The thriving Tergar Meditation Community we know today is the result of the efforts of countless people. As Tergar International approaches its 10th anniversary in April 2019, we want to take a moment to celebrate three women in particular who have made an enormous contribution to our community. They are Judith Favia, Diane McQueen-Smith, and Kathy Prusinski, who worked on staff for Tergar for many years. All three retired this year from their positions.
We sat down with Tergar instructors Cortland Dahl, Tim Olmsted, Edwin Kelley, and Myoshin Kelly, who worked with them closely, to hear more about their contributions to Tergar. Each of them worked more directly with different staff, so they spoke about the women they knew best. The interviews have been edited for clarity.
Judith Favia was the Operations Manager for Tergar Minneapolis from 2011 through this year. She continues to serve on the steering committee there.
Edwin: “Judith and I worked very closely together. Judith has been one of the leadership of the local Twin Cities community since its inception. She helped with a lot of events, like when Richard Davidson, Matthieu Ricard, and Khandro Rinpoche each came to town. Judith did the lion’s share of the work on those early marquee events. At a time when there were only a couple people on staff, Judith kept the engine room running for a lot of the programming stuff. She also worked tirelessly on the Tergar bookstore back when Tergar had a larger store. Her contribution was really remarkable.”
Myoshin: “I think Judith was working 25 hours a week for Tergar Minneapolis. It was like there was a mom at the center - she was keeping an eye. We had lots of different teams, but there was a place it was all going through. She held that beautifully. There was always somebody who people knew they could talk to if there was something coming up related to the community. She was a real grounding force within Tergar Minneapolis.”
Diane McQueen-Smith was the first full-time Community Support Manager for Tergar International. She held this role from 2012 until early this year.
Tim: “Long before Tergar came to be, Diane was the first person that Mingyur Rinpoche asked me to contact when we were planning his very first tour of the United States. Diane, and her husband Lyle, met Rinpoche when he was invited by Ponlop Rinpoche to teach in Seattle. In many ways, that first encounter marked the beginning of Rinpoche’s activities in the US. In the following years, I don’t know what I would have done without Diane. Tergar is a richer and warmer place thanks to Diane’s care. Her myriad and daily contributions to our community will be missed, but certainly not forgotten.”
Myoshin: “I worked really closely with Diane. After Tergar had been going for a bit, at some point there was too much work for the instructors to handle alone. Diane was hired – part-time, initially – to help support growing local Tergar groups and to support the instructors in doing programs around the world. Nowadays there are several people doing the work that Diane did all by herself in the early days. The piece that struck me most working with her was her devotion. She was doing this out of her love of her teacher. The ups and downs, whatever, she just kept going.”
Kathy Prusinski served as Chief Technology Officer for Tergar International from its inception in 2010 until this year. She and her company S2N media designed, created and helped maintain both the Tergar International and the Tergar Learning Community websites.
Edwin: “I first met Kathy at one of those retreats at the Garrison Institute before Tergar was created. We were still the Yongey Foundation. Kathy’s business did website design, and her willingness and desire to contribute quickly became apparent. Kathy’s contributions are immeasurable.“
Cortland: “Kathy, as much as anybody, shaped what Tergar is today. In today’s modern world, so many people are staying connected to Rinpoche and to Tergar through our website and online learning.
I first met Kathy at the Garrison Institute retreats (where Mingyur Rinpoche was teaching). She very generously offered to help and for a long time it was as a volunteer. Then at a certain point she was on staff with a small stipend. But for what she did it would have probably cost millions of dollars — for what she built and for how long she was maintaining it. She has been the perfect example of a purely selfless dedicated student who was just passionate and who had an amazing knowledge and skill in the online arena. It’s just amazing what she’s done. And having worked with her closely, she’s just an amazing person on a personal level.”
Myoshin: “Kathy has a resilience. No matter what challenges she is dealing with, she just has this bright, cheery disposition, that is quite lovely.”
As a final reflection, Myoshin added, “All of these women have a really great tenacity of staying with something. These are three wonderful beings we are talking about here!” They are indeed, and our community is certainly better for their contributions. Thank you, Judith, Diane, and Kathy, for your joyful effort and service to Tergar.
Written by Jess McNally