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FPMT Board of Directors
Members of the Board
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the recognized reincarnation of the great Tibetan Buddhist yogi Kunsang Yeshe, the Lawudo Lama. Rinpoche was born in 1946 in the Mount Everest region of Nepal, where his predecessor meditated for the last twenty years of his life.
At the age of ten, Rinpoche went to Tibet to study and meditate. The Chinese occupation in 1959 forced him to seek safety in a Tibetan refugee camp in North India. It was at Buxa Duar that Rinpoche became the disciple of Geshe Rabten Rinpoche and then of Lama Thubten Yeshe.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s contact with Westerners began in 1965 in Darjeeling, and in 1969 Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche founded the Nepal Mahayana Gompa Center at Kopan, above Boudhnath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal.
In 1971 Rinpoche took gelong ordination from His Holiness Ling Rinpoche in Bodh Gaya. By 1975, twelve centers had started. In 1976, the growing worldwide organization was named by Lama Yeshe ‘the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition’ (FPMT).
Rinpoche is now the Spiritual Director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Rinpoche teaches Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and practice all over the world and is the author of several popular books. Under Rinpoche’s direction there are now more than 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the world. Rinpoche has initiated many other projects around the world; one of the most important is the 500ft Maitreya Statue that is being built in India, and will include schools, hospitals and other social projects.
Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi
Khen Rinpoche Geshe Thubten Chonyi was born in Nepal in 1962, Khen Rinpoche joined Kopan Monastery after being ordained by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1974. After 18 years of intensive study and debate in Sera Je Monastery in south India, Khen Rinpoche was awarded the title of Geshe Lharampa, the highest Tibetan Buddhist doctorate conferred in the Gelug monastic tradition.
After completing his education at Sera Je, Khen Rinpoche joined Gyudmed Tantric College for one year where he furthered his studies on tantra. The Gyudmed monastery is one of the two key monastic colleges in the Gelug tradition that specializes in the teachings of Buddhist tantra. Khen Rinpoche again excelled in his studies there and was awarded first position in his class.
Khen Rinpoche Geshe Thubten Chonyi has been the resident teacher of Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore since 1999 and he was appointed as the Abbot of Kopan Monastery and Nunnery in Nepal on 14 July 2011 and joined the FPMT Board of Directors in 2011.
Venerable Roger Kunsang
Venerable Roger Kunsang became a Buddhist monk in the Tibetan Gelug tradition in 1975 at the age of 26. He has continuously served the FPMT in various roles since 1974.
For the first seven years of his ordination he lived mainly in Asia where he studied and practiced Buddhism. Following this he was founder, director and resident teacher of the FPMT center Vajrayana Institute in Sydney, Australia for four years.
In 1986, Ven Roger became the full-time attendant and secretary to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, FPMT’s Spiritual Director, and he continues to serve as Rinpoche’s assistant to this day, helping maintain the connection between the Spiritual Director and the whole FPMT organization.
Ven Roger Kunsang has been a member of the FPMT Board of Directors since 1989.
In 2005, Ven Roger Kunsang became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FPMT Inc. As CEO, his main responsibilities are to ensure that the organization achieves its mission under the direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and its founder Lama Yeshe.
Venerable Pemba Sherpa
Venerable Pemba Sherpa, was born in 1961 in Khumbu, Eastern Nepal. Venerable Pemba studied and worked for many years at Kopan Monastery in Nepal where he served as Administration Secretary of the Monastery.
Venerable Pemba has worked as an interpreter for several prominent Tibetan Lamas and now works as the Director of Mahayana Buddhist Association in Hong Kong, China. Venerable Pemba leads classes in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and meditation to a large student base in Hong Kong.
Tenzin Ösel Hita
Tenzin Ösel Hita was born 12 February 1985 in Granada, Spain. Ösel was recognized soon after his birth as the reincarnation of Lama Thubten Yeshe – the founder of FPMT, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1987.
As a youth Ösel studied traditional Tibetan subjects at Sera Je Monastery in India, and simultaneously received private tutoring in Western subjects. He later attended St. Michaels University School, a private high school in Victoria, Canada. He then finished 4 years of study as Director of Cinema and Photography. Later he finished a Masters on Documentaries. Currently he lives in Spain.
