Center for the Advancement of Well-Being
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Scholars and Fellows


Senior Scholars

Ann Baker 2014   

Ann Baker

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Ann C. Baker is a Professor in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs (SPGIA), a Senior Scholar in the Center for the Advancement of Well-being, and affiliate faculty in Women and Gender Studies. She served two terms as the program director of the Masters in Organization Development and Knowledge Management program and as the Senior Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy from 2010-2013.  She has been teaching at GMU since 1996 and teaches in the six master’s degree programs and the PhD program in SPGIA.

Dr. Baker's research interests include organizational change, cross cultural communication, conflict and change, group dynamics, knowledge creation, and virtual conversations. She is the author of numerous publications related to her research interests including her book, Catalytic Conversations: Organizational Communication and Innovation, published in 2010. Her previous book, Conversational Learning: An Experiential Approach to Knowledge Creation, was published in 2002. Contact Dr. Baker at



Beth Cabrera

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Beth Cabrera's mission is to help people build more joyful, meaningful lives. As an author, researcher, and speaker, she teaches individuals strategies for achieving greater success and well-being. She has a special interest in helping women create lives they love. Dr. Cabrera also advises companies how to design positive work environments where people thrive.

After earning her Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Beth joined the faculty of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, one of Spain's top universities. Upon returning to the States, she continued her academic career as a professor of management at Arizona State University and later as a senior research fellow at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Her research has been published in over 30 articles in some of the world's leading academic and professional journals. More information can be found at: Contact Dr. Cabrera at


Paul C. Gorski

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Paul C. Gorski is Associate Professor of Integrative Studies, teaching in the Social Justice and Human Rights concentration at George Mason University. He is an Affiliate faculty member in Women and Gender Studies and the Higher Education Program. Social justice activism is both his life passion and the core of his scholarship. He studies and writes about burnout and sustainability among social justice and human rights activists, poverty and educational access, and social justice teacher education. He teaches courses that draw on intersections of mindfulness and social justice such as Social Justice Consciousness and Personal Transformation; Poverty, Wealth, and Inequality; Animal Rights and Humane Education; and Environmental Justice. He is most interested today in building bridges between the mindfulness community and the social justice activists who need mindfulness practices desperately but do not see themselves represented in that community.

Gorski founded EdChange (, a coalition of social justice educators and activists who develop free resources and engage in cutting-edge scholarship to support the development of socially just and equitable educational opportunity. He is serving his second term on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Intercultural Education, serves in editorial capacities for a variety of journals, and speaks internationally about social, educational, and economic justice. His most recent books include Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity GapCase Studies on Diversity and Social Justice Education (with Seema Pothini), The Poverty and Education Reader (with Julie Landsman), and The Big Lies of School Reform (with Kristien Zenkov). Contact Dr. Gorski at


Todd B. Kashdan

Senior Scientist, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Todd B. Kashdan is Professor of Psychology and Senior Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, and Professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University. He is a world recognized authority on the science of well-being, strengths, relationships, stress, and anxiety. His honors include distinguished faculty member of the year and early career awards from the American Psychological Association, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and International Society for Quality of Life Studies. He has published over 150 scholarly articles and authored Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life (William Morrow), Designing Positive Psychology (Oxford University Press), and Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Positive Psychology (New Harbinger), and his new book, The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why being your whole self - not just your “good” self - drives success and fulfillment (Penguin). His research has been featured in several media outlets, including the New York Times and The Washington Post. He's a twin and has twin 7-year old daughters, with plans to rapidly populate the world with great conversationalists. More information can be found at: Contact Dr. Kashdan at

Dr. Maddux  

James E. Maddux

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Maddux is University Professor Emeritus and former director of the clinical psychology doctoral program. His major scholarly interest is the interface of social, clinical, and health psychology, which is concerned with the ways that theory and research from social psychology can be used to understand psychological adjustment, psychological disorders, and health-related behavior. Most of his research has been concerned with the role of agency beliefs, also known as self-efficacy beliefs, in psychological adjustment and health-related behavior.

Dr. Maddux is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association Divisions of General, Clinical, and Health Psychology, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and a member for eight years of the Examination Committee of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. He has published over 120 journal articles and book chapters and is co-editor (with Barbara Winstead) of Psychopathology: Foundations for a Contemporary Understanding  (now in its 4th edition), co-editor (with June Tangney) of Social Psychological Foundations of Clinical Psychology, and editor of the forthcoming (in 2017) Social Psychological Foundations of Well-Being and Life Satisfaction.

