Teachers and Practice Leaders

Developing a relationship with a teacher through having private practice meetings is an essential part of Zen training. These are formal meetings at the temple in which an engaged practitioner can bring questions about the dharma and practice, and benefit from the experienced guidance, encouragement, and presence of a teacher. Our Head Teacher, Visiting Teachers and Practice Leaders are available to meet with those who have been regularly practicing for a period of months to discuss their practice life. Practice Leaders at AZC have practiced Zen for many years, have served as Shuso (Head Student) for a Practice Period, and have been invited by the guiding teacher to meet with practitioners and guide them. 

 AZC Guiding Teacher – Rev. Choro Antonaccio

 Rev. Choro Carla Antonaccio began formal Zen practice at Chapel Hill Zen Center in 1999. She received lay precepts from her teacher, Rev. Josho Patricia Phelan, in 2001 and priest ordination in 2010. She was shuso in Chapel Hill in 2016. Rev. Choro has practiced at the three temples of San Francisco Zen Center including practice periods at Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm. In Chapel Hill she served for multiple years in the positions of Tenzo, Work Leader, and Ino and also served as member at large and president of the board of directors. She decided to end a career in academia in 2018, and moved to Austin to practice with the sangha at AZC in 2020, serving as Tanto (Head of Practice). In 2021, she received dharma transmission from Rev. Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Abbot of Houston Zen Center, and became Guiding Teaching of AZC in 2022. She is a full member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and also of the American Zen Teachers Association. She may be reached for dokusan (practice guidance with a transmitted teacher) at choro@austinzencenter.org

AZC Lay Entrusted Teacher – Pat Yingst

ShiOn Pat Yingst began practicing Zen meditation in 1988 and has been a member of Austin Zen Center since its inception. She received Lay Entrustment from Rev. Doshin Mako Voelkel in March 2022.

Pat has served on the AZC Board of Directors,  worked for several years as the AZC bookkeeper, taught Buddhist meditation for many years in Central Texas prisons and was one of the two founding editors of Just This – originally the AZC journal  which continues to this day as an online blog.  Currently she is a member of the practice committee, and administers the Saturday Morning Zazen Instruction program.  Pat may be reached for practice discussion at pat@austinzencenter.org. 


AZC Director – Amanda Moore

Amanda Moore accepted the role of Director at the Zen Center in August 2023. Previously, she worked at Austin PBS as Director of Product and Archives and has worked in software development and business management for the last several decades.

Amanda is a long time Austinite, musician, hiker, traveler and has a daily meditation practice. She is truly honored to support the Austin Zen Center’s mission.

Amanda can be reached at amanda@austinzencenter.org. 

AZC Temple Administrator – Crystal Landes

Crystal Landes began her Soto Zen practice at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in 2016 and completed a practice period there in 2021. She has been a resident at Beginners Mind Temple in San Francisco, Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe and began residency at Austin Zen Center in March of 2022. Crystal is grateful to be a part of the AZC community and feels honored to work in the support role of Temple Administrator. 

Crystal can be reached at admin@austinzencenter.org. 

Practice Roles

Ino – Chris Azbill

One of the core positions of temple practice leadership, the Ino is the zendo (meditation hall) leader responsible for training the doan-ryo, coordinating ceremonies with the Tanto and Guiding Teacher, and helping to support and teach zendo forms. The Ino may lead chanting at sesshin and oryoki-style meals.

Chris started coming to AZC in 2015 and a few years later he joined the residency program and took up the role of Work Leader. Stepping into the Ino role has deepened his personal practice and training others has expanded his attention to the whole of the zendo. Chris is honored to be standing ready for the sangha’s needs daily.

Sewing Teacher – Kaishin, Dawne Schomer

The teaching of sewing Buddha’s Robe – the rakusu and okesa worn by lay and priest practitioners – was transmitted to the West in the 1970s by teachers from Japan. In the lineage of Suzuki Roshi, Zenkei Blanche Hartman, founder of AZC, learned from Kasai Jōshin, and transmitted the sewing lineage from her, to many disciples. At AZC, Kaishin Dawne Schomer continues this tradition of hand-sewing Buddha’s Robe with the guidance of those who learned from Zenkei Hartman. She works closely with the guiding teacher, who is empowered to conduct the precept ceremony called Jukai, in which students who have asked permission to sew the robe and receive the precepts are initiated into the Bodhisattva path.

Dawne began formal Zen practice in 1991. After her retirement in 2016 she completed precept study at Three Treasures under the guidance of Roshi Jack Duffy of Diamond Sangha and received the precepts from him in 2019. During covid Kaishin began to take part in online zen practice and eventually sesshin at AZC. In 2021 she decided to make the hill country and Austin Zen Center her new home. In 2021 she was introduced to the Soto Zen way of teaching Sewing Buddha’s Robe by Rev. Dōshin Mako Voelkel and recently received additional sewing teacher training from Rev. Kyōshō Valorie Beer.

Head Doan – Elliot Persico

The Head Doan is supervised by and works closely with the Ino, who holds primary responsibility for formal Zendo practice, together with the Guiding Teacher. Elliot will support the Ino by helping to keep the doanryo roster covered, by assisting in training new doans and existing doans in new positions, and related tasks. He will also continue to train and serve as a doan.

Elliot began practice at AZC in summer of 2017 and received the precepts from Rev. Dōshin Mako Voelkel in January of 2023.