I recently had the honor of being elected President of Pranakriya School of Yoga’s Board of Directors, effective May 2021. I’ve met many of you in classes since finishing my 200-hr YTT in 2016, but for those who don’t know me, I thought I would write a little introduction.

I joined the board in late 2018 and immediately began working as board secretary, a post I left only a couple of months ago. In 2019 I became the keeper of the Pranakriya store and stepped in as a temporary administrative assistant during a year in which we did not have an official executive director. Then in September 2020, when we finally hired our wonderful Betsy Marzahn Ramos as Executive Director, I was able to become a regular board member again. 

In the non-PK world I am an assistant professor of English at Georgia State University’s Alpharetta/Perimeter College campus. I have come to the board with some experience in non-profits. I volunteered for nearly 10 years for an Atlanta arts collective called Eyedrum and was on several committees. I served on the Eyedrum Board in 2013 and was the Education Committee Chair in 2016. I was one of the founding editorial collective that launched our literary magazine, Eyedrum Periodically, and helped run it for five years. In 2015 I represented my union local at our national convention; the following year the branch elected me Secretary-Treasurer, the highest-ranking officer. Currently I’m still involved with a couple of magazines: I proofread for ART PAPERS and serve as essays editor for the Blue Mountain Review.

As you may be aware, very few of our workers who keep Pranakriya running are paid for that work. We rely on a large number of volunteers to serve on committees that oversee our various functions – fundraising, marketing, curriculum, financial, and social justice – as well as helping out with tasks like editing manuals, transcribing lectures, and website maintenance. Some people have quietly held leadership roles within the organization for years (probably a lot longer than they thought they were signing on for – like Emily Gretz, the Board President of the past three years), and a few, like Emily, even agreed to come back for a second term on the Board of Directors. I want to thank some of those stalwarts now for making it possible for us to have this phenomenal community: Jacci Gruninger, Jody Padgett, Emily Gretz, Mary Beth Cully, Stacee Johnson, and Shelbi Miles. Each of these great teachers has filled multiple roles as a guardian of Pranakriya.

I also want to acknowledge the contributions of all the PK yogis who continued to show up for themselves and others through the past year and a half. It was a challenging time to practice. Yet Pranakriya has adapted relatively smoothly, in part because we have so many responsible and diligent people who took on this work. We were able to meet most of our strategic goals set by the board last year, for example, cancelled very few scheduled trainings, hired an executive director, launched a new website, and offered a full slate of courses for 2021, including kinds of programming we had not offered in the past. 

I like to think that we have been able to roll with the weird times because our practice has helped us to be present in unforeseen circumstances. But I do not want to diminish the losses. Our oldest studio, The Yoga Center, in North Augusta, South Carolina, did not survive the pandemic shutdown. I salute all of our host and affiliate studio owners who have been able to make it through, all of the program directors and teachers who must have lived with a high level of daily discomfort in the past year. I know it was not easy. As we face whatever the fall will bring, we will have to find ways to be ok with more delay, uncertainty, and change. Knowing Pranakriya as I do, though, I feel confident that we can do it. 

I look forward to meeting more of you and to seeing how our school will grow in the years ahead. I hope you will consider getting involved with one of Pranakriya’s committees as you are able. Feel free to contact me at lee.furey@gmail.com with any questions.

Jai Bhagwan,

Lee Furey