Who we are

The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion was originally founded in 2012 by the developers of MSC, Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff, and is now an international nonprofit organization. You can read about our team below.

Board of Directors

Kristin Neff

Dr. Kristin NeffKristin Neff, PhD, is co-founder of CMSC and co-developer of MSC. She is Associate Professor in the Educational Psychology Dept. at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, being the first person to operationally define and measure the construct. She has published widely including numerous academic articles and book chapters, as well as the bestselling books Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, and Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program. Kristin’s work has received extensive coverage in the popular press, including TheNew York Times, MSNBC, Scientific American, Psychology Today, and many others. She is also a frequent guest on shows such as the BBC Women’s Hour or Dan Harris’s 10% Happier podcast. Kristin gives talks on self-compassion and leads MSC workshops around the world.

Email: kristin@centerformsc.org     Website: self-compassion.org

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Christopher Germer

Chris Germer 2017

Christopher Germer, PhD is a co-developer of the MSC program and a co-founder of the Center for MSC. He is the author of the popular book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and co-author (with Kristin Neff) of the professional text, Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program, and The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. Chris is an MSC Teacher Trainer and leads MSC intensives and workshops around the world.

Chris is also a clinical psychologist and lecturer on psychiatry (part-time) at Harvard Medical School. Chris has been integrating the principles and practices of meditation into psychotherapy since 1978. He has co-edited two influential volumes – Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy – and he is a founding faculty member of both the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy and the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. Chris maintains a small private practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, USA, specializing in mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy.

Email: Chris@centerformsc.org
Christopher K. Germer Phd – The Mindful Path to Self Compassion on Facebook

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Sydney Spears

Sydney Spears, Ph.D., LCSW is a certified Mindful-Self Compassion teacher and Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging for the Center of Mindful Self-Compassion. She also works part-time at the University of Kansas-School of Social Welfare specializing in teaching diversity, anti-oppression, social justice and clinical social work courses. Sydney has deep passion for advancing social equity for racialized people and all other underserved populations experiencing systemic injustices. Additionally, Sydney is highly committed to providing and integrating anti-oppressive and trauma-sensitive practices within her psychotherapy practice as a licensed clinical social worker. Her counseling service specializes in working with survivors of chronic stress and trauma generated from family relationships and sociocultural trauma.

Email:  sydney@centerformsc.org

Marta Alonso

Marta Alonso is Licensed Clinical Psychologist specialized in mindfulness and compassion treatments and European Expert in Psychotherapy by the EFPA having obtained Europsy certification. She is MSC Teacher Trainer and Mentor and the first certified teacher in the Spanish language. She has taught more than 40 MSC courses, which she introduced in Spain. She is a founding member of the Spanish Association of Mindfulness and Compassion and has been its president until 2017, and is currently a member of the honorary council.

Email:  marta@globalc.es    Website: www.globalc.es

Randolph Oudemans

After 25+ years as an international business leader and humanitarian, Randolph focuses his energies to help people develop their innate capacities of mindfulness, compassion and happiness. Drawing upon his experiences in fostering civic engagement and social responsibility in families, schools and corporations, he continues to empower individuals to develop an authentic and truly human engagement with themselves and others.


Email: randolph@now-here.global Website: http://now-here.global and http://treasure-earth.global 

CMSC Administration

Executive Director: Steven Hickman

Dr. Steve Hickman

Steven Hickman, Psy.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a retired Associate Clinical Professor in the UC San Diego Department of Family Medicine. His role is to provide oversight, vision, direction and focus for the development and expansion of CMSC around the world. He is also the author of Self-Compassion for Dummies, an ironically-titled book devoted to introducing the practice of self-compassion to those who are new to it.  Steve is the Founding Director of the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness, a program of community building, clinical care, professional training and research. He has taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for 19 years and has trained teachers of MBSR and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Steve is an MSC teacher trainer, and leads MSC intensives and workshops around the world.

