Ayya Sudhamma Bhikkhuni is abbess of Charlotte Buddhist Vihara. The first American woman ordained in Sri Lanka, Ayya Sudhamma has been recognized at the United Nations in Bangkok as an “Outstanding Woman in Buddhism.” Born in Charlotte, NC, in 1963, Ayya Sudhamma graduated from New York University’s School of Law and subsequently practiced law in San Francisco. In 1999, Ayya Sudhamma became a sāmaṇerī or female Buddhist novice at the Bhavana Society under the tutelage of Henepola Gunaratana. In early 2003, she traveled to South Asia, where she became the first American-born woman to gain bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada school in Sri Lanka. In July 2003, she returned to the United States at the invitation of the Carolina Buddhist Vihara in Greenville, South Carolina, as a resident and teacher. In 2013, after spending a year at Santi Forest Monastery she returned to her birth town of Charlotte, North Carolina for the founding of the Charlotte Buddhist Vihara, where she resides as Abbess and Bhikkhuni.