top of page

Conference 2020 - Speakers

IPEN 2020 Wellbeing in Education - OCT 27-29



Martin Seligman.jpg

Martin E.P. Seligman

Emeritus President and Co-founder IPEN; Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania

Martin E.P. Seligman is the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focuses on positive psychology, learned helplessness, depression, and optimism. He is a best-selling author of several books, including Flourish. He received the American Psychological Society’s William James Fellow Award for basic science and Cattell Award for the application of science, and two Distinguished Scientific Contribution awards from the American Psychological Association. In 1996, Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association by the largest vote in modern history. His current mission is the attempt to transform social science to work on the best things in life – strengths, positive emotion, good relationships, meaning, and human flourishing.

Read More >

Lea Waters aut.jpg

Lea Waters AM

Psychologist, Speaker, Researcher and Author

Lea Waters AM, PhD is a psychologist, researcher, speaker and author. She’s one of the world’s leading experts on Positive Education, Positive Organizations, and Strength-Based Parenting. As a University researcher, Lea turns her science into strength-based strategies to help organizations, educators and parents around the world build resilience in their employees, students and children, helping them to thrive. Lea is the founding director of the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne. She is a Board Member of the International Positive Psychology Association and served as the President of the Board from 2017-2019. She is the author of The Strength Switch. Lea’s work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and more.

Read More >

Simon Murray.png

Simon Murray OAM

Global Chair IPEN

Simon Murray, OAM, served as a Headmaster across three schools for 27 years, and an educator for over 40 years. Most recently he was the 14th Headmaster of St Peter’s College, Australia. In June 2018 he was awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia for services to education and professional associations. In June 2019 he was honoured for his pioneering work and internationally recognised leadership in the field of Positive Education by the Positive Psychology Centre, University of Pennsylvania and the Eisenhower Fellowships.

Read More >

Ilona 2.jpg

Ilona Boniwell

Managing Director of Positran, Author, Speaker

Dr. Ilona Boniwell is one of the European leaders in positive psychology, having founded and headed the first Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) in Europe at the University of East London. She heads the International MSc in Applied Positive Psychology (I-MAPP) at Anglia Ruskin University (that includes a dedicated positive psychology coaching pathway), teaches Positive Management at l’Ecole Centrale Paris and HEC, and consults around the world as a director of Positran and ScholaVie.      

Read More >

Abdulla Al Karam.jpg

Abdulla Al Karam

 IPEN MENA; Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors, KHDA

As Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Abdulla Al Karam has led the quality and growth of the private education sector in Dubai – including early learning centres, schools, universities and training institutes - since KHDA was established in 2007. Dr. Al Karam holds key positions across the UAE - he is chairman of the Dubai Future Education Council, and an Education Committee member of the Global Council for Happiness and Wellbeing.

Read More >

Dora Gudrun Gudmundsdottir.jpg

Dóra Guðrún Guðmundsdóttir

Director, Public Health, Directorate of Health in Iceland

Dóra Guðrún Guðmundsdóttir is Director of Public Health at the Directorate of Health in Iceland. Dora is trained clinical and organisational psychologist and holds a PhD in public health. Her research interests focus on the epidemiology of wellbeing and finding reliable measures to evaluate the wellbeing of a population over time. Dóra´s passion lies in finding effective ways for individuals, institutions and societies to flourish. She has a special interest in enhancing evidence based knowledge in policy making and interventions. 

Read More >

Anne Johnstone.jpg

Anne Johnstone

IPEN Australia; Principal, Ravenswood School 

Anne Johnstone is Principal of Ravenswood School, in Sydney and Chair of the Positive Education Schools Association (PESA).  Anne holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) degree, a Graduate Diploma in Education, and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2019 Anne was recognised for pioneering work, contribution and internationally-recognised leadership in the field of Positive Education. Anne is currently completing a PhD in education.

Read More >

Dominic Randolph.jpeg

Dominic A.A. Randolph

Deputy Chair IPEN; Head of School, Riverdale 

Dominic A.A. Randolph became the sixth Head of Riverdale Country School in July 2007. He found the Character Lab–a non-profit sponsoring “translational research” on character strengths in schools. Riverdale has helped develop with IDEO, a design thinking toolkit, the Teacher’s Guild, and the Purpose Project. He has recently started “learning design studio,” Plussed+ that works on different educational projects globally. He has served on the boards of The Lawrenceville School, the Character Lab, International Positive Education Network (IPEN), and the Mastery Transcript Consortium.

