The Compassionate Atlanta Organizing Team has identified five specific initiatives that it intends to support:
- Encourage and support Community Conversations designed to raise awareness about the benefits of compassionate action;
- Encourage and support businesses, schools and other organizations to become Charter of Compassion Partners;
- Encourage individuals and communities of all kinds to embrace the dynamic values of mindfulness;
- Encourage individuals and communities of all kinds to Live Compassionately in a Diverse World;
- Encourage and support parents and educators to provide our children with opportunities for compassionate action and understanding.
Leanne Rubenstein - Executive Director
Ayshah is an advocate of cross-cultural communication and has been passionate about supporting non-profit organizations since moving from the United Kingdom in the 1990s. Over the years, as a performance strategies consultant, she has been instrumental in facilitating the growth and transformation of organizations through team development, process improvement and branding efforts. Ayshah is also an events producer, inspirational speaker and writer.
After serving American Baptist Churches in Kansas, Ohio,and for 30 years, as Senior Minister of the Lake Street Church in Evanston, Illinois, Bob Thompson retired in November of 2010. Moving to Atlanta in 2011, he engaged the Atlanta interfaith community and helped to organize the Compassionate Atlanta Leadership Team in 2013. He is Minister Emeritus of the Lake Street Church and Chair Emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Pam has been a volunteer with Compassionate Atlanta since October 2013, and is currently directing the Mindfulness initiative. Prior to retirement, Pam enjoyed a career as a Special Educator. Pam has a M.Ed in Special Education, Emotional Disturbances, and taught children with special needs in a variety of settings including a public school classroom, psycho-educational center and psychiatric hospital. Pam has devoted the last 29 years to raising a family and performing community service, including serving on Boards of Trustees at independent schools such as Cliff Valley School and The Paideia School. She also volunteered with the Georgia Council on Child Abuse, Jewish Family and Career Services, International Rescue Committee, First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta and Shepherd Spinal Center. She is married with 3 grown children and her favorite hobbies are tennis, biking, yoga and reading.
Rob Johnson is the former Vice-President of Community Services at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. He retired this year after 29 years with the organization. Rob came to the Food Bank in 1987 after co-founding and living in the Open Door Community, the first residential community for the homeless. Prior to that he had worked with the United Methodist Church-related Wesley Community Centers developing meals-on-wheels programs in 4 metro-Atlanta counties and serving as that organization’s first full-time fundraising/resource developer. Between 1997 and 2012, Rob served as ACFB’s Chief Operating Officer and was instrumental in developing and clarifying our vision for more shared decision-making and developing a systems approach to overall organizational development. In 2012 as part of an overall organization restructuring preparing for senior management succession expected in the next decade, Rob’s COO position was de-centralized and he became VP of Community Services. Rob holds a Masters Degree in Social Psychology from the University of Georgia.
Rena has been involved with Compassionate Atlanta since its initial meeting in the Fall of 2013. Rena is the Former Financial Aid Director at the Art Institute of Atlanta, a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church, a board member and treasurer of Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, a board member of Buckhead Christian Ministry, a volunteer account manager at American Association of Adapted Sports Programs, a member of the Women Federation for World Peace, a member of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, and a proud mother and grandmother.
Austin is a founding member of the Compassionate Atlanta team. Austin is currently employed at the Georgia Institute of Technology as an Administrative Professional, and he holds Bachelors degrees from Lake Forest College in French Language and Religious Studies, and a Masters Degree in Public Policy from Georgia State University. He is the author of the unpublished essay, "After Huxley... Where is the next Perennial Philosopher?". His interests include social and economic justice activism and policy work, consciousness studies, travel, all forms of art and music, and dachshunds. Originally from the Chicagoland area, Austin moved to Atlanta in the Summer of 2010 with his wife Cristina.
Cheri Tiernan is the head of community relations for the Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta. She is also a founding board member for Compassionate Atlanta and a member of the Interfaith Speakers Bureau. Cheri is currently studying to become a certified Buddhist hospice chaplain and volunteers as a spiritual-care intern at Hospice Atlanta. In her prior professional life, Cheri was the marketing & communications director for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She lives in Decatur with her husband and two young children and enjoys travel, poetry and photography.
