New NWDA board members, from left, Jacqueline Mandell, Tim Tapping, Ven. Chonyi.  Absent from photo are Lisa Gardner and Ruby Grad.

New NWDA board members, from left, Jacqueline Mandell, Tim Tapping, Ven. Chonyi. Absent from photo are Lisa Gardner and Ruby Grad.

Welcome New Board Members, New Officers

The cycle of NWDA board of directors’ terms begins and ends in June each year. At the beginning of the month outgoing, incoming, and in-between board members get together at Bodhi House in Olympia for one of their two yearly face-to-face meetings and welcome newcomers to the sangha.

Joining the board at this time are Ven. Thubten Chonyi of Sravasti Abbey, Newport, WA; Lisa Gardner of Nalandabodhi, Seattle; Ruby Grad of Portland Friends of the Dhamma, Portland; Jacqueline Mandell of Samden Ling, Portland; and Tim Tapping of Sakya Monastery, Seattle.

Old and new board members gathered at Bodhi House in Olympia, Washington.
Front, left to right:  Jacqueline Mandell, Amy Groncznack, Julie Welch, Jeff Kerr, Caterina De Re.  Standing:  Dick O'Connor, Bill Hirsch, Richard Miles, Nick Vail, Tim Tapping, Ven. Chonyi, Timothy O'Brien (staff), and Clark Hansen/Jampel Gyatso.

Old and new board members gathered at Bodhi House in Olympia, Washington. Front, left to right: Jacqueline Mandell, Amy Groncznack, Julie Welch, Jeff Kerr, Caterina De Re. Standing: Dick O'Connor, Bill Hirsch, Richard Miles, Nick Vail, Tim Tapping, Ven. Chonyi, Timothy O'Brien (staff), and Clark Hansen/Jampel Gyatso.

Combined with continuing veteran board members Dh. Avichala, Caterina De Re, Bill Hirsch, Jeff Kerr, Richard Miles, Dick O’Connor, and Nick Vail, this is an awesome lineup. Expect exciting things in the near future.

New board officers are Nick Vail, president; Caterina De Re, vice-president; Jeff Kerr, treasurer. Bill Hirsch continues as secretary.

Amy Groncznack, Clark Hansen, and Julie Welch are leaving the board after a collective 10-plus years of service. Amy has been a frequent contributor to and occasional editor of the Northwest Dharma News. Clark served as vice-president and Julie as president of the Association. All three plan to continue to support NWDA in various volunteer capacities.

After the board meeting at Bodhi House, new and old board members plus staffers Timothy O’Brien and David Forsythe gathered for a thoroughly enjoyable dinner celebrating achievements of recent years. Particular generosity was shown to departing president, Julie Welch, who expressed much gratitude for the opportunity to work with such an exceptional group of people.

Totally Volunteer: Staff Changes at NWDA

As of July 1, the Northwest Dharma Association became an all-volunteer organization.

June marks the end of Timothy O’Brien’s four-and-a-half year tenure as the single paid staff member of the Northwest Dharma Association. It does not, however, end his activities or connection with NWDA.

“When I began,” he says,” I didn’t know exactly what was needed. It’s really only in looking back that I understand now what has transpired.

“There were lots of issues:

  • how to better define and communicate our mission,
  • how to create financial sustainability,
  • how to continue to produce the Northwest Dharma News, given the increased cost of production, how best to use the tools of recent technology to fulfill our mission,
  • how to establish a suitable, manageable set of administrative practices that would address expansion and efficiency,
  • how to support the board and membership, so that there would be on-going benefit from our activities.

“We have made progress in all these areas. With the help of many remarkable people over the years, I have been able to play some part in this.”

In the short term, NWDA will function as an entirely volunteer organization. There will be a need for paid staff again in the future. It is important that NWDA generate the financial support needed to employ staff to carry out its unique mission. The organization is fortunate, at this time, to have people willing to perform these roles without compensation.

David Forsythe, the Association’s long-serving volunteer office manager and webmaster, is the sine qua non of NWDA’s day-to-day existence. His work includes checking incoming email daily for inquiries from members and the general public, then answering them or forwarding them to the appropriate person. Also checking daily for submissions to the website calendar; processing and welcoming new group, individual and teacher members; and making revisions to the website group directory.

David picks up mail at the Center House near the office weekly, sends out membership renewal reminders, and processes membership renewals. He maintains the financial records from these and all other transactions, including donations, and keeps up to date with the requirements of various government agencies. As NWDA’s use of electronic communication has increased, David has acquired quite a toolkit of internet skills which he uses in creating and maintaining web pages, News archives, databases, and email announcements.

Julie Welch, recently retired board president, will continue as volunteer editor of the Northwest Dharma News and “editor-at-large” of NWDA communications. She will also continue to be involved in event planning and outreach.

As a volunteer, Timothy will continue to supply the board of directors with regular financial statements and various other forms of support, including helping with fundraising and other development projects. He will also assist David in the many administrative and web-related tasks demanding attention.

On Volunteering for the Northwest Dharma Association

Timothy O’Brien:
“The board members and other volunteers (of which I am now happily one myself) exemplify one of the most important practices in the Buddhadharma: the giving of dana. I have been so inspired by the generosity of these folks! The hours I have spent in the company of these devoted practitioners have benefited me beyond measure.

