Atlanta Certified Teachers


Marcia Ash, MPH

Marcia Ash is a doctoral student in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. Her research interests focus on the effectiveness of contemplative interventions to promote wellbeing and resilience at the organizational and community level. Before pursuing her doctorate, Ash worked for over five years as Program Coordinator for Research and Special Initiatives at the Emory Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. Ash has taught CBCT extensively to students at Emory University.


Margo Barnard

Margo Barnard is a certified CBCT® teacher, a licensed professional counselor, and a registered professional nurse. As a maternal-child health nurse, Barnard assisted certified nurse midwives in birthing and welcoming hundreds of newborns into their families. As a psychiatric nurse, she offered kind and caring regard to minors and adults in inpatient and outpatient settings. Since 1992, she has enjoyed the honor of attending to yet more children, adults, and families as a psychotherapist in an independent setting.


Carol Beck

Carol Beck is the Associate Director for Operations and Communications for the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics. In this role, she supports research initiatives, facilitates partner programs, and spearheads outreach, marketing, and communications for CBCT® and other center programs. With an MFA in filmmaking, Beck has had a diverse career as both an assistant professor and a self-employed media professional working on five continents. She has studied and practiced various types of meditation, especially within the Tibetan tradition, and has faciliated meditation practice for almost twenty years. Beck has taught CBCT® to parents of autistic children through the Marcus Institute as well as to students at Emory University, nurses, and the public. She has also offered CBCT® to doctors and nurse practitioners at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Children's Hospital of Atlanta.


Lisa Beerman

Lisa Beerman achieved a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Biology from the University of Pittsburgh and then began her extensive career in healthcare.  She has worked as an educator, coach, facilitator and trainer with thousands of hours experience in a business environment teaching and developing both front-line employees and senior executives.  In addition to her experience in the corporate environment, she is dedicated to non-profits and has served on Boards in both healthcare and education with the American Cancer Society and the Health Occupation Students Association (serving High School Students).  Since achieving her certification in CBCT®, Lisa has been pursuing her passion of sharing this important program with others on a full time basis.



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Stephen Blount

Stephen Blount is the director of special health projects at The Carter Center. Before joining The Carter Center,  Blount spent 25 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a succession of leadership positions, the last of which was as associate director for Global Health Development. He has worked dilligently to reduce disease and suffering around the globe and now leads The Carter Center's efforts to expand public health training in low-resource countries. Blount teaches CBCT® to students at the Emory School of Medicine and to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in an ongoing research study employing CBCT® as an intervention.


Emma Brooks

Emma Brooks is a doctoral candidate in Walden University's health psychology PhD program. She has dedicated her graduate career to studying complementary and alternative medicine, mind-body modalities, and traditional healing practices in relationship to well-being, health, and healing. She also has completed a three-year marriage and family therapy residency program at the Link Counseling Center, working with a multicultural population from all lifestyles. Her prior career in technology prompted her 15-year journey studying and practicing various types of meditation to gain insight into the interconnectedness of all things. She has taught CBCT® to parents of autistic children through the Marcus Institute, to individuals in recovery, and to schoolteachers and HIV-positive individuals participating in research studies.


Annette Carpenter-Wawerna

Annette Carpenter-Wawerna is a certified CBCT teacher.  She has a BA from Sewanee and a Masters in Education from GSU.  She teaches music at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School.  She has been involved in the creation of SEE Learning and took part in the program launch in Delhi India.  Annette is passionate about the development of equitable and innovative education programs.  She helped create Grant Park Cooperative Preschool; a Reggio Amelia inspired school.  She directed a documentary called,​“From Acorn to Oak,”​ about the creation of ANCS.  She has also been a Critical Friends Coach through the School Reform Initiative.


Pollyanna Casmar, PhD

Dr. Casmar serves as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as a Staff Psychologist working with veterans at the San Diego Veteran’s Administration. Together with Emory and other UCSD faculty, she has created a CBCT (trademark) manual for treating PTSD for a feasibility trial. This trial resulted in a multi-site trial across the USA. The manual has also served as a basic template for interventions at the VA in aging now underway, and for proposed trials in chronic pain. Pollyanna has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for 25 years.


Penny Clements

Penny Clements, Senior Instructor, is a CBCT® practitioner and certified instructor. Her background includes twenty years of work with non-profit institutions and service on the board of several community organizations. Over the past several years, Clements has led yoga, mindfulness, and meditation classes in the Atlanta area. Her work with CBCT® includes facilitating classes for educators, healthcare workers, college students, parents of young children, and assisting with the CBCT® teacher certification program.