Read More >


Tal Ben-Shahar

Author, Lecturer, Serial Entrepreneur 

Tal Ben-Shahar is an author and lecturer. He taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership. Today, Tal consults and lectures around the world to executives in multi-national corporations, the general public, and at-risk populations. The topics he lectures on include leadership, happiness, education, innovation, ethics, self-esteem, resilience, goal setting, and mindfulness. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages, and have appeared on best-sellers lists around the world.

Read More >


Tyler VanderWeele

Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Tyler J. VanderWeele, Ph.D., is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Human Flourishing Program and Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality at Harvard University. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance, and biostatistics. 

Read More >


John J. Ratey

Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

John J. Ratey, MD, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an internationally recognized expert in Neuropsychiatry. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, and 11 books published in 15 languages, including the ground breaking ADHD “Driven to Distraction” series with Ned Hallowell, MD. With the publication of "Spark:The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain", Dr. Ratey has established himself as one of the world's foremost authorities on the brain-fitness connection. 

Read More >

mathew w.jpg

Mathew White

Associate Professor, Deputy Head School of Education, The University of Adelaide

Mathew A. White PhD is Deputy Head of the School of Education and an Associate Professor of Education at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He is also a Principal Honorary Fellow in Melbourne Graduate School of Education and an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne. Mathew is the President of the International Positive Psychology Association’s Education Division. His research focuses on character education, leading change, positive education, and strategic planning in education and wellbeing education.

Read More >

David Bott.jpeg

David Bott

Associate Director, Institute of Positive Education, Geelong Grammar School

David Bott is the Associate Director of the Institute of Positive Education. David helps lead one of the world’s most experienced teams dedicated to research, development and training in the field of Positive Education; applied wellbeing science. David has been involved in training thousands of teachers from hundreds of schools around the world in designing, implementing and sustaining individual and whole-school approaches to wellbeing. David is a sought-after speaker and education consultant who works with government organisations and some of the world’s leading schools to help guide wellbeing vision and strategy.

Read More >

Louise Tidmand.tif

Louise Tidmand

Practitioner, Academic, Author

Louise Tidmand is a Danish “pracademic” – a practitioner and an academic. Her PhD research focuses on developing life coping skills, resilience and wellbeing in adolescents through a whole school approach intervention and was completed in February 2020. Louise is a teacher and educational psychologist, and she has devoted the past eight year to transform research into tangible educational materials for teachers, parents and students to work with in a school or home setting. Her books and games have received recommendations from the Danish National Board of Health and the Danish Board of Social Services.

Read More >


Alejandro Adler

Research Scholar, Center for Sustainability Development at Columbia University

Prior to joining the Center for Sustainability Development at Columbia University, Dr. Adler served as Director of International Education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, and previously as lead researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy, a think tank dedicated to channeling philanthropic funds to where they can have the highest social impact. He frequently advises international organizations, including The World Bank, The United Nations, the OECD, among others. He is currently one of 60 members of the United Nation's International Well-being Expert Group, and has published a number of articles in both scholarly and non-academic outlets. He frequently speaks at international conferences and gatherings.

Read More >


Ricardo Arguís Rey

Professor at the IES
"Santiago Hernández" in Zaragoza

Ricardo Arguís Rey is a teacher of Special Education, Psychologist and Doctor in Education. He has been working for more than30 years in the educational field, alternating periods as a classroom teacher with other professional stages as a consultant and teacher trainer. He coordinates the Sati Team, a work group that, since 2009, has been dedicated to the study and promotion of Positive Education for students of preschool, primary and secondary education. In October 2010, this team published the “Happy Classrooms” Programme, the first handbook in Spanish addressing Positive Education with students aged 3 to 18 years, based on the principles of mindfulness and the education of character strengths.

Read More >


Lucy Hone

Co-Director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience.

Dr Lucy Hone is a senior adjunct fellow at the University of Canterbury, co-director of the NZ Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience, a published academic researcher, best-selling author and blogger for Psychology Today. Her TED talk, the Three Secrets of Resilient People, has had over 2 million views and the arrival of the COVID pandemic has seen her work picked up by the BBC and Insight Timer.

