October 16, 2014

Our Teachers and Key Staff

Our Teachers

Bears and Samahria started teaching The Option Process® in 1972 and 11 years later established The Option Institute. Over the years, they have recruited and trained an amazing set of teachers. Please take some time and get to know some of our wonderful teachers by clicking on their pictures below. Enjoy!


bears_2013“Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman

Samahria Lyte Kaufman

raun-kaufmanRaun K. Kaufman

clyde (1)Clyde Haberman

beverly-headhsot--252x300Beverly Haberman

bryn-hoganBryn N. Hogan
stanStan Cohen

“Bears” Barry Neil Kaufman

  • Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Option Institute.
  • Teaching The Option Process®worldwide for 42 years.
  • Author of 12 books on The Option Process
  • Noted international speaker, Group Facilitator and teacher
  • Co-Originator of The Son-Rise Program®for children with Autism and developmental challenges

Fun Facts about Barry (Bears) Neil Kaufman

  • Favorite Indulgence: Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino
  • Greatest Accomplishment: “Taking responsibility for my happiness and unhappiness.”

Testimonials for Barry (Bears) Neil Kaufman

The search for peace in the world must start within the human heart and within our own families. Barry Neil Kaufman understands that. By personal example and through his writing and counseling, he gives a compelling vision for the building of inner and outer peace.

President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

If there were a Nobel Prize for love, I’d want the Kaufmans to be the first to receive one.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, Author, Change Your Thoughts — Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Barry Neil Kaufman champions making the choice to believe in ourselves, to be hopeful and seize the power of loving ourselves and others.

Lou Holtz, Head Football Coach, University of Notre Dame

Inspiring, groundbreaking and visionary. Barry Neil Kaufman’s work is the science of love, compassion and insight which will transform the world.

Deepak Chopra M.D., Author, Quantum Healing

I have never experienced a more brilliant teacher. Bears consistently puts every participant in the ‘playroom’ and constantly and lovingly gives each of us the opportunity to question ourselves, love ourselves even more, and to find out what our ‘new’ best self is. My love for the man whose courage and curiosity created The Option Institute is only slightly less than my overwhelming gratitude.

Shelley Stravitz, Educational Consultant, California

Bears is the most effective teacher I have ever had–and I’ve spent most of my life being mentored and taught by some of the “top” people in the world. He enters the room and there is an electrifying energy and presence radiating from him. His rapid fire, stream of consciousness style kept me on my toes or on the edge of my seat in every class.

Melinda Sharma, Immunologist, Rochester, NY


Samahria Lyte Kaufman

  • Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Option Institute.
  • Teaching The Option Processworldwide for 42 years.
  • Co-Originator of The Son-Rise Programfor children with Autism and developmental challenges.
  • Co-Author of A Sacred Dying.

Fun Facts about Samahria:

  • Greatest Accomplishment: “Nurturing my son out of autism.”
  • An Inspiring Book That She Recently Read: Man’s Search for Meaning, by: Viktor E. Frankl


I bring Samahria my questions, the ones I feel most vulnerable with, and seeing them through her eyes, with humor, compassion, and wisdom, I find the next octave of me.

Wendy Musk, Teacher, Newton, CT

Energetic, outrageous, exceptional woman, an absolute inspiration; she embodies everything we can be. Samahria’s energy is so powerful that she fills the whole room and is so giving, loving, and accepting of everybody. It’s like she has a fine tuned radar to know who to go to and how and when to stretch them.

Zobeeda Madsen, Son-Rise Mom, Spain

I wish I could take this graceful lady home with me! What a bubbly, effervescent wealth of knowledge and experience Samahria is!

Tammy Patchell-Evans, Son-Rise Program Mom/Dance Studio Owner, Canada

Delightful. Joyous. Irreverent. Samahria is a fun teacher! Who could be better? She is a gem.

Valerie Gilbert, Actress, New York


Beverly Haberman

  • Practicing The Option Processfor 21 years
  • Special Projects Communications Coordinator
  • Certified Option Process® Mentor-Counselor, Group Facilitator and Teacher Trainer
  • Previous Background: Professional Musician and Teacher

Fun Facts about Beverly:

  • Favorite Pastime: Strolling through the streets of Great Barrington with Clyde as we eat and shop our way through a Saturday afternoon.
  • Greatest Accomplishment: “Learning to stand tall in who I am.”


Beverly’s excitement for The Option Process is what got me here! Her continued excitement surrounding what she does here is amazing. I enjoy being around someone who is so passionate. When she walks into the room, I find that I want to hear everything she has to say.

