MTM Board Members
DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR & TAKE A BREATH (“TAB”) PILOT COORDINATOR
Peg Heldring (200-RYT) is the former Executive Director of Mindfulness through Movement, Inc. (2017-2022). She is a trained Implement Leader with the Yoga 4 Classrooms Program, and has been teaching yoga and mindfulness since 2016. A graduate of Georgetown University and Seton Hall Law School, Peg practiced law for over thirty years. Passionate about the benefits of the MTM program, her goal is to create a school-wide mindfulness culture in all of Philadelphia’s inner-city schools
Cheryl Nichols co-founded Mindfulness Through Movement in 2014. She is a certified yoga instructor (200-RYT) and teaches yoga and mindfulness for MTM at several Philadelphia urban schools. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, she began her career in banking and has spent the last twenty-five years as a community volunteer focused on youth and the choices they make. Cheryl was an Independent Mission School Award nominee in 2018 as an Outstanding Volunteer.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & TEACHER
Karen Dempsey is the Executive Director of Mindfulness through Movement, Inc. After practicing yoga for 10 years, she studied with Susan Smith of One Yoga for her YTT 200-hour certification and later completed Trauma Sensitive Yoga Training with the Transformation Yoga Project. Since 2017, Karen has been a teacher for Mindfulness Through Movement teaching at the Gesu School and Hope Partnership for Education. She is a graduate of the University of Richmond with a BS in Business Administration spending several years working in consulting and financial/systems management. She is excited to bring her expertise to MTM and to the Board.
E. Martin Heldring
Until recently, Martin Heldring was the Senior Vice President and Managing Director at TD Bank, N.A. and he heads the Buy Side Syndications Group at the bank. Martin has been in the financial services industry since 1977, previously with Bank of Montreal and Harris Bank. He serves as the Chair of the St. Martin de Porres School Advisory Council. Martin holds a BS degree in Foreign Service with a major in International Economics from Georgetown University (1977) and an MBA with a major in Finance from the University of Chicago (1980).
Holly Henry is a communications specialist with core strengths in public relations, strategic marketing communications and advancement with extensive experience working for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and foundations. Her special interests are education and healthcare /wellness. She is certified to teach yoga and mindfulness to grade school children through Verge Yoga (RYT- 200) and Mindfulness Through Movement, as well as her Inner Strength Foundation certification for work with high school students. A graduate of Bucknell University and The American University, Holly served as MTM’s Director of Administration from 2014-2023 and taught MTM programming for four years.
Rachele Browning serves as a Managing Director for SEI Investment’s Global Institutional Group, responsible for new client outreach and business development in the U.S. healthcare, nonprofit and retirement markets. Prior to working for SEI, Rachele was a commercial lender at CoreStates Bank, responsible for Business Development in the UK and their U.S. subsidiaries. She later was responsible for the sales and marketing of the derivatives desk in CoreStates Capital Markets Group, hedging corporate client portfolios. Rachele has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Scranton and is a Licensed Registered Representative, FINRA Series 7 and 63 (SEI Investments Distribution Company, member FINRA).
Meredith is currently the Executive Director for the TGR Learning Lab at Cobbs Creek. She was formerly the principal of Overbrook Educational Center from 2014 to 2023. An educator since 2006, Meredith served as a high school English teacher and chief innovation officer for Camden Street School in Newark, New Jersey. Meredith grew up in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In 2022, she received a Lindback Award for Distinguished Principals. The school honors diverse learners and provides excellent instruction for all students, including students who have an individualized education plan (IEP). Meredith is grateful to lead the most delightful, kind, hardworking students in the city who are instructed by a positive, loving, committed staff. During the 2018-2019 school year, the School District of Philadelphia recognized Overbrook for achieving five years of consistent improvement on the School Progress Report, increasing by 39% from 29% in the years 2014-2015, and by 68% in 2018-2019. In 2019, Overbrook was designated a Community School by the Mayor’s Office of Education, a designation that garnered, in partnership with the city, $985,000 for the Overbrook Educational Slow Zone project in 2022.
Kate Loftus is a former yoga teacher for Mindfulness through Movement, teaching since the organization’s inception. With over 500 hours of yoga teacher training, Kate taught in yoga studios, businesses, and universities in the Philadelphia area, but was drawn, especially, to teaching children in city schools. Having seen the impact of yoga and mindfulness on the children firsthand, Kate looks forward to applying her knowledge of movement, breath work and meditation, while on the Board. A graduate of the University of Richmond, Kate began her career in publishing and journalism. She has been practicing yoga personally for over 25 years as well.
