🚧 Website Maintenance in Progress: Thank you for visiting! We are currently in the process of enhancing our website to serve you better. Please check back soon for our new and improved website.
Home 9 About ISTSS 9 Leadership


ISTSS is run by a committed group of elected and unelected volunteers from the various trauma-related disciplines around the world. The organization is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of 21 members, including a membership-elected Executive Committee, and several non-voting members.

Each year, ISTSS holds an open election to fill expiring board terms and the President-Elect position. Board Members serve a three-year term and the President serves for one year.


Download the Bylaws that govern ISTSS.

2023-2024 Executive Committee

The Executive Committee consists of: President, Vice President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and Past-President. Executive Committee members also serve as members of the Board of Directors.


Angela Nickerson, PhD
Board Term: 2021-2025

Dr. Angela Nickerson is Professor in the School of Psychology at UNSW Sydney, Australia. She is Director of the Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program, a research program dedicated to informing policy and clinical practice for refugees around the world. Her research implements longitudinal, experimental and clinical methodologies to understand psychological and social factors that influence refugee mental health. She works with a variety of NGOs and clinical services to support the mental health of refugees in Australia and internationally. Dr. Nickerson is an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Leadership Fellow, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for New South Wales. She has served on the Board of Directors of the ISTSS since 2018.

Vice President

Andrea J. Phelps, PhD
Board Term: 2023-2026

Andrea J. Phelps is the Deputy Director of Phoenix Australia, Australia’s national centre of excellence in posttraumatic mental health based at the University of Melbourne. There they combine clinical work, supervision and training with innovative research and consultation to government and industry on trauma related policy and strategy.  As the Deputy Director her responsibilities include strategic oversight of the Centre’s activities across research, service development and training; strategic planning and setting future directions; and leadership of flagship projects such as the NHMRC approved Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of PTSD which helped shape the process for the ISTSS PTSD Guidelines. She began her career as a clinician, holding senior clinical leadership positions in general mental health and specialised trauma treatment services. This background has shaped her approach to research and consultancy, ensuring that research is clinically relevant and consultancy advice is situated within an understanding of clinical complexity.  


Brian N. Smith, PhD
Board Term: 2023-2026

Dr. Smith is a Research Health Scientist in the National Center for PTSD Women’s Health Sciences Division at VA Boston Healthcare System and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. His federally funded research program is focused on the effects of traumatic stress and mental health sequelae—PTSD, depression, and salient comorbidities—on outcomes related to physical health, functioning, and quality of life. He examines these outcomes and associated risk and resilience factors in populations at heightened risk for trauma exposure, especially military veterans, and often examines psychosocial risk models in the context of gender differences as well as aging.


Rachel Hiller, PhD 
Board Term: 2021-2024
Dr. Rachel Hiller is an Associate Professor in Child Mental Health at University College London (UCL) and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, in the United Kingdom. Her research is in the field of complex child trauma, with a particular focus on children with experience of out-of-home care (e.g., foster care, residential group care). Her work here spans research into social and cognitive mechanisms driving mental health and wellbeing, through to the testing of scalable mental health interventions delivered in child welfare and mental health settings, and the implementation of current best-evidenced practice. Her work includes a transdiagnostic focus, as well as a more specific focus on PTSD and complex PTSD.

Past President

Marit Sijbrandij, PhD
Board Term 2021-2024 
Dr. Sijbrandij is Professor in Clinical Psychology and co-Director of the World Health Organization Collaborative Center for Research and Dissemination of Psychological Interventions at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) University Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  Her research is focused on the prevention, early detection and treatment of mental health problems following trauma and adversity in a global context and in vulnerable populations.


Soraya Seedat, MD
Board Term: 2023-2026

Dr. Soraya Seedat is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Executive Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University. She held the South African Research Chair in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder for 15 years (until the end of 2022) and currently directs the South African Medical Research Council Unit on the Genomics of Brain Disorders. She has more than 20 years of clinical, epidemiological and basic neuroscience research experience as a psychiatrist working in the field of traumatic stress, anxiety and neuroAIDS has published over 500 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts, co-edited four books and 30 book chapters. She has served two terms as the President of the College of Psychiatrists of South Africa and three terms as Secretary and is currently a member of the Board of Directors and an Honorary Registrar of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. Prof Seedat is an expert in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders, in adolescents and adults, and in the investigation of mechanisms of risk and resilience in adolescent and adult samples and has published widely in these areas. She has ongoing projects in PTSD, anxiety disorders, neuroAIDS and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. She has also been involved in multiple research training, capacity building and leadership development activities in sub-Saharan Africa and internationally, supported by NIMH grants and other funding initiatives.

