twenty-five years ago when she moved to Portland, Oregon and found a small group of practitioners. She took refuge vows with Her Eminence Sakya Jetsun Chimey Luding Rinpoche and was fortunate to receive many wonderful teachings. She had always felt compassion towards animals and became vegan three years ago. Her current daily practice includes Exchange (Tong-len), Tranquillity, and Insight meditations. After watching DVA’s film, Animals and the Buddha, Denise became a member of DVA. As England Chapter Leader, she hopes to support DVA‘ mission to be a voice for animals and a force for compassionate living within the Sangha.
Erik has been studying and practicing Buddhism since 2001. He has studied and practiced Korean Zen, Tibetan Vajrayana, and Theravada traditions. He also experienced the monastic life, ordained as a Novice monk in the Sri Lankan tradition in 2014. He currently lives in a small village in Finland with his cat Kismet, next to Danakosha Ling, a Tibetan meditation center. Erik is a vegetarian and an aspiring vegan. His other interests include the environment and sustainability. He received his engineering degree in chemistry and environmental technology in 2003
Chapter Leader: Marco Stromberg contact
Monastic Advisor: Geshe Thapkhe
Marco Stromberg is living together with his wife Alex Pelkonen in the western forest of Germany, very near the European Institute of Applied Buddhism (EIAB) founded by Thich Nhat Hanh. They are both Buddhist, practicing for the last 25 years in different Buddhist traditions, and are very active members of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Sangha associated with the EIAB since 2012. Marco is an ordained member of Thai’s German Order of Interbeing.
Marco and Alex live on their farm together with lamas, alpakas, and sheep who enjoy the freedom of lots of space on the meadows and forest of the farm. During the last several years Marco and Alex began organizing retreats on their farm in cooperation with the EIAB with the focus on mindfulness and interbeing with animals and nature.
Marco is an Engineer for renewable energies, his work focusing on the sustainability of using grid autark Solar systems. Their farm uses that technology for solar power and heating.
Marco and Alex love intensive permaculture gardening to grow veggies for their healthy vegan diet which supports their self sufficiency and independence. Alex is a very good plant-based cook, specialized in wild herbs which helps create tasty and healthy vegan food. Quite often those on retreats and those attending seminars who eat her divine creations become vegan.
Marco loves to live in mindfulness on their farm embedded in nature and in contact with animals, plants, and a quiet freedom.
Chapter Leader: Heng Guan Hou
Heng Guan Hou has been a stalwart crusader of the vegetarian, local organic, environmental, and corporate social responsibility movements in Singapore for many years. An active member of the Vegetarian Society Singapore, Guan Hou is currently the Vice President after serving 2 years as the Honorary Treasurer. He was recently elected as the president for SEAVU-South East Vegetarian Union. He is actively involved in several other NGOs such as World-In-Theatre and Nyaung Kan Aye Dharma Society (Burmese Buddhist Society). He has held numerous positions in charity and religious organizations and performing art groups such as World-in-Theatre in Singapore. His passion is to work on as many art, social, and charity projects as possible in his lifetime.
Being an adventurous entrepreneur, he ventured into Myanmar to set up a turnkey company, M & E Engineering Solutions, and an engineering products trading company which supplies various international brands. In addition, he founded a FMCG company distributing the Old Town White Coffee brand. He was awarded the Singapore Prestige Brand Award by the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises as well as the Emerging Enterprise 2012 Award from the OCBC Bank for his entrepreneurship.
Chamith is a veterinarian surgeon, who travels extensively around the world. Doctor Nanayakkara’s Kandy chapter is reaching out to young people and families in Sri Lanka to promote the Buddha’s teachings about compassion and non-harming toward ALL sentient living beings, and the health and ecological benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Sri Lanka: Columbo
Chapter Leader: Mario De Alwis contact
Mario De Alwis lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka promoting sustainable living practices, returning to the motherland after spending about a decade in Melbourne, Australia. He has spent some time working in the social entrepreneurship space, capacity building and training members of society who intend to help solve social/environmental issues through enterprise. He is a dedicated practitioner of the Iyengar Hatha Yoga method and also a seeker and explorer of life, using the Dharma as his compass.
Once Mario began to gain back the connection with animals and other aspects of nature, which was momentarily lost, he began sharing these basic truths with fellow humans as a means to better practice compassion towards other sentient beings, one’s health, and the planet’s health. His work is aimed at creating networks to spread sustainable change and assisting others to experience self-realization.
Chapter Leader: Varapol (Jop) Chensavasdijai contact
Jop is a Thai diplomat currently based in Bangkok with previous postings in Hong Kong and Denmark. He has been practicing Theravada Buddhism since around the year 2000 and became a vegan in 2015. Prior to that he had intended to try being a vegetarian but procrastinated for a few years. Eventually he took the leap and discovered, quite surprisingly, how easy it actually is and the significant benefits that the lifestyle has for the animals, the environment and spiritual growth. He hopes to see more Buddhists embracing veganism and to be part of the fast growing global movement for animal liberation – a world that is free of slaughterhouses and all other forms of animal exploitation.
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