Activism and unlearning led Anthony V. Zampella, MSOL, MS, CP, to found Bhavana Learning Group in 2000. His firm works with coaches, educators, and executives to bring wisdom to leadership.

As a wisdom coach, teacher and mentor, he blends Buddhist psychology with Western learning methods to develop generative communications, expand unlearning capacity, cultivate deep listening, and grow contemplative practices. An author and curriculum designer, Tony also works as a conscious leadership consultant and researcher. 

From early in life, Tony was drawn to activism and learning. Struggling with his own sexual orientation, he dropped out of high school in 1981. After coming out, he became an LGBT and AIDS activist (1984-97), published an LGBT weekly newspaper (1986-94), and served as a Human Relations Commissioner (1993-97) for the city of San Diego.

In 1993, he was shot in the neck in a gang-related incident. With this “wake-up call,” he earned a B.A. in Sociology (UCSD), M.S. in Journalism (Columbia University), M.S. in Organizational Leadership (Mercy College), and graduated from Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science with a certificate in Contemplative Psychotherapy (CP).


Since 1999, Tony has worked as an academic and leadership specialist, designing leadership development programs for coaches, educators, and learning professionals.

  • Tony writes a regular blog, Unlearning Curve, for learning and development professionals.
  • He contributed to the coaching textbook, Complex Situations in Coaching: A critical Case-Based Approach, published by Routledge (2019), to understand the view of “assessment” in coaching.
  • Tony wrote a chapter, Coming Out and Being in the World; How insights from the coming out process support a coaching mindset, to be published later in 2022 in “Coaching Wisdom: Voices of the Gay Coaches Alliance.” 
  • Explore White Papers in our Learning Center, which detail his research, ideas, and thinking.

Education and Studies

Tony’s experience combines Western business models and generative learning methods with Eastern wisdom traditions.


  • MS in Journalism from Columbia University
  • MS in Business with Organizational Leadership, Mercy College
  • BA in Sociology from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).


  • Philosophical approaches include the work of Martin Heidegger employing ontological inquiries and phenomenological analysis.
  • As Integral Theorists, the work of Ken Wilber, Peter Senge, and Otto Scharmer integrates meta-theories to cultivate systems thinking.
  • As a practitioner, the study of Buddhist psychology supports integrating contemplative practices.
  • As a designer, our Contemplative Learning model with 12 Practices brings contemplative learning to listening and leadership.
  • Creating “Practice Fields” in personal mastery brings mindfulness practice to everyday life.

See this personal reflection on Tony’s introduction to Buddhist Psychology.


Tony is certified in these areas of adult learning and human development:



As a learning specialist, Tony has instructed undergrad and graduate students. He researched and delivered learning methods at various universities, including Rutgers University Business School, Newark (“Executive Leadership”), and Fordham University’s MBA Program (“Leadership, Language, and Trust,”).

Tony redesigned the “Master of Science in Organizational Leadership” (MSOL) program at Mercy College at its five campuses. Tony currently serves as faculty at Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science, where he founded the “Practice Field” in its Contemplative Psychotherapy Program.


From 1985 to 1993, Tony founded and published two news magazines serving the LGBT community in San Diego (the San Diego Scene, and Bravo! Newsmagazine). He authored columns and essays on culture and leadership, published in Update Newspaper, The San Diego Reader, Ten Percent Magazine, and The San Diego Tribune (1994-97).


From 1984 to 1997, Tony served as an LGBT and human rights activist: as Chair of San Diego’s gay pride organization; board member of the County’s AIDS organizations; advisor of the Board of Trustees to San Diego City College; and, on advisory boards to Mayors Maureen O’Connor and Susan Golding.

Tony also served on the Board of Governors at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization. From 1993 to 1997, he served as Commissioner of the San Diego Human Relations Commission.


2018: ACTO Conference: Listening as a Field of Being. Tony worked with coach trainers to experience of Deep Listening. (ACTO = Association of Coach Training Organization.)

2019: Gay Coaches Alliance: Workshop on Deep Listening. Tony worked with experienced coaches to cultivate Deep Listening.

2019: ACTO Conference: Unlearning: The challenge of cultivating deeper understanding, presence, and openness. Tony worked with coach trainers to develop unlearning of worldviews and systemic bias.

Tony has served on the Board of ACTO (Association of Coach Training Organization) to support bringing anti-racism learning and practices to coach training.

Connect with Tony

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How to Work with

Tony V. Zampella

Clients working with Tony have made a deep commitment to learning and unlearning. Motivation is a key factor. His work cultivates a journey beyond extrinsic motivations to deeper intentions beyond the self.

Tony specializes in these areas:

  1. Generative communications to expand leadership capacity.

  2. Unlearning capacity to deepen listening.

  3. Interdependent awareness to develop contemplative practices.

Coaching: Supports a limited number of clients, usually coaches, to deepen listening and cultivate wisdom.

Mentoring: Offers guidance, study, and practice to cultivate and integrate wisdom practices to gain clarity.

Consulting: Offers research, original IP, and practices to design learning programs and cultures.

Community: Contact Tony for information on our Small Sangha to study Buddhist Psychology.

See this journey into mindfulness that details Tony’s introduction to Buddhist Psychology.

Tony Zampella discusses “Unlearning” at Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science.

Transformation finds us open to a state of newness previously unavailable to us.

It is not a better version of that state. Rather, it is a courageous choice to abandon what’s known for the possibility of the unknown.

We do not change our view; we become the possibility of a new view.


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