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Dennis McNally

I first encountered Buddhism many years ago while researching a biography of Jack Kerouac, but only established my own practice four years ago, when I began to sit at City Center. Without any particular conscious plan, I became increasingly involved, first in Saturday Sangha, then in the evening zazen doanryo, then as a student of Jordan Thorn. I took the precepts at my jukai in the Fall of 2011.

Having served as a volunteer on the Board of Trustees and with the Development Committee (which I currently chair) of the ACLU of Northern California for nearly 20 years , I offered my experience to the Zen Center and became part of this past year’s Leadership Program, which has led to this invitation to serve on the Board. As my practice has deepened, it has become clear to me that service is an essential element, and one I cherish more and more.

My background has been in the academic world (a Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts in History) and then - oddly - in the music business, where I went from researching a biography of the Grateful Dead (which was finally published in 2002) to becoming the band’s publicist from 1985 until 2008. I remain a consultant in publicity and promotion for various musicians. My wife Susana Millman and I have a daughter, son-in-law, and two very lovely grandsons.