About Our Teachers

Our wonderful Mindful USC teachers are selected based on their years of study, depth of personal practice and training, and embodiment of mindfulness in everyday life.

Allyson Pimentel, Ed.D.
Co-Director of Mindful USC

Allyson Pimentel, EdD (she/her/hers), Co-Director of Mindful USC, is a psychologist and long-time practitioner and teacher in the Insight meditation tradition who works at the intersection of mindfulness and mental health. Dr. Pimentel has been teaching mindfulness in university, medical, secular and spiritual settings for over twenty years.

Dr. Pimentel holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a doctorate in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University. She has completed numerous professional mindfulness teacher training programs and also is a registered yoga teacher. 

Her writings on mindfulness practice and Buddhist teachings appear in Lion’s Roar magazine, and her teachings and guided meditations are featured on the UCLA Mindful app.  Dr. Pimentel loves sharing the practice of mindfulness meditation as a tool for transformation, connection, well-being, wisdom, and individual and collective liberation.

Mark Miller, Psy.D., MPH, CMT-P
Co-Director of Mindful USC

Mark Miller is the Co-Director of Mindful USC and a clinical psychologist and certified mindfulness teacher. Dr. Miller worked at the USC Student Counseling Services for three years prior to his work with Mindful USC. He has been a meditator for over 25 years and is interested in integrating psychology and mindfulness practices. Mark also has a private psychotherapy practice.

Dr. Miller regularly teaches mindfulness topics including the basics of mindfulness, working with distress, Mindful Self-Compassion, and the spirituality of mindfulness to help USC community members build strong mindfulness skills to help them manage strong emotions and recurrent thoughts while being compassionate towards themselves and others as well as to build meaning through connection with their own lives.

Dina Abou Aish, Ed.D.

Dina Abou Aish is an educator and mindfulness teacher. She holds a doctorate degree in education and teaches methods and social emotional learning at the college level and to school faculties throughout the Los Angeles area.

Dina is a certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher with the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion and works collaboratively in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). She also received training in mindfulness facilitation from InsightLA, as well as the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. She teaches mindfulness and compassion practices at colleges and universities, public schools, insight and wellness centers, NGOs supporting refugees internationally, spaces for the unhoused, detention centers, as well as for individuals privately. She enjoys daydreaming, painting, writing, conscious movement, laughter, being in nature and all things creative. You can contact her at dinaaish@gmail.com.

Rev. Jim Burklo

Rev. Jim Burklo is the retired Senior Associate Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at USC, and founded the Contemplative Pedagogy Faculty Interest Group at USC. He has practiced and taught mindfulness meditation for over 40 years. He was a co-founder of Mindful USC and has taught Mindfulness Lab courses since its beginning.

Jim taught public policy at the USC School of Social Work for a decade. An ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, he is the author of seven published books on progressive Christianity. His weekly blog on spirituality, “Musings,” has a global readership. He is the Executive Director of ProgressiveChristiansUniting.org and is an honorary advisor and frequent content contributor for ProgressiveChristianity.org.

Nico Cary

Nico Cary (he/him) is a dharma and medicine path practitioner, mindfulness teacher, writer and interdisciplinary artist. He received his BA from UC Berkeley’s Interdisciplinary Studies Field School, specializing in cognitive linguistics. He is currently a Garrison Institute Fellow, and his multimedia installations on collective grieving processes have been featured at the Smithsonian and can now be seen as a part of The Healing Project at Yerba Center for the Arts in San Francisco. While engaged in a deeply fulfilling artistic career, Nico also proudly serves as a mindfulness facilitator for InsightLA and a teacher at Mindful USC. He is interested in the many different vocabularies of healing and the holding capacity of mindfulness, particularly as it relates to embodied activism and creative ecosystems.

Angelike Dexter

Angelike Dexter (she/her) loves sharing mindfulness, compassion, and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) with students of all ages in the Los Angeles area and now, on Zoom, around the world. Trained by Susan Kaiser Greenland (author of “The Mindful Child” and “Mindful Games”) in 2013 and a long-time member of the Inner Kids teacher group, Angelike teaches mindful and compassionate awareness to children, parents, teachers, and families through public and private schools as well as other community organizations.

