Who We Are

Adrian BuenoCo-Founder, Guidance Teacher of Mindful Harlem and MBSR

Adrian is the co- founder and guidance teacher of Mindful Harlem and MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). He has been practicing Mindfulness and Insight Meditation for many years; a practice which has been a deep transformative experience for him and for the people around him.

Adrian and his family are deeply rooted in Harlem and love the diverse and wholesome community they live in. He is honored to have the opportunity to practice, learn and grow every week with the MH family. For him Meditation, Insight and Mindfulness are the means to a path towards liberation of the mind. He sees Practice, Self-Knowledge and Community as the pillars of wisdom and an awakened society; where empathy, compassion and understanding towards us and others are the components for a wholesome life.

Alex BeckmannSound Bath Facilitator

Alex Beckmann is a musician, producer, and sound meditation facilitator based in NYC.   He has toured the world as a drummer and makes electronic music under the name MMBLR.  A fascination with sound healing and sound meditation has led Alex to study various techniques and instruments including tuning fork Biosonics with John Beaulieu and Gong Yoga with Don Conreaux.

Allison FoleyCertified Teacher of the Alexander Technique

Allison is so grateful to have joined the Mindful Harlem community in meditation and so much more, and is excited to share the Alexander Technique, a mindful movement practice she has been teaching for over 20 years. She received her certification at the American Center for the Alexander Technique, NYC (a unique and life-altering 3 year training).

She was a faculty member of Barnard College for 10 years where she originated the Alexander Technique program and has taught at the 92nd Street Y, Manhattan School of Music, Movement Research, yoga studios, public libraries, and corporate offices.

Allison’s passion for movement began a long time ago in her childhood home in Queens with her first dance teachers, her parents. Many years later as a young dancer living in the East Village she admired a particular company who moved with ease, clarity, and integrity and wanted to know what they were studying. It was the Alexander Technique. The newfound creativity and freedom she experienced from these early lessons led to making experimental dances. Her choreography was presented at such places as P.S. 122, Danspace at St. Mark’s Church, Movement Research, DIA, The Knitting Factory, and other site specific locations.

She currently teaches private lessons in her home studio on the upper west side where she has been raising her son.

Andrei PitutExecutive Director, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher.

Andrei is a mindfulness meditation teacher who has lead corporate meditation classes throughout New York City. He holds the position of executive director at Mindful Harlem.

His first interaction with meditation 15 years ago was not how it's described in books and articles: relaxing with thoughts passing by like clouds or streams of consciousness. It was a frustrated effort with a lot of mind-wandering. He found that most people who start on this path have a similar experience and that leaves them exasperated and disenchanted.
His classes offer a step-by-step, pragmatic approach that helped many people start their own meditation practice. He draws teachings from the Dharma, secular books on neuroscience, and popular mindfulness programs (like MBSR and Google's Search Inside Yourself, both pending certification).

Andrew MilesBoard Member, Sales & Marketing Director

Andrew has been a Harlem resident since 2008 and it was the only neighborhood he considered living in when moving from Los Angeles to New York City. He's been involved with Mindful Harlem since its inception three years ago and looks forward to its continued growth in the community. 

Andrew has been involved in the entertainment and media industries for over 15 years initially starting as a sales/marketing executive at Advertising Age & Creativity magazines as well as Daily Variety and Variety publications in Los Angeles.

Andrew went on to become Sales & Marketing Director for the television industry organization,PROMAX&BDA, rising to VP, Global Sales & Marketing within a year. Upon returning to the industry in 2005 after receiving his Master of Arts degree with Phi Kappa Phi honors from Annenberg School for Communications in Entertainment Studies, Drew  saw the trend in the industry towards digital media and rose to Managing Director of Studio Entertainment for The New York Times, overseeing the studio/film category for print and digital platforms.

