We are always on the lookout for passionate educators willing to commit to 2 year-long, July-July terms on our all-educator Board of Directors. This commitment entails attending 4-5 online Board meetings as well as volunteering at our annual conference. The Board steers our nonprofit, helps develop new resources for our members, and makes key decisions regarding our annual conference. Each director is assigned a specific area to oversee during their tenure, as shown below. 


We are also seeking a diverse cross-sector Advisory Team to help us reach our fullest potential as a nonprofit.  Well-established nonprofits that also serve youth will be a highly valued support, as well as law, accounting, financial, grant, policy-makers, and technology experts with a passion for our mission.

You can also help out without being on either of these. All are welcome to be part of our Conference Planning Committee and attend our Board meetings. Our Chapter webpage has a calendar showing meeting dates and the link to join the meetings.


We hope you find our Resource webpage, Educating Mindfully Conference, Mindful Educator Academy, forum, newsletter, Facebook groups and chapter meetings helpful as you embark on or continue your mindfulness journeys.  

With Love and Appreciation,

Tracy Heilers

Founder, Co-President, Executive Director

Board of Directors (bios below):

Tovi Scruggs-Hussein-President, former Principal, San Lorenzo High School, Oakland, CA

Matthew Dewar-Past President, Teacher and Well-Being Coordinator, Lake Forest High School, IL 

Maria Bidelman-Treasurer, Social Worker, Community High School District 155, Crystal Lake, IL

Jenny Franz-Secretary, Counselor, Downers Grove South High School, IL

Gene Olsen-Director of Administrator Academy, Director of Student Services at CCSD 89, Glen Ellyn, IL

Jade Magiera-Director of Chapter Setup, Psychologist, Geneva School District 304, IL​

Michele Kane-Director of Grants and Sponsorships, former Professor, Northeastern Illinois University

Miriam Ojaghi-Director of Social Justice and Equity, SEL Consultant​​​, Dekalb Regional Office of Education, IL

Barbara Larrivee-Director of Book Committee​, former Professor, Rhode Island College & California State University

Debra Vinci-Minogue-Co-Director of Mindful Learning Center, Professor, Dominican University, IL​

Tina Raspanti-Co-Director of Mindful Learning Center, Teacher, Mt. Lebanon School District, Pittsburgh, PA

Advisory Team:

Barnaby Spring, Director of Mindfulness in Education, New York City Department of Education

Marjorie Cave, DuPage Regional Office of Education Service Provider -School Improvement Consultant, SEL Specialist​​

Laura Bakosh, Inner Explorer

Lisa Flynn, Yoga 4 Classrooms

Gina Beigel, Stressed Teens​​​

Cheryl Dodwell, Peace of Mind

Jim Gillen, Yoga Calm

Jennifer Cohen Harper, Little Flower Yoga

Deb Smolensky, Mindful City Project

Kristie Brendel, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Aurora University, MBSR Course facilitator

Annmarie Chereso, Conscious Leadership Advisor, BringIt! Home​

Marianne Pokorny, Senior Manager of Strategic Engagement at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Amy Saltzman M.D., Association for Mindfulness in Education, The Still Quiet Place

Renee Metty, With Pause

Dave Smucker, Jigsaw

Mary Furbush and Cindy D’Ambrosio, Executive Director and Assistant Director of CASE DuPage


Founder, Executive Director, Co-President

Tracy Heilers lives in St Charles, IL and is married to Gary Heilers, Dept Chair of PE and Health at Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream, IL. For 10+ years, Tracy has taught yoga and mindfulness to a wide range of student groups. She is appreciative and eager to serve and has a strong desire to use her unique talents to help the mindful education movement grow in momentum, connecting educators 

with mentors as well as with all of the great mindfulness-based resources now available. She completed her 200hr yoga teacher training in 2003, two of Mindful Schools’ online courses in 2016, and an MBSR training in 2019. She has a degree in Civil Engineering from U of Iowa. Ted Meissner from UMass CFM Interviews Tracy-Listen Here.  Catharine Hanney from MindfulTeachers.com interviews Tracy-Read Here.


President, former Principal, San Lorenzo High School, Oakland, CA

Tovi is a visionary educator, author, and award-winning urban high school principal with over 25 years of emotional intelligence and self-mastery experience.  She has served as California’s Regional Executive Director of Partners in School Innovation, founding co-director of the Association of CA School Administrators Equity Leaders Academy and Regional State Equity Representative, and co-founded a secondary school. Tovi is the founding co-teacher of the trauma-informed leadership course at Mills College.  Most recently, Tovi was personally trained with Brené Brown and is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and Courage Catalyst. Her other certifications are numerous and include Integral Coaching by New Ventures West,  Search Inside Yourself, and Niroga Institute.  


Past President, Teacher and Well-Being Coordinator, Lake Forest High School, IL 

Dr. Matthew Dewar is the founder of Journey 30K, a personal development platform that utilizes wellness and mindfulness strategies to transform individuals and organizations. Matthew is also a high school teacher, well-being coordinator, and learning facilitator who has designed and implemented teacher professional development and school wellness curricula, including mindfulness-based wellness for faculty and students. Most recently, Matthew has created and implemented mindfulness programming for professional and collegiate athletes. His work has been featured on TEDx, NPR, and the National Wellness Institute's podcast. He is the author of Education and Well-Being: An Ontological Inquiry.  


Treasurer, Social Worker, Community High School District 155, Crystal Lake, IL

Maria is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, receiving her Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago. Maria also has a Masters in Educational Administration from Northern Illinois. Maria has been practicing Mindfulness for over 4 years both in the school setting and private practice, originally trained by Dr. Amy Saltzman, the author of A Still Quiet Place and then by Patricia Broderick, the author of Learning to Breathe. Maria teaches mindfulness to high school students at an alternative high school and has also provided beginners’ workshops for district staff. In addition, Maria is a Mindful Coach with Edge Learning and Wellness Collegiate Community and provides group and individual counseling with the Center for Emotional Wellness in the Northwest Suburbs.  