His major activities since retirement from George Mason University in 2011 include extensive international lecturing, classroom teaching, and both organizing and giving workshops on evidence-based psychological interventions. He is also visiting professor at Klaipeda University in Lithuania where he teaches yearly in their masters' program in counseling psychology. Dr. Maddux may be contacted at


Olivia (Mandy) O'Neill

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Olivia (Mandy) O'Neill is an Assistant Professor of Management in the George Mason University School of Business. She holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford University), where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. Additionally, she holds a B.S. degree in Psychology from University of Maryland, where she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with Honors. Prior to being on the faculty at Mason, Professor O'Neill taught at The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) and the Terry College of Business (University of Georgia).

Professor O'Neill has taught MBA and undergraduate courses in organizational behavior, negotiations, global management, introduction to management, leadership, and organizational change. Professor O'Neill is also actively engaged in organizational research, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods to the study of employees and organizational units. Her primary areas of research include the study of organizational culture, emotions, and gender. She has worked with organizations across a wide range of industries including health care, technology, emergency services, and retail. Outcomes of interest to Professor O'Neill include workplace interpersonal relations, employee decision-making, job attitudes, career success, health behavior, corporate strategy, and financial performance. Contact Dr. O'Neill at

Julie Owen   

Julie Owen

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Julie Owen is an Associate Professor of Leadership Studies at New Century College, George Mason University, where she teaches courses on leadership theory, social change, and civic action. Julie has fifteen years of professional experience in the field of leadership development and is a frequent consultant and speaker on topics related to leadership, assessment, and organizational change. She is the author of two monographs for the National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs and is co-editor of the Handbook for Leadership Educators. She is active on several research teams, including the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL), an annual study of student leadership at over 100 colleges and universities, and the Leadership Identity Development project (LID). Julie is an eight-time associate with the National Leadership Symposium and received the prestigious K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award in 2005. She has assumed leadership roles in numerous professional associations including the International Leadership Association (ILA). With the support of CWB, Julie received a competitive research grant for 2015-2017 from the Bringing Theory to Practice (BTtoP) Project of the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) entitled: Thriving Together: Leveraging Well-Being and Civic Engagement as Pathways to Flourishing for First-Generation College Students. 

Julie received her B.A. degree in psychology and English from the College of William and Mary, and her M. Ed. in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University. She holds a certificate of non-profit administration from Duke University and received her PhD in College Personnel Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park, with a concentration in leadership development. Contact Dr. Owen at


Paul M. Rogers

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Paul M. Rogers (Ph.D in Education from UC Santa Barbara) is an Associate Professor of English and the Associate Chair of the English Department at George Mason University. A Senior Scholar for the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being since 2011, he works at the intersections of social entrepreneurship, well-being, and leadership. He is the co-chair of Mason's Well-Being Learning Community and has contributed to a number of CWB initiatives. His recent publications include the co-edited volumes: International Advances in Writing Research: Cultures, Places, and Measures (Parlour Press, 2012); Writing Across the Curriculum: A Critical Sourcebook (Bedford St. Martin's 2011): and, Traditions of Writing Research (Routledge, 2010). Professor Rogers was a 2008 recipient of American Association of Colleges & Universities K. Patricia Cross Award for leadership in higher education, and a co-recipient of National Council for Teachers of English 2009 Janet Emig Award for research in English education. Dr. Rogers' current research projects include a study on the relationship of written communication and social innovation, and an extended research study aimed at improving the well-being of doctoral students. He recently was a featured expert on the Washington, D.C. PBS station WETA's award-winning series of innovative programs about how to help young children to read and write ( Contact Dr. Rogers at


Linda Schwartzstein

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Linda Schwartzstein is Professor of Higher Education, Law and Society and Distinguished Service Professor and an executive coach. Dr. Schwartzstein served as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at George Mason from 1999 to 2012.

Dr. Schwartzstein's work focuses on well-being in higher education and well-being for adults transitioning to retirement. She has taught Well-Being in Higher Education, along with classes in Law and Higher Education and Higher Education Finance.

