To the Shambhala Community —
As the year comes to a close, we are writing today to update you on several important initiatives that the Board has been working on. The topics in the letter include updates on proceeding with recommendations to changes to our current code of conduct, an update on the Flynn Group investigation, information on the Shambhala Community Grant program, information on applying or nominating someone to be a member of the Shambhala Board and an important new Shambhala Global Services (SGS) hire.
Shambhala Board Decisions:
- Initiated a Shambhala Community Fund grants program.
- Established the Board Advisory Nominating Group to solicit and select nominations for the Shambhala Board of Directors.
- Accepted the draft Code of Conduct received from the Process Team Code of Conduct Task Force as the working basis for moving forward towards a new code of conduct for Shambhala.
- Appointed the Process Team Care and Conduct Task Force, a subcommittee of the Board for a period of a year, as a working group to implement the new Code of Conduct.
- Assisted Shambhala Mountain Center in managing a cashflow shortfall by providing a short-term loan of $150,000.
- Began a campaign to support bequests to Shambhala and to hire a part-time employee in the Shambhala Development office to focus on bequests and grants from estates.
- Hired Melanie Klein as the Shambhala Global Services Operations Director.
- Promoted John Shaw, former Donor Relations to the position of Donor Relations and Centre Transfer Coordinator.
- Approved an operating budget for 2020.
Board Advisory Nominating Group
Effective October 17, the Shambhala Board was given the authority to replace its members, an authority that the Interim Board did not have. In this regard, the Board is pleased to announce that we have established the Board Advisory Nominating Group and had its initial meetings. The purpose of this group is to seek, vet and present candidates to the Board for approval as Board Directors. The group is now beginning the application and nominating process. As with the Transition Task Force process, community members will be able to nominate candidates for the Board ensuring that they intend to apply.
The application process will be open until January 15, 2020. Please find the link to the job description here and find the link to the application and nomination document here. If you feel you have strong professional experience to contribute, a strong personal practice and the heart to be of service to our community, please apply.
The Board Advisory Nominating Group members currently include: Gabe Dayley, Christine Heming, Patricia Anderson, John Cobb and Susan Ryan. You can contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Care and Conduct
Code of Conduct: The Board received the draft Code of Conduct from the Process Team Care and Conduct Task Force and in consultation with them, the Care and Conduct panel and other advisors has accepted this draft as the working basis for moving forward. The Board recognizes and is grateful for the immense amount of work and dedication of the Process Team Task Force in producing this comprehensive draft. The Board has appointed the Process Team Care and Conduct Task Force, a working sub-committee of the Board called the Code of Conduct Support Group (CCSG) to develop and implement a roll out plan for this major initiative which will involve the entire the entire community. We anticipate that the roll out will be in stages and require significant feedback, training, education, resources, and infrastructure. Members of the CCSG are: Jim Fladmark, Claudia Arnau, Greg Lubkin, Kristine McCutcheon, Jan-Frans Sturm and Susie Vincent.
This Code of Conduct draft includes a general Code of Conduct together with specific policies covering:
- Child Protection
- Policy to Address Sexual Misconduct
- Conduct of Those Holding Positions of Authority
- Anti-discrimination Policy
Once a roll out plan has been drafted by the CCSG and reviewed by the Board, we will be announcing specific ways for the community to be involved.
Child Abuse Investigation: As we previously reported, the Board initiated an independent investigation in response to allegations of child abuse in 1998 involving a Shambhala member. The Board hired Employment Matters LLC Flynn Investigation Group to investigate how Shambhala handled its involvement in events surrounding the allegations leading to the recent arrest of Michael Smith, a former Shambhala member. The Flynn Group reviewed records, interviewed over 20 people and submitted its findings to the Board at the end of October. The key investigative findings in the particular case were that:
- The case was reported to the police at the time and the parents decided for various reasons not to pursue the matter in the criminal process;
- Shambhala did not in any way pressure the parents of the minor not to bring charges, either civil or criminal, against the alleged perpetrator;
- There was a second alleged incident involving the same perpetrator at Karmê Chöling. Flynn Group was unable to follow up on the claim as the alleged victim would not come forward and respect for her confidentiality foreclosed any further investigation. If it occurred, it would have occurred prior to the 1998 Boulder incident.
