IAHAIO 2021 Conference Speakers

Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers

Marie-Jose Enders-Slegers, PhD has been Professor in Anthrozoology at the Faculty of Psychology at the Open University in Heerlen, the Netherlands, since June 2013. She successively obtained her Doctoral Diploma Psychology (1990) at the University of Utrecht; a Doctorate (PhD) in Psychology (2000); a Diploma Health Care Psychologist (2001), Certificates Basic- and Senior Lecturer (2003) at the Utrecht University and until now numerous post doctorate courses for further qualifications in research and clinical psychology. She specializes in human-animal interactions. Her research is focused on the development of human-animal relations and the meaning of human-animal interactions for vulnerable people (e.g. elderly, demented elderly, traumatized children, mentally handicapped people, children with psychiatric disorders, autistic children, and psychiatric patients) and on the link between domestic violence and animal abuse. Furthermore, she was founder and is nowadays adviser of AAIZOO (Animal Assisted Interventions in Zorg (Care), Onderzoek (Research), Onderwijs (Education); is Fellow at the Denver University; has been member of the Expert Advisory Group Sociology of the CALLISTO project of the European Union (until 2016), is founder and board member of IVA, (Institute for Anthrozoology in the Netherlands), is board member ( ex officio) of ISAZ (International Society of Anthrozoology), is on the advisory council of Green Chimneys, Brewster, N.Y. and at HABRI Central Management Advisory Board, U.S.A. She is President of the International Association of Human-Animal Interactions (IAHAIO).

Tess Erngren

Tess Erngren is a certified dog instructor, dog psychologist, dog philosopher and TAGteacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology and is owner and founder of GoodDog, Norway.

Jo-Ann Fowler

Jo-Ann Fowler, MSocSci, qualified as a counselling psychologist in South Africa. She held an academic position as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Natal, Durban, with a specialism of social psychology. She moved to the UK in 1998 where she worked for The Blue Cross animal welfare charity for over 14 years. During this time, she developed the Pet Bereavement Support Service in partnership with the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) and was also responsible for producing training materials for volunteers and for people working within the veterinary profession who support pet owners through pet loss. In 2003 she took up the position of Director of SCAS, managing all aspects of the charity – strategy, financial, PR and media, service delivery and editorial – she was editor of the SCAS Journal for over 10 years. Since 2013, Jo-Ann has been working as an independent consultant, offering project management in an online research trial; strategic and management advice to charities as well as support to IAHAIO in a number of areas, including conference and event management, administration, website management and development and other miscellaneous tasks where needed. She is currently Director of IAHAIO and also main editor for the practice section of the IAHAIO online journal, People and Animals: The International Journal of Research and Practice.

Jo Frasca

Jo Frasca (BSocSc CTA) is a psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney, Australia, working with adults, adolescents and couples. She is co-editor of Animals as the Third in Relational Psychotherapy and author of Delving Deeper: Understanding diverse approaches while exploring psychotherapy.

Nancy Gee

Nancy R. Gee, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry, Bill Balaban Chair in Human Animal Interaction, and the Director of the Center for Human Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, USA. The Center is situated in the School of Medicine and in addition to research and educational activities it also houses the “Dogs on Call” therapy dog program, which includes 90+ dog/handler teams who visit patients throughout the VCU health system.
Dr. Gee has extensive research and teaching experience and has specialized in the area of Human Animal Interaction (HAI) for the past 16 years. She served for five years as the HAI Research Manager for the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, located in Leicestershire, UK. In this role she managed a large portfolio of collaborative university-based research projects spanning multiple countries and topics, including; how companion animals impact the lives of older adults, or help students learn, or reduce the impact of PTSD symptoms in military veterans. Dr. Gee’s own program of research has focused primarily on the impact of dogs on aspects of human cognition, including working memory, executive functioning and physiological responses such as heart rate variability to interactions with dogs. Currently she is focusing on how hospital-based therapy dog visitation programs may impact loneliness and other health related indices in vulnerable populations such as older adults and people with mental illness.
A recipient of multiple grants and awards, Dr. Gee has more than 50 peer reviewed publications specific to HAI and has edited and contributed to numerous books on the subject. Dr. Gee regularly delivers international presentations on a variety of HAI topics, serves on the editorial review boards of several peer reviewed journals and has actively promoted the field of HAI through participation on the boards of several HAI organizations including the International Society for Anthrozoology and Pet Partners.

Taryn Graham

An award-winning researcher, speaker, and educator, Dr. Taryn M. Graham focuses on promoting health in cities through pet-friendly policies and programs. She holds degrees from Concordia University (BA), the University of Waterloo (MA) and the University of Calgary (PhD).

Taryn’s work has received widespread coverage by the media and press including Canadian Vet Practice, CBC Radio, National Post, Montreal Gazette, Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and she consults for local governments across Canada.

Taryn is also the founder of PAWSitive Leadership, a humane education program that uses the fun and engaging world of dogs to teach compassion to kids. For the past decade, she has been actively involved with the animal welfare/animal sheltering sector. She also has experience training dogs.