Dr. Schwartzstein received a JD from the University of Michigan, LL.M. in Taxation from New York University and a Ph.d in Economics from George Mason University. Contact Dr. Schwartzstein at


Dr. Richard Strozzi-Heckler

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Richard Strozzi-Heckler has a Ph.D. in Psychology and a sixth degree black belt in Aikido.  He is a nationally known speaker, coach and consultant on leadership and mastery.  He is the Founder of Strozzi Institute, which offers consulting and coaching services to individuals and companies on five continents.  Over the past forty years he has coached and advised thousands of executives from Fortune 500 companies, NGOs, technology start-ups, the U.S. government and military.

Dr. Strozzi-Heckler was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal for the leadership program he designed and implemented for the U.S. Marine Corps. He was named one of the Top 50 Executive Coaches in The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching, Jossey-Bass, and Profiles in Coaching, Linkage Publications.  He was a William Dickson Leader in Residence at California State University at Long Beach from 2009-2012.  He is also the Honorary President of the Peruvian Coaching Association.  From 2002 to 2007 he was an advisor to NATO and the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe (SACEUR) General Jim Jones, and the National Security Advisor.

Dr. Strozzi-Heckler is the author of 8 books including the nationally acclaimed The Leadership DojoIn Search of the Warrior Spiritand The Art of Somatic Coaching: Embodying Skillful Action, Wisdom, and Compassion.


Gregory C. Unruh

Senior Scholar, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Gregory C. Unruh, Ph.D., is the Arison Professor of Values Leadership at George Mason University and an expert on sustainable business strategy. An outspoken advocate of environmental sustainability and climate responsibility, Dr. Unruh has served as a technical reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US President Al Gore. He is the creator of Carbon Lock-in theory, a line of academic research that has received thousands of citations and spurred new lines of climate policy research around the globe. He has been recognized as a strategic partner of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC); an initiative dedicated to implementing socially and environmentally responsible business practices globally. As part of his UNGC commitments, Dr. Unruh contributed to the Principles of Responsible Business Education, which he presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Palais de Nations in Geneva. Author of numerous best-selling leadership books, Dr. Unruh co-founded the Center for Eco-Intelligent Management with the renowned “green” designer William McDonough and has published his research findings in the Harvard Business Review, the MIT Sloan Management Review and Forbes Magazine. Contact Dr. Unruh at


Research Fellows


Cher Weixia Chen

Research Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Cher Weixia Chen is an Assistant Professor in the New Century College. She teaches courses in the Cornerstones program and International Studies, Legal Studies, and Social Justice and Human Rights concentrations.

Dr. Chen’s scholarship focuses on the issues of human rights, particularly the rights of marginalized groups, such as women's rights, indigenous rights and children's' rights. She is also interested in the well-being of the social justice and human rights activists. Contact Dr. Chen at


Christianne Lee Esposito-Smythers

Research Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Esposito-Smythers is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at George Mason University and an adjunct faculty in the Department of Community Health at Brown University. She is also a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Christianne Esposito-Smythers received a B.A. from Lafayette College in 1995 where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and received her M.S. in 1997 and her Ph.D. in 2000 in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Esposito-Smythers’ research interests include the study of social cognitive processes associated with the development of adolescent suicidality, depression, and substance abuse. She is also interested in the design and application of cognitive behavioral treatment and prevention protocols for adolescent mental health problems and high risk behaviors. Dr. Esposito-Smythers’ research has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS. Dr. Esposito-Smythers has been on the editorial board for Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and will be joining the editorial board for Journal of Clinical Psychology this Fall. Contact Dr. Esposito-Smythers at


Duhita Mahatmya

Research Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Duhita Mahatmya is an Assistant Professor of Integrative and Childhood Studies in New Century College. Dr. Mahatmya’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of child and adolescent well-being with family systems, schools, and neighborhoods; she is particularly interested in the development of student and civic engagement and intergenerational relationships in marginalized communities. Dr. Mahatmya builds on this area of scholarship by exploring the influence of well-being on college students’ academic success.

