Rama Jyoti Vernon is the founding President of the Center for International Dialogue formerly known as the Center for the Soviet American Dialogue. The Center was founded in 1984, during the height of the Cold War era, to create a framework in which citizens of the US and USSR could overcome their stereotypes of one another by exploring their commonalities as well as differences through dialogue.
As a citizen diplomat, Rama Jyoti Vernon travelled to the Soviet Union 47 times in seven years. She organized over 200 Soviet-American Citizens’ Summit “A New Way of Thinking,” Washington, D.C. 1988. Nearly ten thousand Soviet and Americans have participated in CIP sponsored programs which have produced over 700 joint projects which helped catalyze policy changes between the US and USSR.
Rama Jyoti Vernon initiated dialogue programs for former Soviet Republics of Armenia, Azerbijan, Georgia, and the Ukraine that led to the first successful conflict resolution roundtable between the warring factions of Armenia and Azerbijan. The outcome was broadcast nationally in the US and USSR and led to several provocative citizen radio dialogues within the Republics and between the Republics and Moscow.
Over the years, she developed the trust and cultivated a broad range of organizational contacts in the former USSR. Her successes in the USSR led to invitations for CID to expand the work to the Middle East, Ethiopia, Central America, Africa, and the US inner cities. In 1991, she was appointed to the US Ethiopian Steering Committee to draft the first democratic proposal for the future provisional government in Ethiopia.
During the Gulf War, Rama Jyoti Vernon initiated a series of Arab-American Dialogue roundtables that brought together Kuwaitis, Saudi Arabians, Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Libyans, and Moroccans. She also served on the founding committee of the Gulf Humanitarian Fund, one of the first US organizations to raise funds and send aid to civilian victims in Iraq and the Kurdish refugees. In 1980, she sponsored 15 Cambodian, Vietnamese, Laotian, and Thai immigrants.
In 1992, Rama Jyoti Vernon began Regional Women’s Gatherings throughout major US cities to give women a platform to express their visions for peace in the world. The results of these meetings culminated in the 1994 conference at Georgetown University, Women of Vision: Leadership for the New World. The conference which brought together over 500 Women of Vision and 50 Men of Vision led to the formation of the Women of Vision National Network and ongoing WOV Regional Conferences.
In 1995, Rama Jyoti Vernon was an NGO delegate to the Fourth UN Conference on Women held in Beijing, China, where her focus was on future work with the Women of Africa. Educated at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Rama Jyoti Vernon is a writer, educator, lecturer in Asian philosophy and East-West Psychology which has inspired her unique approach to Conflict Resolution. She has co-designed a two-year Conflict Resolution and Peace Team training program.
Rama Jyoti Vernon co-founded Yoga Journal in the early 1970s, as a newsletter that she typed at her kitchen table and sent to other yoga teachers because she felt there should be communication among them. Her vision led to the creation of the California Yoga Teachers’ Association and the newsletter expanded into a major magazine. Also, during this period, she introduced BKS Iyengar to the US.
Rama Jyoti Vernon is a mother of five and grandmother. Her warm manner and the way she shares personal anecdotes about her life, make students feel they know and like her as a friend. Her legacy of Asana training, combined with deep integration of the Yoga Sutras, is carried on by her longtime students.