AFTA's Leadership Team

At the Board meeting held on June 19, 2021, a new Leadership Team and two new Board Members were appointed. Additionally, two existing Board members were appointed for an additional term.*

The Leadership Team (formerly referred to as the “transition team”) aims to have more defined roles that lead the running of AFTA in conjunction with Central Office staff while exploring alternative forms of leadership.

*Per the Bylaws, the Board may, by majority vote, appoint Appointed Directors for a term of three years. By majority vote, the Board may appoint or terminate Appointed Directors at any regular meeting of the Board.

Wonyoung L. Cho, PhD, LMFT (7/22 - 6/25)

Wonyoung is an Assistant Professor in the Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapy Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School in Portland, OR. She is also licensed MFT in the states of Oregon and California, and an AAMFT-approved clinical supervisor. She has been clinically active since 2009 and received her PhD in Education in 2019. Her current research and practice interests include culturally responsive and socioculturally attuning pedagogy and practice using narrative theory and language(s) as a marker and lens for understanding culture.

Linda Lockspeiser, LCSW (7/23-6/26)

Linda is the eldest child of a large Italian working class family from Brooklyn, NY-- her first internship in family systems theory. She is a wife, mother, stepmother and grandmother. She has worn many hats including licensed clinical social worker, integrative psychotherapist, spiritual director, clinical supervisor, consultant, and teacher/trainer. Her specialty is working with couples and families from a social justice perspective in private practice. She has worked in the Catholic school system, substance abuse prevention and intervention, community mental health, and sex offender recovery for the offender and his family. In AFTA, she has served on the Board in a number of leadership capacities. Her first publication is a chapter entitled “Meaning Making through Family Constellation Work” for the Springer Series on Engaging with Spirituality in Family Therapy: Meeting in Sacred Space. She loves to cook, sing, read, garden, hike, and drop water color— all of which feeds her spirit! She owes all to her Higher Power, her family, friends, teachers, colleagues, clients, and children as well as her women’s 12 step group, Reiki network, Constellation peer group, and Zen sangha.

Lucas Volini, BA, MA, DMFT (7/23 - 6/26)

After investing the last 13 years into the profession of family therapy, I’ve only grown increasingly infatuated with our discipline’s history and inspired by new innovations. My early career focused on applied practice with individuals, couples, families, and groups within various treatment settings and across diverse demographics. The variety of field experience paved the foundation for 8 years in higher education as an assistant professor and clinical researcher while maintaining a parttime practice exclusive to couples and families. After accomplishing much of what I had set out to achieve in higher education, I saw an opportunity and took a risk with a local mental health start-up on the brink of national expansion. I was ready to get back into the field to generate a more direct impact on improving the lived experience of practicing clinicians and the clients in their care. 18 months later, ellie mental health quickly became the fastest growing franchise in the United States—selling more than 425 licenses to open community mental health clinics in under-served communities nationwide.

I currently maintain a full-time role as ellie’s Vice President of Clinical Quality & Innovation. Current projects include (1) innovating how continued education trainings can get up to speed with 21st century technologies and seminal research on optimizing remote pedagogical strategies, (2) developing a system wide therapist development program ranging from graduate level interns to ongoing mentorship and training for clinical supervisors, and (3) engineering the country’s first behavioral-health exclusive clinically integrated network of providers to leverage managed care companies in adopting more equitable and empirically-sound processes and practices for mental health therapists. As my thirties quickly taught me that changing the world is too lofty *arrogant* of a goal, my passion has shifted to applying teachings from cybernetics/general system theory to optimize deficient systems and inform the engineering of new programs/models of intervention from the ground up. As my professional journey has led me toward various organizations and institutions, no other community has provided me with such vast wisdom, knowledge, and relationships than the American Family Therapy Academy. I’m eager and humbled to play a part in AFTA’s leadership committee and look forward to the work we’ll be able to accomplish through integrating and applying the collective wisdom spanning the generations of AFTA’s membership.

AFTA Board of Directors

Jessica ChenFeng, PhD, LMFT (7/23 - 6/26)

Jessica Chenfeng  is an Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. She has been a practicing MFT for 18 years in California state and consults with academic, healthcare, and religious organizations to improve the well-being of people within their communities. Her research and clinical work center around social contextual intersections of race, gender, generation, trauma, and spirituality. In the last few years, her primary clinical focus has been the well-being of physicians, especially through pandemic-related trauma and burnout. She is a certified Havening practitioner and an AAMFT-approved supervisor. She was humbled and honored to receive the 2022 American Family Therapy Academy Early Career Award. Much of her joy, growth, and inspiration comes through life with her family (husband, two young children) and extended first- and second-generation Taiwanese American family.

