2019 IPPA Award Winners

About IPPA’s Awards Program:

IPPA’s Awards Program recognizes exemplars in the study and practice of positive psychology. Congratulations to the 2019 Award Winners!

Watch the Awards Ceremony that was presented at the 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology, and read more about the winners below!

James O. Pawelski Positive Catalyst Award

The James O. Pawelski Positive Catalyst Award is presented to an IPPA member who:

    • Advances change for the Association
    • Has committed their service to IPPA for a sustained period of time
    • Has mobilized and catalyzed others to contribute to IPPA
    • Has Helpted to build and contribute to the IPPA community
    • Can show concrete outcomes and impact for the Association based on their efforts

James O. Pawelski Positive Catalyst Award

James O. Pawelski
University of Pennsylvania

James O. Pawelski
University of Pennsylvania
James Pawelski, Ph.D., is Professor of Practice and Director of Education in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania where he co-founded the Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program with Martin Seligman.  The Founding Executive Director of IPPA, he is currently leading a three-year, multi-million-dollar grant investigating connections between the science of well-being and the arts and humanities.

Christopher Peterson Gold Medal 

The Christopher Peterson Gold Medal honors an IPPA member who exemplifies the best of positive psychology at the personal, professional, and academic levels. This award is named after Christopher Peterson, a beloved IPPA Fellow, professor, scholar and pioneer in the field of positive psychology. Peterson’s many scholarly contributions include his work on the character strengths and values classification and assessment with Martin Seligman. On a personal level, Peterson was known for his sincerity, humility, integrity, sense of humor and generosity.


Sonja Lyubomirsky
University of California, Riverside


Sonja Lyubomirsky
University of California, Riverside
Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky serves as a Professor of Psychology at UC Riverside, where her lab focuses on human happiness and flourishing. She is the author of the bestseller The How of Happiness and has been honored with a John Templeton Grant. Her work has been covered in hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, as well as on television shows and documentaries worldwide.

Raymond D. Fowler Service Award 

The Raymond D. Fowler Service Award honors an IPPA member who has gone above and beyond to give his or her time in the service of advancing the field of positive psychology. The award is named after a dear colleague and IPPA Fellow, Ray Fowler, whose generosity and vision catalyzed the creation of IPPA back in 2007.


Giselle Timmerman Positive Work, LLC As Founder of Positive Work, Giselle partners with clients, from nonprofit leaders to Fortune 500 teams, to build positive leadership and strengths-based cultures for greater engagement and competitive performance. She was one of the first 30 people in the world to be educated by the founders of positive psychology, and has applied the science for over 12 years to improve people’s working lives. In addition to managing Positive Work’s projects, Giselle… Serves thousands of global members in a 6-year volunteer role as President of the International Positive Psychology Association’s Work Division. Teaches the Managing Change and Organizational Health at EAE Business School Is a Gallup certified strengths coach and CAPP certified for StrengthsProfile Earned her Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania & her bachelor’s from New York University Is currently based in Barcelona, yet travels to North America and within EMEA frequently.

Outstanding Practitioner Award

The Outstanding Practitioner Award honors an IPPA practitioner who has shown the most outstanding excellence and impact in advancing the practice of positive psychology in ethical and evidence-based ways.



Steve Leventhal

Mr. Steve Leventhal is executive director of CorStone. Since joining CorStone as executive director in 2008, Steve has focused on helping some of the world’s most marginalized and economically disadvantaged populations to find their personal strengths, advocate for their rights, and become agents of positive societal change. Under Steve’s leadership, CorStone’s evidence-based resilience programs have reached upwards of 50,000 youth and women living in poverty in India, Kenya, and the US. Steve oversees all strategic planning, program development, external relations, and operations for the organization. During Steve’s tenure, CorStone has pioneered the development, implementation, and scale-up of some of the first personal resilience and positive psychology programs delivered in low and middle-income countries.


Early Career Researcher Award 

The Early Career Researcher Award honors an IPPA member who, within the first 10 years of completing their PhD, has contributed most significantly to scientific advancement of knowledge in positive psychology.



