Ismalia Gutierrez, Executive Director
Warm greetings, greater sangha of Dhamma Dena,
I am so grateful for this opportunity to accompany you in Dhamma Dena’s transition towards BIPOC leadership and greater alignment with its vision for a BIPOC-centering Vipassana refuge. Dhamma Dena has been a home to me as a dharma practitioner and I am deeply honored by this invitation.
Arinna’s Queer Retreat brought me to Dhamma Dena in the midst of the Hurricane María crisis in Puerto Rico. I carried that suffering, & the accumulated experience of racism, classism, sexism and homophobia in the United States, deep in my body. Supported by the queer sangha and the emphasis of Ruth’s lineage on the present moment sensory experience, I felt myself unfurl, becoming intimate with that pain. While I have experienced the teachings of a wide variety of traditions, it is Ruth’s unique and deeply embodied insight that called me to this path and continues to inspire me to be present for its expression.
I bring to the Executive Director position 12 years of managerial experience in public administration with the Courts of Puerto Rico, 10 years of complex litigation experience as an attorney in the US federal courts and a one year residency at Spirit Rock Meditation Center directly supporting thousands of retreatants. But most importantly, my offering to Dhamma Dena is my lifelong dedication to empowering marginalized communities to meet the political & natural disasters of our society. I look forward to co-facilitating transformation for our sangha, adaptation to emergent needs, & greater sustainability for our mutual benefit & for the liberation of all beings everywhere. The acute challenges of these recent years, in Puerto Rico and around the world, have convinced me that we can’t afford to wait for a better future. We must do what we know is necessary with courage and faith. It is this alignment that brings me to join Dhamma Dena in this official capacity here and now. I hope you will hold with us this joyful manifestation of Dhamma Dena and contribute your heart & best wishes for its fruition.
With love & solidarity, Ismalia
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