Meet Our Faculty

Amer Al Ansari

Amer Al Ansari, MD, PhD

Clinical Psychopharmacology

Dr. Amer Al Ansari earned his MD in Medicine and Surgery from Iraqi Medical College in 1978. He then practiced medicine in Iraqi hospitals for three years. In 1981, Ansari left for Belgium/Louvain University for postgraduate studies. In 1986,he obtained his PhD in Medical Neurosciences. From 1986 until 1993, he offered neuroscience courses to medical students in Iraqi universities. In 1993, he joined Utrecht University (Utrecht Medical Center UMC) and worked mainly as a researcher in Rudolf Magnus Institute for Neurosciences, in addition to education. His work at UMC was concentrated on higher brain functions, learning and memory, addiction and perception. Ansari obtained his professor title in 2007. In 2004 he left the Netherlands to go to the Kingdom of Bahrain to join the Arabian Gulf University as a member (and later in 2013, a head) of the Department of Physiology. In addition to teaching neuroscience, he was actively involved in research, mainly focused on memory, learning, motor coordination and perception. He worked also as a consultant doctor in the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) hospital in the department of Neuroscience from 2009 till 2020. Ansari joined Webster Leiden campus in 2020, and taught the Clinical Psychopharmacology course. His research work of approximately 80 original articles has been published in many international journals.

Carley Benton

Carley Benton, PhD

Biology, Neuroscience

Carley Benton, PhD was educated in Canada (University of Waterloo: MSc 2001 and PhD 2006 in Kinesiology and Health Sciences) before completing three years of post-doctoral research at Université catholique de Louvain, in Brussels. She then held an assistant professor position at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, where she performed neuroscience research and lectured in an International Medical Degree Program. Her research interests include metabolism, exercise, neuroscience, and (most recently) mechanisms of learning, and have earned her 20 research publications. After relocating to the Netherlands, she completed a master’s degree in International Education (Biology) from the University of Utrecht-UTEACH program, which fueled the desire to better understand “best practices” in the classroom and improved assessment methods. Benton is currently employed as Adjunct Senior Faculty at Webster Leiden, as an IB teacher at an International School in the Netherlands, and additionally works periodically in academic assessment for international school curriculums and as a skills teacher at TU Eindhoven.

Özlem Eylem-van Bergeijk, PhD

Özlem Eylem-van Bergeijk, PhD

Özlem Eylem-van Bergeijk, PhD, was born and brought up in Cyprus. Her background is in Clinical Psychology. She completed her studies at the Institute of Psychiatry, King`s College University of London, and specialized in clinical assessment and therapeutic approaches, while working with adolescents presenting with self-harm.

Funded by a personal grant from the European Commission, Eylem-van Bergeijk completed her PhD at VU Amsterdam University, where she investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of an e-mental health intervention for suicidal ideation among Turkish migrants in the Netherlands and in the UK. During her study, she collaborated with the Centre for Psychiatry, the Queen Mary University of London as a visiting research fellow. She received several public engagement grants and recognitions from prestigious bodies for bringing various disciplines together to increase suicide awareness among Turkish migrant populations throughout her PhD. Eylem-van Bergeijk also received a full-tuition scholarship from the Beck Institute in Philadelphia, in the United States, to attend the Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Depression and Suicide workshop where she met Prof. Dr. Aaron Beck and Dr. Judith Beck. 

Currently, Eylem-van Bergeijk works as a research lead with a mental health company (Cerina), developing CBT-based, Artificial intelligence-supported mobile applications for psychological disorders. She joined Webster Leiden Campus’s Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Fall 2022 to teach the Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 1100) course.

Christine Fitzgerald

Christine Fitzgerald, MA

Christine Fitzgerald, MA has been a Senior Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Management at Webster University since 1985, and was Head of Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences from 1992–1999 and from 2000–2003. Since May 2021, she has been the Director of Business Psychology for the Haarlem University of Applied Sciences and is a member of their Education Board and Exam Board. In 2018, she joined the Global School for Entrepreneurship as their Senior Learning Coach, Confidential Advisor and a member of their Exam Board. She served on the Management Team at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences and has taught at several Dutch universities, including the New Business School in Amsterdam, where she directed the coaching program and lectured in applied psychology, and Nyenrode University, where she served nine years as Assistant Professor of Marketing. Her corporate experience includes a professional post at Chemical Bank in New York City, where she worked in marketing research, strategic long-term planning, project management, and corporate training. A magna cum laude graduate of Pace University, Fitzgerald received her MA in developmental psychology from Columbia University. She is the recipient of the Prince Fellow Award for Distinguished Excellence in Teaching, the Pace University Award for Excellence in Psychology, and the Percy H. Johnson Award for Academic Excellence, and was a three-time nominee for the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009-2010, 2004-2005 and 1999-2000). She continues to be an independent consultant, coach and public speaker who has provided business education in North America, Europe and Asia.

