You can read the short biographies of all our speakers by clicking their photo.
Laurel is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Pedagogy, Well-being Emphasis, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on transformative education about consciousness for well-being. She specializes in narrative inquiry research and is working to popularize participatory and post-materialist paradigms in the field of education and educational research. She holds an MA in Adult Education and Community Development from OISE, and has been teaching narrative non-fiction writing in the Professional Writing and Communication program at the University of Toronto, Mississauga since 2009.
Natalia Sánchez is a Colombian cultural astronomer and chemical engineer. She is also a mother to two children, a dancer and nature lover. After 13 years of working as an engineer, she had an anomalous experience that made her go back to a childhood dream to study astronomy. That is why in 2018 she started the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at the UWTSD that was completed with distinction in 2021. She has published two research articles related to cultural astronomy, and her academic interests include studying the cosmologies of contemporary non-indigenous people, especially those who have anomalous experiences, and skyscape archaeology in Colombia. She wants to pursue a Ph.D.
Arabella is a trans-disciplinary philosopher doing a PhD in philosophy, cosmology and consciousness at CIIS in San Francisco and lives between California and England. She studied English Literature at Bristol and UCL, and believes that the cosmos itself is a poem unfolding. Her areas of research lie at the intersection of poetics, quantum mechanics, aesthetics, metaphysics and higher dimensional mathematics. She is committed to the evolution of consciousness, and the establishing of a new, holistic worldview. An eternal optimist, she also understands how integral the next generation will be in architecting this new, abundant paradigm.
After studying political science, and economics, Elisabeth worked as an independent CPA for around twenty years. At 44, she decided to work for international organizations (UN, OSCE, European Commission, etc.) and then travelled extensively worldwide as a consultant in finance, governance and change management.
Her first experiences in this politico-diplomatic world was more focused on power struggles than the well-being of populations, and this led her to resume her studies in psychology. Elisabeth is now assisting people and organizations in their quest for meaning as an existential and transpersonal coach and as a hypnotherapist.
She is a third-year student in transpersonal psychology at Alef Trust (LJMU). She has also published various books: a novel, a political essay and books on spiritual intelligence.
Her main subjects of interest are kabbalistic psychology and Astro psychology.
Emily is a spiritual seeker, soul translator, storytelling strategist, and a deep believer in the power of comms – communication and community. Over 15 years in New York City as a Broadway and entertainment publicist and consultant, her journey of self-exploration led to healing, evolution, and reading tarot cards professionally. At Columbia University’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Emily is earning a Master of Arts in Psychology with a focus on spirituality. SMB is the first Ivy League graduate curriculum dedicated to merging spirituality and evidence-based research within the context of clinical psychology.
An MSc Student with the Alef Trust studying Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology, Helen is interested in the juncture between spirituality, science, and creativity to examine the role of the artist in contemporary society.
Challenging the imposition of external ‘authority’ in recent years, Helen wanted to address social themes in the political struggle for democracy and constitutional human rights, testing boundaries that boil down to what gives life meaning.
Helen’s contribution aims to convey experiences of a meditative procedural way of ‘knowing’ that plays on experimenting with the emptiness and fullness of everyday life to exude important messages through creative expression.
Fernanda is a transpersonal psychologist, writer, and practicing Shaman. Working with the Qero Paqo communities of The Andes in Peru, she’s helping keep her ancestors’ traditions alive by learning from their ancient practices. Currently, she works as a marketing consultant for Synergetic Press, her passion moves her to work for organizations focused on the expansion of consciousness. She writes articles for the online magazine Psychic Garden and is pursuing an MSc in Spirituality, Consciousness, and Transpersonal Psychology at the Alef Trust with the aim of creating further research on parapsychological phenomena and shamanistic psychology.
Rainbow is a single mother, a ceremonialist and a feminist scholar. Rainbow has almost completed the Alef Trust MSc in Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology, with a focus on the value of spiritual community to motherhood. Her research interests are mapping the transpersonal dimensions of motherhood and social activism to increase awareness of female spirituality and decriminalizing the ceremonial use of psilocybin. She is a yoga and meditation teacher, a shamanic practitioner, an intuitive and transformational healer, and a massage therapist and musician. She holds a weekly shamanic mother and toddler group in her community in West Yorkshire which received funding from the SMN.
Alice is a postgraduate student who has a BA in Philosophy from the University of York, and is studying for an MA in Philosophy at Durham University. During her time as an undergraduate she enjoyed researching consciousness theories, particularly cosmopsychism as a potential solution to the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. Alice also wrote a book review for the Bhaktivedanta Institute, ‘Idols of the Mind vs True Reality’ (Bhakti Madhava Puri, PhD.) During her masters she aims to research the Philosophy of Religion, as well as taking classes in Phenomenology and the Sciences of Mind. In addition to her studies she is an avid reader of thinkers such as Jung and William James, and thus is continuously inspired to investigate the ways in which spirituality has a place in academic practice. In the future she hopes to pursue a PhD.
