Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Nitartha’s president and spiritual director, is acknowledged to be one of the foremost scholars of his generation in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the founder of Nitartha International, a non-profit educational corporation dedicated to preserving the literary and artistic heritage of the dharma in the East, particularly that of Tibet, and bringing it to the world community. He is a graduate of the Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek in India and has completed courses of study in English and comparative religions at Columbia University.

Rinpoche is an accomplished meditation master, calligrapher, visual artist, and poet. He travels and teaches widely and is well-versed in Western culture and technology and is the founder of Nalandabodhi International, a non-profit organization with study- and meditation centers around the world that provide a complete curriculum of study, meditation, and mindful activity, based on an authentic lineage of Buddhist teachings, that is accessible and relevant to everyday life. He is known for his warmth, humor, and lucid presentation of Buddhist teachings in a manner relevant to contemporary life.

You can find more info on Rinpoche, articles by him, and his teaching schedule on Or follow Rinpoche on Facebook or Twitter.

Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen studied together with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute at Rumtek under some of the greatest living masters in the Kagyü lineage. Acharya lives in Boulder, Colorado and serves as a faculty member of the Religious Studies Department of Naropa University, especially teaching Tibetan tradition Nitartha Institute-based graduate courses.

Acharya works closely with Ponlop Rinpoche in all aspects of leadership for the Institute, particularly in the design of our curriculum, and, after Ponlop Rinpoche, is the Institute’s most revered teacher. He is also one of the main teachers at Nalandabodhi International. He is known for his profound instructions on analytical meditation, his humor and always brings everyday life examples which make even advanced teachings accessible to western students.

Mitra Dr. Karl Brunnhölzl has been a teacher, translator, and oral interpreter at Nitartha Institute since 1999 in both North America and Europe. Originally trained and having worked as a physician for 20 years, since 2006, Karl works as a full-time author and translator from Tibetan and Sanskrit to English in Seattle. He has published fifteen books in several languages (in the US with Snow Lion Publications and Wisdom Publications) on Madhyamaka, Prajñaparamita, Yogacāra, buddha nature, and other topics, including commentaries by several of the Karmapas and other major Kagyu lineage figures. Currently, he has been working on the collection of Indian Mahamudra texts (including many songs of realization) compiled by the Seventh Karmapa.

Mitra Tyler Dewar has been attending Nitartha Institute since 1999, has served as a translator at the Institute since 2000, and joined the Institute’s faculty in 2003. He has contributed written translations to various Nitartha Institute courses and serves as a Tibetan-to-English oral interpreter for Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.


Dr. Phil Stanley

Dr. Phil Stanley has been involved in Nitartha Institute since its founding in 1996 and serves as its Dean of Academic Affairs. He is an Professor of Religious Studies at Naropa University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Buddhism and Tibetan language. He is Co-Director of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon Catalog of the Tibetan and Himalayan Library at the University of Virginia, Co-Convener of the Union Catalog of Buddhist Texts, and Vice-Chair of the International Association of Buddhist Universities.


Scott Wellenbach

Scott Wellenbach has been part of the leadership of Nitartha Institute since its founding in 1996. In 1998, he was appointed Co-Director and serves as head of the Translation Department. A translator of the buddha-dharma from Sanskrit and Tibetan for more than twenty years, and a long-time member of the Nalanda Translation Committee, he served as co-translator and co-editor of the Rain of Wisdom.


Stephanie Johnston

Stephanie Johnston, a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner since 1985 and student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s since 1996, is Nitartha Institute faculty and developed its Science of Creativity and the Arts courses. As a graphic designer and avid practitioner, she trains and supports practice instructors for Nalandabodhi. An alumni of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and certified in Museum studies, Renaissance Art Techniques, and Graphic Design, she loves digging into the symbolic and its applied meaning in art and everyday life.


Jirka Hladiš

Jirka Hladiš has studied under the guidance of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche since 1997. He joined Nitartha Institute in 2002 and was authorized as a faculty member in 2007. Jirka’s interest is in approaching study, analytical meditation and debate as a unified tool for spiritual transformation. Jirka holds graduate degrees both in engineering from Prague Technical University and in Buddhist studies from Naropa University.


