Founder & Executive Director Tanuka spent her career working in user experience and product management for technology companies, where much of her time was focused on how to create meaningful product experiences that engage the customer. Now she applies her professional background to create inspirational compassion experiences for youth and families. Tanuka oversees the organization’s vision and strategy, designs the programs and events, and loves connecting with youth. Tanuka also teaches kids yoga and mindfulness in her local community and facilitates design thinking workshops. She is trained through Mindful Schools, YogaKids and YogaFlowSF. Her daily mindfulness practice is an important way for her to stay grounded.
"My children are my greatest teachers and my greatest source of inspiration. They are the reason I first journeyed into mindfulness and the reason I am inspired to integrate mindfulness and compassion into our daily lives as a family. I want my children to view mindfulness and kindness as a natural and organic part of their everyday lives. I want them to thrive in a community where kids are more conscious and aware of themselves and others; where they are kind, and where they can safely, freely and confidently express their authentic selves. I hope we can create a community where littles are inspired to Live in their Hearts, to be in tune with their own inner light so they share this light with others."
Author/Consultant, NonProfit Management
Julia not only brings a calm demeanor and presence to our team, but brings a wealth of knowledge on nonprofit strategy and brand management. She co-authored the book, "The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy, and Affinity" and has consulted for many nonprofits helping organizations become more effective in achieving their mission and goals. Julia is our team's sherpa guiding us with her strategic expertise and parenting perspectives. She has been a very active member of the community in various leadership capacities for the Educational Foundation of Orinda and the local school district. She's also trained through Mindful Schools and has a regular meditation practice. We are grateful to have Julia on our Mindful Littles crew and are looking forward to the Mindful Littles mountaineering journey with her.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Hannah has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Education and Applied Psychology from UC Santa Barbara, where she was first introduced to mindfulness. Before joining Mindful Littles, Hannah was the Bay Area representative for Be the Match where she fostered relationships between Bay Area businesses and organizations to grow the National Marrow Donor Registry.
She’s passionate about positive psychology, wellness and going beyond surviving to truly thriving. She believes practicing mindfulness and gratitude beginning at a young age encourages Littles to be happy, healthy, compassionate members in their communities. Hannah’s dedicated her professional career to the nonprofit sector with a commitment to “leave this earth just a little better than it was when I arrived.”
Mindful Community Facilitator
Lauryn is passionate about the intersection of community, healing and social change. She holds a B.A. in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of San Francisco and is a certified yoga teacher. Lauryn spent three years coordinating international service-learning programs and accompanying marginalized communities in the Philippines and El Salvador. Since returning to Northern California, she has continued supporting social change as a doula, podcast creator and a facilitator for the Mindful Littles program in Paradise, California. As someone who grew up in Paradise, she has a deep commitment to seeing the Ridge community recover and thrive in the wake of the Camp Fire. She offers her passion for mindfulness, community-building and resilience to support students, educators, and families.
Digital Content Editor
Lisa is a freelance writer living in northern California with her husband and three daughters. She writes about raising girls, women’s issues and parenting. Her writing can be found on her blog Flingo, Scary Mommy, Literary Mama, Motherwell Magazine, Brain, Child, HuffPost Parents and others.
At Mindful Littles, Lisa curates articles, resources and activities to inspire mindfulness in both Littles and Bigs. Her passions include surfing, spinning, coffee, finishing crosswords, reading and keeping up with her daughters’ Spotify playlists.
“With three girls of varying ages, I’m often quickly switching modes to meet their needs. It’s definitely a challenge, but tapping into compassion and empathy does wonders to shift the energy from precarious to positive for both me and my girls. I love that Mindful Littles reinforces what’s already true for our kids: they’re born with open hearts and helpful hands. They just need our encouragement to realize their love and care can change the world.”
