Our Elders Circle

Jack Zimmerman

Jack Zimmerman holds a BA, MA and PhD from Yale University, Harvard University and the University of Southern California, respectively. He is the co-author of Flesh and Spirit: The Mystery of Intimate Relationship with his life partner, Jaquelyn McCandless and co-author of The Way of Council with Gigi Coyle.  Jack held several leadership roles at The Ojai Foundation over a period of 30 years including President and co-founded the Oakwood Secondary School in Los Angeles.

Jack started Heartlight School in Los Angeles, in 1979, where the use of Council in schools was initiated. The success of Council at Heartlight led to Council programs in other independent and public schools in California, and in other parts of the US, as well as abroad.

Joe Provisor

Joe Provisor, M.A, LMFT, is the founder of TLC—Teaching and Learning in Circles, formerly CIS—Council in Schools. He holds two Masters Degrees in English and Clinical Psychology, is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and has been a public school teacher for over thirty years.  He began council practice with public school students in 1986, uses the process in his therapeutic practice, and has been an Ojai Foundation Council Trainer since 1994, providing workshops for educators, therapists, and business people nationally and internationally.   From 2006 to December 2013 he served as Program Specialist for the Los Angeles Unified School District, where with Monica Chinlund he founded the Council Practitioners’ Center (CPC) through the district’s Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and School Support. The CPC brought council and restorative practices to over 65 LA schools. 

Joe is also the author of numerous curricular and training materials for language arts instruction and for the council process, including An Introduction to Council for Educators: Training Manual.  He is currently at work on a book to be titled Teaching and Learning in Circles: Council Ways in Education. He first wandered up the hill to the Ojai Foundation in 1980 for a workshop with poet Alan Ginsburg, and after another TOF workshop with poet Robert Bly, he entered circle practice where he began and still continues in recovery from the illusion of separateness. 

Lola Rae Long

Lola is a wife, mother of three, grandmother of eight, and great-grandmother of one.  She came to the land in the fall of 1979, and is one of the founding members of The Ojai Foundation.  She was a board member and co-chair of the board with Jack Zimmerman.

She was a staff member for twenty-four years, holding various positions where she had the opportunity to learn from many of the great teachers who came to the land, as well as from the people who were part of the staff, board, and community.  She became a teacher, working with schools to develop and participate in Rites of Passage youth programs for twenty years.  She helped to develop the youth team to work with expanded school programs.

Lola was work retreat coordinator for ten years and she helped to develop a work-retreat program that included Rites of Passage.  She has participated in staff, board, work-retreat and community Councils since the early days at TOF, and she has co-led Council I, II, & III.  Lola is a potter and has taught pottery workshops and hosted a variety of workshops with well-known potters on the land.

She continues to serve as a mentor and teacher at The Ojai Foundation, offering the Medicine Wheel teaching that she learned from Heyemehosts Storm, Joan Halifax, Emerald North, and others to many groups of children and adults over the years.

Marlow Hotchkiss

Marlow is a poet, council trainer, ecologist, and wilderness guide, with over 45 years of circle work and rites of passage with young people and adults, in classrooms and in nature. He has taught high-school and university-level courses and served as a Co-Director of the Ojai Foundation from 1999-2007. Together with other Ojai elders, Marlow offers programs in North America, Europe and Africa. He is a father, grandfather, and (as he cheerfully admits) a sort of  a ‘small b’ buddhist.

"I’m fascinated by human beings, how we grow and how we know.  I love empowering others, eliciting their innate gifts, their authentic selves. I work best in the context of partnership and group improvisation. I believe deeply in the power of heartfelt, every-day talk to heal relationships and build community.“

Gigi Coyle

Virginia "Gigi" Coyle  has served as a community activist wherever she is, a council trainer wherever called, and a rites-of-passage guide and trainer with many individuals and organizations. She is learning to be a mentor and an elder and serving on councils for organizations such as, the School of Lost Borders, The Ojai Foundation, Youth Passageways, European Council Network, and Weaving Earth... She was recently described “as a field catalyst of moments and long-lasting commitments to heart's truth of self, circle and life.”  She has contributed extensively in the area of citizen diplomacy, women’s empowerment, and the healing ways with money. Founder of the alliance, Beyond Boundaries, she is devoted to inter-generational pilgrimages and projects of prayer, action, and service and is currently co-leading the pilgrimage Walking Water. She is also co-author of The Way of Council and The Box: Remembering the Gift.

Leon Berg

Leon Berg is a founding member of The Ojai Foundation. He is a Senior Trainer of The Ojai Foundation’s Center for Council Practice, and has been facilitating Council groups in the U.S. and abroad for over 20 years.

In 2001, he went to Israel to seed the practice of Council among Israeli Jews and Arabs, co-founding the Israeli nonprofit organization Ma’agal Hakshava (Listening Circles). Leon has returned to Israel many times since then to conduct Council trainings and lead a variety of coexistence programs.
In 2008 Leon and his partner, Glori Zeltzer, a licensed marriage and family therapist, began to teach their council-based relationship workshops, Tools For Togetherness,  to couples seeking to enrich and/or heal their relationships. They now teach the practices to couples in the US and abroad.