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Mindful leadership team

meet the director

Picture of a female in front of Rush Rhees meditating with a hand over her heart. Rebecca Block (she/her) leads the strategic development, implementation, and evaluation of all Mindful University Project initiatives for the campus community. She also leads the advanced meditation classes and co-facilitates the half-day silent retreats. In her role, Rebecca works closely with schools and departments to integrate a culture of mindfulness across the campus. In addition, she offers evidence-informed trainings to faculty and staff members that offer practical skills to promote well-being in their classrooms and / or office to support the students they serve.

Rebecca holds a BA in Health, Behavior, and Society from the University of Rochester and an MS in Community Health Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®), a College Health and Wellness Professional (CHWP), Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200), and a Certified Koru Mindfulness Teacher.

Student employeeS

Undergraduate Program Assistant

Image of a female eating sorbet at VanLeewan Ice Cream in New York City. “My name is Jenny Lee (she/her), and I am majoring in Epidemiology. I am a tea connoisseur, foodie at heart, and love to nap. However, despite my relatively relaxing interests, I do still find myself overwhelmed and stressed at times. To mitigate this,

 I have tried a variety of self-care practices and am constantly looking for ways to incorporate little moments of mindfulness into daily living.

I am a Registered Yoga Teacher with 200 hours (RYT 200) of training that was focused on holistic movement and the mind-body connection. I hope to share some of the tips and tricks I have learned so far and continue exploring a path for self-growth.”

Graduate Program Assistant

Kaylen (they/them/theirs), who serves as the Graduate Assistant to the Mindful University Project, graduated from Wells CollegeA graduate student smiling amongst lilacs at Highland Park. with a dual degree in Psychology and Women’s, Transgender, and Queer studies in 2021 and is currently a graduate student in Mental Health Counseling at the Warner School of Education. Kaylen discovered their mindfulness practice in 2014 as a part of their personal mental health journey and has found it to be an evolving, dynamic, and holistic journey ever since. Their practice started with yoga, but over the years has become an expansive practice involving yoga, meditation, energy work, and connection with nature.

They find mindfulness to be all about relationships; they have found it to be a place where they have built a healthy relationship with their mind, body, and spirit, but have also found it to be a place where they feel connected with others. One of their favorite things about practicing mindfulness is that it leaves space for all experiences and allows us to find connection with ourselves, others, and our world circularly. With a passion for creating inclusive spaces, Kaylen is excited to share and continue to expand the experience of mindfulness with the University of Rochester community in the ongoing process of becoming.

Mindful Leadership Consultant

A female smilingDr. Lisa Critchley is the Founder and President, Kirk Partners Consulting LLC. Kirk Partners Consulting LLC provides mindfulness-based organizational and leadership coaching to drive leadership excellence and promote overall well-being. Focus areas include organization-wide culture change, presence-based mindful leadership development, coaching, and strategy. Dr. Lisa Critchley earned her doctorate in Executive Leadership at St. John Fisher College. Her dissertation entitled, “The Leader’s Mind Matters: The Effect of Mindful Leadership Development Programs on Leadership Effectiveness, Mindfulness and Well-Being Among Global Manufacturing Leaders” was awarded the Exemplary Scholarship Award. Lisa is conducting independent research to advance awareness of mindfulness to enhance well-being and leadership effectiveness and understand the intersection of mindfulness, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Koru Teachers

Picture of a female smiling on top of a mountain.

Amy McDonald (she/her/hers)

Director

Health Promotion Office

Amy McDonald has worked in the UHS Health Promotion Office since 2016 and is currently the Associate Director of Health Promotion. As a two-time graduate of the University, Amy has a unique understanding of Meliora culture, and is passionate about supporting the mental well-being of our community. She has been practicing yoga for over 20 years and began her formal meditation practice in the fall of 2016. Amy enjoys going on adventures with her two children, traveling, photography, reading, and painting.

Picture of a woman sitting in a yoga studio.

Rebecca Block (she/her)

Health Promotion Specialist – Student Well-Being

Health Promotion Office

Throughout the years, Rebecca has been involved with the UHS Health Promotion Office in a variety of ways; She was on URSHAC, took Peer Health Advocacy, was a Peer Health Advocate Intern, and now is the Health Educator. As Rebecca was going through her undergrad experience, she liked to relax through practicing yoga, but as she developed overwhelming stress and anxiety, she wanted to learn about different practices that she could add to her toolbox. She then began learning about and practicing mindfulness and meditation and wanted to help reduce stress of students by sharing these techniques with others. During her time as a Peer Health Advocate intern and member of a campus meditation group, she led meditations to students in various parts of the library and the meditation room, and as she graduated, the Mindful University Project came to be. Rebecca is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 200), Certified Wellness Champion, and a Certified Koru Mindfulness teacher.

Picture of a woman ringing a singing bowl during a meditation.

Debra Corea (she/her/hers)

Lecturer

Program of Dance and Movement

Debra Corea is a Lecturer in UR’s Program of Dance and Movement Mind-Body Somatics Cluster. In 2010 she began developing courses dedicated to bringing curiosity and awareness to the nature of mind along with the experience of residing in a human body. One of Debra’s greatest pleasures in her five decades of meditation, yoga, and embodied trainings was accompanying her most influential mindfulness teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn, on a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Buddha in northern India.

An individual on the couch wrapped in a blanket.

