- Academic Development CommitteeCo-Chair
- PhD ScholarshipsCommittee Member
Sydney is Research Director for the Academic Development Committee. She develops relationships with potential grantees in academic settings to gather information that the committee needs to make informed decisions about proposals submitted for funding. In her role as a committee member, she assesses the merits of proposals, which vary from requests for setting up centers for Buddhist study to creating resource material for scholars to use in developing programs to support both postdoctoral and graduate students, and more. She is actively involved in bringing about Rinpoche’s vision for supporting the academic study of Buddhist in Western countries and elsewhere.
Sydney has an unusually varied background. Her first career was in nursing, followed by a stint as a graduate student in English literature and quickly followed by study and certification as a clinical social worker. She obtained a PhD in social work at the age of 55 from UC Berkeley and worked in leadership training with a major global consulting firm. That role enabled her to develop with her husband, Chris, a course in leadership for monks, khenpos, and leaders in Rinpoche’s mandala and for a group of young Tibetan and Bhutanese tulkus.
I had tentatively connected with another teacher who was not quite right for me. I heard about Rinpoche, went to one of his introductory talks, and knew as soon as he walked into the room that he was my teacher. I have never wavered from that decision. In my personal life, I lost a child when he was 17 and I was still a student at Berkeley. In that same period of time, both my mother and my father died. These losses brought painfully tangible experiences of impermanence and “death is real, it comes without warning, this body will be a corpse.” It has also heightened my awareness of the suffering of others.