Interview by Tova Green
Eli Brown-Stevenson, a San Francisco Zen Center priest ordained by Central Abbot Ed Sattizahn, became SFZC’s Corporate Secretary in January 2021. In this interview he spoke of what prepared him to take on this leadership role and what he is learning as Secretary.
Prior to coming to Tassajara with his wife Catherine (Cat) Stevenson in the summer of 2012, the couple had been living in Phoenix where Eli had worked in management positions in different sectors including for-profit education and new home construction. His years of interfacing with the cosmopolitan world, as well as his education in business, helped prepare Eli for his roles at SFZC.
Eli’s experience as Director of Work Practice exposed him to the complexities of SFZC’s organizational structure and policies. Because he participated in high level Zen Center committees, Eli has gotten to know those in leadership roles at all three temples.
The SFZC Board invited Eli to become a member in 2016. As a Board member he gained an understanding of the role of the Board and the function of Board committees. This makes it easier for him to take notes at Board meetings now. “I’ve been well trained for the Secretary position,” he commented. “I have been behind the scenes enough that I don’t feel so new as an officer.”
Eli loves to know how things work, and how things came to be the way they are at SFZC. The Secretary is the keeper of SFZC’s archives and this gives Eli “a full pass to look around at things, such as how certain committees were formed.”
The role of Secretary includes a number of projects. Eli finds it satisfying to see a project through from start to finish. He worked with the other SFZC officers and two residents to draft SFZC’s recent “Zensus.” This survey had two purposes: to learn how residents feel about their life and practice at SFZC and to gather basic demographic information. Eli worked on a follow-up report which was distributed and discussed at an all-temple meeting and with the SFZC Board. The plan is to repeat the Zensus annually which will give leadership a better pulse on residential life. This can be useful for visioning processes. Read more
Interview by Tova Green
Sozan Miglioli became San Francisco Zen Center’s President in January 2021, after serving as Vice President for several years. In this interview he spoke of his vision and priorities for his new role.
Sozan sees that “the world is going through a deep spiritual crisis.” When he was invited by the SFZC Board of Directors to take the President position he felt a deep sense of responsibility and also an opportunity to keep deepening his bodhisattva vows. He has asked, regarding SF Zen Center, “What does it mean to be one of the leading Buddhist organizations in the Western hemisphere in the 21st century, and what does it mean in this time, which is marked by a lot of suffering and division?”
Sozan’s focus as President is to keep making SFZC relevant and accessible for the wider community while ensuring that it is internally sustainable, inclusive, and diverse. By accessible, he means that what we offer must be relevant, although this might look different for different people.
“It’s important to find the connection between tradition and skillful means, between the teachings of Suzuki Roshi and understanding what touches people’s lives today. Both communication and deep listening are essential, opening the channel both ways—communicating what we have to offer in a skillful way and listening. Being accessible means that what we offer is available, approachable, people can relate to it. Zoom offerings bring a new light to the meaning of accessible, making it possible for people to participate in zazen, classes, and workshops who live at a distance from the Bay Area, or who are unable to come to the centers for health or other reasons.
“As we move out of Covid, we are asking how we can keep nourishing all the new connections we’ve made in this time of the pandemic. During this time many people have started asking basic questions, such as ‘What is really important?’ This pandemic has changed people’s personal lives. It is important both for individuals and for the organization to stay close to this question.” Read more
UPDATE: The description for the Vice President position has been updated and the application period extended to September 20. The Secretary position is in the process of being filled and is not accepting new applications.
San Francisco Zen Center is beginning the search for our next Vice President and Secretary. These vital roles will help shape the future of SFZC during this difficult time. Both positions will start sometime this Fall.
The search will be run by the Governance Committee of the Board of Directors. We invite applications from all interested and qualified candidates. Full job descriptions, listing both duties and qualifications, are available online here (for VP) and here (for Secretary).
If you would like to apply, please email a letter of interest and current resume directly to Dan Zigmond, our Governance Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 30, 2020. All applications will be received in confidence. The Governance Committee will request further information from qualified candidates after that deadline and conduct formal interviews of finalists in September.
The SFZC Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Sozan Diego Miglioli as the next President of SFZC, beginning in 2021.
From Helen Degenhardt, SFZC Board Chair: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Diego for the last year and a half. I admire his ability to think strategically, present ideas and concepts clearly, and listen to feedback.
“In one of our early conversations Diego made a comment that, in my view, wonderfully describes how he sees his work at Zen Center. When asked how he sees his role as Vice President, he replied: “I’m a Zen Student who happens to be a Vice President. ” I’m looking forward to our collaboration and am grateful he accepted the position.”
Diego will be taking over for Shinchi Linda Galijan who will be stepping down in January, 2021.
With Shinchi Linda Galijan’s term coming to an end this year, we are beginning our search for the next President of San Francisco Zen Center. This search will be run by the Governance Committee of our Board of Directors.
We invite applications from all interested and qualified candidates. A full job description, listing both duties and qualifications, is available online here.
If you would like to apply, please email a letter of interest and current resume directly to Dan Zigmond, our Governance Chair, at email@example.com by June 21, 2020. All applications will be received in confidence. The Governance Committee will request further information from qualified candidates after that deadline and conduct formal interviews of finalists in July.
from Joe Rodriguez, Governance Chair, SFZC Board of Directors
We are seeking SFZC practitioners to serve on our Board of Directors. We are looking for Sangha members who would be willing to be considered and interviewed for a three-year term.
From Joe Rodriguez, Governance Chair, SFZC Board of Directors
San Francisco Zen Center needs candidates to be considered for its Board of Directors. We are asking everyone in the sangha to help identify people who could contribute and would be willing to serve.
The San Francisco Zen Center Board of Directors wishes to thank the members of San Francisco Zen Center for their participation in the approval of the by-laws amendments adopted by the Board. Eighty-seven percent of the ballots cast voted in favor of the amendments.