Board of Directors

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2016-2017 ACBS Board

Daniel "D.J." Moran, Ph.D., MidAmerican Psychological Institute/ Pickslyde Consulting (USA)

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

Past President:
Michael P. Twohig, Ph.D., Utah State University (USA)

Secretary Treasurer:
Andrew Gloster, Ph.D., University of Basel (Switzerland)

Member at Large 1:
Maria Karekla, Ph.D., University of Cyprus (Cyprus)

Member at Large 2 (basic science):
Emily K. Sandoz, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Lafayette (USA)

Member at Large 3 (basic science):
Nic Hooper, Ph.D., University of the West of England (UK)

Member at Large 4:
Niloo Afari, Ph.D., University of CA, San Diego and Department of Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (USA)

Student Representative:
Houyuan Luo, University of Alberta (Canada)

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


Daniel D.J. Moran, Ph.D.
MidAmerican Psychological Institute/ Pickslyde Consulting (USA)

Leadership and contextual behavioral science skills supported my career accomplishments, and I will use those skills to benefit ACBS members. As founder of the MidAmerican Psychological Institute and Pickslyde Consulting, I put ACT in practice while achieving prosocial goals. I’ve trained ACT on six continents and aim to continue disseminating CBS to a greater diversity of professionals. As Secretary-Treasurer of ACBS, my actions significantly improved our organization’s finances, leading to substantial benefits for all members. I worked to increase investments in research grants, travel grants, Journal of CBS advancements, staff hiring, and extraordinary conference programs. I review ACBS’s budget every month and know how to offer even more membership benefits. For 21 years, I’ve contributed to developing our community, and the important project I’m leading now is the Investment Committee, through which my personal interaction with financial specialists outside our organization will continue to safeguard ACBS’s long-term economic health.

Statement:I have a genuine vision for continuing to expand the reach of ACBS. During my five years serving on the Board, I’ve worked hard to generate broader diversity in our membership, and a wider range of environments for our scientific applications. I’m very aware of our Membership Survey results and understand what our community wants for the future. I will strengthen the Board’s focus on the Diversity Committee, local chapters, international Training Institutes, the Developing Nations Fund, and our Conference programs. I will continue making participation in ACBS affordable and beneficial for all members. My recent publications focus on ACT for organizations and leadership, and I will apply effective ACT principles while leading the Board. I hope I have earned your trust, not just based on my extensive volunteer service and successful track record on the membership’s behalf, but for the vision I have for our lovely organization.

President- Elect

Giovambattista "Nanni" Presti
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.

Past President

Michael P. Twohig, Ph.D.
Utah State University (USA)

Michael P. Twohig, Ph.D. received his B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Behavior Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno, and completed his CBT-focused internship at the University of British Columbia Hospital. He is a licensed psychologist and an Associate Professor of Psychology. Mike runs a research laboratory and a clinic focusing on ACT for anxiety disorders and the translation of basic behavioral principles into clinical psychology. His research is funded through the NIMH and the International OCD Foundation. He has published over 80 works including two books. Mike successfully facilitates links with other organizations in psychology. In 2012 he edited an issue on ACT in Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, in 2014 co-edited an issue of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior on RFT, and he is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS).

Statement: After serving on ACBS’s board for the past two years, serving on many additional committees within ACBS, and being part of JCBS, I feel as though I have a good grasp of how ACBS is growing as an organization. Serving as president would allow me the opportunity to continue to help ACBS grow while staying consistent with the values of the organization.
ACBS serves people throughout the world and across disciplines and professions. We need to continue to find ways to increase our availability of resources to our membership. This includes increasing materials and resources offered on our website, continuing to make conferences and training available across the globe, supporting scientific development, and working to make ACBS accessible to all members regardless of financial status or where they live. If elected president, I will work to offer new, useful materials via the website, increase the number of events that ACBS organizes, support contextual behavioral sciences by bolstering our grant program as well as our journal, and disseminate research and clinical resources to all members. An additional goal is to bring people into ACBS who share contextual behavioral values but work in applied or research fields that are underrepresented at ACBS such as education, social work, and the biological and neurosciences. As ACBS grows, I will strive to keep any changes consistent with our values of openness, support, humor, and compassion. Finally, I am fully aware of the time and effort this position takes and I am excited for the possible opportunity to represent ACBS in this essential position. I am happy to offer my personal time to ACBS and am pleased Utah State University has also offered support by releasing me from some University duties so I can best serve ACBS.