Dr. Stuart Horn

Dr. Stuart Horn has been a student of Buddhism since 1996, and a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche since 2002. In 2002 he entered studies at Nitartha Institute. He holds a PhD in History with a focus on the History of Ideas. He is Distinguished Professor of Humanities at NSU in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where he teaches courses on Asian Philosophy and Death and Dying. He served as the Chair of the Board of Nitartha Institute, has been teaching at Nitartha Institute since 2008, and was authorized as a full faculty member in 2010. His passion is the study and teaching of Buddhist philosophical systems and practice.


Israel Lifshitz

Israel Lifshitz holds degrees in Physics and Mathematics from the National University of Mexico. He is involved with Tibetan Buddhism since 1992 and has studied under Kagyu, Gelug and Nyingma teachers. His teaching activities include courses and retreats in more than 35 cities throughout North, Central and South America and has served as translator into Spanish to more than 25 Tibetan and Western teachers. After meeting DPR, he joined Nitartha Institute in 2005, started teaching there in 2008, was authorized as a full faculty member in 2010, and translated all the texts of the foundational and intermediate curriculum into Spanish.


Dr. Sandra Roscoe

Dr. Sandra Roscoe has been a practitioner of Buddhism since 1984 and a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 1996. She began her Tibetan studies and practices in earnest when she met Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche in 2000. She started studying at Nitartha Institute in 2002 and she became a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche the same year. Sandra holds a PhD in psychology with a focus on family systems and was a graduate and undergraduate professor at NSU. Sandra was on the Nalandabodhi Executive Council (NEC) for several years and was director of Nitartha Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies for 3½ years. She began teaching at Nitartha Institute in 2013 and became a fully authorized faculty member in 2016. She loves engaging in dharma conversations with her partner and Frisbee games with her Australian shepherd.


Mark Seibold

Mark Seibold joined the Nitartha faculty in 2005. A student of both Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his son and dharma heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, he is member of the Nalanda Translation Committee. An active member and teacher in the Shambhala community, he lives in Greenfield, MA with his wife, Elizabeth.  He is currently collaborating with Lama Tsöndrü Sangpo on a translation of the Padma Khatang, The Chronicles of Padmasambhava. Attributed to Yeshe Tsogyal, the Chronicles recount the life, teachings and enlightened activity of Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, as he better known in Tibetan culture.


Alison McKee

Alison has been attending Nitartha Institute since 2010 and was authorized as a member of the faculty in 2019. She has been a student of Ponlop Rinpoche since 2012. Her passion is in teaching debate as a way to joyfully and playfully examine and deconstruct one’s habitual concepts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and works as a library administrator.


Susan Stewart

Susan Stewart became a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 1999, first attended Nitartha in 2004, and joined Nitartha faculty in 2019. She regularly facilitates and teaches Nalandabodhi study curriculum in Vancouver, and for many years served as study director for Nalandabodhi Canada. She is a professional artist, educator and Associate Professor at Emily Carr University of Art & Design where she was the founding Dean for the Faculty of Culture and Community, and currently teaches.


Francis Sullivan

Francis Sullivan has been a practitioner and a student of Tibetan Buddhism since the early 1980s. He began his studies at Nitartha Institute in 2008 and in 2019 was made a fully authorized faculty member for the Shedra program. Francis holds a PhD in Biochemistry and lives and teaches in Boulder Colorado.


Guest Faculty


Mitra Lee Worley

Mitra Lee Worley was a founding faculty of Naropa Institute where she has taught Performance, Mudra Space Awareness, Buddhist Studies and Contemplative Education since 1976. A student of  Chogyam Trungpa, she learned Mudra Space Awareness under his guidance. She holds an MA in Buddhist Studies from Naropa University, was a faculty member of the Ngedon School of Buddhist Studies and, since 1998, is a Vajrayana student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and is one of four Western teachers or “mitras” appointed by Ponlop Rinpoche.


Gerry Wiener

Dr. Gerry Wiener began studying Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1971. After Trungpa Rinpoche passed away, he continued his studies under Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 1996. Gerry began his studies of the Tibetan language in 1974 and is a member of the Nalanda Translation Committee and the Nitartha Translation Network. He has translated a number of texts in collaboration with Khenpo Gawang from Namdroling Monastery. Gerry has worked on the Sambhota Tibetan fonts, the Nitartha Digital library, and is generally interested in using computer technology in the support of the study of Tibetan Buddhism. Gerry has a Ph.D. in mathematics.