The International Positive Psychology Association is grateful to the Health Division Leadership Team for their capable stewardship and significant contributions to the field of positive health. Notable accomplishments include developing the division’s charter and presenting the Contributions in Positive Health Award at each World Congress.
Joel Milam, PhD – Division President
President of the Health and Wellbeing Division, is a Professor (Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Medicine) in the Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
Dr. Milam is a behavioral-scientist with a focus on adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivorship and cancer control/supportive care and has received multiple NIH grants to examine the long-term quality of life/wellbeing and health care utilization among diverse populations of AYA cancer survivors. He is Co-Leader of the Cancer Control Program at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCI. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Research, a dual-institution (USC & UCI) interdisciplinary research and community collaborative.
Lisa Honig Buksbaum, MAPP, MBA – Division President-Elect
CEO & Founder, Soaringwords
Lisa is a passionary: a visionary driven by great passion and action. An author, intuitive healer, well-loved inspirational speaker, and expert workshop leader and facilitator. , Lisa has shared her wisdom with thousands of people throughout the world. Three experiences with death and illness in her family during a ten-month period motivated her to launch Soaringwords, a not-for-profit organization devoted to inspiring children, families, adults, seniors, and health care professionals to take active roles in self-healing to experience greater physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Since 2001, Lisa has shared Soaringwords’ SOARING into Strength Positive Health Initiatives with more than 500,000 people. She is the author of SOARING into Strength: Love Transcends Pain, her debut memoir.
Lisa graduated with honors from The University of Pennsylvania; holds an MBA in Marketing from Columbia University Graduate School of Business; and a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology from The University of Pennsylvania. She has a certificate in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a certificate from the American Institute for Mental Imagery.
Lisa is President-Elect of IPPA Health and Wellbeing Division; the Advisory Board of the Global Positive Health Initiative; and the Board of the Coincidence Project. She’s been featured as an expert on ABC News, Fortune Small Business, USA Today, Delta Sky, and CEO to Watch in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. She won a Lives That Make a Difference Award from A&E Networks, a National Mothering That Works Award from Working Mother Media, inducted into YMCA Academy of Women Achievers Hall of Fame. She was on the board of Advertising Women of New York, the leading organization for executive women in communications.
Lisa has been a keynote speaker, moderator, and panelist at IPPA; European Positive Psychology Conference; Canadian Positive Psychology Conference; International Positive Education Network and led workshops as scholar-in-residence and at grand rounds at leading universities, medical schools, and nursing schools. She has led award-winning employee-engagement professional development workshops at Fortune 500 companies including Accenture, Cigna, Cisco, Deloitte, Lilly, Meta, Google, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, New York Life, SONY, Verizon, and Viacom. Lisa lives in New York City with her husband Jacob. Her pride and joy are her two grown sons Jonathan and Joshua, daughter-in-law Evelyn, and adorable grandbaby Charlotte. She gets her energy from swimming each day and connecting with people in fun and meaningful ways.
Liana Lianov, MD – Past President
Physician leader in advancing the field of lifestyle medicine, a relatively new area of medicine that focuses on healthy lifestyles as disease treatment and is highly dependent on effective health behavior change strategies, including positive psychology approaches. I am also founder and president of the Global Positive Health Institute (GPHI). The GPHI provides positive psychology science summaries, training, tools, and resources to health professionals (in lifestyle medicine and other medical specialties) with the goal of helping them integrate positive psychology approaches into health care.
Gail Ironson, MD, Ph.D. – Past President
Dr. Ironson is a Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Miami and a Board certified Psychiatrist. She received her MD from the University of Miami, her PhD from the University of Wisconsin, and did her residency training in Psychiatry at Stanford University. She has 280 publications in the field of behavioral medicine and positive psychology. She is the immediate past President of the American Psychosomatic Society, past President of the Health Division of IPPA, and past President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. She is also a past member of the editorial board of five journals. She has directed federally funded research studies investigating psychological factors in long survival with illness (especially HIV), stress management, and treatments for traumatized individuals. She has received 4 awards for her work – most recently from the International Positive Psychology Association (July, 2021) for her research on Positive Psychology and Health. In 2019 she was awarded the research Professor Award from the Academy of consult-Liaison Psychiatry. In 2011 the Society of Behavioral Medicine awarded her the Spirituality and Health Award. And in 1983 she received the Alumni Professor Award from the University of South Florida. Her current areas of focus include examining positive psychological factors (including positive affect, life satisfaction, meaning, compassion, and spirituality) in health and recovery from trauma. She just directed and completed a Templeton funded grant which is the 6 year follow-up examining the predictive power of spirituality and positive psychological factors for health in a nationwide sample.
