Scholars and Fellows

Our center’s senior scholars and research fellows are engaged in a diverse variety of well-being science work. Their scholarly and creative activities contribute to the growing knowledge on well-being and our understanding of evidence-based practices and applications. Our scholars and fellows represent a wide range of disciplines and fields and many are engaged in interdisciplinary research that unites scholars and educators around a common agenda.

Using a theory-to-practice and practice-to-theory approach, our scholars and fellows make intentional connections between science and application. Some of these contributions include authored and edited books, journal articles, curriculum transformation projects, sponsored research on measuring well-being, and investigating practices that sustain social justice advocates to name a few examples. A passion that all of our scholars and fellows share is their commitment to increase the well-being of others through their scholarship, teaching, and advocacy.

Senior Scientist

Mandy O'NeillOlivia (Mandy) O’Neill, Ph.D., is an Associate 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, Mandy taught at The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) and the Terry College of Business (University of Georgia).

Mandy has taught MBA and undergraduate courses in organizational behavior, negotiations, global management, introduction to management, leadership, and organizational change. She 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. These Harvard Business Review articles highlight her research on “companionate love” at work and managing the emotional culture at work. Mandy has worked with organizations across a wide range of industries including health care, technology, emergency services, and retail. Outcomes of interest to her include workplace interpersonal relations, employee decision-making, job attitudes, career success, health behavior, corporate strategy, and financial performance. Read more about Mandy’s research.

Senior Scholars

Beth Cabrera, Ph.D., has a mission 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. Beth 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 United 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. Beth authored the book Beyond Happy: Women, Work, and Well-Being. Her research has been published in over 30 articles in some of the world’s leading academic and professional journals.

Suzie CarmackSuzie Carmack, Ph.D., is an award-winning well-being promotion scholar and the author of two #1 best sellers that bring the science of work/life well-being to the public: Well-Being Ultimatum and Genius BreaksShe is also the co-author (with Mason’s Dr. Larry Cheskin) of the forthcoming Weight Loss for Life (Hopkins Press, 2021). She is world-renowned for her well-being advocacy efforts to destigmatize the practices of mindfulness, compassion, and yoga in the workplace, while raising global awareness of sitting disease as a population health issue. In addition to serving as a senior scholar for CWB, Suzie is an Assistant Professor in Mason’s Department of Global and Community Health, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in public health communication, leadership, advocacy, stakeholder engagement and well-being. Her research and practice agenda aims to promote well-being by reducing the prevalence of burnout, compassion fatigue, maladaptive perfectionism, stress contagion and suicide through evidence-based teleyoga and telewellness interventions that promote mindfulness, movement and meaning (self-compassion).

As a trusted well-being advisor and executive yoga coach for senior leaders in the private and public sectors, Suzie has been personally commissioned to create well-being promotion programs and build well-being strategy frameworks for global and national public health agencies, including the Pan American / World Health Organization (2013-2015); the Department of Defense (2016; 2018); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016-2017); the National Parks Service (2015); and most recently the U.S. Treasury Department’s Treasury Executive Institute (TEI). In 2018, she was personally commissioned by General James Michael Holmes, USAF (retired) to create the first-ever resilience training for senior leaders in the U.S. Air Force, and in 2020, she was personally commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department to create a well-being science webinar series for senior leaders (SES and GS14, GS15) from all 45 U.S. government agencies, during the rapid rise of Covid-19 (March – June 2020). She also led the award-winning stakeholder engagement efforts that brought the Cloud to the CDC as a shared service in 2016, and led the story-telling approach to the forthcoming U.S. Surgeon’s General 2020 Report on Public Health, Community Development and Economic Prosperity. Suzie earned her Ph.D. in health communication from Mason in 2014, as well as advanced degrees in theatre (MFA, 1991), kinesiology (2009), and communication arts (BA, 1989). As an ERYT (Trainer of Yoga Teachers) with the Yoga Alliance since 2006, and NBC-HWC with the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching since 2018, she has trained 3000+ Yoga Teachers and 108 health coaches internationally in her centered well-being coaching model and curriculum, inspired by her doctoral work (Carmack, 2014) exploring the role of sense-making, communication competence and social support in the co-creation of well-being. Learn more about Suzie’s efforts to bring well-being research into real-world practice at

Cher ChenCher Weixia Chen, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Integrative Studies and the founder of the Human Rights and Global Justice Initiative at George Mason University. She teaches courses in the International Studies, Legal Studies, and Social Justice and Human Rights concentrations. Dr. Chen started a project on the well-being of Social Justice and Human Rights activists with the seed grant from the Center of the Advancement of Well-Being and has served as Principal Investigator or Co-investigator on several funded projects examining activist burnout. Her work has been featured by NPR, the Atlantic and several other outlets. Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations from University of Southern California. Read more about Cher’s research.

