Staff

Faculty

Zayda VallejoZayda Vallejo, Senior Teacher And Trainer
Ms. Vallejo  was an adjunct faculty member and part of the Supervisory Team and Certification Review Board at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is currently a faculty member at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.Since 2006 she has been training professionals who aspire to teach the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. For the last year and half, she has been part of a team at the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Harvard University Medical School’s Cambridge Health Alliance, developing a curriculum for mindfulness training in primary care. She is also part of a team of researchers from Boston Medical Center developing a mindfulness intervention for mothers who have experienced intimate partner violence. From 2009 through 2015, Ms. Vallejo taught mindfulness classes at the Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard University teaching hospital, which incorporated brain MRI’s into the research of experts in different fields. From 2008-2013 she was part of the faculty of the Initiative on Transforming Trauma at the Garrison Institute in New York led by Diana Rose and Sharon Salzberg. She co-authored a manual for mental health clinicians with Dr. Lisa Fortuna, “Treating Co-occurring Adolescent PTSD and Addiction: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Adolescents with Trauma and Substance-Abuse Disorders,” published in October 2015. Ms. Vallejo co-authored a curriculum with Dr. Hortensia Amaro: “Moment-by-Moment in Women’s Recovery: A Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention Program,” published in 2008. Ms. Vallejo was born in Colombia, South America and completed her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and a Master’s degree in Political Economics at Oxford University in England. She has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1978.

Gus Castellanos, M.D.,retired Neurologist, graduated from the University of Miami Medical School in 1980. He practiced neurology and sleep medicine in Palm Beach County from 1987-2007. He has been a practitioner of mindfulness since 1999 and a teacher since 2009 (mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based attention training) trained by the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness and the University of Miami Neuroscience Lab. He currently teaches at a variety of facilities and venues throughout South Florida, including Sari Center for Integrative Cancer Care, Palm Beach Co Fire Rescue, The Mindful Path, UHealth Fitness center and has facilitated programs for FIU College of Medicine NHELP program, the Hanley Treatment Center, the Miami Dade Fire Rescue, U.S. Army and Hospice of Palm Beach County, just to name a few. He serves as adviser to the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness’ outreach MBSR program at Jupiter Medical Center and is involved in mindfulness research with the University of Miami Neuroscience Lab.

Valerie DeWitt, Lead MTTP Teacher, MKM Programs Committe Chair and Board Member
Valerie DeWitt began her career as an executive in the fashion business and in the early 1980s became a student of yoga. After having children, she left her 20 year career in that industry, and in 1998 began to train to teach yoga.  As an RYT (200 hour) since 2001 she specializes in both Iyengar and Insight Yoga, which incorporates mindfulness with yoga practice. A year later she became a Certified YogaKids® Teacher and brought her yoga programs into the schools. Valerie has served as a mentor to trainees with YogaKids®, and facilitated workshops and trainings for teachers, parents, and childcare professionals at several local public and private schools and community organizations. She continues to teach children in private schools setting and adults in schools and at theYoga Institute of Miami. Valerie has completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program and the Mindful Teachers Training Program (MTTP) under Valerie York-Zimmerman in 2011.  Valerie then assisted and co-led in 8 MTTP trainings and since 2015 has led MTTP courses for MKM.  In March 2015 she completed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction 6-day teacher training intensive from the University of California San Diego’s Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute.  Recently she has participated in an MBSR Program and MBSR Teacher Tutorial with Zayda Vallejo.  Valerie began teaching mindfulness for kids at The Kampong in MKM’s after-school program in 2012 and continues to lead children’s programs for MKM. She is passionate about bringing mindfulness practices, yoga and meditation to children and adults in our community.

