PeggyDr. Margaret Kern
Founding President
Past Steering Committee Chair 

Peggy Kern, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer Centre for Positive Psychology Melbourne Graduate School of Education The University of Melbourne. Her research addresses the question of who flourishes and why. More specifically, my research focuses on two related areas: (a) understanding and measuring healthy functioning, and (b) evaluating sophisticated theories of psychosocial processes underlying health over time.

Dr. Sylvia Kwok
Regional Representatives Lead

Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at the City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. She is also the convenor of the positive education laboratory. Her mission is to improve the well-being of children, adolescents and families. Her research mainly focuses on the family ecological and positive psychological factors that are related to anxiety, depression and suicide of children and adolescents. To promote positive education for the students, teachers, parents, and the community, the positive education laboratory has collaborated with more than 100 local schools to launch positive education projects, including character strength project for pre-primary schools, whole-school positive education project for primary schools, music and positive education projects to alleviate anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation of secondary schools students. She has published a number of papers related to children and adolescent mental health in international refereed journals with high impact factor, i.e., Child Abuse and Neglect, Research on Social Work Practice, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Journal of Happiness Studies, Social Indicators Research, Suicide and Life-threatening Behavior, Journal of Child and Family Studies. She was also invited as a guest speaker and a keynote speaker in about 60 conferences and symposiums. Her positive family project won the Excellence in Knowledge Transfer Award by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at CityU in 2013. In the previous years, she got about US$1,900,000 from internal grants at CityU and from external grants. In addition, she has been the reviewers and journal editors of different international refereed journals and the reviewer for General Research Fund proposals.

Dr. Aaron Jarden
Awards Lead

Full-time Head of Research at the Wellbeing and Resilience Centre at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), and a Senior Research Fellow at Flinders University. He is a wellbeing consultant, social entrepreneur, has multiple qualifications in philosophy, computing, education, and psychology, and is a prolific author and presenter. He is also co-editor of the International Journal of Wellbeing, lead investigator for the International Wellbeing Study, founder and past president of the New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology, co-founder of Heart of Wellbeing, and Senior Scientist for Work on Wellbeing, Assessing Wellbeing in Education, Open the Door, and Plus Wellbeing.

Matthew A. White, PhD
World Congress Lead (President-Elect)

Mathew White Ph.D. is an Australian academic and Associate Professor (Level D: Reader) in the School of Education at the University of Adelaide. He is a member of the School of Education’s Leadership Team and the Program Director for the Master of Education degree. He is also a Principal Honorary Fellow in Melbourne Graduate School of Education and an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Before his appointment to the University of Adelaide in 2018, Mathew held senior leadership positions in schools. He was Director of Wellbeing & Positive Education and served on the Senior Leadership Team of St Peter’s College – Adelaide, founding Director of Leadership at the social enterprise Teach for Australia, and the first Head of Positive Education at Geelong Grammar School. Mathew’s research focuses on character education, international education, leading change, positive education, strategic planning in education and wellbeing education. In particular, he is interested in how leaders establish school cultures to enable positive learning and wellbeing environments. A highly sought-after speaker Mathew has delivered more than 100 keynotes, workshops and symposia in Asia, Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and the United Kingdom. He has undertaken research consultancy with Catholic Education South Australia; Universidad TecMilenio, Mexico; Upper Canada College, Christ’s College, Christchurch, New Zealand; and the Children’s Hospital Education Research Institute at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. He has co-edited three ground-breaking books on wellbeing education including Evidence-Based Approaches in Positive Education Implementing a Strategic Framework for Well-being in Schools (Springer, 2015) and Theology Encountering Positive Psychology (Wipf & Stock, 2017).  The International Positive Education Network listed his most recent co-edited book Future Directions in Wellbeing: Education, Organizations, and Policy (Springer, 2017) as one of the global network’s favourite books for 2017. His research has influenced wellbeing education from primary to secondary schooling and pre-service teacher education at undergraduate and post-graduate level. Mathew was elected a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators in 2016. In 2017, the Australian Council for Educational Leaders, the most significant professional association in the education sector in Australia, presented Mathew with two awards in recognition of his exceptional scholarship and leadership: A National Leadership Award, and a South Australian Leadership Medal.

