Human Development is an interdisciplinary field of study. Members of the faculty of the Aspen Center for Human Development have expertise in diverse and varied disciplines, and are engaged in impacting aspects of human development. The faculty are committed to making a difference in the world in their own unique ways, and collaborate with and support each other in their research, writing, and program development by sharing expertise, knowledge, and original thinking.
“Leadership by its very nature is a multidisciplinary concept.”
Senior Research Advisor
Harris Cooper is the Hugo L. Blomquist Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He is the author of The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents as well as Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis: A Step-by-Step Approach. Along with his students, he has published research syntheses in varied fields, including personality and social psychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, education policy, marketing, developmental medicine and child neurology. After serving as editor of the Psychological Bulletin and co-editor of Archives of Scientific Psychology, APA's first open access, data sharing journal, he served for six years as editorial advisor for the APA journals program. His new book Ethical Choices in Research: Managing Data, Writing Reports, and Publishing Results in the Social Sciences will be published in January 2016.
Senior Research Fellow
Dr. Helen Fisher has written five internationally best-selling books on the brain science of human social behavior and is the most referenced scholar on the topic of love. Her data and ideas are based on her analysis of four biologically-based personality dimensions in 100,000 people, as well as data from genetics and neurochemistry. Over 10 million people in 40 countries have taken her Fisher Temperaments Scale. Dr. Fisher is Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute, and has spoken for (among others) The World Economic Forum (Davos), TED, Harvard Medical School, American Association for the Advancement of Science, The United Nations, The Salk Institute, The Smithsonian Institution, the American Psychiatric Association, and countless business and organizations. She has published in various scientific journals and is seen regularly on The Today Show and other network television shows. She is, perhaps, best known for her work in the evolution and future of human sexuality, monogamy, adultery and divorce, gender differences in the brain, and the chemistry of romantic love. She is currently studying the biological basis of personality and is a pioneer in examining the neurochemistry of leadership. More about Helen Fisher’s work.
Christine Balling is a subject matter expert on counter-terrorism, demobilization and counter-recruitment, and a regular contributor to Foreign Affairs and The Journal of International Security Affairs. Her a Masters Degree in Security Affairs is from the Institute of World Politics at which she focused on the roles women play in insurgent groups around the world. In 2009, she founded Fundación ECCO, a Colombian-registered nonprofit organization that promotes democracy and youth leadership in areas of conflict. She led counter-recruitment projects in areas where the FARC insurgency operated, working with the Colombian Army, Air Force and the National Police. In the past few years she has served as a Subject Matter Expert to U.S. Special Operations South commanders on demobilization and counter-recruitment issues and partnered with U.S. Army Civil Affairs teams downrange in Colombia, and worked with the Colombian Military’s Demobilization Group to create the first tactical guide on Demobilization. She has lectured at the Escuela Superior de Guerra (ESDEGUE) in Bogotá at a Latin American conference on counter-terrorism and has lectured on the roles females assume in the FARC and the ELN at the National Defense University’s William J. Perry Center. In June, 2016, she was pinned by the Bosque in Bogotá and is a Senior Fellow for Latin American Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC. Her current project involves interviewing female members of the Peshmergain order to gain a "ground truth" perspective on the conflict in that region.
Jill Derby is a cultural anthropologist and Governance Consultant to the American University in Iraq. Jill served three six-year terms on the Nevada Board of Regents, and three terms as Board Chair. She has served 12 years as a Senior Governance Consultant with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and was the Democratic candidate for the U.S Congress in Nevada’s Second Congressional District in both 2006 and 2008. In 2010, Derby was appointed by Nevada’s Governor to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education Reform, and by Nevada’s Chancellor to the Community Colleges Futures Task Force. Jill has presented to hundreds of groups on topics ranging from leadership and cross-cultural understanding and the Arab/Muslim Middle East, to issues in education and higher education governance. She is a regular political and Middle Eastern affairs commentator on the Nevada Newsmakers television program.
Clark Freshman is the world’s most sought-after speaker on lie detection and nonverbal communication for negotiators. His engagements include the national meeting of federal administrative law judges, Peter Thiel - the angel investor behind Facebook, General Electric Oil and Gas lead negotiators in Florence, and compliance officers at Edwards Life Sciences. He has been an invited speaker at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UCLA, and Columbia law schools, and Harvard and Columbia Business Schools. He is a tenured Professor of Law at the University of California. Professor Freshman has collaborated for years with Paul Ekman, scientific advisor to TV’s Lie to Me. Professor Freshman received his B.A. from Harvard College, an M.A. from University College, Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and his J.D. from Stanford Law School. Prior to teaching, he clerked for a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge and practiced at the Los Angeles firm of Manatt Phelps. Professor Freshman’s published research appears in journals at Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, and elsewhere. International media from Danish Broadcasting to PBS to the Wall Street Journal have covered his work. More about Clark Freshman.
In the past several years, Ronald Lalonde, the Middle School Principal at the American School of Dubai, has researched and presented extensively within schools about the application of positive psychology to middle level education. He uses the work of Carol Dweck, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Martin Seligman, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan as he continues to seek ways to reimagine student relationships with schools, and adult attitudes toward adolescents and adolescence. In his 17 years in international education, Ron has held leadership positions at schools in England, the United Arab Emirate, and Mexico, where his interest in school improvement led him to develop a successful Instructional Coaching program. Ron holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Philosophy from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) where he focused on discourse ethics, and a doctorate from the University of Calgary where he focused on critical issues in consulting students. He has taught at the University of British Colombia, Okanagan Campus, and served as an adjunct professor for the State University of New York in their Master's Degree Program for international educators. He teaches annually at the Principal's Training Center in Miami and in London, and continues to research student engagement and student voice, while maintaining his strong commitment to improving middle level educational practices.
