Our Team


Who We Are

Our Staff
Our Board
Our Supporters
Our Staff


Vanessa Weiner


With a practice that started in adolescence, Vanessa Weiner is passionate about sharing mindfulness with people of all ages. She founded the organization in 2012 initially to serve our next generation. Now in its 8th year, she and her team have worked with over 7,000 students in a unique school-based social and emotional learning program, the first of its kind in RI. Evolving to best serve the needs of the community, Vanessa and her team expanded the mission of the organization in 2015 to bring these trainings and practice opportunities to an increasing number of adults in the workplace and community groups - facilitating classes so that people of all ages can become more empowered, resilient and self-aware. Vanessa authored a chapter in the recently published book, “Teaching Mindfulness Skills to Kids and Teens”, and is a contributing author for “Best Practices for Yoga in Schools”. She has presented locally at the Rhode Island Business Group on Health Wellness Breakfast, Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance conference, Rhode Island Occupational Therapists Association conference, the Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Economic Development Summit, and is a regular guest lecturer at Brown and Rhode Island College. Nationally, she has spoken at the National Kids Yoga Conference and the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference. She can also be found creating in the kitchen or hanging out with her greatest teachers, her husband and two children. Vanessa is grateful to be able to facilitate instruction through a wide variety of techniques with different groups of kids and adults every day, and continues to be amazed at just how transformational these practices can be.


Shannon Smith


Shannon is a native Nebraskan who grew up with a daily reminder to stop and notice the little things, and to treat others the way you want to be treated. When Shannon started her own yoga and mindfulness practice 10 years ago, she quickly realized that they enhance and reinforce her personal beliefs about how we look at the world, how we treat others, or how we approach new situations. Passionate about teaching mindfulness, she is energized, motivated, and inspired by her students. There is nothing like teaching a child how to be in charge of their own feelings, how to be less reactive, and how to foster mindful behaviors and actions! Shannon has 17 years of classroom teaching experience; a degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. As the School Integration Specialist, Shannon gets to work closely with the Resilient Kids instructors, with the schools, and the students. Shannon looks at life as a learning opportunity and is always eager to expand her knowledge and understanding. She has completed a variety of workshops and trainings on mindfulness and contemplative teaching and learning (Mindful Schools, Little Flower Yoga, Still Quiet Place, Creative Relaxation). Each of these opportunities has helped Shannon develop into the person she is today.


Valerie Nunes-Danca

Massachusetts native Valerie has been working with youth since she started babysitting at age twelve. Her work with youth has continued throughout high school and college, with jobs in childcare, camp, and instructing dance. In 2016, Val graduated from Rhode Island College with a B.A. in Youth Development and a concentration in psychology and communications. She especially enjoyed the opportunities she had to work with individual students during some of her courses, helping them to feel success in their work. Valerie also instructs barre classes for adults, teaches dance classes to children ages 18 months-18 years, and nannies for various families in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
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Steve Decollibus


Steve has spent the last eight years facilitating the Prison Mindfulness Institute’s, Path of Freedom curriculum at the ACI. After watching David Row’s TED Talk, “Lessons from Death Row” Steve realized that while the prison work he does is of benefit to the men he works with, many of them would not be in prison had they been exposed to mindfulness strategies earlier in their lives. Mr. Rows talk solidifies his desire to bring mindfulness and resiliency to kids.

He has been a quahoger, high school teacher, and advertising executive, for the last twenty years he had been Director of Marketing and Communications for a global electronics manufacturing firm. His mindfulness practice developed during his many business trips to Asia specifically; China, Japan and Singapore. His daughter Marisa, a student and former Center for Resilience instructor introduced Steve to the program and Vanessa, the rest as they say is history.

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Anne Geertman


The desire to work with children began very early for Anne. When she was ten years old, she started organizing summer programs for children in her neighborhood.  Since then, she has worked as an educator in many different roles: conversational English teacher, K-2 part-time teacher, docent for The Kokua Hawaii Foundation’s AINA in Schools program (a farm to school initiative that connects children to their local land, waters, and food with the goal of growing a healthier Hawaii). She also started Little Sprouts, a home-based learning center with a focus on providing a fun, safe place where children could cultivate a community of mindful learners who have a strong set of social emotional skills.

