Marianne Marstrand (USA)
Since her early years Marianne has been drawn to spiritual practice and the wisdom traditions. She had the great fortune of meeting the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism when she was in her teens, marking a turning point in her life. In 1979 she began her work with the Lindisfarne Association helping to organize and bring together innovative thinkers, spiritual teachers and religious leaders around issues of global concern. For ten years she resided at KTD, H.H. Karmapa’s monastery, in Woodstock, New York and was then asked to move to Crestone, Colorado to help coordinate the Karmapa’s project there. This work included the construction of the 41 ft. Tashi Gomang Stupa and the creation of infrastructure for a major center there for the Kagyu lineage. In 2001 Marianne began to work with Dena Merriam at The Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) in New York. In her capacity as the Executive Director she has had the privilege of helping to organize dozens of major gatherings around the world dedicated to interfaith understanding, peace, conflict and healing, the earth’s ecosystems and strengthening of the voices of women and young leaders --- issues that deeply touch her heart. She is a student of Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.
Janelle Surpris (USA)
Director of Programs
Janelle has amassed fifteen years of experience in the global public service sector. Her early tenure with GPIW focused on building dialogue capacity for women and youth in the Middle East and Africa, with a focus on conflict regions, and community leadership training. In her current role, she leads strategic development for all GPIW programming, as well as manages external relations to strengthen organization visibility and efficacy. Her expertise in multi-sector, transnational partnerships has sustained network collaboration between GPIW and the United States Institute of Peace, the US State Department, and the United Nations. Janelle's experience in international affairs began with the Committee to Protect Journalists, Amnesty International, and the Sudan Mission to the UN. She also brings to GPIW a unique global perspective, having studied at the American University in Cairo, Egypt in 2001. Janelle holds a degree in political science from Haverford College and received the Executive Master of Public Administration from New York University Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.
Kavita Byrd (India)
Writer and Associate Coordinator for India
A dual U.S/Australian citizen, Kavita has been based in India, practicing the teachings of Advaita Vedanta in the line of Sri Ramana Maharshi for the last twenty years. She is a craniosacral therapist with a background in yoga-teaching (sanyassin for seven years with Satyananda Ashrams). Kavita has a passion for bringing feminine wisdom into spirituality and society, and has assisted with program planning and program reports for GPIW initiatives in India, Europe and Africa.