Martha Holmes Headshot (3)Martha Holmes 
Martha has been teaching MBSR courses, chair yoga, and guided meditation at the Homestead Community Center in Homestead, FL since 2015. Martha’s interest in meditation and yoga has been a life-long exploration. She began practicing yoga while still a student at Smith College, working towards a degree in English Literature. Shortly after graduation she became interested in various meditation techniques, which led her to move to a Buddhist Retreat center in Barnet, Vermont. There she spent a year studying and participating in group and solitary meditation practice. Martha continued these studies in Boulder Colorado, where she trained with various meditation masters, became a meditation instructor with Shambhala Training, and started a family.Martha taught high school Language Arts for Miami-Dade County Public Schools for twenty-five years, earning her MA in English Literature from FIU. Throughout her twenty-five years of teaching, she saw the stress that both teachers and students –as well as the general public—were under on a daily basis, and wished that she had a secular, Western-oriented way of sharing the techniques she had studied for so long. When she attended her first MBSR weekend sponsored by Mindful Kids Miami, Martha realized that Jon Kabat-Zinn had developed exactly such a program. She completed the eight-week MBSR course with Valerie York-Zimmerman, and went on to assist her with Mindful Teacher-Training Courses between 2012 and 2014. She continued her training through the University of California at San Diego, obtaining a Qualified Certification through UCSD. Recently, she has participated in an MBSR Program and tutorial with Zayda Vallejo. Martha is thrilled to be working again with Mindful Kids Miami.

Miami Art Therapy by Patricia Isis Ph.D (2)Patricia Isis, Ph.D. LMHC, ATR-BC, ATCS 
Patricia Isis holds a Ph.D in the expressive therapies with an emphasis on art therapy. Dr. Isis is a licensed mental health counselor in Florida and a registered board certified art therapist, credentialed supervisor and has trained in Mindful Self-Compassion with the originators of that program, Dr. Chris Germer and Dr. Kristin Neff.  Patricia is certified in Mindful Self-Compassion from UCSD, Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute.  Since 1980, Patricia has practiced art psychotherapy in South Florida and taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) meditation with Qualified teacher status at South Miami Hospital in the Behavioral and Collaborative Medicine Department from 2000 to 2013 and served on the Arts in Healthcare Advisory Committee.  In 2014-2015, Dr. Isis authored two chapters respectively, “Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and the Expressive Therapies in a Hospital-based Community” in Mindfulness and the Arts Therapies: Theory and Practice edited by Dr. Laury Rappaport, and “Positive Art Therapy” in The Handbook of Art Therapy edited by Dr. David Gussack and Dr. Marcia Rosal. In the summer of 2016, her first book, The Mindful Doodle Book: 75 Creative Exercises to Help you Live in the Moment will be published for mental health professionals. Currently, she provides art therapy services full time in the public schools, maintains a part-time private practice, and facilitates mindful self-compassion programs and mindfulness trainings. Patricia is a popular presenter locally, nationally and internationally.

Carol Kaminsky MA, BC-DMT, NCC 
Carol Kaminsky is a board certified dance-movement therapist and nationally certified counselor.  She has been a faculty member of the University of Miami since 1992 and is director of the dance program teaching modern dance and dance therapy. Carol is part of the UMindfulness program at UM and gives seminars on mindfulness for the faculty and staff assistance program. She has 30 years of experience as a dance/movement therapist working with individuals in the areas of mental health, eating disorders, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and health and wellness. Carol has worked extensively with preschool age children teaching creative dance. Carol is a Qualified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher and has taught MBSR at South Miami Hospital in the Behavioral/Collaborative Medicine Program from 2004-2013. Carol teaches mindfulness meditation for children and adults in her private practice. Recently she has participated in an MBSR Program and MBSR Teacher Tutorial with Zayda Vallejo.

2015 05 Alessandra 2X0A6092 (2)Alessandra Losciale
A graduate of Columbia University, Alessandra Losciale who initially completed IJ-MBSR with Valerie York-Zimmerman, went on to complete the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction 6-day teacher training intensive from the University of California San Diego’s Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute, has Qualified teaching status and is in the process of completing 22 hours of MBSR mentorship with Char Wilkins.  She has taught MBSR in Coral Gables and Pinecrest, and has attended various retreats and classes at Kripalu in New York and Spirit Rock in California.  Recently she has participated in an MBSR Program and MBSR Teacher Tutorial with Zayda Vallejo.  Alessandra holds an M.S. degree in Journalism.  She believes that making the world a better place starts with reconnecting to the place of stillness inside.

