The functioning of the Shambhala Chicago Meditation Center is made possible largely through the efforts of volunteers.

The Governing Council

The Shambhala Chicago Governing Council’s (GC) role is to hold the vision for Shambhala Chicago and ensure that what we do supports that vision. You can read more about this in the Shambhala Chicago Policy Governance Manual.

Many dedicated members have served as Council members in years past or served in other leadership positions. Meet our current leadership team below:


Current Leadership

Alice Dan has been a Shambhala member for over 20 years and has studied with Pema Chodron and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Having taken various roles in the sangha, she is currently Director of Practice and Education. She previously taught health research at UIC and was the founding Director of the UIC Center for Research on Women and Gender.




Peter McLaughlin became a member of the Center in the Spring of 1974. Besides being the Shambhala Chicago Facility Manager, Peter is also a meditation instructor, and has taught a number of buddhadharma and Shambhala classes over the years.




Mary Fugiel, born in Oak Park, has been a Shambhala member since 1993. Her service for the community is ten years of finance reports,  monitoring accounts, collecting donations from members, friends of Shambhala Chicago and staffing various programs.  Her favorite activities (besides meditation) are writing, reading Dharma books, fiction, meeting friends, walking around the city near the lakefront.




Barbara Wolkowitz loves teaching in Shambhala and getting to know new members and participants.  A lawyer by profession, she serves on the Finance and Legal Subgroup of the international Shambhala Process Team.  She is a former Director of Practice and Education in Chicago and a meditation instructor. She lives with her husband in Rogers Park, Chicago.




Ted Ballou has been a member of the Governing Council since July, 2018. Retired from his dual career in software engineering and neurophysiology since 2015, he divides his volunteer efforts between Shambhala and Final Exit Network. At the Shambhala Chicago Center he serves as Secretary for the Council and also is on the monthly ikebana rotation.





William J. O’Brien (Bill) has been affiliated with Shambhala since 2000 when he stumbled upon the Shambhala Center in NYC to learn about meditation. He is also a professor, artist and assists with leading Queer Dharma on Sunday evenings.




John Harding is part of the group working with the safety of our space.





Joining the Governing Council

To find out about available seats and the process for becoming a council member please forward the information outlined below to [email protected]

  1. Name, email and phone number.
  2. Please briefly describe your relationship with Shambhala and our vision for Enlightened Society.
  3. Please share what most inspires you in wishing to participate in Council leadership.
  4. Please list previous governance and leadership experience either within or outside of Shambhala.
  5. Please describe your available time and energy to put towards a Council position.
  6. Please share any questions or comments to you have about the Council.