Kyle Trenshaw (he/his/him or they/them/their)

Assistant Director for STEM Education

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Kyle Trenshaw is the Assistant Director for STEM Education at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning on campus. He also serves as the Buddhist Chaplain through the Interfaith Chapel and as a part of the UR Koru team. Kyle got into meditation as a graduate student looking for some relief from the stresses of pursuing a PhD and continued to deepen his practice during his postdoc through explorations of yoga, aikido, and general mindfulness principles. Soon after starting his work at the U of R, Kyle joined the Zen Meditation Group on campus and moved to leading meditations for the group not long after. Leading the Zen Meditation Group prompted him to enrich his knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist practices, and becoming a certified Koru instructor seemed like an excellent opportunity to share that knowledge with students in new ways. In his free time, Kyle regularly goes on retreat, practices gongfu tea ceremonies as meditation, and finds peace through movement in his yoga, qigong, and tai chi practices. In his mindfulness work, Kyle is particularly interested in creating contemplative spaces for LGBTQ+ folks to come together in community and in helping his Koru students to build unconditional self-compassion.

A female doing yoga in front of Rush Rhees.

Lucinda Snyder (she/her/hers)

Founder

Peak Flow

Lucinda was led to mindfulness during her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. During this time the Universe kept placing “opportunities” in her path. Lucinda is passionate in her endeavors to make mindfulness accessible to all and infuses it throughout her yoga teaching. She has over 100 hours of mindful/meditation teacher training and loves sharing the practice with college students and colleagues. In addition to teaching Koru, she teaches yoga and mindfulness to college athletes to help them reach peak performance on and off the field. Lucinda believes it is through community where we, as humans, are able to serve the greater good. We are only as strong as those around us.

A professional headshot of an individual wearing glasses and a purple scarf.

Whitney Gegg-Harrison (she/they)

Associate Professor

Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program

Whitney Gegg-Harrison is an associate professor in the Writing, Speaking, and Argument Program with an academic background in cognitive science and linguistics and a lifelong fascination with the inner workings of the human mind. Whitney has been practicing meditation and mindfulness in a variety of forms for over a decade, and in 2020, became a Certified Koru Mindfulness Teacher. Whitney’s passionate about helping students better understand themselves and teaching them skills to cope with stress and build resilience. Whitney also knits, sews, and plays the violin.

A picture of a female sitting on the bank of a river smiling.

Felicia Reed-Watt (she/her)

Associate Director of Social Work and Clinical Case Management

University Counseling Center

Felicia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She began her mindfulness journey 15 years ago as dialectical behavioral therapist which consists of practicing mindfulness and changing the way we think. Felicia has trained in Mindfulness Stress Behavioral Training and Trauma Sensitive Yoga at the University of Buffalo. Felicia enjoys introducing mindfulness in her therapy practice.  She, also, enjoys teaching and facilitating Koru Mindfulness for new learners since 2019. Felicia lives with her spouse and two fur babies and the mother of two adult children. Felicia enjoys nature and running.

A picture of a female in tree pose with their hands on their heart in front of an ocean.

Mary Rizzo (she/her/ella)

Assistant Director

Office of Minority Student Affairs

Mary joined the University of Rochester Office of Minority Student Affairs in August 2021. She became fascinated with Wellness as an undergrad and intern at her university’s Wellness Center. It was there that she began a lifelong mindfulness practice which was integral in her pursuing a BA in Psychology, and Master’s degree in Counseling. Mary truly loves teaching, learning, and helping people. She has taught college courses in communication and college success skills, and is also a yoga (RYT 200) and karate instructor in the community. She has personally experienced the healing power of engaging regular in mindful physical activity. Mary is excited to be able to share the benefits of mindfulness practices with the University of Rochester community.

A picture of a male standing outside of his office.

Deontae McLachlan (he/him)

Academic Advisor

Office of Minority Student Affairs

Deontae McLachlan is an Academic Advisor for the Office of Minority Student Affairs at the University of Rochester.

He is an alum of the University having completed his degree back in 2015. He has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for years and has a variety of experiences with different modalities of these practices. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, he knows how difficult it can be to exist within systems that do not offer kindness, care, and compassion and he prides himself on his enduring spirit of teaching and mentorship. He has experienced the transformative and magnanimous energy of mindfulness and is elated at the opportunity to share in this practice.

Man sitting for a portrait in front of a bookcase full of books.

John Covach (he/him)

Professor

Arthur Satz Department of Music and Eastman School of Music

John Covach’s interest in Indian spirituality was kindled in the 1970s by the music of the Beatles and Yes, novels by Hermann Hesse, and most especially by Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. He took his first instruction in meditation in 1978 and in the decades following has pursued the study of Eastern philosophy, Western esotericism, Christian mysticism, and German philosophy since Kant. As a music scholar and author of dozens of articles, chapters, and books, his work often explores the intersection of spirituality and mysticism with 20th-century classical music, jazz, and rock. In addition to teaching Koru, John is trained in other approaches to meditation, including kriya yoga and Chopra meditation. In addition to teaching music on the River Campus and at Eastman, John serves as Director of the Institute for Popular Music.

Advisory committee

The Advisory Committee consists of University of Rochester faculty and staff who all have an interest in mindfulness and contemplation and are personally motivated to share this passion with the University community. Representing most administrative departments across campus, this committee assists with the strategic direction and evaluation of the Mindful University Project.

Amy McDonald, MS

Associate Director

UHS Health Promotion Office

Rani Bhagwat

International Services Office

Immigration Advisor

Nancy Chin, PhD, MPH

Undergraduate Public Health-Related Programs

Associate Professor

Debra Corea, RYT 500, CMT

Program of Dance and Movement

Lecturer

Melina Esse, PhD

Eastman School of Music

Associate Professor of Musicology

Ed Feldman, MEd

Center for Community Engagement

Associate Director of Leadership Programs

Amber Graham

Gwen M. Greene Center

Project Management and Operations Program Director

Komekia Peterson

Office of Disability Resources

Access Coordinator

Kyle Trenshaw, PhD

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Educational Development Specialist

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