DVA is led by its Board of Directors, guided by its Advisory Council, and supported by its Contributors, Chapter Leaders, and members.
Venerable Thich Thanh Huan, the Director of DVA’s Vietnam Project, has been a monk for thirty-three years and lives in the Buddhist country of Vietnam in Hanoi, its capital. He was taught at Lang Mai (Plum Village) in France by Thich Nhat Hanh, who designated him a Buddhist teacher in 2003. Venerable Thich Thanh Huan was born in 1967 to a Buddhist priest family with all six siblings becoming monastics. In 1984 he ordained at Quán Sứ Pagoda, the headquarters of the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha (VBS).
He has received a Ph.D. in both Buddhist studies in Taiwan and philosophy in Vietnam. Venerable Thich Thanh Huan is the abbot of the famous 1,000-year-old Pháp Vân Pagoda in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Venerable is also a member of the influential Standing Committee of the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha (VBS), which is the home to 50,000 monastics, 15,000 Buddhist temples, and tens of millions of followers. The Venerable practices non-harming and compassion by not eating or otherwise using animal products, teaches numerous classes on vegetarianism and promotes a plant-based diet, and, as a member of the Advisory Council of DVA, helps connect DVA with Vietnam.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo was raised in London. In 1964, aged 20, she traveled to India to pursue her spiritual path and met her guru, His Eminence the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Lama. She became one of the first Westerners to ordain as a Tibetan Buddhist nun. The inspiring story of her life, including 12 years of a secluded retreat in a Himalayan cave, is the subject of the biography, Cave in the Snow. A popular Buddhist teacher, she presents the Dharma in an accessible manner to audiences across the world.
Jetsunma is Founder and Abbess of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in Himachel Pradesh, Northern India, where some 100 young women, from the Himalayan region receive monastic training. A select few of these nuns remain in long term retreat undergoing the rigorous yogic training of the Drukpa Kagyu tradition, thus re-instating the Togdenma lineage within this school of Buddhism. In 2008 Tenzin Palmo was given the title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of her lineage.
Tara Brach, Ph.D is an internationally known meditation teacher and author of bestselling Radical Acceptance and True Refuge. She is founder and senior teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC, offers a popular weekly podcast and teaches meditation workshops and retreats in the United States and Europe. Tara and her colleague Jack Kornfield have created a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training Certification Program that is currently serving participants from 49 countries. Tara is also active in bringing meditation into DC area schools, prisons and to underserved populations. To learn more about Tara and her work, visit her website.
Venerable Geshe Thupten Phelgye was born in 1956 and escaped the invasion and occupation of his homeland, Tibet, by the Chinese army in 1961. He became a monk in 1973 at Seraje College of Sera Monastic University and finished his Geshe degree (Ph.D.) in 1991. He meditated in the Himalayan mountains for a period of five years. In 2001 he was elected as a member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile to represent the Gelug tradition of Buddhism and served in the Parliament for ten years.
His teacher and mentor has been his Holiness the Dalai Lama who blessed Geshe-la’s Universal Compassion Foundation organization. In 2012, 2013, and 2015, Geshe-la has given teachings throughout California and the USA on practicing the Dharma as a vegetarian. His teaching tour, sponsored in large part by DVA, is called, “Compassion for all Beings.” Geshe-la currently works as a professor at Eastern Washington University.
Bhante Anandajoti is an English Monk resident in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand since 1987. He was fully ordained in the Theravāda tradition in Sri Lanka in 1996 and is currently advisor to the International Buddhist College in south Thailand. Since ordination he has been involved in many Dharma works and teachings, working both as a writer, teacher and photographer, and as webmaster on various sites for his own and others’ works. Bhante has been vegetarian since early childhood and is now vegan. He also does whatever he can to promote human rights, animal rights, and a better understanding of our shared lives on this planet.
Patti Breitman has been meditating since 1973 and practicing Vipassana since 1991. She completed the first Mindfulness Yoga training offered at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and participated in the Dedicated Practitioner Program there, where she has been a member of the Friday morning Sangha for well over 20 years. She also is a long time member of the Sunday night Marin Sangha, started by Spirit Rock teacher Phillip Moffitt. Patti is the co-author of How to Eat Like a Vegetarian, Even If You Never Want To Be One and of Never Too Late to Go Vegan. She is the co-founder and director of The Marin Vegetarian Education Group. Patti is a DVA co-founder and past secretary.
