Pioneer Speaker Interviews

Explore Themes:

  • Counseling/Coaching
  • Business
  • Education

Core Theme 1: Counseling/Coaching

Character Strengths and Counseling/Psychotherapy 

Dr. Tayyab Rashid

Tayyab Rashid is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Health &  Wellness Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada.  He is also the Lead Consultant for Applied Research for the VIA Institute;  Dr. Rashid is a co-developer of Positive Psychotherapy with Dr. Martin Seligman. Dr. Rashid has served as a trainer, in the U.S.  and abroad, in positive interventions with the Positive Psychology  Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed his pre- and post-doctoral clinical training. Article related to presentation: Strength Based Clinical Practice Resources

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VIA Strengths in Advanced Issues

Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener

Dr. Biswas-Diener is widely known as the “Indiana Jones of Positive Psychology” because his research on happiness has taken him to such far-flung places as Greenland, India, Kenya and Israel. Dr. Biswas-Diener is a leading authority on strengths, culture, courage, and happiness. He has published dozens of scholarly articles and multiple books including the forthcoming The Courage Quotient.  He is best known for his pioneering work in the application of positive psychology. Dr. Biswas-Diener is the foremost authority on positive psychology coaching and has consulted with a wide range of international organizations on performance management and leadership development. He is managing director of Positive Acorn (www.positiveacorn.com) and a part-time instructor at Portland State University (www.pdx.edu).

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Character Strengths and Coaching and Supervision

Dr. Carol Kauffman

For over twenty-five years Carol has taught at Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Clinical Professor, where she is also the Founding Director of the Institute of Coaching.  In 2009 she received a two million dollar award to create the Institute and its Centers of Education, Research, Leadership, Healthcare and Positive Psychology.  The Institute awards $100,000 a year for coaching research and has created the Institute of Coaching Professional Association to support the educational needs of those interested in coaching.

Carol has an active executive coaching practice with over thirty years of experience helping leaders raise the bar on their performance and managing their success.  She has worked with multi-national organizations and delivered training programs throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. She has recently completed a leadership development program with the top 100 leaders of a Fortune 50 company, and is now rolling out the program to the next 500 leaders. To facilitate the shift to a coaching culture she created a coach training program for the original 100 leaders to become co-facilitators and coaches of the second and third wave of leaders in the organization.

In the United Kingdom and Europe, Carol is Chief Supervisor for Meyler Campbell Ltd a business coaching program a Founder of ATTAIN Partners, an international executive performance and leadership company She also loves to watch movies, garden, travel and lives in Lincoln where she enjoys hanging out with her husband, 2 teenagers, 2 large fluffy dogs and friends.

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VIA Strengths and Evidence-Based Coaching 

Dr Suzy Green

Dr. Suzy Green is a Clinical and Coaching Psychologist (MAPS) based in Sydney, Australia. She is a leader in the complementary fields of Coaching Psychology and Positive Psychology having conducted a world-first study on evidence-based coaching as an Applied Positive Psychology. Suzy was the recipient of an International Positive Psychology Fellowship Award and published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. Suzy lectures on Applied Positive Psychology as an Adjunct Lecturerin the Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney and is an Honorary Vice President of the International Society for Coaching Psychology. Suzy is the co-founder of the Positive Psychology Institute, organization committed to increasing global well-being through provision of individual, educational and organizational services on applied positive psychology. Suzy also writes a regular “stress-less” column for Australian Women’s Health magazine.

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Core Theme 2: Business

Using VIA Strengths with Teams

Michelle McQuaid

A proven business leader, Michelle specializes in designing, driving and delivering culture, brand and behavioral change initiatives that improve engagement, fuel collaboration, unlock innovation, boost productivity and win the loyalty of employees and customers. Having held global roles for PwC in both New York and London, helped IBM bring their brand to life in Australia, ridden the dot com wave of start ups, been the youngest GM ever appointed to run a PR agency for one of the world’s largest advertising houses and completed her Masters in Positive Psychology with Martin Seligman, she know what it takes to win people’s heads, hearts and hands to support business growth strategies.Her recent adventures include: training more 1,000 employees at PwC in using their Strengths to improve engagement and productivity; delivering positive business workshop for more than 100 business executives with Marty Seligman and David Cooperrider; creating a change strategy that used brand and culture to successfully reposition one of the world’s brands; designing a Positive Education teachers’ curriculum to build self-belief in teenagers; speaking at conferences around the world on how to unleash the potential we each have; and writing for national publications on improving well-being.

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Goal-Setting with VIA Strengths for Productivity and Success

Caroline Adams Miller

Caroline is an author, teacher, motivational speaker and performance coach who is considered one of the world’s experts on the intersection of the science of happiness and the science of goal accomplishment. Her latest book, "Creating Your Best Life", is the first mass market book to share an evidence- based approach to success and well-being with the world, leading it to sell out repeatedlyand be translated into multiple foreign languages, while also being used as a textbook in many educational settings."Creating Your Best Life" has been named one of the top three books for busy managers, and Caroline will be on featured in an upcoming documentary on BBC called "The Positive Project" with Martin Seliman and other leaders in positive psychology.

