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.
Melanie Gulick read about the happenings at the Austin Zen Center as an email list subscriber long before coming to beginner’s meditation instruction in December 2009. She pledged membership the next month and kept coming, taking lay vows with seven other Sangha members at a Jukai ceremony in December 2015. Cello and dance and choreography were her early forms of meditation. Moving to Austin from Washington state in 1982, she worked at Wheatsville Food Co-op for six years before joining the staff of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at UT-Austin as a Graduate Coordinator in 1989. Melanie and her girlfriend of 25-plus years, Ms. Jeffrey Lee Hillhouse, were married on July 7, 2015. The family includes River, a Plott Hound mix; cats Chester Ray and Bradley Gene; and the friendly ghosts of many beloved pets.
Mary Meagher is a licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology and neuroscience. She began practicing yoga and meditation during art school in 1979 and later completed yoga teacher training in 2012. She began practicing at AZC after a pivotal week at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in 2016. As a clinical psychologist, Mary uses relational, mindfulness, and acceptance approaches to teach doctoral students psychotherapy and professional ethics. Her research investigates how stress and emotion influence pain and inflammation, while her activities service focuses on diversity and inclusion initiatives. She is married to Jim Grau, who is also a professor. They have two children, Alex and Kat, and one grandson, Ravi. Mary enjoys hiking, biking, art, poetry, music, and traveling.
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.
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.
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.