Secretary, Counselor, Downers Grove South High School, IL

Jenny Franz, LCPC, MSW, NBCT has been a School Counselor for 19 years. She earned her Masters in both School and Community Agency Counseling from Northern Illinois University and her Master in Social Work from Aurora University. Jenny worked in private practice for several years specializing in adolescents and families and formerly taught as an Adjunct in the Counseling Program at National Louis University. She has been teaching mindfulness in high school since 2015, implementing the Learning to Breathe Curriculum and the Mindful Schools Curriculum. She is currently working on becoming a Mindful Schools Certified Mindfulness Instructor (CMI). Jenny pushes into both Math and Health classes to teach mindfulness and runs small mindfulness groups during the school year.


Director of Administrator Academy, Director of Student Services, CCSD 89, Glen Ellyn, IL

Gene Olsen supports students, staff and families in programming and planning for successful student outcomes for all children.  He has served as a teacher of students with disabilities, local and building IFT rep, member of the PARCC Educator Leadership Cadre, and has presented at multiple state conferences. His responsibilities include coordinating special education services and supervising staff. He also oversees the district's administration of services for IDEA, 504, McKinney Vento, Social Emotional Learning and DCFS. In his role, he has worked with federal and state initiatives, including PARCC, P20 Council, and CASEL. He is a member of the Illinois State Assessment Review Committee, and the Treasurer of the Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (IAASE).  


Director of Chapter Set-Up, Psychologist, Geneva School District 304, IL

Jade Magiera has worked for over a decade as a School Psychologist and Autism-Behavior Consultant. She has served students, parents, and colleagues at all levels, but her primary focus has been with early childhood and elementary populations.  Her experience includes general education initiatives, inclusion-based special education services, self-contained programming models, systems-level change, Psychologist Department Chair and Psychologist Mentor/Supervisor. In 2016 she was honored with an Illinois State Board of Education "Those Who Excel" Award for contributions to public education. Social-Emotional Learning is one of her foremost professional interests and she believes that mindfulness is an effective means foster coping skills and lifelong resilience.


Director of Grants and Sponsorships, Professor, Northeastern Illinois University

Dr. Michele Kane has been an advocate for gifted learners and gifted education for more than 25 years. During this time she has been a frequent presenter at state, national, and international conferences. She is professor at Northeastern Illinois University, where she coordinates the Master of Arts in Gifted Education program. Michele is a contributing author to Off the Charts, Giftedness and Creativity, and Living with Intensity. She co-authored Planting Seeds of Mindfulness with Dorothy Sisk in 2018.  She was honored by SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) as their 2018 Educator of the Year. Inspired by her experience raising six gifted (now adult) children, Michele’s interest remains on the social, emotional, and spiritual needs of gifted children and the caring adults in their lives.


Director of Equity and Social Justice, SEL Consultant, Dekalb Regional Office of Education, IL

Dr. Miriam Ojaghi received her doctorate in Leadership in Curriculum and Instruction from Aurora University in 2017.  Informed by the theoretical framework of critical race theory, her research examined the intersection of race, contemplative practice, and education through the experience of underrepresented minority students pursuing STEM degrees to whom she taught Koru Mindfulness. Her teaching experience includes embedding SEL/mindfulness strategies with content and curriculum at every level from kindergarten through college. She has completed trainings with Koru Mindfulness and Learning to Breathe.  She is founder of Resilient Mind Consulting, a nonprofit dedicated to helping communities reach their full potential through the implementation of contemplative practices.


Director of Book Committee​, former Professor, Rhode Island College & California State University​

Dr. Barbara Larrivee is an author, researcher, and former teacher education professor at Rhode Island College and California State University. She is the author of eight books and 25 articles in education, psychology and counseling journals. Her books for educators include Cultivating Teacher Renewal: Guarding Against Stress and Burnout, Authentic Classroom Management, and An Educator’s Guide to Teacher Reflection. Her latest book is for a general audience, A Daily Dose of Mindful Moments: Applying the Science of Mindfulness and Happiness. Donating the profits from this book, she has established Mindful Moments in My Classroom to sponsor grants to educators to implement mindful moment practices.


Co-Director of Mindful Learning Center, Professor, Dominican University, IL​

Debra Vinci-Minogue is a university professor at Dominican University in River Forest, IL where they implement mindfulness in their teacher education program. She also implements mindfulness in higher education foreign language classrooms. She has completed the Still Quiet Place training with Dr. Saltzman, The Power of Awareness course with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, and the online MBSR course through U Mass. She was accepted into the 2019 Mindful Meditation Teacher Certification Program offered through Sounds True. Her interest lies in incorporating mindfulness in teacher education so that pre-service teachers are trained in mindfulness practices before they enter the classroom as teachers.


Co-Director of Mindful Learning Center, Mt. Lebanon School District, Pittsburgh, PA

Tina Raspanti leads grassroots mindfulness and SEL initiatives in the greater Pittsburgh region. She is an AP/Psychology and Positive Psychology Teacher and District SEL Leader at Mt. Lebanon School District in Pittsburgh, PA. She has taught an Intro to Positive Psychology elective for the past five years. The course focus is on mental well being through Mindfulness, Social Emotional Learning, and Positive Psychology. She has been working over the past six years to bring Mindfulness/SEL programming to her district and in 2018 founded the Building Compassionate Learning Communities Project (BCLCtogether.org). She is also a CARE facilitator.

"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." -Artistotle

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