Rhonda's Story

Rhonda V. Magee is a Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and a leading mindfulness teacher and practice innovator with a focus on applying mindfulness to the hardest challenges of our times. She is an internationally-recognized teacher, guide and mentor, focused on integrating mindfulness into higher education, law and social change work. A prolific author, she draws on law and legal history to weave storytelling, poetry, analysis and practices into inspiration for changing how we think, act and live better together in a rapidly changing world.

For more than 20+ years, Professor Magee has studied mindfulness, its underlying origins in Buddhism, and its potential benefits and applications in the world. As both a law professor and a mindfulness teacher, Magee has been exploring the integration of mindfulness into teaching and learning, and social engagement, including in support of personal and collective healing, activism, leadership. She has written extensively on how mindfulness and other contemplative practices support engagement in the world in the face of the multiple interlocking challenges of our times, including climate distress, migration, political polarization, migration, war and their effects on us all. Along the way, she’s become a sought-after Keynote speaker and thought-leader, inspiring others to explore the integration of socially-engaged mindfulness in research and i applications inside schools, workplaces, communities and beyond.

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Where it all started

Born in North Carolina in 1967, Rhonda experienced a childhood of significant trauma and challenge. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother remarried. Her family relocated to the harborside community of Hampton, Virginia, where what seemed at first like an idyllic new start soon gave way to new forms of family-based dysfunction and trauma, including alcoholism, abuse, and, in the social realm, the subtle social upheavals of the desegregating South. A gifted student, she found solace and inspiration in her public school teachers, community life and activies: engagement in study and performance, service, and continuous development as a student leader. Drawn to social problems and their more effective solution, she entered the University of Virginia and received undergraduate and M.A. degrees in Sociology before obtaining a J.D. degree and entering the practice of law. Her passion for teaching led her to forsake the path of law practice and embark on a career in the academy.

Teaching to Heal Ourselves and the World

Rhonda has dedicated her life to personal healing, inner development and to teaching in ways that support others in a journey to wholeness and justice. A student of a variety of Buddhist and other wisdom teachers, including Norman Fischer, Joan Halifax and Jon Kabat Zinn, she trained as a mindfulness teacher through the Oasis Teacher Training Institute of the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. She teaches mindfulness-based interventions, awareness, and compassion practices from a range of traditions. She serves or has served as a guide and advisor to a range of leading mindfulness organizations, including the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (former Chair of the Board), the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (former President of the Board), the Brown Center for Mindfulness, the Mindfulness In Law Society, and the Holistic Life Foundation. Professor Magee is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, where she recently completed a two-year term on its Steering Council.  Her work has garned awards and accolades for her innovative approach to mindfulness and its applications in support of diversity, equity, inclusion and wellbeing.

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Thought Leader in Mindfulness and Social Justice

Rhonda is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on mindfulness in legal education, and on teaching about race using mindfulness, including “Educating Lawyers to Meditate?” 79 UMKC L. Rev. 535 (2011), “The Way of ColorInsight: Understanding Race and Law Effectively Using Mindfulness-Based ColorInsight Practices”, 8 Georgetown J. of Mod. Crit. Race Perspectives 251 (2016), “Teaching Mindfulness with Mindfulness of Diversity,” in McCown et al, Resources for Teaching Mindfulness: An International Handbook (Springer, 2017), and “Community Engaged Mindfulness and Social Justice: An Inquiry and Call to Action”, in Purser et al., Handbook of Mindfulness: Culture, Context and Social Engagement (2017). Her acclaimed first book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness, was published in September 2019 by TarcherPerigee, a member of the Penguin Random House Group (paperback September 2021). In October 2019, Magee was awarded the Insight+Impact Award by the Garrison Institute. Her book was named one of the top ten books released for the year by the Greater Good Science Center, and received similar recognition by Psychology Today and the editors of Mindful.org: Article 1; Article 2; Article 3

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Changing Legal Education

In 2022, Rhonda was named the inaugural Director of the University of San Francisco School of Law’s Center for Contemplative Law and Ethics. In addition to providing a home for Rhonda’s innovative course on Contemplative Lawyering, school-based meditation offerings, Law School Orientation and Continuing Legal Education programming, the Center will explore and develop research-aligned mindfulness practices, providing students, alumni and community members with essential tools to sustain lawyers’ professional responsibility commitments. The Center’s programming will strengthen and deepen awareness of the knowledge, skills, and values of law practice, and help to provide the clarity to apply them with mindfulness in the midst of today’s most challenging conflicts and crises.

As featured in

“Rhonda Magee: The Dharma of Racial Justice,” Lion’s Roar Magazine, June 27, 2022”
Visit: https://www.lionsroar.com/rhonda-magee-the-dharma-of-racial-justice/

“African Americans are Creating Their Own Mindfulness Spaces,” Washington Post, July 2022
Visit: https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/07/04/black-mindfulness-white-meditation-yoga/

“Rhonda Magee on Her Inner Work of Racial Justice,” Mindful.org, February 20, 2020”
Visit: https://www.mindful.org/rhonda-magee-on-her-inner-work-of-racial-justice/

“TEDx Speaker Rhonda Magee Talks about Mindfulness,” Marin Magazine:
Visit: https://marinlivingmagazine.com/tedxmarin-speaker-rhonda-magee-talks-about-mindfulness/

University communities served

Although not a complete list, Professor Magee has offered Keynotes, panel presentations, courses, or facilitated Workshops at events sponsored by the following Universities:

  • Arizona State University
  • Boston College
  • Brown University
  • California State University, Northridge
  • Cornell University
  • Colorado College
  • Columbia University
  • City University of New York
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • Florida International University
  • George Mason University
  • Georgetown University
  • Lewis and Clark University
  • Miami University of Ohio
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Rice University
  • Seattle University
  • Spelman College
  • Stetson University
  • University of Alaska
  • University of California, Boalt Hall College of Law
  • University of California, Hastings College of Law
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of District of Columbia
  • University of Hawaii
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of Oregon
  • University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
  • University of Richmond
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Washington University of St. Louis

My Curriculum Vitae (“CV”)

For more on my academic background, experience and publications, see my CV attached here.