Liz Locatelli

liz locatelli headshot

What pronouns do you use? She/Her/Hers

Where will you be located while serving on the board? Santa Clara, Ca

Please describe your activity with any Recovery Dharma sangha, including local, affinity, inter-sangha, circle, or volunteer with the board.   (Affinity: some members of Recovery Dharma create sangha groups around identities such as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Ally (LGBTQIA) Women; or interests such as recovery around process addictions, food or codependency. Circle: an independent volunteer work group) 

My name is Liz Locatelli. I am a 39-year-old female Addict in Recovery. I am a Clinical Supervisor for a Non-Profit in Santa Clara County. I come from an immigrant Italian-American family with a lineage of struggling through and overcoming oppression, addiction, and mental health challenges. My first experience with Buddhism and the Dharma was when a teenager attendings sits at local Buddhist communities and subsequently in college at UC Santa Cruz. Through a University-sponsored internship in the Juvenile Hall, I was introduced to meditation groups being taught to juvenile offenders and also Buddhist principles for awakening and understanding the nature of and liberation from suffering and addiction(s).

Since being introduced to Buddhism, I have continued to attended Buddhist-inspired meetings/sangha’s/sits at local Buddhist communities and female recovery abstinence classes (both in-person and online) to immerse myself in and seek further understanding of the Dharma for awakening. In the last year I have expanded my practice attending approximately 5-6 Recovery Dharma/Buddhist inspired meetings weekly, and have broadened my connection with Sangha’s in both Northern and Southern CA. RD and related Sangha’s have helped me develop compassion for myself and others, investigate causes and conditions for my suffering, taught me about applying the 8 fold path in my own daily life, and sharing the 4 noble truths for others to use as a guide for their own path of awakening and recovery.

Briefly describe your professional/livelihood history in a narrative, and upload a resume or copy it below.  Reminder that many life experiences can be applied to the work of a Board. This includes, but is not limited to service with local groups, managing a household or service on another nonprofit board.

In the 1990’s I was training with a professional coach developing my skill as a fastpitch softball pitcher, playing on competitive traveling teams and going through the process of signing to play collegiately and professionally. In hindsight I learned that I was starting to develop a “practice” that created a great foundation for spiritual growth. I worked with my trainer consistently and used challenges as opportunities for growth, trained daily, and was committed to both professional development and personal self-improvement.

My coach’s instruction mirrored RD’s description of a having a “Wise Mentor”.  It was a complementary mix of learning practical mechanics of pitching; accepting the reality that the nature of pitching would include suffering; developing a positive mental attitude and finding peace amongst stress and uncertainty; and sitting with, not running from, the pressure of standing on the mound listening to taunts and screams from others while maintaining present-moment mindfulness awareness through the use of breath. These lessons and personal stories my coach shared about living in “the present moment” and accepting suffering both on and off the mound awakened me to a newfound truth that how one responds to challenges and pain were key to growth, and that a peaceful and empowered way of co-existing with others could be found through appreciating diversity, individualism, use of wise speech and right behavior, and equanimity.

Following an unforeseen injury, my career in playing competitive sports ended. Inspired by my coach’s “Wise Mentorship” and modeling of Buddhist practices, I set forth on a new path in clinical direct services to help others learn about new ways to face addiction, trauma, and liberation from suffering.

I have over fifteen years combined professional experience as a social worker, supervisor, field instructor, program coordinator, and clinician providing clinical crisis intervention, complex care coordination, program development, and clinical services to youth, adults, and the aging. These populations served are from varied socio-economic and culturally diverse backgrounds living in urban and rural settings, many of who depend on social programs from multiple governmental and community-based agencies. I am distinguished by my specialty in working with those struggling to navigate healthcare systems, including mental health and medical services, subsidized housing, Public Child Welfare, and the Criminal Justice system. I have enjoyed the challenges and rewards of blending both my professional clinical skills combined with my personal spiritual practice of Buddhism and the Dharma to address a spectrum of psycho-social issues contributing to clients’ maladaptive/unskillful behaviors, craving, and challenges.

In my present role as a Clinical Supervisor, I have a multi-faceted and dynamic position of training and supervising diverse staff who work with the most vulnerable and ethnically diverse consumers in a large urban county. Clients served by our agency are identified by hospital and government systems as “the most difficult” and often “not amenable” to treatment. My role also includes developing and expanding community partnerships and collaborating alongside numerous community-based, faith-based, and governmental entities who look to my agency/employer for creative and non-conventional ways in helping the most vulnerable who have “failed” in taking care of themselves and also in breaking the cycle of unhealthy and unskillful behavior(s). My experiences as both a direct service provider and clinical supervisor providing services on the streets and in community-settings (i.e. in encampments, under bridges, along the creek, accompaniment to outpatient appointments, etc.) has been informed by Buddhist-inspired principles, including METTA and the Eight-Fold Path. This approach has resulted in my increased ability to compassionately and effectively serve clients that may otherwise not have the faculties and resources to independently access services. The goal in this work is to help guide clients to liberation from suffering, gain access to basic needs, and restore personal dignity and worth.

