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2018-2019 Board of Directors

2018-2019 ACBS Board

Louise Hayes, Ph.D., The University of Melbourne (Australia)

President - Elect:
Dennis Tirch, Ph.D., The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy (USA)

Past President:
Giovambattista "Nanni" Presti, M.D., Ph.D., University Kore, Enna (Italy)

Secretary Treasurer:
Maria Karekla, Ph.D., University of Cyprus (Cyprus)

Member at Large 1:
Miranda Morris, Ph.D., Private Practice (USA)

Member at Large 2 (basic science):
Lisa Coyne, Ph.D., McLean/Harvard Medical School (USA)

Member at Large 3 (basic science):
Amy R. Murrell, Ph.D., University of North Texas (USA)

Member at Large 4:
Jonathan Bricker, Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center & University of Washington (USA)

Sonia Singh, Bowling Green State University (USA)

The Bios and Platform statements for the board members are below:


Louise Hayes, Ph.D.
The University of Melbourne (Australia)

Community and connection has become the centre of my work and I will use this focus to benefit ACBS members. I was introduced to ACT in 2003 and became a member of ACBS in 2006. I am a peer reviewed ACT trainer. I run a training business, a private practice, and I am a Senior Fellow with The Centre for Youth Health at The University of Melbourne. My passions lie in my philanthropic work; most recently Mindful Adventures where we provide experiences for professionals, give poor people wages, and raise money to help educate remote children in Nepal. I have held a number of roles within ACBS including: Member-at-Large of the international board, President of the Australian and New Zealand Chapter, committee member for the Training Committee, the Conference Strategy Committee, the Developing Nations Committee, and lastly Program Chair for the Sydney World Conference.

Statement: I would be humbled and honoured to serve as ACBS President. My vision is to focus on evolving a professional society with two key agendas – (1) a continued strong science and research platform that is home to all types of professionals interested in the human condition; and (2) strengthen our membership through inclusiveness, cooperation, and community building. ACBS has seen wonderful growth and I see this as a major challenge for us all – the bigger we get, the easier it is to feel lost. It seems timely to me that evolution science and principles of group selection and cooperation, along with Ostrom’s principals for managing the commons will help us grow the ACBS community we want. I would seek to use our knowledge in these areas to stay connected as a community and work together in our scientific interests, our training and networking, and our SIGs and Chapters.

President- Elect

Dennis Tirch, Ph.D.
The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy (USA)

Dr. Tirch is the Founder and Director of The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, and President of The Compassionate Mind Foundation USA. Dr. Tirch also serves as an Associate Clinical Professor at Icahn Medical School at Mt. Sinai, NY. He is a co-author of 6 books, and numerous chapters and peer reviewed articles on ACT, CFT & CBT. Dr. Tirch is a Fellow of ACBS; Diplomate, Fellow & Certified Consultant & Trainer for The Academy of Cognitive Therapy; Founding Fellow and the Past-President of The NYC-CBT Association; Founding Past-President of The New York City Chapter of ACBS; and Founding Past-President of the Compassion Focused SIG of ACBS. Dr. Tirch is an Associate Editor of The Journal of Contextual Behavioral Therapy. He has served on the faculty of Cornell Weill Medical College and Albert Einstein Medical School. Dr. Tirch regularly conducts ACT and CFT trainings, consultation & workshops globally.

By 2020, ACT can be a household word throughout the world. ACT is arguably the most advanced and comprehensively researched form of evidence based psychotherapy, yet it remains little known outside of psychological science. My aim is to help our community to radically expand public awareness of CBS, ACT & related technologies like CFT, FAP & RFT, so that people the world over will know there is a wiser and scientifically stronger way to address their suffering. We face a global mental health crisis, and political movements that threaten pro-sociality, compassion and altruism. The CBS community is uniquely well armed with the tools, talent and heart needed to address these problems. We can no longer afford to keep these advances out of the public eye. The successful realization of this mission will generate exponential growth of public awareness of CBS through a coordinated and international media, implementation and dissemination effort

Past President

Giovambattista "Nanni" Presti, M.D., Ph.D.
University Kore, Enna (Italy)

Nanni was trained as a Medical Doctor and attended a Clinical School in Psychotherapy as a post-doc, and received his Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis. As Associate Professor at Kore University in Enna, he coordinates the undergrad program in Psychology. Nanni has a broad experience of teaching and living outside Italy and helped establishing as Treasurer the European Association for Behavior Analysis. He founded and co-managed IESCUM, which has fostered the diffusion of CBS in Italy. He deepened my research interests in BA and ABA focusing on the early equivalence studies and then RFT. Alternating clinical and basic science interests, he encountered ACT at the turning of the millennium, after knowing its first steps. Nanni served ACBS co-chairing the meeting in Parma and serving on the Conference Committee for Washington. He has served on the ACBS Board as a member-at-large for the past two years and co-founded the Italian ACBS Chapter.