Facilitator, Youth Leadership & Mindful STEM
Tara is a middle school science teacher and has a passion for providing ways to allow her students to grow and thrive beyond just being academically successful. Tara brings the practice of mindfulness into her classroom along with seva and “mindful moments” discussions about the positive impact we can each make in the world. It was through Tara’s daily mindfulness and yoga practice, she knew this would be helpful for her students. The group mindfulness practice, allows Tara’s students the opportunity for them to feel the emotions in their bodies and to learn tools to help “bring them to center”, and to be in the present moment. With extensive training through Mindful Schools, YogaWorks, Kundalini Research Institute and her background in education, Tara helps to facilitate events teaching mindfulness, yoga and compassion.
Tanveer is an experienced school administrator with over 13 years of experience. Working in early childhood and primary education make her an informed, researched-based educator who is passionate about children, learning, education and family.Skilled in Teacher Professional Development and Coaching, Nonprofit Organizations, Early Childhood Education, Lesson & Curriculum Planning, Educational Environmental Design and Parent Coaching, Tanveer has been involved in numerous nonprofits such as PACT (an adoption alliance), No Bully and BATTI (Bay Area Teacher Training Institute). She holds a Bachelors in Education from McGill University, a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction from Notre Dame de Namur and is currently pursuing a Certificate in Reggio Emilia Pedagogical Coordination focused in Early Childhood Education. Tanveer brings with her a passion for service, social justice, diversity and equity in education. For her, the heart is the foundation for leading and learning with empathy and compassion.
Ashley Fiorilli, Ph.D.
Instructor/ Behavioral Analyst
Ashley has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for 12 years. She began her professional career as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2009. In the last nine years, she’s worked with children and adults with autism and related disabilities in schools, homes, clinics and group settings. Ashley’s personal interest in travel as well as working across cultures, led her to a doctorate in International Psychology with an emphasis in Organizations and Systems from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her dissertation was titled Autism in Children: A Phenomenological Study of South African Caregivers. Ashley’s passion is to merge her love of behavioral science with her practice of yoga, with a focus on individuals with special needs. Currently, she is a 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher and is working towards her 300-hour completion.
Mary is one of the founding team members of Mindful Littles, even piloting the first service project in our founder's backyard. During the nonprofit's first year of operations, Mary was an instrumental partner in organizing the initial service learning projects and helping establish the Mindful Littles platform. With extensive training from YogaWorks, YogaKids and Mindful Schools, Mary now facilitates self-care and yoga classes for educators and parents. She is also a yoga teacher at other local studios in the Bay Area.
“I want my kids to grow up in a community where we spread compassion and help each other. My hope is that when my kids grow up they never think twice about being inclusive and helping others.”
Lauren’s synergistic path to Mindful Littles is preceded by her experience as a classroom teacher and work in education management and policy nonprofits. Laurenbegan her career as a second and third grade teacher in Denver, Colorado, which ignited her passion for ensuring students feel connected, empowered, and inspired within their school communities. Laurenwas fascinated to discover strategies to engage gifted learners and provide access and opportunities to high quality social emotional learning for all students. Laurenhas a Master’s in Elementary Education from USC and an undergraduate degree from UC Davis, where she majored in Managerial Economics. She also has a deep passion for yoga and has been teaching yoga to adults and kids since 2014. Laurenbelieves children are the greatest gift and wants to dedicate the rest of her career to supporting students to be their most compassionate, best selves.
Daniel “Dan” L. Hogue, M.S.
Executive Director, Las Trampas
Dan is the Executive Director of Las Trampas, an organization dedicated to supporting adults with intellectual and developmental (IDD). He has over 25 years’ experience working in services for people with IDD and is passionate about ensuring that no person, regardless of disability, is excluded from opportunities afforded to persons without disabilities. This passion, paired with his education in psychology and rehabilitation counseling, led him to work with several organizations in the IDD field to develop innovative programs throughout Central California and in California’s East Bay. Dan truly believes it is through community partnerships like the one with Mindful Littles that door open to real possibilities and opportunities, not just for people with IDD, but for all members of the community.