Anne has lived and worked in many places: Seoul, London, New York, San Francisco, the Netherlands, North Shore of Oahu, and Rhode Island. She believes this curiosity in exploring the world has provided her with resiliency to adapt quickly and thrive in each new environment.  She is an advocate in the gun violence prevention movement as a legislative lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.  Anne recently relocated from Hawaii to Rhode Island after 18 years with her husband and two sons. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and playing tennis. 

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Nicole Grace


Nicole has always been a strong believer in the power of mindfulness and importance of personal empowerment!  She also believes being mindful can come in a variety of practices and forms.  Exercise, yoga, meditation, enjoying nature and crafting are a few ways that she has found work for her and practices daily.

She has been in the health and wellness industry for over 20 years and is a Certified Professional Life Coach, Fitness Instructor and Children’s Yoga Arts Instructor. She is passionate about sharing her varied knowledge to empower children, teens and adults to care for themselves physically and mentally so they can thrive and live a purposeful and balanced life.

Nicole has a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies/ Health and Human Services from the University of New Hampshire and has over 10 years of sales experience in hospitality, technology and non-profit organizations.

In her downtime, Nicole enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, rescue pup, Bubba, and friends.  She loves being outside as much as possible, no matter the weather, and enjoys hiking and camping especially in the mountains of New Hampshire and out west!


Amber Hanks

Amber grew up in Georgia where she first connected to mindfulness through nature and movement. Hiking, biking and exploring outdoors with her family laid a foundation for lifelong curiosity. She experienced the importance of connecting with others through offering a simple greeting of hello and a smile.
She loves sharing how connecting to our body and mind allows us to know how we feel in the present moment. This is important because with practice, we can choose new ways of moving and thinking which will lead to more positive experiences of connecting to self and others. She believes that this shift has the power to alter our experience of life.
Amber has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Georgia and a 200 hour R.Y.S certification from Live Love Teach school of yoga.  She lives in North Kingstown, RI with her two daughters, son, two cats, and husband.

Karly Knight Mongeon


Karly is a native Canadian who, from a very young age, has wanted nothing more than to be a teacher. After pursuing a Bachelors in Education at Brock University in Canada, she traveled to Thailand where she taught at The American School of Bangkok for two years. The practices of mindfulness were integrated into the culture of the school and Karly was amazed at how beneficial the practice lended to the positivity, focus, and community of the classroom and school-wide culture. 

Karly quickly immersed herself into learning more about mindfulness through developing a personal practice, attending EARCOS international conferences, becoming certified in Vinyasa yoga and participating in online courses at MindfulSchools. Now settled in New England, Karly is beyond excited to instill a love for learning, self-awareness and personal resilience in children ! As a life long learner herself, Karly is eager to continue to grow and learn to better serve the schools and community! 

Outside of the classroom, Karly enjoy adventuring outdoors and being near the ocean, journaling, spending time with her husband, friends and family, and watching hockey (her favorite sport).


Sophie Sandweiss


Sophie first discovered Center for Resilience when she came to Brown to study Cognitive Neuroscience and Contemplative Studies. As an Intern, she was interested in the work being done for the students, recognizing the stress of her own secondary school experience and how she was able to manage. As the organization expanded its outreach, Sophie supported curriculum development efforts for the workplace and community programs, as well as writing a number of blogs and grants with her unique ability to articulate heady concepts into relatable language.

Between classes and work with Center for Resilience, Sophie is a Brown Community Meditation Leader and Department Leader for Contemplative Studies. She is also a research assistant heading a qualitative analysis of Qigong, an energy and movement practice as a treatment for cancer-related fatigue. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, rock climbing, and aerial arts.

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Caylin Yorba-Ruiz


Caylin is a freelance print and digital media artist focused on creating accessible empowerment art for survivors of trauma and individuals focused on mental health and wellbeing. She received a BA in Studio Art and a BA in Media & Cultural Studies from the University of California, Riverside. Caylin continues her advocacy by sharing her artwork as a part-time Etsy seller. She is passionate about creating change within her community through the distribution of free and accessible wellness resources.

Our Board


Carolyn Dalgliesh


Carolyn Dalgliesh is a professional organizer & space planner working to help children, families, and individuals get organized. She founded Systems for Sensory Kids, LLC, a leading edge organizing model that bridges the gap between clinical support and practical in-home solutions for rigid, anxious, and distracted kids. Carolyn has published numerous articles and presents regularly at conferences for parents, caregivers, and educators. Her book, “The Sensory Child Gets Organized” (Touchstone, 2013), teaches parents and educators how to tap into systems, routines, and visual aids to organize and empower their kids. In addition to her Sensory Organizing work, Carolyn does general organizing work for homes and small businesses as well as custom closet designs and installations as an Independent Representative of The Container Store’s professional in-home organization service, Contained Home. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two children.