Kim Sturla is a long-time voice for animals. As co-founder and executive director of Animal Place, she devotes her life to rescuing farmed animals and changing people’s behavior through advocacy and education. Kim is also a co-founder of DVA and formerly served as Vice-President of its Board. Her service has helped DVA grow into a worldwide organization.
Dr. Will Tuttle, a Dharma Master in the Korean Zen tradition and former Zen monk, has been practicing Zen for over 35 years, and has also studied in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Author of the acclaimed best-seller, The World Peace Diet, he is a recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award, and has created eight CD albums of uplifting original piano music. His Ph.D. from U.C., Berkeley, focused on educating intuition and altruism and was nominated for the best dissertation award. A vegan since 1980, he presents 150 lectures, workshops, and concerts annually throughout North America and Europe.
Albert Mah 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. He is the Chapter Leader of DVA’s Perth, Australia Chapter.
Dr. Chamith Nanayakkara has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, where he graduated with honors as a Veterinary Surgeon in 2000 and currently serves as a faculty member of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science. In the 1970’s the Sri Lankan Government started killing 100,000 dogs per year by gassing them to death in an attempt to eradicate rabies in Sri Lanka. Soon after graduation, Dr. Nanayakkara started his campaign to stop these massive killings of dogs as a badly guided solution to eradicate rabies in Sri Lanka.
As the Managing Director of Vets for Future, he has been working with the Sri Lankan Government on humanely controlling the dog population by planning the vaccinations of 70% of the dogs. Chamith’s efforts were successful when the Government in 2005 announced a No Kill Policy so that humane methods could take effect. Working in cooperation with the Sri Lankan Government, Chamith and Vets for Future, a large organization of veterinarian surgeons and support staff, have spayed and neutered over 900,000 dogs so far! The government program, however, does not treat dogs who are sick and injured, have complications from surgery, or have cancer or cataracts.
In his role as the Managing Director of Vets for Future, Chamith and his group of surgeons have donated 10% of their salaries since 2008 to fund free treatment for sick and injured dogs. Dr. Nanayakkara has performed over 60,000 surgeries. He has been conducting free clinics, treating over 120 dogs per day on full moon days, a holiday in Sri Lanka, in Kundasale on the outskirts of Kandy. Chamith is the Chapter leader of DVA’s Kandy, Sri Lanka Chapter.
Kyabje Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche* (1913-2015) was widely regarded as one of the most highly realized Dzogchen Masters. Chatral Rinpoche was married to Sangyum Kamala Rinpoche and had two daughters. When Father Thomas Merton first met him in 1968, he famously remarked that Chatral Rinpoche was “the greatest man I ever met.” Rinpoche was one of the most vocal opponents of meat-eating in Tibetan Buddhism. During the traditional long retreat and at all of Rinpoche’s monasteries, temples, and retreat centers, only vegetarian food was served. Chatral Rinpoche was renowned for releasing large numbers of fishes from the Calcutta fish markets every year, as well as saving many birds and land animals from slaughter. We are very honored that Chatral Rinpoche endorsed DVA “for speaking out on behalf of animals in the worldwide Buddhist Community.” DVA was the only organization in the West that he ever endorsed. We are deeply saddened that Chatral Rinpoche passed away in December, 2015.
Sangyum Kamala Lama is a lineage holder of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism and heart disciple of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. She was also a disciple and sangyum (wife) of another Dharma Voices for Animals Contributor, His Holiness Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche, who passed away in December, 2015 and was considered the greatest living Dzogchen master. They had been married for over 50 years. Kamala Lama is widely regarded as an outstanding practitioner and Dharma teacher. DVA hopes to sponsor Rinpoche for a teaching tour, “Compassion for all Beings,” in the near future.
Norm Phelps* (1939-2014) was a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner in the Sakya tradition for 30 years. He was a member of the North American Committee of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and author of The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights and The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA, both published by Lantern Books. We are deeply saddened that Norm passed away on December 31, 2014.
Sherry Morgado 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 example of living peacefully, joyfully, and by not supporting their suffering in her personal life, as well as active advocacy on their behalf. Sherry is DVA’s Chico, California Chapter Leader.
Mary Wilder has been a graphic designer for over twenty-five years and is an avid supporter and friend of DVA. Mary is very honored for the opportunity to support the DVA cause by developing the Dharma Voices for Animals logo and original website.