Angelike is a Certified Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) teacher (trained in and teaching MSC since 2015) and a graduate of the inaugural MSC for teens, “Making Friends With Yourself (MFY)” teacher training in 2016, and has regularly taught series of or skills from both courses, including through Mindful USC, the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion’s Circles of Practice, and through Insight LA, where she graduated from Insight LA’s Third Facilitators Training in 2018. Additionally, she deeply enjoys helping parents create intentional vision around and compassionate strategies for their families, through “Heartful” Parenting classes and workshops. Angelike has trained extensively in trauma-informed mindfulness practices and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, in particular in relation to holding mindfulness/compassion group spaces. In her personal practice, she is a student of Dza Kilung Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher and lineage holder in the Longchen Nyingtik lineage and the author of “A Relaxed Mind.” A former attorney, Angelike continually delights in her current life as a mindfulness and compassion teacher!

JoAnna Hardy

JoAnna Hardy is an insight meditation (Vipassanā) practitioner and teacher; she is on faculty at the University of Southern California, a meditation trainer at Apple Fitness+, a founding member of the Meditation Coalition, a teacher’s council member at Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

JoAnna is also a visiting retreat teacher at Insight Meditation Society, and a collaborator on many online meditation Apps and programs.

Megan Heiser

Megan Heiser teaches the principles of Mindfulness and compassion for oneself and others in order to live a more awake and joyful life. She is dedicated to offering a practice of care and kind attention to mind, body and heart to help ease the stresses of our busy lives. Megan teaches at Insight L.A. Meditation Center and is a trained Mindful Self-Compassion teacher. Her teaching focus is supporting caregivers and those with learning differences.

Elizabeth Hernandez-Stomp, CPC

Elizabeth Hernandez-Stomp, CPC, CMT-P (she/her), is a certified mindfulness meditation teacher and facilitator from the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program. A graduate of InsightLA’s Facilitator Training Program, and a certified Transformational Life Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner from the iPEC Coaching Institute. She’s also a certified Trained Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher from the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. In addition, Elizabeth is certified in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica, CA. She is also a part of Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioner Program and InsightLA’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and the EAR Council. She has been a dedicated insight meditation practitioner since 2012.

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theater, Communications, and Literature from the University of Sacred Heart, Puerto Rico, and the University of Miami, Florida.

Currently, she offers: coaching groups, workshops, MSC 8-week courses, Mindfulness Meditation sitting groups in Spanish and English at InsightLA Meditation Center, the University of Southern California, MindfulUSC. And, on her website: www.elizabethstomp.com

She is committed to sharing the practices of insight meditation, kindness, and compassion particularly to the Hispanic, Latinx/Latine and the BIPOC community.

Michael Krass

Michael Krass is a teacher, writer, coach, and organizational consultant who serves in the areas of mindfulness, meditation, creativity, and trauma-informed awareness. As a teacher of Mindful Creativity at the University of Southern California, he introduces students, staff, faculty, and alumni to the practical uses of mindfulness, the blending of creativity and meditation, and the wide lens of mindful photography.

Michael draws on his creative background in writing, music, theater, and film to create lively experiences that nurture, inspire, and cultivate awareness. Michael is dedicated to helping people realize their potential through mindful presence, stepping up to fear and uncertainty, and honoring one’s unique journey.

Elliott Law, M.S., CYT

Elliott Law (he/him) has studied mindfulness since 2011 and maintains a dedicated practice. Elliott supports mindfulness at USC as a Mindful USC teacher and the Associate Director of Fundraising for the USC Center for Mindfulness Science. In 2015, he established the Mindful USC Mindfulness Practice Group in Downtown LA, which he leads weekly. Elliott also regularly presents on mindfulness for Keck Medicine of USC medical students.

Elliott is a graduate of InsightLA’s Mindfulness Facilitator Training program, where he teaches Unwinding Anxiety and Mindful Eating Mindfulness-based Habit Change courses, half-day nature retreats, and co-facilitates the LGBTQueer+ Practice Group. Elliott is also a qualified behavior change facilitator through training with Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, and a certified yoga teacher.

