Meet our Deep Ecology Teachers, Leaders, and Presenters

We’d like to introduce you to the teachers, leaders, and presenters in our series of April programs for our Deep Ecology Month for Greater Newark Area urban dwellers and presented by Newark Center for Meditative Culture (NCMC). Please do take a look at the programs too to see which you might like to attend. In alphabetical order, the bio-notes are:

Mesha Allen is a senior at Ramapo College. She is passionate about improving the wellbeing of her community and aspires to open her own wellness center before she’s 30. She is the founder of Newark Integrative Enrichment Society and co-founder and trustee of New African Liberty Organization. She lives in Newark and advocates for people suffering with chronic pain and Fibromyalgia. This will be her first hike.

Leslie S. Arthur has been a teacher of African American history and economics for over 27 years. He is currently pursuing his PhD with a research interest in the Black Power/Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. While teaching at Carteret High School he has been the co-facilitator of a youth organization called Passport to Manhood, through the local Boys and Girls Club. Mr. Arthur began hiking four years ago for spiritual well-being and physical fitness. He is currently an assistant hiking leader for Hikeolution.

Marcie L. Barth began her inquiry into both sitting and moving meditation in 1998 with a focus on tai chi. In 2001 she became more committed to her sitting meditation and ongoing study of Buddhist philosophy and psychology. She served on the board of Flowering Lotus Meditation and Retreat Center in Mississippi. Marcie is a founding board member of Buddhist Global Relief, a hunger relief organization established in 2008. Marcie develops programs and is a meditation instructor with NCMC.

Marissa Blodnik holds a Bachelor degree in International Relations and a Master in Public Administration. Her program interests are environmental sustainability including climate change, gardening, outdoor adventure and urban development. Marissa is an environmental educator currently running the 4-H Youth Development program in Essex and Hudson County, NJ. Her focus is to educate and inspire the community to be more respectful and understanding to the earth.

Kamilah Crawley is a Certified Health Education Specialist with over 10 years of experience planning and implementing sexuality and health education workshops and trainings for students, parents, community groups, teachers, and professionals. Over the years, she has implemented several evidenced-based HIV and Pregnancy prevention interventions and provided individual educational counseling utilizing both client-centered and risk reduction skills. Currently, Kamilah works for the Children’s Hospital of NJ at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center as a Program Coordinator. She provides pregnancy prevention education and counseling and coordinates and develops health and wellness programs for their School-Based Youth Services Program at Barringer H.S in Newark. She received her B.S. in Public Health from Temple University and her Master of Public Health from the Rutgers School of Public Health. Kamilah began her meditation practice in 2014 with her first weekend residential retreat in 2016. Kamilah is a meditation group peer-leader and presenter with NCMC.

Matt Gosser is currently the director for the College of Architecture and Design gallery at New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Art Factory in Patterson, and the new pop-up gallery Art & Artifacts of Newark at Index Art Center. He also teaches classes in the College of Architecture and Design and creates art in his available time. In the past he has worked as an architect and urban planner.

Abe Gruswitz is an expert in cooperative and communal living. He is co-founder of Our Community, sister urban and rural communes forming in North Jersey, and the South Mountain Co-op, a democratic free school in Montclair, NJ. Abe was a co-editor of the publication the Grassroots Economic Organizing Newsletter, writing about worker cooperatives and the solidarity economy. He has helped a number of free schools, co-ops, and communes get started throughout the U.S.

Arelís Hernandez is a Licensed Professional Counselor and graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University. She also practices as an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Coach in Newark, having completed extensive study courses at the School of Ayurveda and Pancahkarma in Kerala, India. She is an urban farmer and co-founder of Rabbit Hole Urban Farm Newark. She is a Certified Yoga Instructor in the area as well. Arelís is a founding member of Newark Center for Meditative Culture and coordinates retreat meals and instructs in eco-living for the group.

Keyana M. Jones is a mother, natural born leader, avid reader and life-long learner. She embodies the mantra of living, laughing and loving, every day of her life. Whether at work providing exceptional service to her clients, volunteering with a local organization, exploring the trails on a day hike, or spending quality time with her family and friends, Keyana is all about letting her light shine. Recently she announced the launch of her brainchild: Hikeolution, a company geared towards bringing a lifestyle of hiking into practice for all. State employee by day, Superhero by night, Keyana easily champions causes near and dear to her heart and seeks to forge new paths where there are none.

Ib’nallah S. Kazi (Kazi) is a Newark-based tai-chi and meditation teacher as well as an urban naturalist with decades of experience. He has led urban hikes in the Newark/NYC area as well as deep woods hikes in other areas of the U.S. After a long career in public health in the New York City area, he then placed an emphasis on wellness and personal development through his own program, The Medicine Lifestyle. As a spirit-centered wellness coach, Kazi emphasizes a lifestyle that embraces the medicinal qualities inherent in movement, a real food diet, personal development, spiritual awareness, healthy social engagement, and regular communion with nature.

Andrea Lee is a founding member of Newark Center for Meditative Culture where she serves as an environmental educator and facilitates meditation exercises and yoga sessions. Living in Montclair, she is currently an Assistant Teacher at Montclair Cooperative School. She is also a yoga instructor and performs in a chanting group.

Keven Porter has been a yoga instructor for several years after having studied at the Yoga Institute in Mumbai, India. He is also a children’s meditation course teacher in the vipassana tradition of S.N. Goenka. He has completed a study program on ayurvedic nutrition and yoga therapy at the School of Ayurveda and Panchkarma in Kerala, India. He is Director of Rabbit Hole Urban Farm in Newark. Keven also served as a board member of Eyes Like Mine in Newark where he instructed a Yoga for Your Eyes class. He is a licensed massage therapist. Keven and his wife are both committed yogis serving this community. Keven is a community liaison and sits for NCMC.

Cornelia Santschi is currently studying in the Community Dharma Leader Program (CDL5) through Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Society to become a meditation teacher. She has been a vipassana (insight) meditator and dedicated student of Buddhist psychology for over 15 years. She is the director of Neuro-psychology at the Institute for Neurology in NJ, and founder/director of Anatta World Health & Education Outreach, a grassroots non-profit organization. She has been an avid hiker and outdoors person since childhood. Cornelia is a founding member of NCMC and serves as an insight meditation instructor there.

We hope getting to know our teachers, leaders, and presenters will peak your interest to attend one or two of our Deep Ecology programs. Let’s go deep!