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2021-2022 Board of Directors

2021-2022 ACBS Board

Miranda Morris, Ph.D., Founder, True North Therapy and Training (USA)

President - Elect:
Maria Karekla, Ph.D., University of Cyprus (Cyprus)

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

Secretary Treasurer:
Jill Stoddard, Ph.D., The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management (USA)

Member at Large 1:
Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D., Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research, and Training Center (USA)

Member at Large 2 (basic science):
Nigel Vahey, Ph.D., Technological University Dublin (Ireland)

Member at Large 3 (basic science):
Rhonda Merwin, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center (USA)

Member at Large 4:
Sindhu BS, MS, Private Practice (India)

Student Representative:
Marianna Zacharia, University of Cyprus (Cyprus)


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


Miranda Morris, Ph.D.
Founder, True North Therapy and Training 

I am a psychologist in private practice just outside Washington, D.C. In 2010, after a few years of trying to build a private practice, I stumbled on my local ACBS community. Finding my tribe changed everything. Within a year, we had founded the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of ACBS. Committed to disseminating ACT, our chapter holds multiple workshops each year, provides free training to students, and has grown to well over 250 members. In 2016, I found the courage to step up and serve at the next level of ACBS and have since had the honor of serving on the Chapter & SIG and DEI Committees as well as the Women’s SIG Board. In 2018, I was honored to join our community of peer-reviewed ACT trainers, and I began service as Member at Large on the ACBS Board. My passion is building the ACBS community locally and globally.

Statement: In Improv, players start each show by patting each others’ backs and promising "I've got your back!” In this way, we let each person know that we'll be there to support them and make them shine. It’s not about the individual - it’s about the team and our collective power to lift each other up. On a larger scale, it is this promise, this commitment to one another that we need in order to realize the four pillars of our ACBS Strategic Plan: nurturing community, centering science, enhancing competency, and expanding our presence. The pillars are designed to grow ACBS and disseminate our science in the service of alleviating human suffering. To do this, we’ll need to have each others’ backs - all of them - the powerful, the published, the underrepresented, the disconnected, the disadvantaged. All of us. Let’s keep building an ACBS in which we all have each others’ backs.

President- Elect

Maria Karekla, Ph.D.
University of Cyprus 

Maria Karekla, Ph.D.,Licensed clinical psychologist, peer-reviewed ACT trainer, ACBS fellow, and Associate Professor, University of Cyprus, is heading the “ACTHealthy” laboratory. Her doctorate is from the University at Albany, SUNY with residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center & VA Hospital. Her research received numerous local, European and international grants, and awards by (among others) the European Council and Pompidou’s group, Society of Behavioral Medicine, and Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy. She is the convenor of the European Federation of Psychology Associations’ Psychology and Health committee and member of the e-health task force. Recently, she was appointed to the National Psychological Aid for COVID committee. Notable past positions: chair, the Cyprus Bioethics Committee and member, Psychologists Licensing Board. In 2018 she was nominated as Cyprus “Woman of the Year: Academic/Researcher.” Her first ACT psychotherapeutic childrens’ book was nominated for the National Literary Awards (2017) in the category Children/Adolescents.

Statement: “When Oedipus encountered the Sphinx, his answer to its riddle was: «Human». That simple word destroyed the monster” (Seferis)- homage to our common humanity. Growing up in the Greek culture, ancient myths and allegories shaped my values in life. Values, I have encountered within ACBS, the work, the organization and its people. My experiences, drive and love for this association and its members, will enable me to continue to serve from the post of President, with continued fervor towards our values, disseminating the science, expanding our reach and service so as to achieve alleviation of human suffering globally. Numerous life areas have been impacted by the pandemic and our science is needed more than ever. Having being intimately involved in ACBS strategic planning, I would aid in our visions materializing and moving ACBS to its next level of development in research, training, education, practical applications, inclusiveness, diversity, impact and reach.

Past President

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.

Statement: 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.

