Venerable Khemako was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1959 into a large Catholic family and received his primary education from priests and nuns at the local Church-run school. His long-standing interest in the core questions of philosophy and religion led him to begin lay Buddhist practice in 1997. As his practice and faith in the Dhamma increased, his interest and involvement in lay life waned. Ven. Khemako trained for two years as an Anāgārika and Sāmaṇera, ordaining as a Bhikkhu on June 2, 2012 with Ajahn Pasanno as preceptor. In June of 2014 Ven. Khemako moved to Tisarana to spend his third vassa.
Ayya Medhanandi (1949- ) is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Saraniya Hermitage, a Theravada forest monastery for women. The daughter of East European WW II refugees who emigrated to Montreal, she began a spiritual quest in childhood that led her to India, Burma, UK, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and finally back to Canada. In 1988, at the Mahasi retreat centre in Yangon, Myanmar, Ayya requested full bhikkhuni ordination from her teacher, Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita. This was not yet possible in Theravada Buddhism. Instead, Sayadaw gave her 10-precept ordination on condition that she keep her vows for life. When a military coup closed Myanmar to foreigners, Sayadaw blessed her to join the Ajahn Chah Thai Sangha at Amaravati, UK. Ten years later, Ayya felt called to practice as a hermit nun in New Zealand for 6 years and later in SE Asia. In 2007, after nearly 20 years as a novice nun, she received bhikkhuni ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan; and, in 2008, invited by Ottawa and Toronto Theravada Buddhist societies, she returned to Canada to establish Sati Saraniya Hermitage.