Richard Griffioen

Richard Griffioen is an experienced health professional, coach and trainer, previously at Medical Center IBIS and The Human academy. In 1997 he started Stichting SAM, a foundation for animal-assisted interventions, and started his research into the development of children with Down and autism. In 2015, this resulted in a PhD at the Open University, which he successfully completed in 2020. From 2013 to 2016 he was a member of the board (including as chairman, currently he is still connected as an advisor) of AAIZOO, Animal Assisted Interventions in care, education and research. Since 2020 he has been a member of the board of the global umbrella organization IAHAIO (International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations). Currently he works as a professor of Animal Assisted Interventions at AERES University of Applied Sciences.

Lynette Hart

Lynette Hart is Professor of Anthrozoology and Animal Behavior at the UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, where she is an Anthrozoology Educator, teaching courses, leading research, and mentoring students on human-animal interactions and animal behavior. She taught junior high school science for several years while completing a Masters degree in Educational Psychology at UC Berkeley, and then went on for a PhD at Rutgers University in Animal Behavior. Once at UC Davis, she spearheaded data-based studies in the newly developing field of anthrozoology, publishing well over 100 papers. From the early 1980s, this work has focused on service dogs, optimizing people’s relationships with dogs or cats, special contributions of pets to vulnerable people, and pet loss. Another research emphasis from the 1990s on is represented in over 20 papers dealing with Asian and African elephants—their varied behaviors and interactions with mahouts and others. She is a founding member and fellow of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ), and was selected as the first distinguished anthrozoologist in 2017.

Karin Hediger

Dr Karin Hediger is a psychotherapist and researcher at the University of Basel, Switzerland, at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and a neurorehabilitation clinic, investigating effects of animal-assisted interventions. After studying psychology at University of Zürich, Switzerland, she did her PhD in Rostock, Germany, in the field of human-animal interaction. She has a certificate in animal-assisted therapy, a diploma in equine-assisted therapy and recently founded a centre for animal-assisted psychotherapy.
Karin Hediger is president of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Human-Animal Relationship (IEMT Switzerland), secretary of the International Society for Animal Assisted Therapy (ISAAT) and gives courses on animal-assisted interventions in many different institutes. Karin also holds the positions of Professor of Anthrozoology at the Open University, The Netherlands and Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Brinda Jegatheesan

Brinda Jegatheesan is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. She studies the dynamics of culture and childhood experiences in family and school settings and the traumatic impact of changes and continuities in family life (e.g., forced migration, colonization, domestic violence) with a specific focus on the complexities of these in vulnerable children forming multiple meaning systems with animals. In particular, she examines children’s opportunities to participate and learn across diverse environments to develop altruistic relationships with animals and the natural world, documenting the therapeutic benefits for children in ways that are personally consequential and memorable for them. She conducts and helps develop Humane Education programs in traditionally underserved schools in the USA and Asia. Central to her work are dimensions of social justice and equity in historically underserved and underprivileged non-dominant families and communities. Brinda is Vice President Development & Outreach of IAHAIO and serves on the board of several international and national human-animal bond organizations.

Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson is a licensed professional counselor and dog trainer. She developed and has instructed courses within the AAI certificate program since its inception in 2007. Additionally, she developed and directs a non-profit called Teacher’s Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together (est. 2006) that pairs at-risk youth, adjudicated youth, and inmate workers with harder-to-adopt rescue dogs. She has shared dozens of journal articles, book chapters and national/international presentations on AAIs and the human-animal bond. Additionally, she is the Competencies and Ethics Chair for the American Psychological Association Human Animal Interaction Division 17.

Sara Karlberg

Sara Karlberg has a bachelor degree in media and communications from Södertörns University in Stockholm. Quite soon after taking her degree and working as a tv-photographer she changed course and has studied public science, rehabilitation science, ethology, and psychology at different universities. She is also educated as a dog instructor. In 2008 she trained her first therapy dog and as a dog instructor with a therapy dog she started up the Swedish school for therapy dogs. Her organization has expanded to the Nordic schools for therapy dogs and has courses in Sweden, Finland and Norway. In 2008 she was one of the founders of the Scandinavian therapy dog association, a non-profit organization for the dog teams. 2011-2013 Sara was a member of the committee that developed the Swedish standard for training and educating dog teams in healthcare.
Sara has also been a board member of the Swedish HAI organization Manimalis who unfortunately is no longer active. She is also a frequent lecturer at the Swedish university of agriculture. 2018 Sara and her colleague Helena Eriksson published a book about animal assisted interventions who now have been translated in English (Animal assisted interventions, Professionals Embrace the Power of the Dog, 2020).

Meg Kirby

Meg Kirby (BA, MASW, Dip Gestalt Therapy) is a psychotherapist, mental health social worker, principal trainer. She is founder of The Equine Psychotherapy Institute (EPI), the EPI model of EAP and EAL, Animal Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning (AAP/ AAL)
She is author of:
– An Introduction to Equine Assisted Psychotherapy: Principles, Theory, and Practice of the Equine Psychotherapy Institute Model
– Equine Therapy Exposed: Real life case studies of equine assisted psychotherapy and equine assisted learning with everyday people and horses

Katarina Felicia Lundgren

Katarina Lundgren (MA (Cognitive Science) student, BA, BA, EP, TSM Instructor) is a researcher, author, facilitator and educator in equine-assisted interventions and equine welfare in Sweden. She is also CEO and Board Chairperson of the MiMer Centre – Equine-Human Education and Research Centre.

