Inner Council and Advisors
Chandra Alexandre (Executive Director) is an Inner Council member and the Founder of SHARANYA, serving as the President of the corporation and its Executive Director. She is Rashani (Priestess) and offers worship ceremonies regularly.
Chandra is a graduate of the Women's Spirituality Master's Program and a doctorate holder in Philosophy & Religion from The California Institute of Integral Studies with a concentration in Asian & Comparative Studies (Hinduism). She also holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Wisdom University in Oakland, focusing on bringing Spirit to the workplace. In alignment with her commitment to future generations and the importance of spiritual capital, Chandra additionally holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management.
Since 2002, she has taught courses on the Dark Goddess and Divine Female through the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto. Chandra is also adjunct faculty at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland and has offered workshops through the CIIS Lifelong Learning Program in San Francisco. She has also been a lecturer at The Cultural Integration Fellowship and has spoken at the United Religions Initiative Gathering of Blessings at the Presidio Interfaith Chapel.
In India, Chandra is an active voice in Women's Sahayog in Kolkata (Calcutta), and since 1998, a yearly visitor to the Indian states of Assam, Orissa and West Bengal where she participates in lectures and project work as well as scholarly research. She is deeply committed to the work of alliance building among spiritual communities and education to eradicate erroneous beliefs about South Asia and its religious faiths.
A long-time practitioner and Priestess of The Craft, Chandra received her initial initiation into women's mysteries from her grandmother, a lineage carrier in the Old Tradition. A native of New York, Chandra was also a founding member of New Moon-New York and the first Editor of Our Pagan Times. Chandra received diksha (initiation) on August 2, 1998 into the Shakta tradition (dakshinacara marga) at a Kali temple in Puri, India from Shyam Sundar Dash, a Priest of Kali, and continues to work with both East and West in her practice.
Chandra's most recent connection to her spiritual ancestors occurred in Assam at Kamakhya Mandir in 2001 during the festival of the goddess' menstruation, called Ambubachi. There, she received another diksha, this time into non-dualistic Tantra (vamacara marga) by an Aghori adept. With these initiations, Chandra therefore carries two Tantrick lineages as well as the pre-Christian lineage of her grandmother into her work at SHARANYA.
In addition to guiding the SHARANYA community, Chandra conducts spiritual counseling sessions for those interested in furthering their own personal growth and development. She also leads annual pilgrimage tours to India and performs rites and other life-event ceremonies for community in the Bay Area.
Rick (Veda) Nafzinger (Director) is a Hindu pujari, Christian minister, and Wiccan priest. He founded the Circle of the Feminine Divine in Stockton, California, a worship and study group devoted to exploring the meaning of the "Motherhood of God" and its implications for understanding the world’s religions. He currently serves as President of the Interfaith Council of San Joaquin in Stockton, and is a guest lecturer at the University of the Pacific. His first book, Combating Inner Terrorism: Strategies of the Goddess from the Devi Mahatmyam, is now available everywhere.
Nancy Leatzow (Director) - Nancy is a yogini, healer, ceremonialist, ceramic artist and passionate lover of life. She recently moved to the Bay Area and in 2003 was deeply happy to have joined her energies with SHARANYA's Inner Council.
Nancy's connection to the Divine Mother came directly from her love of
the natural world and her feminist convictions. She has traveled to many countries to experience what remains of those ancient cultures that were organized around love of Goddess and the earth. Traveling to Turkey to experience sites of Neolithic Anatolia, Nancy met Chandra Alexandre, SHARANYA's founder, and was immediately drawn to Chandra and her work. She considers it a joy and an honor to be affiliated with SHARANYA and its important mission in the world.
Nancy teaches yoga classes and offers Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy in combination with Reike and counseling in Berkeley. She previously had a 13 year practice of Marriage and Family Therapy in Illinois. Nancy brings her professional training and experience to her intuitive healing practice, to her yoga classes and private sessions, and to her volunteer work in her community. Since 1997, Nancy has taken groups of women to sacred sites in Crete each spring, practicing yoga, ritual, and personal transformation along the way. These journeys are carefully planned and paced with time to integrate learning and experience, to enjoy the remarkable fresh, healthy cuisine, to walk the land and meet the people of modern Crete, making links to the Goddess-centered culture of Bronze Age Crete.
Nancy also worked for many years with young children, initiated the Parent Education program at her community college, where she taught Human Development and trained teachers in Early Childhood Education. She coauthored a textbook in her field, developed Early Childhood Curriculum for the State of Illinois, and ran her own experimental alternative school.
For twenty years, Nancy lived deep in Oak-Hickory Forest near a vast
creek. She walked the land year-round, observing the delicate and subtle
changes to the earth. She entered that sacred landscape for support and healing, often experiencing magical encounters with the wild...owls, hawks, deer, fox, as well as the ancient trees and varied plant species and spirits. For many years her large vegetable and herb garden fed the family, as well as friends and clients of the local food pantry. "May all beings find love and purpose. May we all personally, collectively, and planetary find our way to renewal and survival. Jai Ma and Blessed Be."
Shyam Sundar Dash is an Advisor to MBCM and an honorary Director of the corporation. He is the Founder and President, and residing Priest of the Maa Batakali Temple in Puri, Orissa (India). He has spent his life dedicated to the goddess Kali, and also organizes for social change in his hometown under the auspices of the Maa Batakali Cultural Mission-Puri. In conjunction with Chandra, who serves as the Chairman of the Puri Branch, Shyam has developed a Constitution that provides guidance for programs of transformation in a multiplicity of arenas.
Ravi Jain is an Advisor to MBCM and an honorary Director of the corporation. Now based in Toronto, Ontario (Canada), Ravi brings extensive experience from years of working in the nonprofit sector in India. He adds to MBCM's cross-cultural endeavors, specifically helping to bridge the east/west divide by organizing lecture series, networking events, interfaith ceremonies and fundraising efforts.
Milan K. Dinda, Ph.D. is an Advisor to MBCM and honorary Director. His services are particularly geared towards MBCM's work through SHARANYA. He is also an honorary Director of the corporation. Based in Kolkata (Calcutta), he is a Development Consultant and a researcher providing services to NGO/PVOs, research institutes, government bodies, universities, and donor agencies. He focuses on training, research, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, documentation, planning and budgeting. Further, he is a certified National Trainer and Researcher on HIV/AIDS, with qualifications as an abstract reviewer of different national and international conferences. Milan frequently presents papers at conferences worldwide on different issues of development, such as: the World Bank, sociology, demography, sustainable development and agriculture, women in development, children, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.