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Ali Smith was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he is a graduate of the Friends School of Baltimore and the University of Maryland, College Park, where he received a BS in Environmental Science and Policy with a Biodiversity specialization. Ali started his journey with contemplative practices as a small child, learning meditation from his father and attending the Kriya Yoga based Divine Life Church of Absolute Oneness run by Swami Shankarananda. He deepened his practice as a young adult, learning yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and breathwork from his teacher and godfather Will Joyner.
Ali has almost 20 years’ experience teaching yoga, mindfulness, and meditation internationally to a broad demographic spectrum that includes schools, retreat centers, wellness centers, mental crisis facilities, detention centers, drug treatment centers, the corporate setting, as well as private one-on-one sessions. He co-founded the Holistic Life Foundation in 2001. During his tenure as Executive Director, his leadership helped guide HLF to grow an organization that employed over 50 people, and served communities worldwide. He is a published author, written several curriculums, and is a pioneer in the fields of yoga and mindfulness in education, as well as trauma informed yoga and mindfulness, developing best practices that are used around the world. Ali has taught in seven countries on three continents.
His work has been featured on the CBS News, CNN, NBC Nightly News, PBS, as well as in Oprah Magazine and Forbes. Ali is also a co-host of the Look Again Podcast and Co-Owner of the Involution Group.
Atman Smith is one of the Co-founders of the Holistic Life Foundation. Since 2001, he has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to a diverse population including underserved and high-risk youth in Baltimore City Public Schools, drug treatment centers, wellness centers, and colleges. A native of Baltimore, Atman attended the University of Maryland, College Park where he was a letter award winner for the University’s men's basketball team. He graduated with a B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice. His work with the Holistic Life Foundation has been featured on Making a Difference on the NBC Nightly News, CNN, and CBS, as well as O the Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Upworthy, Mindful Magazine, Yoga Journal, Shambala Sun, and many other publications.
Andres Gonzalez is one of the Co-Founders of the Holistic Life Foundation. For twenty years, Andres has taught yoga to diverse populations throughout the world, including Baltimore City Public School students, drug treatment centers, mental crisis facilities, homeless shelters, wellness centers, colleges, private schools and other various venues throughout the nation. He has partnered with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health and the Penn State’s Prevention Research Center on a Stress and Relaxation Study and is a published author in the Journal of Children’s Services. His work with the Holistic Life Foundation has been featured on Making a Difference on the NBC Nightly News, CNN, and CBS, as well as O the Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Upworthy, Mindful Magazine, Yoga Journal, Shambala Sun, and many other publications. He is a certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, maintains a B.S. in Marketing from University of Maryland, College Park and an MBA from the University of Maryland, University College.
F. Cassie Sifford-Smith is currently Director of Community Partnership and Engagement at Holistic Life Foundation. Cassie was educated in Baltimore, Maryland, where she earned a degree in Business Administration from Morgan State University and a Master’s in Education from Coppin State University. Early on, Cassie exposed her son’s, Ali and Atman, to the gifts of mindfulness in daily life and laid the groundwork for them to pursue lives dedicated to serving others using mindfulness as a platform. Cassie has 30 plus years of professional experience in developing, implementing, sustaining, and evaluating prevention and intervention programs for youth, families, and communities. For over fourteen years, she coordinated the social emotional competency program PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Since the inception of the Holistic Life Foundation, Cassie has been a seminal force, using her expertise to support the organization in gaining best results from their programming. Her established relationships with educational leaders promote understanding of the services and programs HLF offers to the community. Cassie’s networking role continues at HLF as she seeks collaborations with new organizations, clearly communicating the mission to prospective partners.
Nicole Humphreys is our Director of Maryland and DC Programs and oversees all programming in those regions. She also coordinates with all of HLF’s program partners, including Baltimore City and County Public Schools, Juvenile detention facilities and individual businesses. The Oakland, California native’s unique and diverse background includes a degree from Hampton University, Baltimore International College (Culinary School) and University of Maryland Baltimore County where she received the MA in teaching that launched her 15 year career as a dedicated Baltimore City educator and after school site coordinator. Since 2017, this avid Hip Hip fan has been indispensable in our mission to support underserved students and community organization leaders by infusing SEL into their current program structures and guiding them on the impact of secondary trauma and the importance of anyone working with students to incorporate self-care for themselves while equipping their students with the social and emotional skills needed to identify and work through that trauma. Somehow, in addition to all of that, this dedicated mother of 2 finds time to recruit and supervise HLF’s staff of yoga and wellness teachers to ensure they deliver high quality programming that meets the needs of our partners. One of the true All Stars of our family.
