Ken Vorndran – is Interim Chair of the Board of Directors. Over the course of forty years, he taught in three high schools, two community colleges, and one university. He retired from Pima Community College, where he spent the last fifteen years of his career as the honors coordinator for the college and teaching the honors research and honors writing courses. Ken represented Pima on the Arizona State Honors Council, for which he was also chair, as well as on the Western Regional Honors Council and the Arizona English Articulation Taskforce. While at Pima, he served as lead faculty and department chair, and he was also an active member of PCCEA, where he served as a campus rep and on the meet-and-confer team. Prior to running the honors program at Pima, Ken taught writing, creative writing, and literature. His essays, stories, and poems have been published in various newspapers, magazines, and literary magazines. He received his BA from the University of Delaware and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.
Frank R. Williams is the former Chair of the Board of Directors and former Co-Director/Director of Tacheria School. He retired in 2017 as the Social Services Director at Casa de la Luz Hospice. Previous to his service with hospice he was in several positions, including Executive Director of Family Counseling Agency (now Our Family Services) and before that served twenty years on the Family Studies faculty at the University of Arizona. He is a United Methodist minister and served churches in California and Arizona and was founding pastor of St. Francis in the Foothills, United Methodist. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, his Masters of Sacred Theology from Boston University School of Theology and his doctorate from Boston University.
Cathy Stafford, Ed.D spent over 35 years in the education profession as a teacher, reading specialist, university professor, and public school administrator. In 2012, after serving in Avondale Elementary School District for 20 years, she retired as their Superintendent.
She is a 2013 graduate of Tacheria Interfaith School of Spiritual Direction where the Spirit stirred the creative longing of re-membering being a teacher. With the support of the Tacheria Interfaith Spirituality Center Board in 2014, Cathy became the Director of Wisdom’s Way Interfaith School in Phoenix as a “sister” spiritual direction school. Cathy’s husband, Gil Stafford Ph.D., D.Min., has been her partner in this pilgrimage. He is a writer and retired Episcopal priest. Cathy retired from this position in June 2022 and became a Board Member.
Cathy is a seeker of Wisdom (Sophia) and a pilgrim of compassionate presence. Her passions are her holy grandboys who are her best teachers, spiritual companioning, The Circle Way, and being open to the Divine in her journey of growing and learning.
Chuck Kirchner, Treasurer, is a 2021 graduate of Tacheria, has had a life-long yearning for the spiritual in our lives, especially our creative lives. An accomplished photographer and photo educator, Chuck has led workshops on photo creativity and it’s spiritual components at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico and the Grunewald Guild in eastern Washington state. While an interesting career in environmental and transportation planning provided a steady source of income over the years, the passion for traveling the world to see first-hand the realm of cultures, rituals and spirit never ceased, nor the desire to create photographs of the journeys. He grew up in a traditional Roman Catholic family and, over the years, transitioned to the Episcopal tradition, currently a member of St. Philip’s in the Hills in Tucson. He has had, and continues to have, a fascination with religions and rituals world-wide and finds kernels of truth in all of them. After living in the Puget Sound area most of his life, he and his wife and daughter relocated to the Sonoran desert over three years ago and finds the Spirit alive and well in the open spaces of the desert as he did in the open spaces of the ocean.
Nihal Hassan is a member (and former Secretary) of the Board of Directors. She is a graduate of the first Wisdom’s Way Interfaith School of Spiritual Direction, the sister school to Tacheria in Phoenix, in 2016.
Nihal was raised in the faith of Islam and is a practicing Muslim. She was first exposed to Interfaith Spirituality when she was interested to take a World Religions class as an elective in high school. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, she was involved in various Interfaith Dialogue groups, prior to her move to Arizona. Nihal has a great love for the Southwest (the sun, the mountains, the saguaro), and was drawn to move from Chicago to the Southwest, where she now has been living since 2006. Nihal is a mental health counselor working with children & families, with a focus on serving Native American Communities. She holds two Master’s Degrees, in Community Counseling and Cultural Anthropology, and is a Registered Dietitian with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition. Nihal pulls on her varied educational backgrounds to provide a more integrative approach to counseling, in order to address the person as a whole.