2023-2024 Board of Directors

Judith Bass, PhD MPH
Board Term 2023-2026
Dr. Bass is cuurently a Professor of Global Mental Health and the Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. During her career in public mental health, her research nenters on the experiences of global populations affected by trauma and ways to improve access to effective mental health services in low-resource settings.

Michele Bedard-Gilligan, PhD
Board Term 2022-2024 
Dr. Bedard-Gilligan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington (UW) and a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Washington (WA). She is co-director of the Trauma Recovery and Resilience Innovations (TRI) program and is associate director of the UW Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress (UWCATS). Dr. Bedard-Gilligan’s research predominantly focuses on recovery process following trauma exposure, with specific emphases on the co-occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use. She is currently a lead investigator on several clinical trials developing and testing brief interventions to promote trauma recovery and is involved in ongoing projects designed to train providers in trauma-focused behavioral treatment approaches. She also maintains an active clinical practice.

Bita Ghafoori, PhD
Board Term: 2022-2025
Dr. Ghafoori is a Professor of Counseling Psychology at California State University Long Beach (CSULB) and Director of the CSULB Long Beach Trauma Recovery Center. Dr. Ghafoori has an active program of research focusing on dissemination of evidence-based trauma treatments for culturally diverse individuals and understanding disparities in mental health care for impoverished trauma-exposed individuals.

Jaimie L. Gradus, DMSc, DSc, MPH
Board Term: 2022-2025

Jaimie L. Gradus, DMSc, DSc, MPH is an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at Boston University School of Public Health and School of Medicine. Her research interests are in the epidemiology of trauma and trauma-related disorders, with a particular focus on suicide. She received her BA in psychology from Stony Brook University, her MPH with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics and DSc in epidemiology from Boston University and in 2018, a Doctor of Medical Science degree from Aarhus University in Denmark for her major contributions to the literature on the longitudinal consequences of stressors and trauma.  Dr. Gradus has been the recipient of numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and various foundations. She has published over 100 scientific articles within the field of psychiatric epidemiology. Dr. Gradus also has roles as a Board Member for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, a Scientific Advisor to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology.  In 2023 she was named the Director of the newly launched Center for Trauma and Mental Health at Boston University School of Public Health.

Jinhee Hyun, PhD
Board Term 2023-2026
Dr. Hyun is a Professor at Department of Social Welfare in Daegu University in Korea. ‎She was the president of Korean Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (KSTSS) ‎during 2020-2021. She is also a president of Korean Academy of Mental Health Social ‎Work in 2023. She worked as a clinical social worker at US Army Hospital in Korea. ‎Her primary responsibility was to provide psychotherapy for soldiers with PTSD, and ‎victims of sexual assault, family violence, and child abuse. She is the head of the ‎counseling team of Gyeongbuk Fire Service Headquarters. Her research and clinical ‎interests focus on disaster mental health, vicarious trauma, trauma-informed care, ‎and evidence-based practice in trauma fields. She provided resiliency program for ‎mental health professionals and made voice on the mental health policies and ‎systems as a member of advisory committees at central and local governments in ‎Korea.‎

Jana D. Javakhishvili, PhD

Board Term 2022-2025
Dr. Jana D. Javakhishvili is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Institute of Addiction Studies at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. Her research interests focus on exploring mental health problems of war- and political oppression-affected populations. She is heavily engaged in the projects of the Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry focused at improving human rights-based mental health care in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and other war-affected countries. She is a Past President of ESTSS. Currently, she is on the editorial board of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology and a Trustee of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma Europe.

Christian Kristensen, PhD
Board Term: 2022-2025

Dr. Kristensen is Professor of Psychology at the Graduate Program in Psychology, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (PUCRS), Director of the Center for Studies and Research in Traumatic Stress (NEPTE-PUCRS) and Dean of Graduate Studies at the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (PUCRS). His main research areas of interest are (a) trauma and neurocognitive processes (executive functions, attention), (b) trauma-focused psychosocial interventions, and (c) immigrant and refugee mental health.

Rachel Liebman, PhD, CPsych
Board Term: 2022-2025

Dr. Rachel Liebman a clinical psychologist at Toronto General Hospital and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. Dr. Liebman specializes in the treatment of co-occurring trauma-related disorders and high-risk problem behaviours such as eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide. Her research on development and adaptation of treatments for high-risk trauma-related conditions has been awarded multiple federal and institutional grants and she has published widely on mechanisms and processes associated with these conditions. She served on the Task Force for the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program for Gender Based Violence and she provides workshops, trainings and consultation on the assessment and treatment of trauma-related conditions internationally.  