Dr. Shiri Lavy
European Conference Pre-conference Lead

Faculty member at the Department for Leadership and Policy in Education, at the University of Haifa. Her research, positioned within the interpersonal, organizational and personality arenas, is conducted primarily from a positive psychology perspective. Her specific research lines constitute mainly relationships and character strengths, and their interplay. Dr. Lavy’s recent studies focus on educators and education organizations, acknowledging their vital role in shaping individuals and societies. Her work has been published in high-quality personality, positive psychology, organizational/occupational, and educational journals (e.g., Journal of Positive Psychology, Journal of Happiness Studies, Higher Education, Personality and Individual Differences).

Charlie Scudamore 
Steering Committee Co-Chair & Membership Lead

Charlie Scudamore is the Vice Principal at Geelong Grammar School where he oversees staff and student welfare, Positive Education, Creativity and Indigenous initiatives. He has been responsible for the organisation and implementation of the Positive Psychology/Education strategy at Geelong Grammar School and has supported the strategic direction and implementation of the Handbury Centre for Wellbeing and Institute of Positive Education initiatives. Professor Martin Seligman, Head of the Positive Psychology Department at the University of Pennsylvania awarded him with the Inaugural ‘Pioneer Award’ for applications of Positive Psychology in an educational setting.

Dr. Ricardo Arguís Rey
Research-practice Co-lead

Special Education teacher, Psychologist and Doctor in Education. He has been working for 30 years in the educational field, alternating periods as a classroom teacher with other professional stages as a consultant and teacher trainer. He combines his current work as a remedial teacher in a state secondary school, with his activity as a lecturer, consultant and researcher in the field of Positive Education. He collaborates with various Spanish universities as an invited lecturer, and has delivered numerous lectures and workshops in Spain and abroad.

Tracy Litchfield
Research-practice Co-lead

Public-school educator striving to increase the wellbeing of teachers, students, families, and community members by incorporating the tenets of positive psychology, mindfulness, appreciative inquiry, and social-emotional learning. She holds a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology from The University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Masters of Educational Leadership from Immaculata University. Throughout her 16-year career as an educator, Tracy has served on many leadership and curriculum committees in the Avon Grove School District. She is a closet introvert who enjoys reading, writing, travel, and pursuing life-long learning. Tracy currently resides in West Grove, Pennsylvania with her husband, two adult children, and two rambunctious canine companions. Her dream is for every public school district in the United States to fully and seamlessly incorporate positive education into their curriculum and application for students, families, and staff.

Dr. Covadonga Chaves
Research Co-lead

Ph.D. in Experimental Clinical Psychology at Complutense University of Madrid (2013) and holds a master’s degree in Clinical and Health Psychology (2009). She presented her doctoral dissertation on well-being in children with a life-threatening illness, supervised by Dr. Carmelo Vazquez. She received the IPPA dissertation award in 2015. Her research interest focuses on three areas with potential clinical applications: (1) the study of growth experiences through adversity; (2) the connection between positive emotions and health; and (3) the design of a positive psychotherapy for patients with depression. She was the Research Director of the Institute of Happiness at Tecmilenio University (Mexico). She has published a number of articles in academic and non-academic journals (e.g., Journal of Happiness Studies, Journal of Health Psychology).

Dr. Rosalinda Ballesteros
Communications Lead

Director for the Institute of Wellbeing and Happiness at Universidad Tecmilenio, where she previously had the position of Vicepresident for High School Education. PhD in Humanistic Studies by Tecnológico de Monterrey in México and Master´s of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Has 20 year’s experience on education and curriculum design. Has worked extensively in peace education programs.

Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D.
Publications Lead

Ross and Mariana Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education and Chair, Department of Special Education; and Director and Senior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability, all at the University of Kansas. His research and scholarly work has focused issues pertaining to self-determination, positive psychology and disability, transition to adulthood, the education and inclusion of students with severe disabilities, conceptualizing intellectual disability, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities. He is an author on more than 385 articles and book chapters and 41 books. Dr. Wehmeyer is Past-President of the Board of Directors for and a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD); a past president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT); a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division (Div. 33); and a Fellow of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD). He is former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remedial and Special Education and is a founding Co-Editor of the AAIDD journal Inclusion. He has been recognized for his research and service with awards from numerous associations and organizations, including, recently, the Council for Exceptional Children’s Special Education Research Award for 2016 in recognition of research advancing the education of children and youth with exceptionalities, the Distinguished Researcher Award for lifetime contributions to research in intellectual disability by The Arc of the United States and the American Psychological Association, Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology 2015 Distinguished Contributions to the Advancement of Disability Issues in Psychology Award.