Event Speakers

Kristin Neff, PhD

Kristin Neff, PhD, is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, conducting the first empirical studies on self-compassion nearly twenty years ago, and is the author of the best-selling book Self-Compassion. She has been recognized as one of the most influential researchers in psychology worldwide. Along with her colleague Chris Germer, she developed the Mindful Self-Compassion program, taught internationally, and co-wrote The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. Her newest book is Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive

Christopher Germer, PhD

Chris Germer, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and lecturer on psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He co-developed the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program with Kristin Neff in 2010 and they wrote two books, The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook and Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program. MSC has been taught to over 250,000 people worldwide. Dr. Germer is also the author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion; he co-edited two influential volumes on therapy, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy; and he maintains a small psychotherapy practice in Massachusetts, USA.

Gabor Maté MD, CM

Gabor Maté, MD, CM (pronunciation: GAH-bor MAH-tay) is a retired physician who, after 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience, worked for over a decade in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness. The best-selling author of four books published in thirty languages, including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Gabor is an internationally renowned speaker highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship of stress and illness. For his groundbreaking medical work and writing, he has been awarded the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian distinction, and the Civic Merit Award from his hometown, Vancouver. His fifth book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture was released in 2022, and is now available.

Deran Young, LCSW

Deran Young, LSCW, is a licensed therapist specializing in racial trauma and legacy burdens. She is also a co-author of the New York Times best-seller, You Are Your Best Thing, a retired military officer, and founder of Black Therapists Rock — a non profit organization with a network of over 30,000 mental health professionals committed to reducing the psychological impact of systemic oppression and intergenerational trauma. She obtained her social work degree from University of Texas, where she studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa for two semesters creating a high school counseling center for under-resourced students. Deran has visited over 37 different countries and her clinical experience spans across four different continents. Her passion for culture and people has led her to become a highly sought-after diversity and inclusion consultant working with companies like BBERG, Facebook, Linked In, and YWCA. She resides in the Washington, DC area with her 10 year old son.

Deb Dana, LCSW,

Deb Dana, LCSW, is a clinician, consultant, author, and speaker. Her work is focused on creating ways of working that honor the role of the autonomic nervous system. She is a founding member of the Polyvagal Institute, consultant to Khiron Clinics, and advisor to Unyte. Deb is well known for translating Polyvagal Theory into a language that is clear and accessible and for pioneering Rhythm of Regulation® methodology, tools, techniques, and practices which continue to open up the power of Polyvagal Theory for professionals and curious people from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life. Deb believes that we all benefit when we have a basic understanding of the ways the nervous system works and learn how to become active operators of this essential system. Following this passion has led her to offering workshops in partnership with groups and communities outside of the clinical arena, and bringing the Polyvagal perspective to the ordinary, and sometimes extraordinary, experiences of daily living. Deb’s clinical work published with W.W. Norton includes The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation; Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection: 50 Client Centered Practices; the Polyvagal Flip Chart; the Polyvagal Card Deck; and Polyvagal Practices: Anchoring the Self in Safety. She partners with Sounds True to bring her Polyvagal perspective to a general audience through the audio program Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of Polyvagal Theory and her print book Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory.

Rick Hanson, PhD

Rick Hanson, PhD, is a psychologist, Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and New York Times best-selling author. His books have been published in 30 languages and have sold over a million copies in English alone. He’s lectured at NASA, Google, Oxford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. An expert on positive neuroplasticity, his work has been featured on CBS, NPR, the BBC, and other major media.

Kamilah Majied, PhD

Kamilah Majied, PhD, is a Buddhist mental health therapist, clinical educator, researcher, and internationally engaged consultant on building inclusivity and equity using meditative practices. As Professor of Social Work at California State University, Monterey Bay, she teaches clinical practice to graduate students employing psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness-based, and artistic approaches to well-being. She has engaged her Buddhist practice for over forty years, leading colloquia, workshops, retreats, and meditation sessions globally on Buddhism as it relates to experiencing wonder, humor, and insight through transforming oppressive patterns and deepening relationships. She is the author of numerous scholarly and secular articles and a contributing author to Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation &  Freedom. Her forthcoming book with Sounds True is entitled Joyfully Just: Black Wisdom and Buddhist Insights for Liberated Living

Paul Gilbert, FBPsS, PhD, OBE

Paul Gilbert, FBPsS, PhD, OBE, was made Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby in 1992. He has had many visiting professorships at different universities and is now an honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Queensland. Until his retirement from the NHS in 2016, he was Consultant Clinical Psychologist for over 40 years. He has researched evolutionary approaches to psychopathology with a special focus on mood, shame, and self-criticism in various mental health difficulties for which Compassion-Focused Therapy was developed. He was made a Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 1993, President of the BABCP 2002-2004, and was a member of the first British Governments’ NICE guidelines for depression. He has written/edited 23 books and over 300 papers and book chapters. In 2006, he established the Compassionate Mind Foundati​​on as an international charity with the mission statement: To promote wellbeing through the scientific understanding and application of compassion. There are now a number of sister foundations in other countries. He was awarded an OBE by the Queen in March 2011 for services to mental health. He established and is the Director of the Centre for Compassion Research and Training at Derby University UK. His latest book, edited with Professor G. Simos (2022),  Compassion: Clinical Practice and Applications (Routledge), offers a detailed overview of Compassion-Focused Therapy.

Jorge C. Armesto, PhD, C-IAYT

Jorge C. Armesto, PhD, C-IAYT, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where he works with diverse communities. He is passionate about the intersection of psychology, mindfulness, spirituality, and body-focused practices. As a gay Cuban-American man, Jorge’s work seeks to understand how multiple sources of oppression and resiliency intersect and inform the lived experiences of individuals, groups, and communities. He is a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher and Certified Yoga Therapist. Jorge currently leads the Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy (SCIP) Certificate Program through the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Additionally, he is section faculty at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy Certificate Program. Jorge practices in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition and is a member of the Order of Interbeing.

