OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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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.

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Beth Herzig, Vice President

 

Beth Herzig 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. She has undergone the Meditation Instructor Training with Susan Piver. Beth has also completed courses with Peace in Schools and Mindful Schools. Beth is currently enrolled in a dharma teacher training program with Lisa Ernst. Beth lives near Jackson, MS, leads meditations there and online. As a mom of two daughters and small business owner she is busy but remains dedicated to the practice of meditation. Beth dedicates the merit of her volunteer hours to liberation of all beings.

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Justin Otto, Program Director

 

Justin Otto is a certified Recovery, Spirituality, and Mindfulness Coach from Pensacola, Florida. Justin has been a touring musician, journalist, and is currently the host of the Dharma Junkie Podcast.

 

Justin found meditation while struggling with the very human issue of addiction and immediately saw the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Justin is active in many other social-profit businesses and continues to do what he can to spread the Dharma and mindfulness throughout the South East.

 

He has been trained to facilitate meditation groups through Wild Heart Meditation Center under the guidance of Mikey Noechel and Andrew Chapman and holds a 100H meditation teacher certification through Meditation Alliance International. Justin is the founder of Gulf Coast Dharma Meditation Society and leads groups weekly in Pensacola. He is also the co-founder of Mindful Pensacola, a collective of helping professionals incorporating mindfulness, and other holistic healing modalities as a method of treatment.

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D’Wanda Schwarz, Secretary / Retreat Director

 

D'Wanda Schwarz is Vice - President of Crocodile Carpet Care & Restoration LLC, President of ABEI Capital LLC, and President of the former Virtual Dispatch Assistant.

 

D'Wanda, a survivor of complex PTSD defined as repeated traumas starting in childhood, understands the side effects and struggles of Trauma and its aftermath.

 

Taking her life back and succeeding in gaining great mile markers in her recovery and healing from Trauma, she has vowed to help others reach their healing goals through support and guidance.

 

Admitting the road to healing from Trauma is never ending, the scenery can change and become much more enjoyable.

 

D'Wanda volunteers to share the teachings of Trauma Based Mindfulness and Meditation in a 12 week program to Vets and other Survivors of Trauma or those suffering from stress or anxiety.

 

D'Wanda is deeply inspired to share meditation as an antidote to strengthen the brain's neural plasticity, gaining many benefits such as self regulation, compassion and insight to true inner peace.

 

Training and education :

 

  • Completed Self Development Program by Peace Revolution

  • Completed 6 Week Path of Freedom Course

  • David Treleaven's Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness Training

  • Volunteer for the Meditation Center of Alabama for 3 years

  • Certified as an Adult Mental Health First Aid

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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.

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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.

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Lauren Fink, Board Member

 

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.

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Jason Lee, Board Member

 

Jason Lee is a Mississippi native with a background in nursing, social services, and social justice non-profit management. He has practiced in long term/memory care, rehabilitation, pediatric home health, and school nursing. Jason has been practicing multiple integrative and complimentary health modalities since graduating from the Mississippi School of Therapeutic Massage in 2000. 

 

His passion for bridging eastern and western philosophies to healing and health led him to found Heart Space Holistic,LLC. The goal of Heart Space Holistic is to provide accessible and inclusive services and learning opportunities to those of all ages and abilities using yoga, sound therapy, breath work, and various other healing arts. 

 

Jason is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT200) registered with the Yoga Alliance, a certified meditation teacher, and is currently studying to become a yoga therapist. His favorite therapeutic tool is facilitating sound baths in private and group settings. He has a firm belief that sound therapy and sound baths in general are a hidden gem and deserve much more recognition in the areas of stress, anxiety, and pain management.

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Heidi Netherton RN/BSN/MSW, Board Member

 

I received my B.A. in Psychology from St. Mary's Dominican College and 

my Master's Degree in Social Work, (MSW) from Tulane University with a focus on medical social work. As part of Tulane's program, I spent 12 months at Charity Hospital as a student social worker. My thesis was "The Rape Crisis Network of Charity Hospital". After working as a social worker for several years I obtained my Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, (BSN) in an accelerated nursing program where I also taught Sociology. I worked mainly as a psychiatric nurse. In addition, I was a head nurse at Tulane Medical School where we saw patients from Charity Hospital which was at the time the 4th largest hospital in the USA, a hospital for the indigent.

 

In my leisure time, I enjoy spending time with my 2 adults kids, one who lives out of state, loves animals, meditates, swims laps & sews. I have been fortunate to travel to many places. I adore classical music.

 

When I was 19 I took a TM, (Transcendental Meditation) class and learned to meditate. About 5 years ago I took a Mindfulness Meditation 8-week class. I have meditated on and off throughout the years which has offered me peace in a very hectic, stressful world. In March 2022 I completed an online 5-day silent meditation retreat. In June 2022 I had my first silent 3-day meditation retreat with Flowering Lotus. It was there I met their kind and thoughtful community which I now intend to be a part of.

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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

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