Team

ZAYA & MAURIZIO BENAZZO
Conference Founders and Organizers

Zaya Benazzo is a filmmaker from Bulgaria with degrees in engineering, environmental science, and film. For many years, she worked as an environmental activist in Holland and Bulgaria, and later produced and directed several award-winning documentaries in Europe and the United States.

Maurizio Benazzo grew up in Italy, and in 1984 came to the United States on a ninety-eight-year-old sailing boat. He started working as an actor, model, and filmmaker, but his thirst for knowledge was only satisfied in 2001 upon encountering I Am That, the seminal work by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, while he was in India shooting the award-winning documentary Short Cut to Nirvana.

Maurizio and Zaya merged their lifelong passions for science and mysticism when they met in 2007, and their first project together was filming the documentary Rays of the Absolute on the life and teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. This project sparked their next level of creation and collaboration: SAND, a global community inspired by the timeless wisdom traditions, informed by modern science, and grounded in direct experience.


 

LISA BRESCHI
Conference Coordinator

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.


 

CLAUDIA ANFUSO
Event Producer

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, 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.
 


 

GENEVIEVE HAYTON
Event Producer

Genevieve grew up on a fifth-generation farm in Conway, Washington. Life on the farm instilled in her a deep appreciation for migrant farmworkers and a desire to advocate for immigrant rights. After earning a law degree from the University of Washington, Genevieve worked as an immigration attorney in Seattle for several years. She started a new career path in event production after meeting her husband, Josh, a local musician. The couple produces an annual music festival called Summer Meltdown. They also write songs together and live and work on her family’s farm. Genevieve is thrilled to be a part of the SAND team and help produce events that deepen our sense of humanity and interconnectedness. 


 

JEANRIC MELLER
Resident Science Geek, Chief Editor and Webmaster

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.


 

STACY SIMONS
Administrative Assistant

Hailing originally from a rather unremarkable town in the northeastern USA known as Cranston, Rhode Island, Stacy made her way to Sonoma County by route of Massachusetts, London, and San Francisco. When not working for SAND, she enjoys visiting with her God-cat, geeking out on plants, doing cartwheels, baking exotic treats, practicing yoga, and contemplating the beauty and intricacies of life.

 


 

CARLOS PINHO
Community Relations Associate

Carlos was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil. At 18 he started travelling the world in search of himself and the meaning of life. First he moved to London, where he had the first experiences of being connected to a larger reality. He also spent a year volunteering in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and in Botswana, doing community work with children and women. Later he lived in Estonia working in a technology startup. He has spent the last few years delving deep into quantum mechanics, consciousness, meditation, yoga, Eastern traditions and altered states of consciousness, and how these can be combined to bring healing to the world.


 

CINTIA MARTINEZ DELGADO
Graphic Designer

Cintia was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from the Universidad de Palermo in 1998, specialized in Editorial Design. A lover of Art History and all expressions of art, she spent some time in NYC until homesickness took her back to her birthland. At the moment her working place is in Buenos Aires, attending local and U.S. clients. She's been in charge of producing SAND's images since 2006. Cintia lives and shares the miracle of life with her magical 14 years old son Ulises.
Learn more about Cintia


 

 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.


 

RENEE RAY
Bookkeeper

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.