Who We Are

CCN was founded by Elizabeth West in 2011, in order to support the work of Dr Alan Wallace and the development of Contemplative Science.

As Executive Director she continues to play a prominent and very active role, supported by the Trustees.

Dr Alan Wallace is the Honorary President.

Board Members

Dr B. Alan Wallace – Honorary President
Elizabeth West – Founder of CCN & Company Secretary
Julie Smith – Chair Woman
Jo Feld – Trustee
Miguel Marcos – Trustee
Alfonso Schwartz – Trustee

Dr B. Alan Wallace

Honorary President

Alan Wallace is a prominent voice in the emerging discussion between contemporary Buddhist thinkers and scientists who question the materialist presumptions of their 20th-century paradigms. He left his college studies in 1971 and moved to Dharamsala, India to study Tibetan Buddhism, medicine and language. He was ordained by H.H. the Dalai Lama, and in over fourteen years as a monk he studied with and translated for several of the generation’s greatest lamas. In 1984 he resumed his Western education at Amherst College where he studied physics and the philosophy of science. He then applied that background to his PhD research at Stanford on the interface between Buddhism and Western science and philosophy. 

Since 1987 he has been a frequent translator and contributor to meetings between the Dalai Lama and prominent scientists, and he has written and translated more than 40 books. Along with his scholarly work, he studied Dzogchen, The Great Perfection, under the guidance of Gyatrul Rinpoche, and translated the mind treasures of Dudjom Lingpa. He is authorised to teach all these texts.

Alan is now regarded as one of the West’s preeminent meditation teachers and retreat guides, specialising in the Great Perfection . He is the founder and director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and is the motivating force behind the development of the Center for Contemplative Research in Tuscany, Italy. 

For more detail see :

Elizabeth West

Founder of CCN
& Company Secretary

I was born in England in 1944, but spent most of my childhood in Southern Africa where I became a Catholic nun at the age of 18. After returning to the UK I met two nuns of my order who taught yoga and Vedanta in a Christian context and I became interested in Eastern religions and meditation. I spent nine months with them in India in Hindu and Christian ashrams. 

This led to a transformation in my spiritual life, which eventually led me out of the convent and into Buddhism. During the transition period I worked for the Westminster Interfaith Programme in London and also gained an MA in World Religions. After this, I spent 10 years working for the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM), during which time I led a number of Buddhist/Christian retreats. Meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama during dialogues with Fr. Laurence Freeman, the head of WCCM, was the final step into Buddhism.

Dr Alan Wallace became my teacher in 2007, and this led to the founding of CCN which attempts to bring together the various strands of my life: Buddhism, Interfaith dialogue, and the interface between Buddhism, science and secular spirituality. Above all, my motivation is personal transformation through spiritual practice, and to help others by bringing these teachings to bear on the darkness we face in the world.

Julie Smith

CCN Chair Woman

Julie has a unique story of transition from a successful corporate career to a secular meditation teacher.

She is the founder of Nature Meditations and the creator of a unique five step program to support gaining mastery of meditation techniques to reduce stress levels for improved health and wellbeing.

W: www.julie-smith.net
F: https://www.facebook.com/JulieSmithMeditation
E: julie@julie-smith.net
Ph: +44 (0)7823335833

Walk calmly through the chaos around you….

Jo Feld


Finding and incorporating Buddhist philosophy and practice into my days has been life changing and I’m very happy and proud to be part of a group which supports Alan Wallace who has brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West in a way that Western people can digest it but without losing anything in translation. 

I am a psychotherapist working with young people and their families. I am also a lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy and incorporate Buddhist psychology into my practice and teaching. I teach mindfulness also, and run bespoke groups for carers and also for schools who wish their ethos to be based on mindful principles.

Miguel Marcos


I was born in Cuba and raised in the US. Perhaps growing up in two cultures helped out, but I remember becoming generally interested in Buddhism decades ago, mostly through books by the Dalia Lama. It took me a couple of decades to allow myself the freedom to practice it.

Now I’m lucky enough to be a member of this wonderful practice group, CCN.

Alfonso Schwartz


Alfonso Schwartz was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Canary Islands, Spain.

He is currently a teacher of CEB (Cultivating Emotional Balance) training programs for workers of the private and public Spanish Health and Education network, as well as for the caregivers of and people affected by ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) in the initial stages. Alfonso also coordinates the Buddhist Academic Studies program at the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain, and participates as Trustee on the Board of the Center for Contemplative Research Europe foundation in Italy.

Owing to early personal experiences, he has been interested in knowing about, learning and researching in the field of the potential of the mind, its altruistic capabilities and its experiences of suffering and happiness.

This led him to the study and practice of the Dharma in the late 90s. Alfonso studied Graphic Design, and has worked for over 30 years in two of the main Spanish Communications and Media companies as Executive Director, with emphasis on corporate communications, organization and leadership.

Jude James

Events & Development, Executive Director

I have a diverse background in palliative care, performance art and more latterly in the charity sector where I have been involved in creating space for spiritual practice.

Throughout, however, my central concern has always been the nature of emdodied presence.

My fascination with space, energy and presence finally found its natural context within the philosophy & practice of Tibetan Buddhism, though I hesitated initially before diving into its practice!

W: www.judejames.com