Judith A. Simmer-Brown

jsb@naropa.edu | 303-546-3502

Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies
Core Faculty


BA in Religious Studies - Core Faculty
MA in Religious Studies: Contemplative Religions - Core Faculty
MA in Religious Studies: Indo-Tibetan Buddhism - Core Faculty
Master of Divinity - Core Faculty


PhD Buddhism, Walden University
MA Religious Studies, Florida State University
BA Religion and History, Cornell College

Areas of Specialization:

  • Indo-Tibetan Buddhism
  • American Buddhism
  • Women in Buddhism
  • Interreligious Dialogue
  • Contemplative Education

Judith Simmer-Brown, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University, where she has taught as a Founding Faculty member since 1978. She studied at Cornell College (BA), Florida State University (MA), Columbia University, University of British Columbia, and Walden University (PhD). She has practiced Tibetan Buddhism for forty-five years and is an Acharya (senior dharma teacher) of the Shambhala Buddhist lineage of Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche and Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Naropa's founder.

As a founding member of the Religious Studies department, she teaches world religions and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and Buddhist theology and interreligious dialogue for the Masters’ of Divinity program. She is the founder and Senior Faculty Advisor to the Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education (CACE), exhibiting the University’s leadership as the pioneer institution for contemplative education. She has forged a partnership between the University and the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and is developing relationships with other centers of contemplative studies. She has designed and now teaches the pilot Compassion Training program for undergraduates, drawing together compassion practices with a study of the neuroscience, social science, and humanities of compassion, a project of CACE’s Compassion Initiative.

She serves on the steering committee of the American Academy of Religion's Contemplative Studies group, and she is on the Board of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies. Dr. Simmer-Brown lectures and writes on Tibetan Buddhism, American Buddhism, women and Buddhism, interreligious dialogue, and contemplative education. Her books are Dakini's Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism (Shambhala 2001); with Fran Grace, an edited collection of articles called Meditation and the Classroom: Contemplative Pedagogy for Religious Studies (Religious Studies Series, State University of New York Press, 2010); and with David Steindl-Rast and others, Benedict’s Dharma: Buddhist Comment on the Rule of St. Benedict (Riverhead 2001).

As an Acharya, Dr. Simmer-Brown serves as the Dean of the Teachers’ Academy for Shambhala International. She teaches meditation programs and retreats and has special interest in the interface between contemplative practice and social engagement. She represented Naropa and Shambhala in May 2015 at the first Buddhist ecumenical delegation to the White House. She is married to Richard Brown, a Naropa University professor, and they have two adult children and three grandchildren.

For a sample of Dr. Simmer-Brown’s publications, see the following links:

Reviews of her books:

Recorded Interviews:  Buddhist Geeks

Dharma Teachings at Gampo Abbey

  		Judith A.