Secretary Treasurer

Jill Stoddard, Ph.D.
The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management 

Dr. Jill Stoddard is a clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, an outpatient clinic specializing in ACT and CBT for anxiety and related problems. Her life mission is to disseminate ACT to the public in accessible ways. As such, she has authored two ACT books, The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Be Mighty: A Woman's Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance. Dr. Stoddard is an award-winning teacher, TEDx speaker, peer-reviewed ACT trainer, and co-host of the popular Psychologists Off The Clock podcast. She writes the ACT-based Be Mighty Blog for Psychology Today and her other writing has appeared in Thrive Global, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and Mindful Return. She makes frequent media appearances as a podcast guest and expert news source. She received her PhD from Boston University in 2007.

Statement: World Conference 2014 opened my eyes to the way a professional organization can and should be—welcoming, egalitarian, science based but open to all types of practitioners, cutting edge, and fun. Since then, I have dedicated much of my free time to being an active member of the community. I have loved watching the community grow and the pillars take shape. I have been honored to be part of a strong board who works tirelessly to make ACBS thrive. I believe CBS can change the world. With a global pandemic, climate change, social injustice, and deep divisions across the world, we are at a historical crossroads. I would like to tap the resources of our vastly talented and caring community to expand our reach in new and creative ways. I would be honored to continue on the Board, giving back to the organization that has given so much to me.

Member at Large 1

Jenna LeJeune, Ph.D.
Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research, and Training Center

I have been an active member of ACBS since its founding in 2005. I am a peer-reviewed ACT trainer, a supervisor, and co-founder and President of Portland Psychotherapy Clinic, Research, and Training Center. I am also co-author of the book Values in Therapy. I am the founding President of the Oregon Chapter of ACBS and serve on the ACT Training Committee. And at my heart, I am primarily a therapist. But if you know me, hopefully you will know me as someone who is guided by my values. Those values tell you more about who I am than any list of accomplishments or roles. I am committed to being someone whose actions are in the service of welcoming connection, inclusivity, open-hearted generosity, compassion, gracious warmth, and kindness. These are the things that matter most to me about who I am and what I do in this world.

Statement: As a clinician, I have seen ACT transform lives. However, ACBS is broader than ACT, and we have an opportunity to harness our diversity of perspectives and talents to have a much larger impact on the world. If elected, I would work toward inclusive connection as part of implementing the board’s three-year strategic plan. I believe we can improve the effectiveness and productivity of our committees by connecting members who want to be involved but haven’t found a way to contribute or maybe haven’t felt welcomed. I want to help ACBS become more connected with the broader professional and public community by expanding and improving our digital presence. And as more people around the world become trained in ACT, I want to ensure that those trainings remain connected to the science underlying our technologies while also honoring diversity. I would be honored to help serve our community in these ways.

Member at Large 2 (basic science)

Nigel Vahey, Ph.D.
Technological University Dublin

I am a newly tenured lecturer in psychology at Technological University Dublin and a visiting research fellow at Trinity College Dublin’s Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN). After completing my PhD with Prof. Dermot Barnes-Holmes in 2015, I worked for three years as a senior post-doctoral researcher with Prof. Robert Whelan at TCIN in collaboration with Prof.’s Louise McHugh and Jonathan Bricker. I am keenly interested in translational research relating the IRAP, RFT and ACT to addiction, impulsivity, neuroscience, open science, web/smartphone-based interventions, and inclusive education (see My research has attracted 500+ academic citations and €485,000+ of grants/awards/scholarships. Latterly, while teaching/working with social workers, community workers and counsellors, I’ve been particularly focused on the socially-constructed nature of self; and how it relates to public health messaging, trauma, stigma, inclusion/exclusion, prosociality, and multi-level group selection. I was recently invited to write an ABAI blog about some of this ongoing research here:

Statement: I am passionate in my curiosity for all things CBS. If you were to elect me for the remaining one year of the current member-at-large (basic science) term, my focus would be upon furthering others’ ongoing efforts within our community to cultivate a culture where it is safe to be playful and open about our research. I believe that a sustainable research ecosystem cannot be imposed but rather must be inclusive, transparent, and co-developed. I believe that we can achieve more together in collaboration than we ever could as siloed individuals. My main goal as member-at-large for basic science would thus be to promote membership participation in co-developing the translation of emerging ACBS research policies into practice. While the recent publication of the first ACBS Task Force report is exciting, much work remains for us to humbly translate and incentivise the strategic recommendations it contains into inclusive and workable policy.