Kris Green is our Office manager and a yoga and mindfulness instructor, and has been working with the Holistic Life Foundation for 3 years. Born and raised in Baltimore, she has enjoyed working professionally with children and young adults in the community for the past 22 years. An amateur genealogist and avid hugger, she makes everyone feel welcome and appreciated. She is a certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
Jon Kozesky is the Director of Development and began his career in the Ohio Statehouse, before serving in the offices of U.S. Congressman Steven LaTourette and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In both of these roles, Jon assisted constituents in identifying and pursuing various forms of government funding. Since that time, Jon has worked with over a hundred nonprofits with both national and international scopes of work, in identifying and securing government and private funding, and then executing on the deliverables of those funding proposals. Before his career in nonprofit development, Jon proudly worked as a firefighter and water rescue diver
Ross Robinson is the Manager of Training, Program Implementation, and Quality at Holistic Life Foundation. He conducts on going staff training, workshops, and evaluates Holistic Life Foundation programming. Ross is certified in trauma-informed yoga through TCTSY's program. Traveling nationally, Ross leads residencies and conducts speaking engagements on HLF's mission. He is also a certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Ross started off his mindfulness journey with the Holistic Life Foundation 13 years ago as a volunteer while in High School. After graduation he attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore as an English major and Marketing minor. After college he ventured off into the sales industry. Wanting more of a challenge he took on the job of becoming a brand consultant for Vium brand and marketing group. He felt unfulfilled while working in sales, consulting, and marketing. This led him to go back to his roots working full time with the Holistic Life Foundation. In this present journey with HLF has brought back the complete feeling of self purpose within him while he serves his community. Ross is on path for continued growth with Holistic Life Foundation, while beginning to implement his own community programs.
Loraine Arikat is a yoga instructor with the Holistic Life Foundation. She is a daughter of immigrants from Kerala, India. Loraine takes pride in all the homes that have shaped her: Ohio, Iowa, Chicago, Washington, and now Baltimore. Through yoga, she found a home in herself and hopes to share this with youth.
Devin Branch was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Renaissance Academy High School in 2016. He is an aspiring model, dancer, and choreographer who has held his own dance classes to give youth the opportunity to express themselves through the love of dance. Devin was part of our recent Workforce Development Program and is excited to bring mindfulness, his positive energy, and his familiarity of living in Baltimore to the youth.
Ramon Brown is a yoga instructor with the Holistic Life Foundation and currently works full time as a Mindful Moment Program Specialist at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School. Ra’mon first met Ali, Atman and Andy as a second grade student in 2002. Since, he has developed a deep personal relationship with the organization, as well as a personal yoga practice that has allowed him to navigate the many challenges of growing up in West Baltimore. He has participated in the Holistic Life Foundations mentoring program as both a mentor and mentee, taught yoga to the Digital Harbor High School track team, and has attended several yoga teacher development retreats with the Holistic Life Foundation. Ra’mon’s other main interest is permaculture and environmental conservation. He recently attended a residential permaculture study course with the help of the Holistic Life Foundation, and is currently seeking to complete his bachelor’s degree in the field.
Terrance Blizzard is in training to become a yoga instructor and is currently working at Holistic Me After School Program at Robert W.Coleman Elementary School and worked the Holistic Me Summer Program at Robert W. Coleman. Terrence graduated from W.E.B Dubois High School in 2004 and completed Computer Literacy At BCCC in 2005. Terrence was born and raised in East Baltimore. He is very active in the community and loves to give back to those in need and be a inspiration to youth. He is also an inspiring hip hop artist currently signed to M.A.M Records (Motivated Artist Making Records). He hopes to inspire people as he works to advance his career.
