Maryam AbdullahParenting Program Director
Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., is the Parenting Program Director of the Greater Good Science Center. She is a developmental psychologist with expertise in parent-child relationships and children’s development of prosocial behaviors. At GGSC, Maryam’s role is to support organizations providing parenting education to raise caring children and to share the latest parenting science findings on Greater Good. Prior to joining GGSC, she was an Assistant Project Scientist at the University of California, Irvine Child Development School in the Department of Pediatrics, a school-based behavioral health program where she provided parenting and child interventions, oversaw its clinical outcomes and program evaluation, and mentored undergraduate students with research projects. Her research experiences include exploration of parent-child relationships, early development of children with autism spectrum disorder, and traditional behavioral and canine-assisted interventions for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. She was the recipient of the University of California, Irvine Health System ARIISE Award for Respect. Maryam was born and raised in the Bay Area.
Megan BanderParenting Program Coordinator
As the Greater Good Parenting Program Coordinator, Megan supports the creation and distribution of content for parenting practitioners and parents to help them raise kids committed to the well-being of others.
Prior to working at GGSC, Megan was a consultant at WolfBrown, where she managed research and evaluation projects aimed at understanding and advocating for the impact of the arts. Her favorite projects focused on understanding the social and emotional benefits of arts programming for children and families.
Megan is a graduate of UC Davis, where she focused her studies on aesthetics, the sublime, and (while she didn’t call it this at the time) experiences of awe. She received her M.A. in arts administration from Teachers College, Columbia University. Megan grew up in the Bay Area and currently lives in the East Bay with her husband and toddler.
Allison Briscoe-SmithSenior Fellow
Dr. Briscoe-Smith earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University. She then received her clinical psychology Ph.D. from University of California Berkeley. She then went on to continue her specialization in trauma and ethnic minority mental health through internship and postdoctoral work at University of California San Francisco/San Francisco General Hospital. She has combined her love of teaching and advocacy by serving as a professor and by directing mental health programs for children experiencing trauma, homelessness or foster care. Much of her work has been with schools, as a clinician, consultant and trainer. Currently she is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Wright Institute where she is a professor. She provides consultation and training to bay area non profits and schools on how to support trauma informed practices and cultural accountability.
Betsy CardisDevelopment Director
Betsy Cardis grew up in Oakland, CA and received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at UC Berkeley. She completed her master’s degree in Culture & Spirituality at Holy Names University in Oakland.
Since 2003, Betsy has raised millions of dollars for Bay Area education and environment nonprofit organizations, including UC Berkeley, Berkeley-Haas, UCSF, Save The Bay, and Earthjustice. She is also an ICF-trained life coach, ordained interfaith minister, and lifelong student of human behavior.
The role of development director for the GGSC brings Betsy’s fundraising career path together with her personal journey, and she is proud to be part of this incredible work! Betsy lives in the East Bay, and she loves to sing, garden, play tennis, and give thanks for a beautiful life.
Christine CarterSenior Fellow
Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a sociologist and the author of the popular books The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work and Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. A sought-after keynote speaker, Christine talks to to executives, general audiences, and parents about how to live life from our “sweet spot”—that place of both power and ease. She has been quoted or featured in many major media outlets, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Dr. Oz Show, the TODAY show, the Rachael Ray Show, and PBS, as well as NPR and BBC Radio.
Christine received her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, and her Ph.D. in sociology from UC Berkeley. She has also worked as an innovation consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Predictably, Christine is happiest when she is with her friends and her family, especially her four kids, husband, and dog, Buster.
Aakash Chowkase, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Greater Good Science Center, where he is conducting research on bridging differences. Specifically, he is developing a tool to measure social cohesion and then using it to evaluate GGSC’s bridging differences practices. Aakash earned his Ph.D. in gifted, creative, and talented studies from Purdue University, where he also served as the youth program coordinator of the Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute. His dissertation focused on nurturing concern for others in adolescents, for which he developed a classroom-based intervention to enhance adolescents’ empathy, compassion, and prosocial behavior. His research interests are talent development, social and emotional learning, and equity in education. Aakash has received the Mensa Gifted Education Fellowship, Purdue’s Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship, and most recently the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Educational Research Association (Divison H).
Before moving to the U.S., he was a faculty at the Jnana Prabodhini’s Institute of Psychology in Pune, India, where he founded India’s first post-graduate diploma in gifted education. He is also a cofounder of the Jnana Prabodhini Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization working in the domains of education, women leadership, and rural development in India. He is a passionate teacher and has 16 years of teaching experience. You can follow his work at www.aakashchowkase.com.
