NCMC Board of Directors

Ib’nallah S. Kazi   Spiritual Director, Founding Board Director
Marcie Barth   Chairperson/Co-founder
Cornelia Santschi   Co-founder
Afia Eugene  Treasurer
Veronica Guevara-Lovgren  Secretary
Andrea Lee   Founding Board Director
Ihsaan R. Muhammad   Founding Board Director
Keyana Jones  Board Director
Leslie S. Arthur   Board Director
J. Javier Cruz   Board Director

Board Biographies

Ib’nallah S. Kazi (Kazi) Spiritual Director

Kazi is a New York-based spiritual wilderness guide, born in Panama and raised in New York. He graduated from Adelphi University, in 1981 with a BA in Psychology.  Following careers in human services, public education and public health in the New York City area, he then placed an emphasis on wellness and spiritual cultivation through his own program, presently known as Our Shaman Song. As a spiritual wilderness guide, he gently awakens the inner guidance of wellness seekers through the process of integrating the medicinal forces inherent in our Heavenly (spiritual), Human (social) and Earthly (natural) environments.

Kazi’s diverse education and training:

Kazi has been a meditator since the 1980s and applies many disciplines, including Taoist, Sufi and Ancestral Meditation Medicine, having become an Ancestral Meditation Medicine Initiate through the Center for Ancestral Meditation Medicine taught by Brother Ishma’el Jamal.

Kazi’s adolescent rites of passage began in 1974 when he became a Five Percent. A splinter group from the Nation of Islam. It was during this period of his life that he developed a deep interest in wholistic health, social justice and what came to be known as trans-personal psychology and its implications for the esoteric and mystical dimensions of religion-spirituality.

Along with his friend and hiking partner Sala Nolan, Kazi founded the Harriet Tubman Hiking Society in 1988 to expose the African-American community to the strengthening, healing and spiritually grounding benefits of immersion in nature. The society offered guided day hikes and weekend backpacking retreats in NY, NJ and PA forest and preserves.

Through the mid to late 1990s, he developed his internal martial arts skills, beginning with his training in Tai-Chi Chuan, in 1994 as a student of Master Yusef Bey. Concurrently he was trained in Yara Mba, a perpetual-motion form likened to a physical jazz that borrows from Aikido and African dance. He also studied herbal and meridian medicine with Yara’s creator, Professor Milford Graves of the International Center for Medicinal and Scientific Studies.

Then in the early to mid-2000’s he integrated fitness training and massage, becoming a Certified Health-Fitness Instructor in 2001 from the Academy of Applied Personal Training Education, Hofstra University and a Certified Massage Therapist in 2004 from the Institute of Therapeutic Massage, University of Medicine and Dentistry Newark. He also became certified in Royal Thai Medicinal Massage by Maria Pattane-Seidman in Punta Gorda,Florida.

Kazi became an Intrinsic Coach through Intrinsic Solutions, International, developers of a system of coaching through intrinsic, extrinsic and systematic valuing, which provided a dynamic framework for guiding clients through the process of self-healing via self-knowing.

Kazi was until 2017 based in Newark NJ for 13 years.

Marcie Barth Chairperson/Co-founder

Marcie began her exploration of meditation in 1998 through taichi and qigong practice. In 2001 she began a committed practice of tranquility-insight (samatha-vipassana) meditation and book study.

This then led her to engage in activism and social justice, serving for a decade as a founding board member of Buddhist Global Relief, a hunger relief and food rights organization. She also was a mentor for several years with a meditation correspondence course for prisoners.

Marcie uses food along with mindful eating as service, medicine, and to support ancestral healing. For this reason she is currently a flexitarian. She first started mindful eating practice at a Chinese Buddhist study center in 2001.

She has resided in Puerto Rico since 2017, experiencing the transformative Huracán Maria firsthand and it’s subsequent effects on nature — and a culture — from the resilience of the people in response to “La Brega” (The Struggle) to the rapid-growing disaster capitalism.

Prior to moving to PR with her husband, they lived in New Jersey and Marcie was partner in Barth and Co., a visual communications group.

