Sarah Cruse is a Certified Sound Voice and Music Healer from the California Institute of Integral Studies.  She has worked as a Behavioral Therapist with the Los Angeles School District, and as an Educational Specialist with the Foster Care department of Los Angeles Trade Tech College.  She had the fortune of partnering with the Reverence Project in Watts CA, a non-profit organization that was modeled after the Truth and Reconciliation work of South Africa’s Apartheid.  There she served as a Truth and Restorative Justice Advocate, leading workshops and conversations around forgiveness and accessing our inherent gifts.  Sarah has worked as a Curriculum Developer and Workshop Facilitator for the Transformational Art Therapy (TAT) Center in Santa Monica CA, and Currently as a Special Curriculum Educator for the Santa Cruz School District.

Sarah has over 10 years of experience as a Singer/Songwriter, Poet, Performing Artist and Public Speaker.  She believes in the power of sound, voice and freedom of expression.  It is her desire to participate in the discovery, awakening and sharing of the individual and communal gift.  She is grateful for the opportunity to be a Mindful Educator for Mission Be as and to be able to share the gifts of Mindful Education.

Stephanie Tolino received her Masters degree in School Counseling and her Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. Upon receiving the Masters in Education in 2013, Stephanie completed the Mindful Educator training and began educating students in Long Island school districts. She has taught in Islip, Fire Island, West Islip, Herricks, as well as the Bronx.

Since joining the Mission Be team, Stephanie has become a certified yoga teacher and a holistic health coach. She regularly visits office buildings and yoga studios, teaching yoga and mindful meditation. In the early mornings, you can find Stephanie at home teaching one-on-one virtual English lessons to students in China.

Some of Stephanie’s personal interests include singing, playing the guitar, and cooking vegan food. Stephanie is passionate about Mission Be, its curriculum, and its impact. She sees through student feedback and participation in both the need and desire for this work. Not only does it benefit the children, but Stephanie says it also serves as her own personal reminder and daily inspiration to live mindfully.

Makana is a singer/songwriter based in the Santa Cruz area. She is currently working on her debut album, which is set to be released in the summer of 2017. Her music is about personal growth and the strength of the human spirit. She is also a member of Mission Be’s mindful music program and will be bringing original music to schools throughout Northern California in 2017.

She has danced semi-professionally in Santa Cruz for the last five years and helps to coordinate events at reputable venues such as the Mah Museum, The Tannery World Arts Center and The Kumbwa Jazz Center. She is currently​ study theater arts at UCSC in the Fall of 2017. Makana is passionate about children, music, and meditation, which is the reasons why Mission Be is the perfect avenue for her to share her gifts and to be of service in the world.

John is a multiracial New Yorker who has been practicing mindfulness for years, and savors the unique opportunity to share what he is learning with Mission Be’s students. He practices with the New York Insight Meditation Center’s people of color meditation group in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and has received training in the Lineage Project’s trauma-sensitive, resiliency-based mindfulness program. John gained invaluable experience in group facilitation by volunteering at Rikers Island. There, John taught inmates and corrections officers meditation using awareness-of-breath, visualization, and breath-counting exercises, and facilitated open discussions where participants were safe to explore the challenges of being at Rikers. John has a Dual B.A. in Clinical Psychology & Child Development from Tufts University, as well as an MA in Politics & Education from Columbia University Teachers College.

As a P.S. 279 (Brooklyn) alumni, he especially enjoys working with children and teenagers in the NYC public schools, and looks forward to spreading our programming – and its benefits – throughout the city. John has already taught Mission Be’s program from Kindergarten through High School around the Tri-State area, and has already seen the powerful impact of teaching mindfulness to young people.

Susan Neuberger holds NYS certifications to teach childhood education and students with disabilities in grades one through six and has a masters degree in teaching literacy. Sue has been working with children since the late nineties. Her experience includes early intervention, applied behavior analysis, academic intervention and teaching life skills. Sue has worked with students from age 2 though 21. Sue worked in the beginning stages of SOAR; a social program for students with autism and their peers. Throughout her various placements Sue has mainstreamed students with their typical peers fostering acceptance, understanding and patients for students with special needs. After the birth of her first daughter, Sue took a break from full time teaching and is currently working as a substitute teacher in the elementary and middle schools for the East Islip and Half Hollow Hills school districts.

Sue’s personal mindful meditation practice began in her yoga practice. She was trained as a mindful educator with Mission Be in 2014. Since then Sue has facilitated and co-facilitated workshops for parents, students and staff for Mission Be. Sue taught Mission Be’s eight week curriculum to third, forth, and fifth graders in Bayshore Long Island and sixth grade at Riverdale County School in Bronx, NY.

Sue is honored to be a part of the Mission Be community and is eager to continue sharing mindfulness with students and staff in schools throughout New York and Long Island.