Dr. Gail ChristopherGail Christopher, Ph.D., D.N., is an award-winning social change agent with expertise in the social determinants of health and well-being and in related public policies. She is known for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts into public sector programs and policy discourse.

Gail retired from her role as Senior Advisor and Vice President at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she was the driving force behind the America Healing initiative and the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort. She also served as Kellogg’s Vice President for Program Strategy, and worked on place-based programming on in New Orleans and New Mexico. In 2015 she received the Terrance Keenan Award from Grantmakers in Health. Gail chairs the Board of the Trust for America’s Health. In 2019, she became the Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity. Read highlights of Gail’s work on racial healing circlestruth, reconciliation, and healing; and moving toward racial healing and transformation.

Dr. Al Fuertes is an Associate Professor and Kindness Ambassador at George Mason University. His fields of specialization are: facilitation and dialogue, global education, psychosocial trauma healing, conflict resolution/ transformation, theology of struggle, spirituality, displacement issues and anti-human trafficking initiatives. Dr. Fuertes teaches courses in Human Trafficking, Refugee and Internal Displacement, Psychosocial Trauma and Healing, Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Divided Communities, Conflict Resolution/Transformation, Spirituality, and Immigration Issues in Northern Virginia, among other courses. He is a field practitioner and international consultant who specializes in psychosocial trauma healing as an integral component in peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Dr. Fuertes travels extensively around the world, particularly in places affected by war, armed conflict, and natural disasters. He works with government, religious, military, and community leaders, as well as NGO development workers, school administrators, teachers, youth, refugees, and internally displaced persons.

Dr. Fuertes was a recipient of the 2020 Inspiration Award by the Centreville Immigration Forum (CIF), in recognition of his contributions and service to the community, the 2019 Global Peacebuilder Award by the Daniel Fissell Music Foundation, the 2019 Outstanding Sillimanian Award in the Philippines, and the Alumni Recognition (2019) for his work in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation by the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Indiana. He also received the 2015 Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, 2014 Oscar Mentoring Excellence Award, the 2008 GMU Teaching Excellence Award and the 2001 AT&T Asia-Pacific Leadership Award. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Theology from the Divinity School at Silliman University, a Master of Arts degree in Peace Studies from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University.

Pamela Garner

Pamela Garner, Ph.D., is Professor of Childhood Studies and Human Development and Family Science in the School of Integrative Studies at Mason. She received her doctorate in Educational Psychology and Human Development from Texas A&M University and completed postdoctoral training in Developmental Psychology at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and the University of Houston. Pam has conducted research on social and emotional competence across early childhood, middle childhood, and more recently, emerging adulthood using quantitative and qualitative research methods and has been involved as PI or Co-I on a number of funded projects investigating the development of emotional competence across the lifespan. She recently completed a study that demonstrated that preservice teachers’ participation in a mindfulness‐based social emotional learning program positively impacted their ability to perceive, understand, use, and regulate emotions. These findings hint at the fact that a proactive approach that allows for training before students take on a more formal classroom role may offer a particularly useful opportunity for the development of emotion‐related skills that can facilitate teacher resilience. Read more about Pamela’s research.

Steve GladisSteve Gladis, Ph.D., is an authority on the subject of leadership, and he teaches and empowers others as an executive coach, author, and speaker. CEO of Steve Gladis Leadership Partners — a leadership development company — he is the author of more than 20 books on leadership. His company works with businesses, associations, and U.S. government agencies, and he speaks regularly at conferences and corporate gatherings.

