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Board Members



Larry Bye, Board Chair
Larry works as a Senior Fellow in Public Health at NORC at the University of Chicago. He leads NORC’s San Francisco office and directs health marketing/communications and policy studies. Larry serves on the board of the Kevin J. Mossier Foundation, a national philanthropy focused on the needs of the LGBT community. He has also served on the board of the (LGBT) Movement Advancement Project, a national funder’s collaborative working to advance the cause of LGBT civil rights. Larry served on the Zen Center board from 2004-2010. During these years he also served as chair of the board’s development committee. He rejoined the board in June of 2013.

Helen Degenhardt
I was born, raised and educated in Germany, receiving my engineering degree in architecture from the Technical University at Darmstadt. Since 1990, I have worked as an architect with Zen Center, together designing and completing approximately 10 projects, in Tassajara, Green Gulch and at Greens Restaurant. In addition to working with SFZC, my firm, JSWD Architects, has worked extensively with a number of other spiritual communities: Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Abhayagiri and the Berkeley Society of Friends. Another important focus of our firm’s work is affordable and senior housing. I consider myself very fortunate in having worked with Zen Center for all these years because it has taught me, among other things, how to listen closely, work in a mindful way within a diverse community and be aware of one's own expectations. I also served on the board of the Zen Hospice Project for a number of years.

Bruce Fortin
Bruce Fortin was at the San Francisco Zen Center from 1970 to 1984 and lived at all three practice centers. He arrived a year before Suzuki Roshi’s death and was ordained by Richard Baker in 1977. Bruce met and married his wife Chris during this time and their son was born at Green Gulch. In 1995, he founded the Occidental-Laguna Sangha in Sebastopol where he currently serves as the priest and guiding teacher. Bruce received Dharma Transmission from Zoketsu Norman Fischer in 2003. Bruce held a wide range of positions while at the SFZC and served on the Zen Center Board for two terms as an appointed Director. On leaving Zen Center he served as Executive Director of a large Home Health Certified Hospice, returned to graduate school and obtained an MA in counseling. He currently runs a private psychotherapy and mediation practice in Sonoma County. Bruce also has a JD degree in Law. He has served on several non-profit boards including the Sonoma Land Trust and the California State Hospice Aids Task Force.

Albert Kutchins
Albert Kutchins has been a Zen student—and a member of San Francisco Zen Center—since the mid-1980s and was shuso at Green Gulch Farm in the fall of 2012. Throughout his training, Albert has remained a householder, practicing law. He previously served on the Zen Center Board for several years in the 1990s.

Mark Lachman
Mark Lachman was elected to the Board in December 2010. He began sitting at City Center in the late 80’s, participated in Establishing the Path of Practice, the Leadership Program, and serves on the Development Committee.

For over 15 years Mark has led the fundraising efforts of several nonprofit organizations. He wants to help Zen Center deepen and widen its relationship with the Sangha. He believes that by meeting each other through practice, we’ll enrich our lives, strengthen the organization and grow our financial resources.


Brian McCaffrey
I completed Establishing the Path of Practice in 2009, which was an experience that not only deepened my practice, but made me want to find a way to be more deeply involved in the sangha. Consequently I enrolled in the one year Leadership Program which I just completed and which gave me the opportunity to begin to understand the structure of our organization and some of the issues that we are currently facing.

My primary non-profit experience consists of five years on the board of a progressive, local, private school, including two years as president of the board. I received my B.A. from Stanford University and a Masters in Teaching degree from Reed College. After a brief career as a high school English teacher, I enrolled in law school and received a J.D. from Hastings College of the Law. I later interrupted my legal career for a three-year sojourn in China from 1979 to 1982, where my wife, Sylvia, and I taught in a Chinese university and traveled extensively throughout the country. I now practice law, primarily in the areas of estate planning and probate litigation.


Dennis McNally
I first encountered Buddhism many years ago while researching a biography of Jack Kerouac, but only established my own practice four years ago, when I began to sit at City Center. Without any particular conscious plan, I became increasingly involved, first in Saturday Sangha, then in the evening zazen doanryo, then as a student of Jordan Thorn. I took the precepts at my jukai in the Fall of 2011. Having served as a volunteer on the Board of Trustees and with the Development Committee (which I currently chair) of the ACLU of Northern California for nearly 20 years , I offered my experience to the Zen Center and became part of this past year’s Leadership Program, which has led to this invitation to serve on the Board. As my practice has deepened, it has become clear to me that service is an essential element, and one I cherish more and more. My background has been in the academic world (a Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts in History) and then - oddly - in the music business, where I went from researching a biography of the Grateful Dead (which was finally published in 2002) to becoming the band’s publicist from 1985 until 2008. I remain a consultant in publicity and promotio

Margie O'Driscoll
Margie O’Driscoll has a BA in Political Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA in Public Management from Columbia University. Prior to joining AIA San Francisco, she held senior leadership positions in the Mayor’s Office and in philanthropy. Margie has been a writer in residence at Headland Center for the Arts and has taught at Stanford University and San Francisco State University. In 2009, she was voted “Executive of the Year” by her colleagues at CACE (other AIA chapters).
(Personal statement follows.)


Gretchen Rau
I began my practice in 2006 and participated in Establishing the Path of Practice the following year. I have since become a resident practitioner at City Center and was involved in the City Center Visioning Task Force. I look forward to building on the work of those who came before me in expressing our core mission through the offerings at our practice centers. I would like to see increasing connection and understanding between individuals and groups who seek the dharma at our temples. I currently work in the executive office of a global environmental nonprofit organization, and I hope that my knowledge and organizational skills will be an asset to the Board in advancing our collective vision.

