About Comienzos

About Comienzos

Our Mission

Comienzos is an educational and therapeutic collaborative of instructors and learners for the purpose of helping persons develop the skills and awareness needed for living increasingly free and fruitful lives.

Our constituency includes, but is not limited to people who are, were, or are at risk of being incarcerated and their families.


Board of Directors:

Cliff Wilkie, President
Hugh Doyle, Treasure
Jori Manske, Secretary    
Stephen M. Tumolo, Board Member



William Poehner, Executive Director
William Poehner lived the realities of gang life while growing up in Los Angeles. Out of this experience he has made a commitment to living and sharing nonviolence. He currently facilitates Nonviolent Communication workshops at the Metropolitan Detention Center and Juvenile Justice Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His passion lies in supporting individuals seeking to transform their lives from gang violence to life serving choices. William actively participates in trainer and program development with the New Mexico Network for Nonviolent Communication. He also offers his experience in Information Technology to the Center for Nonviolent Communication as an IT Committee member.
Maureen (Sat Guru Kaur), Kundalini Yoga Instructor
Maureen (Sat Guru Kaur) is certified through the International Kundalini Yoga Teachers Association and has completed two workshops on teaching yoga for children. She has taught yoga, conscious breathing, and meditation at the following locations: High Desert Yoga, University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center, ABQ Center for Spiritual Living, and The ABQ Center for Peace and Justice. She is also a licenced Special Education Teacher, Certified Motorcycle Safety Instructor, and is currently teaching yoga to the men and women at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center.
Jiva Manske, Instructor
Jiva Manske recently completed an MA thesis on developing Comienzos curricula and programming.  With a background that includes 5 years of living and practicing Nonviolent Communication, graduate work in peace and conflict studies, and experience with the Alternatives to Violence Project, he has offered training to teens, school teachers, inmates, and activists in the United States, Costa Rica, Austria, Romania, Afghanistan, and Iran. In addition to teaching, he also offers mediation and restorative circles as means to support families, communities, and institutions to experience conflict as a road to deepened connection.
Tejal Murrey, Instructor
My first career was as an artist. Over the years my fascination with creativity, healing and transformation has lead me to embrace yoga, Ayurveda, and in recent years Non Violent Communication.
I founded the Ahimsa Yoga Center in Baltimore MD in 1995 after studying yoga for 12 years. At Ahimsa I taught yoga classes, lead yoga retreats, offered yoga therapy, and trained yoga teachers for 8 years.
In 2004 I moved to New Mexico to study Ayurveda, the healing branch of yoga, and discovered Non Violent Communication.
In NVC I found a creative and healing work that addresses something vital to me and to most people I meet:  How do I connect meaningfully and caringly with other people, and how do I sustain these connections?
 As soon as I began to practice NVC I was able to resolve some uncomfortable personal dilemmas that had been plaguing me for years. Since then I have been able to assist others in expressing themselves honestly and to listen to one another with respectful understanding.
Particularly delightful for me has been the way this form of communication has deepened and enriched my relationships with my two beloved children now in their twenties.
I teach NVC Foundations classes, offer workshops, and individual consultations in the community.  I provide Non Violent Communication Classes and Stress Management for inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center. I am a Community Support Worker for Attachment Healing, a therapy group that works with troubled children and their families.
Cliff Wilkie, Meditation Instructor
Grew up in Houston, Texas.  Received a bachelors degree in geology in 1969 from University of Texas.
Worked in surveying since 1974.  A licensed surveyor in four States.  Have had my own business as well as worked at various engineering companies throughout the world.  Primarily involved in geodetic surveying using GPS satellite positioning since 1986.  Employed by Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia from 1991 to 2002.  Now employed as the Geodetic Surveyor for the City of Albuquerque.  Currently trying to become retired.
Meditation Background – Began regular sitting practice in 1976 with daily half-hour sits and one weekly hour long group sit with a Zen Meditation Group in West Virginia.  Continued for three years.  With family, careers, business, PTA meetings and soccer practice, drifted away from regular practice until 1998.  In 1998 began regular practice again with daily half-hour sits and one weekly hour long group sit.  This time with Zen Meditation Group in Saudi Arabia.  Have continued the same schedule of daily personal meditation practice since 1998.
Statement of motive – Have been involved in providing for a family by working and receiving income for many years.  Have been extremely fortunate to have had opportunity to participate in society in such a caring way.  Now that the children are off the payroll am in a position to give more freely of my time to others who may benefit from some of what I have learned over the years about daily meditation practice.  Have long felt that only luck and circumstances separate me from others who are homeless, addicted to harmful substances, illegal immigrants, in jail etc.
Would like to do something to help those less fortunate than me.