Sonya Norman, PhD
Board Term: 2021-2024

Dr. Sonya Norman earned her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Vassar College and her PhD in Counseling Psychology from Stanford University. She completed her pre-doctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California San Diego and VA San Diego. The focus of her fellowship was on the neurobiology of trauma among female survivors of intimate partner violence. In the course of doing assessments with our study participants and learning from them about their lives, she realized her passion was to study treatments to help people recover from the detrimental effects of trauma. She joined the faculty of the UCSD Department of Psychiatry shortly after. Studying treatment has been her research focus since then. In addition, early her career, she served as a VA psychologist, PTSD clinical team leader, and training director for a postdoctoral fellowship focused on evidence-based treatments at the San Diego VA. In 2012, while continuing her faculty appointment at UCSD, she transitioned from her VA roles to her position as the PTSD Consultation Program Director for the National Center for PTSD, where she lead a team of expert PTSD clinicians, administrators and researchers. In this capacity, she oversee over 2000 consultations per year related to treating veterans with PTSD and lead educational efforts on PTSD assessment and treatment for VA and community providers.

Nicole Nugent, PhD 
Board Term 2022-2025 

Dr. Nugent is an Associate Professor, Research Scholar, in the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Pediatrics, and Emergency Medicine at the Alpert Brown Medical School. She serves as Director of Psychological Services at the Hasbro Pediatric Refugee Clinic as well as Associate Director of the Institute for Stress, Trauma, and Resilience (STAR Institute) at the Alpert Brown Medical School. Her federally funded research program explores the interplay of biology and social context during times of stress, trauma, and transition in high risk and trauma-exposed populations, with the goal of translation to intervention. 

Misari Oe, MD, PhD
Board Term: 2021-2024
Dr. Misari Oe is a psychiatrist and the head of the Counseling Center at the Kurume University Hospital, Japan. She is also a Senior Lecturer of the Department of Neuropsychiatry, Kurume University School of Medicine. She has a wide range of study fields, including psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, psychoendocrinology, psychophysiology, social psychiatry, epidemiology, and disaster psychiatry. She is also a board member of the Japanese Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (JSTSS).

Arieh Y. Shalev, MD
Board Term: 2023-2026

Dr. Shalev is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Hadassah and the Hebrew University School of Medicine in Jerusalem, Israel. His research concerns the early detection, prevention, and treatment of traumatic stress disorders, exploring their underlying neurobiology and its translational potential and understanding the interpersonal, social, and humanistic dimensions of trauma survival.A long-time member of ISTSS, Dr. Shalev previously served on the Board in the 1980's.

Jennifer Sumner, PhD
Board Term: 2023-2026
Jennifer Sumner is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  As a clinical psychologist with specialization in traumatic stress, her work focuses on the links between mental and physical health after trauma. She is a co-founder of the Physical Health working group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium-PTSD group, and  a member of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology Editorial Board.

Synne Øien Stensland, MD, PhD 
Board Term: 2021-2024
Dr. Stensland is senior researcher and medical doctor with a specialty in paediatrics working at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS), and the Communication- and research unit for musculoskeletal disorders, Division for neuroscience and musculoskeletal medicine (FORMI), Oslo University Hospital, in Norway. Her research focuses on understanding the impact of traumatic events on the somatic health and well-being of children and adolescents growing into young adults.

Briana Woods-Jaeger, PhD
Board Term: 2021-2024
Dr. Woods-Jaeger earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Duke University and her doctorate degree in child clinical psychology from the University of Washington.  Prior to her current position at Emory University, she was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Psychological Services and Research for the Children’s Mercy Hospital and Operation Breakthrough Partnership. In this role she spearheaded the development and implementation of a unique clinical care and research program that integrates primary care pediatrics, behavioral health, social services, and early education to address trauma and stress-related health disparities. She is currently a Principal Investigator on research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on primary and secondary violence prevention and promoting resilience after experiencing trauma and adversity.  


Journal of Traumatic Stress (JTS)

Denise M. Sloan, PhD (2022-2026)


Anka Vujanovic, Ph.D. (Editor; 2023-2025) 
Kelsey Serier, Ph.D. (Associate Editor; 2024-2026)

New in Peer Review

Lana Ruvolo Grasser, Ph.D. (2024-2026)


Lana Ruvolo Grasser, Ph.D. (2023-2025)

Assistant Website Editors
Ellie McAfee (2023-2025)
Kristin Howell (2023-2025)

Social Media

Janne Punski-Hoogervorst, MD (2023-2025)

Assistant Social Media Editors
Samantha Berg (2023-2025)
Joana Paim da Luz (2023-2025)