Statement: I will be honored to continue to bring my national and international experience at the service of ACBS and foster its mission. I would like to see ACBS grow as a strong international contextual behavior association as the house for behaviorally oriented clinicians, educators, social workers, physicians, psychologists, and researchers. ACBS needs to to strengthen this common house of professional and researchers and I envision the need to serve also members beyond the original clinical core that are focused on the application of a CBS to other areas, like education, workplace and health, to mention only a few. As a growing organization I recognize that members have different needs according to their “seniority”, interests, professional role and area of the globe were they live and work. So there is a need to insure that the International members are served and Diversity being cultivated.

Secretary Treasurer

Maria Karekla, Ph.D.
University of Cyprus (Cyprus)

Maria is a licensed clinical psychologist, Assistant Professor, chairing the Clinical Psychology Doctorate program and the “ACThealthy” laboratory at the University of Cyprus. She completed her doctorate from the University at Albany, SUNY and her residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Her research focuses on health promotion and the investigation of individual difference factors as they relate to the development and maintenance of behavioural difficulties. She examines the treatment of these difficulties utilizing CBS interventions and innovative delivery methods (e.g., digitalized interventions, virtual reality). Her research received awards from: European Council and Pompidou’s group, ABCT, and Society of Behavioral Medicine; and grants from national and EU funds. She is chairing the Cyprus Bioethics Committee, is a member of the Psychologist Licensing Board, and the European Federation of Psychology Associations’ Psychology and Health and e-health task forces. In the past two years she served as a member-at-large of ACBS.

“As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery…” (Kavafis)
Growing up in the island of Cyprus, I had Kavafis’ poems and his allegorical meanings deeply influencing my choices in life. These same meanings I have found in the ACBS community, which drew me to this work, the organization and its people. I have been a part of ACBS almost from its inception and I have tried to serve the association through various capacities: serving on conference committees, boards of various SIGs, becoming an ACT trainer, starting the Cyprus-Greece ACBS chapter, and serving on the ACBS executive board as member-at-large. My experiences, my drive and love for this association and the group of individuals who constitute it, will enable me to continue to serve ACBS from the post of secretary/treasurer, with continued fervor towards excellence.

Member at Large 1

Miranda Morris, Ph.D.
Private Practice (USA)

Miranda is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice just outside of Washington, DC. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Missouri - St. Louis under the mentorship of Patricia Resick, PhD. She is the founder of DC ACT, a consortium of therapists who provide training in ACT to professionals in the region. Miranda helped found the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of ACBS (MAC-ACBS) and has served on the MAC-ACBS Board for six years. She and her MAC colleagues regularly conduct free ACT workshops for students and professionals in their region. She also serves as Manager of the ACBS Women’s SIG and as a member of the Diversity and Chapter/SIG committees. In addition, she teaches Psychology and Social Justice a local cooperative high school. Miranda lives in Takoma Park, MD with her partner, two kids and two impossibly small dogs.

ACBS has been a home to me for ten years. In that time, my experiences within our community have inspired and shaped me. ACBS has provided me a context in which I can move continuously toward my values of community building and sharing CBS. My desire to serve as MAL was born of these values. Given the opportunity, I would like to focus on creating a more inclusive community, one attuned to the needs of groups nested within ACBS (e.g., Chapters. SIGs) as well as individuals from diverse professional and personal backgrounds. Our membership is growing — maintaining a sense of connection within ACBS will be an ongoing challenge. I’d like us to invest in creating support for the diverse groups/individuals that make ACBS the vibrant community I love. My hope is to help make ACBS as much a home for others as it has been for me.

Member at Large 2 (basic science)

Lisa Coyne, Ph.D.
McLean/Harvard Medical School (USA)

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked to improve the psychological well-being of children, teens and families for nearly 20 years. After teaching as a tenured professor in the APA-Accredited Clinical Psychology at Suffolk University for 9 years, she is now on the Faculty of Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, where she founded the McLean Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) in 2015. She is a peer-reviewed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Trainer, and a Faculty member of the Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI) of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting and is the author of The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years.

ACBS is my academic family. I am grateful to have been nurtured by it since the beginning of my career in 2004, and would be honored to return that kindness. If chosen to serve this community as a Member-At-Large, I commit to helping our organization to strengthen our prosociality, to support the scientific rigor and collaborative nature of our research, especially with youths and families, to support students, and to help disseminate our work effectively so that we can make a meaningful difference in the world for the people we serve. I hope to support the full participation of underrepresented groups such as women, individuals of minority cultural, racial, sexual, and disability status, and to ensure that ACBS fully benefits from diverse perspectives. I believe our diversity strengthens us and our ability as an organization to adapt and thrive.