After graduating Arizona’s Technology & Leadership Academy, Lieutenant Jarod McPherson enlisted in the United States Air Force to become an Aircraft Avionics Systems Maintainer. While at Sheppard Air Force Base, he rose through the ranks to become an Airman Leader, leading over 500 fellow Airmen in military training. After serving 2 years in the Air Force, he was selected to attend The United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School, after which he earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Management from the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) where he undertook independent studies in transformative leadership, ontology, and coaching. Over the past several years, as a member of the Air Force, Lt. McPherson has led seminars for high school and college students, leadership “invitationals,” family workshops, performance coaching workshops, and business management workshops. Lt. McPherson is currently stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base.
Co-starring with greats such as Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in the theatrical comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and Goldie Hawn in Bird on a Wire, actress Joan Severance has been performing onscreen for twenty-plus years, appearing in over 25 films and several hit TV shows to date. She was received with acclaim for her portrayal as a villainess with Kevin Spacey in a brother/sister criminal pair on the hit TV series Wiseguy. Her career has allowed her to portray characters as diverse as quirky, hippy mom; sexy villainess; attorney; and psychologist (among many others). In addition to her acting expertise, Joan is the creator of the family-friendly game, txTylz® that combines symbolic, numeric, phonetic, and literal expression in a new whimsical method of communication. Joan also holds a BA in natural health, is a certified healer, and has combined her background in performing with her commitment to healing in SeverancePlay™. This fun, transformative workshop focuses on character development with intentional role-play to set the stage for a new direction in the next act of your life. More about Joan Severance.
After receiving his commission in the United States Air Force (USAF), USAF Academy (USAFA) graduate, Lieutenant Colonel Rodric “Rod” Smith served in various USAF positions, including chief of training, combat crew commander, executive officer in nuclear missile operations, and USAFA Assistant Professor and assistant director for the Academy’s core leadership class. In this role, he designed, directed, presented, and facilitated leadership seminars for cadets; designed and implemented leadership coaching programs; designed and directed a facilitation for resiliency among the 900-members of the Dean’s staff; and taught leadership for both students and faculty. When Lieutenant Colonel Smith was assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, he served as an executive officer for the Inspector General and as a strategic planner for Air Force Global Strike Command. In these positions, he designed a first-ever performance assessment of and a “bottom-up” goal-creation process for the 900-member staff; designed and facilitated discussions about resiliency for hundreds of staff members; and through a one-day leadership seminar, introduced Air Force Global Strike Command to the Air Force Academy’s cutting-edge leadership development efforts. Lieutenant Colonel Smith is currently a doctoral student in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego. His study interests include the assessment and role of compassionate love in leadership theory, development, and practice.
Jamie Van Leeuwen currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Governor Hickenlooper after almost four years as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Community Partnerships. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Global Livingston Institute, a non-governmental organization in East Africa designed to engage students and community leaders to develop innovative solutions to poverty, and a Senior Research Fellow with the Buechner Institute at the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs. Before serving the Governor of Colorado, Jamie oversaw leadership staff, fundraising, public relations and evaluation for Denver’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, and served as the Director of Development & Public Affairs at Urban Peak, a Colorado non-profit agency serving homeless and at-risk youth. Jamie was selected in 2005 as a Livingston Fellow by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Board, and is the recipient of several awards and honors including being named a leader in the Lesbian & Gay community by Out Front magazine and one of the “Forty Under Forty” by the Denver Business Journal. Jamie is a national and international researcher and presenter, and serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. He received his PhD in Public Policy from the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver, has a Masters degree in International Public Health and a Masters degree in Sociology from Tulane University. He became a Fulbright Scholar in 2013. (More about the Global Livingston Institute)
Pamela Paresky is the Director of the Aspen Center for Human Development. She collaborates with the ACHD faculty and others in researching leadership, happiness, the good life, and other topics in human development, and creating and delivering courses that point to the merging of action and awareness available in Flow, while leaving students with a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
A psychologist, consultant, speaker, author, and former Adjunct/Research Professor at the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Paresky writes a blog for Psychology Today online entitled, “Happiness and the Pursuit of Leadership.” She received her PhD in Human Development and Psychology from the University of Chicago where her work at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) focused on happiness, relationships, and “Flow,” a construct describing optimal experience developed by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, a pioneer in the study of both happiness and performance. Building on his discovery that the best moments in life often occur when people stretch themselves while working toward something worthwhile, Pamela has spent the past twenty years investigating the source of both optimal performance and a life worth living. Bringing together a distinguished faculty to collaborate in this center for advanced study in Human Development is one fulfillment of her research efforts.
Pamela works with individuals, companies, families, and nonprofits that seek to create optimal relationships and organizations through her consulting practice, MultiGenerational Consulting Services, LLC, and is the author of A Year of Kindness, a research-based guided journal that encourages people to record daily acts of kindness and thoughts of gratitude.
Before her work at NORC, Pamela conducted field research in both the North West Territories of Canada where she lived with and photographed the Inuit, and in New York City where she studied the city's Native American population. She later taught anthropology, and practiced psychotherapy with a philosophical focus. Pamela also briefly had a career as a professional actor, and taught acting—skills she brings to the experiential aspects of the Center’s programs.
In addition to her interdisciplinary PhD, she holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology, and a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology with a concentration in Culture and Native American Studies. The focus and goal of her current research is for each individual to lead the most fulfilling life possible – a life that matters. (More about Pamela Paresky)
Dr. Pamela Paresky can be reached by email at Pamela@AspenCHD.org
“What the senses say is that we are not apart from,
but a part of all that we perceive.”