Board of Directors/Staff
Vipassana Hawai’i Board of Directors
Trent Cornell, President: is a practicing clinical psychologist and has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1980. His particular interest in the practice lies in the integration of spiritual practice and everyday psychological life, especially the relationship between authentic human connection and spiritual development. He lives in Carmel, California with his physician wife and twin boys.
Steven V. Smith: Steven co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 and in 1995 founded the MettaDana Project for educational and medical projects in Burma. Also in 1995 Steven helped establish the Kyaswa Valley Retreat Center in Burma, headed by Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. His long term vision for preserving the Dhamma is culminating in the beginnings of the Hawai’i Insight Meditation Center (HIMC) on the Big Island of Hawai’i’s remote North Kohala coast.
Michele McDonald: Michele co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 with Steven Smith. She has taught Insight meditation for over twenty-five years. Beyond her commitment to the Vipassana Hawai’i Sangha, she teaches extensively throughout the United States, in Canada, Burma, and various locations around the world. Michele has been a quiet pioneer having being the first woman to teach a formal retreat in Burma, side-by-side with a senior monastic figure, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery.
Vipassana Hawai’i Staff
Sophie Schweitzer: Land Project Coordinator: Sophie made a commitment to practice during eight years of service at the Findhorn Foundation in Northern Scotland. While she has been sitting with several teachers since, she met Michele and Steven in 2008. She has been living in North Kohala since 1988 and is by original profession a writer, specializing in environmental issues, sustainable agriculture, green energy, and sustainability on all levels. The wilderness, streams, ocean waters, and green, open spaces of the Islands are her inspiration.
Rick Gordon: Land Caretaker: Born and raised in the Islands, Rick has been in Kohala since the early 1970s and has been practicing meditation on and off for decades. In 2008, he met Michele, and reconnected his friendship with Steven, another keiki of Hawai‘i. His interest lies in meditation’s connection to current reality and the awareness of nature just as it is, since it is nature, the land, the farm, the garden, that is his livelihood and his passion.