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YIS Teachers, Faculty and Board of Directors

Catherine Cook-Cottone

Founder & President of YIS, YISTT Faculty 

Catherine Cook-Cottone, Ph.D., is founder and president of Yogis in Service. She is also a Licensed Psychologist, Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-500-E), and Associate Professor at SUNY at Buffalo. Her research specializes in embodied self-regulation (i.e., yoga, mindfulness, and self-care) and psychosocial disorders (e.g., eating disorders, trauma-related disorder). She has written four books and over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Her most recent book is tilted, Mindfulness and yoga for self-regulation: A primer for mental health professionals. Presenting nationally and internationally, Catherine uses her model of embodied self-regulation to structure discussions on empirical work and practical applications. She teaches classes on mindful therapy, yoga for health and healing, self-care, history of psychology, and counseling with children and adolescents. She also maintains a private practice, specializing in the treatment of anxiety-based disorders (e.g., PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder), eating disorders (including other disorders of self-care), and development of emotional regulation skills.

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Petrina D Bursie

Executive Director

Bio coming soon...


Wendy Guyker

Board Member, Teacher, and YISTT Trainer

Wendy Guyker, Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor at SUNY at Buffalo. Wendy teaches classes on research methods, assessment, and multicultural counseling and has joined the faculty teaching courses in the new Advanced Graduate Certificate program in Mindful Counseling for Wellness and Engagement. Wendy’s research interests are in veteran mental health as well as the areas of mindfulness and self-care, with an emphasis on  applications in both clinical and community populations.

Service is critical in the fields of education and psychology; yet to Wendy, it does not feel like a responsibility, it practically feels more like being whole. To Wendy, yoga is a perspective, a way of life, a philosophy; a layer of one’s life that does not compete with any other layer; rather, it complements, expands, informs and integrates all else. As a teacher and a psychologist, Wendy strives to embody qualities of compassion, non-defensiveness, and self-awareness with her students and patients. It excites Wendy to help bring yoga’s many qualities and tools of yoga to others in the WNY community through Yogis in Service. Wendy is a graduate of the YIS-Teacher Training in 2017 and currently teaches at the Buffalo VA Medical Center through Yogis in Service. 


Leslie Rothschild

Board Member, Teacher, YISTT Trainer

Leslie Rothschild is both a YIS teacher and a YISTT Trainer. In her own words. “When people find out that I am a yoga teacher, I get some really interesting questions. Do I have to be a vegetarian to practice yoga? What if I can’t touch my toes? Isn’t yoga a religion? My answer to any of these types of questions comes from Mark Whitwell’s Heart of Yoga book. All you need to practice yoga is your body, breath and a few good friends. We all have exactly what we need to practice and live full yogic lives. We have these amazing bodies that are nourished and cared for through the beautiful movement of asanas (poses). We have our breath to remind us about one of the most basic lessons we are taught as children – sharing. With each inhale we take in just what we need while each exhale gives back to others. We have our few good friends to teach us about grace, compassion and love.   These inspirations are what have guided me through life on and off the mat. See that’s the real beauty of Mark Whitwell’s message. What we learn in practice expands way beyond the mat- it’s weaves into our lives. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned and continue to learn from yoga.” Leslie currently teaches for YIS at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Diane Rose

Board Member, Teacher

Diane Rose is a caregiver. Diane has been dedicated to helping others since 1980. Ms. Diane has taken college courses related to early childhood development. She received Foster Parent of the Year Award in 2007 and also received the Phillip Melancthon Award in 2010 for outstanding volunteer service in the Lutheran Church. In her copious free time she enjoys attending bible study and yoga. She enjoys participating in various family, community, and religious activities. Diane is currently seeking to further fulfill her enjoyment in being helpful, resourceful, and supportive. Diane graduated from the YIS 200-hour Teacher Training in 2017. Diane currently teaches at our Saturday community classes. Diane earned a full scholarship and graduated from Africa Yoga Project 200-hour Bapatiste Yoga Teacher training in 2018.

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Amanda Skorupski Squires

Board Member, Teacher

Amanda Squires teaches yoga to open the door of conversation between breath, body, and movement
and allow self-discovery for her students on the mat. She began this journey out of a place of her own
discomfort and understands the hesitation to be still but encourages those who join her to take the
moments of pause on the mat to allow for honest exploration of what brought the students through the

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Rabia Mirza

Board Member, Teacher

Bio coming soon..