Caroline is a graduate of Harvard University, and has a Masters degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of five best-selling books, was the first person to bring Positive Psychology to XM’s satellite radio, and is frequently cited as an expert in worldwide media. Files related to the presentation: Power Point slides.

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VIA Strengths and Leadership Development

Megan Dalla-Camina

Megan is the Director of Strategy for IBM, including responsibility for Organizational Culture and Change, and Gender Diversity. For more than 16 years she has driven strategies for billion dollar corporations in Australia, Asia and the US, in the areas of business strategy, marketing, communications, gender diversity, leadership, organizational culture and change management. With Masters Degrees in both Business Management, and Wellness (Positive Psychology), Megan currently works at the intersection of business strategy and organizational culture to drive positive change and revenue growth for IBM. She is a leading advocate for women, and has been the executive sponsor for women in IBM for the past 7 years. She was also the Chair of the Sustaining Women in Business (SWB) conference from 2007-2009 and remains a key member of the Committee. Megan is also a leading well-being advocate, and is passionate about helping individuals and organizations to create positive change, and to thrive.

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The Role of Character Strengths In Business: Lessons Learned

Dr. Neal Mayerson

Dr. Neal H. Mayerson received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Utah. His specialties were chronic pain and eating disorders. He worked in hospital, community mental health and private practice settings for 15 years as a psychotherapist.  In 1992, Dr. Mayerson was named president of the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, a private family foundation, and president of The Mayerson Company, a real estate investment and management company. He is a founder of Hummingbird Coaching Services, a pioneer in the delivery of online coaching services, a company which has been recently purchased by Humana. In his work with the Foundation, he has initiated and/or been a principal developer of numerous nonprofit organizations and programs,including: The Mayerson Academy, the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, the Inclusion Network, the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Program at Northern Kentucky University and RISE Learning Solutions.  

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The Three Circles of the Strengths Revolution: Moving from the Micro to the Macro Magnification of Strengths Via Appreciative Inquiry

David L. Cooperrider

David L. Cooperrider is the Fairmount Minerals Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Weather head School of Management, Case Western Reserve University where he is faculty director of the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value.  David is best known for his pioneering theory on Appreciative Inquiry and has served as advisor to senior executives in business and societal leadership roles, including projects with five Presidents and Nobel Laureates.  David has published 15 books and authored over 50 articles and serves as editor of both the Journal of Corporate Citizenship with Ron Fry and the research series for Advances for Appreciative Inquiry, with Michel Avital.  In 2010 David was awarded the Peter F. Drucker Distinguished Fellow by the Drucker School of Management—a designation recognizing his contribution to management thought.  His books include Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change (with Diana Whitney); The Organization Dimensions of Global Change (with Jane Dutton); Organizational Courage and Executive Wisdom (with Suresh Srivastva). For more on Appreciative Inquiry see: www.DavidCooperrider.com, http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/ or David.Cooperrider@Case.Edu

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Core Theme 3: Education

Infusing Character Strengths and Positive Psychology into Traditional Organizational Change Frameworks in Education

Dr. Mathew White

Dr Mathew White is Director of Wellbeing and Positive Education at St Peter’s College, Adelaide. He has been a Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne since 2006. Mathew graduated with a PhD in Education in 2004 from the University of Adelaide and was invited to complete a residential leadership course at The Principals’ Center at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2007. Mathew was the first Head of Positive Education at Geelong Grammar School where he taught and held positions of responsibility for 11 years. Prior to St Peter’s College Mathew was Director of Leadership and involved in the start-up phase of the social enterprise Teach For Australia an initiative of the Australian Government funded through the Smarter Schools National Partnership to confront educational disadvantage in Australia. Mathew is the author of 2 invited book chapters, 17 peer-reviewed articles, 19 conference presentations and 9 symposia panels on positive psychology and leadership. He is a member of the advisory panel for the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne and member of the Academic Committee of St Mark’s College, the first residential college of the University of Adelaide. Mathew has extensive experience advising corporate, non-profit, independent, government and catholic education systems on the application of positive psychology and wellbeing theory settings. Boys at St Peter's College discussing the use and benefits of the VIA Survey can be seen at:  www.stpeters.sa.edu.au > Wellbeing & Positive Education > Wellbeing Media:  http://www.stpeters.sa.edu.au/wellbeing/wellbeing-media

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Going From What's Wrong to What's Strong in Schools: VIA-Based Applications in Schools and Classrooms

Mark Linkins

Mark Linkins, VIA's Lead Consultant for Educational Practices, draws on 20 years of experience as a classroom teacher, principal, and director or curriculum. From 2003-2004 Mark co-directed the Positive Psychology for Youth Project at Strath Haven High School, a U.S.  Dept. of Education-funded research partnership with the University of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, he has served as Positive Education teacher trainer and curriculum specialist at schools in Australia, Brazil, and the United States. Mark serves as the Lead Developer for Mayerson Academy’s Positive School and Classroom Culture, a suite of school-based professional development modules designed to help build thriving school and communities.

