A Message From Ross Guttler, Open Center CEO

As we kick off our first-ever, online fundraising campaign, The 12 Days of Gratitude, I want to share with ya’ll why, at this very moment, I have so much love and gratitude for The Open Center.

When I first moved to New York, I had just started getting into personal growth and spiritual practice. I was reading books. Meditating every morning. Seeking conversation where I could learn more. Then a new friend took me to a class at The Open Center. I had tea (Jasmine Pearl, I still remember), leafed through several books, chatted with someone behind the registration desk and then attended a class with Mantak Chia. I loved it so much. There were people older than me. Younger than me. People who looked different than me. But what really stuck out was how authentic, intelligent and engaged everyone was in the audience — and that carried over to the staff as well. It was like going to Lowe’s or Home Depot if you’re addicted to power tools. Everyone was so knowledgeable, friendly and importantly for me, not judgmental about how “uneducated” I was on the topic. It felt safe, real and mind-opening, all at the same time.

Years later, here I am working for that same organization, that beautiful soul, that has truly been a gift to my life that I feel grateful for every day. For me, The Open Center has been a place to discover, explore and when I want to, go deeper. I always know that I’m getting an outstanding teacher and sharing that experience with a discerning community. But I never thought about what went on behind the scenes to make it possible until I started working here. I didn’t realize how incredibly talented and learned the staff was. I didn’t realize how The Open Center was a nonprofit (shame on me) and kept the prices down so we could let more people in. I didn’t realize they had scholarship programs so underserved communities can take classes for free. I didn’t realize that tens of thousands of people had been coming through the doors, some for the first time, others for 36 years. Some to take an introductory class, others to take professional certification programs. I didn’t realize how thoughtful and intentional the team was in booking teachers with mission and integrity at the forefront, rather than just figuring out how to fill a room.

But now I do. Now I realize all these things. And I wanted to share them with you in the hopes that you all can appreciate them, too, without necessarily having to be on our staff. The Open Center has changed my life. It’s helped lead me on the path of self-awareness and self-inquiry. It’s helped me become a better friend, partner and family member. It’s helped me to be kinder to myself, others and the earth.

What I’ve also realized is that The Open Center is driven by mission, not profits. We really need the help of you, our community, to stay so mission-driven, so authentic, so open to all.

The Open Center has been a gift to many of you. And if over the last 36 years we’ve made any impact on your life or those around you, we’d be grateful if you could donate whatever you’re able. Since we are a nonprofit and there are no shareholders to be had, we do this for you. And so, we humbly ask for your support so we may continue serving for another 36 years and beyond.

Ross Guttler was formerly the Chief Operating Officer for Global Treehouse, a new concept combining meditation, creativity, collaboration and problem solving for large corporate clients. He previously led the growth of several business lines at Delos, a health, technology and real estate firm that focuses on optimizing the built environment for occupant health. He considers it a personal mission to shift the way we view our offices and homes – instead using real estate as a delivery vehicle for positive health outcomes and personal enlightenment. Ross is a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Forum and also ULI’s Real Estate Tech and Innovation Council. He received a B.S. in Economics from Duke University and an M.B.A. from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

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