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Board of Directors

2023-2024 ACBS Board

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

President - Elect:
Rhonda Merwin, Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center (USA)

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

Secretary Treasurer:
David Gillanders, DClinPsychol, University of Edinburgh (UK)

Member at Large 1:
Valerie Kiel, MSc, ACT-Akademie, (Netherlands)

Member at Large 2 (basic science):
Staci Martin, Ph.D., National Cancer Institute (USA) (Dr. Martin is serving in her personal capacity)

Member at Large 3 (basic science):
Jennifer Shepard Payne, Ph.D., LCSW-C, Johns Hopkins University/ Kennedy Krieger Institute (USA)

Member at Large 4:
Jacob Martinez, LPC, Private Practice (USA)

Student Representative:
Sandro Voi, University of Hertfordshire (UK)


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


Andrew Gloster, Ph.D.
University of Lucerne 

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.

President- Elect

Rhonda M. Merwin, Ph.D.
Duke University, School of Medicine

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.

Past President

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.

Secretary Treasurer

David Gillanders, DClinPsychol
University of Edinburgh

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 have been Head of Clinical Psychology at the University of Edinburgh from 2018 and have just finished that role.

Statement: I have previously served ACBS in several different roles as described in my bio. 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.

Member at Large 1

Valerie Kiel, MSc

My career began twenty years ago as a social psychologist with the United Nations in Kenya, where I became interested in community building, continuing education, online learning, and helping others create fulfilling and dignified lives. After moving to the Netherlands in 2010 and transitioning into clinical work, I became deeply involved with ACT, BA, RFT, FC, FAP. Within ACBS I am passionate about creating initiatives that bring people together to work collaboratively: I am a founding member of the German-speaking chapter in 2012 (on whose board I served twice; 2014-1015, 2017-2018), I co-founded the online drop-in peer supervision meetings (2013-2016, now ACBS Affiliate), and I sat on the Dutch-speaking training committee (2018-2019). I love continuing professional development and regularly attend and present at ACBS conferences. One topic that is very close to my heart is the ACBS-wide dissemination of the Portland Model. Since last year, I have been a co-host of the CBS Trainers Lunch 'n Learn session.

Statement: When I began my clinical training in my early thirties, I sometimes felt ashamed of my nonlinear career path when dealing with other members of the community. Over the years -and to my great surprise!-, I found that my "otherness" proved to be a great advantage in some situations. From this, I've learned that it becomes easier to authentically support others when we ask ourselves, "What does this person bring to ACBS that is unique and could fill a gap in our community or in a particular context?" This helps me to actively seek out and promote diversity in our community. At the same time, given the steady growth of ACBS, it seems important to me to keep reinforcing our commonalities (especially our community values) so that, for all our differences, there is always a steady social cohesion and connection. As a MAL, I want to help our community maintain our shared values AND create space for the recognition of personal differences. Because both are, in my opinion, necessary conditions for the advancement of ACBS.

Member at Large 2 (basic science)

Staci Martin, Ph.D.
National Cancer Institute*

Staci Martin, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Senior Associate Scientist at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Clinical/Training Director of the Health Psychology and Neurobehavioral Research Program. She is President Emeritus of the ACBS Mid-Atlantic Chapter and Past President of the Pain SIG. She serves as associate editor of the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS) and the current JCBS Guest Editor-in-Chief. In her NCI position, she co-chairs the Diversity Working Group.
Dr. Martin has published over 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator of studies examining ACT interventions for individuals with chronic pain and for children with high-risk cancers and their caregivers. She is developing two ACT protocols targeting sleep in individuals with sickle cell disease and stress in parents of children with genetic syndromes. She routinely conducts ACT with medical patients from children to adults and trains mental health and medical providers on the model. *Dr. Martin is serving in her personal capacity.

Statement: I have been involved in ACBS in various capacities for over a decade, including having leadership roles in chapters and special interest groups. In line with my professional and personal values, I am ready to serve on the ACBS board as Member at Large (MAL) – basic science. As a clinical researcher at the National Institutes of Health, I am engaged in ACT-based research on a daily basis. If elected, I plan to focus on bringing together researchers and clinicians through conferences and committees. Specifically, I will encourage clinical workshops at ACBS World Conferences to present evidence-based techniques and to prioritize research symposiums that emphasize clinical implications. I am committed to furthering the quest to bridge the clinician-research gap. Other aims are to assess the need for a mentorship program for established ACBS researchers to support early career researchers and to foster awareness of systemic bias against underrepresented minorities in research.

Member at Large 3 (basic science)

Jacob Martinez, LPC
Private Practice

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.

Member at Large 4

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

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.

Student Representative

Sandro Voi
University of Hertfordshire

Hi! You can call me Sandro or Sandra (They/Them). I am doing a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire (United Kingdom). I started psychology 10 years ago, when I did my BSc on mindfulness-based approaches. Following that, I kept engaging with the CBS community more and more, from conferences, to ACT and RFT workshops and various forms of supervision. Alongside my studies and clinical role, I have always been involved in community-led organisations, and/or charities. I am also a passionate comedian and improv theatre performer. My doctoral thesis is a qualitative research project on the sexualities for trans and non-binary people. In the future, I would love to bring all my interests together: CBS, the arts, and embodiment. I am not sure which shape this might take, but I know my values and I know where to aim- I’ve done my Matrix!

Statement: As a student and member of the ACBS, if I was elected, I would be receptive to students’ needs and requests. I want to help students’ voices to feel heard and valued. Having been a student myself for a number of years, I have gone through periods of low salaries and poor opportunities. Thus, I am motivated in knowing more what we are already doing now that is working for students, and what we are doing that is not working to support students/prospective students, and finally what we as community could be offering to students in the future.

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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