Joe Rodriguez
In 2005, after having explored several other Buddhist traditions, I was encouraged by a long-time Zen friend to meet with then-Abbott Paul Haller, to see if SFZC might become my spiritual home. My talk with Paul was warm and cordial.  He invited me to stay a while and see if the place grew on me.  He also asked to see my sitting position when I meditated, and then made some adjustments to my alignment, opening up my chest. Paul’s concluding words to me were, “We practice zazen with our hearts open in order to take this stance and spirit into our everyday lives.” That stuck with me.

Mark Schieble
I have practiced law for 30 years; for the past 10 years, specializing in tax matters, at Foley & Lardner LLP. Most of my tax work is in the area of exempt organizations, primarily health care providers, and partnerships. I serve on the Finance Committees of the Boards of Blood Centers of the Pacific and Blood Systems, Inc.

I have assisted Greg McClune (former SF Zen Center Board member) on governance and tax issues that have come up relative to SF Zen Center over the past several years. In the past six months or so, I have also provided service relative to the potential development of a senior living community for SF Zen Center.


Constance de Laveaga Stoops
Constance de Laveaga Stoops (Connie) was reelected to the Board in December 2010. Connie brings nonprofit board and fundraising experience based upon her membership on the board of directors of the National AIDS Memorial Grove for 6 years. She is an architect and designer, and for the last two years has volunteered with Helen Degenhardt to develop additional plans for Tassajara. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts (Central Abbess)
Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts came to San Francisco Zen Center in 1971, where she practiced with Suzuki Roshi, Zentatsu Baker, and Tenshin Reb Anderson. She was ordained as a priest in 1975 and has lived at Tassajara and City Center. Since 1993 she and her family have lived at Green Gulch Farm. In 1996 Linda received dharma transmission from Tenshin Reb Anderson. Having served as abbess of San Francisco Zen Center from 2000 to 2007, in 2010 Linda was invited to serve as abiding abbess of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, as a part of the abbacy restructuring, and appointed central abbess in 2014. She continues to teach and lead practice periods and retreats at Tassajara, Green Gulch, and elsewhere.

Rinso Ed Sattizahn (Abiding Abbot, City Center)
After meeting Suzuki Roshi in 1970, Ed Sattizahn lived at Tassajara from 1973 to 1977. He spent the next five years at City Center, serving as Zen Center's vice president and president. From 1983 to 2000 Ed held various executive positions in the microcomputer software industry and developed familiarity with how the world works. In 2003, he was shuso at Green Gulch Farm, and in the same year co-founded Vimala Sangha in Mill Valley with Lew Richmond. Vimala Sangha is named after Vimalakirti, the famous householder disciple of the Buddha, and is dedicated to the practice of householder Zen in the tradition of Suzuki Roshi. Ed received lay entrustment in 2005, was ordained as a priest in 2010, and received dharma transmission in 2012, all from Lew Richmond. Ed previously served on the Zen Center Board for six years (2006-2011) and as board chair for three years (2009-2011). In March 2014, Ed became abiding abbot at City Center, while remaining the guiding teacher at Vimala Sangha Mill Valley.

Furyu Nancy Schroeder (Abiding Abbess, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center)
A resident of Zen Center for over 35 years, in 2014 Furyu Nancy Schroeder became abiding abbess at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, where she lives with her partner, Dr. Grace Dammann, and their daughter, Sabrina. Fu has held most of the monastic positions at Zen Center and has been an active supporter of programs for children, people of color, the gay and lesbian community, and the interfaith community. In 2008 she was elected to the Marin Women's Hall of Fame, and in 2010 she was appointed to the Board of the Marin Community Foundation. She received dharma transmission from Tenshin Reb Anderson in 1999.

Susan O'Connell, President (Officer of the Board)
Ze Sho Susan O’Connell currently serves on the Board of Directors as President of San Francisco Zen Center. Before being named president, she served on the board as vice president and before that as an elected member. She participates in the Development Committee and the People Policy Committee and is the chair of the Senior Living Facility Development Committee. She began Zen practice in 1987 and became a resident of Zen Center in 1995. She received priest ordination from Tenshin Reb Anderson in 1999 and was head monk (shuso) in 2004. She has lived at all three centers and served in a number of senior training positions.

Tova Green, Vice President (Officer of the Board)
Tova Green currently serves on the Board of Directors as Vice President of San Francisco Zen Center. Before being named vice president, she served as SFZC Director. She received priest ordination from Eijun Linda Cutts in 2003 and was Head Student at Tassajara in Fall, 2004. Tova is a practice leader at San Francisco Zen Center and co-founded Zen Center's Queer Dharma Group. Tova received her MSW from Smith College School for Social Work and completed Smith's certificate program in Contemplative Social Work in 2008. Tova was a social worker at Hospice by the Bay until April 2011.

Jordan Thorn, Chief Financial Officer (Officer of the Board)
Jordan Thorn began practicing at the San Francisco Zen Center in 1973, was ordained as a priest by Richard Baker in 1977, and received Dharma Transmission from Norman Fischer in 2003. He has been a resident student at all three of Zen Center's practice centers, and currently lives at City Center, where he was Head of Practice (Tanto) until fall 2010 when he became the SF Zen Center Treasurer/Chief Financial Officer. Previous to being Tanto he served as Treasurer and also Vice-President/Development Director of Zen Center. Jordan has been on the board for the past three years, and is a member of the Finance and Governance Committees.

Connie Cummings, Secretary (Officer of the Board)
Connie Cummings, a resident priest of Zen Center, began practice with Misha Merrill while working as a software developer and engineer in Silicon Valley in the 1990’s. She is a student of Tenshin Reb Anderson and served as Shuso (Head Student) in 2011. She is currently Corporate Secretary and lives at City Center.