In 2007, Andrew was offered an opportunity to move to New York City to head up east coast sales & marketing for Harpo Interactive, responsible for building revenue for Oprah.com across multiple categories and developing cross platform integrations with the Oprah Winfrey Show and Oprah Magazine. Upon leaving The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Andrew decided to dive deeper into the digital start up world and has held senior sales roles at AOL/Huffington Post and most recently as Director of Brand Storytelling at Upworthy/GOOD Worldwide. He has a passion for community involvement  and volunteerism including his role as a mentor for over 15 years. Drew is also passionate about tennis, culinary arts and has been involved in Mindful Harlem since its inception three years ago and looks forward to its continued growth in the community.

Angela N. HoltonSpeaker and Facilitator

Angela N. Holton is an International Spiritual Life Coach, Speaker, Author, and Founder of Love Sanctuary, an online spiritual and personal development site centered on helping women silence their inner fears and step into their greatness.

Angela teaches practical and transformational tools to support women in living, working, dating, and relating with greater intention, passion, and purpose. She is the creator of the #ConsciousDating and #PowerYourPurpose online courses. She has served women around the world in becoming the greatest and highest version of themselves.

Archimedes BibianoMindfulness Meditation & Adaptive Yoga Teacher

Archimedes is an inspirational teacher, fluent in three languages, and has served as a keynote address and guest speaker for a number of organizations both in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

Archimedes Bibiano has been studying and practicing meditation for thirty years, fifteen of which have been dedicated to teaching classes, workshops and seminars at schools, hospitals, and meditation centers in the United States and in Latin America. His work teaching meditation as Mindfulness Based Intervention (MBI) has established thriving programs in New York City; notably, for two outpatient clinics at former St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Centers, currently Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West, and since 2004, working with pediatric patients in the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, teaching meditation and yoga to children and their families, to hospital staff, medical students and interns, physicians, and clinical researchers.

Archimedes has acted as a senior advisor for Sesame Street’s When Families Grieve™ Kit – a guide for parents and caregivers dealing with the death of a family member, providing a cultural-centered understanding of children’s inherent coping mechanisms while undergoing palliative care and grieving. His work with communities of educators and health care providers has allowed multi-cultural groups to efficiently build a shared ground of experiential knowledge, introducing a fresh approach to the development of interpersonal communication skills for self-regulation of affect, stress reduction, and conflict resolution.

Archimedes can be reached at archimedes@mindfulharlem.org.

Rev. Daiken NelsonTeacher, Buddhist Zen Monk, Founder of The Mandala Café and Guiding Teacher for The Pamsula Zen Center.

Rev. Daiken Nelson, Sensei began Zen Practice 30 years ago. Since that time, he has practiced at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, where he ordained with Nyogen Yeo in 1996; The Zen Peacemaker Order, where he studied with Roshi Bernie Glassman & Sensei Jishu Holmes; The Village Zendo, where he was Shuso (Head Trainee) under Roshi Enkyo O’Hara in 2001 and Upaya Zen Center, where he studied with Roshi Joan Halifax. In October, 2013, Daiken received Shiho/Dharma Transmission from Sensei Genkoji. 

Daiken is the Guiding Teacher for The Pamsula Zen Center which meets on Mondays at 6:00 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 521 W. 126th Street (betw. B’way & Amsterdam). pamsulazen.org.

Daiken is the Founder of The Mandala Café, which provides Culinary job training & part-time employment for those on the margins plus a weekly meal for anyone who needs one in Central Harlem. mandalacafe.org . Prior to focusing on Zen, Daiken was a Social Worker; working with the homeless plus those with Chronic Mental Illness & Substance Abuse issues.

In addition to Zen, Daiken is a Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor, Photographer & Writer.

Fay LeeperBoard Member. Treasurer of Mindful Harlem.

Fay Leeper, the treasurer of Mindful Harlem, can be found at meditation most Saturday mornings at 9 am. She has taken the MBSR class many times. Each time, for her, it is simply a magical revelation. she declares that through Mindful Harlem's teachings and meditation, the breath and breathing mindfully for her is the most powerful discovery toward relaxation.

Fay has encouraged many people to come and check out the Mindful Harlem family. Not only will one learn and share, but as importantly, it's a lot of fun.

