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2024-2025 Board of Directors



Rhonda Merwin, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center (USA)

Rhonda Merwin, PhD is an Associate Professor at Duke University Medical Center, a Peer-Reviewed ACT Trainer, and the Founder of ACT at Duke, a research, clinical and training program in Duke University’s School of Medicine. She also has the honor of being a Fellow of ACBS and a current Member-at-Large Board Member. She chairs the ACBS Publications Committee, dedicated to the quality and success of the Journal of Contextual and Behavioral Science, a committee that she has served on since 2015. She currently directs CBS SuperLab, an effort to bring together CBS researchers and labs from around the world to advance CBS research. Dr. Merwin is also a clinician and a teacher, and the author of ACT for Anorexia Nervosa: A Guide for Clinicians. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (among other sponsors), and focuses on multi-level, multi-dimensional factors that influence maladaptive eating and weight control, and the delivery personalized interventions in real time.

Statement: "Act as though what you do makes a difference. It does."-William James. What we do matters; how we spend our time, where we invest our energy. I choose to spend it here- in an organization of passionate individuals devoted to the alleviation of human suffering. As I type those words, I appreciate the significance of this charge. How might we reimagine ourselves or our organization to maximize our impact? Because, while all acts matter, I believe we have untapped potential to address the challenges facing human beings. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, organized citizens can change the world.”-Margaret Mead. I believe that CBS can make a difference; that we can make a difference with the strength of our collective and diverse ideas and skills, and a structure that empowers and inspires individuals to engage and reminds them that what they do matters. As President, I will identify ways to maximize our potential, keeping science at the forefront (as clinicians, researchers, teachers, etc.) and empowering individuals to work together toward common values/goals.


Manuela O'Connell, Lic. (Argentina)

Clinical psychologist specialize in ACT, Mindfulness, FAP and CFT. Peer Reviewed ACT Trainer and Fellow for ACBS. ACT trainer and supervisor along Latin America in the Spanish speaking population. Board President of ACL Foundation (Live with Awareness, Courage and Love). Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. I have been involved also in body work and somatic training for the last 30 years also a certified Eutony teacher. In this area I have been integrating somatic experiences with Mindfulness and ACT in the form of Embodied Metaphor into my clinical work and has presented around this topic extensively. Author of a general public book Una vida valiosa from Random Penguin House in Spanish and delivered ACT for the general public interventions. Co-author of The ACT Workbook for Anger with Dr. Robyn Walser and wrote several publications in the area of the therapeutic relationship and couples work.

Statement: I have been serving ACBS for the last 11 years so I know it's heart and soul. As a South American non-native English speaker, I am driven by a passionate commitment to fostering diversity, promoting inclusion, and effecting meaningful change within our community. Diversity is a fundamental pillar of strength. Our field flourishes when we embrace a wide spectrum of perspectives, experiences, and voices. As president, I pledge to prioritize initiatives that amplify underrepresented voices and cultivate a culture of belonging where every member feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique insights and talents. I am also dedicated to creating an environment where individuals from all walks of life feel welcomed and supported in their professional journeys. By fostering a culture of openness and collaboration, we can harness the full potential of our diverse membership to tackle the complex challenges facing our field and society at large.

Past President: 

Andrew Gloster, Ph.D., University of Lucerne (Switzerland)

Andrew Gloster, ACBS Fellow and professor at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland. Trained in the U.S.A., he has worked in Europe since 2006. Andrew is international in his outlook and sensitivities. He has published over 150 scientific papers, books and treatment manuals. His contextual behavioral science research program has empirically tested numerous aspects of the CBS model including clinical trials, public health, biological & genetic variables, pro-social behaviors in groups, and technological interventions. He is a licensed psychotherapist and a passionate mentor and trainer. Andrew actively works to disseminate and communicate science across professional lines and to the general public. Andrew has served ACBS in numerous capacities including secretary/treasurer of the Board, ACBS Foundation president, program chair (2015 Berlin), and is an Associate Editor of JCBS.

Statement: ACBS is a special organization. It is the only organization I know of that seriously cares about the hearts and minds of its members, while simultaneously supporting activities to increase well-being across the world. The breadth of professions and geographical regions at home in ACBS is a testament to the mission, spirit, and values of its members. This is simultaneously a strength and challenge.
In my previous roles within ACBS, I gained a detailed understanding of the issues ACBS and its members face. If elected, I will utilize this knowledge and contribute with my international, scientist-practitioner perspective. I will work with the board and membership to continue identifying additional ways that ACBS can serve its members. Additionally, I will work to preserve the core values of ACBS while we continue the important work of expanding the science and refining our interventions. It would be my honor to serve as president.


