Ali Smith co-founded the Holistic Life Foundation in 2001, where he currently serves as Executive Director. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and graduate of the Friends School of Baltimore and the University of Maryland, College Park, receiving a BS in Environmental Science and Policy with a Biodiversity specialization. He has over 15 years of experience teaching yoga and mindfulness to diverse populations. Through his work at the Holistic Life Foundation he has helped develop and pilot yoga and mindfulness programs at public and private schools, drug treatment centers, juvenile detention centers, mental crisis facilities, and retreat centers, nationally and internationally. Ali has authored a series of children’s books, and co-authored several yoga and mindfulness based curriculum’s, as well as developed numerous workshops and training’s. 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.
Atman Smith is a Co-founder of the Holistic Life Foundation, where he served as Director of Youth Programming for ten years Director of Fundraising for five years and currently serves as the Director of Development. 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 has been the Co-Founder and Marketing Director for the Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. in Baltimore, MD since 2001. For sixteen 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 and throughout the world. 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.
Dipa Moktan is currently the Director of Operations at the Holistic Life Foundation. Educated in Singapore and Nepal, Dipa has 36 years of professional experience working with INGOs and NGO in finance and administration. Born and brought up in Singapore, and married in Kathmandu, Nepal she now resides in Baltimore, Maryland and loves photography, cooking and reading.
Fredine C. Sifford-Smith is currently the Director of Programs at the Holistic Life Foundation. Cassie, was educated in Baltimore Maryland, where she earned a degree in Business Administration from Morgan State University and a Masters in Education from Coppin State University. She has 30 years of professional experience in developing, implementing, sustaining, and evaluating prevention and intervention programs for youths. For over 14 years coordinated and strategically facilitated the implementation and the sustainability of social emotional competency program PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) in the Baltimore City Public Schools.
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.
Wesley Jamison is the Mentor Program Manager at Holistic Life Foundation. He was born and raised in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with an undergraduate degree in Human and Organizational Development and a Masters in Community Development and Action. After Vanderbilt, Wes worked in New York City for 5 years before seeking greener grasses. This search led him to a fellowship in South Africa working to stem the tide of HIV and promote adolescent health with Grassroot Soccer. After a year writing and managing grants, Wes moved back home and served as the Managing Director at the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council. As Managing Director, Wes was responsible for developing programs to educating the public creating a community centered around agriculture. Currently he works in Baltimore in a number of facets looking to bring health and development to youth. With the Holistic Life Foundation, he manages a mentor program, Holistic Roots, for participants in need of support and looks to create a “continuum of care” that starts in elementary school and supports students through high school graduation, entry into the workforce, college, and beyond.
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.
Larry Jackson is a freelance cinematographer who was born, raised and continues to live in West Baltimore. Often referred to as a cinematographer-prodigy by his peers, mentors and colleagues, his first experience with film-making was in the 5th grade at the Holistic Life Foundation Holistic Me after school program. There the founders, his only support system at the time, gave Larry a video camera and a safe place to practice filming. Larry later interned at the Mayor’s Office of Cable and Communications during his senior year of high school. Soon after, Dr. Andres Alonso, the former CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, hired Larry as a paid intern to work as a videographer and editor at the Education Channel. Some of Larry’s recent and current clients include: Governor’s Campaign for Re-election; Democratic Governor’s Association; Ted Talks; Discovery Channel; 12 O’Clock Boys feature documentary; Mario Armstrong CNBC (shown on CNN website); Indiegogo (shown on Huffington Post); Reggie Wells (Oprah’s long time make-up artist); and Raw Honey Films, the company producing the Wings Documentary. Larry began filming for the Wings Documentary six years ago when he was studying film-making at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Currently, Larry is a mentor with the Holistic Life Foundation, teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to youth, adults and the elderly.
Kent Tindal is a yoga instructor with the Holistic Life Foundation, as well as a freelance actor. He currently works full time as a Mindful Moments Program Specialist at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School. Kent was first exposed to mindfulness, yoga and the work of the Holistic Life Foundation while in high school, through his friend Jamar Peete (a mentee of Ali, Atman and Andy). Since he has attended several training retreats with HLF and has delved deeper into contemplative practices. Kent also draws on his experience working with Baltimore City Parks and Recreations Department as a youth activities coordinator, leading drama and acting classes for K-12 students. In the future, Kent hopes to further his acting career in film, television and Broadway.
Jazmine Blackwell is a yoga instructor with the Holistic Life Foundation, as a well as a freelance model and model coach. She currently works full time as a Mindful Moment Program Specialist at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School. Born and raised in West Baltimore, Jazmine was first exposed to contemplative practice by her father. Throughout her late teens and early twenties, she maintained a personal yoga and mindfulness practice as a means of centering herself in daily life. Jazmine attended her first official training as a yoga instructor in 2014, through the Holistic Life Foundations Yoga and Urban Youth retreat at the Omega Institute. Outside of her work with the Holistic Life Foundation, Jazmine uses mindfulness as a tool coaching aspiring models, and is especially interested in using contemplative practice to enrich the lives of young women.
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.
