Our Advisory Committee

We are so grateful to the members of Open Spirit’s Advisory Committee, who bring their diverse perspectives and expertise to support Open Spirit:


Shaheen Akhtar

Shaheen Akhtar is a member of the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland. She has a deep commitment to interfaith dialogue and speaks at churches, synagogues, and other community organizations about the richness and depth of her own Islamic tradition.  Shaheen leads our monthly Interfaith Book Group.


Rabbi Katy Allen

Rabbi Katy Z. Allen is the founder and spiritual leader of Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope, which holds outdoor services all year long. For ten years, Rabbi Katy, a board certified chaplain, served as a chaplain at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In 2015, she founded the One Earth Collaborative, a project of Open Spirit, which seeks to foster community through our shared connection to the Earth. She writes about matters of the spirit and the world, is a member of the Advisory Boards of Jewcology.org and Shomrei Bereshit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth, on the board of Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, and a co-convener and the President of the Boston-area Jewish Climate Action Network.


Rabbi Laurence Bazer

Rabbi Laurence (Larry) Bazer is Rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom, a conservative Jewish congregation in Framingham.  In addition to his congregational work, for the past several years, Rabbi Bazer has served on the New England Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League and on the Cardinal’s Review Board of the Archdiocese of Boston. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, serving as the Kabul Base Cluster Command Chaplain and Theater Jewish Chaplain.

Larry’s interests include zoology, science, and astronomy.  In working with Open Spirit, he would like to carry out his passion for enhancing interfaith efforts in the greater Framingham community.


Helen Berman

Helen is the co-facilitator of the Prayer Shawl Knitters program at Open Spirit. Participants in this program create shawls as a spiritual practice, reaching out to those in need of comfort and solace. Helen’s past experience includes teaching children about animals, the outdoors and cooking through a Jewish Community Center.

Helen’s interests include knitting, cooking, photography and travel. She remains actively involved with her grandchildren and counterbalances this busy pace by embracing the benefits of holistic healing and spiritual practices, such as meditation and yoga. Helen wants to share her passion for nature and the outdoors and is open to new experiences.


George Burton

George has extensive experience in human resources and financial management. He has served as a treasurer and board member for various non-profits and has managed a small business. He enjoys interfaith work and sharing Christian Science as a healing method available to everyone and is the Outreach Chair at First Church of Christ, Scientist.

George would like to share with Open Spirit his talents in organizing events, conducting trainings, marketing and writing.


Judith Chaloux

Judith Chaloux, BSHS/M has many years of experience working with caregivers and bereaved within the 13 towns in the Middlesex County.  She has managed the bereavement program for the Beacon Hospice and engages in the ministry of Spiritual Direction with area people on an individual basis.  She is certified in the field of thanatology (study of death & dying, grief & loss) from the National Center for Death Education at Mount Ida College, Newton.  Judith is committed to supporting people as they recover from life’s difficult events as well as igniting the spirit in individuals so they can live as fully as possible.


Reverend Debbie Clark

Reverend Debbie Clark has been ordained in the UCC for 25 years and pastor at Edwards Church for 19 years.  She is the founder of Open Spirit, serves on the Steering and Advisory Committees and is the Interfaith Coordinator.  She generously shares with OS her many talents in community outreach, program development and organizational structure. She has gently carved out Open Spirit’s role in the Greater Framingham community.

Debbie’s travels to Kenya and India in the year after college fueled her deep interest and commitment to interfaith conversation, especially at the level of spiritual practices, as well as encouraged her keen desire to learn about other cultures. These experiences laid the foundation for her passion for developing an organization such as Open Spirit.  Debbie also enjoys writing, singing, bicycling and photography and loves to be in nature.


Neela de Zoysa

Neela is a biologist and instructor who comes to Open Spirit with extensive experience relating to open space and nature conservation, having worked with such organizations as the NE Wildflower Society, Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge and Wildlife Services of Eastern Mass. Her experience extends to international projects as well.

Neela represents the Buddhist community on our Interfaith Advisory Committee.  Her hobbies include gardening, classical and baroque music and reading. Neela wishes to share her love of meeting new people and communication skills with Open Spirit, helping us to expand within the community and introducing our OS community to the wonderful natural resources surrounding us.