Head of Institutional Relationship Management — Macquarie Investment Management, Americas Philadelphia , PA. Jerry leads the institutional relationship management efforts for Macquarie Investment Management a role he has held since April 2008. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in finance from the University of Kansas, and he is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Philadelphia. He currently serves on the Parish Advisory Board at St. John Vianney Church in Gladwyne, Pa where he is also Co-Chair of the Finance Committee. He serves as a founding Board Member of St. Rose of Lima School in West Philadelphia. St. Rose of Lima is a member of the Independence Mission Schools.
Virgil Sheppard currently serves as the President/CEO of Hope Partnership for Education. Hope Partnership for Education is a North Philadelphia independent middle school and education center that provides a high quality, values-based education that supports and challenges students from adolescence to adulthood. Prior to Hope, Virgil served as the Senior National School Partnerships Director for City Year where he was responsible for developing a partnership strategy that maximized student and school outcomes. Virgil is a proud West Philadelphia native, a graduate of Temple and Cheyney Universities and a Pahara Aspen Next-Gen Fellow.
Binney H.C. Wietlisbach
Ms. Binney Wietlisbach serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors for The Haverford Trust Company. Binney has worked in the financial services industry since 1985 and has been with Haverford since 1992, previously serving as the firm’s President for over 15 years. During her tenure, she founded The Haverford Speaker Series for Women®, a program that seeks to educate, empower, and inspire women.
MTM Staff and Teachers
Liz Nicastro, Director of Operations & Teacher
A teacher with Mindfulness Through Movement since 2019, Liz recently took on the role of Director of Operations for MTM. Liz is a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance (200-RYT) and has studied mindfulness at Clearlight Meditation Institute and has taught yoga at Sojourn Yoga and Villanova University. In addition, she has trained in yoga and mindfulness for children with Little Flower Yoga and Yoga 4 Classrooms. A strong believer in the transformative and calming power of yoga and meditation, Liz loves sharing this practice of exploration and awareness with grade school students. She has a Master’s degree in Education from Villanova University and has worked in sports television production for nearly 30 years.
Liz Seaden, Teacher Development Director
Liz began practicing yoga 20 years ago, completed her RYT-200 at Verge Yoga in 2013 and became a certified ChildLight Yoga Teacher. As a former elementary school teacher, she is committed to bringing yoga and mindfulness to children and teenagers and is excited to enter her seventh-year teaching for Mindfulness Through Movement. Yoga is a vital part of her physical, mental and spiritual well-being and she loves being able to share that with others.
Janai Briggs has been teaching children and adult yoga since January 2023 upon completion of her RYT-200 training. She is currently in school pursuing a B.S. in Exercise Science on a path to become a Physical Therapist. Yoga has benefited Janai’s life in so many ways, and she loves to introduce curious souls within her community to the introspective natures of yoga.
As a recreation leader in Philadelphia, Kelly has been teaching children’s and adult yoga classes through Philadelphia Parks and Recreation for over eight years. She is a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance and is currently working toward her 500-hour certification. Kelly has completed several Trauma sensitive yoga trainings through Transformation Yoga Project, Higher Road Recovery and Prison Yoga Project. In addition to teaching Mindfulness classes to children, Kelly teaches yoga to adults and seniors, as well as in recovery homes throughout Philadelphia and Bucks County. Kelly is passionate about teaching yoga to all populations and encouraging all participants that everyone can do yoga.
Lindsey began practicing yoga in her teens to cope with the stress of school. While attending college in Philadelphia for art, Lindsey saved up to become a certified yoga teacher in 2021 through Three Queens Yoga.
Lindsey now teaches group class Wednesday and Sunday evenings at Practice Yoga Studio in South Philadelphia, and offers private sessions to those who request them. She also started working with the nonprofit Yoga4Philly in October 2022 to bring yoga to elementary school children in Kensington. Lindsey starts every class with an open heart and the mindset that her students are also her teachers—she believes her path as a teacher will always be shaped and inspired by the people she meets along the way.
Sonya was introduced to yoga at a studio in Colorado (her home state) over 18 years ago. She continued her practice when she moved to the Mainline in 2006. Sonya began to understand how the practice not only has physical benefits, but brought her more peace and clarity through lives ups & downs. She wanted to
share that with others, and enrolled in the teacher training program at Focus Fitness Main Line where she earned her 200 hour certification through Yoga Alliance. Sonya has enjoyed teaching yoga since 2015. In addition, she became a certified meditation instructor at the Chopra Center in 2017. Sonya is passionate about sharing both the practice of yoga and mediation with others.
