New Co-Executive Directors at Karmê Chöling

Created Sun, Aug 20, 2023 by

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Karmê Chöling is very pleased to announce our newly appointed Co-Executive Directors, JT Buck and Vegan Aharonian. Aharonian and Buck will succeed Betsy Railla, who will step down on September 1st.

Our New Executive Directors
Both Vegan and JT come to the position with many years of experience in the community and with close ties to Karmê Chöling. Vegan is a teacher in the Shambhala community and a former resident of the center. JT has recently served on staff at Karmê Chöling as Residency Manager and Director of Programs. 

Both will work in tandem to lead the day-to-day operations of the retreat center. In addition, the co-directors will also lead the center’s fundraising, programming and public outreach. 

The Inspiration to Step Forward
When asked what was the inspiration for stepping into this role, each had this to say:

Practice. That’s the point. The world feels increasingly chaotic and polarized. People are longing for places to regain their sanity. For more than 50 years, Karmê Chöling has offered just that to people of all backgrounds and experience levels via a wide array of meditation retreats and other mindful living practices. We’re going to keep extending that offering of sanity to as many people as possible.

JT Buck

Vegan Aharonian

What unites us is much stronger than what divides us. Manifesting as a healthy motivated society starts with realizing that in the long run we either flourish together or we fail together. It just feels good to walk the path with like minded people. Then, the destination is not important anymore. It is joyous when our paths physically cross, even better when they cross at Karmê Chöling.

Vegan Aharonian

About Vegan Aharonian

Vegan began studying Shambhala Buddhism in 1996. Originally from Armenia (the former Soviet Union), he came to the United States as a graduate student at Columbia University in 1991. Since 2008 he has been part of the Governing Council at the New York City Shambhala Center and head of its Practice and Education. In addition to teaching regularly in New York, he has also taught international Shambhala programs in Russia and Ukraine. Vegan holds a PhD in geophysics and has worked as a software engineer for most of his career. His last engagement was at the United Nations.

About JT Buck
JT has been a dharma practitioner since 2009. He has served KCL as Director of Programs, Residency Coordinator and Program Coordinator. He originally hails from Ohio, where he maintained an active and varied career in the performing arts and non profit sectors for nearly 20 years. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and has completed post-graduate studies both there and at the University of Houston. He recently completed pilgrimages to Nepal and to ancient family sites in the UK and Europe. 

A Bow of Gratitude
Having completed her 4-year term that she began in late 2019, Betsy Railla's cheerful, can-do attitude will be sorely missed. She has been creative and resourceful in the face of major obstacles, the most prominent being COVID. Under her direction the residency program was begun and KCL launched it's online and hybrid programming which allowed the center to remain open and available to retreatants and residents alike. This was at a time when many small businesses were having to shut down. She will not be far away however, as she and her husband Nathan live nearby in the local area.

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