The sport of tennis is a long-time passion for Elliott. He is a USTA Elite Professional with over 20 years of teaching experience who integrates mind-body practices into lessons.

Elliott loves to connect with nature and wildlife and gets very excited whenever he encounters a bird he has not seen before. He holds an MS in mechanical engineering and works as an associate director with Keck Medicine of USC’s Advancement team. Learn more about Elliott’s offerings here.

JD Lloyd

JD Lloyd is a long-time member of the InsightLA Meditation Community, where he received his training to facilitate mindfulness classes. He completed additional training at UC San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness to conduct courses in Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), and he has also received specialized education in chaplaincy support, contemplative care and trauma-sensitive mindfulness. JD facilitates mindfulness courses and meditation groups at InsightLA, University of Southern CA, and the Cancer Support Community’s Benjamin Center, and he volunteers to provide mindfulness classes to underserved communities in the Los Angeles area.

JD is particularly drawn to Lovingkindness and Mindful Self-Compassion meditation practices as paths toward self-acceptance and open-hearted connection with others. He appreciates the outdoors and the arts – especially film, photography and poetry. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing and enjoys weaving poetry and storytelling into his teaching.

Robert Lurye, M.Ed.

Robert Lurye is an artist, educator, and meditation practitioner who loves teaching the ancient wisdom and modern science related to mindful awareness. He’s a certified MBSR teacher through Brown University Mindfulness Center, a CYT yoga instructor, and a facilitator for behavior change programs that address unwanted habits including emotional eating and anxiety. He completed the Sati Center’s Eco-Chaplaincy Program and is trained to offer support and spiritual care to individuals and communities impacted by ecological and environmental crises.

Robert teaches at the USC Center for Mindfulness Science, Mindful USC, InsightLA, Long Beach Mediation and facilitates sitting groups for the LGBTQ+ community and Hollywood Forever Cemetery. He’s also an animation artist working on film and television productions and has taught Art at Ohio State, Texas A&M, and University of Texas.

Stephanie Renée Payne

Stephanie Renée Payne is an Associate Professor in the Writing Program at the University of Southern California, a Board-Certified Coach (BCC), and a mindfulness practitioner. In her over 12 years as a meditation and mindfulness practitioner & coach, Payne has engaged in numerous teacher trainings, including the Upaya Zen Center under the tutelage of Roshi Joan Halifax, the Himalayan Institute, the Omega Institute, among others.

Payne holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a doctoral candidate in Educational Sustainability with a focus on equity, diversity, inclusion & belonging at the University of Wisconsin. Payne is the author of a mindfulness workbook, ESP: Extreme Self-Pampering for the Soul.

Atia Sattar

Atia Sattar is Associate Professor (Teaching) of Gender and Sexuality Studies and Writing at the University of Southern California. Atia has practiced mindfulness for 10 years and started the BIPOC Mindfulness Practice Group at USC in 2018. Her writings on Mindfulness have been published in Tricycle and Lion’s Roar.

Maureen Shannon-Chapple, M.S.

Maureen Shannon-Chapple, M.S., has been a practitioner of yoga and meditation since her teenage years. Her career as an educator has found its expression in programs that span classroom teaching, parenting courses, community college and university teaching. Nurturing responsive, empathetic community is central to her work.

A 2008 graduate of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader Training, Maureen has led groups including InsightLA’s Family Program, mindfulness classes, and a weekly community practice group, which currently meets online. Maureen has co-led three iterations of InsightLA’s Facilitator Training Program. She teaches in the Mindful USC program, Loyola Marymount University’s Yoga Studies program and at other community sites. She is also one of the team of teachers anchoring the weekly Mindful of Whiteness: Anti-Racism Practices for White People at InsightLA. She loves gardening with native plants, hiking and sitting under big trees.

