The work of the board is to determine the mission of AZC; select and support the Head Teacher or Abbot; support the staff; engage in strategic planning; oversee AZC’s budget and programs; protect our organization’s assets; assist with fundraising; and ensure AZC’s legal and ethical integrity.
The board values your feedback about our practice community. If you would like to share a concern or a delight, please feel free to contact us.
Board Chair, Dave Pietruszynski began formal Zen practice during the early 1990’s in the Rinzai tradition. In early 2017 after a long interim where Zen practice was being husband, father, and engineer, he dusted off his zafu and has been sitting regularly at AZC. By choosing the Soto tradition at AZC he is challenged to have a beginner’s mind and seeks to act authentically from compassion. A practicing Catholic, he was drawn as a young adult to the overlapping contemplative mysticism of monks like Thomas Merton and Zen. A passionate outdoorsman, Dave recently transitioned from a career as a high-tech entrepreneur and now focuses on coastal wetland restoration. He is married to Mary Ellen and they have two daughters and two grandchildren, all in CA.
David Adelman has long been interested in Buddhism and meditation, but he did not begin practicing Zen until 2010. Not long after moving to Austin, his experience at AZC drew him into the practice and introduced him to the teachings of Shunryu Suzuki and other Zen masters. He lives with his wife Helen, who helped reintroduce him to meditation practice, and daughter Hazel, who provides inspiration for embodying Zen practice in all aspects of his life. David enjoys yoga, hiking (particularly in the high country of Colorado and California), traveling, and reading. He is a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Joshua Abraham Kopin is a PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He began practicing Zen in 2012 at Bard College and joined the Austin Zen Center community in Fall 2013. After several years of intermittent practice, Josh began to deepen his commitment to Zen in the Summer of 2017, practicing in several retreats, practice periods, and sesshin. The AZC community has become an important aspect of his life in Austin, and he would like to be able to give back to the community by serving on the board. In particular, he is interested in developing frameworks for the communal study of Zen and Buddhist texts, outreach to Austin’s youth community, and working to increase diversity within our sangha.
Karen Laing grew up in Ventura & Santa Barbara, California. After early work as a museum technician, environmental educator and National Park ranger, she embarked on a three-decade career as a biologist and manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, mostly in Alaska, until retiring in 2017. Karen loves nature and the arts.
Karen began zen practice during a 1991 visit to Tassajara from her home in Alaska, and was a founding member of the Anchorage Zen Community, serving on the board and in many other capacities over the years. In 1999, Karen and fellow member Judith Haggar began a program supporting women at a state prison near Anchorage, a program that the Anchorage Zen Community continues today. In 2010, Karen moved to California to care for her parents, continuing to practice independently, and visiting practice centers when possible. In 2019 Karen moved to Austin to be close to her sister, a long time Austin resident, and she joined the Austin Zen Center soon after arrival.
Karen would be honored to be elected as a board member of the Austin Zen Center. She hopes to support the successful work the board, leaders and members have done in the last several years to establish financial stability; and she is in alignment with the goals of AZC to foster membership diversity.
Maureen Milligan transitioned from Catholicism to meditation and Buddhism. She was drawn to AZC by its authentic affiliation tradition; and is kept here by AZC’s energy, warmth, and depth. Maureen is President & CEO of a small statewide non-profit organization located in Texas. She served in management, policy and leadership positions at the State’s health agency, and worked on budget at the Legislative Budget Board. She was also on the faculty at UT’s medical branch in Galveston and taught health care administration, ethics, HR, & economics there. While most of her family resettled from Chicago to Arizona, her daughter and she ended up in Texas — appreciatively in Austin.
Wendy Salome is a mother of two teenagers, Emerson and Kahlil, and the wife to Dr. Nick Salome. She and her family first began exploring Buddhism at the Austin Zen Center in 2006. At that time, with a 1 year old and a 3 year old, a big part of the exploration was how to make practicing at AZC accessible to families. The ebbs and flows of life with young children meant coming and going over the years, while the real practice happened at home, in daily life. Wendy has spent parts of the last 10 years serving as an active and engaged leader on the working boards of the Texas Rollergirls Rec-n-Rollerderby league, both of her kids’ schools, and most recently as the Chief of Staff for ColdTowne Theater here in Austin, TX. She has been able to support the administrative team at AZC for the past year with various projects, and most recently has been inspired to really commit to a formal practice (during these craziest of times in the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020). As a newer “formal” member of the AZC community, she looks forward to bringing fresh eyes to the process of outreach and connection with members and visitors to the Austin Zen Center.
Onryū Shoemaker became interested in Zen in college after being introduced to the book “Zen in the Art of Archery”. He later read other books about Zen, and eventually decided to come to the Austin Zen Center in 2011. After taking the beginner’s meditation instruction and staying for the Dharma talk, he told someone there afterwards that he would “definitely probably be back”. It wasn’t until two years later that he actually came back and started practicing regularly at AZC after coming to the Spring Fair to help with a Japanese archery (Kyudo) demonstration. Since then, he has been an active member of the community, taking lay ordination in December of 2015, and helping out wherever he can. He works as a software engineer, and he takes care of two dogs while his wife, Lidia, is working on her PhD in History at Yale. He enjoys practicing Kyudo, hand tool woodworking, Irish fiddle, and boardgames.
Louis “Shu” Shuey grew up in central Texas, encouraged to explore faith from different perspectives including Buddhism. He’d long since stopped searching by the time his teen-age son brought him to a beginner meditation class at AZC. From that point in 2014 his search began anew, breath by breath on the zafu. Shu has been a member ever since, grateful for the support and encouragement of the sangha. He and his wife Doris live in Round Rock. Their sons Michael and Isaac are students at UT-Dallas and UT-Arlington.