Candace is the owner and operator of Phoenix and Dragon bookstore in Sandy Springs GA. Candace does countless amounts of volunteer work in the community and is involved with multiple community organizations. Candace is also a member of Compassionate Sandy Springs.
Catherine Crosby is a founding member of Compassionate Atlanta and co-founder of Neshama Interfaith Center: to offer shared experiences where all faith traditions are valued. Neshama offers a variety of programs and series and partners with other community building and peacemaking organizations. She is a Spiritual Director, involved with the Interfaith Speakers Bureau, retreat leader and certified yoga instructor at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Sandy Springs, and she also has a private practice. Cathy is a mother and delighted grandmother.
Gareth is a radio show host, a blogger, and a regular speaker and leader on topics of authenticity, intimacy and curiosity – central to a New Business Mindset. As an independent businessman, he has been able to develop a very successful livelihood and at the same time cultivate his spiritual path. Gareth is very active in interfaith work. A couple of years after being ordained a Zen Buddhist priest, Gareth left formal Zen practice to co-found Red Clay Sangha, an Atlanta Buddhist community. He has served as president of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and is a regular observer of Ramadan, the Jewish High Holidays, and other faith and interfaith events. He is engaged with a number of other interfaith and social justice organizations, serving on boards and participating in grass roots activism. He has written a number of books, including two novels, and contributed to several others. Gareth is a father of two almost-adult children.
Aleasa M. Word is an internationally certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, workshop facilitator, speaker, author and an Editor at the Good Men Project Digital Magazine. Through her private coaching practice, Ms. Word helps others embrace humanness in the current moment as a forward moving catalyst for change in life strategies, decision making, conflict resolution, diversity/inclusion, leadership, employee relations and stress management. Additionally, she is very passionate about the areas of restorative justice, compassionate living and advocacy work for those living with life threatening food allergy and anaphylaxis. Aleasa’s corporate experience includes 15 + years working in critical investment administration and regulatory oversight. Her other affiliations include Prominent Women Championing for a White House Council for Boys, #19 Days of Healing, Flowers for Anaphylaxis Grief Outreach and various women's and diversity committee initiatives. Aleasa is a Delaware native with a background in Organizational Dynamics through Wilmington University.
Roxane Leopold devoted her career to social services and education for families and children at risk. She has been an executive director in the non profit sector, a successful fundraiser, and has served as a director or trustee on more than a dozen boards. She has been an adjunct professor at several Vermont colleges, and an active volunteer in Boston, Massachusetts, Burlington, Vermont and Atlanta, Georgia. Roxane has been a foster parent for 8 children. She moved to Atlanta in 2013 to be closer to her family and to continue her career in early childhood education. She is currently involved in Compassionate Atlanta as the lead Team Leader for the Charter Partners initiative (w/Travis Wright).
Valerie is a meditation instructor and teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and served as the Atlanta Center Director from 2003- 2012. Valerie is the current board chair of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, a non-profit organization, that promotes interfaith understanding and activities.. She volunteers at the Global Village Project, a school for refugee girls in Decatur. Valerie is the Managing Partner of VinoVinti, a company that manufactures, markets and distributes a wine accessory that improves the flavor of wine. Valerie has lived in Atlanta for the last 23 years with her husband. They have one son.
Mario Burton is a student, scholar, and entrepreneur. He is currently a PhD student at Antioch University where he is studying social justice leadership and recently returned from Europe where he served as a panelist on "Queerying" leadership. His passion for social justice leadership has followed a career working for various nonprofits over the last 8 years. While serving in these capacities, he has utilized mindfulness, motivational interviewing, restorative justice, and various other client-centered intervention strategies to resolve conflict and empower individuals to make more informed choices for themselves. His work has led him to start a nonprofit called Grandma's Hands International that seeks to strengthen communities through social enterprise development and which he hopes to grow over the next few years. He is an Alabama native and caregiver for his mom who has dementia.
Coleman G. Howard
Coleman G. Howard is a writer/blogger, a motivational speaker, a life coach, a human activist, and a t-shirt designer. He uses his writings and t-shirt affirmations to motivate, encourage, and teach others to heal and live their best life. Mr. Howard is also leading a movement that is centered on the pillars- Truth, Love and Compassion. He believes you must have truth, love, and compassion in your heart for yourself and others, in order to change the world we live in.