The Team

Founder & Director

Amy Edelstein
Ms. Edelstein is founder, teacher, director of Inner Strength Foundation & Mindfulness & Cultural Development Teen Program. She is a powerful communicator of ideas and beliefs that can help us transform ourselves and the culture we live in. She designed the Mindfulness & Cultural Development Teen Program with the most germane insights she has gleaned from a 30 year immersion in contemplative practice and transformational education. In its second year, the 3-month program has already reached 800 high school students and is growing. Amy is a Cornell University College Scholar, with a background in both Western and Eastern spiritual traditions. Amy maintains an active teaching schedule for teens and adults, and has received honors for her work including Wisdom Chair of Evolutionary Spirituality for the interfaith organization OUnI. She is also cofounder of Emergence Education, which produces transformational programming for adults, and authored two books, Love, Marriage & Evolution and Great Awakenings. More at: www.amyedelstein.com

Board of Directors & Advisors

Jeff Carreira
Jeff Carreira is a master teacher of philosophy, meditation, and cultural evolution. He is the author of six books on the subject and maintains an active international teaching schedule. Widely considered one of the leading innovative voices in evolutionary philosophy and transformative spirituality, Carreira also has a traditional educational background, holding an M.A. in curriculum development and has taught in the Massachusetts Public School System. He has 25-years experience with contemplative practices and is cofounder of Emergence Education, which creates transformational programming for adults. Jeff serves on the Board of Directors and as a program advisor for the Inner Strength Foundation.

Daniel Cantor
Licensed clinical psychologist, Daniel Cantor works in the greater Philadelphia area specializing in addiction issues. He has served at the Philadelphia Consultation Center, Girard Medical Center, and Key Recovery Center. He is a meditation practitioner and a 7-year student of evolutionary philosophy. Daniel is also happily the primary caretaker of his young son, and is expecting another in just a few months. Daniel serves as a Board Director of the Inner Strength Foundation.

Advisory Board

Craig Hamilton

Peter Heller
With over 24 years in the nonprofit world, Peter Heller has raised millions of dollars for many organizations while also strengthening their strategic and financial assets. He taught Major Gifts Fundraising in Columbia’s Fundraising Management Graduate Program, has trained fundraisers at The Foundation Center, is Co-Chair of Gotham Networking’s “Make a Difference” group, and a member of the Nonprofit Resource Group. From 1994-2004 Peter raised major support for Columbia University, becoming the Director of Development for Columbia’s Engineering School. Peter was also executive producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.
Nancy J. Kelley
Nancy Kelley served as the Founding Executive Director of the New York Genome Center. She led the Center from a start up through its current stage as it became a world-class genomics research center, raising $110 million to do so. Many of NYGC’s foundational elements, such as its Pilot Laboratory at Rockefeller University, the NYGC Innovation Center, and key clinical and technology partnerships, were established under her leadership. Ms. Kelley oversaw the build of NYGC’s permanent facility in New York City and recruited a large scientific and management team as well as several of the Center’s Associate Members. She holds a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Harvard University and has over twenty years of executive management and board experience in starting, growing, and restructuring organizations, raising capital, recruiting diverse management teams, creating and implementing strategic plans. Nancy serves as an Advisor to the Inner Strength Foundation.

Program Teachers
The following have successfully completed teacher training for the Mindfulness & Cultural Development Teen Program and are part of 2015-2016 teaching roster.

Richard Bissonette
Rick Bissonette served for 33 years as a Firefighter and Paramedic. He is a longtime practitioner of mindfulness and cultural development. He leads mindfulness circles online and publishes a newsletter for mindfulness and evolutionary philosophy students. Following his retirement from the Fire Department in Akron, Ohio, he began teaching literacy and mindfulness in schools. He spent three months teaching six full ISF classes in the Philadelphia Public Schools.

Julie Coopersmith
Julie Coopersmith has over 15 years experience in Mindfulness and Yoga practices. Julie has studied Mindfulness Meditation, has learned with Patricia Broderick, PhD and Jenny Mills, is a graduate of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, and has taken extensive coursework in therapeutic yoga. She has developed programs with Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapists and has partnered with them for children and adolescents in school settings as well as privately. Julie is certified with Yoga Ed for school aged children and with the Yoga Alliance, EYT-500 hours. Julie holds an MBA in Health Care Administration.

Debora Wigrizer
Debbie Wigrizer has been an Adjunct Professor at the Community College of Philadelphia for over 15 years. She has a M.A. and B.A. Sc. in Education. In addition to her college teaching, she is a certified yoga teacher at Yoga on Main and has a current mindfulness practice.

Certified Teachers (Complete Directory coming soon)

Program Volunteers
Aza Williams, Army Veteran, hospice caretaker, avid student of meditation, philosophy, and evolutionary development. Williams is has successfully completed the Teacher Training for Teen Mindfulness, she is currently on a 50-state tour, speaking about the value of mindfulness and a perspective of cultural development to church groups, youth groups, community centers and in the local media. Her goal is to popularize these tools among African-American communities similar to her home town of Trenton, NJ.

University of Pennsylvania Consciousness Club

Collaborations
It is our intention to help create a collaborative environment among those interested in bringing contemplative practices and social-emotional learning into the educational space. We believe there are many valid approaches and excellent dedicated teachers, and there is need for creativity, diversity, and mutual support.

Our current collaborations include:

Urban Affairs Coalition: supporting non-profits and community development in Philadelphia

Mindfulness Through Movement/Verge Inspire: Yoga & Mindfulness programs for Philadelphia Grade Schools, founded by Cara Bradley and Cheryl Nichols.

ITAG – “Inquiry to Action Group” created by Philadelphia educators who support bringing mindfulness practices into the school system.

Graduates of the Teacher Training

These individuals have successfully completed the teacher training and are certified to teach Mindfulness & Cultural Development Teen Program. They can be added to the teaching roster as more teaching positions open and are funded.

Jesse Michael Frechette
Jesse Michael Frechette has 17 years experience as a psychotherapist, and works extensively in Adolescent, Child, Family Psychotherapy and Play Therapy both school based in inner city Title I eligible Catholic schools and in private practice in Flourtown, PA. Jesse draws most heavily from Contextual Therapy; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Mindfulness Meditation; Attachment Theory and Child/Human Development; and Sand Tray and Play Therapy. He is training through Mindful Schools and currently teaches mindfulness in Philadelphia Schools. Jesse holds a MSW from University of Pennsylvania.

Rhoda Fuchs-Morton
Ms. Fuchs-Morton has been providing mental health care since 1989 in both inpatient and outpatient settings, treating individuals, couples and families for a variety of mental health problems. She is as a Marriage and Family Therapist, a Certified Addictions Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor with a strong background in Alternative Holistic Healing Therapies from mind/body practices, energy psychology, body-based therapies, holistic health and spiritual practices.

Patricia Larish
Patricia Larish has taught and served as school librarian in Lancaster Public Schools for 35 years. She is a certified chaplain and a practitioner of mindfulness. She was recently honored with the Lancaster Civic Recognition Award.

Deb Muse
Deb Muse is a senior sales consultant for School Specialty, Inc., a large provider of educational products. She has worked to evaluate and create classroom tools that support whole person growth and enhance learning. She has also worked in Education Management.

Aza Williams, Army Veteran, hospice caretaker, avid student of meditation, philosophy, and evolutionary development. Williams is has successfully completed the Teacher Training for Teen Mindfulness, she is currently on a 50-state tour, speaking about the value of mindfulness and a perspective of cultural development to church groups, youth groups, community centers and in the local media. Her goal is to popularize these tools among African-American communities similar to her home town of Trenton, NJ.