Sandra McCune

Sandra McCune qualified as a registered veterinary nurse before completing a degree in zoology from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. She has a PhD in ethology and animal welfare from the University of Cambridge, U.K. She has studied a range of companion animal topics including aspects of temperament, behavior, cognition and welfare. She has extensive experience studying Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) from both animal and human perspectives in collaborations with researchers from many countries. Until early 2019, Sandra was a scientific leader for Mars Petcare, part of Mars Inc. where she led the Human-Animal Interaction area for 12 years. She was instrumental in the establishment of the public-private partnership between the National Institutes of Health and Mars Inc/WALTHAM resulting in a multi-million dollar programme of high quality HAI research, four workshops, three edited volumes and two themed journal issues including the Frontiers Special Topic, Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) Research: A Decade of Progress highlighting research from 10 years of the partnership. She is Visiting Professor of Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Lincoln, U.K. and a Trustee of the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS), the UK’s national HAI organisation. Sandra currently leads the ANIMAL MATTERS consultancy providing expert input on animals in society and how they impact people, animals and the environment.

Elizabeth Ormerod

Dr Elizabeth Ormerod, BVMA MRCVS, is a retired Scottish veterinary surgeon with 37 years experience in companion animal practice. She became attuned to the importance of the human-animal bond (HAB) in 1975 whilst managing the University of Glasgow’s inner city charity clinic. In 1984 she and her husband, a veterinary pathologist, purchased a companion animal practice. Strategies were developed to assess, support and strengthen client’s human-animal bonds, creating a bond-centred practice. As a Churchill Fellow and during subsequent study trips Elizabeth has had opportunities to visit outstanding AAI programmes in USA, Europe and Japan. Working with colleagues from the other health and social care professions, she has introduced Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) programmes to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, sheltered housing and prisons. Elizabeth is co-founder of Canine Partners, the UK assistance dog programme, is a visiting lecturer on the HAB at UK veterinary schools and is a trainer on AAI courses offered by The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS). She is a current Board member of SCAS, an international, interdisciplinary HAB membership organisation, the first to be established in the world and the largest outside North America. Elizabeth Ormerod received the first William F McCulloch award in Chicago, 2013.

Nancy Parish-Plass

Nancy Parish-Plass (BA, MA (SW), Cert. AAP, Cert. Advanced Psychotherapy Studies) is a
AAP psychotherapist and social worker in various welfare institutions (retired) with a specialty in developmental trauma. She is founding and current chairperson of the IAAAP – Israeli Association of Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy, a member of Editorial Board – HABRI Central, has a private AAP practice with children, is a researcher and author of journal articles and chapters and editor of Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy: Theory, Issues, and Practice.

Dennis Turner

Born in the USA, moved to Switzerland with his Swiss wife in 1973 and also became Swiss in 1992. ScD degree (Doctor of Science) in 1974 from The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (Dept. of Mental Hygiene), Baltimore. From 1975 to 2011, Senior Lecturer and Research Associate, Animal Behavior, Dept. of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich (Head of the Companion Animal Ethology and Human-Animal Relations Group). Since 2000, also Priv. Doz. (PD title), Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich. From 2001 to 2014 elected yearly as Invited Professor for Animal-Assisted Therapy and Anthrozoology, Azabu University Graduate School, Fuchinobe (Tokyo), Japan. Author/co-author of numerous peer-reviewed research papers and book chapters, co-editor/author of several books available in a number of languages. President of IAHAIO from 1995 to 2010. Founding secretary of ISAAT, 2006 to 2015.

Melissa Winkle

Melissa Winkle has been an occupational therapist and assistance dog trainer for nearly two decades. She is President of Dogwood Therapy Services. In her private practice, Winkle uses animal-assisted interventions in her work to improve independent living and vocational skills for children and adults of all ages and abilities. She specializes in animal-assisted intervention program development and consultation, and evaluations for assistance dogs as assistive technology options.
She is an occupational therapist, researcher, and writer, and she speaks internationally on disability, integrated and community-based program development, animal-assisted interventions, and assistance dogs.
She serves as President of the European-based organization Animal Assisted Intervention International, and serves a number of local, national, and international organizations including universities within the U.S., Chile, Spain, Argentina, and Costa Rica. She is a member of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), and is a Pet Partners licensed evaluator.

Steffie van der Steen

Steffie van der Steen is an Associate professor at the Department of Special Needs Education and Youth Care of the University of Groningen. Her research focuses on interactions that children with special needs have, including interactions during animal-assisted interventions. Steffie is currently involved in several studies on animal-assisted interventions, often with a focus on human-animal synchrony. Among the research methods she uses, are systematic observations, time-serial analyses and movement registrations.