Ven. Dr. Pannavati, a former Christian pastor, is co-founder and co-Abbot of Embracing-Simplicity Hermitage in Hendersonville NC. An African-American, female Buddhist monk ordained in the Theravada and Mahayana traditions and with Vajrayana empowerments and transmission from Roshi Bernie Glassman of Zen Peacemakers, she is both contemplative and empowered for compassionate service. Embracing-Simplicity Hermitage is an affiliate of the Zen Peacemakers.
An international teacher, she advocates on behalf of disempowered women and youth globally, and insists on equality and respect in Buddhist life for both female monastics and lay sangha. She was a 2008 recipient of the Outstanding Buddhist Women’s Award.
In 2009, she received a special commendation from the Princess of Thailand for Humanitarian Acts and she ordained Thai Bhikkhunis, on Thai soil with Thai monks as witnesses.
In May 2010 she convened a platform of Bhikkhunis to ordain the first 10 Cambodian Samaneris in a Cambodian temple, witnessed by Cambodian abbots including Maha Thera Ven. Dhammathero Sao Khon, President of the Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks of the US.
Ven. Pannavati continues to visit Thailand each year, offering support for the nuns and their projects. In 2013, Ven. is arranging for 500 books to be sent to an elementary and secondary buddhist school for girls. She is also raising funds to improve security at the compounds as this is an utmost concern in some areas of Thailand.
Venerable is a founding circle director of Sisters of Compassionate Wisdom, a 21st century trans-lineage Buddhist Order and Sisterhood.
In 2011, Venerable adopted 10 “untouchable” villages in India, vowing to help them establish an egalitarian community based on Buddhist principles of conduct and livelihood, providing wells, books, teachers and micro-loans for women. Approximately 30,000 people live in these villages.
Ven. Pannavati founded My Place, Inc., that’s served more than 75 homeless youth between the ages of 17 and 23 over the past 3 years and that effort has evolved into a separate 501(c)(3), MyPlace, Inc. which has its own accredited high school, jobs training program, residential program and social enterprise, My Gluten Free Bread Company.