Kristine Jones, Interior Designer, New Jersey

Beverly is a sweet soul who quietly teaches with confidence and compassion. She passes on her knowledge succinctly and clearly. Her explanation of the Option Process® Dialogue is to the point and easy to understand. Clarity is her trademark.

Michael Pearl, Lawyer, England


Stan Cohen

  • Practicing The Option Processfor 14 years
  • Certified Option ProcessMentor/Counselor, Group Facilitator and Teacher
  • Previous background: Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors for a publicly traded bank

Fun Facts about Stan:

  • Favorite Place to Be: “On a beach in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, overlooking the beautiful white sanded beach in front of the turquoise Caribbean Sea.”
  • One Way He Loves to Spend His Free Time: “Training with my children, as a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.”


Great, wonderful enthusiasm, and sense of humor. He expressed amazing interest in all of us.

Julia K. McCaughey, Real Estate Salesperson, New York

Stan exudes a calm intensity that gently pushes me to my limits and then some. I felt his wisdom and love through his teaching.

Joel Witherspoon, Counselor, North Carolina

This man has amazing skills! His energy lit up the room. His questions challenged and delighted everyone. We played, we worked and we celebrated our discoveries together. I want more Stan.

Mark Lindsay, Boatbuilder, Massachussetts


Raun Kaufman

  • Director of Global Education the Option Instituteand theAutism Treatment Center of America
  • Practicing The Option Processfor 23 years
  • Seminar Leader for Business Executives and Educators in North America and Europe
  • Certified Option ProcessMentor-Counselor, Group Facilitator and Teacher Trainer
  • Degree in Biomedical Ethics, Brown University
  • Advisory Board Member, United States Autism & Asperger Association (USAAA)
  • Certified Son-Rise ProgramTeacher and Teacher/Trainer

Fun Facts about Raun K. Kaufman:

  • What’s your favorite movie? American History X – an earth-shattering movie about race in America, bigotry, personal change, and redemption, that ends with a powerfully gutsy conclusion.
  • Two current projects I am excited about: Conducting studies on The Son-Rise Program to be published in peer-reviewed journals and development of new curriculum for the Institute’s business programs.


Raun is a ball of fire and a great spark in our midst. An excellent facilitator, Raun’s rapport with us was unique. He created energy constantly, and I was jazzed every moment with him. Raun is a wise, insightful, articulate philosopher and true humanitarian.

Donna Hal, Management

Raun is energetic, dramatic, wise, articulate, immensely loving and delightful. He kept the group spell-bound.

Jane Buckle, Director, New York

Raun is the most outstanding teacher I have ever encountered. Truly exceptional. Raun has such enthusiasm – it radiates from him.

Hilary Farmer, Dyslexia Educational Consultant, England


Clyde Haberman

  • Practicing The Option Processfor 21 years
  • Director of Major Gifts
  • Certified Option ProcessMentor/Counselor, Group Facilitator and Teacher/Trainer
  • Previous background: Professional Musician and Performer

Fun Facts About Clyde Haberman

  • The best thing I’ve done for myself this year – take Wide Awake and be a student again
  • A perfect morning: up at 5:30, exercise till 6:30, practice clarinet till 7:30, breakfast and off to the OI

Testimonials for Clyde Haberman

Clyde’s relaxed, calming and loving style was an inspiration to me throughout the program. His genuine belief that happiness is a choice was clearly articulated and convincingly put forward. His non directive and inclusive approach towards the group was balanced and effective. Without doubt, a master facilitator.

Wayne Thomas, Learning & Development Consultant, England

Clyde delivers the teachings with great clarity, conviction and fun. …He comes from a place of genuine understanding and humility and invites you to step forward with trust and honesty. He is brilliant at creating a safe learning place that is easeful and profound.

Starr Cornell, Administrative Assistant, Great Barrington, MA

Clyde is nurturing, fun, playful, considerate, poetic and loving. He created a safe environment to explore the inner parts of myself, the shadow-side that was aching to be noticed.

Jane Buckle, Director, New York

Clyde is a great teacher and leader. I enjoy the poems he shares, his exuberance and excitement about being here, and being part of our process of authentication.