David Gillanders, DClinPsy, University of Edinburgh (Scotland)

I am a Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. I’ve been learning ACT since 2004 and now teach as a Peer Reviewed Trainer. I’m also a Fellow of ACBS. My research programme focusses on ACT for long term health conditions, and more recently I have specialised in ACT for cancer and end of life. I’ve previously served ACBS as Chair of the Training Committee from 2011 to 2015, and as President, then Past President of the UK and Republic of Ireland Chapter from 2017 to 2020. I served on the Conference Strategy Committee from 2017 to 2020 and was joint programme chair for the World Conference in Dublin in 2019. I am a member of the Strategic Pillar on Competency and Dissemination.

Statement: I have previously served ACBS at the Chapter level and Internationally. In these roles I bring good organisational skills, careful and sensitive diplomacy and an ability to commit and follow through. I am able to listen to multiple perspectives and to help groups to reach consensus. As Training Committee Chair I led the committee in developing greater transparency of process and greater detail of evaluating the basic science competencies for peer reviewed trainers. These experiences show my abilities in working on international committees. I was elected to the role of Secretary / Treasurer in October 2023 to complete the term of office of the previous role holder. I would like to continue to serve the organisation in this role. I have contributed to discussion of sensitive issues with tact and diplomacy, and have at times brought a critical perspective to the board, whilst talking from the heart.

Members at Large (Basic Science): 

Jennifer Shepard Payne, Ph.D., LCSW-C, Johns Hopkins University/ Kennedy Krieger Institute (USA)

Jennifer Shepard Payne, Ph.D., LCSW-C, is a Research Scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in the Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress (CCFTS) and the Center for the Neuroscience of Social Injustice. She is also an Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine within the Department of Psychiatry.
She received her doctorate in Social Welfare from UCLA and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with many years of experience in mental health clinical practice and administration. For several years, Dr. Payne has been working on culturally tailoring Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for African American communities experiencing racial trauma. She developed a culturally tailored version of ACT called POOF:
Additionally, her book, Out of the Fire: Healing Black Trauma Caused by Systemic Racism Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, can be obtained from New Harbinger, Barnes and Noble, Target, Amazon, and other booksellers.

Statement: Although I have been in ACBS for less than ten years, I embraced it fully when I joined. Being active in ACBS is a value of mine because ACT has become so valuable to me. From the time that I learned about ACT and stepped into my first training, I was intrigued and hooked. Thus, my involvement with and dedication to the Association has been constant since I joined.
Soon after joining ACBS, I joined the DEI-SIG because while I loved ACT, I wondered why few persons who looked like me (persons of color) were visible in ACBS. I wanted to change that, and that desire intensified after George Floyd was murdered. June 2020 was a turning point in my life, as I am sure it was a turning point in the lives of many others. I desire to recruit and retain more diverse participants into the ACBS family.
Alison Stapleton, Ph.D., University College Dublin (Ireland)

Dr Alison Stapleton is a Chartered Psychologist of the Psychological Society of Ireland, Postdoctoral Fellow at Smithsfield Clinic and University College Dublin, and a Lecturer in Psychology at Dublin Business School and the Institute of Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. Alison coordinates the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) Neurodiversity-Affirming Research and Practice Special Interest Group (SIG), served on the Steering Committee for the ACBS Relational Frame Theory SIG, and currently works at ACT Now Purposeful Living, a leading provider of ACT training in Ireland. Alison regularly delivers national and international level trainings, and has experience working in psychological services to identify, accommodate, and support a range of neurotypes. Alison has published two book chapters and 13 scientific articles, most recently contributing to The Oxford Handbook of ACT and a systematic review of adults’ experiences of being identified as autistic in adulthood (manuscript submitted for publication).

Statement: I want to strengthen the impact of process-based therapy and relational frame theory inside ACBS and beyond the "bubble". Disseminating CBS while collaboratively and collegially refining our science is imperative if we are to self-correct and meaningfully advance as a field.

I want to make ACBS a welcoming space for all, particularly neurominorities and "first-generation" academics. Collective strength lies in diversity, and harnessing that strength depends on accessibility; inclusion isn't just a "seat at the table" - it's having a voice and being heard too. I want to bolster meaningful inclusion in ACBS.

I want to improve communication between ACBS members and non-members. Productive collaborations and mutual exchanges of ideas and methodological approaches will increase variability in the field, highlight areas for redress and growth, and better our science.