Thomas W. Comstock

A semi-retired physician, Comstock has practiced medicine in the Atlanta area since 1975. He has studied meditation for more than 20 years, mostly within the Tibetan tradition. In addition to his primary teacher, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, he has studied with several other Tibetan meditation masters as well as B. Alan Wallace and Sharon Salzberg. Comstock has been involved with CBCT® since its inception and attended Geshe Lobsang’s very first CBCT® class. He participated in the initial five-year NIH study on the effects of CBCT®. Most recently, he has taught incarcerated persons in Central America and at Emory University’s School of Medicine.


Ginger Dearwent 

Ginger Dearwent is a certified CBCT® teacher and dedicated practitioner. She earned degrees from Auburn University and Emory University, and served as an ordained United Methodist minister. Her first compassion training came from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his 1998 Emory commencement address: “Education and the Warm Heart.” She volunteered for His Holiness’ visits in 2007 and 2010 and attended his teachings in 2013. In 2011, she became a student of Dr. Lobsang Tenzin Negi and was certified to teach CBCT® in 2018. Ginger has enjoyed teaching CBCT® at Emory’s School of Nursing and at the Drepung Loseling Monastery.


Rosalynne Duff

In addition to becoming a CBCT®  teacher, Rosalynne Duff is a founding teacher of Kindezi Old Fourth Ward, an Atlanta Public Charter School.  She obtained her CBCT® certification through a partnership between the CREATE (Collaboration and Reflection to Enhance Atlanta Teacher Effectiveness) organization and The Center. She specializes in cultivating Social and Emotional Learning competencies through CBCT® for educator. Moreover, she is co-piloting the SEE (Social, Emotional and Ethical) Learning curriculum through a culturally relevant pedagogy in an after school setting. Her contemplative practices span eighteen years while encompassing ten years of teaching experience in public, charter, and international schools.  


Samuel Fernandez-Carriba

Samuel Fernandez-Carriba, is Senior Psychologist at the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Senior Program Coordinator at the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics (CCSCBE), at Emory University. He obtained his PhD in Psychology from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Emory. At the Marcus Center, he conducts diagnostic evaluations on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related disorders. He obtained his CBCT® (Cognitively Based Compassion Training) Instructor Certificate, Level 1, in 2013, and his Senior Level in April, 2018, at Emory. This allows him to investigate and apply clinically CBCT® to families and providers at the Marcus Autism Center. Through the CCSCBE, he also teaches CBCT® nationally and internationally to populations under high stress in order to foster resilience and social competence. His recent work has led to one peer-reviewed article, three book chapters and has been covered by CNN.


Jennifer Finch

Jennifer Finch holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology with emphases in addictionology and trauma. In addition to her private practice, she is the Founder of Be Here Now Mindfulness, LLC, where she offers online and in-person trainings to individuals, health care practitioners and corporate settings. Her great passion is bringing healing to people who have been through trauma with a Capital “T” or a lower case “t,” so they can know themselves as peaceful, complete, whole and safe individuals. She is a Certified CBCT Instructor, and a Level I SE® Practitioner dedicated to resolving trauma through somatic treatment modalities, meditation, contemplative and integrative sciences. If Jennifer is not reading about the new neuroscience and psychobiology of meditation, writing about compassion meditation, or teaching meditation classes, she is looking at the world uniquely through a camera lens.


Andrea Garcia

Andrea Garcia is the owner of ProLingual Spanish, LLC, a company empowering professionals through Spanish training and services.  She is a National Certified Medical Interpreter with more than 10 years of experience in the field and has been training interpreters since 2010.  In addition, she has 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training.  She has been working with the Hispanic community since 2002.


Ayodele Harrison

Ayodele Harrison is an Assistant Director for the CREATE Teacher Residency Program in Atlanta, GA. Ayodele’s work focuses on equipping educators and the families they touch with the tools to cultivate greater fulfillment in their lives. Ayodele is a trained engineer turned international educator, trainer, facilitator, and speaker. Ayodele utilizes the practices of CBCT® in his work to create freedom from structural and institutional racism in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, businesses, and government agencies. Ayodele completed his CBCT® teacher certification in 2017 and currently teaches CBCT® to educators in Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Within APS, Ayodele is exploring the role CBCT® can play in addressing issues of inequity in education, specifically teacher burnout. He is married with two children and holds a B.S. and M.S in Civil Engineering from Howard University and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively. 


Timothy Harrison

Timothy Harrison, Senior Instructor, joined the staff of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics (formerly Emory-Tibet Partnership) in 2013 and is the associate director for CBCT®. In this capacity, he coordinates the expanding CBCT® Teacher Certification program as well as the provision of CBCT® for research studies. Harrison teaches CBCT® courses to students at the Emory School of Medicine and to residents in the Emory Healthcare Spiritual Health education program. Additionally, he teaches CBCT® to undergraduate students through Emory’s Counseling and Psychological Services, and he works with several community outreach and research programs, offering CBCT® to public school teachers, vulnerable children and adolescents, and participants in numerous research studies. Harrison was a long-term practitioner of both lo jong and Zen meditation before expanding his outreach to those of various backgrounds through CBCT®.


