The Team

Paul Desan

Paul Desan, MD, PhD, is Director of the Psychiatric Consultation Service for Yale New Haven Hospital. He obtained an A.B. in psychology at Princeton University, a Ph.D. in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and an M.D. at Yale University School of Medicine. His present research interests include mood disorders, particularly Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D., and how S.A.D. can be used as a model to measure the interaction of psychological factors such as stress and cognitive style, and biological factors including seasonal cues. One focus of interest is the question of how a resilient individual can regulate mood and maintain life satisfaction in medical illness and existential loss.

David3B2David Thomas Ekram

David Thomas Ekram, M.Ed., CPC, is a former school administrator and teacher. His 30 years of education experience include being a Founding High School Principal in Beijing, China, where he was teaching a psychology course and was introduced to the exciting field of positive psychology. In addition, David has held admin/teacher positions in Japan, S. Korea, Europe, and on both coasts of America. He received his B.A. in psychology from SUNY at Stony Brook, and his M.Ed. from Rhode Island College. Currently, David is a Certified Professional Coach, and leads local support groups, workshops and classes in the areas of self-love, happiness, relationships and spirituality. His passions and personal experience inspired him to create “The Self-Love & Happiness Club” Meetup group with monthly meetings in New Jersey and New York City, in order to help others learn the art and science behind creating more self-love and joy in one’s life. Traveling along a “challenging yet fascinating” road through his own life’s journey, David takes his experience, and combined with the latest research, develops programs to help people lead more authentic, courageous and meaningful lives. David is the Editor-in-Chief of the Newsletter, and teaches workshops on community building.

Allison A. Holzerallison

Allison Holzer, M.A.T., P.C.C., & C.P.C.C. was a Co-Founding Board Member and is currently a consultant and instructor for Pursuit of Happiness. In addition, she is Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of InspireCorps, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on smart, sustainable inspiration for leaders, teams, and organizations. In these various roles, Allison leverages her passions for applied positive psychology, coaching, and emotional intelligence to help individuals flourish both personally and professionally. She is a thought leader who regularly publishes scholarly articles and book chapters in the fields of coaching, emotional intelligence, and positive psychology. She holds a B.A. in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Dartmouth College and a Master of Arts in Teaching. In addition, she holds the distinction of Professional Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and has a Certification in Professional Co-Active Coaching.

Todd B. Kashdan

Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. Receiving his Ph.D. in 2004 from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Dr. Kashdan has published over 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including many of the eminent outlets in clinical, abnormal, social, and personality psychology, and given over 100 presentations at national and international conferences. In 2009, he published Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life (William Morrow) to promote the science of well-being for a general audience, is an author of the forthcoming book Designing the Future of Positive Psychology (Oxford University Press), serves as associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and is on the advisory board for the Templeton Flourishing Children Project. To date, his research has mostly focused on anxiety, positive emotions, gratitude, purpose in life, how personal strengths operate in everyday life, social relationships, and how to foster and sustain happiness and meaning in life. For the past 10 years, he has been teaching college courses on the science of happiness. He is regularly invited to give talks and workshops to business executives, schools, parents, retirees, scholars, and health professionals. His research has been featured in several popular media outlets including the New York Times and The Washington Post. More information can be found at:


Debra Park

After retiring from teaching high school psychology for 33 years, Debra Park, M.A., “graduated” back to college and has been teaching undergraduate courses at Rutgers University, Camden NJ. As a Part-Time- Lecturer in both the Psychology department and the Institute for Effective Education/Teacher Prep, she has taught Introduction to Psychology, Human Development, Psychology of Happiness and Well –Being and Behavior Management to both traditional and non-traditional students. Debra is past-chair of the Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools, a committee of the American Psychological Association and has served on the Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education and APA’s National Standards Working Group, revising the high school standards for psychology. She served on APA’s Membership Board from 2009 – 2012 and was Division 2, Society for Teaching Psychology Membership Board Chair 2012- 2015. Debra is a consultant and instructor for Pursuit of Happiness and continues to work with psychology teachers through her participation in many conferences and professional development venues.

Mark Setton

Mark Setton, D.Phil., has studied and published works on East Asian philosophy for the past 30 years. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at Sungkyunkwan University, the only Confucian university in Asia. He has taught at the State University of New York at Stonybrook, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University, where he earned his doctorate. He is presently teaching East Asian philosophy and world religions, as well as his favorite course “Perspectives on Happiness,” at the University of Bridgeport. He recently received an award for his work comparing philosophical and psychological perspectives on Subjective Well-Being. He is the founder of Pursuit of Happiness.

Ryan Turnerryan-turner-headshot

Since 2012, Ryan has provided expert website management advice and services with his CT Web Consulting company, 3PRIME. Besides helping with the website, Ryan’s advice and service have helped to manage the organization’s advertising account with Google, providing direct management and strategic consulting as well as improvements to conversion tracking, landing page aesthetics and support for organizational initiatives. Ryan lives in New Haven, pursuing happiness from both personal & professional perspectives  with his wife and 3 young children!