Jim Scanlan


Jim is an Independent Financial Advisor with more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Previously he was a Senior Planning Officer with Weston Financial Group, where he specialized in estate and business succession planning as well as, financial planning and asset management for owners of closely held companies, high net worth individuals and other professionals. Jim is a graduate of Stonehill College with a B.S. in Business Administration and is a CFP® practitioner. He has three grown children, and recently moved from North Kingstown, RI to Boston, MA. Other Appointments: Board member, Foundation Fighting Blindness of Massachusetts Board Member, Providence Rotary Charities Foundation Stonehill College Alumni Council – Past Wannamoisett Country Club Board of Governors 2012-2014 Providence Athenaeum – Investment Committee

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Lesley Bogad

Dr. Lesley Bogad is a professor of Educational Studies at Rhode Island College. She received her undergraduate degree in English and Education from Barnard College at Columbia University, and her Master’s and Ph.D. in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in foundations of education, multiculturalism, qualitative research methods, and women’s studies. She also is the co-director of the Youth Development BA Program, and founder of the A.L.L.I.E.D. mentoring initiative. Her research interests include schooling for social justice, critical pedagogy, and using media and digital technologies as educational tools with youth. Lesley tries to work everyday to contribute to a more socially-just world, but sometimes she gets distracted by working in her garden, discovering toddler-centric Rhode Island with her son, surfing Facebook, or watching old episodes of Friday Night Lights on Netflix.

Colleen Coggins

Colleen Coggins has interests in both education and real estate, and has been fortunate enough over her years in Rhode Island to indulge in both. After graduating Harvard she began working at the Boston Five Cent Savings Bank mostly in the mortgage department. She also worked for a law firm assisting with real estate closings. She has also bought, renovated and sold property. Her other passion for education led her to a Masters in Education from Lesley University, and teaching career in the Smithfield public schools. She also served on the board of Volunteers in Providence Schools, now called Inspiring Minds. Colleen was thrilled to indulge her real estate passion again recently when an historic home overlooking Narragansett Bay became available in Edgewood. She and her husband left Rumford after 20 years for this new perspective on our beautiful state. They have a daughter at Skidmore College.

Donna D’Aloia


Donna D’Aloia has been in private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 1976. She is the President of Counseling and Psychological Services a multidisciplinary psychotherapy practice in Providence and Bristol RI. Along with her work with couples and families, Donna specializes in treating people with depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD and medical issues. She is a Fellow in the Academy of Pain Management and a Certified Integrative Health Coach through Duke University’s Program in Integrative Medicine. During the past two years she founded Whole Person Health, a program that partners with individuals and corporations to improve wellness through long-term behavioral changes.


Bill Devereaux


William P. Devereaux is a Partner with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC and leads the firm’s Criminal Defense and Health Care Teams. Mr. Devereaux represents individuals and corporations in the public, private, not-for-profit and nonprofit sectors, including hospitals, health care systems, clinical facilities and physicians. His experience includes white-collar criminal defense and complex litigation at the state and federal level. A prominent and highly respected member of the legal community, he was honored by his peers and judges with the AV Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell, which is the highest rating based on both legal ability and ethics. He has also been selected annually by his peers as a Best Lawyers in America®, and is recognized as a Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense Super Lawyer®. Attorney Devereaux earned his J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University. He is admitted to practice law in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, U.S. District Court, First Circuit and the U.S. Court of Military Appeals for the Armed Forces. He has been a U.S. Navy Reservist since 1979.

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Lisha Gomes

Lisha M. Gomes is Associate Director of Government & Legislative Strategies with Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC. As a member of the firm’s Government & Legislative Strategies Team, Lisha assists and supports the government relations advocacy and lobbying efforts on behalf of the firm’s clients before local, state and federal agencies. Prior to joining PLDO, she worked at Rhode Island Foundation managing the planning and execution of all internal and external events and major meetings, and served as a key point person and liaison with customers, partners and vendors. From 2011 to 2016, she worked in the Rhode Island Office of U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline as Director of Scheduling & Special Projects and Senior Field Representative where she managed special projects and scheduling, constituency relations and outreach activities and executed events ranging from policy discussion roundtables to district-wide resource fairs and workshops. Previously, she worked at Textron, Inc. in the Mergers & Acquisition division and is a former director of the Rhode Island Urban Debate League, a Providence-based nonprofit organization that engages high school students in policy debate programs to improve academic outcomes and increase college readiness. Lisha has a B.A. in history from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.