Secretary Treasurer

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

I am currently a research scientist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, where I research several aspects of CBS that include epidemiological/public health approaches, technology enhanced assessment and treatment, and randomized controlled trials. I offer regular workshops, seminars, and supervision in ACT and have been an active member of both ACBS and the German-speaking Chapter. Together with my lab and collaborators, I have published numerous publications as well as created and translated various instruments relevant for ACBS. I am a licensed psychotherapist and a passionate mentor.

Statement: ACBS is my intellectual and professional home. Born and trained in the U.S.A., I have worked at German and Swiss universities since 2006. My work concentrates on ACT/RFT in my research, training, supervision, and therapy. Proudly, I have trained hundreds of students and professionals in ACT, while supporting some of the first studies in German speaking countries. I have served on the 1st German Chapter board, ACBS program committees, and am the Program Chair for this year’s conference in Berlin. I want to continue giving back to an organization that has given me much personally and professionally. As secretary/ treasurer, I would capitalize on my experience of running multi-site studies – including their finances – and of already working closely with our executive director (Emily). If elected, I will contribute my international perspective and experiences to help deal with the challenges/ develop the opportunities that face ACBS.

Member at Large 1

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

Maria is a licensed Clinical Psychologist (works part time at the Center for Cognitive Behavioral Psychology), an Assistant Professor at the University of Cyprus and a peer-reviewed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) trainer. At the University of Cyprus, she is heading the ACThealthy: Anxiety Disorders and Behavioral Medicine Clinical Psychology Laboratory. She completed her doctorate in Clinical psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York and her residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS. She has received numerous local and European grants to fund her research in the areas of anxiety disorders, smoking and smoking cessation, asthma, diabetes, cancer and thalassemia and in the evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for various conditions. Her research on prevention and smoking cessation among high-risk adolescents in Cyprus provided her with a European Drug Prevention Prize in 2010 from the Pompidou group and the European Council.

Statement: Ancient Greek philosophers were among the first to speculate about human nature. Epicurean Philosophers for example noted the therapeutic nature of values and believed that we should abandon our restraints and live in the moment. Expanding on my ancestor’s ideas, I have tried to further the field of contextual behavioral science in my country as well as the region around me. 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, on the board of various SIGs, becoming an ACT trainer, and starting the Cyprus-Greece ACBS chapter. I believe my experiences, my drive for research training and helping all those in need, and my love for this association and group of individuals will help serve this association with a continued fervor towards excellence in all aspects; research, practice, training, and human development in general.

Member at Large 2 (basic science)

Emily K. Sandoz
University of Louisiana at Lafayette (USA)

Dr. Emily K. Sandoz is the Emma Louise LeBlanc Burguieres/BORSF Endowed Professor of Social Sciences in the Psychology Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Emily is the Director of the Louisiana Contextual Science Research Group and Editor of the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. She has co-authored three books on acceptance and commitment therapy for struggles with eating and body image, along with chapters and journal articles on ACT, values, the therapeutic relationship, and psychological flexibility. Emily has led more than 40 professional training workshops around the world, and serves as a peer-reviewed ACT trainer. She also practices as a Clinical Psychologist in Lafayette, Louisiana, where she lives with her husband and three children.

Statement: I love karaoke. The thing that gets me is that Everybody sings. Not everyone gets in front of the crowd and pours their heart out. But everybody does sing. Something about being surrounded by familiar music and a chorus of unfamiliar voices opens folks up to find their own voice - even if it's a voice only heard if you look into their eyes. I've bet a chunk of my life on the idea that ACBS can be like that, providing a place where we can come together in different roles, from different corners of the world, acknowledging our universal struggle, finding where our own voices fit and matter. My hope is that, if elected to serve, I might have the opportunity to celebrate the variability and the harmony in our voices, especially the ones without much space or practice. I want ACBS to be a place where everybody sings.

