Calling All Zen Center Alums

San Francisco Zen Center is making an effort to reconnect with our unique version of alumni through the formation of a group dedicated to this important branch of our wider sangha. A deep connection with Zen is a connection that lasts a lifetime, and although until now Zen Center has lacked an official alumni association, hundreds of alumni have maintained their ties to the community. We are deeply grateful for their participation. Our goal in the coming months is to widen this circle even further and in the process create a way for our many alumni to reconnect and share their lives, memories, and practice with each other.

We hope you will join us and other “Zen alums” to co-create a dynamic organization that encourages connections old and new and enlivens practice in the ten directions. What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?

Because what constitutes an “alum” is not as clear-cut for a Zen group as it is for a college one, we offer this definition, which aims to cast a wide, inclusive net for our venerable sangha:

  • A Zen Center alum is any non-SFZC resident who has completed at least one full practice period at City Center, Green Gulch, or Tassajara and/or has received the precepts from an established teacher at San Francisco Zen Center.
  • As one of the primary aims of this group is to be a support for those leaving Zen Center, we invite current residents who are in the midst of transitioning back to the marketplace to begin participation in our alumni sangha.

Our goal is to build an association rich in resources for our alumni. In response to great feedback from our survey, we are working on developing the content of our website page and newsletter as well as beginning to structure plans for events and practice offerings. Stay tuned!

If you’re on Facebook, please join our SFZC Alumni page.

If you haven’t yet signed up for our newsletter, please provide your contact information under the Subscribe link to the right (above), and send this page to other alumni you know who may be interested. We greatly appreciate your help in ensuring the accuracy of our incomplete records—it’s a challenge to track down contact information for the City Center ino from 1977 or the Tassajara baker from 1992, as you can imagine.

We are always looking for active, enthusiastic participants to help develop the organization in a variety of ways. If you are interested in helping with newsletter production, the website, event planning or more, please contact Anne Connolly at

We look forward to your feedback and to building a robust organization over the coming months and years.

Best wishes,

The Alumni Steering Committee: Anne Connolly, Florence Caplow, Bruce Fortin, Taiyo Lipscomb, Nancy Petrin, Layla Smith Bockhorst, David Woolman

Practice Period photo
Jukai photo at Green Gulch Farm


Alumni Mailing List

Newsletter Archives

Previous Events:
50th Anniversary, 2012

Alumni Celebration Retreat

Great Assembly Anniversary Sesshin


Alumni Coordinator:
Nancy Petrin