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Mindful Leadership Training Program

Compassion, Empowerment, and Impact

February – June, 2024
with Nikki Mirghafori, PhD and Marc Lesser, MBA



This online certificate training program is open to and designed for leaders and aspiring leaders in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. We will cultivate mindful and compassionate leadership skills and practices to embody our care for ourselves and others, with a mindset of service to community and the world.

A core, distinct pedagogical approach of this program is participating in and co-learning with a supportive community of like-minded peers both in the large group and small monthly pod meetings. Through lectures, group discussion, guided meditations, readings, reflections, experiential exercises, and personal meditation practice, we will cultivate skills and behaviors that can be applied directly to our personal and professional lives. By developing and incorporating these intentional practices, we will strengthen professional relationships and workplace environments, expanding impact beyond our own learning for the broader benefit of our work and organization(s).

This program includes training in three realms: personal, relational, and organizational. Some included themes are:

  • Mindful, compassionate, values-aligned leadership
  • Cultivating well-being: self-care, rest, and resilience
  • Self-awareness and self-management: emotional intelligence and working with difficult emotions
  • Transforming professional and personal relationships through embodied, skillful communication
  • Courageous conversations
  • Empowering and inspiring people and teams
  • Coaching and mentoring: compassionate accountability
  • Fostering and co-creating belonging


All large group sessions are on Saturdays from 9:30am – 4:30pm PT and online via Zoom.
Sat, February 3: Opening Session
Sat, March 9
Sat, March 30
Sat, April 20
Sat, May 11
Sat, June 1
Sat, June 15: Closing Session


  • Monthly large group sessions – online (recorded)
  • Monthly team sessions
  • Daily and monthly home practices and readings
  • Monthly written reflections
  • Monthly Q&As – online (recorded)
  • Optional opt-in affinity groups


  • Must attend at least 5 of 7 large group sessions live (and access recordings of any missed sessions)
  • Meditation: 20-30 min/day recommended
  • Reading, journaling, and written reflections: 4-8 hr/month
  • Team meetings: 1 hr/month
  • Q&A Sessions: 1 hr/month (highly recommended but not required, and will be recorded)
  • Attend ONE program orientation (highly recommended, especially if you have not used our Online Learning Platform before)
    • Tues, Jan 30; 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. PT
    • Fri, Feb 2; 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT


Financial Details
Participating in MLT will require your commitment of both time and financial resources. If you need to withdraw from the program, the following fee structure will apply. Payment plans are available for all levels. ALL participants have the option of paying in full or a 30% deposit at the time of registration. Those paying a deposit can set up installments. All program fees must be paid in full two weeks prior to the start. Payment plans are available for all levels of the sliding scale.

Important note: Installments can only be set up on credit cards. If you register less than 3 weeks prior to the start, a payment plan is not automatically available. Please contact us if you have any questions.


$100 fee: On or before February 1, by 5:00 p.m. US Pacific Time
$500 fee: February 2 – March 9
NO REFUNDS: On or after March 10 (applies to all participants)
*Fees reduced by half for scholarship participants. Fees apply to all participants. Late cancellations do not allow us time to fill a vacated spot in the program.


Please email us.


Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher and Artificial Intelligence scientist. She is a lineage holder in the Theravada tradition, empowered by the living Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, with whom she practiced the jhanas and detailed analytical (Abhidhamma-style) vipassana. She also received empowerment from the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, Insight Meditation Center, and is a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor.

At Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Nikki serves as a Stewarding Teacher as well as on the Board of Directors. She also teaches at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Nikki’s teaching style combines clarity and warmth, and she delights in exploring deep Dharma topics with practitioners as well as mindfulness in daily life. Mindfulness of death is one of the areas of her interest and expertise.

Additionally, Nikki has been a researcher and inventor in AI, holds multiple patents and author of scientific research articles. She has directed international research programs as the Principal Investigator, mentored post-docs and PhD students, taught graduate courses at UC Berkeley, and been a scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups.

As an Iranian-American, Nikki has taught contemplative practices internationally and aspires to serve as a champion for wisdom and compassion in our world, and ethical AI in our zeitgeist.

Useful Links

Marc Lesser

Marc Lesser is a CEO, executive coach, and Zen teacher. He founded and was CEO of 3 companies, and has an MBA degree from New York University. Finding Clarity: How Compassionate Accountability Builds Vibrant Relationships, Thriving Workplaces, and Meaningful Lives, is his fifth book. His other books include Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery Kitchen and Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less.

Marc helped develop the world-renowned Search Inside Yourself program within Google – a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence training for leaders that spread through Silicon Valley and then globally. He was the founding CEO of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. He is CEO of ZBA Associates, an executive development and leadership consulting company that supports Genentech, Google, Beneficial State Bank, and other leading companies.

Marc was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years, and director of Tassajara, Zen Mountain Center, the first Zen monastery in the western world. He leads an online Zen group, Mill Valley Zen International.

Useful Links


"This training was a profound opportunity for me to really see myself better in my role as a leader, and I anticipate it having a long-term positive impact on my ability to create positive change in the world."

"This training allowed me to sit more deeply with other leaders around the challenges of our organizations. The leader suggestions for metta meditation guided me in a practice that created an opening. This opening allowed me to see creative possibility in our organization where there was once a wall of impossibility."

"As someone with limited meditation experience, I was a bit nervous about signing up for the program.  I'm very glad I did. I learned a lot that helped make me a more effective leader and team member, and more grounded when facing the flurry of demands and ‘emergencies’ that we face as leaders.”


Join us in cultivating mindful, compassionate, value-aligned leadership to empower and engage others in effective action to broaden our impact. 

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