Cornelia Santschi Co-founder

Cornelia is a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program through Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Society and is now an insight meditation teacher. She is co-founder and founding board member of NCMC where she teaches meditation. Cornelia is also a founding member and Vice President of Alegria Dharma Center in Playa Buenavista, Costa Rica. She has been a vipassana (insight) meditator and dedicated student of Buddhist psychology for over 15 years.

She is the director of Neuropsychology at the Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery in NJ, and founder/director of Anatta World Health & Education Outreach, a grassroots non-profit that creates and supports medical and educational programs in developing countries.

Afia Eugene Treasurer

Afia Eugene, MBA, is the bookkeeper for Newark Center for Meditative Culture and also serves as the Treasurer on the Board of Directors. She has more than 25 years of combined experience in Government Services, Tax Consulting and Business and Financial Management in both the public and non-profit sectors. Through her work, business and personal experiences, she has accumulated extensive expertise in human services and a track record of training and development. Her passion is evident in her roles to serve others. She has worked as a Life Skills Coach with more than seven years of service as a mentor and advocate to youth, teenagers, adults and families with diverse backgrounds and barriers.

Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, she started her professional journey at a young age as a bookkeeper for the enterprises of her relatives. As she matured, she saw what it takes to be a leader and engage with diverse personalities from training centers to operating retail stores, hair salons and both residential and commercial properties. Since then, she has managed budgets exceeding $500,000 and overseen the development and implementation of business strategies for various non-profit and private organizations. In working with startups to well established mid-sized companies, she has gained both operational agility and exceptional corporate structural insights.

Being of service is a core component of Afia’s professional philosophy. She is committed to promoting individual growth and development, identifying herself as a partner in personal success. Her life path has afforded her a demonstrated ability to interactively teach, motivate, and coach. Afia describes herself as a strategic thinker with a strong sense of priorities and has a reputation for integrity and strong organizational skills. As a trainer, facilitator and life-coach with a passion for collaborating to get results, she assists clients in increasing their financial well-being and empowering them to maximize their personal strengths.

Afia currently utilizes her expertise as a consultant/business coach at Balancing the Books Bookkeeping Services and partners with community based organizations to facilitate financial literacy workshops. A lover of learning, in addition to the aforementioned MBA in Management, Afia also holds a B.A. in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Urban Affairs. When she isn’t crunching numbers or passionately partnering in pursuit of personal bests, she can be found with family, exploring nature or diving into a pile of books.

You can find out more on Afia at www.afiaconsults.com.

Veronica Guevara-Lovgren Secretary

Veronica is a Jivamukti Yoga instructor, Usui Reiki Master, and Animal Reiki Master. Veronica has also received training in Radiant Child Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Yoga Nidra through Ohana Rising Yoga School. Veronica created Tres Ositos Yoga to share and increase access to Reiki and yoga at no cost or by donation. For a very long time, Veronica did not always have the means to access these practices, and she is committed to ensuring others do. She is also a dedicated vegan and advocate of plant-based and cruelty-free living. Veronica is also the Executive Director of Student Services at Ocean County College and working on a doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on Community Colleges.

Andrea Lee Founding Board Director

Andrea is a Preschool Assistant Teacher at Montclair Cooperative School in her hometown of Montclair, NJ. She is an intern organic farmer at Rabbit Hole Farm in Newark where she resides. She is a senior disciple of Reverend Jaganath Carrera, Spiritual Head and Founder of Yoga Life Society. She recently completed seminary training and was ordained a Yoga Life Minister. She performs Kirtan with Mirabai Catherine Moon and is a certified Yoga instructor.

Ihsaan R. Muhammad Founding Board Director

Ihsaan graduated from Rutgers Law School and has been until recently a practicing lawyer. Still retaining his law certification, he is now a branding and marketing communications consultant at his own company IHSAAN Designs. Born and raised in the Vailsburg section of Newark, New Jersey, Ihsaan Muhammad is a founding board member of Newark Center for Meditative Culture, which is a non-profit diverse urban meditation community serving The Greater Newark Area. He also happens to be a proud graduate of The Rutgers School of Law, Class of 2013.

