New Board Members

Join me in extending a hearty welcome to our new Cuyamungue Board of Directors members, James Lawer, David Shank, Julie Nicol Strider, who each bring vital new energy, insight, and expertise to CI and its mission.  This is an exciting time in CI’s history, as we set new goals and expand our reach! Here I’ve asked each of our three new members to reveal a bit about themselves, their background, and what they bring to CI:

James Lawer

“I have an active interest in advancing the work of the CI and its heritage descending from Dr. Felicitas Goodman.  Her work continues to be a great value, a work I explore with care for integrity to her essential vision.

I come to this Board with decades of work with non-profit organizations.  I have served as staff on several NFP [Section 501(c)(3)] organizations:  as the first Chaplain for The United Church of Christ AIDS Ministry for Northern California/Nevada; as Community Organizer for Open Hand: Sonoma County AIDS outreach; as Administrative Director for The Ink People Center for the Arts; as Chaplain for the Humboldt County Hospice; as consultant on grant research for the Naraya Cultural Preservation Council (NCPC); as Senior Minister to several UCC churches.  These positions have given me a broad understanding of the functioning and the obligations of the non-profit sector.  Because all of these positions had outreach to other community organizations, my awareness includes developing and maintaining threads between groups of shared interests.

My background includes an MA in Theatre, by which I was a college professor and in addition worked with a number of professional, semiprofessional and community theaters; I was a ballet and modern dancer with local dance troupes and once ran my own ballet/post-modern dance studio; my BA was in education (I taught elementary and high school), and I hold an MDiv (professional degree leading to ordination).  I played tympani and percussion with orchestras for about 30 years.

At the same time, I was developing relations and experiences with a number of indigenous tribes in North and South America.  I continue to work with The Dance for All People (the Naraya) as authorized painter and medicine worker, have served on the community drum, am a trained sweat lodge leader and Pipe Carrier, and maintain friendship with the man who is the President of the Board for the NCPC.  Eventually I harkened back to my blood roots and eventually became an animist druid and helped start the Druid College that has principal location in Maine.  I have been teaching earth-centered spirituality for many years, including teaching the Postures in California, and here in New York City at New York University (as guest lecturer), with the NYU research team dealing with cancer anxieties, and in sessions I personally gather.

For nearly all of my adult life I have worked with people for whom altered states of awareness are key, keen and sought after.  That includes trance states stimulated by the arts, non dualist perspectives relative to the integrity–the wholeness– of the earth and all of its peoples and their practices, carrying an altar used for healing via altered states passed person-to-person over the generations, and I retired working for hospice with the dying and their families for whom “becoming altered” is an absolute actuality.

As you know, I am a Certified Instructor with the Cuyamunge Institute and participate as actively as I can.

I hope to bring to the Board a broad perspective evolved from direct experiences in the arenas that are of deep interest to the CI, including leadership in clarification of standards of practice, of relations with the local Pueblo peoples with whom the land and its history is held in respectful trust, of concern for accurate definitions regarding religion and theology, and of the perpetuation of the work of Dr. Goodman in the years to come.”

David Shank

“I wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed learning about the work of the institute and lending a hand to you as my expertise allowed over the last year. As a board member I can continue to lend a hand in a more “official” capacity than I have been doing so far.

As you know, I practiced law for 15 years and during that time I advised non-profit boards as a legal representative. In addition, I have served that same role more recently to the Issaquah Food Bank in Issaquah, Wa. I also served as a board member early in my legal career for Eastside Domestic Violence.

I left the law practice in the mid-1990’s to pursue my passion for technology and started a small consulting company primarily working with other law firms to assist them computerizing their law practice. That consulting work led to a short contract with Microsoft Corporation which led to a full time job with Microsoft, not to mention a new career, which I began in the late 1990’s. I worked at Microsoft for 15 years before my retirement a few years ago. I served in various individual and managerial positions while at Microsoft which brought be a wealth of experience in business operations, management, technology, and operational excellence and efficiency.

Since retiring from Microsoft I have worked as a consultant to Microsoft on various projects as well as working with several local businesses helping them with operational efficiency and business process optimization.

I believe I bring a unique combination of talent and experience to you and your board and could be a valuable addition as you work to build a board that will help you bring the institute to a solid foundation for the future.”

Julie Nichol Strider

“Thank you for allowing me to apply for a seat on the Board. Ever since they were introduced to me in 2003 the postures have formed a great part of my Shamanic work and I would love to be able to contribute in any way I can to the institute.

A small bit about me. I initially trained as an architect and spent 15 years as an associate with a firm here in Sussex before deciding to become completely freelance as a surveyor, a job I love doing, as I get to spend a lot of time outside. To this end I also volunteer with our local ranger and have learnt many fence building and weeding skills!
In 2000 I started my Shamanic practice and study. For the first 3 years I practised alone and I was so fascinated by the whole process that I would journey every day, asking a myriad of questions and getting some excellent advice. In 2003 I embarked on several years of workshops, and it was during the first year that I was introduced to the postures and quickly incorporated them into my Shamanic work.

I really wanted to be able to teach Shamanism within the school system and in 2009 did a teachers training course that allowed me to teach adults. I was then appointed as a teacher of Shamanism for the Adult & Community Learning Services for West Sussex County Council (now Aspire Sussex), in 2010, after a lot of letter writing. Since then I have taught many classes on various aspects of Shamanism, during which I will always introduce the postures.

In 2008 I attended the first teachers training course at the Cuyamungue Institute, with Belinda and qualified a year later.
I also have a CCE degree from Sussex University in Creative Writing, poetry, and have won a few minor competitions with my work, which is generally about the weather, or sheds!

Up until a few years ago I played Tenor sax in a big band and a concert band. The ultimate Karaoke I think! Stunning.
My work with Labyrinths started about 5 years ago when I would make temporary labyrinths from ribbon and rope on various landscapes to celebrate the seasons, and have also run one day long workshops on the labyrinth.

I am at present researching several possible postures from artifacts from the British Museum, of whom I am a friend, with the ultimate aim of giving a lecture there about the postures. This may be a little way off yet.

It may seem an odd thing to say but I love my brain and the way it works and the sense of adventure it allows me. In this age, doing this work, we are all explorers & adventurers, and it is this that I offer.”