Amy L. EvaAssociate Education Director
Amy L. Eva, Ph.D., is the associate education director at the Greater Good Science Center. She writes for the center’s online magazine, facilitates the Summer Institute for Educators, and consults on the development of GGSC education resources. With over 23 years in classrooms, she is a teacher at heart. She is fascinated by neuroscience, the psychology of learning, and adolescent development and has spent the last 12 years as a teacher educator.
As a researcher, she has published in the areas of teacher education, metacognition, adolescent mental health, social-emotional learning, and mindfulness-based interventions with marginalized youth. Her most recent publication “The Mindful Teacher: Translating Research into Daily Well-being” (The Clearing House), describes mindfulness, provides research-based evidence of its usefulness, and highlights resources that educators can use to manage stress and improve their well-being.
Taylor Fisher is the Director of Marketing and Partnerships at the Greater Good Science Center. She specializes in creating purpose-led work through expanding diversity and inclusion in advertising and using campaign platforms to bring awareness to global issues like America’s water crisis, climate change, and mental health. Her campaign work has been awarded best-in-class by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
With training from the Co-Active Training Institute and Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, she has led global workshops on mindfulness in the workplace. She is currently studying with the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy to receive board certification in health and wellness coaching.
Prior to working for the GGSC, Taylor spent 10 years working in the CPG and tech industries. She is passionate about holistic health and closing the resource gap for people looking to lead happier and healthier lives.
Mariah FlynnEducation Program Coordinator
As the Greater Good Education Program Coordinator, Mariah wears many hats. She manages and updates Greater Good in Education, a collection of practices and resources for educators; supports the registration and technical aspects of our online courses and communities of practice; and occasionally writes education or parenting-focused articles for Greater Good magazine.
Mariah currently lives in the PNW with her wife and two children. She finds joy in knitting, gardening and baking, and looking for awe experiences in the mountains, lakes, and forests that surround her.
Margaret GoldenEducation Community Manager
Margaret Golden, Ed.D., plans and facilitates GGSC communities of practice to provide educators with transformative explorations in the science of well-being and social-emotional learning. She is the coauthor of Teach Our Children Well: Essential Strategies for the Urban Classroom and editor of Teaching and Learning from the Inside Out: Revitalizing Ourselves and Our Institutions. Margaret is passionate about educational equity and the creation of trustworthy spaces for engaging in heartfelt, often difficult, conversations.
As a professor at Dominican University of California, and a facilitator prepared by the Center for Courage and Renewal, she directed Courage to Teach© and Leading Together© programs to support teacher well-being and the revitalization of school communities. She received her B.A. and teaching credential from San Diego State University, and her M.A and Ed.D. from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Margaret lives in Berkeley with her partner, David, and is the proud mother of two amazing young women. She enjoys the practice of yoga, long walks in the hills, travels to the sea, and quality time with family and friends.
Haley GrayPodcast Producer
Haley is a producer of The Science of Happiness podcast, a co-production of the GGC and PRX. She’s reported for KQED in San Francisco and 5280 Magazine in Denver. She also produces for Wondery’s award-winning culture podcast Even The Rich.
She spent the pandemic cooking hundreds of recipes, finishing grad school, and producing an audio documentary about her favorite herb. You can follow her on Twitter @grrayley.
Shuka KalantariExecutive Producer of Audio
Shuka Kalantari leads production of GGSC’s The Science of Happiness podcast, Happiness Break, and other podcasts, in partnership with PRX. Her background is in public radio, reporting on science, health, and education with a focus on underrepresented communities internationally. Shuka was born in Northern Iran and raised in North California. She’s a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. You can follow her on Twitter, and pitch ideas, at @skalantari.
Dacher KeltnerFaculty Director
Dacher Keltner, Ph.D, is a co-founder of the Greater Good Science Center and its faculty director. He is also the host of the GGSC’s Science of Happiness podcast and the co-instructor of its Science of Happiness and Science of Happiness at Work online courses.
After receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University, Dacher (rhymes with “cracker”) has devoted his career to studying the nature of human goodness, conducting ground-breaking research on compassion, awe, laughter, and love. He is also a leading expert on social intelligence, the psychology of power, and the emotional bases of morality. He has written more than 100 scientific papers and two best-selling textbooks, Social Psychology and Understanding Emotions. More recently, he is the author of The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence and Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, and a co-editor of the Greater Good anthology, The Compassionate Instinct.