Dr. Mahatmya's current research projects include; Positive Youth Development in Poverty: Risk and Protective Factors for Healthy Physical and Psychosocial Development in Low-Income Urban Families, Pathways and Predictors to Well-Being in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: Family, School, and Neighborhood Influences, and The Thriving Student: Cultivating Well-Being and Engagement in Emerging Adulthood. Contact Dr. Mahatmya at


Robyn S. Mehlenbeck

Research Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Dr. Mehlenbeck is a Clinical Associate Professor at GMU and the Director of the GMU Center for Psychological Services, a clinic committed to training graduate students and providing evidence-based, accessible services for the community.  As director of the Center, she focuses on the well-being of undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and clients. 

Her individual specialty is working with adolescents and kids with medical conditions, including eating disorders and diabetes. Her research focuses on adolescent weight issues, and she currently supervises research involved in preventing suicide on college campuses.  Committed to the Clinical Science model, Mehlenbeck engages in clinical work, teaching and research, with an interdisciplinary focus. She has trained medical students, psychology interns and fellows, pediatrics and psychiatry residents and fellows and developmental behavioral pediatricians.

Dr. Mehlenbeck has several publications and has presented nationally and internationally in the areas of working with children with medical issues.  She has worked in interdisciplinary clinics, including currently enjoying training clinical psychology residents in the Pediatric Endocrine Clinic at Pediatric Specialists of Virginia. Contact Dr. Mehlenbeck at


Fallon Goodman

Doctoral Research Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Fallon Goodman is a third year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Department at George Mason University. She received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Family Science from the University of Maryland, where she graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors. She is working on several projects that are integral to Mason becoming a model Well-Being University, including co-chairing a working group on resilience and coordinating with Gallup Organization to implement well-being measurement activities. Fallon has taught university level classes in research methodology, psychological disorders, and scientific foundations of well-being. Fallon’s scholarly interests are in well-being measurement and intervention, emotion regulation, intimate relationships, and social anxiety. Within these areas, she is passionate about doing work that can be easily translated and used to improve people’s everyday lives. Contact Ms. Goodman at




Bethany A. Rallis

Doctoral Research Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Bethany Rallis is a first year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at George Mason University. She completed her undergraduate degree in Classics at the Brown University and her masters degree in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University. Before entering GMU’s Clinical Psychology program, she worked for three years conducting alcohol and addiction research at Brown University. Her research interests focus on adolescent at risk behaviors (eating disorders, substance abuse, and non-suicidal self-injury) and co-morbid psychopathology. Contact Ms. Rallis at


Senior Fellows


Louis Alloro

Senior Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Lou·is [n. loo-is] A·lloro [uh-lohr-o], M.Ed., MAPP is a change-agent working with individuals and networks in systems to enable positive evolution. He is one of the first 100 people in the world to earn a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. At MAPP, he published a framework for how communities evolve called Social-Emotional Leadership. This thesis work has been piloted in a city-wide well-being initiative in Cleveland, OH  and will expand to Philadelphia, PA later this year. The work is to find, leverage, connect and build psychological muscle in SOcial-eMOtional (SOMO) leaders, who are the influential change-agents within networks in systems. In coming together to learn to think expansively, SOMO leaders become more effective facilitators to innovate differently in business, healthcare, education, and a variety of areas to most importantly: get different results. Alloro owns a private consultancy founded in New York, NY, and is a founder and Director of the Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) program, a 6-month personal and professional journey into the science of flourishing. When he's not working on cool culture change and mind expansion initiatives, he can be found learning, beaching, exercising, eating, or playing with his puggle, Rocco. Learn more at Contact Mr. Alloro at


Tomasz Arcizewski

Senior Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Tomasz Arciszewski, Ph.D. is an engineer and a global transdisciplinary scholar who has been at the forefront of engineering creativity research for the last 40 plus years. His holistic research covers heuristic methods and fundamental models of the inventive engineering design processes and their computer simulation. Last fall, he initiated a project with friends from Harvard and Princeton on “Creating Holistic Leaders,” which has already led to workshops at GMU and Harvard. Over the last 10 years, Tomasz has been working with cognitive psychologists on the complex relationship between the well-being of designers and their creativity. This last topic has been extensively discussed in his recent book on Successful Education: How to Educate Creative Engineers, now available in English, Polish and Mandarin with Arabic and Farsi editions pending.  It will be also a topic in his new book on “Inventive Engineering”, which will be published by the CRS Press in UK next year. 