Elizabeth Hearn

Since 2012, Elizabeth Hearn has served as the Executive Director of the CREATE Teacher Residency Program which trains new teachers, develops teacher-leaders, and addresses systemic teacher induction challenges in Atlanta and Georgia. She and her team have developed new strategies for integrating concepts and practices of CBCT® into their training for new and experienced educators who serve primarily in schools of historically-marginalized communities. 


Michelle Heker

Michelle Heker was first introduced to CBCT® in 2016 when she participated in the Emory Tibetan Mind-Body Sciences Summer Study Abroad Program in Dharamsala and Mundgod, India. She joined the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics as administrative assistant in 2017 after completing her BA in human health with a minor in religion from Emory University. Her role is to provide administrative support to the center and its programs. Heker is also responsible for the coordination of the Emory Tibetan Mind-Body Sciences Summer Study Abroad Program, for which she is a program assistant. She completed her CBCT® teacher certification in 2017 and cuurently teaches CBCT® to Emory students each semester.


Jennifer Knox

Jennifer Knox is an educator with more than 18 years' experience in a variety of educational settings both nationally and abroad.  Jennifer is currently the Director of Character Education and the Ron M. Brill Chair of Ethical Leadership at Woodward Academy, where she has been a faculty member for over a decade.  As a CBCT® instructor, she has worked to incorporate CBCT® into educational settings, including formal research studies with elementary teachers in an Atlanta-area International Baccalaureate charter school and with parents of small children at the School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin– Madison.  She also has taught CBCT® to students at Emory University and to elementary and middle school faculty as a part of a federal innovation grant in the Atlanta Public Schools.


Andrea Neiman

Andi Neiman, PhD, MPH has worked in public health, with a focus on health promotion and education for over 17 years.  She has experience in global chronic disease prevention and actively participates in the development, implementation and evaluation of health research activities both domestically and globally.  Andi is a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher (200 RYT) and compassion crusader whose passion is to empower all bodies to feel centered and strong.  As a wife, a mother, and a lifelong learner, she believes that yoga and meditation help to maintain the inner calm when the outer world sometimes feels quite the opposite.


Lobsang Tenzin Negi

Lobsang Tenzin Negi, Ph.D. (Founding Instructor) is the Executive Director of the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University, formerly the Emory-Tibet Partnership. In addition, Prof. Negi is a Professor of Pedagogy in Emory University’s Department of Religion and the founder and spiritual director of Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc., in Atlanta, GA.

In 2007, Prof. Negi developed CBCT® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training), a secularized contemplative program based on Tibetan Buddhist mind training practices that deliberately and systematically works to cultivate compassion. He has been at the forefront of compassion science, collaborating with numerous researchers from multiple disciplines examining the mechanisms behind compassion and its effects on the mind and body.

Prof. Negi also oversees several other programs including SEE Learning™ (Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning), a program that develops and implements curricula for kindergarten through university level education for the education of heart and mind, and the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, a program created at the invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that has developed and is now implementing a comprehensive modern science curriculum specifically for Tibetan monastics. 

Brendan Ozawa-deSilva

Brendan Ozawa-deSilva, Senior Instructor, is the associate director for SEE Learning™ (Social, Emotional, and Ethical Learning, a K–12 initiative) at the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University.  Formerly, he was associate professor of psychology in the Department of Positive Human Development and Social Change and associate director for the Center for Compassion, Integrity, and Secular Ethics at Life University. His research focuses on the psychological, social, and ethical dimensions of prosocial emotions and their cultivation, with a focus on compassion and forgiveness. He has worked to bring compassion training into elementary schools in the Atlanta area, to children in Georgia’s foster care programs, to women in domestic violence situations, and to incarcerated persons in state correctional facilities in Georgia.


Bobbie Patterson, PhD

Bobbi Patterson’s scholarship focuses on lived religion often involving Christian and Buddhist contemplative practices.  Her newly released book, Building Resilience Through Contemplative Practice: A Field Manual for Helping Professionals and Volunteers (Routledge: October 2019) reframes service burnout as a phase within adaptive resilience.  Through narratives of actual service experiences, the book offers contemplative principles and practices as tools and skills for being with and moving through burnout.  Workshops and presentations about book content can be scheduled.  A nationally recognized teacher using contemplative pedagogies in her classes, Bobbi leads workshops on effective teaching and learning strategies using these approaches.  She is a Mind and Life Fellow, serves on the M&L Steering Council, and is on the Board of Courage of Care. B.A., Smith College; M.Div. Harvard Divinity School, Ph.D. The Institute of Liberal Arts, Emory University.  She lives with her husband in Decatur, Georgia, and enjoys kayaking, swimming and hiking.


