Organization and Aspiration: SMC’s Path, Goal…and Snazzy New Structure!



SMC is no stranger to great structures.

There’s always plenty of work to do at Shambhala Mountain Center. At times, the sheer number of tasks feels overwhelming, yet with the support of our community, both on and off the land, things always manage to work out. When our Executive Directors Team began working with Susan Skjei, a long time non-profit consultant and Authentic Leadership teacher, they began to realize that though we had the energy to get things done, we needed the structure and experience to organize and execute our plans.

As we set our intentions as an organization, people and structures began to fall into place. New employees with years of management experience joined our staff and, with some hard work, we created a new reporting structure. Before implementing the current structure, our Executive Director, Michael Gayner, was responsible for personally overseeing the work of 13 Senior Managers. This demand for super-human oversight from our Executive Director just wasn’t practical or efficient. Under our current system, all Senior Managers have a maximum of 5 people reporting to them, allowing Senior Managers to move away from crisis management and providing them the time to develop thoughtful long-term solutions.

Facilitating the new reporting structure is a new governing body, the Executive Council (see below). This council focuses on operations and keeping our land, buildings and programs running smoothly. The team consists of veterans who know SMC’s operational ropes as well as members with significant professional experience. While managing SMC’s day-to-day operations, they are also developing new structures and processes for working smarter, developing training and implementation of skills and systems such as: project management, reporting mechanisms, and other management and frontline skills.

SMC will always be a work in progress. Just as with any path, the journey is just as important as the destination. As we learn into the future, it is both exciting and daunting to realize that there is no gold-standard template for mindful and compassionate business management. The work we are doing as an organization at SMC will certainly help us as a business and, in time, we aspire to become a model of mindful management. As we move towards becoming a more sustainable, efficient and compassionate organization, it’s helpful to remember our highest goal: to benefit society. It’s proving to be an exciting, bumpy and beautiful ride. Thanks for joining us!

Meet the Executive Council

alison resizeAlison Campbell
COO (Executive Council Chair)

What skill/experience do you bring to SMC?

Before coming to Shambhala, I ran my own business, managed teams of employees, and trained horses and dogs for over 20 years and graduated from Naropa, where I studied Religious Studies and Tibetan Language. Years of coordinating Winter Dathun helped me to take my seat at Shambhala Mountain Center. Working with Rottweilers didn’t hurt either.

What inspires you about working at SMC?

The very thing that inspires me about working for SMC makes it difficult: the accelerated karmic “pressure cooker” intensity of working and living on sacred land. The bravery and true warriorship that I have the privilege to witness every day, in both participants and staff, as they work with their minds and each other is endlessly fascinating and awe-inspiring.


Steve-Seely-resizedSteve Seely
Guest Services Director

What skill/experience do you bring to SMC?

I bring a wide range of experience of working in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds, as well as nearly 40 years as a practitioner and teacher in the Shambhala, Kagyu and Nyingma traditions.

What inspires you about working at SMC?

The ability to be on this precious and blessed land just about every day, working with people who are on the path, and building this noble experiment in how to create an enlightened culture and workplace in this microcosm is pretty fascinating.


Margo Summer Dathun resizeMargo Dolan
Infrastructure Director

What skill/experience do you bring to SMC?

I joined the SMC team in September 2013 after sitting Dathun. I am a seasoned human resource executive and change agent with interest in organization design and development, colleague relations, LEAN/ six sigma methods, process improvement and project management.

What inspires you about working at SMC?

The greatest inspiration for me is the vastness of “all that is” at SMC–from the energy of the land, the great experiences that our participants and presenters have during their programs, to the work that needs to be done to sustain the mountain center. SMC offers a great deal to work with which helps me deepen my practice while applying my conventional world skill and ability to help with sustainability.


jacob resizedJacob Taylor
Programs Director

What skill/experience do you bring to SMC?

In the 3 years I’ve been at SMC, I have gained experience in several different departments and an understanding of the details and challenges. I am a committed Dorje Kasung and have experience with start-ups, community and campaign organizing, small businesses, and economics and quantitative analysis.

What inspires you about working at SMC?

The notion of basic goodness, and how the reality of basic goodness manifests in our bodies, minds, and society, and how it can be discovered through diverse traditions and studies is essential to our personal happiness and survival as a species. This is the best, most virtuous and imperative work that I could imagine doing.

SMC Organizational Chart

Here’s a broad overview of the current operational structure of Shambhala Mountain Center:
Org Chart

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