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SIPPA (Students of IPPA)

Leadership Team

Leadership Team

Thank you to the Leadership Team for the Positive Education Division, for their support and guidance throughout the implementation of this essential part of the IPPA Divisions.

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Maggie Yue Zhao, Ph.D.
Past President

Maggie Zhao is the IPPA Education Division President (2021-2023). More

Having earned the Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in Psychometrics from the University of Massachusetts, Dr Zhao is currently Director of Teaching and Learning Evaluation and Measurement Unit at the University of Hong Kong. An academic and practitioner, Maggie has heavily engaged in leading large-scale educational projects from K-12 to higher education with a wide range of leading, teaching, research, and professional practice experience in the United States and China. Her research over the past decade has centered on the intersection of data science, learning sciences, and well-being science. Her work has appeared in refereed journals like Lancet PsychiatryJournal of Positive Psychology, and Assessment. Maggie actively serves on advisory boards, professional committees, and professional consultations in student learning, well-being, curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and quality assurance.

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Rosalinda Ballesteros Valdés, Ph.D.

Rosalinda Ballesteros is currently Director for the Institute for Wellbeing and Happiness at Universidad Tecmilenio. More

She also held the position of Vice president for High School Education.  She has PhD in Humanisitic Studies from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico and a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She has experience in leadership roles at Universities in Mexico where she has applied Positive Psychology in curricular plans for different age groups. She is representative for Latin America of the International Positive Education Network. Member of the Board for the “World Happiness Foundation”, “Pace begins with Children in Mexico” and “Education for Peace International” in Canada. Currently writes columns for different media outlets in Spanish.

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Mathew White, Ph.D.
Immediate Education Division Past-President

Mathew A. White, PhD, is the Past-President of the IPPA Education Division (2021-2019). More

He also served as the Education Division World Congress Lead for 2021, 2019 and 2017. He is the Interim Head of the School of Education and an Associate Professor of Education at the University of Adelaide. He is also a principal fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. Publications include Wellbeing and Resilience Education: COVID-19 and Its Impact on Education (with Faye McCallum, Routledge, 2021), Critical Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Leadership: Enhancing Educational Outcomes (with Faye McCallum, Springer, 2020), Future Directions in Wellbeing: Education, Organisations and Policy (with Gavin Slemp and Simon Murray, Springer, 2017) and Evidence-Based Approaches in Positive Education: Implementing a Strategic Framework for Wellbeing in Schools (with Simon Murray, Springer, 2015). In 2020, Mathew was presented the Distinguished Contribution to Research in Educational Leadership Award by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders South Australian Branch. In 2021 he was awarded Fellowship of the International Positive Psychology Association. Mathew was a secondary school teacher for 20 years and has a decade’s senior leadership-level experience in schools. His next co-authored research book with Professor Faye McCallum, Wellbeing Education and Professional Practice: Transforming Teaching will be published by Springer (forthcoming 2022).

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Margaret Kern, Ph.D.
Founding Chair

Peggy Kern, PhD, is an Associate Professor (Reader) in the Centre for Positive Psychology Melbourne Graduate School of Education The University of Melbourne. More

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.

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Ulrike Lichtinger, Ph.D.
Research-Practice Lead

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Lichtinger is a trained teacher and school development coach with lots of experience in both fields. More

She was professor of school development and vice president at the university of applied education in Feldkirch, Austria and is now professor of school pedagogics and holds the chair at the university of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany. Together with her team she has designed the concept as well as the intervention programme of positive school development called Flourishing SD. She has brought the positive education approach to Germany, Austria and Luxembourg and runs several research and development projects related to positive education trainings for both primary and secondary schools as well as the design of the learning system PERMA-lis for mathematics and positive leadership training for heads of schools and leading authorities in education. Her research focuses the intervention effects on the participants‘ wellbeing, self-determination and mindset.

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Grace Xia Zhao
Communications Lead

Dr. Grace Xia Zhao is an Associate Professor of Music and the Music Department Chair at the University of La Verne in Los Angeles, California. More

She holds a doctorate degree in Music from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a concert pianist and a music educator. Dr. Zhao’s research interests lie at the intersections of music and positive psychology. She studies the theory, research, and practice of music’s impact on well-being, specifically music’s connections to emotional intelligence, flow, mindfulness, creativity, and community building. Dr. Zhao is the founder of Project Harmonia, a practice focusing on musical approaches to well-being.

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Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D.
Publications Lead

Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. is the Ross and Marianna Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education; More

Chairperson, Department of Special Education; and Director and Senior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability, all at the University of Kansas. His research focuses on issues pertaining to self-determination, self-determined learning, and autonomy-supportive interventions as well as the application of positive psychology in the disability context. He is the editor of the Oxford Handbook on Positive Psychology and Disability and has published extensively in these areas.

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Sylvia Kwok, Ph.D.
Regional Representatives Lead

Dr. Sylvia Kwok is Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), Hong Kong. More

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 300 local schools, universities, corporations, and social welfare agencies to launch positive education projects, such as 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, enhancing wellbeing and positive learning experiences of university students, application of positive education to people with mental illness in half way houses. She has published a number of papers related to children and adolescent mental health in international refereed journals with high impact factor, e.g., Child Abuse and Neglect, Prevention Science, Journal of Happiness Studies, Journal of Positive Psychology, Children & Youth Services Review, Research on Social Work Practice, Social Indicators Research, Suicide and Life-threatening Behavior, Journal of Child and Family Studies. She was also invited as guest speaker and keynote speaker in about 60 conferences and symposiums. She is editor of many international refereed journals. In the previous years, she got about US$4,500,000 from internal grants at CityU and from external grants. Her positive family project won the Excellence in Knowledge Transfer Award by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at CityU in 2013. She got the Teaching Innovation Award (Team) from CLASS at CityU in 2019. In addition, she got the University Grants Committee Teaching Award (Team) with the Joint University Mental-wellness Project in 2021.

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Åse Fagerlund, Ph.D.
European Conference Pre-conference Lead

Åse Fagerlund, PhD, is a specialist in neuropsychology, psychotherapist and senior researcher at the Folkhälsan Research Center More

and the Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki in Finland. Åse’s interests lies in enhancing well-being in children, youth and adults through a broad range of methods from positive psychology, psychotherapy and neuroscience. She combines intervention research with trainings, lecturing and individual client work in the well-being arena.

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Mette Marie Ledertoug
European Conference Pre-conference Lead

Dr. Ledertoug is a senior lecturer at University of East London. More

She did her PhD-thesis on Strength-based Learning – Children’s characters’ strengths as a means to optimal learning and a Postdoc in a European Horizon 2020 Research project UPRIGHT – a resilience program for teenagers in schools. Within the field of Positive Education, she is especially focused on optimal learning, increasing engagement, and reducing boredom in schools. She consider herself as a pracademic, translating research into practice building bridges to apply knowledge, skills and competencies in schools.