OUR TEAM

Zayda Vallejo

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Originally from Colombia, South America, Zayda completed a BS in Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and a Master's Degree in Political Economy at Oxford University. She is an adjunct faculty member and mindfulness trainer at Harvard University CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, UCSD Center for Mindfulness, and Brown University Mindfulness Center. In 2013 she and her husband co-founded The HeartWell Institute, an urban, non-profit retreat and community wellness center in Central Massachusetts. Zayda has been practicing meditation, yoga, and mindfulness since 1978, as a way of cultivating her own clarity, equanimity, and self-compassion. Since 2003 she has been teaching mindfulness classes, leading retreats, and mentoring professionals with great joy and passion in an effort to give back in a small way all that she has received. She holds a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification from the Kripalu School of Yoga. One of the greatest fortunes in her life is to have lived in Nepal for three years and studied under the guidance of H.E. Choegyal Rinpoche, with whom she continues to be in close communication. Zayda often reminds herself and others that she teaches what she needs to learn and practice.





Co-Founder & Faculty

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Bob Lenhardt

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Bob was born in Central Pennsylvania, received his BA from Penn State University in 1972, and later attained a master's degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston College in 1988. He worked as a therapist and a director in the Employee Assistance Program field for 27 years, where he specialized in workplace addiction intervention and critical incident stress response. He is a U.S. DOT Qualified Substance Abuse Professional and has maintained a part-time private psychotherapy practice in Worcester since 1998. He completed the Practicum for Mindfulness Base Stress Reduction from the UMass Center for Mindfulness in 2005. The roots of Bob’s interest in co-founding HeartWell probably began from his introduction to mindfulness through the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh in the mid-1980’s. His personal practice expanded after attending retreats at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health starting in 1989. Bob met Zayda there in 2004. They had both been living in the Worcester area and one their earliest conversations was expressing a mutual wish that Worcester would have an affordable, accessible place dedicated to healthy living and a place that supports people seeking to enrich their own contemplative practices.





Co-Founder & Faculty

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Billie Kasapakis

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Juan-José Carreón-Granados was born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1965-1969) at the FacultaId de Ingeniería, FI, at National University, UNAM, Mexico; where he was a full-time professor of Intelligent Systems (1999-2019). He has a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies at Political and Social Sciences Faculty, UNAM, where he has been professor of Social History, and he has been Head of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at FI, UNAM. He has been a shareholder and advisor to numerous companies, and to more than a dozen research and interest groups, on issues related to information and communication technologies, as well as the social impact of technology. He has published more than 2,100 articles, in addition to having participated in hundreds of academic, technological and business events.





Program Director

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Bertha-Elena Rojas 

Director of Operations and Consultant 

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Originally from Colombia, South America, Zayda completed a BS in Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and a Master's Degree in Political Economy at Oxford University. She is an adjunct faculty member and mindfulness trainer at Harvard University CHA Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, UCSD Center for Mindfulness, and Brown University Mindfulness Center. In 2013 she and her husband co-founded The HeartWell Institute, an urban, non-profit retreat and community wellness center in Central Massachusetts. Zayda has been practicing meditation, yoga, and mindfulness since 1978, as a way of cultivating her own clarity, equanimity, and self-compassion. Since 2003 she has been teaching mindfulness classes, leading retreats, and mentoring professionals with great joy and passion in an effort to give back in a small way all that she has received. She holds a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification from the Kripalu School of Yoga. One of the greatest fortunes in her life is to have lived in Nepal for three years and studied under the guidance of H.E. Choegyal Rinpoche, with whom she continues to be in close communication. Zayda often reminds herself and others that she teaches what she needs to learn and practice.





Patricio Barriga

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Patricio Barriga has more than 30 years of experience in global business development as an entrepreneur, consultant, and coach. He is a certified MBSR teacher receiving his training from the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society; University of Massachusetts Medical School and The Mindfulness Center; and Brown University School of Public Health, Senior Instruct of CARE, Cultivating Awareness and Resilience for Educators. Additional training includes completion of the Center of Mindful Self Compassion curriculum and certification as instructor for Mindfulness without Borders program for youth and educators.

Patricio serves as an International Relations Coordinator and Senior Instructor with the Institute for Mindful Leadership. He has been developing his Mindful Leadership experience for the last ten years. Patricio has been presenting and teaching workshops, retreats, seminars, and keynotes in schools, universities, congresses, and corporations, in Europe, US, and South America. He is a bilingual native Spanish speaker. He is interested in contributing to further develop Mindfulness programs to the world.





Professional Coach 

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Juan-José Carreón-Granados

Special Events Coordinator

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Juan-José Carreón-Granados was born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1965-1969) at the FacultaId de Ingeniería, FI, at National University, UNAM, Mexico; where he was a full-time professor of Intelligent Systems (1999-2019). He has a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies at Political and Social Sciences Faculty, UNAM, where he has been professor of Social History, and he has been Head of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at FI, UNAM. He has been a shareholder and advisor to numerous companies, and to more than a dozen research and interest groups, on issues related to information and communication technologies, as well as the social impact of technology. He has published more than 2,100 articles, in addition to having participated in hundreds of academic, technological and business events.





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Delia Calixtro

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Dr. Bertha-Elena Rojas is the Director of Operations at the HeartWell Institute in Worcester, MA. She has integrated health and wellness habits in her lifestyle for a long time to decrease health risks and improve stress management. She is a certified culinary coach. She also completed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and has been a mindfulness practitioner for several years. In recent years, Dr. Rojas connection with The HeartWell Institute emerged as she researched the intersection between mindfulness and social justice. She co-authored the Compassionate Consciousness Framework and the Mindfulness as a Catalyst for Collective Healing program with Zayda Vallejo, which promote mindfulness as a vehicle for personal and relational growth and of collective healing through cultural and racial literacy. Dr. Rojas is a native of Caracas, Venezuela where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She immigrated to the United States in 1990 to work in community mental health. She earned her Doctor in Psychology degree at William James College in 1998 and her Master’s in Education, School Leadership and Administration at Worcester State University in 2011. Currently, Dr. Rojas is a consultant to several school districts, community organizations and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She focuses on the capacity building of equity, cultural and racial literacy across multiple dimensions, through innovative frameworks that integrate Neuroscience, Education,
Psychology, Social Justice, and Wellness paradigms. She is a Board Member and the Advocacy Chair of the Multi-state Association for Bilingual Education (MABE) and a Board Member of the Latino Education Institute at Worcester State University.





Instructor

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