Jamar Peete is a yoga instructor with the Holistic Life Foundation and was one of the original members involved in the Holistic Life Foundation’s Holistic Me after school program. He is currently a Mindful Moment Program Specialist at Liberty Elementary School. Jamar has traveled nationally and international, leading residency’s and conducting speaking engagements with HLF’s vision. Born and raised in West Baltimore, Jamar attended Limestone College in South Carolina after graduating from Walbrook High School. Receiving several accolades, he was honored First team All- American & Senior Captain of the 2014 National Lacrosse Championship team. He graduated with a BS in Business Administration and Sports Management and later obtained his Health Coaching certification with the Institute for Integrative Heath.
Jerron Wallace is a yoga instructor for the Holistic Life Foundation. He is currently working full time as a holistic me after school program located on site at Lillie May Carroll Jackson charter school Elementary school. He also conducts site visits at City Springs Elementary & Middle School where he teaches the students mindfulness practices in order to assist the children in their everyday scholastic lives. Jerron graduated from Walbrook Senior High School in 2009, next attending Frostburg State University in Western Maryland were he joined the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. He was also an event planner at the university, helping to create lasting events for the student body and staff alike. He was born and raised in West Baltimore and has an affinity for helping others. Jerron hopes that his time with the Holistic Life Foundation is as beneficial for the students that he visits as well as for himself.
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.
Steven Carson is a yoga instructor, teaching young people in Baltimore City schools to manage their level of stress in healthy, productive, and positive ways. He has conducted structured yoga and meditation classes for pre-K through 12th grade. Last year Steven worked in Baltimore Community Middle/High School, City Springs Elementary/Middle, Coleman Elementary, and Dallas F. Nichols Elementary. While Steven predominantly works with high-risk youth from low-income neighborhoods, he also has experience teaching yoga to children that have special needs and impaired cognitive abilities. He incorporates mindfulness into other creative activities with youth, including gardening and playing chess. His personal experiences have taught him patience and empathy when working in Baltimore City public schools. Steven has started several small businesses in the Baltimore Area and graduated from the University of Baltimore in 2014 with Bachelors in Business and Psychology. His present and future lies in education, community development, environmentalism, and social justice. He is enhancing his experience in teaching yoga and hopes to eventually develop a mindfulness curriculum. In the upcoming year he will greatly expand his own understanding of Mindfulness and deepen his study of Hindi and Sanskrit. He intends to bring back what he learns in India to further build on the Holistic Life Foundation’s curriculum here in Baltimore.
Anthony "Akewi" Barnes is a Yoga and Mindfulness instructor for the Holistic Life Foundation. As a Baltimore native his life experiences, skills, and personality allow him to really connect with his mentees. He is a professional activist and poet that never foresaw yoga in his future, but now, everyday mentors youth ages 5 to 17. Since working for the Holistic Life Foundation he is empowered by his work, saying, "I teach my students that they are not simply the future, but the now."
Alaetra Smallwood has been practicing yoga for most of her life and has been working for Holistic Life Foundation Holistic Me After School program for 3 years now. Alaetra specializes in yoga and mindfulness training to groups of all ages. Her professionalism, experience, and charisma shines through in her sessions to youth and adults. She says, "It brings joy to me that our practices influence the youth so heavily. It is truly a great experience!"
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.
Benji Whitenack is currently teaching mindful yoga at the Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School to students ages 3 and above. He has worked locally and globally with wellness and education organizations such as the Florida Department of Health, Youth For Understanding, YMCA, and the Omega Institute. Benji meditated and used swimming as yoga since age 8. He later overcame injuries from a bicycle-truck collision and earned All-American Athlete awards. He received a BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on Positive Psychology, and Mind-Body Medicine/Mindfulness Meditation. Since 2015, he has practiced for more than 1500 hours in formal retreats, and studied in numerous programs such as: the Compassion Cultivation Training (Stanford University), Mindful Self Compassion (UCSD),the Mindfulness in Education Conference and Teacher Training (Omega Institute), and Youth Yoga and Mindfulness (Holistic Life Foundation.) He practices playfully and heartfully exploring the present moment, understanding interdependence, and musically inspiring altruism. Benji offers a science-based, safe space to relax, regenerate, and expand the joy of being, just as we are. Ultimately, he invites the heart's deepest aspiration to shine through moment to moment awareness.
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.
Lindsay Luterman has always loved yoga, but it wasn't until she was seventeen that she considered teaching it. By the time she was eighteen, she was certified to teach. She also became a practitioner of two separate forms of Reiki (energy healing). However, Lindsay wanted to learn more about yoga, and she moved to Boulder Colorado where she studied at Naropa University and received her Thousand Hour Yoga Teacher Certification, and her Children's Yoga Certification. Lindsay teaches many styles of yoga, but it especially fond of restorative practices. She loves to teach and truly enjoys helping others discover the wonderful practice of yoga.
Destinee Wright is a lover of Art and has always seen the world for its beauty rather then its pain. When she was younger she always had a connection with art and color. Growing to be a young woman she appreciates the many other forms art comes in. She attended Maryland Institute College of Art and learned to master her favorite art medium, Paint. With one more year to go until she graduates she takes what she has learned there to her everyday life. She’s an aspiring famous Artist, renaming her self, Destinee Love. She believes art is important for everyone to experience because it helps in expressing ourselves. She loves art so much she named her first child Art. Yoga and meditation is a great way to cultivate creative ideas for art. To be mindful of your mind body and spirit enlightens you to the true beauty of life. With the Holistic Life Foundation she plans to use her creative touch to inspire LOVE to the youth and her peers.
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.