Laura Losciale, MIA, MBA, RYT200
A graduate of Columbia University, Laura earned full Qualification to teach MBSR from the Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. On a break from teaching MBSR to adults in the Coral Gables and Pinecrest communities, Laura traveled to Myanmar to study with the late Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita, one of the foremost masters of insight meditation. She regularly attends silent retreats at the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts and at Spirit Rock in California. A mother of three, she has both led and served in a myriad of community service initiatives supporting children and youth in the US, Europe, and Latin America. Her life’s purpose is to help advance world peace by cultivating peace within through the practice of mindfulness.

Linda McKenzieLinda McKenzie, Lead MTTP Teacher and Secretary of the Board of Directors 
Linda McKenzie has volunteered extensively with community organizations in Miami-Dade County, particularly in the areas of education and wellness. She is a past president of the Miami Children’s Hospital Community Council (the fundraising arm of the hospital), and is a founding member of the Wellness Community of Greater Miami (now the Cancer Support Group), which provides free support services to cancer patients and their families. She has also served in numerous leadership positions and committees in parent-teacher and related organizations. Having attended the IJ-MBSR with Valerie York-Zimmerman she quickly increased her training in mindfulness.  She has participated in two Mindful Teacher Training Program and is now co-leading the course.  In March 2015 she completed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction 6-day teacher training intensive from the University of California San Diego’s Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute.  Recently she has participated in an MBSR Program and MBSR Teacher Tutorial with Zayda Vallejo.  Aware of the myriad benefits of meditation and committed to a daily practice, she was naturally drawn to Valerie York-Zimmerman’s vision of making mindfulness training available to all children.

Kasia MaguireKasia Maguire, Teaching Assistant 
Ms. Maguire holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Miami (2005). She has an extensive background dealing with health/illness, bereavement and loss and women’s issues. After having herself experienced the benefit of an eight-week MBSR course, Kasia trained under the supervision of Ali Domar, an internationally recognized leader in the field of mind/body medicine and woman’s health. Upon completing the professional training she taught a 10-week Mind/Body Program for Infertility, an adaptation of MBSR specifically oriented to those with medical issues. She has witnessed how the practice of mindfulness in combination with psychotherapy helped reduce chronic stress and anxiety. Now, a mother of two young girls, she sees that children are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Believing that children can protect themselves from many stresses they face in their daily lives, she has completed the Mindful Teachers Training Program (MTTP) under the direction of Valerie York-Zimmerman. She taught mindfulness for kids in a MKM after-school program at The Kampong, and credits her own personal mindfulness practice for her effectiveness as a teacher and therapist.

Adriana Z (3)Adriana Moreno-Zarate, MA ERYT500 

A Qualified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher from the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School she has completed the MBSR Teacher Development Intensive. Adriana offers workshops on meditation and the benefits of mindfulness practices at the University of Miami UMindfulness and Medical Center, the Center for Social Change in Coral Gables and several other centers. Recently she has participated in an MBSR Program and MBSR Teacher Tutorial with Zayda Vallejo.  She has a special interest in mindful eating and teaching people how to recreate a personal relationship with food using mindfulness. Adriana also studies and researches the effectiveness of mindfulness practices as tools to disengage from automatic addictive behaviors. Adriana holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the City University of New York and a BA in History from Fordham University in NY. Her more than 20 years of teaching experience began when she worked as a lecturer at the United Nations in New York. She continued to teach as an Adjunct Professor of Social Science at La Guardia Community College in New York and in the department of International Relations at Florida International University in Miami. Adriana has since been teaching Yoga and Meditation for the past 12 years for the University of Miami. She holds several certifications from different schools and traditions of Yoga. She is also a Prenatal and Restorative yoga teacher and is certified in Reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation.  Adriana feels honored and deeply grateful for the opportunity to contribute to MKM and to be able to give back and continue to serve her Miami community, especially the children.