Alia Crum
Stanford University
Dr. Alia Crum received her PhD from Yale University and BA from Harvard University. Her research focuses broadly on how changes in subjective mindsets—the lenses through which information is perceived, organized, and interpreted—can alter objective reality through behavioral, psychological, and physiological mechanisms. To date, her research has won several awards including the National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award and attention in several popular media outlets including NPR, Time Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. She is also the recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award and the Dean’s Award for First Years of Teaching at Stanford University. In addition to her academic research and teaching, Dr. Crum has worked as a clinical psychologist for the VA healthcare system and as a trainer and consultant, creating, delivering, and evaluating workshops on mindset change and stress management for organizations including UBS, Colgate Palmolive, and the United States Navy. In her spare time she enjoys skiing, golfing, and running with her husband Ryan and laying around on play-mats with her new baby, Siggy. 


2019 IPPA Fellows 

The title of Fellow is conferred on IPPA members who have contributed most significantly to the scientific advancement of knowledge in their specific field of research or practice within the domain of positive psychology, and to the development of the International Positive Psychology Association.

Congratulations to this year’s IPPA Fellows:

Roy Baumeister
University of Queensland
Professor Roy F. Baumeister is currently professor of psychology at the University of Queensland, as well as affiliations with Florida State University and University of Bamberg. He grew up in Cleveland, the oldest child of a schoolteacher and an immigrant businessman. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Princeton in 1978 and did a postdoctoral fellowship in sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. He spent over two decades at Case Western Reserve University, where he eventually was the first to hold the Elsie Smith professorship. He has also worked at the University of Texas, the University of Virginia, the Max-Planck-Institute, the VU Free University of Amsterdam, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

George Bonanno
Columbia University, Teachers College
George A. Bonanno is a professor of clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, U.S.A. He is responsible for introducing the controversial idea of resilience to the study of loss and trauma. He is known as a pioneering researcher in the field of bereavement and trauma. The New York Times on February 15, 2011, stated that the current science of bereavement has been “driven primarily” by Bonanno. Scientific American summarized a main finding of his work, “The ability to rebound remains the norm throughout adult life.”

Shelly Gable
University of California, Santa Barbara
Shelly Gable received a BA in Psychology from Muhlenberg College and a Master of Arts in Psychology from the College of William & Mary. She earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Rochester in 2000. She began her career in 2000 as an Assistant Professor at UCLA where she earned tenure and co-founded the Interdisciplinary Relationship Science Program before joining the faculty at UCSB in January 2007. Dr. Gable’s research focuses on motivation, close relationships, and positive emotions. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Positive Psychology Network. She is currently funded by a National Science Foundation CAREER grant for newer investigators. She serves on the editorial board of several journals and received a distinguished teaching award from the Psychology Department at UCLA. In 2005 she received the Early Career Award from the Close Relationships Group of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology; and in 2006 she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President George W. Bush.

Veronika Huta
University of Ottawa
Professor Huta obtained her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at McGill University. At the University of Ottawa, she teaches graduate and undergraduate statistics and the occasional course on positive psychology. Her research compares different ways of defining and pursuing the good life, e.g., eudaimonia (the pursuit of excellence, virtue, personal growth), and hedonia (the pursuit of pleasure, enjoyment, comfort). She studies these pursuits in relation to personal well-being (most notably meaning, feeling of elevation, and connection with oneself), the well-being of the surrounding world (pro-social, pro-community, and pro-environmental behavior), cognitive and physiological responses, and predictors (e.g., parenting styles, worldviews). She is a founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Happiness Studies, and co-organized the first cross-disciplinary conference on eudaimonia.

Kennon Sheldon
University of Missouri
Kennon M. Sheldon, PhD. (Ken) received his B.S. in Psychology in 1981, and his PhD in Social and Personality Psychology from the University of California-Davis in 1992, mentored by Positive Psychology’s Bob Emmons. After six years at New York’s University of Rochester, where he absorbed and applied Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory, he joined the faculty at the University of Missouri in Columbia where he’s been a full Professor since 2007.Ken was present at the “birth” of positive psychology–the founding conference in Akumal, Mexico, held in January, 1999, and won the John Templeton Positive Psychology Prize” in 2002 for his contributions to this emerging field of positive psychology. He served as the book review editor for the Journal of Positive Psychology from 2006 to 2009, and remains active in the movement to this day. His primary interests are focused on positive psychology: goals, motivation, and psychological well-being.

Ken has been awarded numerous grants from NIMH, NIAAA, and the John Templeton

Foundation, as well as the National Science Foundation and university resources, for his research on positive psychology. Most notably, Ken and eminent psychologist Sonya Lyubomirsky were co-primary investigators on a million dollar NIMH grant investigating factors which sustain or inhibit increases in happiness levels, leading to the formulation of a “sustainable happiness model.” He and Sonya have continued their collaboration long after their first grant ended and have applied for additional funding for ongoing research on the factors which sustain happiness. Ken also serves on the Advisory Board of two happiness-related companies — Hapacus and Livifi.