Read More >


Yukun Zhao

Vice Director of the Positive Psychology Research Center at Tsinghua University

Dr. Yukun Zhao’s main research interests are positive education, self-determination, and big data. In this role, he organizes events like China International Positive Psychology Conferences, develops programs like Positive Education that has been applied in more than 50 schools, produces MOOCs and other online courses in positive psychology, and oversees the Positive Psychology Certificate Program at Tsinghua University that has trained more than 2000 people. He is a member of International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) board of directors, International Positive Education Network (IPEN) global representative to China, and co-founded Beijing Positive Psychology Association.

Read More >


Angela Duckworth

CEO Character Lab; Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Angela Duckworth is the founder and CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance scientific insights that help children thrive. She is also the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics.

Read More >


Sir Anthony Seldon 

IPEN President and

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham until September 2020, is one of Britain’s leading contemporary historians, educationalists, commentators and political authors. He is author or editor of over 40 books on contemporary history, including the inside books on the last five Prime Ministers, Chair of the National Archives Trust, was the co-founder and first director of the Institute for Contemporary British History, and is co-founder of Action for Happiness.

Read More >


Kaiping Peng

Dean of the School of Social Sciences of Tsinghua University 

Professor Kaiping Peng is currently the dean of the school of social sciences, chair of the psychology department at Tsinghua University. He was a tenured faculty member at the Department of Psychology of the University of California at Berkeley before returning to China in 2009. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1997. 

Read More >

Hector Escamilla Pic.jpg

Héctor Escamilla

IPEN Board;  Vice President of Development at Tecnologico de Monterrey University

Hector Escamilla is Vice President of Development at Tecnologico de Monterrey University, a private non-for-profit university system in Mexico.  He served for almost 11 years as President of Tecmilenio University, Mexico, focused on providing the highest return on investment in education that translated into high employment rates and enhanced student wellbeing, happiness and purpose in life.  He led a team that initiated a disruptive innovation process developing a vision that embraces wellbeing for students, faculty and administrators based on the science of Positive Psychology. 


Read More >

Steve Leventhal.jpg

Steve Leventhal

CEO of CorStone

Since joining CorStone as Chief Executive Officer in 2008, Steve Leventhal 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. Through Steve's passionate leadership, CorStone’s evidence-based positive psychology and resilience-based programs have reached over 100,000 youth and women living in poverty in India, Kenya, Rwanda, and the US. 

Read More >


Kristján Kristjánsson

Professor of Character Education and Virtue Ethics;  Deputy Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues

Professor Kristján Kristjánsson (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is Deputy Director in the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and Professor of Character Education and Virtue Ethics at the University of Birmingham, U.K. His interests lie in research on character and virtues at the intersection between moral philosophy, moral psychology and moral education. He has published six books on those issues, the latest one is Flourishing as the Aim of Education (Routledge, 2020). 

Read More >


Gilda Scarfe

CEO and Founder of Positive Ed

Gilda Scarfe is the CEO and Founder of Positive Ed a leading and innovative educational consultancy using research to develop, implement and evaluate mental toughness, wellbeing and 21st century skills in schools through programmes design and pedagogical approaches. She has been responsible for the organisation and implementation of the Positive Psychology/Education strategy at several grammar schools in the UK, Singapore, UAE and Thailand and has supported the strategic direction and implementation of Illuminate Education a non-profit organisation promoting Positive Education initiatives.

Read More >

LO 2.jpg

Lindsay Oades

Director of the University of Melbourne Centre for Positive Psychology

Dr Lindsay G. Oades PhD is an internationally acclaimed wellbeing public policy strategist, researcher and author. As Director and Professor at the Centre for Positive Psychology, at The University of Melbourne, he leads a growing and dynamic team of researchers and educators who promote and investigate how people learn to improve wellbeing, in education, health, organisations and communities.

Read More >

Caroline Miller.jpg

Caroline Adams Miller

Speaker, Educator and Author

Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, is one of the world’s leading positive psychology experts on Goals & Grit ™. Caroline is passionate about helping people get more grit, achieve their goals and find happiness. She’s spent more than 30 years helping individuals, leaders and companies to achieve their goals. Caroline has a Masters of Applied Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. She is the author of six books, including Getting Grit (Sounds True 2017) and Creating Your Best Life (Sterling 2009). Caroline’s work has been featured in BBC World News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC, NPR and CNN.



