The Soto Zen Buddhist Association was formed in 1996 by American and Japanese Zen teachers in response to a perceived need to draw the various autonomous lineages of the North American Sōtō stream of Zen together for mutual support as well as the development of common training and ethical standards. The SZBA works closely with the Japanese Sotoshu, whom it generally sees as its parent organization. With about one hundred fully transmitted priests, the SZBA now represents nearly all Japanese-derived SōtōZen lineages in North America. The founding president was Tetsugen Bernard Glassman, followed by Sojun Mel Weitsman, Myogen Steve Stucky, Jishō Warner (the first female president), and Eido Frances Carney.
The Soto Zen Buddhist Association approved a document honoring the women ancestors in the Zen tradition at its biannual meeting on October 8th, 2010. Female ancestors, dating back 2,500 years from India, China, and Japan, may now be included in the curriculum, ritual, and training offered to Western Zen students.