Marcie Haydon, Ph.D. – Division Secretary
Dr. Haydon’s research examines mood and behavior among post-treatment cancer survivors and the protective effects of positive psychological states. Her work, primarily among young adult cancer survivors, aims to identify modifiable targets to inform the development of behavioral interventions. Most recently, she conducted several randomized controlled trials to assess the efficacy of prosocial behavior in enhancing well-being among cancer survivors. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Medicine. Outside of work, Dr. Haydon enjoys running, growing vegetables in her garden, and spending quality time with her family.
Michael MacDonald, DSC – Member
As a person succeeding with a disability, Michael has focused his career on supporting other individuals with disabilities. With a broad background that includes working for insurers, schools, and employers, he currently works with Jazz’s employees as they balance the needs of a safety critical work environment with their own unique health challenges and abilities. He has recently developed coursework for Dalhousie University on Building Positive Workplace Cultures that leverages positive psychology to foster workplace health. As a member of the IPPA Positive Health & Wellbeing leadership team, Michael draws on a background in psychology, health and safety, and health leadership.
Kathi Norman PA-C, DMSc – Conference Lead; Assistant Editor of the Chronicle
Kathi Norman PA-C, DMSc is the creator of Positive MedicineTM and owner of Positive Health & Well Being, LLC., a company that serves patients and providers using positive psychology concepts. She obtained a master’s degree in biomedical science and is a graduate from PENN’s Master of Applied Positive Psychology program. Kathi went on to complete a doctorate in medical science and holds the title of Dr. Kathi Norman. She is currently working in psychiatry using Positive MedicineTM.
She has been an active member of IPPA for over a decade. During this time, she has worn many hats that include support and presenting in Webinars, panel discussion participant, facilitated presentations and has been an invited speaker at IPPA Congresses and, much more. She is the Conference Lead for the Health & Wellbeing division.
Dr. Norman’s research is focused on finding and developing factors that promote physical health, psychological wellbeing, and longevity outside of Western medicine. These factors include engaging with music, volunteerism, forgiveness, unplugging, and getting out into nature.
She is a writer and has published in The Journal of Urgent Care, Positive Psychology News Daily, and the Health & Wellbeing division’s journal the Chronicle. She has been an editor for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) and the Chronicle. She is on the advisory board for Global Positive Health Institute (GPHI).
Rhonda Cornum, PhD, MD – Division Member
Brigadier General (retired) Rhonda Cornum, PhD, MD has a unique perspective on Psychological Fitness and Resilience, from both a personal and professional vantage. Understanding the psychological attributes that enabled her survival and successful repatriation after being a prisoner of war in Operation Desert Storm, she developed, instituted and then served as the first Director of the U.S. Army’s novel Comprehensive Soldier Fitness initiative. Recently renamed Army Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, this strategy represents the model for universal implementation of physical and psychological health promotion within the Department of Defense. She had previously served as the Assistant Surgeon General for Force Projection, responsible for the policies and procedures to prepare Soldiers and units for deployment, and commanded the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the evacuation hub for Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and Europe. During this assignment, she commissioned development of the Joint Patient Tracking Application and pioneered use of the Nova Lung during critical care air transport. Doctor Cornum has written or co-authored one book, five book chapters, and numerous scientific articles. She sits on numerous committees and advisory boards, including the Secretary’s POW Advisory Committee for the VA, the External Advisory Board for the Millennium Cohort Study, and the Global Positive Health Institute. She is a Professor of Military and Emergency Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr Cornum is Board certified in Urology, a Fellow in both the American College of Surgeons and the Aerospace Medical Association and is a member of the American Society of Nutrition.
Elaine O’Brien, PhD, MAPP – Member; Assistant Editor of the Chronicle
Elaine O’Brien, Ph.D., MAPP is considered one of the most informed academics on the intersection of Science of Happiness, Human Movement Psychology, Health and Positive Aging, Embodied Positive Psychology, and Personal / Community Fitness. Elaine is an educator, speaker, writer, content creator, trainer, consultant, and Certified Health Coach. Dr. Elaine O’Brien, one of the first in the world to earn a 2008 master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) under Dr. Martin Seligman, was acknowledged by Seligman in his 2012 book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, for her contributions to the “MAPP Program” and “Positive Health.” Dr. Seligman stated Dr. O’Brien’s work “advances the role of the body and positive movement in helping people achieve flourishing mental health, physical fitness, and positivity.”