Are there other special or unique skills that you believe would benefit serving as a board member? (please see announcement)   

If selected as a board member I believe that the combined factors of my training and professional education, spiritual practice, and personal recovery from addiction will lend towards supporting RD’s vision, goals, and growth. Specifically my practice and it’s understanding of on-going growth towards enlightenment coupled with achievement of professional milestones (Including confirmation of a Master’s Degree in Social Work, passing the California Law and Ethics exam, and obtaining my License in Clinical Social Work) and experience in training others, program implementation, and inter-agency collaboration would benefit the RD organization and board. My skills would assist RD’s organizational needs in planning, recruiting/overseeing volunteers, broadening community outreach and engagement of underrepresented groups, facilitating meetings, and providing written contributions inclusive of trauma-informed language. My experience using a trauma-informed and empowerment model in helping guide those with diverse complicated histories move from suffering to a place of healing parallels RD’s belief that there are many roads to wise understanding and that Recovery Dharma supports exploration, not limitation.

Please use the space below to share a brief (300 words or less) statement about yourself.  The questions below are offered as prompts for topics you might find helpful. We do not anticipate that you will answer each one.

As a professional clinician, although I am trained in various clinical and spiritual modalities to address addiction and recovery, I align with and personally practice a Buddhist-inspired path to recovery guided by the Three Jewels of Buddhism, Thai Forest (traditionally is one branch of the Theravāda Buddhist tradition) and 4 Noble truths/ 8 fold path as outlined in RD. Currently my personal practice is focused on continued renunciation of substances and unskillful behaviors along with sitting with and meditating on uncertainty and Anatta ( Belief of no self). In this contemplative reflection I see clarity in bringing forth compassion, kindness, and curiosity to myself and with others whom may have differing opinions/beliefs in professional settings. Wise speech and the use of the 4 gates help me to respond to conflict that may arise. In addition, I am engaged in a year-long training in A Year to Live practice in facing death, uncertainty, and living mindfully on a daily basis.

With respect to my understanding of inclusion and celebration of diversity, my professional training as a social worker is rooted in social justice, inclusion, diversity, and equality. My clinical practice includes adopting a culturally-competent model and provision of service delivery by honoring, not rejecting, the individual’s physical space, identity, and linkage to safe communities. My belief is that promoting and preserving client/individual self-determination is at the heart of the work in helping others.

Strategies I have used and could bring to RD for it’s the growth are built around community organizing and relationship building. Specifically approaching working with groups and community partners from micro to macro levels to introduce the Dharma, collaborate in expanding RD sangha’s, and educating leaders and other potential stakeholders on the benefits of offering those suffering from addiction with a Buddhist-inspired approach to recovery.

As an example, on a community level, I have seen that after very marginalized groups obtain basic needs and are pulled from unhealthy environments and placed into supportive housing they are often left feeling disconnected and without a replacement community or “sangha” to travel with in their new path. The foundation of Recovery Dharma and its introduction to Buddhism’s basic teachings (the Four Noble Truths) is a user-friendly tool-kit for offer those in dealing with the challenges of both early and long-term recovery. My belief is that the Dharma should be available to all, regardless of socioeconomic class, identity, gender, etc. I have introduced colleagues/community agencies, staff, and countless clients to Buddhist-inspired approaches to recovery, and addressing addictions and resolving conflicts through the precepts. I have seen the transformative impacts it has had on individuals and believe that as a Board Member I could support expansion of access of RD to additional communities.

Lessons I have learned from the practice include: keeping an open heart, engaging in Wise Speech and Right Action, renunciation of grasping, welcoming equanimity, and approaching life with an attitude of curiosity. In addition, being raised by my Italian immigrant grandmother whose lived experiences of poverty, political oppression, and child abuse instilled in me the belief that all people deserve equal access to the resources and opportunities that allow them to meet their basic needs and connection to community/sangha for continued growth and awakening. In addition, I have enveloped the 8-fold path of recovery in training staff who provide services to clients struggling with addiction, mental health, homelessness, and defeat.

In summary, I am excited about the opportunity to work with others on the board and in local regions, contributing to and expanding to the growth of the RD organization. My passion in community organizing and building community and support to those suffering lends well to the RD Board’s purpose in serving the community, support what’s happening at the ground level, sharing resources, and communicating and growing together.