After earning her undergraduate degree in Psychology from James Madison University in 2007, Ki spent a year of personal integration and full-time service in Seattle Public Schools with the Americorps program known as City Year. As a member of the “City Heroes” team, Ki worked with high school students across King County on a close-knit team of like-minded individuals, engaging in direct action to bring about lasting impacts and positive change. This was a time when she began to learn the transformative power of beloved community and collective care. It was during this period that Ki also began to meditate and study the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), after being introduced to the western Insight Meditation teacher, psychologist, and author, Tara Brach. This first touch point to mindfulness practice and Buddhist psychology, spoken through the words of a deeply compassionate and loving being, would form the integral first steps in Ki’s journey of deepening healing and learning how to skillfully support others.
At the end of her Americorps year, Ki relocated back to her home town of Portland, Oregon. There, she began her professional career in mental health in earnest. Her first and perhaps most challenging job was working with children in psychiatric crisis at Albertina Kerr Centers’ “Sub Acute” unit. This was a short term, 24-hour lock-down, in-patient psychiatric treatment program for children aged 5-18. At Kerr, Ki was trained extensively in Dr. Ross Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving approach to working with children in crisis. This model, which operates from the consciousness that “kids do well if they can,” was tested daily by the high levels of trauma and crisis present the children at Kerr. Ki and her colleagues were tasked to therapeutically support the children at Kerr amidst locked doors, seclusion rooms, and protective holds. This is where Ki first deeply accessed real understanding that all people really are doing the best they can, based on the causes and conditions of their lives.
From that time until now, Ki has worked across three foreign countries and many disciplines, incorporating and teaching the skills she has developed to children and colleagues along the way. In 2016, prompted by the presidential election and seeing with new eyes the degree to which the country and world is and was in need of healing, she began actively studying Nonviolent Communication. She found it an elegant and clear modality to express many of the lessons and practices she had encountered over the course of her life, including Collaborative Problem Solving and Mindfulness Practice. She knew from her very first lesson with NVC trainer Kathy Marchant that this would become her life’s work. She was later invited to co-teach at the Portland Insight Meditation Community with Dharma Teacher and NVC facilitator, Doyle Banks, and co-taught an 11-week course and ongoing practice group with him for several years. It was within the context of the PIMC Dharma community that Ki discovered Naropa University, and the Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology Master’s Degree, and immediately felt called to apply.
On Ki’s first day at Naropa, Director of Mission, Culture, and Inclusive Community, Dr. Amanda Aguilera, offered a training to Ki’s cohort on the Right Use of Power™. Ki knew right away, that this was an important missing piece to all of her training and experience. She saw how RUP could be integrated with NVC to provide powerful tools to address, investigate, and responsibly engage with the important intersections of identity, power, and systems of oppression on the micro, as well as the macro levels.
Ki is passionate about working in community with others to support transformational healing of interpersonal, as well as systemic suffering. She is grateful to have mentorship and support from others in this work, as she walks the path of the compassionate and wise “open-hearted warrior,” humbling knowing the journey is never complete.