Julia K. McCaughey, Retail Manager, Connecticut


Bryn Hogan

  • Practicing The Option Process for 23 years
  • Executive Director of Autism Treatment Center of America
  • Son-Rise Program Teacher and Teacher Trainer in North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
  • Previous background: Special Education Teacher and Case Manager

Fun Facts about Bryn Hogan

  • Greatest Accomplishments: “Running my daughter’s Son-Rise Program, adopting my children, healing my body of cardiac health challenge and directing the Autism Treatment Center of America for 15 years.
  • Greatest Realization: That I create my own internal experience and that I could teach others to do the same
  • Favorite Indulgence: Watching Netflix while I do cardio

Testimonials for Bryn Hogan

Bryn is a superb facilitator who delivers her subject brilliantly with humor and style. She is a sincere, genuine person who is sensitive to the mood of the audience. I have learned so much from her in 5 days. A personal message for Bryn: ‘I will be forever indebted to you for everything I have learned. You are a true inspiration!’

Sean Driscoll, Translator, Wales

Bryn is powerful, sharp, keen-witted, intelligent and fearless. One just knows that Bryn can move mountains and does. She is a powerful facilitator.

Laine Jastram, Therapist, Texas

Her warmth, her ability to connect, her humor and her love radiated in the room. She’s a dynamic speaker who can also bring you to tears in an instant, because she lets you see her love, and her heart.

Barbara Partazana, Insurance, Florida

I have never been in the presence of a more powerful, beautiful, articulate speaker. Oh, and she could easily be a successful stand-up comic. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you’ve shared this week. I am a better person for having known you.

Jill Liebler, Mother/Homemaker, Texas


Leah Taylor Roy

  • Practicing The Option Processfor 14 years
  • Certified Option ProcessMentor/Counselor, Group Facilitator and Teacher
  • Previous background: Management Consulting and Finance

Fun Facts about Leah Taylor Roy

  • An Inspiring Book That She Recently Read: The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman
  • Favorite Types of Cuisine: Moroccan and Mediterranean

Testimonials for Leah Taylor Roy:

I feel she has a softness and understanding of everyone she comes in contact with. She communicates straight from the heart. Her teachings and messages are amazing.

Debbie Mokhlessin, Banker, California

Excellent bundle of brilliant energy, clarity and curiosity. Excellent dialogue processor!

Dennis Dougherty, CEO – Landscape, Mill Valley, CA

Leah displays a delightful presence. She is open and accepting and loving. She is so accepting and wants the best for you so it is easy to grow in transforming and powerful ways.

Patrick Davenport, Venture Capital, Massachusetts

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Key Staff

the Option Institute employs more than seventy full-time staff members. Our staff bring together diverse backgrounds and broad reaching experience within the fields of education, health, human behavior, applied science, the arts and corporate and entrepreneurial business. Their unique knowledge and expertise help drive our initiatives forward. Please take a moment to read about some of our staff below.

Zoe Zappa
Senior Adult Program Counselor
Jan-Marie Gundacker
Senior Program Advisors
Dane Griffith
Director of Administrative Services

Zoe Zappa

  • Senior adult program counselor
  • Practicing The Option Processfor 22 years
  • Used to be an operating room scrub nurse
  • 3 children – 30, 26 and 24 (all of them take programs here)

Fun Facts about Zoe

  • Greatest Accomplishments: When I realized that I am fully responsible for what I think and feel and moving from the mountains of Colorado to work at The Option Instituteto support others with their journey to personal happiness.
  • Favorite pastime: Walking in nature – collecting rocks, wood, feathers and interesting bugs, and surrounding my life with nature.

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Dane Griffith

  • Director of Administrative Services
  • Working at the Option Institutefor 15 years
  • Previous Background: Engineering Management
  • Current Interest: Holistic Nutrition

Fun Facts about Dane

  • Favorite place to be: At my home in Sheffield, on the deck, in a lounge chair next to Liz, dogs playing in the yard, tea mug in hand, deep blue sky with white puffy clouds overhead, nowhere to go and nothing to do – it doesn’t get any better than this!
  • Favorite movie: Lord of the Rings Trilogy

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Jan-Marie Gundacker

  • Son-Rise ProgramSenior Program Advisors
  • Practicing The Option Processfor 15 years
  • Previous background: executive director and development director of nonprofit agencies feeding the hungry and teaching adults to read; counselor and coach; published writer.

Fun Facts about Jan-Marie

  • Favorite place to be: walking the beach and boards of the Jersey Shore talking to God and basking in the joyful, exquisite beauty of our world.
  • Greatest Accomplishments: my son and daughter, my two biggest miracles; learning to love by watching my mother; seeing the gifts in cancer, twice.