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Wayne Vicknair, President


Wayne Vicknair is a lifelong resident of the New Orleans area. After obtaining his Master of Science Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Radford University in Virginia, he was Senior Vice President of Compensation and Benefits for a major bank in Louisiana. In 1995, he founded Creative Compensation Solutions, Inc., a management consulting firm. His clients included several non-profit organizations. He also served on the Board of Directors for two non-profit organizations.  Wayne retired at the end of 2017.

Wayne began his meditation practice to supplement other personal recovery goals. He attended his first retreat at Flowering Lotus Meditation in 2014.  Wayne loves the diversity of participants that attend Flowering Lotus retreats. On January 1, 2016 Wayne received the Five Mindfulness Trainings at Magnolia Grove Monastery founded by Thich Nhat Hanh in Batesville, MS. and was given the dharma name “Loving New Me of the Heart”. He has continued to find peace and serenity through his daily meditation practice.

As President of the Board, Wayne desires to continue to develop Flowering Lotus Meditation as an affordable “first choice” meditation center. He is appreciative of the hard work of the dedicated all-volunteer Board members, paid staff, many volunteers as well as the benefactors and retreat participants.


Lauren Fink, Vice President


Lauren Fink lives in New Orleans, LA where she owns/operates Cherry Coffee Roasters. After moving to New Orleans from Portland, OR in 2011 she was driven to start her own business and opened a pop up coffee shop inside Steins Deli. Three years later she opened her brick and mortar location in Uptown New Orleans in an old firehouse.

When shes not roasting coffee or running a business you can find her with her 2 rescue blue nose pitbulls or playing classical piano. Lauren is driven by curiosity and loves to learn new things and always continue improvement on current projects/hobbies.


Lauren started coming to the Flowering Lotus Retreat Center in 2016 where it was her first introduction to Buddhism. She has found healing power in the dharma and sanga. “Ive seen the teachings work first hand. It changed my perspective, helped me open my heart to grow, and taught me how to be my best ally.” She wants to help the dharma be accessible to as many
people as possible.


Justin Otto, Program Director


Justin Otto is a certified Holistic Wellness & Recovery Coach, Meditation Instructor & group facilitator from Pensacola, Florida. Justin has been a touring musician, journalist, blue-collar laborer and is currently the host of the Dharma Junkie Podcast. Justin is a childhood cancer survivor and former heroin addict who began exploring the Dharma and meditation when he found himself incarcerated while struggling with the human experience of addiction. He immediately saw the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and the Dharma.

He has trained to facilitate meditation groups through Wild Heart Meditation Center under the guidance of Rev. Mikey Noechel, MS, and Andrew Chapman, LMSW. He holds a 100H Meditation Teacher Certification through Meditation Alliance International, a 100H Mindfulness Teacher Certification, and is pursuing a degree in Mental Health Counseling with a focus on addiction.

Justin is active in many social-profit organizations and continues to do what he can to spread the Dharma (Dhamma) throughout the South East. He is the founder of Gulf Coast Dharma Meditation Society and leads groups weekly in Pensacola. Justin is also the co-founder of Mindful Pensacola, a collective of helping professionals that incorporate mindfulness and other holistic healing modalities as a treatment method.


Pat Carter, Treasurer

Pat Carter, CRSS is a mindfulness facilitator and addiction recovery support specialist based out of Mobile, AL. He has been a member of the Meditation Center of Alabama sangha for several years. He is currently being trained to facilitate meditation groups through Wild Heart Meditation Center in Nashville, TN under the guidance of Rev. Mikey Noechel, MS and Andrew Chapman, LMSW. Pat is also a Certified Recovery Support Specialist in the state of Alabama. Pat does addiction outreach and mentoring for People Engaged In Recovery, leads secular mindfulness groups at treatment centers, and is a founding member of the Recovery Dharma sangha of Mobile, which is part of a worldwide, peer-led, grass-roots program that utilizes Buddhist practices and principles as a path to recovery from addictions of all kinds.


William H. Kelly, Retreat Director


William H. Kelly, III, also known as William “Phoenix Heart” Michael, is a Shaman, Spiritual Teacher, Multimedia Specialist and Media Consultant in Jackson, Mississippi. William began his meditation practice about 8 years ago as he began seeking truth, peace, and answers to his life and life in general as he started college.


