BDA Committee
Current management committee:
Elected in February 2017 by the membership and supporters of the BDA.
Kerstin Liebchen-Meades (chairperson), Kim Lewis (secretary), Loris Neff (treasurer), Karen Longland (minutes secretary), Eoin Liebchen-Meades, Crissi Schmidt, Debbie Winfield, 
John Ransley and Janet Stampalija .
See below:

India has been in Crissi’s heart since the 70s when she first travelled there on her spiritual search.

She was fortunate to go to Bodhgaya in 1989 and has been part of the BDA committee since the beginning.

In 2009 and 2016 she visited the PV School and other local projects, and is continually inspired by seeing the wonderful children grow and flourish in all areas with this chance of education, which is somewhat taken for granted in the West.


Eoin is a founding member of the BDA. He was inspired by the PV school founder, Rick Peterson and started a group in Brisbane to help fund the school.  Eoin started travelling to India over 30 years ago, and has since visited the country over 20 times.
His relationship with Buddhism goes back even further. Eoin was an original founder of the Buddhist Chenrezig Institute at Eudlo in Queensland. He was the first joint resident with Nin Anila and Anne McNeil forming the foundation of his passion that is spirituality in all its forms.
Eoin is married to Kerstin Liebchen and has two children, Darius and Lena. Being a traditional Chinese practitioner of 34 years, he retired in 2017.  He sees the BDA as a great project and it is an ongoing pleasure for him to see it flourish.

John Ransley has a Master of Science degree from the Univ of New England, Armidale. He taught geology for 8 years at the University of NSW, Sydney, and the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba.  Two years travel through Asia and the UK included studying yoga at the Satyananda ashram in India, where his future partner Muktanand lived. Back in Australia and based in Toowoomba, he was for 5 years a full time political activist, with involvements in the environmental and civil liberties movements and the Labor Party. After moving to Brisbane he took up a position with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, rising quickly to middle management and cultivating an active involvement in CPSU, the public service union.  By the time of his departure from DVA he had represented members in high-level enterprise bargaining agreements, and had co-led union negotiations in one of the first Australian Public Service job-killing initiatives to digitally automate complex decision-making.
John has long maintained an active involvement in civil liberties related law reform, making five detailed submissions to state and federal parliaments since 1993. He has for several years produced a daily commentary on world political affairs. Guided by life coaching from Landmark Education programs, in 2006 he co-wrote a book of stories about Muktanand after her death, and in 2007 he organised then Premier Anna Bligh to open a live music event at QPAC, raising over $13,000 for the Karuna Hospice service. His involvement in BDA started at a fundraiser in1995 and in 2016 he became a member of the BDA executive. He has visited Bodhgaya twice, in 2015 and 2016, and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Pragya Vihar School.

Karen has been a member of the BDA committee since 2001 after returning from her first trip to India.
Her exposure to the PV school and various other projects supported by the BDA at that time, provided the impetus for Karen to volunteer in varying capacity. Experiencing the great work of the BDA Karen was pleased to accept a role on the committee. She brings to the BDA a wealth of administrative good practice and management expertice.
Karen continues to be inspired with the opportunities possible through this small but effective organisation. 

Kerstin is a founding member of the BDA.  Chairperson since 2016, she has travelled annually to Bodhgaya.
Visiting for the past 8 years, directly contributing alongside the local community.
Kerstin has interests in teacher training, intercultural connections and in a letter writing project, which she instigated in 2007. Australian students from various schools, in and around Brisbane, have intermittently participated in writing letters to students at the PVS. The PVS students send letters in response. Social change and social justice issues prompted her to complete a Master of Development Practice (Community Development) in 2012. Her post-graduate studies have provided the theoretical knowledge that helped her to understand the interconnectedness of literacy, empowerment, and community building projects.  Kerstin is an active member of Zonta, an organization which advances the status of women through service and advocacy. She has worked as a teacher in the primary, secondary and tertiary sector for over 20 years and is passionate about education, networking and building community. She is currently employed at the Department of Education and Training. She is co-ordinating and writing teaching and assessment materials for the Australian Curriculum: German.

Kim has given his skills to the BDA since the mid 90's.  A creative at heart, he has crafted posters, newsletters, fliers and all tools that help the BDA achieve its' goal of creating opportunity in the Bodhgaya region.  All this whilst having a busy corporate career and active family life.
Kim has worked actively in supporting our local care givers as well.  Having been an active committee member for six years with the Brisbane Youth Service, a not for profit organisation, providing support services for homeless youth in the Brisbane inner city. 
He believes caring for others enriches us all. The BDA gives this opportunity to the extended network of supporters in Australia to experience.

Loris has been the treasurer of the BDA  since 2015. She has been also a member of Zonta International for the past ten years which is  a professional women’s’ organization advancing the status of women.  

Loris is a results-oriented manager with thirty years of  business experience in both Australia and Canada. She has been responsible for all areas of management including financial, human resources and administration.

Her main interest is improving the status of women and children through education and training.


The Bodhgaya Development Association Incorporated (BDA)

We are small group of caring individuals that have come together to facilitate opportunities for some of the community members in the Bodhgaya region. We have backgrounds in community development, education, psychology, financial management, business and complementary medicine. All work done for the BDA is voluntary with administrative costs being donated by people on the management committee in Australia. Because of this, all money donated goes directly to the projects. We spend time in Bodhgaya regularly, and have ongoing contact with management and staff of the projects in the Bodhgaya area.

1. To support education, health, literacy and life-skills programs in Dalit communities in the Bodhgaya region of Bihar State, India.
2. To raise funds and use these funds to support only schools or other programs which have Indian Government approval for receiving funds from overseas through the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. To also provide teacher training and management support for these programs when required.
3. To support those programs which respect the diversity of religious views in Bodhgaya and which encourage self-reliance.
4. To ensure that 100% of funds donated will be used by programs in Bodhgaya and nearby areas.
5. To help adults and school students in Australia understand the culture, circumstances and difficulties of life in Bodhgaya. To foster communication between school students in Australia and school students in Bodhgaya. To help Australians travelling in India meet community members, staff and students of the supported programs.
6. To co-operate with and offer non-financial support to donors and other aid organisations involved in the same or similar programs in Bodhgaya.

If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact us.

Guiding Principals:
While attending to the above objectives, the Association will be guided by the following principles.
1. The Association will function as a secular not-for-profit body and members will offer their services to the Association on a totally voluntary basis. The Association will make no payments to members for travel expenses.
2. The Association will conduct its activities with a respect for and sensitivity to the social environment in Bodhgaya. The Association will also conduct its activities with a sense of care for the natural environment.
3. The Association will not discriminate on the basis of gender, race or religion.
4. The Association will endeavour to develop understanding in Australia for the culture and circumstances in Bodhgaya. It will also endeavour to develop, where possible, understanding in Bodhgaya for the culture and circumstances in Australia.
5. The Association will ensure that wherever possible funds raised are distributed in line with the association's objects.