Bodhisattvas like


(presented alphabetically and clockwise from left above)

Susan McDonald

  Earth Ancestor, Complete Penetration

In the early 70's, working in international rural development, I landed in a small central Lao village, where I worked for a year, first encountering the Buddhist Way of Life.   Later, with young children, I lived in rural northern California, raising goats and gardens and my little ones.  Although I had trained as a librarian, I never worked as one, always drawn to an older, deeper root in myself.  When I met Katherine Thanas, I began to embrace this root, looking closely and more closely.   I work with plants and gardens, and as I grow older, in an ever more intimate way. I received Jukai in 1993 and Lay entrustment 2010.  I am currently Ino as well as member of the Teaching Council.

Robert Reese

  Steadfast Mountain,  Pure Hearted Way
Robert has been practicing in the Soto Zen Lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi for twenty years. An ordained Soto Zen priest, he has been teaching classes and workshops at the Monterey Bay Zen Center in Carmel and received Dharma Transmission in 2010 from Sobun Katherine Thanas.

Patricia Wolff

 Pure Wind, Unfabricated Nature

Patricia started her Zen meditation practice in 1987. She met Katherine Thanas at Tassajara in 1990 and subsequently started sitting with the MBZC. In 1995, she received Jukai and in 2010 lay entrustment from Katherine. She received her certificate of Zen Ministry in October of 2012 after completing the 3 year S.P.O.T. Sangha Leadership Training Program. In addition to her role on the Teaching Council., she leads Mountains and Rivers, a bi weekly Carmel Valley sitting group and teaches classes and workshops, exploring mind-body practices which cultivate wisdom and compassion. Patricia is the mother of 2 semi-grown children and blends her skills as a homeopathic/chiropractic physician and psychotherapist in her armel Valley Office.

Teaching Council



Letter from the MBZC President

In January 2012, I formed a committee to provide a proposal to the Board on how to handle our future teaching needs.  Although Katherine Thanas continued as our Head Teacher and was active in these discussions, for the long term survival of our Zen Center, the board realized we must look to the future and fulfill our responsibility to provide Teaching and Teachers to our community.

Katherine’s untimely passing suddenly transformed this issue from theoretical to an immediate need.  In September, at the Annual MBZC Board Retreat, a plan was approved and has been placed in action. Although the Board agreed the traditional “Head Teacher” structure we have utilized since our inception as a Zen Center is the preferred model, we did not have an available viable candidate for this role. Therefore our best option as an interim step was to form a Teaching Council to be comprised of a minimum of 3 individuals: Robert Reese, who received Priest Ordination and Transmission from Katherine, and Patricia Wolff and Susan McDonald, who both received Lay Entrustment from Katherine. 

This Teaching Council has the full responsibilities and functions of a Head Teacher. The Council has been meeting regularly, creating its structure as well as creating and overseeing the practice schedule for the community.  Leslie James from Tassajara and Kokyo Henkel from Santa Cruz Zen Center will continue to provide regular teaching at our Tuesday Night formal Zazen, and both have also agreed to act as Senior Dharma Advisors to the Teaching Council.  Just as the original Head Teacher position, the members of the Teaching Council will serve at the discretion of the Board, and new members may be added or changed based on a recommendation by the Teaching Council and approved by the Board.

The full decision, including amendments to the MBZC by-laws, is available for review in the Board Minutes Binder which is stored at the Cherry Center. Or, if you would prefer an electronic copy of these documents, or wish further details on the Teaching Council, or any other aspect of the governance and functioning of Monterey Bay Zen Center, please feel free to contact me at mbzc.pres@prodigy.net.

I wish to express great gratitude to the three individuals who agreed to take on this role as initial members of the Teaching Council.  I know they have already invested a great amount of effort and thought into building this council and their roles as members. And, I have seen their own personal growth as they step forward with time and energy to take on this challenge.  Please join with me and provide your support to this new Teaching Council for Monterey Bay Zen Center.


Jana Clark, President
Monterey Bay Zen Center
Board of Directors



Recent Meeting Minutes
APRIL 2014
MARCH 2014

JUNE 2013
MAY 2013

The Board of Directors
Monterey Bay Zen Center Incorporated

Jana Clark, President
Phyllis Conlan, Secretary
Wendy Yen, Treasurer

Kathy Whilden, Administrator

Scott Bryan
Sara Hunsaker
Susan McDonald
Mark Orrisch
June Poe
Robert Reese
Patricia Wolff