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about us

Dojo through the leaves

our purpose

We supercharge people committed to making a positive difference with the bigness of Zen and skills of leadership so they’re more successful and inexhaustible.​

Confidence, original painting by Veronica Figueroa-Velez, Exec. Dir Unidos, IZL alum

We are here to remove Fear and connect leaders to the whole picture, that they can lead with wisdom.

By helping people move freely through life, we can manifest our purpose and create a better world. Zen training forms the condition in your body that allows you to create what you’re here to do.

From early on in life, we have a sense of a world revolving around our ego, and our ego as our identity. Both of these assumptions are false, but that’s how it seems, so that’s how we live. Until something makes us dig a bit deeper. Who are we in the daily grind? How can we move from coping with circumstances to realizing our purpose? How can we better connect with the people and energy around us? When we start asking these kind of questions, we’re ripe for Zen Leadership.

thia chi in the French Alps

Most leaders struggle to stay effective and energized in these wildly disruptive times; we combine the Zen experience of interbeing with embodied leadership skills to strengthen their resonance and reduce stress, so they can lead with purpose, joy and resilience.

Zen Leader goes well beyond the limits of mindfulness to help you fundamentally reframe the challenges you face, transform what is holding you back, and ultimately get out of your own way. Through zazen meditation and other transformational practices, we create an unforgettable experience and energy that takes hold across all areas of your life.

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 founder
Ginny Whitelaw close up

Ginny Whitelaw

Roshi, Founder

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

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meet our Vice President

Kristi Crymes

IZL/ HEAL Instructor

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

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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.

Bob Caron

ZL Instructor & Coach

“We will engage and support our community on a way of learning that sets them free.”

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Kristi Crymes

IZL/ HEAL Instructor

“Let us get practitioners and administrators together to fix what’s broken in healthcare.”

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Gordon Greene Headshot

Gordon Greene


“Our habits around climate change are changing too slowly. We need to change how change happens.”

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Cynthia Haq headshot

Cindy Haq, MD

HEAL Instructor

“Our habits around climate change are changing too slowly. We need to change how change happens.”

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Cris Nakano Headshot

Cris Nakano

Director In Europe and ZL Instructor & Coach

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

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Rebecca Ryan Headshot

Rebecca Ryan

Roshi, Board Chair, Zen and ZL Instructor

“We are a commitment to social change with a great big smile on our face.”

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Our phenomenal teaching crew has strong backgrounds, diverse talents and a common passion for Zen and Zen Leadership as a Way to help you, others and our world. Here they are:

Adrienne Hampton, MD

meet our staff

Meet our multi-talented, plate-spinning staff, who perform as seamlessly as one person and as effectively as a large team.

Bread making wonder man! I need Bill to send me a new and fun snippet

The rock climbing FEBI enthusiast!