The Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship is a Utah Non-Profit providing Buddhist teaching and community. We have applied and we are currently waiting for the IRS to approve our 501(3)c status.
Here is your leadership team.
Feel free to contact any of us. General question call be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Kakuyo Sensei – Founder
Christopher Kakuyo Leibow is the founder and practice leader of the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship and trans-sectarian Buddhist community in Salt Lake City. He is a lay minister with the Bright Dawn Center for Oneness Buddhism. Bright Dawn’s ministry program is led by Koyo Kubose Sensei, son and dharma heir of Gyomay Kubose Sensei, a pioneer in American Buddhism.
Christopher Kakuyo started the SLBF almost ten years ago, to provide Western Buddhists a community-based Buddhism where people would feel accepted just as they are. He wanted to create a place where what someone believes is ultimately no one’s business and what brings people together; what unites them is the teaching of Buddha and their shared aspiration to bring healing to a wounded world.
Christpher’s professional life has been varied doing all kinds of odd jobs, from dishwasher, file clerk, security officer, factory worker, psychiatric technician and corporate training.
Christopher has studied at the Buddhist University of Thailand and has a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Utah and an MFA in Poetry from Antioch University. For years he was active in the arts community in downtown SLC.His poetry and art have been published internationally. He likes to say he is an “internationally obscure” artist.
Sharon Aaron – Director
Sharon Fausett Aaron (Hogetsu-yo) has been involved in the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship almost since its inception. She has been actively invested since the beginning and has been part of the board of trustees for several years. Her continued dedication to the Fellowship is sincere and ongoing. She is currently acting as the Vitalize Business Manager.
Sharon was born and raised in Utah and is a proud graduate of the University of Utah. Her professional life has been as interesting and varied as the colors of a rainbow.
As Wyoming business owners, with her husband, during the 1980’s, the couple spent a number of years building up several enterprises. Starting with a bookstore and later adding music to their inventories at Kaleidoscope in Fort Bridger, they filled a need for their neighbors in the rural area that had not previously been met. Later expanding their businesses to an additional location in Kemmerer and eventually adding a restaurant to their holdings. Wyoming proved to be challenging, but never afraid of hard work they stayed very busy and focused during that time. Managing and working themselves into every aspect of the businesses they owned.
After the death of her mother in 1988, Sharon felt it was time to come home to Utah to be near family and the couple packed up their belongings and their horses and returned to settle down again to a less hectic life. Her husband returned to his previous occupation of truck driving as Sharon pursued other endeavors.
Sharon worked as Office Manager for Phast Corporation, a manufacturing company in the home automation industry, until they were acquired by a Texas firm and subsequently moved all operations out of state. Not wanting to leave the state and family again, Sharon became the Office Manager/HR Manager for an international technology firm and worked there for the next 21 years.
Sharon currently owns a production company, Music in the Box, and in conjunction with the non-profit Brolly Arts, produces a small number of intimate concerts each year for local musicians. Sharon’s recent fascination with American Haiku writing fills her spare time with insightful three-line musings about the world as being observed through her eyes.
Terry Huff – Trustee
Gretchen Seiyo Sensei – Director
Gretchen has had a Buddhist House-holder practice and Bodhisattva devotion since 1999, becoming acquainted with local temples and centers over the years. None of them felt right until the discovery of the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship and with it; Pure Land practice. Participating since 2016, she took Refuge in 2017. She began the Bright Dawn program in 2017 and was inducted in 2019. In general, she is a devotional Buddhist rather than a philosophical one.
Her long-term avocation has always been one of spiritual exploration, participating in multiple religions. Her deep interests are Feminist Spirituality, theology, world mythology, ritual, and teaching. She has been a Dianic Wiccan Priestess since 1989 and an ECG/OTO Priestess since 2004. Most importantly she was the Founder and HPs for 14 years of The Order of Our Lady of Salt;Utah’s only open, legal Wiccan church. She had continuous involvement in administration, training, writing, and outreach. A few of her activities included participation in the Salt Lake Ministerial Association, the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, the Cherryhill Seminary Board of Directors, and Chaplaincy including as a Spiritual Services Volunteer at the Utah State Hospital.
These spiritual and administrative experiences have been utilized for the benefit of the SLBF, being an original Board of Trustees member. Gretchen’s many past encounters with religious systems give her unique non-dualist perspectives, including transitions from one belief system to another, and the non-orthodoxy of aligning with more than one spiritual tradition.
Gretchen is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, having been involved in years of Pride. This includes as an organizer the first year that Salt Lake City changed its Pride Protest March to a celebratory Pride Parade. Her representation continues with the SLBF.
In her career(s) she has been a Licensed Environmental Health Scientist with Salt Lake County, worked in Forensic DNA Identification, and for 15 years was a Hematologic Cancer Researcher; retiring in 2021. She is a published writer and accomplished in art photography. And of course, she loves building altars!
Tom Pitcher – Chairman of the Board
Tom has been attending the fellowship for the past few years and has been a great resources for our community.
Tom has spent 12 years as a public finance investment banker at Zions Bank, where he raised
over $750 million in capital for public school districts and charter schools nationally. Later Mr.
Pitcher started HighMark School Development, which since its inception has raised and
deployed over $1Billion in capital and developed more than 85 charter schools, and today is one
of the leading charter school development firms in the nation.
After selling his stake in HighMark to a private equity fund, Mr. Pitcher formed iSchool Campus. At iSchool he successfully deployed the country’s first “smart school” technology platform by lobbying the
passage of Utah’s “Smart School Technology Act”- a sweeping legislative initiative for digital
teaching and learning.
After selling his interest in iSchool, Mr. Pitcher taught Finance at Westminster College’s Gore Graduate School of Business. Mr. Pitcher founded Q3 Student Partners in 2016 when he launched the social impact initiative to provide mentor-supported student housing for first-generation college students. Mr. Pitcher received a BS in Finance from Brigham Young University and an MBA from the University of Utah.