College of Psychology

Brian Alexander


Brian Alexander is a certified mental performance consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). Prior to pursuing a career as a mental performance coach, Brian competed with Team USA in the sport of water polo for eight years through four FINA world championships as well as an Olympic alternate for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic teams. His experience as an elite level athlete paired with his educational training in the psychology of human performance has shaped his desire to help athletes and other performers. His work helps clients develop key psychological skills to assist them in developing the awareness and resilience needed to become successful in their performance domain.

Brian has coached and served the psychological performance needs of athletes at the Olympic, national, professional, collegiate, high school and junior/youth levels of sport and performance. His experiences as an Olympic level athlete paired with education in sport psychology and vocational training in business leadership development have shaped his ability to advise and consult with clients of all ages and at all levels.

Brian’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Arts in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University. He has also studied organizational leadership under the mentorship of well-known leadership guru, Dr. Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager and co-creator of Situational Leadership, as well as a number of other professionals at The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Brian resides in San Diego, CA and enjoys spending time with his family and at the beach during his spare time. He is still an avid competitor at the master’s level of international water polo with The Olympic Club of San Francisco.


  • Counseling Skills A

Credentials & Accolades

BA, Psychology, UC Santa Barbara

MA, Sport Psychology, John F. Kennedy University

College of Psychology

Lauren Gogarty


Lauren Gogarty, MA is adjunct faculty in the College of Psychology and the Academic Certificate in Trauma Studies at John F. Kennedy University (JFKU). She received his master’s degree in Holistic Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis on Buddhist Psychology, from JFKU in 2013. Outside of teaching she is clinical director for the Harambee Arts Nepal, an expressive arts therapy program for survivors of human trafficking in Kathmandu. Her private practice has a focus on survivors of sexual assault and human trafficking in the US, as well as a general practice working with the LGBTQ community.

Credentials & Accolades

MA in Counseling Psychology, Holistic Studies at John F. Kennedy University

College of Psychology

Stephan Martin


Steve is an astronomer, educator, and author who has taught astronomy, physics, and consciousness studies at colleges, universities, and learning centers across the US for over twenty-five years. He has worked as a data analyst for the Hubble Space Telescope and as Observatory Supervisor at Williams College, where he participated in scientific research expeditions around the world to study the dynamics of the solar corona during solar eclipses. He also served as core faculty in the Consciousness, Healing and Ecology program at New College of California.

While attending the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at CIIS, his longstanding interest in the cross-fertilization of science and spirituality led him to write his first book Cosmic Conversations, a collection of interviews on the nature of the universe with leading-edge thinkers from diverse disciplines. His curiosity and academic interests continue to include: investigations of dark matter in galaxies and multidisciplinary and revelatory approaches to exploring the universe. He is currently co-director of the continuing care program at the Center for Spiritual Emergence in Asheville, NC where he assists clients in living more conscious lives from an expansive perspective.


  • Cosmology and Consciousness

Selected Publications

Cosmic Conversations: Dialogues on the Nature of the Universe and the Search for Reality. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books, 2009.

Modern Cosmology and Indigenous Wisdom, Shaman’s Drum Journal, 78 (2008).

Credentials & Accolades

BA Physics and Astronomy, Colgate University

MS Physics (Astronomy), University of Wyoming

College of Psychology

Steve Del Chiaro, PsyD


Dr. Steven Del Chiaro has a diverse background that reflects his many interests. He began his undergraduate career at San Diego State University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Child Development. He then earned his Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology at Loras College in Iowa while working as a Residence Hall Director, as well as working with the Counseling Center, Career Center, Student Activities Board, and Admissions Office. He has earned a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and has since worked as an educator and administrator at several institutions of higher education. Dr. Del Chiaro has also worked as a career counselor, sports therapist and executive coach. As Chair and Professor at JFKU for 10 years, he has taught a variety of psychology courses at different educational levels. In addition, he currently works as a therapist for the County of Santa Clara Sherriff’s Office and Department of Corrections. His present research is in the area of couples communication patterns and animal assisted therapy.

Dr. Del Chiaro is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Western Psychological Association.

Credentials & Accolades

University of San Francisco, PsyD., Counseling Psychology

Loras College, MS, Clinical Psychology

San Diego State University, BA, Psychology

College of Psychology

Sonia Cristina Hart Suárez


Sonia’s research focuses on interdisciplinary methodologies, psychopathology, and psychological knowledge production about Afro-indigenous Latinx populations. Her ethnography and textual/linguistic analyses look at “”cultural concepts of distress”” (CCDs), such as Ataque de Nervios. She documents gendered anti-Black and anti-Indigenous stereotypes carried within the literature on CCDs and related topics. Her work formulates a cross-disciplinary archive of race, gender, science, and psychopathology to reveal how concepts of brujería (Spanish for ‘magic’, or often, ‘witchcraft’) and other examples of non-Western knowledge become pathologized in the existing research and training literature. Sonia also does educational work in the community about the gut-brain connection as a grassroots antidote to the pathologizing stereotypes of “nerves” or “nervios.”

