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2019-2020 Board of Directors

2019-2020 ACBS Board

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

President - Elect:
Lisa Coyne, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School (USA)

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

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):
Diana Ferroni Bast, Ph.D., National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)

Member at Large 3 (basic science):
Lance McCracken, Ph.D., Uppsala University (Sweden)

Member at Large 4:
Jill Stoddard, Ph.D., The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management (USA)

Varsha Eswara Murthy, University College Dublin (Ireland)

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


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

President- Elect

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

Lisa Coyne is a Founding member of ACBS, an ACBS Fellow, a former vice-president of the New England Chapter of ACBS, and currently serves as Member-at-Large. In 2014, after becoming a tenured Associate Professor at Suffolk University's Clinical Psychology Doctoral program, she joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School as Assistant Professor and founded the OCD Institute for Children and Adolescents at McLean Hospital. In 2017, she began the New England Center for OCD and Anxiety (NECOA). She is a licensed psychologist and a peer-reviewed ACT trainer. Her research and writing focuses on ACT with children, adolescents, and parents. She lives in Boston with her partner John, her son Rory, and two crazy dogs. Her daughter Josie studies Biology in college. Lisa enjoys making a difference in the world, one kid at a time, and a good laugh at herself.
ACBS is a loving, compassionate community of scientists and practitioners. As we grow and diversify, we have an opportunity to create a stronger organization. To do so, we must be strategic; grounded and visionary at the same time.
I want us to make ACBS an equitable, inclusive, global home that values and empowers all of its members. There is an Ubuntu saying – I am because we are. It is in our differences that we will discover our strength.
I want us to nurture young scientists by funding innovative science, and to support clinicians by developing standards for excellent practice. I want us to develop streamlined ways of giving scientists and clinicians better access to our collective resources.
I want us to better disseminate our science through expanding our digital presence and skill in technology, communication, and public relations. Fellow travelers, with kindness and admiration, let’s help ACBS thrive.


Past President

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.

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)

Diana Ferroni Bast, Ph.D.
Trinity College Dublin

I’m a Brazilian/Italian BCBA, clinical psychologist, and researcher presently living in Ireland. I started my career working and researching in the psychiatric hospital of São Paulo University. In 2011, I did my doctorate in Maynooth University under the supervision of Professor Dermot Barnes-Holmes and then did postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Celso Goyos (UFSCAR, Brazil) in collaboration with Dr. Ian Stewart (NUI Galway). Recently, I’ve become course director of the Applied Behavior Analysis Masters program in Trinity College Dublin. I’m interested in the dynamic interaction between basic and applied research and have worked in a number of areas of RFT/ACT focus including the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP), hierarchical relational framing, Prosocial, RFT analysis of ACT processes and translational research. My work has been funded by various agencies (FAPESP, BEPE, CAPES, Enterprise Ireland) and has involved collaboration with a variety of international researchers and a multidisciplinary team.

My experience as a researcher and clinician, and as a member of different overlapping scientific communities (Behavior Analysis and ACBS), as well as of diverse national chapters within ACBS (Brazil and UK) gives me extensive perspective on the challenges faced by researchers in terms of research priorities, conference attendance, community involvement, and issues of inclusion. The future of our community lies in actively working on creating bridges between basic and applied science, and between different communities and in fostering a democratic science. I will help achieve this through support of members and sponsors via several initiatives including (i) developing an accessible online conference (ii) developing programs for assistance in writing funding grants (iii) promoting members’ participation and discussion, especially of those from developing countries (iv) promoting new online channels to support international cooperation and collaboration (v) promoting greater accessibility of RFT to a broad public including especially investors.