Members at Large: 

Jacob Martinez, LPC, Private Practice (USA)

Jacob Martinez is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Wisconsin, USA. He is currently the chair of the ACBS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Special Interest Group; a member of the ACBS DEI Committee, and a member of the ACBS Membership Committee. Jacob is committed to making ACBS more accessible and inclusive, and has a particular interest in non-hierarchical organizational and community structures. When Jacob is not in the therapy room you can find him organizing his rare pencil collection and perfecting his Texas-style Smoked Brisket.

Statement: The vision of ACBS as dedicated to “the alleviation of human suffering and the advancement of human well-being through contextual behavioral science” can only be achieved through a strong commitment to and affirmation of the global community that makes up this organization.
ACBS will thrive or die only so far as we are willing to be stewards of this community. Stewards for no other reason but because a shared set of values motivates us. Members of ACBS deepening connection across lines of geography, age, cultural background, ability, education, and profession is a form of mutual aid that benefits us all; and which ultimately sets ACBS apart from other organizations of its type.
My goal in serving as member-at-large is to promote a culture of community stewardship that every member of ACBS can partake in confidently. To advocate for channels of cooperation, communication, and relationship building across this community.

Sevinç Ulusoy, M.D., Cansagligi Foundation, Center for Contextual Behavioral Science (Türkiye)

I am a psychiatrist and currently working as a researcher at Cansagligi Foundation, Center for Contextual Behavioral Science. My medical education was completed at Istanbul University Istanbul Faculty of Medicine in 2008, followed by my psychiatry residency at Istanbul Bakirkoy Prof. Dr. Mazhar Osman Research and Training Hospital for Psychiatry and Neurology in 2014. Throughout my psychiatry residency training, I have dedicated my focus to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches, conducting research in various areas including emotion, affective disorders, stigma, and trans-diagnostic processes. Since 2013, my involvement with ACT and RFT has been profound. I am a founding member of the Turkiye chapter and previously served as president of the Turkiye chapter (2015-2017).
I contribute as a trainer and supervisor in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy trainings facilitated by the Turkish Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. Recently, my specialization has extended into psycho-oncology and trauma.

Statement: I’ve been engaged with the ACBS community for over a decade and have been deeply impressed by its non-judgmental and accepting attitude since day one. This inclusive stance, welcoming of differences, cultivates a profound sense of belonging. My ongoing participation underscores the alignment of this community with my core values: openness, compassion, teamwork, togetherness, and continuous learning. If elected, I am committed to advancing these values further, and here are some of my objectives:
- Uniting clinicians and researchers from diverse geographic locations who may have varying approaches to psychotherapy education and practice but encounter similar challenges under the umbrella of ACBS, fostering greater communication among them and promoting collaborative efforts.
- Expanding the ACBS network into countries where community networks are still developing, introducing CBS principles to newcomers.
- Creating supportive environments for early-career researchers and clinicians to engage meaningfully with experienced ACBS members.

Student Representative: 

 Sanna Turakka, Terapia- ja ohjauspalvelut Elonkuohu, Private Practice / University of Jyväskylä (Finland)

I have Master's degrees in Special Education and Sport and Exercise Psychology, and at the moment I am working on my PhD research on Perfectionism and Self-compassion in Competitive Sports, at the University of Jyväskylä. I am an accredited Psychotherapist and a Psychotherapist Trainer and Supervisor in Finland. I have my private practice from where I do psychotherapy, sport and performance psychology coaching and consultation, supervision, and trainings. I also work as a psychotherapist trainer at Tampere University. My personal and professional lenses are built of contextual behavioral science and compassion focused approaches and I want to advance the application and research of these approaches to contexts beyond the field of clinical psychology (for example education, sport, wellbeing, primary healthcare). In Finland, I am actively involved in our ACBS community and our Sport Psychology community (for example as Board member of the Finnish Association of Sport Psychology).

Statement: I have been applying ACT and functional contextual approaches to my life and work since 2009. At that point I was training to be a psychotherapist, and attended a workshop by JoAnne Dahl, where my understanding on managing human emotions was (fortunately) blown into gazillion pieces. My professional mission has been to do my part in distributing evidence based contextual behavioral approaches to people in different contexts and professions. In 2021-2022 I was the Finnish representative of the ACBS Language and National Chapters, as chapter leaders worked together using PROSOCIAL principles to communicate, cooperate, identify, and solve problems to build a stronger community. While that process was interrupted, when the world situation urged us to work on other topics, I strongly support furthering this evolution of a stronger community driven by regular communication and co-operation of our ACBS members from different language areas, cultures, and professions.

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