Who We Are

The Zen Happiness Project is a community and a 100% volunteer driven team effort. Below are the bios of the awesome people who you'll get to know as you get involved. 

Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed. 
Founder & Lead Instructor

Anthony Cernera founded the Zen Happiness Project in 2013. Anthony started meditating in 2007 and took formal vows as a student of a Zen Buddhist order in 2009. When he isn't meditating, skydiving or playing with his cameras, Anthony is a non-profit fundraiser. He received a Master's in Education in 2014 and continues his research as doctoral student focusing on habit formation and motivation for new meditators.  

Anthony says, "I have benefited greatly from a daily meditation practice and want to share what I've learned with others."  


Sofia Reddy, LICSW
Meditation Instructor

Sofia Reddy is a full time clinical social worker and adjunct assistant professor for MSW students learning to work with Veterans and their families. As a therapist she teaches clients who have experienced both civilian and military traumas how to manage their recovery with mindful self-care. She also blogs about self-care as a way to manage stress and has an FB page called Sofia's Sanctuary. Sofia has been practicing mindfulness and meditation for the last 5 years and is passionate about bringing this practice to others.

Sofia says, "As caregivers we learn that we need to put others' needs ahead of our own but that is a quick path to burnout. There are times when we must be available to others, but it's also important we make time to care for ourselves." When she's not working or blogging, she enjoys exploring new hiking trails and going on day trips with her two rambunctious children and awesome hubby.

Dusty Columbia, Ed.D.
Meditation Instructor

Dusty Columbia is an associate professor of special education and has been a meditator for three years.  Dusty loves to make pottery, be outdoors and teach. She conducts research and writes about ways to make classrooms more inclusive and accessible for children with disabilities.

Dusty says, "I share my life and home with several other people and animals: the man who walks beside me in life, our two daughters, the world's best Boston Terrier, and the world's okayest Golden Retriever."   

Eric Drosnock
Editor & Moderator 

Eric Drosnock has been an informal student of meditation since his teenage years.  Upon stumbling on Buddhist philosophy he has become a self-described "non-theistic Buddhist with a healthy Zen tinge".  After many years of corporate America he moved to the non-profit world and continues his search for a "gig with positive waves".  A father of two boys and husband to his teenage sweetheart, Eric loves sharing what he has learned and is ever eager to learn more.  

Kevin O'Brien
Editor & Moderator

Kevin O'Brien is a 45 year old land surveyor who works for the State of Michigan. He has been meditating for 3 years. He enjoys ice hockey, golf, yoga, and playing the guitar in classic rock band.

He is enjoying his life with his wife Jennifer and German Shepard Sam. 

Emily Royal

Editor & Moderator

Emily Royal is a Graphic Designer working hard to keep the ancient art of newspaper publishing alive at a small daily in Gardner, Massachusetts. Reluctantly, Emily tells people that she resides in Athol, Massachusetts, but will enthusiastically note that she is a native of New Hampshire.

Emily is the mother of two fuzzy kids and wife of one more fuzzy human grown up kid. Roscoe P. Coletrain, a temperamental mutt who was rescued during floods in Indiana in 2006, found his way into the hearts of Emily and her husband, Jason, at 11 weeks old. Once more in 2012, Daisy Duke stole their hearts in her overly affectionate black lab ways and makes herself at home nuzzled between them at night. 

While Emily grew up in a United Methodist background, she recently sought out a non-prescription drug approach to managing her depression, anxiety and stress. She soon turned to zen meditation and yoga, whilst throwing in a bit of zentangle drawing in the mix. Emily says, "Every day I wake up alive, is the day I choose happiness...and to create art."


Amanda Essien
Editor & Moderator

Amanda Essien is a mother and a part time student. She has been recently begun her meditation practice and been an active member of the ZHP community for over 2 years. She enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her 11 year old daughter and their Boston Terrier, Roxy.