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: Co-Founder

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, Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive, 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: [email protected] 
Website: self-compassion.org
Join Kristin’s mailing list

Christopher Germer: Co-Founder

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 can be reached by way of [email protected]
Website: www.chrisgermer.com
Christopher K. Germer Phd – The Mindful Path to Self Compassion on Facebook
Join Chris’ mailing list

Deirdre Maloney: Board President

Deirdre Maloney

Deirdre Maloney helps organizations exceed their goals and helps their leaders sleep better at night. She does it through her work as an international speaker, published author, and president of her company Momentum LLC. Deirdre has been a contributing writer for such publications as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Thrive Global. Her books include Bogus Balance, The Mission Myth and the Tough Truths series. Deirdre has used her brand of “mild audacity” to help inspire positive change around the world, presenting and facilitating sessions for hundreds of organizations. In addition to running her own company, Deirdre’s experience includes serving as CEO of a multi-million-dollar nonprofit organization, working as a broadcast news producer, and teaching marketing at the University of San Diego. Deirdre is a member of San Diego Rotary and is an ongoing meditation practitioner/facilitator.

Email: [email protected]
Website: www.makemomentum.com

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]
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: [email protected]
Website: http://now-here.global and http://treasure-earth.global 

Ni-Cheng Liang

Ni-Cheng Liang, MD is a pulmonologist and mindfulness teacher who was recognized by Mindful Magazine as one of the 10 Powerful Women of the Mindfulness Movement 2021. She was the recipient of the American Lung Association San Diego Lung Health Provider of the Year Award in 2019 and has been named numerous years as a Top Doctor San Diego. She is the Director of Pulmonary Integrative Medicine for Coastal Pulmonary Associates and holds a Voluntary Assistant Professor of Medicine appointment at UCSD. She founded the Mindful Healthcare Collective, an organization that has been providing free mindfulness based wellness sessions for healthcare professionals and the general public since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to reduce the collective suffering that has been experienced. She also co-hosts the Mindful Healers Podcast. Dr. Liang is a leader and international speaker on physician wellness, mindfulness, anti-racism, integrative and pulmonary medicine. She co-hosts the Mindful Healers Podcast.

Email: [email protected]
Website: mindfulhealthcarecollective.com and awakenbreath.org

Gabriel Menegale Wilson

Gabriel Menegale Wilson (MEd), founder of Freedom & Fairness, is helping us unlock the power of radical collaboration in service of enacting greater freedom, fairness and compassion. He is a facilitator, advisor, and co-author of Compassionate Conversations: How to Speak and Listen from the Heart. His work takes us to the intersection of social justice and purpose driven enterprises, design thinking, human psychology and group dynamics.

Gabe studied adult developmental psychology and leadership through Stanford’s Masters program in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies (POLS). He was a lecturer at Stanford University for the innovative program, Designing Your Life, where he taught undergraduate and graduate students the principles of design thinking as applied to personal and professional development. He is a certified Integral Facilitator and an associate at Delta Developmental, a leadership and organizational development consultancy. He is a practitioner of meditation in the Zen lineage at the Two Arrows Zen Center.



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: [email protected]
Website: https://www.drstevenhickman.com/

Associate Executive Director for Programs: Natalie Bell

Natalie Bell, PT, CMF is an American-Ecuadorian living in California.  She is Associate Executive Director (AED) for Programs at CMSC. She plans and directs programs and events and collaborates with Steve Hickman, Executive Director, and Aly Waibel, AED for Professional Training and Operations. Natalie’s work serves MSC students far and wide, as she co-developed the Teaching Self-Compassion Online Teacher Training to help MSC teachers cultivate safety and embodied presence online. She directs the Live Online Mindful Self-Compassion program and is both director and teacher trainer for the Self-Compassion Training for Healthcare Communities (SCHC) program. Natalie is a certified MSC teacher. 

Email: [email protected]
Website: www.nataliebell.com

Associate Executive Director for Professional Training & Operations: Aly Waibel

Aly Waibel, PhD is Associate Executive Director (AED) for Training and Operations at CMSC. She collaborates with Steve Hickman, Executive Director, and Natalie Bell, AED for Programs to develop and manage professional training programs and operations. Aly has been in nonprofit leadership roles since 2015. She received her PhD in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona College of Education with a focus on contemplative education and lifelong learning. She is a Senior Certified Teacher of the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) course developed at Stanford University. She founded the nonprofit organization Compassion Education Alliance, a global collective that offers courses and support to compassion practitioners, educators, activists, and researchers.