Dacher is an outstanding speaker who has received several national research and teaching awards. Wired has rated the podcasts of his “Human Emotion” course as one of the five best academic podcasts in the country. He has twice presented his research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of a continuing dialogue between the Dalai Lama and scientists, and his work is featured regularly in major media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, and NPR. In 2008, the Utne Reader named him as one of 50 visionaries who are changing our world.
Lauren LeeEducation Marketing Specialist
Lauren Lee is the Education Marketing Specialist at the Greater Good Science Center. Passionate about character education and social-emotional learning, she supports the education team in promoting kinder, happier, and equitable places to live and learn.
A creative thinker with over a decade of experience in marketing and branding, Lauren has served in an eclectic mix of roles, including online marketing manager, staff photographer, and school support manager. Lauren is also a lifestyle photographer and shoots for stock agencies and cause-driven organizations.
She lives in New York with her husband and two elementary-aged kids. Her perfect day includes a library, dappled tree-light, double crème brie, and family movie night.
Jason MarshExecutive Director and Editor in Chief
Jason Marsh is the GGSC’s executive director and the founding editor in chief of its award-winning online magazine, Greater Good. He oversees the production of all editorial content, curates the “Science of a Meaningful Life” event series, and coordinates the public education efforts at the GGSC, where he has worked for nearly two decades. In that time, Jason’s writing has explored everything from the psychology of the bystander to the reasons why he should finally start meditating.
Jason is also a co-editor of two anthologies of Greater Good articles: The Compassionate Instinct and Are We Born Racist?. Before coming to the GGSC, Jason was the managing editor of the political journal The Responsive Community. He has also worked as a reporter and producer at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, as a documentary producer, and as a kindergarten teacher. His first documentary, Unschooled, a profile of three families practicing the controversial homeschooling method known as “unschooling,” debuted at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. A graduate of Brown University and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Jason lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughter.
Mike McLaughlinProject Manager
Mike supports the Greater Good Science Center in managing projects focusing on SEL implementation, bridging differences, and creating and sharing research-based resources for educators, students, and families. He is an educator, organizer, and naturalist, and is passionate about making a quality education accessible to all students, protecting and expanding voting rights, and protecting wildlife and wild spaces. Before joining GGSC, Mike led data and leadership development projects across over 250 schools at KIPP Foundation; managed staff, volunteers, and field offices for several presidential campaigns; and taught preschool and elementary-aged students in several settings.
Rodolfo Mendoza-DentonSenior Faculty Advisor
Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, focuses his research on the interface of culture, social cognition, and intergroup processes. He is interested in understanding how marginalization of one’s social group affects basic processes related to social identity and intergroup relationships. Rudy writes for Greater Good about cross-group relationships and the psychology of prejudice, and he is a co-editor of the Greater Good anthology, Are We Born Racist?. He served as interim director of the GGSC from 2013-2014.
Kira M. NewmanManaging Editor
Kira M. Newman writes, edits, and produces content for all of the Greater Good Science Center’s websites, from the magazine to Greater Good in Action to the Science of Happiness MOOC, for which she served as course assistant for three semesters. Her work has been published in outlets including the Washington Post, Mindful magazine, Social Media Monthly, and Tech.co, and she is the co-editor of The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good.
She has created large communities around the science of happiness, attracting more than 1,500 students to her online course The Year of Happy and nearly 1,900 members to her CaféHappy meetup in Toronto.
Hong NguyenDirector of Operations
Hong Nguyen is the director of operations for the Greater Good Science Center. She manages all the center’s day-to-day functions, from HR and payroll to financial, budget, event coordination, and staffing of students and volunteers. Her detailed organization keeps the center functioning at its peak.
Before joining the Greater Good Science Center, Hong worked at various other departments at UC Berkeley beginning in 2000, accumulating a vast amount of experience and knowledge of the UC system. Besides her expertise in finances and management, she also has creative talent for design and always rises to the occasion in tackling unforeseen hurdles.
Hong grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to California in 1989. She has three children and is loving the California life. She also likes travel and nature.
Jane ParkExecutive Producer
Jane Park is the Executive Producer at the Greater Good Science Center. She produces video for the center’s online magazine and the center’s acclaimed podcast, The Science of Happiness, in partnership with PRX.