Regional Director, Galileo Learning
Matt is the East Bay and Marin Regional Director of Galileo Learning and runs innovation based summer camps throughout the Bay Area. Matt has worked within the summer camp and outside-of-school learning field for more than 20 years, starting as a Camp Counselor in Northern California. He also keeps busy consistently trying to engage his three boys, exploring the East Bay hills and traveling.
Matt's introduction to Mindful Littles came in spring 2018, where he piloted a few Mindful Little programs at Camp Galileo. He's personally interested in mindfulness, reflection and good design for all and is excited to support Mindful Littles as it grows within the Bay Area.
Stefanie Goldstein, Ph.D.
Stefanie Goldstein, Ph.D. is a busy mom to three boys, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in West Los Angeles. She is the co-creator of the Good Morning America featured teen program "CALM: Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness." The 8-week program teaches mindfulness and social/emotional learning to teens. Stefanie has also helped public and private schools throughout the Los Angeles area implement mindfulness into their curriculum and communities. She’s dedicated much of her career to training and supervising therapists and her lifelong passion is supporting adolescents, adults, couples and families struggling with daily life on their paths towards healing and growth.
Executive Director, Born This Way Foundation
Maya has over a decade of experience in the youth empowerment, civic engagement, and community development fields and proudly serves as the first Executive Director of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to support the wellness of young people and empower them to build a kinder, braver world through authentic youth-focused programming and campaigns that foster kindness and advance the conversation around mental health.
In addition to her work with Born This Way Foundation, Maya serves on the Board of Directors of Advocates for Youth, Learning To Give, and Give Together. She's also received numerous awards and fellowships for her leadership, including the competitive Prime Movers Fellowship of the Hunt Alternatives Fund, a multi-year fellowship program for emerging and established social movement leaders working at the national level.
Very proud of her Jersey roots, Maya grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey and attended Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She currently resides outside of San Francisco with her husband, David, their two children and their black lab, Hudson.
“Kids have kindness in them; they are born with it. Somehow along the way, they lose it, so if we could just focus on young people and focus on kids and keep that kindness, friendship, idealism, we will all be better for it.”
Mark White, Ph.D.
Researcher, SEL Program Evaluation
Mark White is a research fellow at the Institute of Social Research where he studies program evaluation with a focus on programs designed to build social and emotional skills in students. He received a PhD in education in 2017 from the University of Michigan. His interest in mindfulness began a few years ago as he began to read about the research on the benefits of mindfulness and he has begun a personal practice since then. With stars aligning, Mark first got introduced to our Mindful Littles founder through his sister, and was excited to join the organization after learning about the great work that is being done at the nonprofit organization.
Anne Marie Feld
Anne Marie Feld (Lowell) has worked with words for as long as she can remember. She's been a staff writer and editor at Netflix, Ziff-Davis and a wide array of lifestyle and tech publications. She has also worked as a grant writer at the San Francisco Food Bank. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, Edutopia, and Babycenter, and have appeared in the anthologies The Mommy Wars, Because I Love Her, and Modern Love, a collection of the best of the New York Times Modern Lovecolumns. She currently runs an elementary school library, and produces the Lamorinda ShortDocs Film Festival. She really enjoys helping kids complete documentaries on women’s issues, animal rights, and environmental activism. She has written three children’s books, which will be available on Amazon in September 2019, but it’s her work blending writing, service and activism that brings her the most joy. She's grateful to Mindful Littles for combining these disciplines with kindness, movement and mindfulness in a way that sparks introspection, laughter and playful participation for people of all sizes.
Jenn is thrilled to be contributing to the Mindful Littles blog, with a focus on highlighting community members who will inspire both parents and littles with their stories. In July 2014, Jenn retired from her fourteen-year marketing career at Old Navy to be home with her young children. Soon thereafter she embarked on a new journey freelance writing in her limited free time while still juggling her fulltime mom role. In addition to Mindful Littles, she currently contributes to Forager Botanicals, an all-natural skincare/beauty brand, and Lamorinda Weekly. Previously she was lead writer for Wild Food News, a sustainable food and lifestyle blog. Jenn also volunteers teaching ESL to adult refugees/immigrants.