Email: [email protected]

Operations Director: 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: [email protected] 

Director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships: Mary Marcdante

Mary Marcdante is Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships for CMSC and an MSC Trained Teacher. She is responsible for overseeing marketing strategy of programs and professional training and nurturing strategic partnerships to increase visibility of CMSC worldwide. Before joining CMSC, her experience includes the previous decade working as a marketing consultant with business, government, nonprofit, and community organizations to create and complete mission-driven collaborative projects and events, and a 30-year career traveling internationally as a communication and stress management speaker and author. She lives in San Diego, California and loves leading walking meditations and self-compassion retreats at Torrey Pines Reserve and Beach.

Email: [email protected]

Program Manager for MSC Teacher Training: Catherine Magner

Catherine Magner is the Program Manager for CMSC’s MSC Teacher Training. She manages the in-person and live online MSC Teacher Training Programs in the United States, as well as the Teacher Training Practicums. As a trained MSC teacher, she teaches MSC to the community at Ramapo College of New Jersey and is an adjunct professor teaching MSC to Ramapo students. Gardening and healthy cooking are two of Catherine’s most beloved pastimes. She also delights in parenting her teenage son; connecting with neighbors, family, and friends; and deepening her mindfulness practice, particularly through sitting and walking meditations. Previously, Catherine worked as the manager of a creative studio in an advertising agency, a marketing and program coordinator for an Integrative Medicine Center at Morristown Hospital, and the managing director of a Mindfulness Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey. When her schedule allows, she is a peer leader for the New York Insight Meditation Center New Jersey Sangha.

Email: [email protected]

Online Programs Manager: 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. 

Email: [email protected] 

Program Support Coordinator: Rachel Tayse

Rachel Tayse supports the Self-Compassion In Psychotherapy (SCIP) program at CMSC by attending to communication, program coordination, and online platform management. She is a trained conflict mediator and passionate about social justice. Prior to joining CMSC, she managed sustainable agriculture and food system projects. Rachel is a ‘mindful farmer’, tending her two-acre organic produce farm at her home in Columbus, Ohio.

Email: [email protected]

Administrative Assistant for MSC Teacher Training: Chandni Karmacharya

Chandni Karmacharya supports participants throughout their Teacher Training journey at CMSC. She was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, and has been living in Vancouver, Canada since 2007. She has a diverse work experience background in public health mixed-methods research, yoga teaching and administrative coordination. These various experiences have allowed her to develop a holistic understanding of individual well-being. Her vision is to cultivate a person-centred and trauma-conscious world that empowers and enables people to thrive. Enthusiast of forests, ocean dips, all things October (fall, halloween and Dashain) and weekly art nights.

Email: [email protected]

Continuing Education Coordinator and Operations Assistant: Kristen Prater

Kristen Prater lives in Johnson City, Tennessee (USA) with her husband and daughter. She has extensive experience in administrative operations in healthcare and mental health. In 2020, she founded 9 to 5 Office, a virtual administrative agency specializing in helping small businesses, especially those in the mental health and mindfulness communities. She joined CMSC in early 2021 to assist in expanding CMSC’s reach in healthcare communities through continuing education.

Email: [email protected]

Professional Training Committee Member: David Spound

David Spound, M.Ed., is a certified teacher and teacher trainer of both Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

After studying with teachers from a wide range of meditative and contemplative traditions, David began teaching full-time in 2005, first with MBSR and then adding MSC in 2014. He has led courses for the UMass Center for Mindfulness, the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness, the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, and for his own company Valley Mindfulness.

With the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, David leads MSC Teacher Training courses and is a member of the Professional Training Committee that oversees MSC teacher training programs and policies. David also mentors applicants for MSC Teacher Certification, co-leads Silent Meditation Retreats, and is a teacher for the 8-month online Community for Deepening Practice.

Outside of his CMSC work, he offers MSC and MBSR courses in his hometown, and he works as an MBSR Teacher Trainer and Mentor with the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness. From 2006 through 2013, David was a staff member of the UMass Center for Mindfulness where he taught MBSR and managed the “Oasis” MBSR Teacher Training and Certification Program. David’s personal practice as well as his work as a teacher and teacher trainer meld together as a true labor of love.

Email: [email protected]

Professional Training Committee Member: Mila De Koning

Mila de Koning is a social therapist, nurse and mindfulness and compassion teacher. She has a long professional experience working in (mental) health care with groups. And she worked as a teacher for healthcare professionals.