Dimaun Coleman is a Yoga Instructor for the Holistic Life Foundation. He was born and raised in east Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from Baltimore City College High School in the year 2016, and has been a member of the HLF family every since summer of 2016. He has musical experience with every percussion instrument, and has spread the teachings of yoga and percussion to multiple different sites in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mel Freeman is a yoga teacher with the Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. He initially began his yoga career by attending a couples yoga night with his wife, Carol, where most of the other men in the room were there to keep their wives happy as well. The night ended with some acro-yoga with his wife holding him in the air. After a few more classes his wife decided to take him on a yoga retreat which is where he began to truly understand the amazing healing and transformation that accompanied a regular yoga practice. As life progresses we encounter highs and lows and sometimes we don't know how to manage the lows but fortunately, Yoga, helped him battle depression due to a cancer scare and a very stressful job. Once he began practicing yoga regularly, he started to hear about the journeys of other Yogis and began to consider becoming a yogi himself.
Candace Glover is a yoga teacher with the Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. Drawn to the mission of promoting positive community and holistic knowledge, this Washingtonian native relocated from the DC area to work for HLF. With a 200-accredited hour certification as a RYT and a passion for all things yoga, she flexes her yogic muscles every day by empowering others through versatile mindfulness practices while stimulating the hearts and minds of Baltimore's youth. This former flight attendant uses her worldly influence and desire for mixing things up to engage students as they explore the 8 limbs of yoga. Candace seeks to provide an authentic outlook on the holistic approach by leading by example. Candace studied human services and general studies at Stevenson University.
Jamaal Hawkins joined HLF in 2017. As a Baltimore native, Jamaal uses his knowledge as a former youth football couch and the familiarity of being in his old stomping grounds as a characteristic to empower the youth of his hometown. Through yoga and mindfulness, Jamaal has learned the value of self-care and the gift of being present in the moment. This addage has increased benefit in allowing Jamaal to truly give back to the city that raised him while insuring that all of the adolescents he encounters see the beauty in existing in the present. Jamaal is happiest when spending time with his family. Before all is said and done, he hopes to be able to visit every major Sports Hall of Fame Center and crossing it off his bucket list.
Reese Jacobs is a young up and coming talent that was inducted as a mindfulness leader to the recent Akwesasne HLF Satellite program. He has some background in psychology and uses that to his advantage in caring for other humans and respecting the world of trauma informed care. He strives to make the halls of the schools he once walked a place of safety and raw unapologetic growth and development for the youth. He also hopes to remind the youth of the potential that they can offer the world as well as the potential the world can offer them. He is still relatively new to the world of yoga and mindfulness, but pledges to us his opportunity to serve as a testimonial mindful practice and extend his hand to help those in need onto the magic carpet ride to show them a whole new world.
Visharad Moktan serves as a Yoga Instructor with the Holistic Life Foundation. He was born in Kathmandu, Nepal and raised in Nepal, Brunei, and England. He and his family moved from Nepal and settled in Baltimore, MD in early 2005. Yoga and meditation has always been a big part of his family’s culture. He vividly remembers— as a very young boy, his grandfather and uncle teaching him how to meditate. In 2015, after experiencing chronic back pain, he went back to his roots and began practicing yoga and became an avid meditator because of anxiety. Yoga and mindfulness has become a part of his lifestyle and the practice has made profound changes in many areas of his life especially with mindset. He has graduated from Towson University with a B.S in Health Education and Promotion with a specialization in community health. He loves to share his passion for health and well-being, yoga and mindfulness to uplift and inspire individuals of all ages. He aims to help others achieve the empowering and life-changing experiences that can be gained through yoga and mindfulness as he did.
Veronica Smith is 28 years old and has been working with HLF for 5+ years but she has had yoga around her whole life. Her dad would wake her up first thing in the morning and do a bunch of different exercises and she was always intrigued by what he was doing? When she joined HLF it was a different direction of what she was used too, but it opened her mind to a world of beautiful things & people. She is currently at Fort Worthington Elementary with our mindful moment program. She also teaches yoga at our after school program for grades K-5.
Sara Buth Waire is a Yoga Teacher with Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. She was born in Thailand and raised in Upstate NY. Her family fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and settled in the US as Refugees in the early 1980s. Meditation was always a big part of her family’s culture and everyday life. Sara found a regular yoga practice after many years of chronic back pain as an adult and hasn’t looked back. She began teaching Yoga in 2018 after receiving her RYT-200Hr in Ashtanga based yoga. Sara teaches yoga in the community to help share the healing, calming, and empowering benefits of yoga.