Scott ShigeokaBridging Differences Fellow
Scott Keoni Shigeoka (they/he) is the GGSC’s Bridging Differences Fellow, where they developed the Bridging Differences Playbook. They’re currently producing the GGSC’s Bridging Differences online course to widely share research-based practices that promote positive dialogue and understanding. This work is a part of Scott’s 10-year commitment to strengthen national efforts that bridge divides and foster healing in the United States.
Scott is a visiting instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and has taught at University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania. Scott is a former social impact leader at the design firm IDEO, a writer for outlets like The Washington Post, and the co-founder of two social enterprises in the U.S. and Europe. Their work has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Variety, and they have been awarded fellowships with Fulbright, MTV Networks, and at the Sundance Institute.
Saige SimienMarketing Assistant
Saige Simien (she/her) resides in Long Beach, California, and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Berkeley. She is the marketing assistant for the Greater Good Science Center, where she manages our social media accounts and contributes to various marketing campaigns. She is also a contributor to our Bridging Differences and Intellectual Humility projects.
Emiliana Simon-ThomasScience Director
Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., is the science director of the Greater Good Science Center, where she oversees its fellowship program, Expanding Gratitude project, and is a co-instructor of the GGSC’s “Science of Happiness” online course.
Emiliana earned her doctorate in Cognition Brain and Behavior at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation used behavioral and neuroscience methods to examine how negative states like fear and aversion influence thinking and decision-making. During her postdoc, Emiliana transitioned to studying pro-social states like love of humanity, compassion, and awe. From there, she served as Associate Director/Senior Scientist at CCARE (the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education) at Stanford University, focusing on how compassion benefits health, well-being, and psychosocial functioning.
Today, Emiliana’s work spotlights the science that connects health and happiness to social affiliation, caregiving, and collaborative relationships, as she continues to examine the potential for—as well as the benefits of—living a more meaningful life.
Jeremy Adam SmithEditor
Jeremy Adam Smith edits the GGSC’s online magazine, Greater Good, and helps launch new products like Thnx4.org and Greater Good in Action.
He is the author or coeditor of five books: The Daddy Shift; Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood; Are We Born Racist?; The Compassionate Instinct; and (most recently) The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good.
Jeremy’s coverage of racial and economic segregation in San Francisco schools has won numerous honors, including the Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting, the PASS Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the National Award for Education Reporting, and many excellence in journalism awards from the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists. He is also a three-time winner of the John Swett Award from the California Teachers Association. Before joining the GGSC, Jeremy was a John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Scientific American, The Nation, Mindful, Wired, and many other periodicals, websites, and books. You can follow him on Mastodon.
Jill SuttieBook Review Editor
Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good. Her passion for science, positive psychology, and social psychology fueled her interest in writing for the magazine, and she published her first article there in 2006—two years after Greater Good’s inception. Since then, she’s written hundreds of articles and book reviews covering a multitude of topics, including compassion, mindfulness, resilience, awe, altruism, happiness, cooperation, and purpose. She also writes about the impacts of racial bias, technology, nature, music, and social policy on individual mental health, relationships, and society. Outside of working for Greater Good, she does freelance writing for other publications, has been a featured guest on podcasts, and is a musician with two CDs of original songs, both available on her personal website: jillsuttie.com. Jill has two grown children and lives with her husband and her dog in Berkeley, California, where she hikes regularly in nearby Tilden Park to get her recommended daily dose of nature.
Vicki ZakrzewskiEducation Director
Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D., is the founding education director at the Greater Good Science Center, where she translates the science of compassion, empathy, gratitude, awe, forgiveness, and other social, emotional, and ethical skills to improve the well-being of students and educators. She writes articles, gives talks and workshops all over the world, designs online courses for educators, and is the creative lead for the GGSC’s new online resource for educators, Greater Good in Education. Vicki also serves as the co-associate editor of SEL practice for Social and Emotional Learning: Research, Practice, and Policy, sits on several advisory boards, and consults and collaborates with educational organizations. Sample collaborations include Harvard’s EASEL Lab and Making Caring Common; the CalHOPE project, providing SEL training to every California educator; CASEL’s California Collaborating States Initiative; the Learning and Policy Institute at Stanford University; Generation Citizen; UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Peace and Sustainable Development; the Delhi Ministry of Education’s Happiness Curriculum; Science for Monks and Nuns in Dharamsala, India; the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai, U.A.E.; the Mind and Life Institute (of which she is a fellow); the Jim Henson Company; and Pixar/Disney on The Emotions Survival Guide—a follow-up book for children based on the movie Inside Out. A former teacher and school leader, she earned her Ph.D. in Education and Positive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.