Janessa Dominguez, PhD, BCBA, LMFT, QBA (11/20 - 06/23; 07/23 - 6/26)

Janessa is the founder and CEO of Shaping Change, LLC. She is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Qualified Behavior Analyst, and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She received her doctorate degree in family therapy from Nova Southeastern University. She has worked in a variety of settings from schools, homes, and clinics to community settings, providing a multitude of services to address challenging behaviors and systemic change. She believes infusing behavior analysis and family therapy in the provision of services is key for a more comprehensive, desirable outcome, which is inclusive of the entire system. 

Peter Fraenkel, Ph.D. (7/22 - 06/25)

Peter is an Associate Professor of Psychology at City College of New York; former faculty at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and NYU Medical Center; and is in private practice in New York City.  He has published and lectured on a wide range of topics, including temporal issues in couples, integrative approaches to couple and family therapy, couple distress prevention, couple and family coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, last chance couple therapy, a family-based approach to incest, collaborative methods in community-based family program development, narrative therapy-based multiple family group interventions for families in homeless shelters, training in intersectionality sensitivity, and qualitative research. He is the co-author of The Relational Trauma of Incest: A Family-Based Approach to Treatment (Guilford), Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track (Palgrave-Macmillan), and of the forthcoming book Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink (Norton).  Dr. Fraenkel lectures and conducts therapist trainings internationally.  He received the American Family Therapy Academy’s 2012 award for Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy, and with Marcia Sheinberg and Fiona True, AFTA’s 2004 award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice.  He is a former Vice President of AFTA, and a reviewer for several family therapy journals.

Jerry Gale, PhD (7/18 - 6/21, 7/21 - 6/24)

Jerry is the Program Director of the Family Therapy Doctoral Program at the University of Georgia. He has been an AFTA member since the mid-90’s and received the AFTA 2006 Outstanding Research Award. With Roxana Llerena-Quinn he co-chaired the 2014 AFTA annual conference in Athens, Georgia. He has over 80 publications and has authored/co-edited three books. He is presently co-Pi on a 5-year, 8-million-dollar grant, The integration of marriage and relationship education into family and children services: A Campus-Community partnership.   He is involved in extending systems practices through projects implementing relational financial therapy and relational meditation, and he is a co-founder of the interdisciplinary ASPIRE Clinic. Attending to social justice and addressing social determinants of health is of primary importance to Jerry.  He gave an invited presentation When the right answer is wrong: Addressing multiculturalism and diversity for financial therapists at the seventh annual Financial Therapy Conference.  He has presented on incorporating relational meditation into social justice work at AFTA and in a webinar for the Taos Institute.

Jayashree George, DA, ATR-BC, LMFT, SEP (7/23 - 6/26)

Jayashree George has backgrounds in art and art history (BA, MA) from India, and art therapy (MA) and marriage and family therapy (MS) from the US. She holds a doctorate (DA) in art therapy from New York University. Her research interests over the past decade or so have been centered in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical practice. She is currently conducting an experimental study on microaggressions and repair in therapy. Her current art practice explores the plight of elephants as they are blamed for their wildness and oppressed in multiple ways. She uses her art as activism to illuminate the interconnectedness of ecology, mental health, art, and activism. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Art Therapy Counseling Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Mariana Juras, MS, PhD (6/20 - 6/22, 7/22 - 6/25)

Mariana Juras, MS, Ph.D., is a psychologist and marriage and family therapist from Brazil. She came to the US in 2015 as a visiting research scholar in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. Currently, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), she teaches clinical courses to undergraduate students interested in pursuing mental health professional careers. Her research interests include family matters on forensic psychology, divorce and remarriage, domestic violence, and parenting interventions.


Carmen Knudson-Martin, PhD, LMFT (7/21 - 6/24)

Carmen is a professor of Marital, Couple, and Family Therapy Program at Lewis & Clark College, Portland OR, USA. She has published over 80 articles and book chapters on the influence of the larger sociocultural context in couple and family relationships and the political and ethical implications of therapist actions on marital equality, relational development, and couple therapy. She is the developer of Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy which addresses the micro-processes by which societal power processes play out in intimate relationships. Carmen is editor/author of three books: Socio-Emotional Relationship Therapy–Bridging Emotion, Societal Context, and Couple Interaction; Couples, Gender, and Power–Creating Change in Intimate Relationships; and Socioculturally Attuned Family Therapy: Guidelines for Equitable Theory and Practice. She is a former member of the AFTA board and the 2017 recipient of the AFTA’s Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice Award. Carmen is the current series editor of the AFTA SpringerBriefs in Family Therapy.