ErdanQi Gong Teacher

Medical Qi-Gong and Bioenergy are the healing modalities that Erdan uses in expressing his innate healing abilities. He began his healing journey in early childhood, after surviving a 21 day coma and experiencing a NDE (Near death experience). This awakening lead him to a practice in the Martial Arts for many years. Later Erdan was drawn to other energy practices such as Reiki and Bioenergy. He studied Bioenergy with world renowned healer, Zdenko Domancic, and uses this method in his healings. In 2015 he found Zhineng (Wisdom/Ability) Qi-Gong and studied with Master Liu Jianshe from China, a direct student of Grand Master Pang Ming, MD, creator of Zhineng Qi-Gong. In 2017, Erdan began teaching this form of Medical Qi-Gong in NYC.

Elena Ubeda MonteroRetreat Chef

Elena is a member of the Mindful Harlem community and the creator of our delicious retreat menus. Chef trained in the French Culinary School in Manhattan, with experience in 1 and 2 Michelin Star NYC restaurants. She is a personal chef specialized in Spanish, Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine with a strong focus on gourmet healthy alternatives. Elena's style of cooking is very detailed oriented, emphasizing a nutritious diet but never sacrificing the flavor. She is constantly researching about new products and styles of cuisine that might be of interest to the people she cooks for. Always seasonal, organic and local is her rule when it comes to the product she uses.

Howard BrooksBoard Member

Howard joined Mindful Harlem at its inception in 2014. He serves Mindful Harlem as a board member, digital strategist, and mindfulness instructor. He started and led the center’s Wednesday evening meditations, and has served as assistant facilitator for several MBSR courses. Howard has led Mindfulness classes for the New York City Board of Education, Bellevue Hospital, the American Cancer Society, and in several New York based corporations. 

Howard is a media and marketing executive with deep industry experience in utilizing digital platforms in the concert, television, and music industries. Notable producing team credits include concerts for Simon & Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Diana Ross, and Metallica, as well as the Broadway show, Liza’s at the Palace starring Liza Minnelli (which won a Tony Award), and the Emmy nominated TV show Wonderama.

His current practice centers around a simple Vipassana meditation, and bringing the tenets of mindfulness into everyday activities and interactions.

Jayne Gumpel LCSWCo-Founder

Jayne Gumpel LCSW - Co-founder of MindfulHarlem and a qualified MBSR teacher.

Jayne has 25 years of experience leading groups and working with CEOs and leaders from for and non-profit organizations in addition to a private psychotherapy and coaching practice with individuals and couples. Jayne is a certified Imago Therapist, a therapeutic modality for working with relationships. Her other trainings and certifications include long term training in trauma; MBSR teacher (certification track with CFM); a mindful schools .b teacher (MiST) and Mindfulness Educator. These practices and skills are integrated and integral to her work and personal life. Jayne can be reached at 914.924.1509.

Jayne is the mother of two sons, Zak and David.

Joan WalshBoard Advisor, CNN Political Contributor

Joan Walsh is The Nation’s National Affairs Correspondent and a CNN political contributor. She is the author of What’s the Matter With White People? Finding Our Way in the Next America, which the Philadelphia Daily News called “one of the best books of 2012 – and even more relevant now.” Author Anne Lamott described it as “a brilliant and illuminating book about America since the upheavals of 60's and 70's." Walsh lives in New York.

Salon’s very first news editor, Walsh served as editor in chief for six years. She is a regular on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper and Out Front with Erin Burnett, and has appeared on many other national shows including Real Time with Bill Maher and Now on PBS.

Before joining Salon, she worked as a consultant on education and poverty issues for community groups and foundations, including the Rockefeller Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation. She’s written for publications ranging from Vogue to The Nation, and for newspapers including The New York TimesWashington PostLos Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. An avid baseball fan, she’s the co-author of Splash Hit: The Pacific Bell Park Story, about the building of the San Francisco Giants legendary waterfront stadium.

Jomaire CrawfordBoard Member

Senior complex litigation and white collar associate with experience in securities lawsuits, international white collar investigations, arbitration, and a robust pro bono practice that encompasses criminal defense, economic justice, and immigrants’ rights.

Jomaire Crawford obtained her J.D. from Yale Law School and B.A. in English (summa cum laude) from St. John’s University. She currently works in Quinn Emanuel’s New York Office.