Heidi Shaw LCSW

Heidi Shaw LCSW (she/her) loves to teach Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), especially at University of Southern California because she is a proud Trojan! She graduated with a master’s degree in social work in 1999 from USC’s Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. She has taught Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) at the University since 2015 and was trained by the creators of MSC Dr. Christopher Germer and Dr. Kristin Neff. Heidi is a psychotherapist and has been practicing meditation for almost two decades. She is a trained Trauma-Informed Practitioner from Trauma Resource Institute (TRI) and uses these skills when teaching mindfulness and in psychotherapy. Heidi is passionate about teaching MSC because she witnesses the benefits to her students. She has observed the positive transformation of her students from being a harsh self-critic to a kinder self-ally. Heidi has taught mindful meditation in many settings: in schools, meditation centers, and the corporate sector including Insight LA, Vice News, the NBA and for the City of Santa Monica. As a psychotherapist, Heidi incorporates mindfulness and mindful self-compassion with her clients. When not meditating, Heidi enjoys gardening, running, biking, and just being outdoors.

Amy Spies

Amy Spies is a longtime writer and teacher in film, television, and new media. She has written documentaries, drama, comedy, as well as blogging for the Huffington Post and Los Angeles Review of Books. Amy is finishing her first novel. She is interested in writing about human rights, social justice, and the resilience of diverse individuals globally. She serves on diversity, human rights committees and as a writing awards judge for PEN International Literary Association and the Writers Guild. Amy studied under Trudy Goodman in Los Angeles and is a graduate of the InsightLA MBSR Teacher Training Practicum, as well as the Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher Training. Amy has attended mindfulness and psychology conferences, including at Harvard Medical School led by Thich Nhat Hanh. Amy graduated from Harvard University, where she studied psychology, literature, and film.

Lulu Toselli

Lulu Toselli (she/her) is an insight meditation practitioner, sound healer, multidisciplinary designer, and mindfulness teacher. Her work centers on gentle transformative experiences that inspire a greater sense of connection, presence, and creativity. She is a graduate of the InsightLA Mindfulness Facilitator Program and received a BFA in Design from Central St. Martins where she explored the intersection of visual design, sound, and meditation.

She has offered sound baths, classes, and workshops at various events and places, including InsightLA, LA Nation, Poketo, Mercado Sagrado, Spotify, Art Basel Miami, Noh Wave, The Fullest, and the LA Design Festival.

Her mission is to share mindfulness-based tools and practices that create the conditions for more connection and compassion and to create supportive environments for students to explore their inner landscape.

Martin Vitorino, Ph.D.

Martin Vitorino, Ph.D. (he/him) is a mindfulness instructor in the PEMBH Department at USC and a gender inclusivity facilitator. His approach draws heavily from the InsightLA facilitator training, Vipassana lineage, mindful self-compassion, generative somatics, and research in positive psychology.

In 2019, he founded “Mindful Transitions,” the first meditation group for the trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming communities in Los Angeles at InsightLA. That same year, he c0-organized and managed the first residential retreat led by and for TNBGNC communities in Big Bear, CA. He earned a Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies at Emory University and a B.A. in Psychology from Westfield State University. He shares mindfulness practices from a justice and equity lens, with the intention that these tools might help us heal internalized systems of oppression and resource us to actively transform the world around us.

Gauri Kolhatkar, MD, MPH, MS

Gauri Kolhatkar (she/her) is on faculty at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and is a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where she offers an Integrative Mind-Body clinic for pediatric patients within their federally-qualified health center. She completed a fellowship in Contemplative Medicine through the New York Zen Center and is a UCLA-trained mindfulness facilitator. She finds joy in her practice which connects her to her spiritual and cultural ancestry and which grounds her in the aspiration for collective justice and well-being.  

Robin Ward, MSW

Robin Ward (she/her) is a trained teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion and loves engaging with the university community through Mindful USC! As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at USC Counseling and Mental Health services, she provided individual and group therapy to students for 27 years. During that time, Robin facilitated groups in Mindful Well-Being, Self Discovery through Creativity, and Mindful Self-Compassion. As a psychotherapist, she integrates mindfulness and compassion into her work with clients.

Robin’s mindfulness and meditation practice of many years draws from the wisdom and teachings of Buddhism and the contemplative path of the Christian mystics. Being in the natural world, reading poetry aloud, and writing creatively bring her joy in the present, each moment to moment. In teaching Mindful Self-Compassion, Robin is attentive to creating a space where participants feel included and appreciated for their similarities and differences. She is honored to walk with them as they journey toward a deeper experience of loving-kindness and acceptance of themselves and others.