Veteran’s PATH Team

Veteran’s PATH grows and develops through the strengths and guidance of all members of its team,
with veterans being the key influencers shaping the programs affecting their lives.

LEAD FACILITATORS

Lee Klinger Lesser, Co-Founder
Program Director of Veteran’s PATH, Lead Facilitator

 

Lee Klinger Lesser, MS, has developed and led retreats for Veterans since 2008, integrating her experience of mindfulness and meditation into accessible programming for Veterans. She has taught the mindfulness practice of Sensory Awareness for over 45 years both nationally and internationally. She also led national trainings in emotional intelligence, family support, and diversity and equity for early childhood educators. (www.returntooursenses.com)

 

Chris Fortin, Co-Founder
Lead Facilitator of Veteran’s PATH and Marriage and Family Therapist

Chris Fortin is a zen practitioner and teacher, as well as a MA MFT psychotherapist and spiritual counselor. She is Cofounder of Veteran’s PATH and has co-developed and co-led our retreats since its beginning. She began her Zen practice at San Francisco Zen Center in 1976 and now practices as a leader and teacher in the Everyday Zen Community (www.everydayzen.org.)  She leads meditation workshops and retreats throughout the bay area and beyond.  She has over 30 years of experience in helping to heal the wounds and trauma of mind, body and spirit, and brings this experience to the leadership and development of Veteran’s PATH. (www.dharmaheartzen.com) 

FACILITATORS

Cameron Clark

Cameron Clark, LMSW, ERYT, has been fortunate to serve veterans and their loved ones as a trauma-informed yoga instructor for the past four years. Cameron also works with the Sexual Assault Center to bring trauma-informed professional development and caregiver support programming to organizations serving sexual assault survivors across the state of Tennessee. Her practice is rooted both in her experience as a trauma therapist and by her consistent yet ever evolving relationship with mindfulness, meditation and yoga.

Christie Bates

Christie Bates is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Tennessee, having recently completed 11 years as a clinician and program director in residential treatment programs, where she was honored to witness the healing of many veterans. She is also Dharmacharya and lay minister of the Embracing Simplicity Contemplative Order. Christie is a member of the TN Licensed Professional Counselors Association, the American Counseling Association, Nashville Psychotherapy Institute, Nashville Mindfulness Facilitators Peer Group, and is on the faculty of the Buddhist Recovery Network. She is a Brainspotting professional and the author of “Accepting Your Resurrection.” Beyond work, she enjoys the arts, the outdoors, and teaching meditation at Embracing Simplicity Nashville, where she is the founding teacher. Christie relishes her relationship with her two adult daughters and has fun anticipating the expected arrival of her first grandchild in August.

Mollie Gabrys-Lake

Mollie Gabrys-Lake, MSW, earned her Masters of Social Work at the University of Washington. Committed to serving Veterans, she pursued both her graduate training and a post-graduate fellowship at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, where she took a special interest in working with women Veterans and offering a range of mindfulness-based practices. Mollie has long been drawn to the practices and studies of mindfulness, wellness, and meditation, and is honored to be a part of Veteran's PATH. She resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and can often be found practicing mindful movement and exploring the great outdoors.

Travis Groft

Travis is an Air Force OEF/OIF veteran of seven years and has been engaged in the Veteran’s PATH community since 2009. He was in our first Vet Leader cohort back in 2014, and has now joined our team of facilitators.

"I came to Veteran’s PATH trying to deepen my understanding and connection to my psychological and spiritual wellness. When I first left the military I knew I needed to take care of my physical wellness, so I worked out and stayed very active in recreational sports, but something was missing in my life. I still had emotional issues and high anxiety despite my physical exertion from day to day. Although, Veteran’s PATH is non-denominational I find a spiritual enrichment in the community of Veterans who attend and open themselves up to what is real for them at that moment. My relationship with Veteran’s PATH continues to grow and I’m forever grateful to them for the practices that I have learned and continue to develop."

Travis served for a time as the Manager of Wellness Programs for San Mateo County School District, and in that role he communicated with children, teachers and parents through a monthly district newsletter. Check out a piece he wrote about Mental Health and Resiliency, published there in 2017. (click here for link)

 

Bruce Fortin

Bruce Fortin, JD,MA. is a psychotherapist and mediation attorney with a private practice in Sonoma County Calif. He is an ordained Zen Priest and for many years has been the guiding teacher of several meditation groups as well as leading a meditation/stress reduction group in the local prison. He was also the executive director of a hospice program for eight years, has taught workshops on pain reduction, relationship issues, stress reduction in the workplace, and courses on ‘Meditation and Psychotherapy” at Sonoma State University. He has served on many non profit board of directors.