Elaine, a pioneer in the Health/Fitness Industry, worked with the IDEA Foundation and Educational Testing Services, Princeton, in the development of the first Fitness industry leadership, standards, and certification guidelines. Dr. O’Brien has led organizations and helped thousands of people move toward vibrant health, greater fitness, and resilience. Elaine has taught in France, Sweden, Hungary, China, Korea, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, and throughout the United States. She has consulted for the USAID, the US Army, AARP, Allstate Insurance, Johnson & Johnson Health Management, and GHPOD, supporting learning specialists Dr. O’Brien is an advocate for positive psychology, lifestyle as medicine, positive movement practices and how fitness science, can help lead people and communities to a happier lifespan, Health Span, and greater whole well-being. Elaine, a new faculty member, is currently developing a new course, Applying Positive Psychology Across the Lifespan for the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine MAPP program. Elaine is also co-authoring a new book, The Power of Plow, A FUNTANEOUS Adult Playbook to Spark Joy, Vitality and Resilience.
Frederick Brown, Ph.D. – Member; Editor of the Chronicle
Frederick Brown is an Associate Psychology Professor Emeritus at Penn State University and also was an associate faculty of its Schreyer Honors College and the Science, Technology, and Society program. His psychobiology degrees are A.B. Hope College, Holland, MI, M.S. Syracuse University, and Ph.D. University of Virginia. Earlier he chaired psychology and psychobiology programs at The Centre College of Kentucky, and the psychology department of the Kentucky State Hospital. He was also President of the Kentucky Academy of Science. Earliest positions included medical technician in biology and chemistry at the V.A. Hospital and Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse.
Dr. Brown studies the rhythms of life, especially the near-24-hr circadian rhythm including sleep. He co-edited with Dr. R. Curtis Graeber, NASA COL (ret.), the seminal resource book on behavioral rhythms, Rhythmic Aspects of Behavior (1982), recently reprinted in 2020.
Dr. Brown initiated with the Penn State Commonwealth Campuses an introductory course in positive psychology and wellbeing. He co-authored Positive Psychology and Well-Being: Applications for Enhanced Living (2017) with his wife and research collaborator, psychologist and statistician Dr. Cynthia LaJambe. He also was Editor-in-chief for the International Positive Psychology Association’s Division 4: Health and Wellbeing’s first two editions of the Chronicle of Advances in Scientific Research in Positive Psychology.
Frederick is a Pennsylvania licensed psychologist, and a Certified and Approved Hypnotherapist by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. His practice is confined to pain management, major surgery preparation, public speaking anxiety, and sleeping disturbances. He offers seminars on sleep research and healthy sleeping habits.
For over 20 years Frederick was keyboardist for Second Winds, a now-retired local jazz group of former college and military musicians, and currently is in a trio jazz group. He is an organic gardener, enjoys inland water sailing, and is an ordained Elder of the Presbyterian Church, USA.
Yoonji Kim, Ph.D, – Student representative
Yoonji Kim is a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at University of California, Irvine. She received her BA in psychology from Korea University and MA in educational psychology from Seoul National University. Her research interests broadly lie in the psychosocial epidemiology and the social determinants of cancer. She is also very interested in the structural barriers to wellbeing among childhood and young adult cancer survivors. Her current research is focused on the long-term survivorship experience of childhood cancer survivors and addressing a gap in literature concerning risk and protective factors for substance use. She hopes to address cancer survivors’ long-term medical and psychosocial needs across the survivorship trajectory and the impact of a cancer diagnosis on relationships, education, and employment among Childhood, Adolescent, and Young Adult Cancer Survivors.
Margarita Grueskin – Division Member
Margarita Grueskin is a Lifestyle educator, speaker and coach. She has been studying yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda since 2004 and received certifications from the Chopra Center, The Kriya Yoga Institute, and The Himalayan Institute.
Margarita’s academic background includes a BA in Economics and a Masters in Urban Planning (M.U.R.P.), which guided her 15-year career as an Executive Consultant, working with KPMG, Andersen, and Ernst & Young. Her work with Fortune 500 companies and Community Development projects inspired her to move into the wellness field, and work to develop communities of practice, to support whole-person health and well-being.
Margarita is now focused on integrating ancient wisdom from Yoga and Ayurveda with modern theories from Logotherapy, Positive Psychology and Lifestyle Medicine. Margarita currently lives in San Antonio, TX with her husband and their two cats, Boris and Natasha.
Manika Jain – Division Communications Lead
Manika is a consultant and project manager with an educational background in psychology and neuroscience. She has worked in the academic, private and public sectors in varied industries, guiding industry experts to make critical and research-based decisions. Manika holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from McGill University and a certificate in Business Strategy from Cornell University. She has a passion for psychology and behavioral neuroscience, and thirst to understand how these fields can lead to an improved lifestyle.