Board of Directors & Staff


Board of Directors

Bernie Glassman, Roshi – Founder and Spiritual Director

Bernie Glassman is a world-renowned pioneer in the American Zen Movement and a leading creative figure in socially engaged Buddhism. He is the founder and co-spiritual director of the Zen Peacemakers. He has extended Dharma practice from the meditation hall to the arenas of social service, business, environmental stewardship and conflict resolution. He has been honored with numerous ethics, service and achievement awards. Read more.

Grant Couch, Sensei – Chairman, Secretary

Grant Couch worked for over 40 years in the financial services industry, with a focus on commercial and investment banking.  Following his retirement as President and COO of Countrywide Capital Markets in 2008, Grant’s desire to contribute to others’ personal growth led him to take the position of CEO of Sounds True, publisher of spiritual teachings, where he served for two years.  He was Chairman of Manhattan Bancorp and its subsidiary Bank of Manhattan from 2010 – 2015. In 1990 Grant began to explore various spiritual paths.  After 4 years of religious and philosophical self-study he found a deep personal resonance in the Buddha’s teachings.  Since then he has studied with many Tibetan, Zen and Vipassana teachers.  After attending the 2010 Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz he began working closely with Bernie Glassman and Zen Peacemakers. Grant graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Lehigh University. He is on the investment committee of the Aravaipa, a VC fund, and is a financial advisor to The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Now retired, Grant is focused full time on finding a conservative solution to the challenging nexus of energy and the environment – aka climate change.

Christopher Panos, Sensei – President, Treasurer

Chris Panos, a sensei in the Zen Peacemakers, is currently a founder and principal of Fundamental Investment Advisors. He has studied Tibetan Buddhism, Korean Zen, and American Japanese Zen since 1975 and recently became a Dharmaholder in the Zen Peacemakers lineage. Chris received a BA from Indiana University and a MBA from the University of Chicago. He has founded several successful businesses over the past 25 years: among them are Panos Financial, TibetCafé, Groundswell Productions, Athena Mills, and Fundamental Investment Advisors. Chris founded the Bay Area Peacemaker Circle, has been extensively involved with Tibetan refugees, and serves as Board President of Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco.



Rami Efal – Executive Director

Rami Efal, a dual citizen of Israel and the USA, has been a student of Zen Buddhism since 2006, including 4 years of residential training at Zen Mountain Monastery and Zen Center of New York City. Previously, Rami served in the Israeli Army as a criminal investigator and later a professional visual artist, presented in NY and European galleries. For the past ten years, he has contributed to hunger, community, hospice and Israeli-Palestinian dialogue projects in the US. He is a graduate of School of visual arts in New York, School of International Training in Vermont and the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication Integration Program, where he co-facilitated intensive multi-day retreats. He presented on peace-building on NPR, at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art and at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC.  He has been the executive director since June 2016.

Jessie Zelisko – Assistant to Executive Director

Jessie is honored to be contributing to the international community of Zen Peacemakers and Bernie’s legacy of spiritual action as a catalyst for social justice. While obtaining her B.A. in International Development and Social Change and Women’s and Gender Studies from Clark University, Jessie participated in Antioch University’s Buddhist Studies Program in Bodh Gaya, India. While there, she deepened her meditation practice and studied the Buddhist traditions of Vipassana, Zen, and Dzogchen. She has a background in community organizing around issues of climate and food justice, and has apprenticed at Solitude Farm in Auroville, India, Ananda Harvest Farm at Ananda Ashram in New York, and Growing Places Gardening Project in Massachusetts. She brings to Zen Peacemakers her deep exploration around the intersections of Buddhism and social activism to facilitate collective liberation.

Lilli Mösler – Auschwitz Retreat Coordinator

Lilli first came to the Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat with her two siblings after her father had been to the retreat. Since her first attendance, she has come back almost every year since. She feels very joyous to have joined the Zen Peacemakers international sangha and to be able to help the Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat as the retreat coordinator and member of the staff. She has been a student of Bernie since the Bearing Witness training program and has also been a student of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, a teacher of the Bon Lineage, since a very young age. She has completed a Masters degree in Psychology and is currently training to become a behavioral psychotherapist in Nuremberg, Germany. She also has training in nonviolent communication and mindfulness based stress reduction and is really loving her job as a therapist.