Sarah is a PhD student on the Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness programme at the California Institute of Integral Studies and an independent scholar in the Cayman Islands. Originally from England, Sarah graduated from Cambridge University with Joint Honours in History and Law in 1987. She is admitted as a barrister-at-law in England and Wales, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, and as an attorney-at-law in the State of New York as well as the Cayman Islands, where she is also a notary public. Prior to her transition to more scholarly pursuits in 2018, Sarah was consistently ranked in The Legal 500 as a leading specialist in international and offshore commercial litigation, dealing with such notable mega-insolvencies as Enron Inc, and Madoff Investment Funds. With a life-long love of learning, Sarah holds masters degrees in Comparative Law (University of Bonn, Germany); Nutrition and Biodynamic Gardening (Arizona, USA); and Positive Psychology (University of East London, UK).
It has been said that “philosophy is the ungainly attempt to tackle questions that come naturally to children, using methods that come naturally to lawyers”, Sarah is currently using her legal skills to navigate the pressing questions of philosophy of mind and consciousness. Her PhD research explores the intersection of philosophy, psychology and quantum physics and seeks to arrive at a unifying cosmic philosophy of spirituality and transcendence.
Remo is a fresh father of two, a passionate student of Transpersonal Psychology currently studying in MSc in Alef Trust Institute and a practicing psychotherapist. He is also a New Media enthusiast, producing video & podcasts, digging for pearls and distilling wisdom from our rich past and traditions. He’s deeply interested in meaning, mysticism and magic. Through his work he aspires to be an agent of re-enchantment helping people remember their true calling, origin and creative potential.
Sheri is a free-lance writer who lives in Ovando, a town of 50 in the Blackfoot Valley of Montana. She has lived in England and Mexico, where her studies led to articles on Mesoamerican Cosmology. She gave annual lectures on dreams for the Montana Friends of Jung and conducted dream workshops. In her 50s, she entered the California Institute of Integral Studies and did her dissertation on The Return of the Sage: A New Cosmology Meets the Way of Heaven and Earth in the I Ching under the guidance of Yi Wu, Brian Thomas Swimme, and Richard Tarnas. There she was introduced to Thomas Berry and his work. Her talk on “Being Cosmos: Confucius and Thomas Berry” for a conference on Berry at the University of North Carolina was later published by the Center for Ecozoic Studies in a volume on Berry’s work. Sheri is the author of A Farm in Marin: Portraits in Time from Pangaea to Point Reyes; One-ing; Dream to Waken; chapters in The Epic of Evolution: Science’s Story & Humanity’s Response; Science, Wisdom & the Future; and The Spirit of a Woman: Stories to Empower and Inspire. She has published articles in Parabola Magazine, ReVision, and the Institute of Noetic Sciences Review.
Liam is a student studying Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts, Spanish, and Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University. Liam grew up in a small town in Alaska with a population of 150 and attended a K-12 school of 20 through high school. Liam grew up travelling often, which softened his transition to the ‘outside world’ when he moved to Colorado for school. Since moving, Liam has become involved in community engagement work on and off campus. One of the most baffling parts of this transition has been witnessing people’s attitudes towards their surroundings, and how those attitudes dictate their treatment of the world. Liam’s first inclination has been to call others out and be generally angry, but that hasn’t done much. More recently, Liam has been trying to spend more energy focusing on who he is and what a real contribution would look like. Liam plans to design and carry out a public intergenerational dialogue on the environmental crisis. Next spring, during his final semester of his undergraduate degree, Liam will complete his honors thesis. This is an open-ended project that Liam can shape into whatever he can justify as an appropriate intersection between personal interests and a product that could help the wider community. At this symposium, Liam will be presenting a poster that outlines this planned project and receive feedback on how to make it happen successfully and practically.
Degard is a pioneering British Visionary artist and ‘Painter of Auras and founder of the genre Contemporary Visionary. Degard sees auras in and around people, animals, places and things. She channels spirit portraits of people long gone and brings them to life in paintings. The Visionary Brit Museum is the only gallery in the UK to only show Visionary Art which Degard curates, inviting leading Visionary artists to show in this incredible space outside of The British Museum. Degard is doing a Doctorate in Fine Art on the Visionary in Art. Degard has exhibited extensively in the UK and internationally. Her current show is at The Visionary Brit Museum ‘Meeting My Ancestors Lost in the Holocaust’. Degard’s paintings join the canon of Visionary artists: Hilma af Klint, Susan Hiller, Kandinsky and William Blake. Molly Hackney says of Degard’s latest exhibition, ‘The canvases enchant the viewer with this glimpse into spirit connection.’ Degard graduated from the Royal College of Art. She received awards from the Alan Davie Foundation.