Since 2011 her focus is mainly on mindfulness and compassion and she started working for the Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre where one of her main roles was to bring mindfulness and self-compassion to healthcare. Currently she works as teacher and teacher trainer at the Centrum voor Mindfulness in Amsterdam. She teaches mindfulness and MSC courses and is also a teacher trainer for mindfulness and for mindful self-compassion. One of her great aspirations is to bring mindfulness to healthcare, especially for doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Email: [email protected]

Professional Training Committee Member: Noriko Harth

Noriko is a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Instructor, a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion Instructor and a Managing Director at UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness.

Born in Japan, she moved to the States in 1985. Noriko feels that her life transforming journey of discovering and exploring mindfulness and self-compassion practices has allowed a more balanced life and identity between these two cultures. Noriko strongly believes practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, and bringing its principles into her life has and continues to help her grow as a person. She feels passionate about bringing these practices to other people’s lives. It is her mission to share what she has learned, what she continues to learn, to our community.

In addition, Noriko sees an opportunity, based on her own integration experiences, to introduce mindfulness-based programs to the Japanese communities in the world and to the Japanese people in Japan.

Email: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

Strategic Planning Consultant: Kim Levan

Kim 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: [email protected]

Coordinator of Circles of Practice of MSC Graduates: Cecilia Fernandez-Hall

Cecilia Fernandez-Hall, PhD, 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: [email protected] 

Coordinator of Retreats and Co-Coordinator of Circles of Practice Public Offering: Laila Narsi

Laila Narsi, LCSW, CMMT, CMT-P is a psychotherapist specializing in trauma, stress, personality disorders and mindfulness. She is a certified EMDR Therapy Advanced Consultant and the owner and founder of The Mindful Self, a meditation studio offering in person and virtual courses and workshops globally. After discovering MSC in 2013, Laila became a Certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher and trained teacher in MSC-Teen. She is delighted to be working for CMSC as the Coordinator of Retreats as well as enthusiastically volunteering as the Co-Coordinator of the Circles of Practice public offering with Ben Weinstein. Her passion for MSC has taken her to Kenya and Bhutan. Laila was born in Karachi, Pakistan and grew up in England and US and later traveled to China for education and research. Some of her passions include traveling the world, Sufi poetry, dancing, singing off key, and cooking international foods. Laila lives with her husband, two daughters, and beloved Goldendoodle named Izzy in Sugar Land, Texas where she volunteers extensively.

Email: [email protected]

Co-Coordinator of Circles of Practice Public Offering: Ben Weinstein

Ben Weinstein, PhD is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, certified MSC teacher and life-adventurer who has been living in Thailand as an expatriate since 2003 serving local and expat communities across the region. Ben has worked for more than 20 years to facilitate growth and development in many contexts and cultures. He has been profoundly inspired by the remarkable, transformative alchemy of mindfulness, purpose-guided engaged living, self-compassion and community. Ben loves to share MSC and feels honored to co-coordinate circles of practice-public offering alongside Laila Narsi as well as being expert faculty for the SCIP program. He regularly teaches self-compassion and resilience in English and Thai. Ben is also an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Chiang Mai University. When he’s not working, he loves to travel!

Email: [email protected]

Translation Coordinator: Markus P.J. Bohlmann

Markus P.J. Bohlmann, PhD, is a certified Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher and Learner. His role of translation coordinator involves working with CMSC’s translation teams worldwide. He loves to travel, discover new wines, cuddle with his new-born nephew, and share MSC with other gay men to help them live their life wholeheartedly.

Email: [email protected]
Website: www.markusbohlmann.com

Education Director for Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy (SCIP): Galia Tyano Ronen

Galia Tyano Ronen, MA, is a clinical psychologist, and artist specializing in children, adolescents, and adults. She is a mindfulness teacher for therapists and educators, incorporating mind-body-spirit work in her encounters. Galia’s training and experience as an organizational consultant in psychoanalytic theory assists corporations, businesses and educational institutions with mindfully identifying obstacles, leading with strengths, and creating more compassionate workplaces and teams.

Email: [email protected]

Live online technical support: Byron Wild

Byron Wildis responsible for Zoom technical support for live online workshops and SCIP sessions, as well as managing and uploading video recordings. Byron is also a massage therapist specializing in bodywork sessions to help his clients develop interoceptive awareness. Before CMSC and massage therapy, Byron lived and worked in meditation retreat centers for nearly 10 years – handling everything from security to event coordination to housekeeping. He lives in Wheaton, Maryland just outside Washington, D.C. and enjoys running with his dog, gardening, and playing board games.

Email: [email protected]

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: [email protected]
Website: www.sinnwaerts.de