Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA)

SFZC’s long-term vision for DEIA is:

To embody diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility throughout San Francisco Zen Center’s teachings, practice, organizational culture, policies, and operations as a manifestation of our vow to awaken together with all beings.

The Central DEIA Committee, an SFZC Board committee, holds the primary responsibility for the development and oversight of specific strategic objectives and key results related to DEIA, including developing and implementing short-term (2-year) strategic plans. These strategic objectives are supported by both the leadership of SFZC and the SFZC Board. Local DEIA groups at the three temples focus on implementing projects and objectives specific to their location. Please click on links below to see more information.

Please direct questions or comments to DEIA@sfzc.org.

On this page:

Members of Central DEIA Committee

Co-Chairs: Linda Galijan, Tassajara Head of Practice (Tanto) and Joe Rodriguez (Former Chair of the Governance Committee of the SFZC Board)
Eli Brown-Stevenson, SFZC Corporate Secretary / Director of Work Practice
Tova Green, Branching Streams Liaison
Furyu Schroeder, Green Gulch Farm Abiding Abbess
David Zimmerman, City Center Abiding Abbot
Lauren Bouyea, DEIA Committee Coordinator

SFZC Strategic objectives for DEIA for May 2019 - April 30, 2021 (updated 10/20)

  • Training related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility for SFZC staff and the public

    SFZC is increasing its offerings of educational and training opportunities for all levels of staff and the wider community, through classes, reading groups, materials, workshops and public programs. For example:
    • SFZC has been providing funds and encouragement for residents to attend DEIA-themed events, as well as offering these events to the public with no one turned away for lack of funds. These events include:
      • “Radical Dharma” retreat led by Rev. angel Kyodo williams and Abbess Fuyru Schroeder in Summer 2020 with approx. 300 participants
      • “The Paradoxical Practices of Social Justice” led by Claire Whitmer and Kazu Haga in fall 2020 with approx. 100 participants
      • “The Inner Work of Racial Justice,” a conversation led by Rhonda Magee and David Zimmerman in November 2020
    • The DEIA committee is working to create opportunities to keep conversations going after a particular training ends. For example, residents were invited to a follow-up meeting to continue the conversation after the “Paradoxical Practices of Social Justice” event.
    • One of the main areas of focus within the current training is for white-identified members of the sangha to learn how to recognize and practice skillfully with their racial conditioning, with a goal of supporting anti-racism on a personal and institutional level. Unpacking Whiteness: Reflection and Action is an ongoing group open to the public that meets monthly (currently online) to provide such training. In addition, white-identified leaders and senior staff as well as some other SFZC staff have attended multi-day trainings on this topic and such trainings will continue.
    • SFZC is sponsoring interested senior BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students on the DEIA committee to attend online trainings with CompassPoint in group facilitation and conflict resolution in order to support these students as they take on greater sangha leadership roles. The participating students had requested the training, and the DEIA committee approved their request and provided the funding for the training.
    • SFZC has ongoing affinity groups including monthly meetings for Unpacking Whiteness: Reflection and Action (see above), Queer Dharma, and Zen en Español. Green Gulch Farm has a group for residents focused on social justice and another for BIPOC residents. The DEIA committee supports the forming of additional affinity groups, including for BIPOC members of the community, at the other two temples.
    • In the mid-1990s, SFZC established a multicultural-themed section of materials at each of its three temple libraries. Many additional materials have been added over the years, with a wide range of offerings, including analysis, essays, novels, biographies and first-person accounts. In addition, SFZC recently received a generous donation to support purchasing additional DEIA-related materials for the libraries. (When our temples reopen, the libraries will be open for visitors to browse.)

  • Reducing barriers to inclusion

    In order to create effective strategies to reduce barriers to inclusion, we need to better understand the barriers that currently exist. We will re-examine input we have already received regarding SFZC’s culture (both as an organization and in the residential community) with an eye to where we can have the most immediate impact. We will also seek additional input from current residents, with an emphasis on BIPOC students’ feedback and experience.

    The DEIA committee is also taking immediate steps to overcome barriers to inclusion in areas where we are already aware of barriers, and will continue to make additional recommendations going forward as additional barriers needing to be addressed become apparent.

    These are some current efforts in this area:

    • SFZC leaders are inviting an increasing number of BIPOC speakers both from within and outside of SFZC to give dharma talks and other online offerings
    • When senior leadership positions open, current SFZC leaders reach out to qualified BIPOC staff to encourage them to apply
    • The DEIA committee is examining ways to remediate structural barriers to inclusion, including barriers in pathways to leadership. For example, easing residency requirements for senior leadership positions would allow for a larger pool of BIPOC applicants

  • Creating infrastructure to support ongoing DEIA work

    We are exploring how to better communicate about the work of the committee and to improve pathways for ongoing feedback to the committee.

    We are also adding requirements for cultural competence and awareness of and commitment to DEIA to job descriptions including all SFZC leadership positions, A staff member outside the committee is now dedicating four hours per week of work-practice time to support the committee, and we intend to add additional staff support in the near future.

DEIA has formed working groups to set objectives and key results in the above three areas. We will update this page as our work progresses.

DEIA Information and Resources

SFZC Leadership, teachers, and groups

SFZC Recommended and endorsed

Please direct questions or comments to DEIA@sfzc.org.