Monthly Archives: September 2019

SZBA Equity Statement

September 24th, 2019

The Soto Zen Buddhist Association seeks to make Soto Zen practice available to everyone.  We work to transform barriers based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, political affiliation, economic class, sexual orientation, age, and ability.  We find harmony in both our differences and what we share.

SZBA Board Member Profiles

September 21st, 2019

Tenku Ruff

Tenku Ruff (President)

New York, NY

Tenku trained in Zen monasteries in Japan and North America. She ordained as a priest under Tessai Yamamoto Roshi, Abbot of Kannonji Temple in Morioka, Japan and received dharma transmission in the same lineage. Tenku holds a Master of Divinity degree from Maitripa College and she is also a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC). Tenku has interests in ethics, chaplaincy, and inter-Buddhist / interfaith dialogue.


Charlie Pokorny (Vice President)
Sebastapol, CA

Charlie practiced as a resident at Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm for 12 years and was ordained as a priest by Reb Anderson in 1999. He and his family now live in Sebastopol where he teaches at Stone Creek Zen Center. Charlie also teaches courses at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. Particular interests right now include inclusivity, ritual practice and crossfit.


Chimyo Atkinson (Secretary)

Alexander, NC

Chimyo Atkinson received Dharma transmission under Rev. Teijo Munnich in 2015.  She received her monastic training in Japan and the US.  She currently serves as Head of Practice at Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple in Alexander, North Carolina.


Dokai Georgesen (Treasurer)

Eitzen, Minnesota

Dokai Georgesen started practicing Zen with Dainin Katagiri Roshi in 1973 at the Minnesota Zen Mediation Center. After taking a two-year pilgrimage to India and Japan he returned to Minnesota and was ordained by Katagiri Roshi in 1984. In 1989 he participated in the dharma transmission ceremony with Katagiri Roshi. He moved to Hokyoji Zen Practice Community in 2003 and continues to reside there serving in the role of Guiding Teacher.


Mamta Prakash

Harlem, New York City, NY

Mamta Prakash is a financial consultant who works with nonprofits in thinking about their finances strategically. She works with clients in solving fiscal management, operational, and leadership challenges in accord with best-practices.

Prior to her current job, Mamta served as Finance and Administration Director at the South Asian Youth Action (SAYA). Under her leadership there SAYA implemented a participatory budgeting process, efficient financial monitoring practices and overhauled IT infrastructure and HR policies. Mamta saw the organization through the transition between Executive Directors and led the Finance Department to unprecedented stability, enabling a smooth transfer of leadership.

Mamta earned a Master of Science in Architectural Studies and Urban Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received an Executive Masters in Public Administration from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.  She is a peace and nature lover and lives in Harlem-NYC with her two teenage children.


Thomas Bruner

Portland, OR

Thomas  has 25 years of executive level organizational leadership, a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a diversity management certificate from Cornell, numerous awards and recognition and a substantial portfolio of civic volunteer engagement.

Through Bruner Strategies, Bruner helps businesses and organizations do great work in the areas of Leadership & Governance, Development, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. As a consultant, he has worked with 50 organizations in the U.S., India and Venezuela.

Bruner is a lay disciple at Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon, where he has been a member since 2003.


Gyozan Royce Johnson

Houston, TX
Gyozan began practicing at the Detroit Zen Center in 2006. In 2009, he became a resident at Houston Zen Center and then went to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in 2012. Gyozan received priest ordination in 2014.

Gyozan recently returned to Houston Zen Center from California, and is in full-time residence as an assistant priest. Gyozan joins the SZBA board as our associate member representative. If you are an associate member, he would love hearing your thoughts.