Dr. Fariba Enteshari - Founder & Executive Director

Fariba Enteshari, EdD, Founder and Executive Director of Rumi Educational Center is an international educator, specializing in Rumi. Through her years of teaching Rumi to a wide variety of students, she has researched the beneficial and healing effects of Rumi’s poetry on the lives of her students. Born in Iran, she is fluent in Rumi’s native language and culture, allowing her to share with you the original melody and cadences of his language. Her diverse background will help the participants draw from many cultural and religious traditions, while developing their own personal voice for growth.

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Harry (Rick) Moody, PhD - Board Chair

Harry R. Moody, Ph.D., recently retired as Vice President of cademic Affairs for AARP in Washington, DC. Dr. Moody previously served as co-founder and Executive Director of the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College and Chairman of the Board of Elderhostel (now Road Scholar). Harry (Rick) Moodyis the author of over 100 scholarly articles, as well as a number of books, including Ethics in an Aging Society and The Five Stages of the Soul. He is a Creative Longevity and Wisdom Outstanding Scholar at Fielding Graduate University. He is the editor of the newsletter, "Human Values in Aging" and was named by Utne Reader Magazine as one of“50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.”

Samaneh Oladi, PhD - Board President

Samaneh Oladi received her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Oladi is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She specializes in women’s rights, Islamic family law, and Islamic mysticism. Dr. Oladi’s research and teaching interests range across various areas including Sufism and Interreligious and Intercultural dialogue and outreach. She has worked with interfaith groups including as a board member of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara County. Dr. Oladi is an active member of the Rumi Corner, a Canadian-based educational center that specializes in critical thinking, and wisdom learning for young children


Dr. Anna DiStefano - Secretary

Anna DiStefano has been a faculty member and administrator in higher education for forty years.  Most recently, she was on the doctoral faculty of the School of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University for seven years.  Before that, she served as Provost (Chief Academic Officer) for Fielding from 1996 to 2010.  She became a member of the Fielding community in 1983 serving in several senior executive capacities including Vice President of Academic Planning & Program Development, and Dean, Human & Organization Development (HOD). She is a founding member of the Worldwide Network for Gender Empowerment (WNGE).  Dr. DiStefano served as a WSCUC Commissioner from 2006-2012, serving as Chair of the Policy & Planning Committee and the Handbook Revision Steering Committee.  Before joining Fielding, she was on the faculty of the Graduate Institute of Education at Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. DiStefano received her EdD (1977) and her M.Ed. (1972), both in counseling, from Boston University. Her undergraduate degree, A.B. in history (1969), was received from Trinity College, D.C.  She was also an American Council of Education Fellow (1987 - 1988). Dr. DiStefano's specialized areas of interest are: higher educational leadership and governance; accreditation; educational equity; new learning environments; and feminist research.


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Alice MacDonald - Board Treasurer

Alice MacDonald has been a member of the Word and Life Community for 38 years serving in various leadership roles, including Coordinator for many of those years and retiring in March of 2008. In 1998 she received her Masters Degree in Theology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She was also a founding member of the Institute for Adult Spirituality which held two series a year at the Franciscan Renewal Center at Mission Santa Barbara until 2006. Her interest lies in the Contemplative practice of Silence as an experiential path to healing the great divorce between God and the world and Spirit and Matter. Her spiritual formation has been most profoundly influenced by the Word and Life Community and by the evolutionary spirituality of Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and by the spirituality of Franciscan priests Fr. Virgil Cordano and Fr. Richard Rohr. Also Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Ilia Delio, Barbara Marx Hubbard and other evolutionaries have been an important resource in understanding how the New Cosmology is transforming spiritual life. 

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Kay Lindahl - Board Advisor

Kay Lindahl is founder of The Listening Center, author of the award winning book, The Sacred Art of Listening, and a Certified Listening Professional. She is a skilled presenter and workshop leader who teaches that listening is a creative force that transforms relationships.  She demonstrates listening as a way of being profoundly present with each other and our own inner wisdom. In addition she is the author of Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening, How Does God Listen co-editor of Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Pepperdine University. 


Patricia Mathes Cane, PhD - Board Advisor

Patricia Mathes Cane, Ph.D. is founder and director of Capacitar International, a project in multicultural wellness education that focuses on personal and societal healing and transformation. For 28 years, Patricia has taught thousands of trainings in over 40 countries. She has developed programs for grassroots groups and professionals in areas affected by trauma, violence and disasters, in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. She has a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of San Francisco, an M.A. in Psychology from Santa Clara University, and a Ph.D. in Multicultural Wellness Education from The Union Institute and University, Cincinnati OH. Her doctoral research specialized in trauma studies related to survivors of natural disasters and political violence in Central America. Patricia is author of Trauma Healing and Transformation, as well as other Capacitar manuals for schools, for refugee accompaniment, for human rights defenders, for caregivers, for persons with HIV and cancer, and for trauma counselors.

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Janice Setser - Board Advisor

Janice is the Executive Director of Quail Springs Permaculture, a leading environmental educational nonprofit that empowers students of all ages and backgrounds with knowledge, skills and inspiration essential to cultivating ecological and social health. She has degrees in both Food Science and Nutrition and International Development.These were the vehicles for her interest in different countries and cultures. She served a three-year stint in the Peace Corps and spent multiple years working with Mercy Corps and other NGOs. She resided overseas for nearly 18 years, living and working in rural villages, towns, and occasionally in larger cities. Janice honed her expertise in program development, administration, and project management, while steeped in rich cultural traditions alongside ancient indigenous cultures of Bolivia and unique Persian cultures of Tajikistan. Janice was first introduced to the poetry of Rumi by Dr. Fariba Enteshari in 2006. It was in those evening classes unfolding the deep meanings behind the mystical words, that her soul began stirring. And now, living full time back in the United States, Janice is immersed in a personal journey of soul initiation. This journey is fueled by great soul poets who have traversed this path before. The poetry of Jalal Al Din Rumi serves as an invitation – an invocation – to “Run from what’s comfortable." His words are a reminder that “Being a candle is not easy. In order to give light, one must first burn.” Janice reflects the wisdom of Rumi in her daily life and work in caring for the environment and tackling difficult projects both nationally and internationally.



Lyza Fontana - Creative Director

Lyza Fontana is a Creative Development Coach/Trainer, Workshop Facilitator, and Founder of She is a Master’s Degree candidate at Saybrook University in Psychology, with a specialization in Creative Studies. Lyza is a certified trainer of Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) for personal empowerment. Currently, she is earning her life coaching certification from IPEC® (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching), and is a member of the Creativity Coaching Association.

Lyza has joined Rumi Educational Center as Creative Director to support the Youth Programs initiative, bringing creative workshops to the community that support self-discovery and personal growth through art making and contemplation.

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