John J. Lawless, Ph.D., MPH (7/23 - 6/26)

John J. Lawless is a Professor in the School of Social Science and Public Affairs at SUNY Empire State University. He is the Program Coordinator for the Public Health program. He has presented and moderated multiple presentations on social justice, cultural sensitivity, and supervision. Dr. Lawless’ career has spanned over 25 years of practice working with couples, families, and communities using a systems theory lens. He brings a wealth of experience serving on organizational boards (American Family Therapy Academic, Family Process Institute, International Family Therapy Association) focusing on furthering the field of family therapy. Currently, his focus has been working with the International Family Therapy Association (IFTA) and has been the Program Chair for IFTA’s World Congress for the past seven years. In addition, he is a founding member of the International Accreditation Commission for Systemic Therapy Education (IACSTE). Dr. Lawless is married and the proud parent of three sons. He lives in Central New York and enjoys skiing, playing guitar, and hiking (a member of the ADK 46er club).

Martha Morgan Gobert, PhD, LMFT (7/22 - 06/25)

Martha is a trained Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). She received her masters from Oklahoma State University and earned her doctorate at Texas Tech University. She has been in the role of full-time faculty since August of 2010. Currently, Martha is a full-time associate professor at UMass Global in the MA psychology program where she trains graduate students to become mental health providers.  She is also part of Good Human Work group practice where she provides therapy for individuals, couples, and families via telehealth.


Laura Roberto-Forman, PsyD (7/15 - 6/18, 7/18 - 6/21, 7/21 - 6/24*)

*Appointed Director

Professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School who specializes in women’s health, couples and families, and eating disorders. Past Editor-in-Chief of the AFTA Monograph Series and past Secretary of AFTA, she is on the editorial boards of JMFT, JFFT, and Family Process (ad hoc), and writes extensively on transgenerational couple and family therapy (Transgenerational Family Therapies, Guilford). Laura is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 43). Past Board experience: Secretary, Awards Chair, Publications Chair. Committee Service: Cultural and Economic Diversity; Program; Membership; Nominations; AFTA Futures; Women’s Institute; Human Rights. Additional interests: interfaith dialogue; mindfulness; yoga.


Laurel Salmon, LMFT (7/19 - 6/22, 7/22 - 6/25)

Laurel Salmon is a NYS licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has been an active member of AFTA since she joined as a student in 2013. She has a strong background in socially just mental health, domestic violence as well as training and education. Her primary area of focus has been integrating strategies for understanding oppression dynamics into clinical work and clinical supervision. She has given presentations and written about the various ways that racism, sexism, hetero-sexism and religious oppression impact the work we do with our clients. Laurel's roles in AFTA include being a member of the Cultural and Economic Diversity Committee and Membership Committee. She has served on Nominations and been chair of the committee. She is the current facilitator of the People of Color network and chair of the Early Career Membership Committee. Laurel received AFTA's Early Career Award in 2018. She is committed to expanding the presence of Marriage and Family therapists in New York State. She is the former Program Director of the Courtland Avenue clinic. Laurel is currently the Senior Director of Therapeutic and Support Services for the Center for Safety and Change wher she oversees supportive counseling and clinical programs for clients who are survivors of child sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking. 

Sarah Samman, PhD (7/22 - 06/25)

Sarah K. Samman, PhD, LMFT, is an Associate Professor in the Couple and Family Therapy Program at Alliant International University, San Diego, CA. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California and an AAMFT Approved Clinical Supervisor. Pursuing her second career, she first earned her Master of Arts degree in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy with an Addictions Track from Lewis & Clark Graduate School in 2012, a post-masters certificate in Medical Family Therapy and a Ph.D. in Marital and Family Therapy from Loma Linda University in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Dr. Samman has presented at both national and international conferences on issues of multicultural and multiracial couple dynamics, influences of spirituality and chronic illnesses, and gender and power on couple and family relationships. Dr. Samman utilizes a biopsychosociospiritual approach in her clinical therapy based on a strong interdisciplinary background in health psychology, addiction, and medical family therapy. Dr. Samman identifies as an intersectional feminist and has a deep commitment to anti-racist, diversity informed, interpersonal and social justice clinical practice and pedagogy. Dr. Samman was a member of the Early Career Member Committee and 2021 Program Committee for AFTA’s 43rd Annual Meeting & 1st Virtual Conference. She has published in the Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy, AFTA Springer Brief as an editor and contributing author, Contemporary Family Therapy, Family Process, and Family Therapy Magazine.

CharlesEtta T. Sutton, MSW, LCSW (7/21 - 6/24)

CharlesEtta, most noted for her mastery in Train--the Trainer work and facilitation, this family therapist, author, spiritual well-­being, health promotion and social justice advocate provides therapy, supervision, training, consultation, and program development. Retired from UMDNJ-­OPSR as Director of Training in 2003, her life transitions find her continuing her work as Principal of CTS Group Sutton & Associates, faculty, and clinical supervisor at Center for Family Community and Social Justice, founding faculty of Multicultural Family Institute, faculty, and board of the Turtle Island Project, Master Facilitator, International Black Summit. CharlesEtta brings an irrepressible “joie de vivre” to her work and “walks her talk.”