Phyllis Winters is a native of Phoenix and has a deep appreciation for the desert that surrounds us. She also has a long-standing love for the Pacific Northwest, and the beauty of its forests, rivers, and ocean. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Oregon, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Romance Languages and Secondary Education. After teaching briefly, life brought her back to Phoenix and the business world. She loved her work, first in training and development, then in human resources and executive management. After retirement, Phyllis wanted to focus more on her spiritual self, which led her to become a 2021 graduate of Wisdom’s Way. She continues to learn and grow, and
is now discerning where her path will lead her.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”
– Desmond Tutu
Manuel Padilla (he/him/el) was born and raised in Sonora, Mexico, where his spiritual journey began. Born and raised Catholic he currently thinks that The Divine is bigger than any religion and God is present in every moment of your life waiting for you to be open and ready to communicate.
He joined the Tucson community in 2016. Almost the moment he arrived, he found an opportunity to volunteer as a tutor at Literacy Connects. He discovered a need for GED instruction in Spanish, so he approached the organization to develop the GED program in Spanish. He has been involved in the adult education field ever since and is passionate about helping his students. This involves not only their academic activities but their ability to “navigate the system” and identify their strengths to face daily life. He loves his Latino roots and is an advocate for the rights of immigrants and the undocumented. Manuel believes that if anything can be done to lighten the barriers that oppress his community, it must be done. Manuel is a Spiritual Direction graduate from Tacheria, Class of 2021 and he currently serves as part of the Board of Directors at ScholarshipsAz, a non profit organization that is committed to advocate for better opportunities for undocumented youth.
Trish Harris is a 2021 graduate of Tacheria. She is a seeker of deeper understanding of herself and others. Living in Tucson for 25 years she raised 5 wonderful kids and loves empty nesting now with her husband and their cat. The owner and teacher of Divine Journey Yoga since 2018 Trish finds such fulfillment in teaching others how to understand and nurture themselves through breath and movement. As of June of 2022 she completed the coaching certification in Organic Intelligence, a nervous system regulation process through conversation. She looks forward to serving as secretary on the Tacheria board starting September of 2023.
Mike Seiler is a 2021 graduate of Tacheria, and a recent graduate of The School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee. He will be ordained to priestly ministry in the Episcopal Church in 2024, and also provides Spiritual Direction / Companionship independently.
Robert Effertz completed the spiritual direction course at Tacheria in 2019 and is currently serving on the board of directors at Tacheria. He is a retired school psychologist and counselor, having worked in the public schools over 20 years.
Bob’s spiritual pursuits began as a child when he attended the Christian Church until a young man, serving as both a junior deacon and also Sunday School Teacher. In his twenties, after extensive travel throughout Asia, he was drawn to the Buddhist teachings. Later, while living and teaching in Japan, he got immersed in Vipassana Mediation, and subsequently spent much time in India at centers of Buddhist mediation, including a pilgrimage to Bodhgaya where the Buddha was enlightened. While in India on one trip, he was drawn to the teachings of Ramana Maharshi: “We have the inherent capacity to notice our pure sense of existence, the feeling of ‘I AM’ that never changes and is always with us.” Later, because of Bob’s sense of service, he stayed at the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram in Indonesia off and on for several years where he joined in activities to promote understanding and acceptance of all spiritual traditions. In the U.S. he turns to Adyashanti for spiritual guidance with his teaching that “the ability to perceive absolute completeness, or God, in all things as well as in oneself, is to see and perceive the reality of life here and now.” Bob was initiated as a Sufi and has a spiritual director with an interfaith approach. As Bob loves to dance as well as play a variety of world ethnic instruments, he strives to promote interfaith spiritual acceptance as a leader of the Dances of Universal Peace in Tucson.