The results of Tomasz’s research have been presented in close to 180 publications.  His research has been supported by grants from the NSF, NASA and DTRA and by industry. His most recent project (2012-2013) with Dr. Robert Youmans (GMU Department of Psychology) was on the “Transdisciplinary Theory of Inventive Designing” and was jointly funded by the NSF EAGER Program and the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Tomasz is an inventor with patents in Canada, Poland, and America, his latest invention is a temporary crash barrier with a U.S. patent pending. He is also a leader within the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and founding Chair of the Global Center for Excellence in Computing. Tomasz regularly gives lectures on Inventive Engineering and seminars on Successful Education in Asia, Europe, and in this country. Contact Dr. Arciszewski at


Deanna Busteed

Senior Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Deanna Busteed is a registered dietitian with a board certification in Sports Nutrition. She brings more than 15 years of experience developing health and wellness programs as well as providing cutting-edge nutrition, fitness and wellness services to a wide variety of individuals and groups. Her specialties include health promotion, disease prevention, weight management, sports nutrition, wellness, and fitness. Deanna also has extensive experience working with vegetarian diets, celiac disease and eating disorders. Deanna graduated from University of Rhode Island and obtained her Master of Science degree in Nutritional Science from the University of Massachusetts. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Framingham State College. 

Deanna has been quoted in Natural Health Magazine, Redbook, Boston Magazine, The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe. Deanna is the co-author of “A Guy's Gotta Eat: The Regular Guy’s Guide to Eating Smart.” In 2012, Deanna created and launched the Nutrition and Wellness Program at Arthritis & Sports. This unique program provides orthopaedic patients with comprehensive nutrition and wellness plans designed to improve surgical outcomes and optimize the overall health of their patients. Deanna is presently the Sports Dietitian for George Mason's Center for Sports Performance, servicing over 500 Division I athletes. She also serves as an adjunct faculty teaching Sport and Exercise Nutrition in the College of Education and Human Development.


Elizabeth Cross

Senior Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Elizabeth Cross earned her Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Denver and has taught writing for the last 20 years at locations including the University of Michigan and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Awards and grants for her work as a poet include an appointment as an Innovation Fellow with the National Science Foundation's Chicago Incubator for Innovation, a Michigan Council for the Arts grant, the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writers (twice), and a grant from the Rocky Mountain Women's Institute.

As part of her consulting practice, she develops and leads seminars using arts and writing to develop observation, empathy, and creative thinking skills. Clients span the range from business executives at Wrigley Corporation to young students in housing projects. Liz also collaborated with the Art Institute of Chicago to develop and lead seminars in their galleries for a variety of groups including local businesses, school teachers, and medical students.


Steve Gladis

Senior Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

An executive coach, author, and speaker, Dr. Steve Gladis is authority on the subject of leadership. CEO of Steve Gladis Leadership Partners—a leadership development company—he is the author of 19 books on leadership and a professor at George Mason University.  His company works with businesses, associations, and US government agencies, and he speaks regularly at conferences and corporate gatherings. A former faculty member at the University of Virginia, Dr. Gladis also served as an FBI special agent and was a decorated officer in the US Marine Corps.  His company donates a significant portion of corporate profits back to the community.  His newest book, Positive Leadership: The Game Changer at Work, was released in 2013 and is available on Amazon. Contact Mr. Gladis at


Ricardo Sanchez

Senior Fellow, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being

Ricardo Sanchez, M.Ed. is a clinical mental health counselor as well as an artist, Andean musician, and practitioner of the Native healing arts. Ricardo Sanchez received his master's degree in Counseling and Human Development from George Mason University in 2013, and earned a graduate certificate in Grief, Loss and Life Transitions from George Washington University in 2010. As he begins working toward his Ph.D. in Counseling, Ricardo plans to research and develop concrete approaches to well-being that incorporate both ancient and modern perspectives that can be applied to today’s multicultural, fast-pace society. He has spent the past year working on domestic violence prevention and interventions with Fairfax County's Office of Family Services. 

As the founder of Inka, Ricardo regularly leads workshops, facilitates ceremonies, and gives multifaceted presentations, incorporating music and hands-on activities sharing Native cultural approaches to total wellness. Born in Peru, Ricardo grew up living the teachings passed on from his Quechua-speaking parents, grounded by a love and reverence for nature and an awareness of the interconnectedness of his community. Since 2005, he has led groups from the U.S. and South America on cultural-spiritual journeys to Peru. Contact Mr. Sanchez at

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