Dr. Neal H. Mayerson, Chairman
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.
Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, Emeritus
Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., served as a VIA Trustee for its first 10 years. He is Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He received both the American Psychological Society's William James Award (for basic science) and the Cattell Award (for the application of science). In 1997, he was elected president of the American Psychological Association by the largest vote in modern history. The National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation have supported his research. He is the director of the Positive Psychology Network, and his current mission is to transform social science to work on the best things in life - virtue, positive emotion, and positive institutions - and not just on healing pathology.
Leaders of Workshops & Courses:
Dr. Donna Mayerson, Director of Applied Practice at the VIA Institute, is a licensed psychologist and earned her master's degree in special education. She was formerly coaching director of Hummingbird Coaching Services, now Humana. She is a certified coach who has used her deep knowledge of the VIA strengths as a framework for individual and organizational change with hundreds of education administrators and teachers, leaders of youth-serving organizations, in training coaches/practitioners, and with individuals and families.
Dr. Ryan M. Niemiec, VIA's Education Director, is co-author of Positive Psychology at the Movies: Using Films to Build Virtues and Character Strengths and Movies and Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathology. Ryan is a licensed psychologist and a certified coach. Dr. Niemiec develops VIA's courses and Interpretive Reports. He uses the VIA Character Strengths extensively in clinical work, coaching and consulting.He has presented internationally on a variety of positive psychology topics, ranging from strengths-based practice, positive assessment and positive interventions, to spirituality and mindfulness meditation.
Consultants and Partners:
Mark Linkins, 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 communities.
Dr. Robert McGrath, Lead Consultant for Test Development, received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Auburn University. He is currently a Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in the School of Psychology. He directs the university’s Certificate Program in Integrated Primary Care, as well as the university’s APA-designated M.S. Program in Clinical Psychopharmacology. Dr. McGrath also maintains an active research program in methodology, measurement, and professional issues. In the last two years he has authored one book, Quantitative Models in Psychology, and co-edited a second, Pharmacotherapy for Psychologists: Prescribing and Collaborative Roles. He is a contributor to APA Books’ multi-volume reference The Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology, and has authored over 150 publications and presentations.
Michelle McQuaid's role of Lead Consultant for Business Practices for the VIA Institute utilizes her extensive experience and passion for bringing out the best in people at work. Through her videos, books, training programs and games she’s helped thousands of people to leverage their strengths, challenge their beliefs, build their resilience, create great relationships and smash through their goals at work. She prides herself on helping people to create jobs they like and careers they love and her blend of real-world successes, actionable advice and enthusiasm for life make her a favorite of audiences around the world. Michelle fuses positive psychology, neuroscience and purposeful games into simple, practical actions that anyone can take to create positive changes that last – be it bottom-up one person at a time or top-down across entire workplace.
Tayyab Rashid, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, consults with the VIA institute on integration of character strengths in clinical and educational settings. He works full time at the Health & Wellness Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada, as clinician and researcher. He is co-developer of Positive Psychotherapy with Dr. Martin Seligman. Dr. Rashid has trained mental health professionals and educators internationally. His expertise includes positive clinical psychology, strength-based resilience, positive education and post-traumatic growth.
Dr. Hadassah Littman-Ovadia, received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Bar-Ilan University. She is currently the head of the Organizational-Vocational Psychology M.A. Program at Ariel University, Israel. Dr. Littman-Ovadia also maintains an active research program in career counseling, vocational psychology, positive interventions and psychotherapy, character strengths deployment at the workplace, and various professional issues. She supervises students on their dissertations, and teaches professional courses, such as vocational identity development, postmodern theories in career psychology, personal career counseling and psychotherapy, and positive vocational psychology. In the last five years she authored one textbook, Techniques and interventions in career counseling, and has authored over 50 publications and presentations.
Dr. Shiri Lavy completed her PhD with distinction in the psychology department at Bar-Ilan University, and then worked as a post-doctoral fellow in a mindfulness-research project at the University of California in Davis. Returning to Israel, she began her work as a faculty member at Ariel University, and was then recruited to the Faculty of Education at the University of Haifa, where she is employed to date. Dr. Lavy uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods (i.e., laboratory studies, surveys, in-depth interviews) in her study of personality, well-being and relationships, in couples as well as in work organizations. She has supervised several graduate students, and maintains international collaborations, which have resulted in over 30 publications and conference presentations.
Dr. Littman-Ovadia and Dr. Lavy are currently conducting three studies focusing on the relevance of character strengths at work, a substantial area of human life which provides relatively vast opportunities for fulfilling individuals' potential and for achieving a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
The VIA Institute recognizes the importance of this research for employees and organizations, and provides support in the form of VIA-Fellow. Yaakov Gutman, graduate student in Ariel University, is the coordinator between the principle investigators and the VIA Institute.