“The 2010-2011 Board that began its term this June is a remarkable group of people, drawn from diverse lineages. These twelve will move us further ahead. May they and all beings benefit from their deeds!”

David Forsythe:
“Working for NWDA doing office work and website work over many years has become part of my practice. The work that I do is mostly done behind the scenes. It’s just the ongoing work that any organization needs and must have. Over the years, it’s become second nature to me. I am deeply sympathetic to the mission of NWDA.

“Among the many benefits of doing this work are the people with whom and for whom the work is done. From those who call, email and use the website looking for help finding a sangha, a teacher or just to find out more about Buddhism to the bodhisattvas who give of their talents, it is always an enriching experience. I learn constantly from them.

“Giving can take many forms and is one of the Ten Perfections taught by the Buddha. And it’s a value and practice honored by almost all religions. David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, calls gratitude the heart of prayer. I am grateful for the opportunity to give in this way and happy to do it.”

Julie Welch:
“I’m a lucky dog.”

NW Dharma Logo

Summer 2010 Appeal

We ask for your help twice a year. Almost 40% of our annual revenue comes from your generous donations. This allows us to maintain our website, publish the Northwest Dharma News, and coordinate the various Mahasangha events we sponsor.

As you have read above, NWDA is now an all-volunteer association. Those of us who are already giving our time and money are asking you to join us to foster the work of NWDA. You can donate here.

Where your money goes:

  • To the Group Directory that lists all our member group sanghas throughout the NWDA region. The Directory serves people seeking a place to practice and groups offering opportunities to do so.
  • To the Calendar of Events, our most used service, offering information about teachers, retreats, and gatherings of all sorts.
  • To the Northwest Dharma News, widely read both in the Northwest and far beyond.
  • To the support of events like the Prison Dharma and Family Dharma Conferences, the annual Teachers Meeting, and the Annual Gathering that bring together the community as a Mahasangha, transcending the limitations of one group or lineage, and uniting us in our common ideals.

As Buddhism takes root in the West other regional organizations representing the whole of the Buddhist tradition may spring up in other parts of North America. For now, however, the Northwest Dharma Association is a unique experiment. Please help us to continue our groundbreaking work.

Giving is simple on the NWDA secure website. Any amount is deeply appreciated. You can give by simply clicking here.

Message from NWDA President, Nick Vail

The Buddha taught a Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end. - Saleyyaka Sutta

In the spirit of new beginnings, I write to you with the aspiration that the Dharma flourish in these lands of the Pacific Northwest.

Among non-profit groups, the Northwest Dharma Association is unique. It is our mission to support the Dharma by connecting the diverse sanghas of our region.

This truly is your organization. Being composed of individual members and member groups, NWDA exists to be of benefit to your and indeed all beings' path to awakening.

To engage this way in North America, we depend upon your generosity. Your donation will go towards nurturing the Dharma and promoting peace and harmony in a world that is in need.

Please consider giving what you can to help.
May all be auspicious!

Sourcebook Listings Free as Benefit of Membership

Sourcebook, NWDA’s online directory of Buddhist-friendly businesses and service professionals is now offered free as a benefit of membership in the Northwest Dharma Association.

Sourcebook listings offer the possibility to advertise in the categories of: Professional Services, Psychotherapy & Counseling, Well-Being & Natural Lifestyle, Dharma Supplies, Retreat Centers, and Dining & Lodging.

If you have a business or service and are an individual or teacher member, or a member group, you can place a listing at no additional expense beyond your annual dues.  Membership for individuals/teachers remains $25/year and starts at $50/year for member groups.

You can place a listing here.

Please spread the word to friends in your sangha or meditation group or to anyone you think might be interested in this offer.  This is a great way to reach the Buddhist community throughout and beyond the region while supporting Northwest Dharma at the same time.

Dharma Teachers: Mark Your Calendars for October 2nd

The 2010 Northwest Dharma Association’s annual Teachers Meeting will take place as usual on the first Saturday of October. This year that means October 2nd.

The meeting is open to monastics, teachers and sangha leaders of all traditions. You need not be a Northwest Dharma member to attend.

More information about the Teachers Meeting will be available soon. If you would like to receive email updates about the event and/or volunteer to help with planning, please contact us at

NWDA Teacher Members can receive information and participate in discussions via the online Teacher Forum. Information about joining as a Teacher Member is here:

Welcome New Member Groups

Membership is crucial to the survival of the Northwest Dharma Association. We thank, anonymously, all those who have joined as Individual and Teacher members this year. Listed below are the Dharma Groups who have become members of NWDA since January 2010. We are very grateful for your support!

  • Kadak Choku Ling, Bellevue, Washington
  • Zen Sangha of Bellevue, Bellevue, Washington
  • Recollective Awareness Community of Portland, Portland, Oregon
  • Early Morning Zen, Salem, Oregon
  • Bodhi Tree, Seattle, Washington
  • Lotus Speech of Canada, Sechelt, British Columbia
  • Trikaya, Seattle, Washington