Ken’s research with Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory has explored the optimal motivations for pursuing personal goals. Other research interests include the relationship of creativity to motivational conflict and style, exploring the nature of cooperative and competitive behavior in social dilemmas, investigating factors that promote personal goal attainment, and examining the effects of goal pursuit and attainment on mental health.

A prolific writer and dedicated researcher, Ken has authored over 150 peer-reviewed empirical research articles, published in the most prestigious scientific journals ( Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Psychological Review, Psychological Inquiry, American Psychologist, Psychological Science ). He has been associate and consulting editors to Motivation and Emotion, the Journal of Research in Personality, and the Journal of Personality.

Bob Vallerand
Université du Québec à
Professor Robert J. Vallerand is Full Professor of Psychology and Director of the Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Comportement Social at the Université du Québec à Montréal where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Motivational Processes and Optimal Functioning. He has published 8 books and over 325 scientific articles and book chapters. Over 20 of his former students are university professors across Canada and Europe. He has served as President of several associations including the Quebec Society for Research in Psychology, the Canadian Psychological Association and the International Positive Psychology Association and has chaired several scientific conferences including the 2nd World Congress on Positive Psychology. Professor Vallerand has been elected a Fellow of over a dozen scientific societies (including the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, International Association for Applied Psychology). He has received numerous research grants and awards, including the Donald O. Hebb Career Award (for Science) from the Canadian Psychological Association, the Christopher Peterson Gold Medal Award from the International Positive Psychology Association, and the Sport Science Award from the International Olympic Committee. Finally, he has received the William James Award from the American Psychological Association for his 2015 book, The Psychology of Passion with Oxford University Press.

Dianne Vella-Brodrick
University of Melbourne
Professor Dianne Vella-Brodrick (PhD) holds the Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology and is Deputy Director and Head of Research at the Centre for Positive Psychology at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. She is the inaugural Director of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (2013 – 2015) and is a registered psychologist and a Member of the Australian Psychological Society and College of Health Psychologists. She founded the Positive Psychology Network in Australia and has served as Treasurer and Secretary of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) and is currently on the IPPA Council of Advisors. Dianne has been an inaugural Editor in Chief of the Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research and Practice journal (2011-2016) and has Co-Directed the 2008, 2010 and 2014 Australian Positive Psychology and Well-being conferences. She serves on numerous research advisory boards, regularly reviews scientific papers for leading journals and has received around $3 million funding for her research. Dianne’s research interests include the development and evaluation of well-being programs, particularly in the areas of positive education and performance optimisation. She specialises in innovative mixed method designs which utilise the latest technology, experience sampling method and biological indices of well-being. Her research has a special focus on young people. She also integrates ethical and professional practice issues in much of her work and is currently the Ethics Chair at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Dianne also has extensive experience with scale development and psychometric testing having been involved in the development of numerous well-being measures including the Wuzzup app, MoodPrism and Wellbeing Profiler.

IPPA Division Awards

Positive Educator Impact Award – IPPAEd Division

This award recognizes individuals (educators, students, coaches, consultants, administrators, parents, academics) that are having a positive impact in an educational and academic setting by implanting the principles, practices, and applications of Positive Education. As such this award is open to individuals or teams who work in educational settings, and academics focused on positive education research.

Dr. Ricardo Arguís Rey
Santiago Hernández High School
I am a teacher of Special Education, Psychologist and Doctor in Education. I have been working for more than 30 years in the educational field, alternating periods as a teacher in the classrooms with other stages as a consultant and teacher trainer.

I am a member of the International Positive Psychology Association, the European Network for Positive Psychology, and the Spanish Society of Positive Psychology. I coordinate the SATI Team, a work group that, since 2009, is dedicated to the study and promotion of Positive Psychology applied to Education (“Positive Education”). In October 2010, the team published on the Internet the “HAPPY CLASSROOMS” Programme, the first handbook in Spanish addressed to work Positive Education with students aged 3 to 18. In November 2012, we published the second edition of this programme, revised and with many more activities to work in the classrooms. From December 2014, it is also available in English. It can be downloaded for free at: http://www.aulasfelices.org

Currently, I work as a remedial teacher in a state secondary school in Zaragoza (Spain). I combine this work with my activity as a lecturer and consultant in the field of Positive Psychology applied to Education, both in Spain and abroad. I collaborate with several Spanish universities as an invited lecturer. I have been also invited to deliver lectures and workshops in other countries, including Argentina, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Mexico, Peru, United States and Uruguay. In July 2019 I received the “Positive Educator Impact Award”, given by the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) at the 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology (Melbourne, Australia), in recognition of the impact of my long-standing work in the dissemination and application of positive education internationally.

