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Dojo through the leaves

our purpose goes here


our story

Setting foot on the Spring Green Dojo property, where Zen teachers Gordon and Pat Greene built their home and a Zen training center, you somehow feel closer to the earth. Senses come alive in sparkly light, filled with buzz, rustle, gravely crunch, and whiff of wood fire. In 2011, not long after the walls were up on the dojo building, Ginny was meditating inside and an idea grabbed her: she could train leaders here. She’d been teaching leadership programs in corporate and academic settings for years, but she knew a different depth of work would be possible with a group of bold, self-selected leaders in a setting as inspiring as this one.

The idea wouldn’t let go, and grew into not only running a program, but building an institute, offering an immersion into physical Zen training combined with embodied development of critical leadership skills. The following year, 2012, saw the publication of Ginny’s book, The Zen Leader, whose reframing leadership “flips” shaped the first program of the newly-founded Institute for Zen Leadership (IZL). Describing the fledgling Institute in 2012, Ginny wrote:

Zen and Leadership belong together. Only through Zen can leadership development fully culminate in the free and full expression of the whole leader. Only through leadership can the full benefits of Zen be brought to the world. IZL will bring world class leaders, leadership teachers and Zen teachers together to create leadership development programs unlike anything being offered today. These programs will go deeper into embodied learning than one finds in corporate or business school programs, but like the best of such programs, they will also be practical and applied, personalized and research based. IZL’s curriculum will evolve with the needs of the leaders it serves and the expertise of its faculty.

Evolve it has, both in curriculum and reach. Given the size of the Spring Green Dojo, programs were small and intimate, perhaps 10-15 people. Yet people were having experiences that they described as life-changing and wanted to share it.  A guest speaker in 2013, futurist Rebecca Ryan, brought the program to local government leaders and, later becoming Chair of the IZL Board, helped the Institute carve its own future.

Physicians attending the program wanted to bring it to healthcare professionals and helped to create and teach the HEAL program.

A participant from the UK, Andy Robins, wanted to bring the program to Europe, and would be later joined by Cris Nakano in anchoring programs in the UK and Europe.

Several others, including Sridevi Tohai, wanted to bring Zen Leadership to Asia, and inspired the rollout of a certification pathway for instructors and coaches.

Our instructors now number more than fifteen, many of whom donate their time to teach with us and continue their growth in our Master Class.

Further growth was made possible with the addition of the mind-body personality test, FEBI, and IZL’s first full-time staff member, Emily Alpert, to run the FEBI program and be a master coach to the FEBI coaches. The following year, Bill Kingsbury joined as our Program and Operations Director. Thanks to the remarkable plate-spinning ability of our staff and all of the people who helped spread our programs, by 2019, robust certification pathways were in place for FEBI, HEAL and Zen Leadership, and in-person programs were popping on three continents.

The “in-person” part certainly changed in 2020, as Covid-19 grounded the world. IZL pivoted its programs to online where we continue to explore and be surprised by how much can be taught through a screen. Ginny’s award-winning book, Resonate, also turned into a robust, online course in partnership with Interplicity. Even as in-person training resumes, this online curriculum will continue to reach people around the world. The past year has also brought a reckoning with racism, climate emergencies, and brokenness in healthcare. IZL has dug deeper to understand our own work to do in these areas and ways to open leaders to the greater love, wisdom and fearlessness with which they can face this time and create the future.

Here we are, and we’re here for you.


our people

Meet our Board

What happens when you bring a futurist, physicians, Zen masters, experienced leaders and leadership development experts together? You get an IZL Board with its eye on how to help the leaders skillfully create the future from the bigness of no-self. If you were to drop in on one of our board meetings, here’s what you might hear.

Rebecca Ryan Headshot

rebecca ryan Roshi

IZL Board Chair, futurist and economist: “We are a commitment to social change with a great big smile on our face.”

Dr. kristi crymes

IZL VP and HEAL Director, Cox Health, Residency Instructor: “Let us get practitioners and administrators together to fix what’s broken in healthcare.”

Gordon Greene Headshot

Gordon Green Roshi

Abbot of Chozei Zen: “Our habits around climate change are changing too slowly. We need to change how change happens.”

Cynthia Haq headshot

Dr. Cindy Haq

Chair, Dept of Family Medicine, UCI: “Let us ensure our programs are of the highest quality, that they can be a healing force across healthcare.”

Cris Nakano Headshot

cris nakano

IZL Director in Europe: “We ourselves are on a pathway to learn what it means to penetrate and eradicate the roots of racism.”

Dr. Bob caron

IZL Fundraising Coordinator, Education Consultant, Deloitte, “We will engage and support our community on a way of learning that sets them free.”

Ginny Whitelaw headshot

Dr. ginny whitelaw roshi

IZL CEO: “The world needs more leaders who can act from love and all-embracing wisdom; it needs us to be successful.”

Rebecca Ryan Headshot

Rebecca Ryan Roshi, IZL Board Chair, futurist and economist: “We are a commitment to social change with a great big smile on our face.”

Dr. Kristi Crymes, IZL VP and HEAL Director, Cox Health, Residency Instructor: “Let us get practitioners and administrators together to fix what’s broken in healthcare.”

Gordon Greene Headshot

Gordon Greene Roshi, Abbot of Chozei Zen: “Our habits around climate change are changing too slowly. We need to change how change happens.”

Cynthia Haq headshot

Dr. Cindy Haq, Chair, Dept of Family Medicine, UCI: “Let us ensure our programs are of the highest quality, that they can be a healing force across healthcare.”

Cris Nakano Headshot

Cris Nakano, IZL Director in Europe: “We ourselves are on a pathway to learn what it means to penetrate and eradicate the roots of racism.”

Bob Caron Headshot

Bob Caron, IZL Fundraising Coordinator, Education Consultant, Deloitte, “We will engage and support our community on a way of learning that sets them free.”

Ginny Whitelaw headshot

Ginny Whitelaw Roshi, IZL CEO: “The world needs more leaders who can act from love and all-embracing wisdom; it needs us to be successful.”

Meet our instructors

Our instructors are amazing! We should say something about them here.

Zen leader instructors

Marcela Kyngesburye

IZL Instructor

Bob Caron

ZL Instructor & Coach

Dennis Tirman

ZL Instructor & Coach

Cris Nakano

Director In Europe and ZL Instructor & Coach

Alex Greene

Zen Instructor

Rebecca Ryan

Roshi, Board Chair, Zen and ZL Instructor

Andy Robins

ZL Instructor & Coach

Ginny Whitelaw

Roshi, Founder

HEal instuctors

Kristi Crymes

IZL/ HEAL Instructor

Adrienne Hampton, MD

Zen and HEAL Instructor

Bethany Howlett, MD

HEAL Instructor

FEBI Certification *Include Britt and manfred*

Emily Alpert

Master FEBI Coach and FEBI Operations Manager

Andy Robins

ZL Instructor & Coach

Bob Caron

ZL Instructor & Coach

Meet our staff

Bill kingsbury

As Program & Operations Manager, Bill has a spectrum of responsibilities from taking program registrations, through editing the biweekly newsletter, to filling out tax and other government forms and beyond.

Emily alpert

Emily Alpert is the “coach’s coach” for FEBI and the FEBI Operations Manager.

Ginny Whitelaw headshot

Ginny Whitelaw ROSHI, FOUNDER

Ginny Jiko Whitelaw is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Zen Leadership, a Zen Master of Rinzai Zen, and an expert in developing the whole leader.