Jenn’s other passions include sustainable food/lifestyle choices (she is plant-based, aka vegan), cooking up new recipes for family and friends, human rights, animal welfare, live music, and exploring the world.
“I feel lucky to be a part of the Mindful Little team, as it is already a key resource for our family in teaching community service and compassion. I look forward to learning more about how to be a more mindful and patient parent as I uncover more stories and share them with all of you.”
Special Events, Manager
Molly joined the Mindful Littles founding team after attending the inaugural event. During our first year of programs, Molly was instrumental in organizing service learning programs. Since then, she has been overseeing our annual Peace & Kindness Carnival on Veteran's Day and continues to be a source of positivity for the entire team. Molly has completed training through Mindful Schools and loves spending time with her beautiful family outdoors.
Event Marketing & Outreach
Kimthy is a practicing clinical pharmacist with over a decade of experience specializing in chronic disease management. She practices and advocates for compassion and kindness within her community and has an active interest in utilizing mindfulness to promote health in ways medications can't. Kimthy is excited to be part of an organization that shares her passion in educating others about the importance of holistic wellness through physical, mental and emotional well-being.
“Children are innocent, happy, excited and honest beings. I want to help each child cultivate and nurture this beautiful spirit within so they can continue to grow in a healthy way. With the fast-paced culture in the Bay Area, it has become even more important to foster a practice of compassion and mindfulness starting at a young age. These are wonderful lifelong skills that children need as they grow into adulthood and learn to contribute to the community in a meaningful way.”
Travis Groft is a proud and loving family man. At the tender age of 18, Travis joined the U.S. Air Force on September 18th, 2001. He was stationed all over the world and was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It was there that Travis became a man, husband and father and discovered his love of food and travel.
In 2008 he and his family returned to the Bay Area and he quickly realized that he needed to develop and implement more supportive self-care strategies in order to reintegrate into civilian life and grow as a person. It was in 2009 that he went back to school and began experimenting with mindfulness meditation and other body-based self care techniques. Travis found that a holistic lifestyle and greater self awareness fostered emotional mastery and resilience, despite the many challenges he and his family faced.
He graduated from San Francisco State University in 2014 with a B.S. in Kinesiology and has been a practicing health and fitness coach ever since. He is also an experienced facilitator, leading mindfulness and meditation workshops for veterans and sharing other self care strategies to anyone who may benefit from such practices. Travis continues to explore and grow as a person, which led him to Mindful Littles where he happily serves communities by sharing his passion for health and wellness with Littles and Bigs from all walks of life.
Betsy Shandalov, OTR/L, C-IAYT
Betsy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Boston University. She and her husband have three daughters and live in Orinda where she treats adults, kids and families to bring balance back to their bodies and minds through her private practice.
Betsy trained at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. where she learned to work with people with trauma and nervous system regulatory challenges, using mindfulness techniques. In addition, she is a Level I Reiki practitioner and also works at Crocker Highlands Elementary School in Oakland and Glorietta Elementary School in Orinda teaching Kindergarten and 1st graders motor skills, yoga and mindfulness.
Betsy’s vision is for students, administrators, teachers and parents to experience less stress and anxiety and more compassion for each other and their community.
Special Events, Volunteer
Kelsey fell in love with Mindful Littles after attending one of the first family events with her three young children, where they created Peace Kits for Veterans. Since then she has been an avid supporter of Mindful Littles and was instrumental in the Orinda Cares/Mindful Littles district-wide service program where the students from Orinda Union School District created and delivered Peace Kits to students from Ponderosa Elementary School in Paradise, CA, which tragically burned down in the Camp Fire. With a Masters in Elementary Education, Kelsey is able to use her child development knowledge and experience in the classroom to work with young children. She brings a positive outlook and lively sense of humor to all she does and she is thrilled to be a part of the Mindful Littles team!