Plagued with depression, anxiety, stress and other spiritual, emotional, and mental health imbalances, he was urged to seek natural and holistic healing after a mental health breakdown in the middle of a college class. Now he helps others along their paths through various methods, with intuitively guided meditations and visualizations being one of them.


William believes that meditation can truly change lives and the world we live in and recommends it to anyone he meets no matter their beliefs, background, or lifestyle. He has watched it change the lives of others, and himself, through the Flowering Lotus Meditation retreats and consistent solo practices as well. William attended his first retreat in 2019 and saw his life change forever.


One way William likes to lead and inspire others to try meditation is by hosting his “Meditation @ The Trace” event once a month, at The Overlook at Natchez Trace. William is also from Houston, Texas and is a graduate of Jackson State University, where he currently works in University Communications as a photographer and writer. He believes that taking it one breath at a time is truly all we need on our path to inner peace. He views Buddha as a close friend and spirit guide that has been with him all of his journey, even when he didn’t realize it, and was gifted an opportunity to visit the Temple of the Tooth in Sri Lanka while studying abroad in 2017.


Elizabeth Maxwell, Marketing Director


Liz Maxwell is a creative producer, communications director, and facilitator with 15 years of experience in nonprofits, arts/media, and the impact economy. A New Orleans native, Liz’s winding professional path has led her to spend significant time in New York City, Italy/Europe, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and South Africa. Liz currently serves as Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives with The Idea Village, a non-profit that cultivates entrepreneurship and innovation-based economic development in the Gulf South region. Liz has a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of New Orleans, that culminated with her capstone research on "Measuring the Implementation of Cross-Sector Partnerships for Emissions Reduction." Liz was a 2019 Women4Climate Fellow and is an award-winning theatre director for devised and original work. For over 3 years, Liz served as Artistic Director for the Art Monastery Project, living and working as part of a year-round intentional community; the “Artmonks” applied contemplative practices to creativity and professional artistic practices, and simultaneously activated underused historic monasteries through artist residencies, non-dogmatic contemplative exploration, and international cultural exchange. Liz is thrilled to be part of the Flowering Lotus Board of Directors and support accessibility to mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhist teachings for diverse communities across the South. She strongly believes that awakening is possible and that we can only live the practice one day at a time.

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Betty Sue O’Brian, ND, Board Member


Betty Sue has lived and worked on the Mississippi Gulf Coast all of her life. For twenty five years, she taught at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. She is past-President of the International Iridology Practitioners Association


A herbalist and naturopath, Betty Sue uses safe and natural therapies to help a person bring the body into balance. She is dedicated to teaching better ways to eat, drink and ‘live it’ through dietary and lifestyle adjustments that provide good nutrition and proper exercise for the body, mind and spirit.


  • Betty Sue is a mother of 3 and a grandmother.

  • She has BS – Emphasis in Food and Nutrition

  • A Masters in English Literature, ND – School of Natural Medicine, Boulder, CO. Master Iridologist, School of Natural Medicine

  • Sclerologist, The International Sclerology Institute

  • Diplomat Instructor, International Iridology Practitioners Association, Ascension Reiki Master; Usui Reiki Master

  • Living Food Educator

  • Member of the American Herbalist Guild and American Botanical Council


Beth Herzig, Executive Retreat Director


Beth Herzig is a mom and meditation enthusiast and a serial volunteer! She has been an active board member and volunteer for Flowering Lotus Meditation since 2017. Retreat management is her passion. Beth has been organizing the retreats at FLM since 2019.


Beth has a firm belief that retreating away from our day-to-day is a key that can unlock our potential. Getting out our “normal” routines, getting into nature, connecting with others, and communing in healing practices can be life changing. Beth has dedicated much of life to helping others find solace in meditation practices and introducing people to the power of retreat. 


She leads twice weekly in person meditation in the Jackson, MS area. She completed Meditation Instructor Training with Susan Piver in 2018. Recently, she completed One Dharma's 2022 Dharma teacher training. Beth's Dharma name (given in 2022) is appropriately: Blooming Lotus Heartmind.


When Beth is not practicing meditation, doing retreat work for Flowering Lotus Meditation, or running her business Discount Trophy, Beth enjoys traveling, and exploring local spots with her teen daughters. 


IG: @takeabreathwithbeth 


Beth dedicates the merit of her volunteer hours to liberation of all beings.

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