Contributions in Positive Health Award – Positive Health and Wellness Division

This award recognizes individuals with long and distinguished careers who have made a notable impact on the field of positive health. Nominees can be any professional involved in positive health (academics, researchers, clinicians, organizations, practitioners, consultants, coaches), who uses positive psychology to advance human longevity, quality of life, and physiological and psychological wellbeing (including decreased morbidity).

Ernst Bohlmeijer
University of Twente
Ernst Bohlmeijer graduated in 2007 on the effects of life-review on depression in older adults. Since 2007 he worked as an associate professor and since 2011 as full professor at the department of Psychology, Health & Technology at the Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social Sciences at Twente University. His research comprises two main topics: 1) mental health promotion, 2) the use of (e) technology in (mental) health care. He has a special interest in the development and evaluation of innovative (web-based) interventions in health care. In the last years he was principle investigator and supervisor of over 12 randomized controlled trials. He developed 12 interventions aiming at enhancing resilience and well-being and reducing distress based on positive psychology, acceptance and commitment therapy and compassion focused therapy. Since 2012 Ernst Bohlmeijer (co-) published over 100 peer reviewed papers, 3 scientific books and 6 popular books. He was editor of the Dutch Handbook of Positive Psychology. Since 2000 he obtained over 10 grants from the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) and other scientific funds.

Exemplary Research to Practice Award– Work and Organizations Division

This award is presented to a member of the Work and Organizations Division who has advanced the application of evidence-based science in the field of positive work and organizations (PWO). Their work serves as a stand-alone exemplar of a cumulative contribution to PWO through applying theory and research in practical applications and/or field application of scientific findings. The quality of their work demonstrates the potential of our members to contribute to PWO theory, research, and/or practice, and should be considered a standard for us all, researchers and practitioners alike, to aspire to as we work to positively transform the way the world works.

Stewart I. Donaldson
Claremont Graduate University
Stewart I. Donaldson is professor of psychology and community & global health, the executive director of the university’s Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC), and director of The Evaluators’ Institute (TEI). He previously provided more than 16 years of leadership and service to the School of Social Science, Policy, & Evaluation (SSSPE), where he was the founding dean from 2013 to 2017; the School of Community & Global Health (SCGH), where he was dean from 2013 to 2017; the School of Politics & Economics, where he was dean from 2012 to 2013; and the School of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences (SBOS), where he was dean from 2001 to 2013.

Donaldson’s portfolio in the social and health sciences during the final three years of his concurrent deanships (2014-2017) included providing academic leadership for more than 100 core and supporting graduate faculty, overseeing the education of more than 650 degree-seeking graduate students, and securing grants, contracts, and gifts to support SSSPE and SCGH research and students. Among many other accomplishments, Donaldson led the effort to develop the first research-oriented positive psychology programs in the world, launch the new doctorate of public health program at CGU (DrPH), and dramatically expanded the portfolio of evaluation and applied research programs.

The Vaillant Award for Contributions to Positive Clinical Psychology– Positive Clinical Psychology Division

Named in recognition of Dr. George Vaillant’s seminal contributions to the field of Positive Clinical Psychology, this award recognizes distinguished contributions of the application of positive psychology in the clinical realm, including but not limited to endeavors such as designing, delivery, training and evaluation of positive assessment and interventions.

Jennifer S. Cheavens
The Ohio State University
Broadly speaking, I am interested in the treatment of mood and personality disorders, both in younger and older adults. This interest breaks down into two lines of research. In the first line of research, I have worked on the development and adaptation of treatments. For example, some of the work I have done involves adapting Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to treat older adults with depression and co-morbid personality pathology. Based on this work, I am currently working on determining whether some of these adaptations might be applicable to other disorders and psychiatric presentations. In the second line of research stemming from this broad interest, I am working to identify constructs that either facilitate or complicate the course of treatment. For example, I am interested in how flexible emotion regulation patterns are associated with psychopathology presentations. In an iterative fashion, findings from this line of research inform potential developments or adaptations for treatment outcome research.