Read More >


Rosalinda Ballesteros-Valdés

IPEN Latin America; Director, Institute of Wellbeing and Happiness at Universidad Tecmilenio

Rosalinda Ballesteros-Valdés PhD is the director for the Institute of Wellbeing and Happiness at Universidad Tecmilenio, considered the first Positive University. At Tecmilenio she previously had the position of Vice-president for High School Education, she designed the Positive Education Curriculum for 28 Tecmilenio High Schools (more than 15,000 students). Dr. Ballesteros-Valdés holds a PhD in Humanistic Studies by Tecnológico de Monterrey in México and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has 20 years’ experience in education and curriculum design. Dr. Ballesteros-Valdés worked extensively in peace education programs, from Education for Peace International and Peace begins with children in México.  

Read More >


Elke Paul

Mental Health Educator
Wellbeing & Positive Education Consultant 

Dr. Elke Paul is an international education consultant, trainer and speaker. She holds a PhD in Comparative Education, a university degree (Diplom) in Social Pedagogy, and certification in Positive Psychology. She represents IPEN in Germany and is Head of Positive Education within the German PP Association. Dr. Paul has lived and worked in Europe, USA, Asia and
Australia and has gained deep insight into the landscape of school development challenges.

Read More >

Katy Granville-Chapman.jpg

Katy Granville-Chapman

Associate Fellow of the Oxford Character Project

Katy Granville-Chapman is an Associate Fellow of the Oxford Character Project and co-author of ‘Leader: know, love and inspire your people’. Katy is the co-founder of Global Social Leaders, a leadership programme which has participants in 105 countries, all passionate about creating and sustaining positive change in the world. Katy is doing a DPhil (PhD) at Oxford University asking how leaders could improve the flourishing of those they lead; she is a research associate at the Oxford University Wellbeing Research Centre. She is a deputy headteacher and founder of the Wellington Leadership and Coaching Institute.

Read More >

Emmie Bidston.jpg

Emmie Bidston

Associate Fellow of the Oxford Character Project

Emmie Bidston is an Associate Fellow of the Oxford Character Project and co-author of ‘Leader: know, love and inspire your people’. Emmie studied Economics at the University of Cambridge before working for the UK civil service in a range of areas from education to contingency planning. She is currently head of Economics at Wellington College and Director of the Wellington Leadership and Coaching Institute. She co-founded a charity to help develop young leaders in Africa and runs conferences, coaching and leadership training for adults and young people.

Read More >

Peggy Kern.jpg

Peggy Kern

Associate Professor, Centre for Positive Psychology, The University of Melbourne

Dr Peggy Kern is an associate professor at the Centre for Positive Psychology within the University of Melbourne's Graduate School of Education. Originally trained in social, personality, and developmental psychology, Peggy received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Arizona State University, a Masters and Ph.D. in social/personality psychology from the University of California and postdoctoral training in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Read More >

Sylvia Kwok.jpg

Sylvia Kwok

Associate Professor, Program Leader, Department of Social & Behavioural Sciences,
City University of Hong Kong

As an Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the City University of Hong Kong, my research mainly focuses on the family ecological and positive psychological factors that are related to anxiety, depression and suicide of children and adolescents. I have published over 50 papers related to children and adolescent mental health problems, parenting and positive education in international refereed journals. I have been invited as guest speaker and keynote speaker in 60 conferences and symposiums. As the convenor of the Positive Education Laboratory, we have collaborated with over 200 local schools (from pre-primary schools to universities) to promote positive education for 75,000 students, 7,500 teachers, 35,000 parents and the community.

Read More >

Denise Quinlan.jpg

Denise Quinlan

Co-Director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience.

Dr Denise Quinlan is a director of the NZ Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience. She has lectured on strengths and positive psychology around the world. As the only trainer from Australia/New Zealand selected to deliver the University of Pennsylvania’s ground breaking Penn Resiliency Programme, she has worked alongside Prof. Martin Seligman and Dr. Karen Reivich training educators at leading schools in Australia and the UK (Geelong Grammar School, St Peter’s Adelaide and Wellington College). Denise has worked extensively in wellbeing development in state and private education over the past decade in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. 

Read More >


Karen Reivich

Director of Training Programs for the Penn Positive Psychology Center

Karen Reivich is the Director of Resilience and Positive Psychology Training at the Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania where she also serves as an instructor for the Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program. She is a leader in the fields of resilience and positive psychology and travels the globe delivering customized workshops and providing consultation to organizations looking to create and maintain resilient and thriving organizations.

Read More >

bottom of page