Member at Large 3 (basic science)

Lance McCracken, Ph.D.
Uppsala University (Sweden)
I have been a member of ACBS for over 13 years and have been involved in the work of CBS for more than 20 years. My current position is as Professor of Clinical Psychology at Uppsala University. I am also visiting professor at King’s College London and Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist the INPUT pain management centre at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. I sit on the editorial boards for numerous journals in the fields of pain and clinical health psychology, including The Journal of Pain, Health Psychology, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, and European Journal of Pain, where I am Psychology Section Editor. My main work is clinical research and have published over 250 scientific articles and chapters, and two books, most of these on treatment development for chronic pain, and most based on CBS and psychological flexibility.
ACBS is an organization made up of many related parts, including those who are clinical researchers employed by universities. This part I particularly wish to support and represent within the organization. From 25 years’ experience as a clinician, researcher, and educator, and having worked and lived in the US, the UK, and Sweden, I believe that I have experience to share and useful perspectives to offer. This is to address such challenges as how to keep an organization such as ours, with its many parts, integrated, true to its principles and its commitments, and evolving, through science and research. I would like to see more young scientists and clinical academics within ACBS succeed, produce high impact research results, receive promotions, and move up the academic ranks within universities, become leaders within their institutions, and then support others to do the same.


Member at Large 4

Jill Stoddard, Ph.D.
The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management (USA)
Jill Stoddard is the founder and director of The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, a multi-site outpatient psychotherapy clinic specializing in ACT and CBT for anxiety and related issues. Dr. Stoddard received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Boston University where she trained at the highly regarded Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders under the leadership of Dr. David Barlow and mentorship of Dr. Stefan Hofmann. She completed her APA accredited internship and post-doctoral fellowship at UCSD’s School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry. She is an award-winning teacher and peer-reviewed ACT trainer. She has coauthored articles on ACT, CBT, anxiety, trauma, and pain. She also coauthored The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Clinician’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy; her second book, Be Mighty: A Woman’s Guide to Mastering Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance, will be published in January 2020.
Though I have been a burgeoning ACT nerd since 2002, I didn’t discover ACBS until 2014, when I attended my first ACBS World Conference. This experience opened my eyes to the way a professional organization can and should be—welcoming, egalitarian, cutting edge, and FUN! Since that time, I have looked for opportunities to get more involved: I became a recognized ACT trainer, volunteered for the Awards committee, joined the Women’s SIG and SoCal chapter, and agreed to review conference submissions. I have also seen the community grow and, at times, struggle to maintain its spirit of inclusivity. I would be honored to serve as MAL in hopes of giving back to the organization that has given so much to me. I would like to help revitalize our sense of connection, caring, equality, and community while building our public presence so we may continue to grow and share CBS and practice.

Student Representative

Varsha Eswara Murthy
Doctoral Candidate, University College Dublin (Ireland)
Varsha Eswara Murthy is a doctoral research student in University College Dublin (UCD). Varsha completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees at UCD, graduating top of her Masters of Psychological Science class. Varsha’s thesis focuses on developing and evaluating CBS interventions for marginalised populations, specifically those experiencing homelessness. With rising rates of homelessness and the resulting human suffering, the development of practicable and empirically validated interventions with a strong theoretical basis that will serve this population has been a goal of hers for some time. Alongside researching the development and efficacy of ACT interventions, Varsha has a background in basic science research and translating this research into applied contexts. She has published research in the area. Varsha has been a member of ACBS since 2015 and has presented her research at international conferences. Varsha hopes to continue researching and developing empirically supported CBS interventions for marginalised populations and the general public.
I am passionate about science communication, researching and translating basic science into applied practices. I will explore different avenues where students can highlight their research and get excited about basic science and its applications. I will put more robust formal supports in place that encourage members to communicate research within their communities, in academic and public contexts. My goal is to build supports for student members to collaborate on innovative research and to provide training by experts in the association.
Working with marginalised populations, I am sensitive to the need to create safe and welcoming environments to people from diverse backgrounds. I will find new avenues to enhance the continued growth of a diverse student membership. I am confident that I can bring your ideas and concerns to the board, in order to enhance student involvement and help foster the development of the next generation of clinicians and scientists.

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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