Matt Huffman

I came to Veteran's PATH in 2011 while in rehab at the SFVA. I was just beginning to emerge from a place of total wreckage. I have since been to dozens of events and completed the Vet Leader program and now get to help other veterans by facilitating events. My life has expanded and I am finding new success in most areas of my life due in large part to the community and tools that I have found in Veteran's PATH. In 2017, I finished law school and passed the bar. I say this with total humility and gratitude, considering where I started. Largely, I want other veterans who are having trouble to know that they can have a good life too. I don't get to erase all the bad things I've done, but, I can learn to make peace with them and go forward with my life. I look forward to meeting you.

After several years serving as a Veteran Leader, Matt has now officially joined our team of facilitators. Listen to Matt's Morning Grounding Meditation from a Whitewater Rafting Retreat.


Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson is a Buddhist meditation teacher and organic gardening mentor who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has been practicing Zen meditation for thirty-five years and has led meditation retreats nationwide since 1992. Wendy is one of the founders of the organic Farm and Garden Program at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin County, where she lived with her family from 1975 to 2000. She has been teaching gardening and environmental education to the public since the early 1980s.

In 2000 Wendy and her husband, Peter Rudnick, received the annual Sustainable Agriculture Award from the National Ecological Farming Association. Since 1995 Wendy has written a quarterly column, “On Gardening,” for Tricycle Magazine, a Buddhist Review. She was honored in The Best Science and Nature Writing 2000, published by Houghton Mifflin. She is the author of Gardening at Dragon’s Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World, published in 2008. Wendy is a mentor and advisor to the Edible Schoolyard program of the Chez Panisse Foundation, a project that she has been involved in since in its inception in 1995.


Adam Leonard

Currently works as a consultant, designer and facilitator within the People Development department at Google. Prior to that he worked with a range of consulting clients from entrepreneurial start-ups to mid-market to large companies. In addition, Adam worked at Mattel (the world’s biggest toy company!) Adam’s recent book—Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening—sums up over 20 years of academic and applied research on human development. In his free time Adam enjoys playing many types of sports including tennis, basketball, yoga, running, and weight lifting. He has also practiced daily meditation for over 15 years.


Laura Martin

Laura Martin, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker, with over 20 years of clinical experience, primarily in community mental health, most recently in private practice. She started a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) program in a rural mental health agency, teaching tools of mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation to women trauma survivors. She is Certified by The Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School as an instructor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). She facilitates retreats for physicians and other healthcare providers. She is an adjunct professor with the University of Western States, offering courses in Mind-Body Medicine. She practices and teaches with the Zen Community of Oregon.

Vanessa Meade

Vanessa Meade, PsyD, LCSW, is the founder of the Alaska Veterans Organization for Women (A.V.O.W.), a U.S. Army/Gulf War Veteran, and a former Alaska State Trooper who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. She has a doctorate in psychology and is a licensed clinical social worker. The focus of her doctoral studies was mindfulness-based practices with women veterans. She teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), is a recognized leader of Sensory Awareness, and facilitates mindfulness-based retreats and programs. She is an assistant clinical professor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage in the School of Social Work and has also worked in community mental health agencies and juvenile justice facilities.

Jason Murphy-Pedulla

Jason Murphy-Pedulla, MA, LMFT, is a published author and founder of Mindfulness Recovery Counseling; he is a consultant and educator, he has extensive experience over the last 2 decades of working with adults, youth and families as an addiction medicine clinician and mindfulness based psychotherapist.He holds a license as a certified addictions counselor as well as a MA in counseling psychology. He is certified as a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator.

“I have a deep belief in treating the whole human being and not just the symptom whether it be physical or psychological or spiritual. Both my skill as a therapist and my knowledge of East/ West Psychology aids me in providing essential knowledge and techniques for clients to affect change in their lives.”

Davis Nguyen

Davis Nguyen, a child of Vietnam War refugees, was first introduced to Engaged Buddhism at the age of twelve, when his parents sought to ease their suffering by attending a five day retreat. At 21, he ordained under Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.During his ten years as a monk Davis lived entirely in community, traveling and teaching internationally.He has also led mindfulness trainings in diverse spaces outside of retreat centers, such as the World Bank, Google Headquarters and Harvard and Yale Universities. In 2016, Davis received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village, recognizing him as as a guiding teacher of the Plum Village lineage. He has a deep passion for authentic, heart-felt presence & communication.


Karen Roeper

M.S. in Counseling and Dance Therapy, Senior Rosen Method Bodywork Teacher, and one of Marion Rosen’s earlier students, is the founder of Essential Motion, a somatic-based coaching process. She has conducted trainings in these disciplines nationally and internationally and has had a private practice in somatic therapy for over 25 years. Her work is guided by curiosity, compassion, and kindness. By integrating her 30 year Vipassana mindfulness practice into her teaching, she is committed to fostering the transformative healing abilities within each person.

Listen to Karen's "Just Here" meditation offered at the 2016 Women's Practice Period.