Email: steve@centerformsc.org      Website: https://www.drstevenhickman.com/ 

Communications Manager: Aimee Eckhardt

Aimee Eckhardt is a Mindful Self-Compassion teacher and co-developer of the 8-month MSC Community for Deepening Practice. She is also a co-founder of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness in Kansas City and is a chaplain-in-training at Upaya Zen Center. She lives, plays, and parents in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Email: aimee.eckhardt@gmail.com

Operations & Events Manager: Gail Stein

Gail SteinGail Stein, MA (Art History) lives in San Diego, California, where she managed a yoga and bodywork studio for many years.  She has an administrative background and has run several independent businesses with her husband.  She now provides administrative support for the Executive Director, manages the finances of the organization, and coordinates CMSC-sponsored events. She answers most general public inquiries, and is often the first point of contact for people wanting to learn more about CMSC.

Email: gail@centerformsc.org

Teacher Relations Manager:  Kim Levan

Kim Levan, CMSC Teacher Relations ManagerKim is a Trained MSC Teacher, certified Life Coach and Group Facilitator with a passion for yoga, dance and the great outdoors. She has an administrative background in the non-profit sector and enjoys supporting others to thrive in their personal and professional lives. After discovering MSC in 2015, Kim trained as an MSC teacher and is delighted to now be working for CMSC. Her primary role is interfacing with MSC teachers and answering inquiries related to teacher training and continuing education. Originally from the UK, Kim worked and travelled across the globe for several years before making her home in Portland, Oregon.

Email: kim@centerformsc.org


International Affairs Manager: Mirjam Luthe

Mirjam L.Mirjam Luthe, MA (International Cultural & Business Studies, Development Cooperation & NGO Management) is a certified MSC Teacher, a certified MBSR teacher, trained in the Mindful Schools Curriculum, Council Practice and contemplative dialog. She has lived on and off in Spain and California; her home base is Freiburg, Germany. At CMSC, she provides support to the Director of International Affairs, e.g. for the Globally Engaged Intensives, the relation to the TG translators and country pages and the International Advisory Council. Mirjam speaks English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. She has worked in many developing countries and stands for a socially engaged practice.

Email: mirjam@centerformsc.org      Website: www.sinnwaerts.de

Online Programs

Director of Online Programs: Natalie Bell

Natalie Bell, PT, CMF is an American-Ecuadorian living in California.  In her role she directs the administration and management of the Live-Online Mindful Self-Compassion (LOMSC) program including teacher onboarding, curriculum oversight, scheduling, marketing and communications. Natalie also assists the Executive Director in planning and growth opportunities for online programming for the CMSC.  Natalie is a certified MSC teacher teaching online and in Los Angeles at the Center for Mindful Living.  She also teaches mindfulness for UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and is the Director of Corporate Programs for Unplug Meditation.  She runs Mindful Wellness, a training and coaching platform working with individuals and corporations nationally.  Natalie loves nature, the beach, dancing and music.

Email: Natalie@centerformsc.org     Website: www.nataliebell.com

Online Programs Administrator: Maria Paula Jimenez

Maria Paula Jimenez is a Colombian contemplative instructor and therapist who serves as the LOMSC administrator. Maria Paula is an MSC teacher in training and a Senior Instructor and supervisor of future instructors in the Compassion Cultivation Training Program developed by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. She is also a lecturer, organizational consultant and advisor to groups and individuals on topics related to well-being/ whole-being, change, contemplative practices, mindfulness, and compassion. Maria Paula studied Psychology at Los Andes University, with a minor in business. She is an expert in Corporate Social Responsibility from Sergio Arboleda University and in Integrative Therapies from the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad del Rosario. 

CMSC Circles of Practice Coordinator: Cecilia Fernandez-Hall

Cecilia Fernandez-Hall, Ph.D. is a Cuban-American living in New Hampshire.  She is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in mindfulness-based psychotherapy, a Mindful Self-Compassion teacher, and a Circles of Practice facilitator. Cecilia manages the day-to-day operation of the Circles of Practice and co-coordinates Circles of Encouragement, the weekly emails designed to help support the mindfulness and self-compassion practices of our ever-growing MSC graduate and teacher communities.

Email: circlesofpractice@centerformsc.org