Mindful Educators

Carin Winter – CEO, Founder & President

Carin Winter founded Mission Be, Mindful Education in 2013 and had brought their program to hundreds of schools in New York and California, trained thousands of educators and impacted over 148,000 students. Carin is a Licensed Master Social Worker, completing graduate school with the highest honors, Summa Cum Laude from Adelphi University. She has extensive clinical experience working with youth in schools, foster care and the juvenile justice system.

Carin founded and maintained Healing Arts of the South Shore, a private counseling and healing practice for over a decade, as well as Embrace Yoga Studio in NY for eight years. She also spent ten years as a school social worker in New York specializing in substance abuse. Carin co-chaired the Islip Drug Education and Awareness Task Force for 10 years combating substance abuse and the heroin epidemic on Long Island.

Since 2015, she has been a committee leader with the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Social Movement in Sandy Hook, CT. She is also an advisory member to GIFT, the Global Investment Foundation for Tomorrow and a member of the advisory board at Global Mana. She is a speaker for Safe and Sound Schools founded in Sandy Hook, CT.

Carin has presented at: The White House, The Palo Alto VA Hospital, Singularity, Facebook, Tiger 21, Americorp, CIIS, The NY Open Center, The Omega Institute, Wisdom 2.0, the Assemblage, Santa Clara University, Menlo College, St. Joseph’s College and Long Island University. She has also served as a substitute teacher and guest lecturer at Stanford University.

Lakiba Pittman, Mission Be, Mindful Educator

Lakiba Pittman is a creative artist and educator. She is the founder of Creating New Images, a motivational and inspirational business focused on opening hearts and minds through classes, workshops, performances, presentations, products and services. Lakiba is a published poet, writer, artist, singer songwriter and recording artist.

She is the Director for the Office of Diversity at Notre Dame de Namur University, an Adjunct Professor at Menlo College and business consultant. She is also a Student Life Instructor teaching art journaling, poetry, mindfulness and meditation to businesses and non-profits, including Girls To Women, College Track and Foundation for a College Education. Lakiba holds a B.A. in Creative Arts and an M.A. in Organizational Development.

She attended the African-American Leadership Institute at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business, is a Certified Hypnotherapist and is certified to teach Stanford University’s ‘Creativity in Business’ course. She received an honorary Doctor of Ministry for her years of artistry and community service from the Bell Grove Theological Seminary. Lakiba is a recent graduate of the Center for Compassion Altruism & Research Education (CCARE) program at Stanford University, offering their 8-week Compassion Cultivation Training.

Sarah Cruse, Mission Be, Teacher of Teachers & Senior Mindful Educator

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 modelled 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.

Christine Gindi, Mission Be, Mindful Educator

Christine Gindi, MDiv, MA, SEP is an educator, writer, somatic therapist, and mindful diversity facilitator. Her professional background is interdisciplinary, spanning the fields of somatic psychology, ecotherapy, theology and ethnic studies. She earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University where she focused on health, healing and religion. Her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University specializes in somatic psychology.

Christine served on the United States Association of Body Psychotherapy Board of Directors and wrote her own regular column for Somatic Psychotherapy Today magazine. As an adjunct professor, Christine taught graduate somatic and multicultural psychology courses at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She has given academic lectures and led experiential workshops on somatic psychology at numerous universities and organizations. Christine has been a repeated presenter at the biannual United States Association of Body Psychotherapy conference. At Harvard University, she presented at the Center for the Study of World Religions. Not only has she been a conference presenter, she has also played an active role in planning and organizing the CIIS JFK somatic psychology conferences. She has years of experience assisting and coordinating Somatic Experiencing® trauma healing trainings, as well as promoting these trainings focusing on minority recruitment. She holds multiple certificates in the healing arts and trauma healing modalities. Christine has served on the John F. Kennedy Diversity Council and professionally trained to become a mindful diversity facilitator. Christine has led many diversity workshops and co-taught the mindful diversity teacher training program.