In 2011 Ösel said: “Now it is time to return the help that was given me. It is time I returned the kindness. I feel it is time to get involved in the organization more. I want to learn more about everything because I haven’t been keeping up over the last few years. That could take some time. I want to do Dharma studies too, study some more Buddhist philosophy.”
Ösel joined the FPMT Board of Directors in 2010.
Karuna Cayton has studied Buddhist psychology and philosophy for over 25 years. He worked for Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery from 1975-1988. During that time he created and taught the secular studies program for the resident Tibetan and Nepali monks. He also assisted in running the Buddhist programs for foreign visitors and was the co-founder and director of the Himalayan Yogic Institute, a city center in Kathmandu. He has been on the FPMT Board of Directors since 1988. He has been a licensed therapist since 1992.
Karuna is trained as an Executive Coach and has worked with numerous non-profit organizations, businesses, and schools, assisting them in developing collaborative and preeminent entities and having a positive impact both within and outside their organizations.
Andrew Haynes graduated in Systems and Management from City University in London, England. In 1983, Andrew moved to Italy where he studied Buddhist philosophy at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa. From 1986 to 1989 he was Director of the Institute.
In 1990, he returned to London where he pursued careers in local government and software development. Andrew was Chair of the Board of Trustees of Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London for ten years. He currently works as a software developer for a major media and telecoms company. Andrew has extensive experience with the third sector including setting up an educational charity.
Peter Kedge graduated in mechanical engineering from Leeds University in England and began a career as a design engineer with Rolls Royce Aero Engines in England. From 1980 he was involved in major engineering projects throughout Asia while owning and managing his own business. Peter was a founding trustee of Manjushri Institute in UK, a founder of Cham Tse Ling Centre in Hong Kong, and the founder of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. Peter was instrumental in the acquisition of Land of Medicine Buddha in California, and was Director of the Maitreya Project between May 1997 and Nov 2012 during which time he devised and initiated the Maitreya Project Relic Tour.
Timothy J. McNeill
Since 1988 Timothy J. McNeill has been president, CEO, and publisher of Wisdom Publications, an FPMT project and leading not-for-profit publisher of books focusing on Buddhism. Prior to coming to Wisdom he had been Associate Issues Director for the Dukakis Presidential Campaign and Vice President of International Data Group a leading publisher focused on information technology.
Tim earned a Masters in Public Policy degree from Harvard University in 1979. He first met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche at the Fourth Kopan Course in 1973.
In addition to the FPMT, Tim has served on several corporate and nonprofit boards of directors. He is currently on the board of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC), a major effort to preserve and make available in electronic form the vast library of original Tibetan texts.
Paula de Wijs-Koolkin
Paula de Wijs-Koolkin was born in New York City but has lived with her husband in Amsterdam, Netherlands for more than 40 years. She met Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Nepal in 1972 and organized the first Lam Rim course for Ven. Marcel Bertels in the Netherlands in 1975. This was the beginning of the Maitreya Institute, which was founded in 1979. She also helped to found the Tibetan Affairs Coordination Office, the Dutch Foundation for Tibetan Medicine (NSTG), and the Tibet Support Group. She was the first FPMT European Regional Coordinator, is on the Board of the Buddhist Union of the Netherlands and is the chair of the organizing committee for visits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. She serves as the director of Maitreya Institute, Amsterdam (Buddhist meditation center) and on the National Board of Maitreya Institute.
Alison Murdoch has been a student of HH The Dalai Lama and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche since 1987. On graduating from Oxford University she initially worked for Sotheby’s the art auctioneers, and then spent 8 years working with and for street homeless people in the UK. In 1994 she was appointed director of Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London, and led the centre through nearly 10 years of development which included purchasing The Old Courthouse, setting up community projects, and raising over a million dollars to renovate the building.
Since 2004 she has been director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, an FPMT-affiliated project to help people of all cultures and traditions develop their innate capacity for compassion and wisdom. Alison is the author of 16 Guidelines for Life and a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio. In addition to her Buddhist teachers, her heroes include Gandhi, Muhammad Yunus, Jean Vanier, Ram Dass and Peace Pilgrim.
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