Elias Wygodny is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of The Field Consulting, bringing Mindfulness-Based Emotional Intelligence practices into corporations and communities, and raising awareness on Mental Health issues within this overstimulated global society ( He has taught Mindfulness-Based practices since 2014, spanning from private to public classes at The University of Michigan, various NY Yoga Studios, in Montessori Education, Green Mountain Energy Company (2015-2017) where he was a sales leader for 20+ sales agents, and now with Mission Be. Elias received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at The University of Michigan, has studied at the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, and is currently in training to become a Lucid Body Teacher: a movement based Mind-Body integration technique utilized as a therapeutic technique for physical, emotional, and mental development as well as creative expression.

Elias would like to thank all of his friends, family, mentors and co-workers who continued to honestly explore, question, and support his vision and practices. He would also like to express his gratitude for his band Water & Rye for constantly reminding him that it all stems back to the music and creative expression. He believes that the truest form of communication is through music, for all communication is a form of music. Elias is in gratitude and inspiration to be a part of the Mission Be community. It is an honor to experience how receptive these children and staff are to these beautiful and practical lessons.

Hannes Bend has been guiding mindfulness practices, yoga, the Wim Hof Method and an ‘own’ blend since 2014 internationally at summer camps, schools, museums (such as the Rubin and Frost Science Museum), universities, yoga studios, Riker’s Island Jail Complex and more in 1-on-1, small and larger groups. As a globally active artist, Hannes senses the importance of integrating creative and contemplative practices into our daily life for creativity, calmness and kindness. Hannes has been collaborating with Wim Hof and many peers on various projects, and believes in the necessity of the collective.

Art/science projects such as ‘SEAing Breath’ and ‘mYndful’ (see in conjunction with research universities won an academic award at Stanford and were presented at museums to make the merge of mindfulness and technology publicly accessible. hannes’ team continues to explore how to offer creative and contemplative practices in simple forms for all ages.

Gratitude to the Mission Be team and all the practitioners throughout human history who passed on the beautiful mindfulness practices so we can enjoy them now!

Lakiba Pittman is an educator, business consultant and creative artist with decades of leadership experience in corporate America/high tech, academia, and non-profit management.  She is currently the Director for the Office of Diversity and an Adjunct Professor teaching Race & Ethnicity at Notre Dame de Namur University and also a Senior Adjunct Professor at Menlo College teaching Diversity in the Workplace & Culture in Media.


Lakiba is certified by Stanford University’s Center for Compassion & Altruism Research & Education (CCARE) to teach Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). Working with CCARE, the Compassion Institute and Compassion Corps, Lakiba is developing and delivering public classes and culturally relevant compassion training throughout the Bay Area. Her most recent classes include offering CCT to parents of Hunter’s Point STEM students at San Francisco State and at the Barbara A. Mouton Multicultural Wellness Center in E. Palo Alto, CA. Lakiba is also teaching Mindfulness at Los Altos High School and will be teaching at Mountain View High School in 2018 with the program Mission Be.

Cathy Riva is an Emmy nominated television personality, educator, business consultant and creative artist with decades of leadership and business experience in corporate America.

As former CEO of Riva Events and TV Host for Discovery Channel, she found mindfulness as a means to balance joyful living with a challenging work schedule. Her personal practice began over 15 years ago and deepened in 2007 after her daughter was born. Cathy is passionate about mindfulness because of the transformation in her own life as a result of the work.

She is currently a mindful educator with Mission Be and has guided over 420 children in the past 3 years. Some of the schools she has had the privilege to teach the 10-week mindfulness program to are; Riverdale Country Day (6th grade), PS 144 in Queens (third grade) and John Daly in Port Washington (first grade) (second grade).

She has witnessed how the ability to share emotion in a safe setting, allowing children to become aware of their thoughts and emotions in playful practices that, over time, give them the tools to self regulate, changes lives. She believes these exercises, created by Carin Winter, are a must have for any educational program.

You can also find Cathy teaching mindfulness and movement workshops and classes for children and parents at Sol Center and Om Sweet Om in Port Washington, NY where movement, breath work and acupressure are included as tools to help de-stress. She passionately believes that understanding the science of our body is a key skill in allowing emotions to flow and observing how we handle them as they arise. In her spare time, she enjoys being present with her husband, daughter and two rescued puppies

Derina Wilson is a certified Yoga, Pilates, and Barre teacher with over 17 years of teaching experience.  An Elite gymnast at the age of 13, she now choreographs and mentors young gymnasts and athletes.  Derina has her Bachelors of Science in Physical Education from Queens College and has previously served as the Yoga, Physical Education, and Health teacher at Fusion Academy, a private school in Woodbury, New York.


Derina is a sponsored IFBB Professional Fitness competitor and is ranked 6th in the World at the Arnold S. Classic.  She has appeared in Flex magazine, Muscular Development magazine, and Mantra Yoga & Health magazine.  Derina has competed and participated in dance, cheerleading, volleyball, fencing, and diving.  Derina has several years experience teaching Yoga and Meditation to children.  She has witnessed the positive effects that mindfulness can help achieve and is looking forward to spreading this knowledge to students in order to help them reach their full potential.