MBA Announces its new Executive Director, Sam Himelstein, Ph.D.

With excitement and joy, MBA has appointed Sam Himelstein as its new executive director. Sam brings a great deal of both personal and professional experience to his new role. As a young adolescent, he was heavily involved in the juvenile justice system and was incarcerated on 7 different occasions over a period of 3 years. Sam was on a personal path to destruction and struggled with drugs, violence, delinquency, and most notably anger. He eventually turned his life around through connections with mentors, personal inner work (including mindfulness meditation), and the never-ending love and support of his parents.

Sam went on to graduate high school, college, and eventually pursued his PhD in Clinical Psychology. He received his PhD from Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) and completed the first published research for the MBA Project as his dissertation, entitled, “A Mixed Methods Study of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention with Incarcerated Youth.”

Sam has dedicated his career to working with high-risk and incarcerated adolescents, and as our new executive director has shown to be “hands on” in all aspects of the work: he currently trains staff and personally facilitates mindfulness groups at different program sites. His knowledge and love for this work have been compiled in his upcoming book, “A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents,” which will be published by Routledge in April of 2013.

Sam’s passion for direct services shows through his vision for MBA moving forward. He has already built connections to provide mindfulness to probation-involved youth outside of the detention setting, where he believes intervention must continue if real progress is to be measured.

Continuity of Care Model

Sam’s vision for MBA’s direct services include developing a continuity of care model in which youth from MBA classes within correctional settings get referred to aftercare MBA sites to continue receiving mindfulness-based services. Sam has built connections with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and other community-based agencies to set up program sites to which probation youth can get referred for continued services. His goals are to transform the direct services of MBA from “auxiliary” and “recreational” services, to direct and comprehensive services that make differences in the lives of high-risk youth and their families.


Given Sam’s background as a researcher, he is dedicated and passionate in continuing to develop, implement, and disseminate high-quality research on the topic of mindfulness as an intervention for high-risk youth. Sam brings a wealth of community-based research knowledge and plans to research as much of our direct service programs as is feasible. Sam’s goal is to make MBA a premier research institution recognized nationally and internationally for research involving mindfulness as an intervention for high-risk and incarcerated youth.


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The Mind Body Awareness Project | | Oakland, CA
Mindfulness & Life Skills for At-Risk Youth

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