ZAYA & MAURIZIO BENAZZO
Conference Founders and Organizers
When Zaya and Maurizio met in 2008, it immediately became apparent that they could make a lot of noise together in this illusory world. They discovered that the only book they had both been reading for the past several years was “I Am That” by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Maurizio was brought up in Italy and went through many different incarnations, always looking for answers under every stone. In 1986, he came to the USA on a 98 year-old sailing boat. He started working as an actor, model, and then filmmaker, but his thirst for knowledge was never satisfied, until he encountered I Am That in 2001 while shooting the documentary “Short Cut to Nirvana” in India.
Zaya hails from Bulgaria and has degrees in Engineering, Environmental Science, and also Film. For many years, she worked as an environmental activist in Holland and Bulgaria. She later produced and directed several award-winning documentaries in Europe and the United States. Her life long passion for science and mysticism finally came together with the emergence of the conference.
Together, Zaya and Maurizio grow their own garden and still read “I Am That”, along with Scientific American. They dream about making their next film together and in the little spare time he has, Maurizio watches his hometown soccer team, Sampdoria, or builds cardboard furniture that Zaya finishes with touches of beauty.
Zaya has a beautiful son that brings joy to the couple and to everyone around them.
Lisa was raised in northern California at the base of Mt. Shasta in a loud and loving Italian family. After pursuing a Master’s degree in TESOL, she went to El Salvador with her husband to work as a volunteer. assisting in an election observer program and to teach English to adults. She became interested in early childhood education, after becoming a mother to Daniel and Lorenzo and went on to complete a Waldorf teacher training program in Sonoma County. In her free time, Lisa delivers meals for the Ceres Project in Sebastopol, supports her local farmer, enjoys dancing, cooking and community building. She believes in a world that works for everyone and feels grateful to be making a contribution to the SAND Conference.
Conference Registration Manager
Kyla was born in Tucson, Arizona. After graduating with a degree in philosophy from the University of Arizona, she traveled, adventured and taught her way through Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Upon her return to the US, she worked and lived in the Sikh community in Espanola, New Mexico doing event registration and coordination. While there, she obtained her certificate to teach Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan and established a home away from home. She continues to work on event coordination and registration for various organizations including SAND. She now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she enjoys doing her art, dancing, gardening, taking her dogs to the river and following her passion for understanding the continually unfolding process of existence, through exploration and discovery in both her external and internal worlds.
Tony lives down the road from SAND’s headquarters – an amazing hive of activity – perfect for keeping in touch and contributing words and ideas for the vibrant SAND website. He’s been to all but two of the California SAND Conferences, and is excited to be joining everyone at SAND Italy in 2017. Tony did a Creative Writing masters at the University of Wales, and has published two CDs and a book of poetry, Feathers Scattered in the Wind. He is co-editor of the online literary journal, The Lampeter Review, where he contributes a regular non-fiction piece. He started life as a scientist but arrived at SAND via non-duality, so is delighted to have found a forum to marry his training in S And his passion for ND.
Giulia, 25, is SAND’s youngest family member. She grew up in Turin, Italy, and spent her university years in colorful Brighton, South of England. An explorer of cinema, literature and eastern philosophy she gets every chance to travel and learn, led by curiosity, encounters and synchronicities, and immerses herself as deeply as possible into the present moment. Meeting with the SAND community at the same wavelength in 2016 made her jump into the team as a production assistant, marketing specialist and volunteers’ coordinator in Italy and California. Her Italian temper and Brightonian spirit made Maurizio and Zaya immediately aware that they had no choice but to adopt her as a family member. She also works at different projects producing meditation gatherings, creating new brand identity guidelines and communication strategies.
VERA DE CHALAMBERT
Vera is a spiritual story teller and Harvard educated scholar of comparative religion. She speaks and writes about spiritual culture, social and environmental justice and the emergence of the Feminine on the planet.
Claudia Anfuso is a child of the world. She is an enthusiastic creator and organizer of things manifest and unmanifest. As a Vedic/Tantric astrologer (www.considerastrology.com), she delights in the patterns of time and space and how astrology teaches us how to make the most of our destiny for our own realization of happiness and how we best can work with others for a compassionate, beautiful, and harmonious universe. As a producer of events, she revels in supporting circumstances that bring us closer to the truth of our being, to the silence and stillness of consciousness, and the transformative power of love in the world.
Website Producer, Webmaster and Digital Handyman
Jeanric is a very diverse individual with multiple capacities. He grew up on the shores of North Africa where he developed a passion for the water element. He acquired a strong scientific background at Ecole Polytechnique in France and Stanford University. His spiritual path included Kashmir Tantric Shivaism, Zen Buddhism, and the Diamond Approach. He has been, pell-mell, an aquatic bodyworker, a telecommunication engineer, a pool specialist, a venture capitalist, a management consultant, and more. He helps SAND with financial organization, website development, writing, editing, translating and a variety of odd areas that he’s happy to contribute to.
Born and raised in the redwoods of northern California, Renee’s first love was Nature. Her education is in Accounting, Business and Paralegal, but her entrepreneurial spirit has taken her on many adventures. She has gone from Alpaca Breeder to running a concrete plant in the Virgin Islands, with many ventures in between, only to come full circle and return to California in 2008 and start her Bookkeeping Service. Renee loves to travel, and hiking the hills and mountains in her area. She has a strong curiosity and passion for science and spirit, which brought her to SAND and the beautiful SAND family.
RONALD HEIJ & KARIN WETERINGS
SAND A/V Maestro & Maestra
Ronald’s natural curiosity and eagerness to explore unknown things and learn new skills, has led to a varied professional career. Common thread in all his work is his fascination for communication and human consciousness.
To the dreaded question ‘What do you do?’ he will now answer he works, amongst other things, as a life-coach with clients on a one-on-one basis, he runs Padma, a centre in the Southwest of the Netherlands where people can practice activities such as yoga, meditation, dance, tai chi, qigong, and other forms of human exploration of life and wellbeing. And last but not least with his company Synergy he provides audio, video and livestreaming for events. Since 2012 he has been the A/V maestro for SAND.
These days Ronald runs Synergy and Padma together with Karin Weterings, the love of his life. Karin worked, until recently, for nearly twenty years as a researcher in public health, and now has found new joy in working as a self-employed copywriter and as an A/V maestra at Syngergy (technical stuff, yay!).
Ronald and Karin both love working (or just hanging around) with people who are willing to dive in and explore the mystery and the sticky messiness of this present moment. The SAND family feels like home to them.
Shawn is a health and science writer and yoga teacher based in Ontario, Canada. He has written about a wide variety of topics for print and online publications—from the science of happiness to the latest medical breakthroughs, from the mysteries of consciousness to the strange quantum world, from the benefits of yoga and exercise to affordable health care. Originally from New Hampshire, Shawn lived for a time in Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, before leaving the big city for a small village in Canada. He studied mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy at the Shambhala Meditation Centers, and yoga teaching at studios in Portland and Canada. He continues to explore the world through writing, reading, meditation, yoga, and spending time in nature.
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