Center Staff

Sarah Freidel, Governing Council Liaison
Sarah brings her background in strategic planning and operations management to our center. She is the Founder + Director of Complexity Is, a consulting practice that works with organizations to design authentic and lasting solutions to business and operational problems by applying the principles of complexity. Previously, Sarah worked at Barnard College in faculty data management and operations, and at Perkins+Will as a leader of the architecture firm’s higher education strategic planning practice. She was Shambhala NYC’s Director of Operations and a member of the Governing Council in 2016. Email


Katherine Lieberson, Membership Director
Katherine is a second-generation Shambhalian and musician, and holds a Masters degree in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism from Naropa University. She has returned to Shambhala New York as the Membership Director, having previously served as Co-Director. She is also the Deputy Minister of Culture for Shambhala International. Apart from her work in Shambhala, Katherine plays the drums in alternative rock band TEEN, alongside her sisters Lizzie and Kristina. Email


Mary Beth Minton, Finance Director
Mary Beth brings a wealth of financial expertise to Shambhala New York. She previously co-founded and ran the financial operations of a children’s toy company, Zylie and Friends, a highly-acclaimed new toy innovation.  Before that, she was Executive Director of the Red Ribbon Foundation, the largest HIV/AIDS fundraising organization in Connecticut. Her experience in the non-profit world also includes many volunteer roles and participation on several charity boards. She holds an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School. Email


Geoffrey Gale, Programs & Operations Manager
Geoffrey comes to New York City after having served for several years in multiple roles in Operations and Guest Services at Karmê Chöling Shambhala Meditation Center. In addition to extensive knowledge of Shambhala form, decorum and process, Geoffrey brings a wealth of professional experience in hospitality and customer service to his role as Operations Manager. As a committed student of the Buddhadharma for over 17 years, Geoffrey also brings with him deep knowledge of the dharma and the Shambhala path of practice and study. He is a Shambhala Path Meditation Instructor and member of the teaching faculty at SMCNY. Email


Stephen Wickhem, Marketing Manager & Senior Registrar
Stephen brings the California sunshine to Shambhala New York. As a marketing strategist he’s skilled in content creation, website optimization, social media, and digital campaigns. He graduated with a BFA in Television & Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University and has four years experience in television production and reality casting. Stephen has been on the path of meditation since 2012 and became an authorized Shambhala Guide in 2017. Email

Dan Schreibman, Programs and Volunteers Coordinator
Dan came to Shambhala in 2016.  He studies, practices, and now works at Shambhala Meditation Center of New York City.  He has managed work/study programs at music festivals and conferences. He is very happy to be helping SMC develop its thriving Sangha. Email

Meral Jones, Development Associate
Meral brings fundraising and arts administration experience to Shambhala. Before coming to New York, she worked in the development office at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. She is a recent graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art with a concentration in art history. Email


Gillian Abbott, Registrar
Gillian Abbott comes to us from Calgary, AB. She received her BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and is looking forward to beginning her MFA in Acting at Columbia Universitythis fall. Her most notable professional credits include the role of “Baby” in the Broadway national tour of Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage; Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles LOVE; The Metropolitan Opera’s Prince Igor and MacBeth. She has also performed for So You Think You Can Dance contemporary chorographer, Stacey Tookey, on several occasions. Gillian graduated from mindfulness meditation teacher training this past fall and is really enjoying the practice of holding the teacher’s seat! Email

Dorje Kasung

Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls, Rusung

Shanté Paradigm Smalls is the NYC Center’s Rusung or Area Protector. Rusung Smalls has practiced in Shambhala since 2006 and has been a member since 2007. Rusung Smalls joined the Dorje Kasung (indestructible dharma protectors) in 2009 and took her lifetime Dorje Kasung oath in 2010. Rusung Smalls is a student of our lineage holder, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoches, is an authorized teacher in Shambhala Buddhism and is a Meditation Instructor, as well. Outside of Shambhala, the Rusung is an Assistant Professor at St. John’s University and holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University. E-mail

Governing Council

Jeff Waltcher, Kalapa Envoy and Chair

Shastri Ethan Nichtern, Senior Shastri in Residence

Dr. Shanté Smalls, Rusung

Claudia Cividino

Naoko Kojima

Filomena Leonardi

David Perrin

Susan Roti