Brandon Yabko, PhD
Mindfulness Center Director
In order to understand Brandon’s story, it is best to understand how he learned about mindfulness. “While in grad school a person told me about mindfulness and how focusing on the breath is so important. I about laughed in their face and said, 'That’s ridiculous!' I thought this was for hippies and not for me at all. One day, I went with this person to a conference that, to my surprise, was all about mindfulness. I practiced one time and was hooked ever since. I had never experienced the mind at such a peaceful state as I did in that exercise. The thing is, the person who I laughed at is now my wife!”
Brandon has been practicing mindfulness for about a decade and has had a personal daily practice throughout this time. He attended Arizona State University where he earned his doctorate in Counseling Psychology. His background is in trauma and he completed his Clinical Psychology Postdoctoral training in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He was trained in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness Self Compassion (MSC) and completed a VA-approved Mindfulness Facilitator Training. While doing trauma work, he began to see how much trauma and chronic pain overlap, so he began working in VA's Integrative Health – Holistic Medicine running mindfulness groups for Veterans experiencing all sorts of psychological and physical difficulties. Recently, he was hired as the Mindfulness Center Director and is involved in mindfulness patient care, research, and education. Brandon’s areas of interest are in making mindfulness more accessible to Veterans, creating brief mindfulness interventions, self- and other-compassion, and valued living.
Tracy Herrmann, PhD, RD
Mindfulness Center Research Program Manger
Dr. Tracy Herrmann is the Whole Health Mindfulness Center Research Program Manager. She has been practicing mindfulness meditation and yoga for over 20 years. As a dietitian working at the SLC VAMC for over 10 years, she has incorporated mindful eating into her clinical work with Veterans. She is teacher trained in several mindfulness-based interventions and facilitates a variety of Veteran groups at the SLC VAMC including Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and Mindful Self Compassion (MSC).
Tracy obtained her master’s degree in Nutrition from SUNY Buffalo where she conducted research examining the role of dietary acids on colon cancer cell growth and differentiation. She obtained her PhD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where she examined the effect of maternal dietary patterns on maternal and placental stress hormones and the development of the fetal HPA axis. She came to SLC as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Utah where she examined the effects of maternal diet and genetic background on angiotensinogen and rennin using a transgenic pregnant mouse model for hypertension during pregnancy. She currently serves on the National VA Nutrition and Food Service Research committee and is conducting clinical research at the SLC VAMC on Mindful Eating, Mindfulness and Whole Health-based interventions among Veterans.
Ryan Lackner, PhD
Mindfulness Center Psychologist
Dr. Ryan Lackner is a clinical psychologist in the Whole Health Mindfulness Center. He teaches a number of mindfulness and compassion-based groups, including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindful Self Compassion (MSC), and a mindfulness group for Veterans in addiction recovery. He is also involved in individual patient care, as well as ongoing research projects within the Mindfulness Center aimed at evaluating and developing mindfulness and compassion-based interventions for Veterans with a wide range of physical and psychological difficulties.
Ryan earned his PhD from Kent State University where he worked as part of a research team studying emotion regulation and developing treatments informed by mindfulness meditation practice. His doctoral research focused on body awareness and how connecting with present-moment experience may assist individuals in getting “unstuck” from perseverative forms of thinking such as rumination and worry. One of his favorite graduate school experiences was traveling with his research team to the Sera Jey Monastery in Bylakuppe, India to study the neurophysiology of practicing Tibetan Buddhist monastics.
Ryan maintains a long-term personal mindfulness practice and enjoys incorporating mindfulness into activities such as playing drums and guitar, exercising, cooking, and spending time in nature. His passion in psychology lies in creating connection with other human beings and spending time in his life helping others to live theirs more fully.
Lisa Rambaldo, PsyD
Mindfulness Center Psychologist
Lisa’s Mindfulness practice began 30 years ago when she was introduced to Mindfulness through her undergraduate studies in Eastern Philosophy. From a young age, Lisa loved and was drawn to any activity that focused her attention to the present moment, including being in nature and listening to music. Lisa found the formal practice of Mindfulness grew her ability to bring the ease and peace she felt in these activities to all activities in her life and she became a dedicated practitioner as a result. She has a daily meditation and yoga practice since 1990, holds 500-hr Yoga Teacher Training Certification and is International Yoga Therapist Certified.
Lisa attained her doctorate in Clinical Psychology and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she was trained in and taught Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in UW Health’s Mindfulness Center. She is trained in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression (MBCT), Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness (MB-EAT) and Mindfulness Orientated Recovery Enhancement (MORE). Over the last 18 years she has brought Mindfulness to various medical centers and has developed Mindfulness Based Wellness Programs for work groups, medical providers, doctoral level training programs as well as her community.
Lisa joined VA in 2012 and she has been dedicated to teaching Mindfulness to Veterans and the staff who provide their care. She has developed Mindfulness training for Veterans and active duty military with Chronic Pain, PTSD, TBI and health issues including sleep concerns and general stress. She loves to travel for enjoyment and for personal study which includes attending silent retreats and extended time with international meditation communities in India and other hubs of practice throughout Asia.
Lisa joined SLC VAMC’s Whole Health Mindfulness Center in 2019. She is extremely excited to be part of the development of the virtual Mindfulness Center (vMC) as her passion is for Mindfulness Training to be available to all Veterans without concern of distance or resource.
Camille Kennard, LCSW
Mindfulness Center Social Worker
Camille Kennard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Health and Wellness Coach. Camille’s passion for Mindfulness came while working in healthcare as a licensed mental health therapist. She wanted to find more holistic ways to help her patients and coworkers with grief, chronic pain, PTSD, burnout, stress and other issues to improve their well-being and quality of life.
Camille started her personal journey with mindfulness as an important component to improving her physical and mental health. She explored mindful eating to change her relationship with food and attended MBSR and MSC classes in hopes to discover how to get help for chronic stress, burnout, and fatigue. After attending a day long silent retreat Camille was completely enamored with the effects of mindfulness on her mind and body and knew this is what she wanted to spend her life living and teaching.
Camille received her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Utah and Coaching Certification through Wellcoaches School of Coaching. She is currently studying with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach in their Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training and is looking forward to helping Veterans, their families, and VA employees learn and practice mindfulness skills in daily life.