Emily is a resident of Philadelphia and has been a student of yoga for nearly 20 years. Her goal as a teacher is to help others learn how to integrate useful and practical yogic techniques into their current lifestyle, creating a more balanced and fulfilled state of being. She is grateful to her teachers for all their knowledge and continued support.
Kat completed her RYT 200 hour certification with Yoga Alliance at Verge in 2021 and has been teaching ever since. As a competitive gymnast for 13 years growing up, she learned early on how to move her body through space with alignment, balance and grace. Through the years, Kat has realized the impact that yoga and meditation has on mental wellbeing, and how important it is to take the lessons you learn on your mat into daily life. She carries that with her as she teaches yoga and creates a positive, safe space that allows students to open their minds and move their bodies in ways that feel good to them.
Raquel Murphy discovered yoga as a young advertising executive in Philadelphia over 20 years ago. Yoga allowed her to escape her never-ending brain chatter, calm her anxiety, and feel strong and empowered. Recently, Raquel received her 200 RYT certified teaching training from Verge Yoga in Wayne, PA. Raquel’s main goal as a yoga teacher is to hold space for the practitioner and guide them on a path where their body, mind and soul can connect.
Miki Poy has over two decades of experience in K-12 education, race and equity, recruitment and hiring. Her educational journey from classroom teaching to leadership roles has been defined by exemplary teaching, strong relationships, and thoughtful mentoring and management. She completed her 200-hour yoga certification with Three Queens Yoga in Philadelphia. Yoga is a part of her offerings as a healer, as is life coaching. Her purpose is to infuse joy, ease, and love into every interaction she has.
Sarah Reilly is a trauma-informed yoga and meditation teacher, reiki/source healer, past life regression therapist, certified tapper, poet, writer, mother, wife, dog mom, cat mom and lover of life. Since beginning her first yoga teacher training in 2003, Sarah has been bringing yoga to everyone from the Beginner Student to the Advanced Practitioner. As a yoga teacher, one of her gifts is for making the heavy, esoteric yoga philosophy understandable by creatively weaving the teachings into her classes and using easy, everyday examples to echo and explain the yoga texts. Sarah teaches Vinyasa, Power, Kid’s Yoga, Yin, Restorative, Aerial, Prenatal Yoga Styles, and Meditation, but she also has fun teaching an invigorating and challenging Spin and Barre Fitness class too. Sarah has accumulated well over 2,000 hours of Yoga Teacher-Training Hours and has been training Teachers in Greater Philadelphia for over 20 years. Her hope for all her yoga students and beings everywhere is that they will experience their light in this lifetime and shine brightly.
Sheila operates her own practice called Soul Family Yoga, servicing the senior community with chair yoga and the community with additional styles of yoga. She has worked in Philadelphia and suburban schools servicing child with autism for over 11 years. Having practiced yoga since 2012, Hatha yoga is her main style of practice. She has certifications in children’s yoga, chair, pre-natal, and many other forms of yoga. Sheila received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in special education; she is a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. Sheila embraces core values of diversity, healing, harmony, and collaboration for all and enjoys sharing her healing experiences with friends, family, and the community. She invites all souls to embark on this journey that will bring healing attributes into your life.
Aileen brings 14 years of experience working with schools as a teacher, leader, and coach centered on culturally responsive pedagogy. She completed her 200hr yoga certification with Grace and Glory Yoga in Philadelphia. There, she fell in love with Baptiste Yoga and completed her Level 1 and 2 training with the Baptiste Institute. Aileen believes that yoga not only builds strength of body, but strength of mind, which transcends to all areas of life. She enjoys sharing this practice of breath and movement with educators, young people, and communities that don’t traditionally have access.
Inspired by her stepdad’s daily yoga practice, Kirsten immersed herself into the world of mindfulness and meditation. After his passing in 2021, she dove headfirst into healing herself and how she can heal others through these incredible practices. She honors him as her first teacher as well as a major inspiration to living her truth and having compassion for all. She believes that yoga, mindfulness, and meditation can lead us back home within the heart space and within self. The expanse of her open heart has allowed her the ability to hold a vast space for others of all walks of life. She received her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training certification, as well as an additional 50hr advanced training under MJ Heart and Damodar Cordua at Palo Santo Yoga & Wellness and is additionally a certified Pranic Healer. She manages and teaches at Palo Santo Yoga & Wellness in Philadelphia.