I can only speak with complete knowledge about FPMT since that is the organization I work within but I can say there are many opportunities for Westerners to have essential positions here. Either as those who help ensure the transmission of the teachings- Interpreters, Translators, Directors, Program Co-ordinators and so forth, as well as opportunities for Westerners(with about an equal split between lay and ordained Sangha) themselves to become teachers.
Graduates of the masters' program enjoy teaching positions and the same support/salary a Tibetan Geshe would enjoy. There is Sixte Vincotte at Vajrayogini Institute in France, Emily Hsu at Gyalwa Gyatso Centre in California, Ven. Neil Dondrub at Hayagriva Centre in Perth, not to mention well known traveling teachers like Ven. Robina Courtin, Ven. Antonia Satta etc. The study programs give opportunities for such people to become qualified teachers outside traditional Asian institutions,and serve dharma in the West. To be honest, things in the FPMT are moving increasingly towards Western teachers, especially as Visas and so-forth become more difficult with anti-immigrant sentiment especially in Europe.
Many of the "opportunities" for Western "teachers" are in fact volunteer positions. Training programs, such as the BP and MP, are better described as products which the FPMT markets and sells (anyone can sign up, with the possible exception of Shugden devotees), and through which converts are encouraged to cement their FPMT identity through a conspicuous consumption of time and money. MP graduates are by no means guaranteed a teaching role (only a certificate), let alone a salaried one, as the above quote seems to suggest. Furthermore, the institution accords great preference and deference to Tibetan monk-lamas, especially from Sera Je (non-Gelug lamas are just not on, whatever the Dalai Lama may say about nonsectarianism). A major emphasis of the FPMT is in producing new cohorts of translators and interpreters for them (e.g., through the Lotsawa Rinchen Tsangpo Translator Programme). The FPMT board is a self-perpetuating coterie consisting of Lama Zopa and selected students, so the whole enterprise is driven from the top down--and the top (of the FPMT as a whole as well as most local centers) is generally going to be a Tibetan.
Actually the final word is with Lama Zopa Rinpoche,
This is very well put. This is why something like the Maitreya Project (now thankfully cancelled) could have happened.
Note that Vens. T. Yeshe and T. Zopa were relatively low-ranking monks who would never have been recognized as "lamas," except that they managed to attract followers from among the Western hippies in India / Nepal.
it would have been with Osel (a Westerner), if he had decided to take the role, but that was not his wish.
Osel Hita has recently joined the FPMT board. A few years ago he expressed his desire to remain a civilian, so to speak, and become a filmmaker (though remaining a "Tibetan" Buddhist). I speculate that the European economic situation (never the best for filmmakers) has caused him to reconsider his earlier, more principled stance, and go back to Zopa and the FPMT. (I wonder how much money has received from them over the years...? How much he receives from them now?) I note that he has used FPMT centers to promote and distribute one of his films. As for why the FPMT is promoting Hita, that's easy--as a symbol, he's an effective fund-raiser and morale-raiser. (Much the same calculus led to the tulku system in the first place.) Perhaps he will eventually take Zopa's place, assuming Zopa predeceases him, but a mere change of autocrat (even to a Westerner) is not the sort of fundamental reform I would like to see, if Western Buddhist organizations are to represent and live up to Western ideals, rather than perpetuate the authoritarian structures of old Tibet.
The relationship between Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Tibetan institutions is quite complex. To a certain degree they are dependent on him, as with the Sera Jey food fund for example. Also, FPMT and its board, as well as the Western centre managers, decide if and when to invite Geshes or visiting lamas... And teaching positions are increasingly going to Westerners.
Tibetan teachers are preferred over non-Tibetans, who are mainly used when the center cannot afford to maintain a group of monks, or to cut down on the workload of resident lamas (for example, by leading small groups). "High-ranking" Westerners generally (there are exceptions) turn out to be servants of Zopa, or some other Tibetan. Of course there will be differences of education, but the sort of education that is more feasible for Westerners is regarded less favorably than a traditional geshe curriculum.
Also, note that the MP has two tiers--residential and online--which are carefully distinguished, lest unacceptable people be credentialled to teach, or the credential become devalued through oversupply. The period of residence is 6 or 7 years, depending on whether one includes a number of required Lamrim retreats, and there are "moral" requirements as well. Note that the system requires a certain combination of money and time, which only a few well-off Westerners (with the right nationalities) would be able to manage. Also, subjects like the Abhisamayalankara
are taught from a very Tibetan perspective (which outsiders would find almost unintelligible), using strange calques and glosses which students are expected to memorize and uncritically regurgitate, and do not take advantage of the many fine Western academic studies that have been produced on the AA. In other words, Westerners are supposed to imitate (badly) the approach of teenage Tibetan monks, not the sort of approach customary at our universities, which Westerners would find familiar, but in which Tibetans would lose their advantage.
Unfortunately for the FPMT, and for Tibetan Buddhism as a whole, it is hard to conceive of reforms that would not bring the whole structure crashing down. Without tulkus, and authoritarianism in general, there would be little to hold the group together.