In a related area, I am also interested in human strengths and flourishing. I have done several research projects examining the construct of hope and how hope is related to mood and psychological well-being, particularly in the context of treatment. Recently, my colleagues and I developed a hope-based treatment and a flourishing intervention to determine whether or not strengths can be imparted in a therapy context. I plan to continue these and related projects. I think that as clinical scientists we can learn much from those in our midst who are functioning well. My hope is to be able to translate these lessons learned to a therapeutic context.

Inspiring Mentor Award – SIPPA (Student Division)

The SIPPA Inspiring Mentor Award recognizes one outstanding mentor in the field of positive psychology who provides continued commitment and support to students that foster professional and academic development.

Stewart I. Donaldson
Claremont Graduate University
Stewart I. Donaldson is professor of psychology and community & global health, the executive director of the university’s Claremont Evaluation Center (CEC), and director of The Evaluators’ Institute (TEI). He previously provided more than 16 years of leadership and service to the School of Social Science, Policy, & Evaluation (SSSPE), where he was the founding dean from 2013 to 2017; the School of Community & Global Health (SCGH), where he was dean from 2013 to 2017; the School of Politics & Economics, where he was dean from 2012 to 2013; and the School of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences (SBOS), where he was dean from 2001 to 2013.

Donaldson’s portfolio in the social and health sciences during the final three years of his concurrent deanships (2014-2017) included providing academic leadership for more than 100 core and supporting graduate faculty, overseeing the education of more than 650 degree-seeking graduate students, and securing grants, contracts, and gifts to support SSSPE and SCGH research and students. Among many other accomplishments, Donaldson led the effort to develop the first research-oriented positive psychology programs in the world, launch the new doctorate of public health program at CGU (DrPH), and dramatically expanded the portfolio of evaluation and applied research programs.

2019 Dissertation Award

This award is conferred on the author of a Ph.D. dissertation on a topic in the domain of positive psychology.  Many of the applications received this year were characterized by impressively high levels of originality and methodological complexity: a very promising perspective for the future of positive psychology.

Top Dissertation Award Winner:

Judith Mangelsdorf
German Society of Positive Psychology
Dr. Judith Mangelsdorf is president of the German Society of Positive Psychology and associated researcher at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Her research focusses on posttraumatic and postecstatic growth. Dr. Mangelsdorf also works as supervisor and trainer for hospice service teams and victim support services. 

Honorable Mention:  

Lucy Hone
NZ Institute of Well-being & Resilience
Dr Lucy Hone is a research associate at AUT University, a best-selling author and blogger for Psychology Today on the topic of resilience. Having both trained on the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) programme at the University of Pennsylvania, and developed NZ-focused wellbeing research for their PhDs, their pragmatic approach to the topic has been substantially influenced by their real life experiences, including earthquakes and personal loss. Their presentations are respected for being evidence-based, but remembered for their entertaining, engaging and most of all “real” delivery style.

Meg Warren
Western Washington University
Assistant Professor Meg A. Warren, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Management at Western Washington University, USA. She is the Past-President of the Work & Organizations Division of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA), and Co-Founder and Associate Director of the Western Positive Psychology Association (WPPA). Her research interests include positive psychological approaches to workplace diversity, equity and inclusion; empowering work relationships; and employee virtuousness. In collaboration with scholars in the U.S., Africa, and Middle East she examines cultural factors affecting wellbeing of marginalized groups within those societies. She is the lead editor of two books, Scientific Advances in Positive Psychology (2017), and Toward a Positive Psychology of Relationships: New Directions in Theory and Research (2017). She has published articles in various peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Positive Psychology, International Journal of Wellbeing, Journal of Personnel Psychology, Canadian Psychology, and Middle East Journal of Positive Psychology. She holds two master’s degrees in business/HR and a Ph.D. in positive organizational psychology.

Ashley Whillans
Harvard Business School
Ashley Whillans is an assistant professor in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit, teaching the Negotiations course to MBA students. Broadly, she studies how people navigate trade-offs between time and money. Her ongoing research investigates whether and how intangible incentives, such as experiential and time-saving rewards, affect employee motivation and well-being. In both 2015 and 2018, she was named a Rising Star of Behavioral Science by the International Behavioral Exchange and the Behavioral Science and Policy Association. In 2016, she co-founded the Department of Behavioral Science in the Policy, Innovation, and Engagement Division of the British Columbia Public Service. Her research has been published in numerous academic journals and popular media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.




potential conflict.