Shari Geller, PhD

Shari Geller, PhD, is an author, clinical psychologist, certified Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) teacher, and leader in the field of therapeutic presence. She offers training modules in therapeutic presence internationally as part of a longer-term vision of having presence be a foundational training across psychotherapy approaches. With over thirty years’ experience weaving psychology and mindfulness, Shari co-authored the book, Therapeutic Presence: A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapeutic Relationships (2022) with Dr. Leslie S. Greenberg; authored A Practical Guide For Cultivating Therapeutic Presence (2017), which offers hands-on tools and guidance for cultivating and strengthening presence in therapy; and is a co-editor of a new book, Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy: A Clinical Handbook (manuscript in preparation). Shari created the Therapeutic Rhythm and Mindfulness Program (TRM™), a group modality integrating mindfulness, rhythm practices, and emotion-focused awareness to enhance wellbeing and presence. Shari serves on the teaching faculty in Health Psychology at York University and is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, in association with Music and Health Research Collaboratory (MaHRC).  Shari is on the steering committee and part of the core faculty of the Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy (SCIP) certificate program and is Membership and Networking Committee Chair for the International Society for Emotion Focused Therapy (isEFT). Shari is the co-director of the Centre for MindBody Health, in Toronto, where she offers training, supervision, and therapy in Emotion-Focused therapy (EFT) and Mindfulness and Self-Compassion modalities for individuals and couples.

Chris Willard, PsyD

Christopher Willard, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist, author, and consultant based in Massachusetts. He has been invited to more than two dozen countries to speak, and has presented at two TEDx events. He is the author of 20 books, including AlphabreathsGrowing Up Mindful; and How we Grow Through What We Go Through. His thoughts on mental health have been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, cnn.com, and elsewhere. He teaches at Harvard Medical School. Find him on Instagram and facebook @drchriswillard

Shelly P. Harrell, PhD

Shelly P. Harrell, PhD, is an award-winning Harvard-educated and UCLA-trained psychologist, as well as a certified meditation teacher. She is a tenured Full Professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. As an experienced psychotherapist, mentor, teacher, and researcher, she has been helping, healing, teaching, and training for over 30 years. She is a scholar and published author in the areas of culture and psychotherapy, sociocultural and sociopolitical aspects of stress, racism and mental health, and psychological well-being among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Her “soulfulness” approach to mind-body and contemplative practices is informed by cultural, African-centered, and liberation psychologies, resilience research, and stress science. Dr. Harrell is an expert therapist contributor to NICABM’s Next Level Practitioner Program, an Advisory Board Member and Consultant for the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and a Consulting Faculty Member at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy.

Martha Sweezy, PhD

Martha Sweezy, PhD is an Assistant Professor, part-time, at Harvard Medical School and a program and research consultant, and supervisor, at the Cambridge Health Alliance. Her latest book, Internal Family Systems Therapy for Shame and Guilt explores shame and guilt from the perspective of Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS). She is also the author or co-author of several journal articles on IFS; a co-editor and co-author of two chapter books on IFS; and a co-author of five other books on IFS.

Susie Fairchild, MA

Susie Fairchild, MA, is a licensed psychotherapist and holds positions on the board and faculty of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy.  A certified Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) Teacher through the UCSD Center for Mindfulness, Susie has served as a Consultation Group Leader for the UCSD Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy Program. She teaches MSC at The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Cambridge Health Alliance; as well as MSC Core Skills, and an intensive version of the MSC curriculum, at Kripalu Center for Yoga in Lenox, MA. She has practiced meditation for many years, primarily in the Insight tradition. Susie’s experience includes ongoing work with Harvard University and The Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital. Previous engagements include work with Harvard Medical School, China-Canada Mindfulness Association, the Bedford and Providence VA, Worcester Polytechnic Institute,  MassBay Community College, and the UMass Memorial Medical Center (Outpatient Substance Abuse Program and Bariatric Surgery Center). She completed her training as a ketamine assisted psychotherapist with Polaris Insight Center and Journey Clinical.

Sydney Spears, PhD, LCSW

Sydney Spears, Ph.D., LCSW, has served as a faculty member for the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare for 18 years. Her academic teaching and research specialty has been focused on cross-cultural clinical practice, anti-oppression, and racial identity issues.  Currently, she is serving as the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and a certified Mindful-Self Compassion teacher, for the Center of Mindful Self-Compassion. Sydney has provided psychotherapy for 20 years through her private practice and working within mental health agencies. Her specialty is working with adults, couples, and families, especially those clients who have experienced chronic stress, trauma, and cultural identity issues. Sydney is also a very passionate advocate for marginalized communities which is expressed through her organizational equity work.

June Tangney, PhD

June Tangney, PhD, received her doctorate in clinical psychology from UCLA in 1985, with minors in social psychology and measurement. She taught for two years at Bryn Mawr College and then joined the Psychology Department at George Mason University in 1988, where she is currently University Professor and Professor of Psychology. Recipient of International Society for Self and Identity’s Distinguished Lifetime Career Award and Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, June is co-author (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame and Guilt, and co-editor (with Ronda Dearing) of Shame in the Therapy Hour. With funding from NIH, NSF, andthe John Templeton Foundation, June has spent her career conducting research on the moral emotions of shame and guilt, and she also has a special interest in the virtues of humility and forgiveness. Most recently, her work has focused on moral emotions and cognitions among currently and formerly incarcerated people. A recipient of GMU’s Teaching Excellence Award, June strives to integrate service, teaching, and clinically-relevant research in both the classroom and her lab.