Dharma teacher to give Women in America lecture

by Ken Fuson

Cheri Maples, co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness and Justice in Madison, Wis., will present the annual Women in America lecture on March 27 at Simpson College.


The talk will begin at 7 p.m. in Pote Theatre on the Simpson Campus, with a reception following.  Admission is free and the public is invited. The event is part of Simpson’s series of events connected to Women’s History Month.


Maples is a dharma teacher, keynote speaker and organizational consultant and trainer. The Center for Mindfulness and Justice focuses on teaching social justice grounded in the practice of mindfulness. 


Maples worked 25 years in the criminal justice system. She served as an assistant attorney general in the Wisconsin Department of Justice; head of probation and parole for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections; and a police officer for 20 years with the city of Madison, Wis., Police Department, where she rose to the rank of captain of personnel and training.


She also has been an active community organizer, working in neighborhood centers, deferred prosecution programs, and served as the first executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  She has trained over 1,000 criminal justice professionals in mindfulness techniques.


Rachel Bandy, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Simpson College, said it might seem strange that a police officer – someone trained to react aggressively, even with lethal force in some circumstances – would also be an advocate for meditation.


“But as Ms. Maples explains it, a cop’s life is hard, and they deal with an enormous amount of stress and disrespect from the public,” Bandy said. “Her talks give cops and other criminal justice professionals the skills to approach their jobs without anger or cynicism.” 


Maples currently is a licensed attorney and licensed clinical social worker in the state of Wisconsin.