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Faculty Updates


Itai IvtzanItai Ivtzan, PhD

Ivtzan joins Naropa as an Associate Professor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling. He is the author of Awareness is Freedom: The Adventure of Psychology and Spirituality, and co-editor of the collections Second Wave Positive Psychology: Embracing the Dark Side of Life, Mindfulness in Positive Psychology: The Science of Meditation and Wellbeing, and Applied Positive Psychology: Integrated Positive Practice. His primary areas of research are spirituality, mindfulness, meaning, and self-actualization.


Christopher David RosalesChristopher David Rosales, MFA

Rosales joins the Kerouac School as a Core Candidate Assistant Professor of Innovative Prose. A journalist, novelist, screenwriter, editor, and musician, he is the fiction editor at SpringGun Press and a PhD candidate at DU. Rosales’s first novel, Silence the Bird, Silence the Keeper, won the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and a McNamara Family Creative Arts Grant. Gods on the Lam was published earlier this year, and Word is Bone is forthcoming from Broken River Books.



Ben WilliamsBen Williams, PhD

Williams joins Naropa as Associate Professor in the undergraduate Yoga Studies and Religious Studies programs. He is a specialist in the tantric traditions of premodern India, with extensive training in the history of Indian religions, Indian philosophy, and Sanskrit literature. Williams conducted his doctoral research as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar at the Pondicherry Center of the École française d’Extrême-Orient, focusing on the intersection of literary theory and theology in the work of Abhinavagupta.




Cynthia Drake, PhD

Drake’s research includes exploring literary forms that transmit non-duality, compassion, and the sacred. She is Assistant Professor and chair of Naropa’s BA in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Leah Friedman, MA

Board-certified art therapist, educator, facilitator, and specialist in therapeutic relationships and group dynamics, Friedman is core faculty and chair of Naropa’s BA Contemplative Art Therapy program.

Jeffrey Pethybridge, PhD

Author of Striven, The Bright Treatise, and North American Editor for Likestarlings, Pethybridge is chair of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and managing director of the Summer Writing Program.



Wendell BeaversWendell Beavers, BA

Beavers was the founding chair of and Associate Professor in the MFA Theater: Contemporary Performance Program. He was a founding faculty member and director of The Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU, where he was one of three major teachers and developers of The Viewpoints. He also co-founded and directed Movement Research, a model for artist run services worldwide. He is the creator of Developmental Technique™ and teaches somatic-based movement and experimental dance and choreography.




Sreedevi BringiSreedevi Bringi, MSc, MS, MA

As an Instructor in Yoga Studies and Religious Studies, Bringi taught courses in meditation, yoga, Sanskrit, Vedanta, Goddess traditions, and Indian sacred texts. Bringi trained in hatha yoga, raja yoga, meditation, Sanskrit, and spiritual practices with her family elders in South India, as well as swamis and yoga teachers at the Bihar School of Yoga and Vivekananda Kendra in Bangalore. With graduate degrees in chemistry, atmospheric sciences, and education, her work offers a brain-mind-consciousness awareness within spiritual and religious traditions.



Christine CaldwellChristine Caldwell, PhD

Caldwell is the founder and former director of Naropa’s Somatic Counseling Program. As a Professor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, she taught courses in somatic counseling theory and skills, clinical neuroscience, research, and diversity. She has also served as Naropa’s vice-president of academic affairs and dean of graduate studies. Caldwell’s innovations in body-centered psychotherapy include the Moving Cycle, highlighting natural play as a means of emphasizing lifelong personal and social evolution through trusting and following body states.




Deb PiranianDeb Piranian, PhD

As Associate Professor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Piranian coordinated the Wilderness Therapy concentration. Her teaching and research interests include the intersections of culture, race, and relationships with the more-than-human natural world and how these intersections inform counseling in outdoor settings. With experience in private practice, serving in psychiatric hospitals and wilderness therapy environments, and consulting in leadership and team development, she is a senior Outward Bound course director. Piranian served as Naropa’s faculty trustee from 2012–2015.



Lee WorleyLee Worley, MA, MFA

Founding faculty member and Professor in Performance, Early Childhood Education, Contemplative Martial Arts, and Contemplative Education, Worley was invited by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche to head Naropa’s Theater Studies Program in 1975. Her teaching interests include Mudra and Maitri Space Awareness, embodied wisdom, and contemplative teaching and learning, and she is working on a book on presence in teaching. Worley helped launch the Ngedon School of Buddhist Studies and is a senior teacher within Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s Nalandabodhi sangha.