At Yale, Jomaire was an editor of The Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, a research assistant, student attorney in the Education Adequacy Clinic, and chapter president of the Yale Black Law Students Association.

At St. John's, Jomaire received the Bronze Medal for her work in English, Philosophy, and Rhetoric and the Prof. Katherine Weber Memorial Award for excellence in writing and English studies. She was also tapped into Skull and Circle—the highest honor bestowed by the College, and earned several distinctions as a member of the University’s Mock Trial Team.

Jomaire’s professional affiliations include non-profit board and committee positions, including with Mindful Harlem, the Association of Black Women Attorneys, the Metropolitan Black Bar Associations, and the National Black Law Students Association. She is also published in the Yale Journal of Medicine and Law.

Nevah AssangBoard Advisor, Senior Vice President of Cultural and Community Affairs at NYC & Company

Nevah Assang is a long-time member of Mindful Harlem and supporter of the arts and humanities in New York City. She currently holds the position of senior vice president of Cultural and Community Affairs at NYC & Company, serving as a key liaison between New York City’s official tourism organization and the many cultural institutions and community organizations throughout the five boroughs.

She has been with the company since 2006, the year Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg combined three City agencies to form the world’s leading municipal tourism, marketing and partnership organization.

Prior to this position, Nevah was the senior vice president of Creative and Content at NYC & Company, managing the creative, editorial, media production and production departments. In this role, she was responsible for overseeing the execution of a multitude of marketing campaigns, City programs and partnerships, including NYC Restaurant Week, Fashion’s Night Out, Broadway Week and Off-Broadway Week, as well as a range of other content created for digital, social, broadcast, print and outdoor media. 

Before joining NYC & Company, Nevah was an advertising executive with more than two decades of experience working on accounts ranging from major corporations to upscale food and beverage brands. 

Nevah holds a BFA in painting from Newcomb College at Tulane University.

Board Member of the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling.

Born and raised in Aruba, fluent in Dutch, Spanish and Papiamentu.

She lives in New York City with her husband.

Pamela Newkirk PhDBoard Advisor, Journalist, Author, & NYU Professor

Pamela Newkirk, PhD, is a native New Yorker and award-winning journalist who spent ten years working as a reporter and writer before joining the journalism faculty at New York University. Pamela began her meditation practice at Mindful Harlem about three years ago and cherishes the brilliant minds she meets in the community.

is a multi-faceted scholar and journalist whose book reviews and articles examining race and African American portrayals have been published in leading publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. She is professor of journalism at NYU and the author of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (Harper Collins) which was listed among the Best Books of 2015 by NPR, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, and The Root and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. It was also awarded an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature and the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award.  Pamela is also editor of Letters from Black America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2009); and A Love No Less: More Than Two Centuries of African American Love Letters (Doubleday 2004), and the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media, (NYU Press 2000) which received a National Press Club Award for Media Criticism. Prior to joining the faculty at NYU she worked at four news organizations, including New York Newsday where she was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team.


Rafael Yuste PhD, MDBoard Member, Professor of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience at Columbia University

Rafael Yuste is a professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Columbia University, where he has served as director of the Neurotechnology Center since 2014. He is a long time member of Mindful Harlem and is passionate about the intersection of meditation and philosophy of mind.

Yuste is interested in understanding the function and pathology of the cerebral cortex, using calcium imaging and optogenetics to “break the code” and decipher the communication between groups of neurons. He is a member of Spain’s Royal Academies of Science and Medicine. Yuste also led the researchers who proposed the Brain Activity Map, precursor to the BRAIN initiative, and is currently involved in helping to launch a global BRAIN project and a Neuroethical Guidelines Commission. He was born in Madrid, and is a long time member of Mindful Harlem.

Shalyni PaiyappillySound Bath Facilitator

Shalyni Paiyappilly is a NY State Licensed Master Social Worker, Certified Life Coach, Registered Yoga / Meditation Teacher, and a Singer. At a young age she felt a calling to share her presence and her voice to help those in distress. It is her mission to inspire peace in others. She currently works full time providing psycho-therapy, meditation, yoga, and sound vibration at a private detox clinic in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.