Member at Large 3 (basic science)

Amy Murrell, Ph.D.
University of North Texas (USA)

I earned my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Mississippi in 2005, under Kelly Wilson's mentorship. I started working at the University of North Texas, where I am now a clinician and an Associate Professor, that same year. I have been a member of ACBS since its beginning, and I have run a CBS consistent lab for over 10 years. I have received 4 grants to research RFT and ACT. I have graduated 18 Ph.D. students, all of whom have gone on to contribute to ACBS. I am an ACBS Fellow and a Peer-Reviewed ACT Trainer. I have conducted over 50 RFT and ACT workshops and authored approximately 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts on RFT and ACT in addition to coauthoring The Joy of Parenting and several other manuscripts. 

Statement: I am passionate about bidirectionally informed research and application. I believe that basic science and practice continually shape each other in ongoing, important ways and that communication about the two services cannot be truly separated. I think we do a disservice to those we attempt to reach when we make efforts to divide research and application, yet I think we are not doing enough to share basic research in accessible ways or disseminate applications in diverse settings. I want to work with the Board and various ACBS committees (as well as ACBS membership as a whole) to share more evidenced-based protocols that bridge the gap between basic science and application in diverse ACBS settings (not just ACT clinical work), and I am committed to increase aware of CBS related basic-applied topics outside of ACBS as well.

Member at Large 4

Jonathan Bricker, Ph.D.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center & University of Washington (USA)

I learned behavioral theory and therapies, and the science of conducting inclusive research at the University of Washington clinical psychology doctoral program. After graduating in 2003, I joined the faculty of Seattle's Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center. I am Full Member and Affiliate Professor of psychology at University of Washington. I lead a multidisciplinary and diverse team focused on testing ACT for stopping smoking—a behavior that disproportionality affects the underserved. With $15 million US dollars in funding, we are conducting the largest studies of ACT. I have a private practice devoted to ACT. I am the president of the Washington State ACBS, a member of the Technology SIG, and was a member of the ACBS 2016 conference planning committee. In 2014, I became an ACBS Fellow. I serve on the diversity leadership committee at Fred Hutch.

Statement: I love ACBS. An active member since 2007, my first conference experience was parasailing over Clear Lake in Houston TX. Over the years, I have become passionate about three inter-related initiatives. The first is to make CBS science more accessible and relevant to our expanding worldwide membership. The second initiative is to give CBS away by communicating CBS theories, concepts, and techniques to the general public--similar to what I did with my TEDx talk "The Secret to Self-Control." The third is to promote CBS-based interventions delivered through mobile technologies (e.g., apps), as they can help overcome enormous disparities in access to effective behavioral care. The essence of these initiatives is inclusion: tools to empower all ACBS members to tell their story and share their knowledge--to each other, to their patients, and to the public.

Student Representative

Sonia Singh
Bowling Green State University (USA)

I am currently a fourth-year doctoral candidate at Bowling Green State University. Prior to arriving at BGSU, I received my masters of arts degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in clinical psychology. My clinical and research interests include understanding and utilizing different CBS-based approaches, specifically ACT and FAP. I am also interested in diversity-related issues, anxiety disorders, and shame. My thesis project was a quantitative synthesis of FAP single-subject research and was recently approved for publication in JCBS. My dissertation project will be an intervention study utilizing acceptance and mindfulness for sexual minorities experiencing work stress. I have also co-authored a chapter on rejection sensitivity and FAP as a treatment for gender and sexual minority clients. I have been a member of ACBS for over five years and have attended two previous World Conferences. Currently, I am serving as Student Representative in the Functional Analytic Psychotherapy SIG.

I believe my life has changed because of contextual behavioral science. Learning about CBS taught me how to find my values and follow them, how to lean into discomfort, and how to build community through connection. This transformation started on a small scale when I first encountered these ideas in my MA program. However, it has continued to grow and expand as I came into contact with more of the ACBS community. To me, ACBS feels like home. I look forward to seeing smiling faces of friends and colleagues, challenging myself with experiential workshops, and expanding my knowledge of contextual behavioral science through symposia, panels, and plenaries. This experience is what I hope to bring to the position of student representative. I want to do what I can to help students foster community, learn new ideas and prospective, gain mentorship and connection with professionals, and most importantly - find home.

The ACBS bylaws say:

The officers of the Association shall consist of a President, President-Elect, Past-President, Secretary-Treasurer, a student representative, and four Members-at-Large of the Board of Directors. Each shall perform the usual duties of the respective office and specific duties provided elsewhere in these Bylaws or as assigned by the Board of Directors. Elections for officers shall be held every year. The President, President-Elect, Past-President, and student representative shall each serve a one-year term and may not hold any other offices within the Association. The Members-at-Large shall be elected every two years. In each two-year cycle one of the Members-at-Large shall have a strong background and interest in basic science relevant to the purposes of the Association. The Secretary-Treasurer shall serve a three year term.

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