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Julie DelBello


I completed Baptiste level one and two, along with James Fox Prison yoga project which is what motivated me to bring yoga to Wende Correctional facility. Focusing on inhaling and exhaling continues to help me stay present.  I have always loved moving, dancing in a studio for much of my life and moving from one part of my life to another.  I have been in love with yoga ever since a dear friend gave me a yoga mat over 15 years ago. I am happy to go to my job in the human service field where I do my best to bring people hope, resources and a connection that is genuine. I am the mother of 3 young adult children and am grateful for the opportunities they give me to while watching them grow.


Eric Heard


Eric Heard is a student at Kenmore West Senior High School. In his free time Eric likes todance, spend time with his family and travel. He found yoga when he was 7 years old and automatically fell in love with the practice. One quote that Eric will always remember is to “Never Give Up”. When he first started yoga it was a challenge but he never gave up. Eric loves teaching yoga to not only adults but children to. He wants to show kids that they can do it just like he did. In 2018, earning a full-scholarship, Eric spent a wonderful life-time experience in  Nairobi, Kenya for 3 weeks to complete a 200-hour Baptiste Yoga teaching training. Eric currently teaches our Saturday community class, at Pride Center of WNY, and the Restoration Center's Clubhouse.  Eric is he youngest certified teacher in WNY. 


Kelly Golba


Yoga showed me that I was capable of handling much  more then I could have ever imagined and truly made me tap into my true power. I have built a strong  practice over the years which expanded into exploring Yin and Vinyasa Flow Classes. I fell in love with the breath work and movement of flow and the empowering feeling of creativity and freedom that came with it! In April 2018 I completed my YTT through Evolation Yoga. I then started teaching at the William-Emslie YMCA located in Buffalo’s East Side. This location was not offering yoga for awhile prior to me starting there so it has been an opportunity to introduce yoga into the lives of so many different individuals. I am so grateful to be teaching weekly adult and kids yoga classes filled with so many different diverse groups of students. I teach from my heart and create a safe space for people to move completely free of judgment, where they show up week after week and take time for themselves by doing something so healthy and beneficial both mentally and physically. It is essential to me that I do all I can to make yoga classes much more welcoming and accessible for EVERYBODY. Finding yoga changed my life for the better and has truly become my outlet which has led me to discover and radiate so much confidence and peace within myself. As a yoga teacher I am able to share that same opportunity for self discovery, healing, and strength to adults and youth through moving meditations while building a strong sense of community. Yoga is more then just a workout, it’s a chance to feel a personal shift in yourself by connecting mind, body, and soul. Kaily currently teaches the YIS community class at Pride Center of WNY.


Spencer Jones


Spencer Jones first came to yoga in 2008 as a stressed out student at Erie Community College who needed one more credit hour to qualify as studying full-time. He immediately knew he made a life changing decision and fell in love with the practice. Since then his practice has taken many forms and many intentions, from practicing hot yoga to successfully losing and keeping off over thirty pounds, to practicing vinyasa and hatha yoga to recover from a long-standing running injury. He completed his 200 Hour Classical Hatha Yoga Teacher Training in the lineage of Sri Ramana Maharshi at Kaivalya Yoga Ashram in San Marcos, Guatemala in April 2015. In 2016, he completed workshops in Iyengar-style wall yoga, as well as structural alignment and yoga therapy. In 2017 he traveled to India to became a fully licensed practitioner of Yoga for the Special Child, as well as completing 300 Hour Vinyasa Flow & Restorative Yoga Teacher Training at Sampoorna Yoga in Goa. An intrepid world traveler, he has taught yoga to other backpackers throughout Latin America and India as well as to children with critical medical needs and their families as part of his work with the SeriousFun Children’s Network of summer camps.

Spencer’s teaching style reflects his own practice of finding stillness and steadiness in every asana and his belief in making yoga accessible to all people and helping them reconnect to a higher sense of Oneness. Spencer currently teachers for YIS at Turning Point House and at Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. 

Many thanks to our honored and beloved Yogis in Service teachers. 
  • Marissa Bland

  • Sheri Curry

  • Jennifer Todaro

  • Lindsay Kennedy

  • Melissa LaVigne

  • Daija Price

  • Teresa Corrigan

Are you interested in teaching for YIS?

Please contact YIS for more information!

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