Sonia is a Hellman Foundation fellow for her work on race and gender in biomedical systems of psychopathology. She teaches Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods at JFKU and is completing her PhD at UC Berkeley in the department of Ethnic Studies. Sonia has published research in ethnic studies, social, organizational, and clinical psychology, and studied Counseling Psychology at the doctoral level. She completed her Bachelor of Science at Northwestern University, not terribly far from her hometown of Cicero, Illinois.


  • HCP 5054 Research Methods

College of Law

Robert E. Valdez, J.D.


Pursuing my desire to teach rather than practice law, I developed the courses Computer Applications in Law Practice I and II at San Francisco State University (including obtaining software certifications), taught Legal Research & Writing at San Francisco City College, Legal and Internet-based Research at West Valley College in Saratoga, the courses Legal Research, Civil Litigation I and finally Legal Technology at John F. Kennedy University (JFKU), at both the Pleasant Hill and San Jose campuses.

Currently, I’m continuing my love of teaching as an adjunct faculty member at West Valley College, Saratoga and John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California.


  • PLS3002 Legal Research

Credentials & Accolades

Doctor of Jurisprudence, Golden Gate University School of Law

Witkin Award for Academic Excellence, Witkin Legal Institute

Certificate in Paralegal Studies, San Francisco State University

Bachelor of Arts, Social Science with Criminal Justice Minor, San Francisco State University

College of Psychology

Phillip Post, PhD

  • Online


Phillip Post, Ph.D., CMPC, is an adjunct professor at JFKU and is an associate professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU). He teaches courses in sport and exercise psychology, motor learning, and motor development. Dr. Post is the director of the motor behavior and human performance lab at NMSU, where he examines essential mental skills and motor components associated with effective motor learning and sport performance. He has over 15 research publications examining the effects of imagery and autonomy on motor learning and sport performance. Dr. Post has over 1000 hours of applied sport psychology experience working with professional and collegiate athletes.

Selected Publications

Post, P. G., Young, G., & Simpson, D. (2018). The effects of a PETTLEP imagery intervention on learners’ coincident anticipation timing performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 30, 204-221.

Vangen, R., Post, P.G., Simpson, D., & Cremades, G. (2017). Brain wave activity differences in task complexity and perspective during imagery. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 12.

Fairbrother, J. T., Post, P. G., & Whalen, S. J. (2016). Self-reported responses to player profile questions show consistency with the use of complex attentional strategies by expert horseshoe pitchers. Frontiers in Frontiers in Movement Science and Sport Psychology, 7, Article 1028.

Post, P. G., Aiken, C. A., Laughlin, D. D., & Fairbrother, J. T. (2016). Self-control over combined video feedback and modeling facilitates motor learning. Human Movement Science, 47, 49-59.

Post, P. G., Williams, C. D.*, Simpson, D., & Berning, J. M. (2015). The effects of a PETTLEP imagery intervention on the learning of a complex motor skill, Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 10.

Post, P. G., Simpson, D., Young, G., & Parker, J.* (2014). A phenomenological investigation of divers’ lived experience of imagery. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 9.

Post, P. G., Fairbrother, J. T., Barros, J. A., Kulpa, J.* (2014). Self-controlled practice within a fixed time period facilitates the learning of a basketball set shot. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 2, 9-15.

Simpson, D., Post, P. G., Jensen, P. & Young, G. (2014). “It’s not about taking the easy road”: The experience of ultramarathon runners. The Sport Psychologist, 28, 176-185.

Simpson, D., Post, P. G., & Tashman, L. S. (2013). Adventure racing: The experience of participants in the everglades challenge. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 1-16.

Aiken, C. A., Fairbrother, J. T., & Post, P. G. (2012). The effects of self-controlled video feedback on the learning of the basketball set shot. Frontiers in Frontiers in Movement Science and Sport Psychology, 3, Article 338.

Post, P. G., Muncie, S., & Simpson, D. (2012). The effects of imagery training on swimming performance: An applied investigation. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 24, 323-337.

Post, P. G., & Wrisberg, C. A. (2012) A phenomenological investigation of gymnasts’ lived experience of imagery. The Sport Psychologist, 26, 98-121.

Post, P. G., Barros, J. A., & Wrisberg, C. A. (2011). Evidence of non-compliance with instructions in attentional focus research. Brazilian Journal of Motor Behavior, 6, 1-6.

Post, P. G., Fairbrother, J. T., & Barros, J. A. (2011). Self-controlled amount of practice benefits the learning of a motor skill. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82, 474-481.

Post, P. G., Wrisberg, C. A., & Mullins, S. (2010). A field test of the influence of pre-game imagery on basketball free throw shooting. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 5.

Credentials & Accolades

Ph.D., Exercise and Sport Sciences, The University of Tennessee, May 2010.
Emphasis: Sport Psychology
Dissertation: A phenomenological investigation of gymnasts lived experiences of imagery. Advisor: Dr. Craig A. Wrisberg

M.S., Kinesiology, California State University, Fullerton, June 2005.
Emphasis: Sport Psychology
Thesis: The effects of mastery imagery and balance training on balance and mobility among older adults. Advisor: Dr. Debbie Rose

B.A., Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, June 2002.
Thesis: Attentional and emotional patterns in conversations of introverted and
extroverted friends. Advisor: Dr. Avril Thorn



Helping others overcome their performance challenges and tap into their maximum potential is Dr. Michelle’s passion, mission, and promise.