Mindful Littles was an integral part of our collaborative initiative, OrindaCares. OrindaCares is a partnership with Mindful Littles, the Orinda Union School District, Miramonte High School, and the City of Orinda. Mindful Littles provided not just the concept and strategy development for this partnership, but the project leadership and organization to make our initiative highly successful.
- Carolyn Seaton, Superintendent of Orinda Union School District
Mindful Little has led two programs this year for our community - one for parents and children on the topic "the courage to be different," and one just for children on the topic of honoring seniors. Both were absolutely wonderful! It was a pleasure to collaborate with Tanuka in planning the programs, and she and her team prepared thoughtful, engaging lessons that were meaningful to the families as well as being fun, interactive, and hands-on. I believe the lessons Mindful Littles brought to our community will stick with the children for a long time, and I highly recommend Mindful Littles programs!
The event had quite an impact on my 7 year old son, Caden, who, after assembling hygiene kits at your Mindful Littles event, decided to raise money for the kids in Haiti on his own. I think what you are doing through the Mindful Littles program is wonderful, and it’s obviously having an impact on children near and far… I look forward to attending another one soon!
- Kim Morrow, Local Bay Area Parent
Our Girl Scout troop was looking for something meaningful to do around the holidays. Mindful Littles made everything so easy and the core values of Mindful Littles and Girl Scouts were perfectly matched. The girls appeared at Las Trampas and were immediately put into action assisting disabled individuals with holiday activities and celebrating the holiday cheer. It was a labor of love on both ends. My daughter left the event and said, “That was awesome. Let’s do more of that."
- Jennifer LaForce, Bay Area Girl Scout Troop Leader
The work that Mindful Littles does is the antithesis of the violence. With the continued threat of mass shootings, with homegrown mental illness, you don’t arm people with weapons. You pay attention; you teach compassion, you educate and help community members. This is how we change. This is how we are going to fight the good fight; not with weapons and strategies of self-defense, but by being proactive with love. I believe Mindful Littles is the solution. It will awaken our youth and help contribute to a more positive future.
- Travis Groft, Veteran
That was a really great event. I held more doors open for people in the last few days than I think I have in my life.🙂 Your words were heard.
-Jennifer Kamal, Local Bay Area Parent
Our Daisy Troop invited Tanuka Gordon of Mindful Littles to lead a
class for our Kindergarten Daisy Scouts. Tanuka taught the girls
through stories and pictures about what life is like for children
living in Haiti. We decorated and put together pencil cases for
students there. Tanuka also guided us through a mindful moment
incorporating yoga movements and breathing techniques. A few months
later, the girls were thrilled to receive artwork back from the
students in Haiti. We loved our Mindful Littles class and found that
it helped to open the girls’ eyes to the world around them!
A clinician just popped into my office and shared how one of our kids loved the positive words on the hygiene kit. The youth said it felt like Christmas – all because of a hygiene kit. Amazing.
- Beth Goldberg, Director of Development for Youth Homes
My time with Mindful Littles’ has solidified my commitment to youth development and empowerment, as I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the wonderfully innovative ideas that littles have for the improvement of their communities. There are few things more gratifying than watching and helping littles turn their creativity into meaningful action, and I’m grateful to Mindful Littles for giving me the opportunity to do so.
-Iris Wu, Youth Leader, Age 19
Working with Mindful Littles has been a life changing experience. Before volunteering with this group, I’d say I was guilty of not always incorporating compassion and mindfulness into my everyday life, but since I have started volunteering with this organization I have noticed a positive change within myself.
- Danielle Castro, Youth Leader, Age 17
Join us on our journey of empowering our youngest generations to be courageous compassionate change-makers.
If you are interested in partnering with us for any of our programs, we would love to hear from you. Contact us here
We need donations to continue funding mindful service projects for our youth.