JanetSlomJanet Slom, MFA

Janet Slom is an experienced and Qualified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher and has completed both the MBSR Teacher Development Intensive and the Mind-Body Medicine. She serves as adjunct faculty member of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society (CFM), at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and at Lehigh University. She has taught mindfulness, yoga, dance and creativity workshops in Europe, South Africa and throughout the USA for over 30 years.  She is also Founder and Director of MBSE® (Mindfulness Based Self Expression®), currently being taught to children at the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami, Florida. Janet’s mindfulness practice is deeply intertwined with her work in Art (MFA), Dance (RAD), Yoga (ERYT – 500 Hours), Interfaith Ministry (Rev.) and Spiritual Counseling.  From her perspective, the creative process and paintings are born out of a daily mindfulness practice. Janet is the Artist in Residence at the Center for Mindfulness in Shrewsbury Massachusetts where her inaugural solo exhibition will be on view through October 2016.


Administrative Staff

s-rojasSilvia R. Rojas, Managing Director
Ms. Rojas retired from a distinguished 30-year career at Miami-Dade County Public Schools in 2014, where she served as Treasurer for the prior nine years. Silvia was responsible for all currency, investment and debt management functions for the school district, the fourth largest in the nation. She is credited with implementing innovative financing programs that provided significant cost savings and added flexibility to the school district. In October 2014, she attended Mindful Kids Miami’s (MKM), A Mindful Miami Conference, and quickly became an advocate and supporter, joining MKM’s Board of Directors in December 2014.  Early in 2015, she completed the Inner Journey – Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program taught by Valerie York-Zimmerman, MKM’s Founder, and in May 2015 she began to work as a part-time Administrative Director for MKM. In March 2016, she became the MKM Managing Director, in charge of day-to-day operations. She also serves on MKM’s Research Committee and is CITI certified. Silvia is training to become a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher and has completed the UCSD Foundational Teacher Intensive Training in 2015. Silvia is grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve our community and to work with teachers and staff dedicated to bringing the benefits of mindfulness to the children of Miami-Dade County.

Dorlie BanbanasteDorlisa Banbanaste, MHC, Communication and Program Director/MBSR Teacher
Dorlisa Banbanaste is a Qualified MBSR teacher and is seeking Certification through the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts. She holds a degree in Music Theory and Performance and a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2007. As a therapist, she has worked with children, teens and adults struggling with psychotic and mood disorders, and specialized in substance use, anxiety and depressive disorder treatment.  She practiced informal mindfulness and valued  introducing mindfulness practices in individual  and group therapy sessions. In 2014, Dorlisa participated in the IJ-MBSR Program with Valerie-York Zimmerman and from then on knew formal mindfulness practice and MBSR would be an essential part of her life and  well-being.  Dorlisa participated in an MBSR Program and MBSR Teacher Tutorial with senior MBSR teacher, Zayda Vallejo and trained for MBSR teacher Qualification status with the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness.  During her tenure at MKM, she has co-led a Mindful Teachers’ Training Program, a mindfulness Grads Group series,  children’s classes, and leads MBSR, individual sessions, and mindfulness workshops in schools and professional environments throughout Dade and Broward county. Dorlisa aspires to help empower growth and healing in others in an integrative and research-based platform as a part of Mindful Kids Miami.
Sacha Suarez, Marketing and Administrative Director 
Sacha Suarez is a Miami native, self-taught Artist and certified Yoga and Meditation teacher. Combining more than 20 years of experimental painting experience with a practical background as an online marketing professional, advertising executive, professional photographer, truth seeker and creative entrepreneur.
After working for many years in Corporate America with several top media companies such as The Miami Herald and Univision Communications, Sacha decided to follow and combine her passions: Art, Yoga and meditation.
The desire for additional knowledge and experience continued as she subsequently completed a 300 hour meditation training in Rishikesh, India. With a continued passion for art and healing, Sacha soon after received a Social Emotional Arts Certificate from UCLA in their Arts and Healing Program. This UCLA program provides training on the best social-emotional practices in the various modalities such as art, dance/movement, drumming, music, poetry, and theater for youth and other populations. The benefits of these social-emotional practices provide self-awareness, self-confidence and minimize self-judgment and anxiety which can impede learning.

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