Member at Large 3 (basic science)

Nic Hooper, Ph.D.
University of the West of England (UK)

Nic completed his Ph.D. at Swansea University under the supervision of Dr. Louise McHugh. Following this, Nic lectured at a number of Universities before accepting his current position at UWE. Most of Nic’s research falls under the rubric of Contextual Behavioural Science, and can be divided into two areas; firstly, he uses Derived Stimulus Relations to explain how thought suppression attempts may narrow our behavioural repertoire. Secondly, he compares avoidance against components of ACT in the management of unwanted thoughts. Thus far, his research has displayed that acceptance-based techniques are useful in managing spider fear, learned helplessness, eating behaviour, stereotype threat and the fundamental attribution error. Nic also contributes to CBS in other ways; he writes a popular blog (, he will soon publish a book detailing the “Research Journey of ACT” and he has talked about ACT/RFT in many contexts; CBS relevant conferences, invited University talks and local radio.

Statement: At the end of every CBS conference an event happens in which people from the audience get up on stage and provide some sort of entertainment. This event is called ‘The Follies’. I love the follies. Not because it is thoroughly entertaining, but because it encapsulates what I like to call ‘The ACBS Spirit’. The idea that all of us are connected by our humanity, that no one person at our conferences is more important than anyone else, and that our small group of people, for better or for worse, and in unison, will continue to search for an adequate way to help people manage psychological struggles. I breathe the ACBS spirit, and although I would use my position on the board to promote and encourage basic and applied research activities in the community, it is this spirit that would shape my contribution across the range of topics discussed.

Member at Large 4

Niloo Afari, Ph.D.
University of CA, San Diego and Department of Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (USA)

I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from University of Nevada, Reno in 1996, under the mentorship of Steve Hayes. I am an associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and hold leadership roles at VA San Diego Healthcare System and the VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health. My work involves clinical and research administration, funded research, and mentorship of doctoral graduate students. Since 1996, I’ve had continuous research funding for interdisciplinary research to examine the mechanisms of health conditions like pain and obesity; ACT-based interventions; and implementation of eHealth technology for monitoring of physical and mental health symptoms. I’ve been a member of ACBS since its beginning, have served as the founding Chair of the ACBS Diversity Committee for the last 3 years, and work closely with the Farsi-speaking Chapter to make sure individuals from Iran have access to ACBS resources.

Statement: I would be honored to serve on the ACBS Board and believe that my skills and strengths in administration, research, and mentorship could be useful to the Board and ACBS as we move our ever-growing multinational and multidisciplinary organization forward. The ACBS Diversity Committee has made a lot of progress in the past several years to highlight our organizational value of inclusion, from developing the diversity mission to establishing the Diversity Committee conference scholarships, and increasing the number and scope of diversity-related presentations at conferences. Having been immersed in that work, my goal in joining the ACBS Board is to continue advocating for inclusivity in all activities of our organization.

Student Representative

Houyuan Luo
University of Alberta (Canada)

Houyuan Luo is a second-year doctoral student in Counseling Psychology at the University of Alberta. Houyuan Luo got his Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology from Hunan Normal University (China) and Master of Arts in Counseling and Clinical Psychology from Nanjing Normal University (China). Houyuan Luo joined the ACBS on April, 2015. Houyuan Luo has been serving as a member of the Social Media Committee at the Student SIG since October, 2015 and the moderator of ACT for Public Listserve since February, 2016. Houyuan Luo has been attending Online ACT training at the PracticeGround since September, 2015. Houyuan Luo is doing his doctoral practicum at the Faculty of Education Teaching Clinic, University of Alberta and the Department of Psychosocial and Spiritual Resources, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton. Houyuan Luo lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Statement: After I joined the ACBS as a student member, I have been always curious about what I can get out of this organization. Then I found out the listserve and the website has a lot of useful information. It made me wonder how can I get more out of this organization and how can I contribute to it as well. I think this is a common confusion that many new student members have. What I plan to do are: 1. Summarize the resources within this organization and provide it to each student members (including new members). Also, these resources can be used as a promotional capital of the ACBS. 2. Given the financial statues of students, I will try to get more cost-effective resources for students. 3. Launch a survey to investigate what student members need and make further plan. 4. Finish other tasks based on needs from relevant parties.

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.