Christine’s formal and informal education about the nuances of lived multicultural experiences profoundly influenced her career trajectory. She is the proud daughter of North African immigrants who fled religious persecution of their Christian Orthodox faith. Her close knit family and friends taught her the importance of peoples’ ancestries, family traditions and our shared precious humanity. Many diverse communities and mentors fostered Christine’s development of cultural humility, deep listening and the moral action to help people experience safety, belonging and dignity. She feels deeply indebted and humbled by her intimate glimpse into how people model humanity from surviving catastrophic circumstances to simply living their everyday lives. Christine is passionately committed to equity, diversity and inclusion. She strives to be a bridge builder and peace maker through compassion, empathic curiosity and mindful communication.

Jaclyn Lawrence, Mission Be, Mindful Educator

Jaclyn was born and raised on Long Island before moving upstate NY for college. She graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a B.S. in Childhood and Special Education and an M.S.Ed. in Childhood Literacy. As a college student she volunteered her time to travel with fellow classmates during spring break to help a Mississippi community hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. Upon graduating, she worked several years in a school for students with Autism before taking time off to grow her family. Throughout her academic career and presently, she enjoys taking yoga classes and finds the practice incredibly helpful to reflect, destress and focus on being present.

As a mom of two children, she has had the opportunity to volunteer in many of the activities her children are involved in, such as: her local PTA, class parent and the cookie mom for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. Her weekends are spent on the sports fields with her husband cheering on their children while they play various sports and at church events within her community. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, crocheting and is very excited to embark on bringing mindfulness to young children.

Julie Ruggiero, Mission Be, Coordinator of School Programs & Senior Student Mindful Educator

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, comes from a large family that continues to grow in size. After working many years within the fashion and entertainment industry, she decided to follow her true path of helping others. Julie received her Masters Degree in Social Welfare from Stony Brook University. While in school she realized her passion and motivation to work with children and adolescents, helping them lead stronger and healthier lives.

She has always been an avid yoga and mindfulness enthusiast and knows first-hand the power and positive effects that these practices hold. Julie’s ultimate goal is to share these mind body techniques so they can utilize these practices throughout their lives. She is very excited to have joined the Mission Be Community and can’t wait to spread positivity throughout the schools and communities.

In her spare time Julie has been creating a volunteer based organization, offering social support for young adults. She also loves spending time with her family and friends, gardening, singing, and cooking. She truly believes that staying present, mindful and kind to one another are the most important key values in life. Her wish is to inspire others, much in the same way she has been inspired by the people that have helped shape her life.

Natasha Cruz, Mission Be, Mindful Educator

Is a John Jay College of Criminal Justice alumna. She has graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Forensic Psychology. She is familiar with comprehending individual behavior, in terms of its biological, cognitive, social, and emotional components and their interaction, and its effect on the broader community.

In addition, Natasha is planning on earning her Masters in Mental Health Counseling. She believes there is nothing more important than being there for others. Moreover, as a first-generation college student, and daughter of Dominican immigrants, Natasha believes in empathy and always lending a helping hand. Therefore, she is excited to help bring mindfulness into the Hispanic/Latinx community with the leadership of Mission Be.

Stephanie Tolino, Mission Be, Senior Mindful Educator

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.

J.Isaak Johnson, Mission Be, Mindful Educator

J.Isaak Johnson is a 24 year old multi-talented creative influencer. A versatile hip-hop artist, writer, and producer. He was raised in a musical household and showed promise in the arts at an early age, playing the drums in church then later learning the keyboard. His baptist roots influenced his overall sound.

Though J.Isaak’s talent’s are not limited to his musical abilities. J.Isaak has received training as an actor and received tutelage at Juilliard, The American Musical & Dramatic Academy, NYU Tisch Future Theatre Artist Program, The School Of Creative And Performing Arts, and The Affordable Masterclass Program.

His purpose in life is to use his gifts & talents to positively influence his generation. He is more than an “entertainer,” because of his ability to communicate truth through various creative art forms he is a “edutainer.”

Elizabeth Kieffer, Mission Be, Senior Mindful Educator

Is a practicing life coach, counselor, and mother, with a deep desire to make a positive impact in this world. She was intent on bringing joy, comfort, and healing to all those around her since she can remember.