In her own private practice as an elite performance expert, she helps top athletes, musicians, and executives in competitive fields unlock the power of the mind and create the mental toughness to be the best. Having struggled most of her life with her own performance hurdles, she is driven by not wanting others to experience the same battles. Dr. Michelle’s extensive academic background, which includes a PhD in Clinical Psychology and a Masters in Sport Psychology, allows her to help clients deal with performance anxiety, gain more confidence, and build resilience. As many clients attest, their experience with Dr. Michelle is exactly what they needed and more than they expected – it was life changing.

In addition to personal coaching, Dr. Michelle takes on many roles – a best-selling author, athlete, and teacher. Dr. Michelle’s bestseller line, Beating the Demons, helps clients develop practical skills to gain more control over competitive environments and mitigate the interruption in play to overcome intense odds and defeat adversity. She has been involved in many different sports and understands the stress and demands to perform at the top. As a 15-year USAT Coach, she developed simple and effective tools to mentally train her athletes, and they are used by coaches, teachers and leaders around the world. She is a professor at John F. Kennedy University where she teaches her students to use the mind as an ally to improve performance.


  • Counseling Skills A & B
  • Exercise Psychology
  • Remote Consulting
  • Assessment
  • Group Supervision
  • Healthy Psychology

Credentials & Accolades

PhD, Clinical Psychology, Center for Psychological Studies, 2008

MA, Sports Psychology, John F. Kennedy University, 2002

College of Psychology

Maryasha Katz


Maryasha Katz, LCSW has worked in the field of domestic violence/sexual assault since 1985. While in private practice now, her previous clinical work included directing the Counseling and Sexual Assault Department at Monarch Services. In this role, she was instrumental in bringing the use of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) into a protocol used for sexual assault forensic exams in Santa Cruz County. In addition, she developed and delivered Trauma Informed trainings to police officers and the District Attorney’s office. She has extensive experience in facilitating expressive arts groups. As a consultant and trainer for organizations, she focuses on a myriad of subjects including: Trauma, Vicarious Trauma, and Cultural Humility.

With many years as a dance instructor, she brings an active curiosity and awareness of her clients’ movement vocabulary into her work. She finds that utilizing the body through breath, movement, gesture and posture enriches the therapeutic process. Her classes in person and online have been met with an enthusiastic response from her students who find her to be warm, inviting and passionate about creating an open environment for learning.


  • Basic Addiction Studies
  • Vicarious Trauma and Self Care
  • Somatic Approaches to Trauma
  • Queer Families
  • Family Violence Across the Lifespan
  • Crisis and Trauma
  • Approaches to Trauma and PTSD
  • Human Sexuality
  • Community Mental Health
  • Clinical Skills: Partner & Spousal Abuse, Elder Care
  • Attachment and Developmental Approaches to Trauma
  • Coming Out and Queer Identities
  • Ethics and the Law
  • Clinical Case Seminar
  • Multicultural Competence
  • Family Life Cycle
  • Domestic Violence Workshop: Professional Development Course
  • Addictions and Compulsive Behaviors
  • Theories of Individual Therapy 1
  • Theories of Individual Therapy 2
  • Diversity Awareness: Professional Development Course
  • Feminist Psychotherapy
  • Somatic Theory
  • Career Development

Selected Publications

California Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Manual. California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Contributor. 2000.

Focusing on Pride: Sexual Assault Prevention in the LGBT Community. California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Contributor. 2001.

Focusing on Pride – Sexual Assault in the LGBT Community (Part II). California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Contributor. 2001.

A Practical Guide to Sexual Assault Advocacy in the Criminal Justice System. WCS~DdM in conjunction with Office of Emergency Services. Contributor. 2007.

Credentials & Accolades

MSW,  Arizona State University

Prepare/Enrich Certified Facilitator

EMDR Trained

Hakomi Trained

Expressive Arts Therapy Certification: JFK University

Queer Anti-Violence Task Force

Sexual Assault Response Team Member, Santa Cruz County

Elderly and Dependent Adult Protective Services Task Force, Santa Cruz County

Lesbian Task Force, Burlington, VT

College of Psychology

Mary Foston-English


I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 25 years’ experience. As a dedicated clinician, the heart of my work is counseling individuals, couples and families. My services include short and long term therapy, as well as assessments and referrals. I am also a consultant to various groups and organizations providing trainings, seminars and workshops focused on inclusiveness. As a former NFL Players Assistance Clinician, I continue to provide services to athletes and their families. ​ Being able to combine my clinical skills with performance enhancement is a specialization I have and is an excellent use of my strong assessment skills.
I view myself as an eclectic therapist utilizing various techniques to meet an individual’s needs. As a certified supervisor thru CAMFT and a CMPC thru AASP, I provide supervision to associates and interns.

Credentials & Accolades

Santa Clara University: BS/psychology & MA/counseling psychology

John F. Kennedy University: Certificate Sport Psychology