The Flynn Report suggested several areas needing attention, including:
- Training in, and knowledge of mandatory reporting requirements to authorities where children are concerned.
- Clear and documented decisions as to when, how, and where intervention is appropriate.
- An effective database (that is confidential and protective of rights) that can be referred to by Shambhala leadership, including the Dorje Kasung, to ascertain repeat offenders or a pattern of behavior.
- When spontaneous interventions are necessary, afterward they should be reported to supervisors, documented and debriefed.
- Practical limits on intervention in cases beyond the expertise, responsibility, or jurisdiction of the Shambhala leadership, which will require a well-known referral process.
- A sensitivity to any tendency to rationalize harmful behavior by using non-conventional justifications or solutions.
The Board will work with CCSG to insure that the Code of Conduct and its implementation, in particular the child protection policy, addresses the above issues.
The Board wishes to thank the many Shambhala members who responded to the Flynn Group and provided helpful information.
Director of Community Care and Conduct: The Board, working with representatives from the Process Team Care and Conduct Task Force and the Care and Conduct panel have concluded candidate interviews and are currently in discussion with finalists for the position.
Shambhala Online Course available for Shambhala Members: We encourage members to consider registering either as individuals or groups for the highly praised Sexual Harm, Trauma and The Healing Journey course with Robert Wright, Acharya Noel McLellan and Basia Solarz. The course is available at no charge to Shambhala members thanks to the generosity of donors supporting the community work in Care and Conduct.
Shambhala Community Fund Grants
As mentioned in the Q3 Financial Report, the Board has set aside a protected fund of $400,000 from the Marpa House proceeds to fund proposals from Shambhala centers and groups intended to benefit Shambhala communities. The specifics of a grant proposal process for projects and the application is posted on our website here. Applications are open until January 5, 2020.
The intention of the grant is to fund efforts that will promote community harmony and health, greater member involvement, or community outreach, increased membership and lead to greater community engagement. We encourage you and your community to begin conversations around the prospect of creating a proposal for submission. We plan to award the initially accepted proposals by this coming Shambhala Day.
Shambhala Global Services Budget 2020
The Board has approved an operating budget for calendar year 2020. We will be sharing this budget and its goals and objectives with leadership over the next month, and it will be discussed in our year end financial report which we hope to deliver to the community by the end of January 2020.
New Shambhala Global Services (SGS) Director of Operations
We are very pleased to announce that Melanie Klein has been offered and has accepted the new position as SGS Director of Operations. In this capacity, Ms. Klein will oversee the administration, programs and operations of SGS and work closely with the Shambhala Board to develop and implement SGS operational mission and goals. Other duties include oversight of financial, fundraising, programming, communications, and community care staff. The position reports directly to the Shambhala Board of Directors. Ms. Klein will transition from her current role as Director of the Boulder Shambhala Center to her new role with SGS early next year. We are delighted to have her, and look forward to her bringing her deep experience in business and dharma administration to our work going forward.
Information Technology: We have asked the Shambhala IT group under the leadership of Cynthia McKay and John D. Smith to present project plans to do long delayed maintenance and modernization of the Shambhala Database (SDB), the web sites and related systems. Details will be included in the 2020 budget presented with the end of the year financial report.
Appointments and Departures
- Orange County, CA – James Murphy Group Coordinator succeeding Sepideh Tabai
- Shambhala Global Services: John Shaw, new staffing position of Donor Relations and Centre Transfers Coordinator
- Stuttgart, Germany – Disbanding as a Shambhala Group
- Truro, NS – Disbanding as a Shambhala Centre
- Vancouver, BC – Rolf Erni stepping down as Shambhala Center Director
Please continue to communicate with us at email@example.com.
All best wishes,
The Shambhala Board