Jennifer Jordan


Jennifer is the Communications Director/Writer for the national headquarters of City Year, a nonprofit fueled by national service that is dedicated to helping schools and students succeed. Jennifer graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and has master’s degrees in history and journalism from San Francisco State University and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, respectively. She has practiced yoga and mindfulness since 2000.

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Jim Leach

Mr. Leach is a seasoned executive with over thirty years of experience in both public and private global companies. He is currently Senior Managing Director, of National Trust a single-family office which manages the interests of one of Rhode Island's oldest industrial Families. The Family business was originally established in 1905.

The Leach Family was one of Rhode Island's oldest industrial families. In the 1990’s, Mr. Leach pioneered the conversion of Superfund sites for private development with the US EPA. This process became the model for the entire country.

Mr. Leach serves on the board of Kenney Manufacturing Company, a 105- year old manufacturer of household products, and Airborne Wireless Network a high-speed broadband airborne wireless network by linking commercial aircraft in flight. He is the Chairman of the Rhode Island PBS Foundation, and a former Chairman of the Providence City Planning Commission, where he served for twenty years. Mr. Leach was formerly a Board Member of Dinewise, Inc., now HomeBistro a provider of direct-to- consumer in-home, gourmet meal services. He has served as a Trustee of the Providence Public Library and as a Board Governors of Lifespan/Miriam Hospital, a 247-bed teaching hospital affiliated with Brown University Medical School, a Board Member of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. He has also served as the Vice Chairman of the Touro Synagogue Foundation in Newport, Rhode Island, and currently as a Trustee & Treasurer of the Rectory School.  He was also a 2020 Inductee to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

Mr. Leach holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from Nasson College, Georgia Institute of Technology Innovation Leadership, and Harvard Business School AC and GNE Program. 

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Jenny Miller

Jenny is the owner/president of Warwick, Rhode Island’s Senior Care Concepts, a geriatric care management company that provides in-depth care assessments and long-term health care planning and transitions for seniors and their families, additionally acting as a liaison between health care professionals, seniors and their families. Jenny is a graduate of the 2008 Leadership Rhode Island program, which has given her the opportunity to grow her knowledge about Rhode Island services and organizations, and was named a Providence Business News "Top 40 Under 40" in 2009. Jenny was recognized as the 2011 Social Worker of the Year in Aging, by the National Association of Social Workers, Rhode Island Chapter. Jenny is a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, and the National and Rhode Island Associations of Social Workers. She is a member and Secretary of the Rotary Club of Metro Providence and currently serving on the Board of Trustees for the East Greenwich Public Library, and Association of Life Care Advocates. Jenny was recently elected to serve on the Board of the Corporators of Wheelock College. She is also a past member of the RI Alzheimer's Association Board and Past President of the Rotary Club of Providence. Jenny is a 1997 graduate of Wheelock College and subsequently received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 1998, and is a Certified Case Manager.

Elke Schaumberg

Dr. Elke Schaumberg has practiced as a physical therapist for over 20 years. She specializes in the rehabilitation of chronic orthopedic conditions and incorporates mindfulness into her treatment approach.  Elke earned her Bachelor’s in Kinesiology with a minor in Religious Studies from University of Colorado in Boulder. She went on to earn her Master’s in Physical Therapy from the University of Colorado-Health Sciences Center. In 2009, Elke earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Physical Therapy at Texas Woman’s University in Houston, Texas. Her research focus is on the central sensitization of pain in individuals with long-standing orthopedic injuries. Elke has served the School Advisory Board at her children’s school. When not working, Elke enjoys mountain biking, long walks, and spending time with her husband, two teenage children, and her two springer spaniels. 

Witnessing an individual who has suffered from long-standing pain discover peace in spite of their condition, is a powerful reminder of the transformational nature of a mindfulness practice.

Our Supporters

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We thank the countless individual donors who make our work possible! Without their generous support, we would be unable to reach the thousands of students who have gained from these skill sets.