Watch the application and benefits of character strengths in action in the classroom: Positive Education Classroom

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Creating Positive Habits for Schools and Individuals: Embedding Character Strengths and Virtues in the Culture of the School and Classroom Practices

Jenny Fox Eades

Jenny Fox Eades is a teacher, writer and researcher. Her main interests are the well-being of students and teachers, character strengths and virtues, mindful teaching, the philosophy of education and the creation of environments that allow students and teachers to flourish. She is studying for her PhD in Education at Edge Hill University.

Jenny runs projects in schools, developing a whole school approach to well being and flourishing and has worked in the primary and secondary sector. She works with schools in the UK, Australia and Denmark and was a key note speaker at conferences in Denmark and Australia in 2012. Jenny developed a methodology called Celebrating Strengths in collaboration with students and teachers in North Lincolnshire. This combines insights from the disciplines of coaching, positive psychology and psychodynamic theory, anthropology and theology. Jenny is the author of several books and, with psychologist Dr Carmel Proctor, an innovative, strengths-based PSHE program for high schools www.strengthsgym.co.uk.

Jenny trained as a special needs teacher at the University of Manchester and has taught children across the age and ability range for over 20 years. She holds a Master of Arts (with distinction) in Psychoanalytic Observational Studies from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, London and UEL. Her first degree was in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University and she has a Diploma of Higher Education in Theology from Westminster College in Oxford. She holds a Level 2 Counseling Skills qualification from CENTRA and completed the Manchester Course in Group Psychotherapy accredited by the Institute of Group Analysis, London. She studied on Authentic Happiness 4 with Martin Seligman and is a founder member of Positive Workplace International, an international network of professionals interested in the development of workplaces that enable individuals to flourish. She is studying to become a teacher of the Alexander Technique.  

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The 7 Best Practices of SMART Schools: Applications of Character, Resilience, and Relationships & SMART Students and Families: Spotting and Managing Strengths for Learning and Achievement

John Yeager

John Yeager, Ed.D. MAPP, is a nationally recognized consultant on strengths in schools.  As the Director of the Center for Character Excellence at the Culver Academies, he has launched a model program that integrates character strengths among the entire school community. A former assistant professor in Boston University’s School of Education and senior scholar at BU’s Center for Character and Social Responsibility He has over 37 years of experience as an educator, coach,professional athlete, and author.  John is the co-author of SMART Strengths: A Parent-Teacher- Coach Guide to Building Character, Resilience and Relationships in Youth.


Sherri Fisher

Sherri Fisher, MAPP, MEd, is a leader in the field of positive education. As an education management consultant and coach, workshop facilitator/speaker and author, she specializes in creative strengths and research-based learning, productivity, and change solutions for individuals and the education space. Sherri is the first learning specialist in the world to have the MAPP degree; she is co-author of the popular positive education book SMART Strengths: Building Character, Resilience and Relationships in Youth, has written over 50 articles for Positive Psychology News, and owns a thriving private practice. Students, families, faculty and schools, team with Sherri to experience completely individualized approaches that integrate her years of education experience in independent and public settings with positive psychology research.

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Ideas from Geelong Grammar School on How To Embed Character Strengths into your School Culture 

Justin Robinson

Justin Robinson is the Head of Positive Education at Geelong Grammar School, a position he has held for the past three years. Justin has significant experience in applying the science of Positive Psychology in an educational context and has the ability to bridge theory and application. Justin has coordinated the development of Geelong Grammar School's renowned Positive Education program. He has led staff training, co-created a Model for Positive Education, developed well-being curriculum, coordinated teaching teams, overseen research and embedded positive psychology into all aspects of school life. Justin is passionate about student and staff well-being and finds great meaning and purpose in his current role.Justin completed his Masters of Education degree at Monash University in 1998. He has over twenty years teaching experience and has held numerous school leadership positions dedicated to supporting student and staff well-being.

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Strengths Gym: Using VIA Interventions in Schools

Dr. Carmel Proctor

Carmel has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Leicester, UK and has a MA in Measurement, Evaluation, and Research Methodology from the University of British Columbia, Canada from where she originates.

For her first degree she attended Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada and was awarded a Certificate of Liberal Arts and a BA in Psychology. Before relocating to the UK, Carmel worked as a psychometrician and research assistant on psychological research studies conducted at the Vancouver Hospital and Health Science Centre located at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Carmel is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS) and director of the Positive Psychology Research Centre Ltd. Carmel is co-author of Strengths Gym (PPRC, 2009) a character strengths-based educational course for children and adolescents. She has also written and co-written several research papers and book chapters and is a member of the editorial board for the Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research. Her interests are primarily in the areas of positive psychology, applied positive psychology, values, character, personality, existential psychology, and well-being. However, the main focus of her work has centered around adolescent and youth life satisfaction and well-being.

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