Cheri Maples, JD, LCSW, is a dharma teacher, keynote speaker, and organizational consultant and trainer. In 2008, she was ordained a dharma teacher by Zen teacher and author, Thich Nhat Hanh, her long-time spiritual teacher.
For 25 years, Maples worked in the criminal justice system as an assistant attorney general in the Wisconsin Department of Justice, as head of Probation and Parole for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and as a police officer with the City of Madison Police Department.
She attended her first mindfulness retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh in 1991, which altered the course of her police work, and her life.
She has been an active community organizer, and was the first director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. As past president of the Dane County Timebank, Maples was instrumental in creating its Youth Court, which is based on a prevention and restorative justice model, as well as the Prison Project, a prison education and reintegration initiative supported by multiple community groups.
In 2009, Maples cofounded the Center for Mindfulness & Justice, which provides mindfulness instruction, keynote presentations, and organizational consulting and training for criminal justice professionals and employees.
Maples’s interest in criminal justice professionals comes from learning that peace in one’s own heart is a prerequisite to providing true justice and compassion to others. Her work focuses on translating the language and practice of mindfulness into an understandable framework for helping professionals, including health-care workers, teachers, and employees of social service agencies, who must manage the emotional effects of their work while maintaining an open heart and healthy boundaries.