Certified End-of-Life Midwife, and Los Angeles, California-USA native, Tonya Reed is a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Counseling (University of Sedona), M.S. in Psychophysiology (Mind-Body Medicine) (Saybrook University), and B.A. Degree holder, Communications Sciences (Howard University, Washington, D.C., also the alma mater of current U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris). Tonya is the founder of Goldie Love Scientific Healing that provides Therapeutic and Neuroscientific Consultations to enhance spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Tonya is also a member of the California Rosicrucian Order, AMORC. A former international singer of Opera, Jazz, Pop, Musical Theater, and Gospel music, she completed Master of Science Degree, Opera Vocal Performance and Jazz Studies coursework at the Thornton School of Music (University of Southern California-USA). She is a former Hollywood television and commercial actress, and still a long-time member of the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild. Her early training in metaphysics started with Spiritual Counseling Licensing from Michael Bernard Beckwith, and segued into training with Dr. Joe Dispenza. Tonya’s contribution offers a brief glimpse into her Human Research Study exploring a mindfulness technique’s ability to affect pain reduction, mobility and flexibility among Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, and is available for peer-review at: https://www.proquest.com/docview/2816704304
Daniela Sarnacchiaro was born and raised in California before embarking on a life-changing journey to Italy, where she has resided for the past decade. After completing her B.A. in Visual Arts at UC San Diego, she found love, got married, and believed she had found her fairytale ending after losing both her parents early in life. However, her world was shattered once again when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2017 and passed in 2018. Amidst the adversity, Daniela learned to navigate the depths of grief and find resilience, propelling her on a profound journey of self-discovery, healing, and meaning. During her graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, Daniela delved into the exploration of Purpose in Life. Drawing from her personal experiences of loss, gratitude, and introspection, she developed a unique model utilizing the Five Elements of Nature. Her research aimed to provide individuals with a practical guide to living a more purpose-filled existence. During her graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, Daniela delved into the exploration of Purpose in Life. Drawing from her personal experiences of loss, gratitude, and introspection, she developed a unique model utilizing the Five Elements of Nature. Her research aimed to provide individuals with a practical guide to living a more purpose-filled existence.
Siân Brown is a singer/songwriter, recording artist and music therapist MA currently living in Cork city, Ireland. Siân has just completed a postgraduate diploma in Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal Psychology with Alef Trust and her Shamanic Practitioners Certificate with The Irish School of Shamanic Studies. She is working on two major creative projects. A twelve track album documenting Anne Baring’s book ‘The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul’ and also an album written with the service users of Cork Simon Homeless Services. Siân plans to combine her qualifications in order to offer clients a more transpersonal music therapy and hopes to complete a PhD in this area in the not so distant future.
Vyushti is a graduate student in Psychology and Spirituality at Columbia University, Teachers College. She enjoys researching the intersectionality of quantum physics, psychology and spirituality, and exploring implications on consciousness. She hopes to expand the field of psychology to incorporate post-materialist perspectives into mainstream practice and dialogue. To achieve this goal, she is currently developing a psycho-spiritual protocol for coaches and therapists.
Petra Parvati Meedt is a licensed psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapy Intern. She graduated with a M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Freiburg, Germany and with a M.S. in Counseling Psychology from the Interamerican University in Puerto Rico. She is a PhD candidate at Sofia University.
Melissa Caicedo Farbman
Melissa is a researcher and psychotherapist who holds a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counselling. She is based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Melissa is adjunct faculty and a PhD candidate at Sofia University.
Olivia is a recent PhD graduate of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University. She is a passionate researcher, writer, traveler, and accordion player from Massachusetts.
Giedre has an MSc in Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology. Her latest research project inquired into ‘How to Last? The Role of Love in the Face of Climate Emergency’. She has recently joined a coaching collective, KaiFlow (https://www.kaiflow.com/) offering an opportunity to continue to pursue her interest by building powerful programmes in order to support communities in navigating skilfully the collective uncertainty.
Martin is currently in his final year at Alef Trust studying Consciousness, Spirituality, and Transpersonal Psychology. He is known for his dynamic blend of intellect, empathy, and light-hearted humour. Trained in Internal Family Systems (IFS) and building upon his experience as a business coach, Martin skilfully integrates the spheres of psychological wellbeing with personal and professional development. His enthusiasm for improvisational theatre, with a focus on embodied presence, adds a unique and engaging dimension to his work. This interest is not confined to the theatre; instead, it acts as a guiding principle throughout his professional life, illuminating the profound impact of awareness and presence.
Matt is a PhD student in the ecology, spirituality, and religion program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. A former teacher and researcher turned dream consultant, his work is situated at the confluence of philosophy, activism, and esoterica. Matt received his BA in world literature and cultural studies from UC Santa Cruz, MA in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at CIIS and has published and presented on gnosticism, big history, artificial intelligence, green criminology, rewilding, and extremist movements. He is a former board member for the peace and justice studies association and served as the liaison to activists. He currently lives in the Shasta bioregion of Northern California.