Nancy Gaulin

Dr. Gaulin is a clinical psychologist who has worked in hospital inpatient and outpatient settings, as well as community mental health and school settings. She currently works as a staff clinician at McLean Hospital. She also is the Interim Executive Director at Facing Cancer Together, a nonprofit that provides services in the greater Boston community to people who face a diagnosis of cancer.  Prior to entering the field of psychology, Nancy pursued a 20-year career in business in the financial services sector.

Nancy’s interests include cooking, handcrafts, singing and gardening. She has joined Open Spirit’s Advisory Committee with an interest in sharing her clinical, business and leadership experience and has recently started a Cancer Support Group at Open Spirit.


Sandra Hewitt

Sandy is on the Steering and Advisory Committees. Her career has been in healthcare, with clinical background as a physical therapist and later a hospital administrator and consultant. As a management consultant for Spaulding Rehab, she started up inpatient and outpatient rehab centers, and was on the consulting team that planned and developed Spaulding’s Rehab Hospital on the Cape. She has also worked in outpatient settings, academic medical centers and non-profit clinical environments. Throughout her career she has had a strong interest in integrating Eastern and Western Medicine having had this interest strengthened by her trips to India.

Sandy enjoys gardening, bicycling, classical music, travel, and learning about other cultures and religions. She has been trained as a non-profit management consultant and wants to share with Open Spirit her business and clinical experience in non-profits and start-ups


Rosanne Kates

Rosanne is the Coordinator of Community Connection and serves on the Steering Committee, as well as the Advisory Committee at Open Spirit. Having an extensive background in the field of education, Rosanne leads the Nourishing Teachers/Strengthening Classrooms Project, an OS community outreach program that supports both teachers and students in mindfulness practice and mind/body awareness.

Rosanne’s work experience includes being a classroom teacher, a literacy specialist, a Head Teacher, and an adjunct faculty member of Framingham State University. As part of her work as a board member on the Massachusetts Reading Association, she developed the Teachers as Writers Project.

Rosanne enjoys bringing her teaching skills to Open Spirit through facilitating book groups and writing groups. Her passions for yoga, meditation, and community building help make her a most enthusiastic advocate for Open Spirit.


Bette Norton

Bette is a retired pre-school teacher who is Open Spirit’s Liaison with Edwards Church, of which she has been a long-term member. She not only is an Advisory Committee member, but also is a Steering Committee member and tireless participant for many of Open Spirit’s offerings.

Bette enjoys photography, reading, yoga, tai chi and meditation. She also continues to enjoy working with children. Her personal mission is to educate community members on the benefits of tai chi and yoga as healing practices as she believes that they are an important adjunct for helping individuals with physical challenges and disabilities.


Father Don Pachuta

Father Don brings a unique blend to Open Spirit as physician, scripture scholar, and priest. As a university professor he taught an organizing system of medicine to an entire generation of students; studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture; and was an early pioneer in the use of guided imagery and prayer in healing; and the relationship of body/mind/ emotion/spirit in health and illness.

He conducts day long healing and scripture workshops in Catholic and Protestant Churches. His previous writings include The Life You Save May Be Your Own – The Mastery of Stress, Health, and Well-Being in Yourself and Others. Currently he serves as the pastor of the ECC Community of Saint Luke, Framingham, MA, and as a medical and spiritual consultant throughout the USA and abroad. He writes a scripture reflection of the weekly readings that goes out to a worldwide list of clergy and laity of many different religious traditions.


Danielle Rousseau

Dr. Rousseau is an Assistant Professor at Boston University and the Director of BU’s Prison Education Program.  She teaches courses in trauma, gender and justice, crime and delinquency, crime and mental health and research methods.  She has worked in the field of forensic mental health as a therapist in correctional facilities, has established therapeutic programs for veterans and has traveled to Haiti to work with earthquake survivors.

In addition to her vast professional work, Danielle enjoys photography, yoga and research.  She wants to share with Open Spirit her talent in yoga, particularly Yoga for Veterans, as well as trauma interventions using integrative mindfulness techniques.

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