A former faculty member at both Mason and the University of Virginia, Steve is an ICF-certified coach and earned both a doctorate in Education and Human Development and a master’s degree in English from Mason. He also served as an FBI special agent and was a decorated officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. His company donates a significant portion of corporate profits back to the community. His latest books include Leading Teams: Understanding the Team Leadership Pyramid, Leading Well: Becoming a Mindful Leader-CoachSmile. Breathe. Listen: The 3 Mindful Acts for Leaders, and Positive Leadership: The Game Changer at Work.

Olga Kornienko, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Mason. Her research examines how peer social networks promote and constrain adolescent psychological adaptation, development, and health within the naturalistic settings (e.g., schools). She is interested in understanding how peer networks shape psychosocial development and adjustment, health-risk behavior, and physiological processes related to stress, social status, and immunity. Further, Dr. Kornienko’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Read more about Olga’s research.

Lauren Kuykendall is an associate professor in Mason’s Department of Psychology. Her research focuses on understanding the activities and malleable characteristics that promote worker well-being. She received her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Purdue University in 2015. Read more about Lauren’s research.



James E. MadduxJames Maddux, Ph.D., is University Professor Emeritus and former director of the clinical psychology doctoral program. He is also a visiting professor at Klaipeda University in Lithuania, where he teaches in their masters’ program in counseling psychology. His major scholarly interest is the interface of social, clinical, and health psychology and how 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. He writes regular columns on the science of well-being for our center.

Jim 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 former member of the Examination Committee of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. He has published many journal articles and book chapters and is co-editor of Psychopathology: Foundations for a Contemporary Understanding and Social Psychological Foundations of Clinical Psychology and editor of Subjective Well-Being and Life Satisfaction. Since his retirement from Mason in 2011, Jim has traveled extensively internationally for conferences, lectures, workshops, and classroom teaching – mainly in countries where clinical psychology is an evolving scientific discipline and profession, such as the former communist-bloc countries of Eastern Europe. Read more about Jim’s research.

Graziella Pagliarulo McCarronGraziella Pagliarulo McCarron, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies in the George Mason University School of Integrative Studies and teaches courses on leadership theory, ethics and leadership, social change, and leadership and organizational problem-solving. As a former student/academic affairs professional and as a current leadership studies faculty member, Graziella has over 20+ years of experience focused on holistic student development, increasing students’ access to higher education, student mattering, community-building, and creating learning climates that transcend time and place. Graziella received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from American University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, College Park. Read more about Graziella’s research.

Julie OwenJulie Owen, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Leadership Studies and teaches courses on leadership theory, social change, and civic action. Julie has more than 15 years of professional experience in the field of leadership development and is a frequent consultant and speaker. She is active on several research teams, including the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL) and the Leadership Identity Development project (LID). With the support of our center, 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. 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 Ph.D. in College Personnel Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park, with a concentration in leadership development. Read more about Julie’s research.

Miliagros (Millie) Rivera, Ph.D., is the Director of Faculty Diversity, Inclusion, and Well-Being in the Office of Faculty Affairs at Mason. In that position, she leads efforts to implement and strengthen institutional initiatives around Mason’s strategic goal of recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty. She also collaborates with our center by facilitating meditation sessions for the Mindful Mason Moments online meditation program and collaborating in the Mason Chooses Kindness initiative and the Rx Racial Healing Circles program.

Before joining Mason, Millie was a Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Science at the University of the Free State (UFS) in South Africa, where she also held the role of Acting Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities. At UFS she successfully diversified her departmental faculty, improved student learning outcomes, and transformed the departmental culture through professional development programs that included a seven-module Self-mastery course, which she offered through UFS’ Center for Teaching and Learning and the Wellness Division of the Human Resources Department. She developed the Self-Mastery course for the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business Executive MBA Program, where she worked as a faculty fellow. Prior to living in South Africa, Millie spent 10.5 years at the National University of Singapore, where she was the founding chair of the Department of Communications and New Media (CNM). In that role, she led the department to being ranked third best in the world (World Rankings by Subject, 2012), also leading her teaching staff to win over 24 faculty (college) and university-wide teaching awards. While at NUS, she ran a four-year mindfulness program that supported over 1,000 students and staff, which earned her the NUS Wellness Ambassador Award. Millie is the co-editor (with Rentia du Plessis) of the 2020 book Pathways Across Cultures: Intercultural Communication in South Africa, where she advocates for the use of mindfulness in intercultural communication encounters. Read more about Millie’s work.