After graduating, Ihsaan spent a year in the practice of civil litigation as an associate with Childress & Jackson before pivoting to pursue a career in creative entrepreneurship and graphic design. In summer 2016, Ihsaan’s reimagined vision for his professional career materialized in the birth of what is now known as IHSAAN Designs, LLC; a multi-disciplinary marketing design studio serving small businesses and non-profits in The Greater Newark Area. Ihsaan has practiced mantra meditation for over six years under the guidance of Reverend Jaganath Carrera of The Yoga Life Society, a practice that aids health and wellness.

Keyana Jones Board Director

Keyana is a mother, natural born leader, writer, avid reader and life-long learner. She embodies the mantra of living, laughing and loving, every day of her life. Born in Hackensack, NJ, her family moved to East Orange, where she has continued to reside for over 30 years.

She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Montclair State University and a Masters in Corporate & Organizational Communication from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Although a NJ state employee by day, she considers herself to be a superhero by night, since it is her extracurricular activities that fuel her spirit, her passion and bring endless fulfillment to her life. Keyana began her soul searching journey in 2009 after going through a bout of depression. It was through meditation and learning to become “The Captain of Her Own Ship,” that Keyana changed her life for the better and never looked back.

Keyana easily champions causes near and dear to her heart and constantly seeks to forge new paths where there are none. She began leading group hikes in April 2015 as a new way to celebrate her birthday and from there, she launched her brainchild: HIKEOLUTION, a company geared towards bringing a lifestyle of hiking into practice for all.

Whether at work, volunteering, exploring the trails on a day hike, taking a yoga class or spending quality time with her family and friends, Keyana is all about letting her light shine. She is a board member of the Sisters Helping Sisters in Christ (SHSIC) Ministry and Carolyn Dorfman Dance as well.

Leslie S. Arthur Board Director

With an African American mother who attended Columbia University Teachers College on a Rosenwald Scholarship working on her doctorate in education in the 1940’s, and a father who was an immigrant from Barbados, came to America during World War II as part of the labor shortage, Leslie is an example of what America can and hopes to be.

He attended Hampton University with a major in History Education.  He has worked in the NJ Public School System for 30 years teaching African American History, U.S. History, Latin American Culture, and Economics. A Ph.D. candidate in African American History from Rutgers University, Leslie has inspired numerous students with his love of history, as they say, history from the ground up, analyzing the lives and achievements of ordinary people who have made exceptional contributions to our country. His area of interest is the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Power Movement, and the Black Arts Movement.  He strongly believes that all students have the ability to achieve remarkable accomplishments and that success in life comes from the idea of self-worth and giving to others.

He is also an advocate of public history, which is the use of monuments, museums, film festivals, and public history discussions. In the pursuit of studying public history, he was a student of the late Clement Price, professor of history at Rutgers University and advisor, and consultant who along with Lonnie Bunch established the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

Leslie Arthur is also an avid hiker and a certified hiking leader with the Appalachian Mountain Club, a non-profit organization that is the oldest conservation group in North America, which promotes diversity in hiking and outdoor activities.

J. Javier Cruz Board Director

Javier was born and raised in Florida, Puerto Rico, but has lived in the Greater Newark area for decades. He is bilingual, speaking his native Spanish and English. Currently residing in Harrison, NJ, he works full-time as a stationary engineer at a Newark plant.

He was introduced to meditation early in his 12-step recovery program. He is now in his 20th year of recovery, and he has had a committed meditation practice for over 10 years. As a result of his practice, Javier became a hospice volunteer in his spare time. He also became a mentor to prison inmates, through the Buddhist Correspondence Course (BCC) for the Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS).

He is a Buddhist practitioner with residential retreat experience, currently enrolled in the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certificate Program (MMTCP) with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. He continues to study with his main insight teacher, Dennis Maurer, of IMCNJ, under the guidance of Narayan Liebenson as well.

His main practice is loving-kindness (metta) which he develops as a formal discipline, and uses in his daily life. Having seen and experienced much suffering and troubles in his family, meditation, especially loving-kindness, has been key to his well-being and stability. Javier’s main priorities are his children, grandchildren, and girlfriend.