937-244-1961 | 1570 S. 1st Avenue, suite I, Iowa City, IA 52240 | sangha@milarepaiowa.org

About Us


The Milarepa Buddhist Center of Iowa opened on October 1, 2016, after many weeks of planning and implementing those plans. The idea for opening a Tibetan Buddhist Center in Iowa City came from The Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche, spiritual director of the Tibetan Buddhist Center in Maryland, who offered a weekend retreat with extensive teachings here in April, 2016.

In 2012 Ellen Marie Lauricella and Naomi Bloom moved to Iowa City from Ohio. Through the inspiration and encouragement of their teacher, Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, Ellen Marie and Naomi established his center, Gar Drolma Buddhist Center in Dayton, Ohio. The two served as President and Vice-President at Gar Drolma from 2002 until 2010.

Khenpo Samdup

First Seeds in Iowa City 2014
On the basis of their experience in Dayton, Ellen Marie and Naomi invited Khenpo Samdup from Gar Drolma Buddhist Center to give teachings in Iowa City in 2014.  At that time Khenpo Samdup inspired many people and planted the first seeds for the Milarepa Buddhist Center.

Khenchen Konchok Gyaltsen Rinpoche

A Sprout Emerges
Then, in the Spring of 2016  Ellen Marie and Naomi invited Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche to come to Iowa City.   You may have been present at Khenchen’s teachings, held in the Art Building West on the UI campus.  If you were, you will understand how inspiring it was for all those present.  Attendance was high, and so were the spirits of everyone present.  Responding to both the warm reception he received and the receptive attention paid to histalks, Khenchen proposed to Ellen Marie and Naomi that the time was right to open a Buddhist center in Iowa City. Ellen Marie and Naomi acted on that suggestion.

His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche

Garchen Rinpoche becomes Spiritual Director of Milarepa Center of Iowa
In June of 2017 His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche became Spiritual Director of Milarepa Center of Iowa.  We are so happy and to have the spiritual blessing lineage from Rinpoche here in Iowa City.  It is our sincere hope that as many students as possible be able to meet Garchen Rinpoche in this lifetime. He is an embodiment of compassion and wisdom.   You can read more about Garchen Rinpoche here.

Our Board of Directors

Ellen Marie Lauricella

Ellen Marie Lauricella


I met the Dharma in 1997 in Rochester, New York.  I am hopeful that the Milarepa Buddhist Center will be a source of wisdom and compassion on our path to benefit beings. I live in Iowa City with my wife, Naomi and our 2 kids and our 2 dogs and the neighborhood deer and coyotes.
David Klemm, Ph.D.

David Klemm, Ph.D.


Naomi Bloom, M.D.

Naomi Bloom, M.D.


I came to Dharma in 1997 in Rochester, New York. I am committed to Milarepa Buddhist Center because I want to make good use of this lifetime to do whatever I can to help reduce the suffering of living beings. I live in Iowa City with my wife, Ellen Marie and our 2 children and 2 dogs.

Catherine Deming

Catherine Deming

Board Member