Board Members & Staff

Maureen Flanagan, Chair of Board

Maureen is the Chair of the Sarana Institute Board.   Maureen brings with her over 25 years involvement in the financial services industry including senior management roles. She has previous Board experience with not for profit organizations as well as having had numerous roles and responsibilities for fund raising including hospitals, education and health care causes. Maureen’s personal  insights as a caregiver were instrumental in forming her interest in Sarana Institute and helping deliver better education and support of hospice /palliative care for professionals through mindfulness and compassion training.

(Rev.) Andrew Blake, Co-Founder, RP

Andrew is the Director of Program Development at Sarana Institute and along with his wife, Angie, is a co-founder. In 2010, Andrew was ordained as Buddhist Chaplain by Roshi Joan Halifax, a leader in the fields of compassion, caregiving and end-of-life. His thesis, Mindful Listening at End-of-Life, was recently published and explores the roles of mindfulness, empathy and compassion, from both neuroscience and Buddhist psychology perspectives, as skills to prevent caregiver “empathy fatigue.”

A teacher and educator of mindfulness meditation, Buddhism, End-of-Life caregiving, and his Mindful Listening work, Andrew has created training and curriculums at University of Toronto through the Applied Mindfulness Mediation Program, at Sick Kids Hospital through The Mindfulness Project, at Hincks Dellcrest Centre, as well as numerous conferences, hospitals, hospices and organizations involved in service, healthcare, end-of-life care, volunteer caregiving. In addition to his teaching, he guides individual and families at end of life and serves as an officiant at memorials and funerals.

Angie Di Iorio Blake, Co-Founder

Her inspiration for developing a Youth Mindfulness and Nature Awareness programs grows from her passion for growing food in her “mandala” garden, years of living off the grid and her concern for the future generations. Inspired by years of Buddhist study and practice, training and professional work in the fields of awareness through movement, including, Yoga, Pilates and Continuum, and engaging Systems approaches and Permaculture, she is passionate about building a inter-generational community.  Her vision is to support youth and adults to connect more deeply through mindfulness and nature awareness practices to their inner self and to our interconnectedness with the earth and natural world. In addition to her guiding role at the Institute, Angie is director of Sarana Springs Refuge and Sanctuary near Owen Sound, ON.

Angie is a co-founder of Sarana Institute and the lead for the Young Adult Program.  A graduate from Upaya Centre as Buddhist chaplain with Roshi Joan Halifax,  her studies engaged serving in end-of-life and environmental ministries. Through the inspiration of her late husband, Alido Di Iorio’s, vision of a healing community gathering on the land and his empowering, she carries his legacy and years of serving as the Executive Director of Gitche M’Qua Centre.

Noah Howard, Board Member

Before joining Sarana Institute, Noah was a board member for over 10 years during our evolution as Gitche M’Qua Center for Healing & Dying.  Noah initially returned as a volunteer and adviser with a big-hearted concern in building strong and resilient programs such as the Young Adult Program at Sarana Institute.  Noah’s company, Ark Imports, is an importer of products from Nepal.  As well, Noah founded the Ark Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund.  Noah’s entrepreneurial spirit and his  keen perspectives benefit Sarana Institute immensely. As a father of three young boys, he is aware of the needs of the future generations.

Gloria Della Maestra, Board Member

Gloria is the most recent addition to the Board of the Sarana Institute.  She brings a strong professional background in finance and accounting; beginning her career as a CA, Gloria has over 30 years of experience in managing major initiatives within the trust and banking industry.  On a more personal level, Gloria feels a strong alignment with Sarana’s mission of helping individuals to draw on wisdom and compassion during life’s challenging moments.  Gloria is very excited to join the Board and to be a part of the Sarana Institute’s next chapter of growth. 

Luke Albert, Managing Director

Luke is the Managing Director and ‘admin/tech guru’ of Sarana Institute. He became involved with Sarana after attending our Mindfulness in Nature Retreat in August 2019 and hasn’t looked back.

Luke originally hails from Grey-Bruce (where our retreat centre, Sarana Springs is located) and currently lives in Toronto. Luke has previously worked with the Veg Food Fest in Toronto, as well as Toronto-based tech startups Ritual and Wealthsimple.

When not working with Sarana, Luke loves to make music, dabble in interior decorating, cook, take spin classes, do yoga, and – of course – meditate.

Maxine Iharosy, Yana Director

Maxine is the Director of the Young Adult Nature Awareness program for Sarana Institute.

She is an Embodiment Coach in her private practice, specializing in helping women self nurture through movement and nature connection so that they can listen to their inner aspirations and lead a life with confidence.

Her studies are rooted in Yoga, Somatics, Buddhist Philosophy, Deep Ecology and a curious reverence for all life.  Maxine knows the importance of strong leadership skills for the well being of everyone.

Her personal website is