Alongside her family she began meditation at the age of nine and continued to explore and practice many meditation techniques and philosophies over the next 40 years. She attended Stony Brook University for her B.A.in Performing Arts but was soon inspired by her calling to help others. She pursued a life coaching certification, learning valuable resources in the study of breath, the brain, belief management, active and compassionate listening skills, and a great deal more.

After the birth of her son, her attention and focus grew for children and their early development. She attended Kindermusik University and upon receiving her certification, started a business as music educator for children ages 1-7. The following 9 years she volunteered as a Sunday school teacher at her church and was also later appointed as the children’s music director for over 7 years. In 2017 and 2018 she was the Music teacher at Hazleton prep preschool.

In her free time Elizabeth enjoys gardening, baking, singing or just sitting quietly in nature with her dog Shakespeare. She still likes to give back to the community by helping in a nearby soup kitchen and food pantry delivering food to families in need.

Marnie Herlands, Mission Be, Mindful Educator

Received her Master’s degree in Art Therapy/Counseling and her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts/Photography. Marnie continued on to become an ATR-BC and licensed creative arts therapist in New York. She has continued to pursue her passion of aiding individuals in building adaptive coping skills utilizing the art process as a forum for healing and self-expression. Over the past three years, Marnie became drawn to and witnessed the benefits of yoga and a range of expressive modalities, as well as mindfulness meditation. She is inspired by both the practice and teaching yoga and hopes to spread the powerful benefits of mind-body practices to others.

Marnie has worked with many ages ranging from children and adolescents to senior adults and finds that people are all connected in their innate capacity to love and be loved, and in their desire to be seen and heard. Marnie is so excited to join the Mission Be team and to guide individuals in experiencing the benefits of mindfulness. Marnie has also facilitated individual art therapy sessions and groups for over five years. Most recently, she leads virtual community art classes and co-facilitates an art therapy/caregiver support groups for individuals living with memory impairment and their families.

Some of Marnie’s personal interests include photography, reading, yoga, art, traveling, her love for dogs and taking relaxing walks in nature. Marnie is motivated to live more mindfully in all aspects of her life, as she is beginning this new journey as a Mission Be, Mindful Educator.

Karen Tietjen Allen, Mission Be, Mindful Educator

Karen Tietjen Allen has studied mindfulness, meditation, and yoga for over 20 years. Prior to that, she worked as an attorney specializing in immigration law, and continues to volunteer in the field.

She received Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher Certification through the McLean Meditation Institute and Certification as an MMI Mindful Trainer to teach Mindfulness in the Workplace. She has also received Chopra Meditation Teacher Certification. Additionally, she is enrolled in a Master’s degree program in Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine.

For many years, she has dedicated herself to volunteering in the community with an emphasis on helping the homeless, the elderly, and families, including those with children facing critical illnesses. Raised in Chile and Mexico, she has a keen interest in helping Spanish-speaking populations.

Her intention is to offer mindfulness and meditation training so that others may experience the benefits of stress-reduction and increased well-being and live productive, positive, and peaceful lives.

Mindful Mentor/Yoga Teachers

Jodi Cameron, Mission Be, Mindful Yoga Teacher

Jodi Cameron has been teaching mindfulness and yoga to children and adults since 2002, and has taken many trainings and workshops with numerous teachers to deepen her understanding over the last 20 years. Jodi has had a daily meditation practice of her own for many years and understands how powerful these tools can be in our daily lives and is passionate about sharing this gift with others, especially children.

Also a devoted mother of two, Jodi has had the opportunity to volunteer in her children’s schools as class mother, which allowed her to work closely with many children and teach yoga during gym to students, which she loved. Jodi has worked with many summer day camps teaching mindfulness and yoga to children and has been the special needs yoga teacher for Islip Septa since 2018.

Jodi’s 20 years of teaching has allowed her to see first hand the power of mindfulness and she is excited to share the practice with students. Jodi is dedicated to supporting children and helping them find their greatest potential through regulating emotions, non judgment and the power of the mind/body/spirit connection. Jodi believes deeply in Mission Be’s goals and is proud to be a member of the team!