Members of the FPMT Inc. Board of Directors

Following the 49-day period after Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s passing in April 2023, FPMT Inc. board members took the opportunity while together at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, to greet the FPMT community in a video. We invite you to watch to meet each board member, learn a little about their background, and hear them express their commitment to fulfilling Rinpoche’s wishes during this new, transitional time for the organization. The video also offers a glimpse into the non-stop activities at Kopan during the 49-day period.

About Our Board Members

Below are short biographies of each member of the FPMT Inc. board of directors. Lama Zopa Rinpoche was the senior member of the FPMT Inc. board until his passing in April 2023.

Geshe Chonyi BODKhen 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. 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 in July 2011.  He was appointed as a member of the FPMT Inc. Board of Directors in 2011.

Venerable Roger Kunsang

Ven. Roger Kunsang became a Buddhist monk in the Tibetan Gelug tradition in 1975 at the age of 26. He has continuously served the FPMT organization 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, who was FPMT’s spiritual director, and he continued to serve as Rinpoche’s assistant, helping maintain the connection between the Spiritual Director and the entire FPMT organization, until Rinpoche passed away in April 2023.

Ven. Roger Kunsang has been a member of the FPMT Board of Directors since 1989. In 2005, Ven. Roger became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FPMT Inc. As CEO, his main responsibilities are to ensure that the organization achieves its mission as stated by its founders, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Venerable Thubten Pemba

Ven. Thubten Pemba has served the FPMT organization in many capacities. Initially, in the early 1980s, Ven. Pemba served for a few years as Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s cook. He then worked in the Kopan Monastery office, was an interpreter for lamas and geshes for a few years, was with Tenzin Osel Hita for six years, and has been co-director and resident teacher at Cham Tse Ling Centre in Hong Kong for 25 years.

Ven. Pemba also served on the FPMT Inc. Board for 14 years, as well as being the Geshe Coordinator for FPMT for 18 years. 

Paula De WysPaula de Wys

Paula de Wys was born and raised in New York City. After living in San Francisco from 1965-70, she moved to Amsterdam where she met her Dutch husband. Together they traveled to Asia, and in Nepal in 1972, she met Buddhism through her teachers, Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Later, in the Netherlands, she was one of the founders of Maitreya Instituut and various organizations working for Tibetans and the preservation of Tibetan culture. For many years she was a member of the FPMT Inc. Board of Directors, was on the board of the Buddhist Union of the Netherlands and is the chair of the foundation that organizes the visits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Netherlands. Until recently she was director of Maitreya Instituut Amsterdam, and she continues on the national board of Maitreya Instituut. Paula rejoined the board in March 2021.

Dale DavisDale Davis

Based in Nepal, Dale Davis has worked extensively for women and children’s health and nutrition. She has a Masters degree in Public Health and a background in mental health, and has served through a range of international development organizations. Since meeting Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1981, Dale has continued to be a student of Buddhism. Dale joined the board in March 2021.

Karuna CaytonKaruna Cayton

John “Karuna” Cayton was born in 1954 near Los Angeles, California. In 1973 he enrolled in Evergreen State College, majoring in Eastern studies. In his third year at college Karuna attended the “Year In Nepal” undergraduate program. It was during this period, 1975, that he found his way to Kopan Monastery, attending the 8th meditation course and engaged in teaching the young monks English.

When departing a year and a half later, Lama Yeshe asked Karuna to return to Kopan and establish a Western studies curriculum for the monks. In 1978, Karuna returned to Kopan as a graduate student from Antioch University. For the next 10 years he developed and directed the Western curriculum for the Kopan monks. Along with his wife, Pam, they founded the Kathmandu center, Himalayan Yogic Institute, currently named Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Center.

In 1988, Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggested Karuna return to the United States and get a degree in Clinical Psychology. This was also the same year Karuna first joined the FPMT Board of Directors where he served until 2016.

As a psychotherapist Karuna worked at Stanford University’s Children’s Health Council and Mental Research Institute until the 1999. After that he established The Karuna Group where he began to practice psychotherapy privately. During this period and up to the present day Karuna has been exploring and teaching the integration of Buddhist Psychology into modern life. One result of this work was his publishing of The Misleading Mind in 2012.

Karuna and Pam still live in Santa Cruz, California where they settled after they left Nepal in 1988. They have three adult children. Karuna rejoined the board in March 2021.


Advisors to the Board

The FPMT Inc. board invited, and very much appreciates, the help of these FPMT students who bring their professional skills to assist the board in an advisory capacity.   Currently our advisors are:

  • Alan Marsh and David Andrews in Australia, and Dean Alper in the USA: providing legal advice.
  • Robyn Brentano, an Institutional Advancement Consultant: bringing her expertise and experience in organizational development, fundraising and strategic planning.