Member at Large 3 (basic science)

Rhonda Merwin, Ph.D.
Duke University Medical Center

I am an Associate Professor at Duke University, a Peer-Reviewed ACT Trainer, and the Founder and Director of ACT at Duke, a clinical, research and training program in Duke University’s School of Medicine. I chair the ACBS Publications Committee, and have been part of this committee’s efforts to promote the quality and success of the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS) for the past 5 years. I am Co-Chair of the CBS Research Task Force and the 2021 ACBS World Scientific Program Conference Committee. My research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and uses ecological momentary assessment and mobile technology to study factors that influence maladaptive eating and weight control, and deliver intervention in the moment. I also study related constructs (e.g., interoceptive awareness, self-regulation) using sensors and other technologies. I am the author of the book ACT for Anorexia Nervosa: A Guide for Clinicians.

Statement: "Toward a progressive science more adequate to the challenge of the human condition.

It is hard to think of a more meaningful and far-reaching call. I have been a member of this community since 2003 (before it was ACBS). I cherish it. And I believe that CBS can make a difference in the world. If I am elected to the board, I will work to facilitate greater impact of our work. I will focus on how we can enhance our research; form productive collaborations that bridge basic and applied work; invite new people in and outside the community to participate (and bring new ideas, talents and skills); leverage technology in our science; and create greater accessibility and visibility of our work. I started my research career studying stimulus equivalence/RFT. I have spent years thinking about what makes high quality CBS research, and my career creating and disseminating its products.

Member at Large 4

Sindhu BS, MS
Private Practice

Sindhu BS is a psychotherapist and an ACT practitioner working in Bangalore, India. Sindhu is hugely passionate about CBS and founded the India Chapter with an intention to disseminate ACT and RFT across her country. In her private practice, working majorly from the ACT approach, she strongly believes that ACT is remarkably effective for the Indian cultural context.

Statement: If elected I would like to facilitate integration of CBS framework to support cultural diversity across the world in different contexts. Furthermore, I would like to make the ACBS board more accessible, so that people from low-and-middle income countries (LAMIC) are more likely to reach out and voice their concerns. I would also like to assist in the understanding peer-reviewed trainer process and make it easier for people from Asian and African continents to apply.

Student Representative

Marianna Zacharia
University of Cyprus

Since the age of 13, I remember telling my parents that I wish to become a psychologist so as to provide help and support to suffering individuals. Since 2016, I am a Registered Clinical Psychologist in Cyprus and I work with children, adolescents and adults at various clinical settings (e.g., cancer patients and their caregivers, people with disabilities, individuals suffering from severe psychopathology). I started researching and practicing ACT in 2016, when I embarked on my PhD journey in Clinical Psychology at the University of Cyprus. Being a member of the ACThealthy Laboratory research team, supervised by Dr Maria Karekla, I became involved in projects relating to ACT interventions for chronic pain (ALGEA), smoking cessation and drug addiction. I have recently received a grant award for conducting my PhD research project An Intervention for female breast CANcer: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (I-CAN-ACT) for depression and physical pain from the ACBS.

Statement: I am grateful for being part of the CBS community, which offers me the opportunity to meet exceptional individuals in the field and augment my knowledge as well as clinical and research skills in ACT. I would like to offer back and contribute to the ACBS vision of expanding research and clinical work to accomplish amelioration of individuals’ quality of life and alleviation of human suffering. This community has transformed my personal and professional life and my conceptualization of mental health. The most important value in my life is reflected in the following quote: "The strongest force in our universe is not overriding power, but love"- Carl Rogers. My love for ACBS is fuelling my desire to promote and enhance communication of ACBS student members and professionals and advocate for students’ ideas to the board. I look forward to meeting new friends and colleagues from diverse backgrounds and challenging myself!

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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