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Faculty Updates


This year, we say farewell to many beloved faculty members who have been an integral part of Naropa’s growth and development. With 125 years of combined service to Naropa, these faculty founded programs, chaired departments, and held the lineage of Naropa as a beacon to future generations. We are deeply grateful for their commitment and service and wish them the best in their next endeavors.

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Deborah Bowman, PhD

Deborah Bowman is the founder of Transpersonal Counseling Psychology: Wilderness Therapy and initiated Art Therapy and the Community Counseling Center at Naropa. She is a licensed psychologist, certified Gestalt therapist, and Jungian oriented psychotherapist in private practice. Bowman served as president of Boulder Graduate School, and worked for Boulder County Hospice and Boulder County Social Services. She is a meditation instructor with Nalandabodhi Boulder and author of The Female Buddha, The Luminous Buddha and coauthor of When Your Spouse Comes Out.

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Richard Brown, PhD

After teaching in public school and a Buddhist-inspired K-12, Richard Brown founded Naropa’s Contemplative Education department in 1990. In 2017, Colorado approved Naropa’s contemplative Teacher Licensure Program. Brown creates Buddhist-inspired approaches for nonsectarian programs from pre-K through higher education. He coauthored CARE for Teachers, publishes widely, and teaches internationally. For eight years, he trained Bhutanese educators, contributing to the restoration of the country’s contemplative heritage. Now Director of SPARC Initiatives in Education, Brown mentors Naropa faculty and continues to develop the Teacher Licensure Program.

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Barb Catbagan, MEd

Barbara Catbagan, most recently chaired the Contemplative Education department at Naropa University. Her passion for equity, education, and contemplative practices converged with the opportunity to lead the creation of the Teacher Licensure Program for undergraduate students at Naropa. Former Naropa positions included Director of general counseling track in the Transpersonal Counseling program, Dean of the School of Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies, and Special Advisor to the President for Diversity and Inclusion. In retirement, she plans to continue providing professional development for educators and grow in her own practice.

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Carla Clements, PhD

Carla Clements practiced psychotherapy for three decades, taught full-time at Naropa for the last fifteen years, and was the chair of the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology department for a decade. As part of her career focusing on trauma, she was the Independent Rater for the Boulder MAPS study using MDMA to treat chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD, published a model of trauma in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, and coedited Shadows and Light: Theory, Research, and Practice in Transpersonal Psychology. She is also a yoga practitioner and musician.

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Sarah Harding

Sarah Harding was Associate Professor in the Wisdom Traditions program. A lama in the Shangpa Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, she completed the first three-year retreat for westerners in 1980 under Kalu Rinpoche. Her published translations include Creation and Completion; Machik’s Complete Explanation; The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa; Niguma, Lady of Illusion; Treasury of Knowledge: Esoteric Instructions; Treasury of Precious Instructions: Chöd, and Zhijé. She continues to work on translations and conferences as a fellow of the Tsadra Foundation.

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Laurie Rugenstein, EdD

Laurie Rugenstein served as a core faculty member in the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology program for twenty-one years. She founded and directed a Music Therapy Concentration within this program that ran from 1994–2007. She also served as a music therapist with hospice and as a primary trainer in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. Rugenstein studied voice work with members of the Roy Hart Theatre and incorporated this work in training counseling students.

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Robert Spellman

Robert Spellman was chair of the Visual Arts program at Naropa University from 1996 to 2003, and more recently served as faculty in the MFA Theater: Contemporary Performance and MA Religious Studies programs. He continues his engagement with painting, book illustration, and music. His work is widely exhibited and appears in numerous print and online publications. Since retiring from Naropa earlier this year, Spellman has been overseeing construction of Mountain Water, a refuge for art and meditation in the wilds of southern Colorado. Visit his website at


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Trevor Buser, PhD

Trevor Buser will be joining Naropa in January 2019 as a Core Candidate Associate Professor in the Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling Program. He is a licensed professional counselor, certified school counselor, and approved clinical supervisor. Buser most recently served as a Professor of Counseling at Rider University, where he taught in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling programs. Buser’s research centers on cognitive predictors of self-injury, addictions, and mindfulness in counselor training. He is former editor of the Journal of Addictions and Offender Counseling.

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Marina Dorian, PhD

Marina Dorian joins Naropa as a Core Candidate Associate Professor in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling. After earning her doctoral degree from the University of Illinois in 2007, Dorian held a faculty position at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego. She has conducted international research in Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, and Mexico on family stress and resilience. Dorian has published and presented on the importance of incorporating mindfulness into clinical training and on topics ranging from relational mindfulness to the role of mindfulness in decreasing implicit bias.

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Sara Lewis, PhD

Sara Lewis will join Naropa in January as a Core Candidate Associate Professor in the Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program. She is an anthropologist of religion and medicine who is also trained as a psychotherapist. Her forthcoming book with Cornell University Press, Spacious Minds: Trauma and Resilience in Tibetan Buddhism, investigates how Buddhist concepts of time, memory, and emotion frame recovery practices within the Tibetan diaspora. Lewis looks forward to joining with Naropa students and new colleagues in exploring the dynamic—and challenging—intersections of social justice, engaged Buddhist activism, and contemplative care.

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Jessica Whitesel, LPC, ATR-BC

Jessica Whitesel has been appointed to Core Candidate Assistant Professor in the Contemplative Art Therapy program, where she has been a faculty member since 2007. Her focus includes the integration of EMDR and creative arts therapy, dissociative processes, and Jungian approaches to art therapy. While working as an art therapist at Mount Saint Vincent Childrens Home in Denver, Whitesel co-authored a treatment manual to help clinicians utilize somatosensory approaches in working with traumatized children, called Doodles, Dances, and Ditties: A Somatosensory Handbook, which includes an introduction by Bruce Perry, PhD.