Richard Strozzi-HecklerRichard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D., is a nationally known speaker, coach, and consultant on leadership and mastery.  He has a Ph.D. in Psychology and a sixth-degree black belt in Aikido.  Richard is the founder of Strozzi Institute, which offers consulting and coaching services to individuals and companies on five continents.  Over the past 40 years, he has coached and advised thousands of executives from Fortune 500 companies, NGOs, technology start-ups, the U.S. government, and military.

Richard 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. He is the author of eight books, including The Leadership DojoIn Search of the Warrior Spiritand The Art of Somatic Coaching: Embodying Skillful Action, Wisdom, and Compassion.

Mark Thurston, Ph.D., is a term associate professor in the School of Integrative Studies at George Mason University. From January, 2009 to June, 2018 he was  administrative faculty for Mason’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, serving most recently as the director of educational programs. With an academic background in psychology, Mark worked for 35 years before coming to Mason in adult education related to consciousness, holistic health, and personal transformation. He is author of numerous books related to personal spirituality, dream psychology, meditation, and the transformation of consciousness. Those books include Experiments in a Search for God and Discovering Your Soul’s Purpose. Mark’s research interests include mindfulness, conflict transformation, the role of intentionality in groups, and aspects of consciousness which can be experienced in the dream state.  He is the faculty coordinator for Mason’s undergraduate minor in well-being, and he teaches one of the required courses in the minor: INTS 355 “Mindfulness, Meaning and Well-Being.” Among his other recent courses have been INTS 455 “Consciousness and Transformation in Action” and INTS 475 “Well-Being and Self-Care for Helping Professionals.” Mark helped investigate college students’ well-being in the research study “Developing Students’ Well-Being through Integrative, Experiential Learning Courses”. Read more about Mark’s research.

Gregory C. Unruh

Gregory C. Unruh, Ph.D., is the Arison Professor of Values Leadership and an expert on sustainable business strategy. Greg 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 U.S. Vice President Al Gore. He is the creator of Carbon Lock-in theory, a line of academic research that has spurred new lines of climate policy research around the globe. He is a strategic partner of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and presented Principles of Responsible Business Education to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Palais de Nations in Geneva. Greg co-founded the Center for Eco-Intelligent Management with renowned “green” designer William McDonough and has published his findings in the Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, and Forbes Magazine. Read more about Greg’s research.

Ali A. Weinstein, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Global and Community Health (GCH) and the Director of the Center for Study of Chronic Illness and Disability (CCID). She has extensive experience conducting human biobehavioral experiments in the laboratory and field, conducts survey research, as well as a portfolio of qualitative research. Read more about Ali’s research.


Senior Fellows

Louis AlloroLouis Alloro consults on culture change initiatives all over the world as a leadership coach and speaker. He focuses on bringing out the strengths in individuals and groups. His expertise includes leadership development, team building, change management, human capital energy audits, and organizational culture initiatives.

He is cofounder and director of the Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) program, which builds well-being in measurable ways through training in positivity, engagement, relationships, meaning, achievement, and vitality. While earning his Master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, Louis created a framework for how communities evolve using Social-emotional (SOMO) leadership. He has also published articles in numerous publications on positive change. Read more about Louis’ research.

Deanna BusteedDeanna Busteed is adjunct faculty in Sport and Exercise Nutrition in the College of Education and Human Development and a registered dietitian with 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. Her specialties include health promotion, disease prevention, weight management, sports nutrition, wellness, and fitness.

Deanna graduated from the 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 is presently the Sports Dietitian for George Mason’s Center for Sports Performance, servicing over 500 Division I athletes. Read more about Deanna’s research.

Laurie CameronLaurie Cameron is the author of The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm and Joy, and is known for her warmth, energy and insight sharing the science of human flourishing and development. Laurie integrates emotional intelligence, positive psychology, mindfulness, compassion and neuroscience into everyday language for modern work and life.

Laurie is the founder and CEO of PurposeBlue – a consultancy focused on mindfulness-based leadership programs that build resilience, creativity and engagement. PurposeBlue’s Mindful Leader programs have been delivered in Deloitte across the United States. Laurie is also a mindfulness teacher with Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (which offers the Search Inside Yourself program developed by Google) and a guest professor on Mindful Leadership at the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Laurie speaks on the power of mindfulness around the world.