Caroline Peacock

Caroline Peacock, (LCSW, MDiv, ACPE Certified Educator) is Manager of Spiritual Health for Winship Cancer Institute with Emory Healthcare and Vice Chair of Wellness for the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology.  She has a deep love for teaching the art and science of spiritual care in a healthcare setting, and has enjoyed integrating the skills and insights from the fields of social work, ministry, and spiritual health in her work.  Caroline is also an Episcopal priest and loves being a partner and mother. She became a CBCT® Instructor in 2019.


Gema Perez

Gema Perez is a CBCT® practitioner and certified instructor. She first learned about CBCT in 2014, and almost immediately experienced the positive effects on her life and mental well-being.  CBCT changed and shaped the way she builds relationships and connects with others, not only in her personal life but also in her professional life. She now looks forward to sharing the benefits of CBCT® with others as a certified teacher.  With a background in relationship management and marketing, she is also interested in learning more about other mindfulness practices and assisting with research.


Kelly Richards

Kelly Richards was an elementary classroom teacher for 40+ years, the last 30 at the Paideia School in Atlanta, where she taught meditation daily for four years to a class of seven- and eight-year-olds, much of it based on CBCT®. Currently, she leads Finding Center and Mindful Kindness workshops in Atlanta and mid-coast Maine. She thinks of Finding Center as introductory—a briefer, more active version of CBCT®—while Mindful Kindness is an intensive, active, and very practical course for teachers ready to bring compassion training into the classroom.


Maureen J. Shelton

Maureen Shelton attended Candler School of Theology of Emory University and trained as a chaplain through Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Emory Healthcare’s chaplaincy program. She then completed additional training to become a certified chaplain educator. In 2001, she became the director of education at Spiritual Health, Emory Healthcare’s CPE  program. Shelton has ben engaged with CBCT® since 2014 and has been instrumental in integrating CBCT® into the Emory Spiritual Health curriculum to help prepare students to work in settings that are increasingly multicultural and with individuals of diverse beliefs. She is also working to bring the practice of CBCT® to the bedsides of patients and their families and is interested in teaching CBCT® in a variety of settings.


Nichole Sloan, LCSW

Nichole Sloan is a certified CBCT® teacher and a licensed clinical social worker with more than 15 years of experience. She has taught CBCT® to both Emory students and Military Veterans. The focus of her professional practice is on trauma and PTSD, substance use and addiction, the veteran population and military families, homelessness, severe mental illness, and incorporating the use of complementary alternative medicine into the medical setting.


Cheri Tiernan

Cheri Tiernan, a CBCT® teacher and Buddhist chaplain, is currently completing her clinical rotation at Emory University Midtown Hospital. She is pursuing board certification and would like to specialize as a palliative-care chaplain, helping families and patients navigate the maze of chronic and end-of-life care. Tiernan has also taught CBCT® at Emory's School of Medicine and is interested in the intersection of physical, psychological, and spiritual health. As a longtime meditator, she was drawn to the secular curriculum of CBCT® with its twin emphasis on both theory and practice. As a founding board member of Compassionate Atlanta, a worldwide movement inspired by British theologian and former Catholic nun Karen Armstrong's "Charter for Compassion," she is interested in methodologies that advance compassion in the public sphere.


Lisa Whittle

Lisa Whittle is a CBCT® teacher and public health scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  She leads weekly meditation classes for CDC employees who enjoy a little science with their practice.  She teaches CBCT to church members who enjoy dialogue between the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and Gautama Buddha as a way to strengthen their own compassion and wisdom traditions.   As a certified Yoga instructor, Lisa encourages her students to develop interoception, that sense of understanding and feeling what is going on inside their body,  and to bring mind/heart/body wholeness to explorations of meditation and CBCT. 


Joni Winston

Joni Winston first learned of CBCT® when she attended a panel discussion in 2007 during the visit of His Holines the XIV  Dalai Lama to Emory University.  Prior to this, she had spent five years dabbling in meditation, but it wasn’t until hearing a presentation outlining the benefits of CBCT® practice on stress reduction that she was inspired to learn CBCT®—and to practice daily. She now looks forward to sharing CBCT®with others as a certified teacher. In addition to CBCT®, Winston enjoys studying many other mindfulness/wellness practices and is also certified to teach Breathwalk (a type of walking meditation taught in the Kundalini School). She is also an avid student of A Course in Miracles.



Get Involved/Contact

The CBCT® program includes a growing number of certified instructors and is regularly expanding its programming and research areas. We welcome offers of support and ideas for new applications or populations who may benefit from learning the core CBCT® concepts and skills. Please contact Zipporah Slaughter for all inquiries, / 404.727.8166.