As a 40 year practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism and member of Soka
Gakkai International (SGI), Barbara has been a Buddhist Chaplain with
the Kay Center since 2011. Through the practice of Nichiren Buddhism,
people awaken to the dignity and power within, allowing them to
transform their lives on the deepest level thereby creating an
indestructibly happy life state and desire to contribute to a peaceful
society. Barbara has held various responsibilities and leadership roles
within SGI and participated in the many SGI activities aimed at
fostering peace, culture and education both locally and internationally.
Barbara holds two degrees in Psychology, a Bachelor's Degree from
George Washington University and a Masters Degree from Catholic
University. During a career in Criminal Justice, she counseled offenders
and worked with youth and families. She served as a board member for
two DC schools and has worked with a local group of neuropsychologists
in coaching and tutoring youth with learning and emotional disabilities.
She currently has a private tutoring practice.
In 1981 Ven. Dr. Henepola Gunaratana, the president of Washington Buddhist Vihara invited Bhante Katugastota Uparatana to join the temple as a resident monk. Upon arriving, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy at University of District of Colombia. He has served as the Buddhist chaplain at American University in Washington, D.C. since 1989 where he also teaches Vipassana meditation. In an effort to nourish Theravada Buddhism among the Sri Lankan, American and foreign born people in the United States, Bhante Uparatana founded the International Buddhist Center in Wheaton, Maryland in 1996.
A few years ago, Bhante Uparatana was appointed the co-president of the International Buddhist Committee, which encompasses all Mahayana and Theravada temples and centers in the Washington metropolitan area, and year 2000 he was appointed to host International Vesak, a celebration of Vesak by all of the temples and centers collectively.
Connie became a Chaplain at AU for the lay Buddhist organization Soka
Gakkai International (SGI) in 2011. Soka Gakkai means “value creation”
and is based on the teachings and philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism. In
this Buddhism, members seek to develop the ability to live with
confidence, to create value in any circumstance and to contribute to the
well-being of friends, family, and community. Connie was raised in this
Buddhist practice and has taken on leadership positions in her local
SGI community for over a decade. Connie earned a B.A. in American
Studies from Smith College and a J.D. from Northeastern University
School of Law.