Stella Gryllia

Stella Gryllia, PhD

Economics, Statistics

Stella Gryllia earned her PhD in Linguistics from Leiden University in 2009. Prior to that, she obtained her MPhil in Linguistics from Leiden University, and her BA in Philology from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece). After receiving her PhD, she moved to Berlin and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Potsdam (Germany). During the past four years (2014–2018), she was employed by Leiden University, carrying out research for the project “Understanding Questions”.

During these years, she also taught statistics to BSc and MA students of linguistics and supervised a number of MA and PhD theses. Her research interests include prosody and its interfaces with other modules of the grammar, as well as quantitative methods in linguistics.

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Despoina Kairi, MA

Clinical Psychology

Despoina Kairi acquired her Bachelor of Psychology in Athens. During that time, she studied for 6 months in South France, as an exchange student. In 2011, after having worked in a community house with people suffering from psychological disorders and mental retardation, she came to the Netherlands and acquired her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Leiden University. She was trained in life coaching during her studies, and her main interest is on how therapy contributes to the improvement of people’s life suffering due to psychological/psychosomatic disorders.

Currently, she is participating in a project in Amsterdam regarding intercultural adaptation of expatriates in the Netherlands.

Internet: Innerpiece Psychologie Praktijk

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Marcel de Lijster, MBA

Strategic Management, Organizational Behavior

Marcel de Lijster is the business owner of "Down 2 Earth Dutch," With his company, he helps organizations to build programs for skills management and lifelong learning that support the continued employability of employees.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, de Lijster worked in the financial industry as a banker. He has 27 years of working experience in the financial industry, for 23 of which he held leadership and management positions. He worked at one of the largest banks in Holland. He can be branded as a real people manager. He is also an "acknowledged" coach and helps people with their personal and career development. He has experience and knowledge of strategic management, organizational behavior, leadership, change management, risk management, and financial control.

He holds an MBA with an emphasis on Management from Webster Leiden Campus. He has been a member of the Webster faculty since 2004 and teaches courses in Organizational Behavior, Management, Managerial Leadership, Decision Making, and Strategic Management.

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Erika O’Donnel, MA

Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology

Erika O’Donnell is a registered psychologist. She has completed two master’s degrees in psychology, one in Clinical Psychology and one in Health Psychology, and is therefore specialized in the treatment of both clinical and behavioral psychological issues. In the past, she worked in forensics, dealing with aggression and personality disorders and set up the expat division of PSYQ in the Hague. She is currently in a private practice, where she incorporates a variety of psychological approaches (CBT, person-centered, psychodynamic, narrative, self-regulation), tailoring interventions to suit each individual’s unique needs and way of being. She works with individuals, couples, families, and groups and does a lot of supervision of counsellors in training, starting out in private practice or as the external supervisor of counsellors in the workplace. She is a registered member of The Psychological Society of Ireland and a member of The British Psychological Society and the Nederlandse Instituut van Psychologen.

Kim O'Meara

Kim O'Meara, MA

Psychology, Gender and Sexuality

Kim O’Meara earned her MA in Psychology with an Emphasis in Counseling, and a BA in Psychology from Webster Leiden Campus. Previously, she also completed a BA with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Hampshire College (Amherst, MA, USA). Additionally, she has done training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and Emotion-Focused (process-experiential) Therapy for individuals. Her areas of interest include: existential psychology and issues around gender/sex, sexuality, relationships and social justice. She is a Registered Counsellor with the Algemene Beroepsvereniging voor Counselling (ABvC) in the Netherlands, a Registered NIP (Nederlands Instituut van Pyschologen) Psychologist, and a GSRD (Gender, Sex and Relationship Diversity) Aware Trainer (via Pink Therapy). O'Meara has a private practice in Amsterdam where she provides individual and relationship therapy, and is adjunct senior faculty at Webster Leiden Campus.

Paul Rakowski

Paul Rakowski, MA, MS

Head of Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Trauma Informed Therapy, Addiction/Recovery

Paul Rakowski, MA, MSc, is credentialed in the United States as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC), National Certified Counselor (NCC), Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS), and Master Addiction Counselor (MAC). He is an NIP-registered Clinical Psychologist in the Netherlands. He has over 13 years of experience as a trauma informed therapist and specializes in trauma, addiction/recovery, couples’ therapy and clinical supervision. Motivational Interviewing and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) provide a strong foundation for his work with clients. In addition to his clinical practice, Rakowski has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education program at the University of Colorado-Denver and at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. He has also taught courses in biology, health/wellness and animal behavior as well as First-Year Experience courses for incoming University students. Rakowski is a strong advocate for social justice within public health and currently volunteers at De Regenboog Groep in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Malinda Werth

Malinda Reuijl, MA

Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

Malinda Reuijl, MA, is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) from the United States and holds a Master of Arts in Counseling. She is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) and has been intensively trained in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). She has over 15 years of experience in the field of mental health and substance use co-occurring disorders. She has been an educator of addiction awareness for court-ordered individuals in group settings, along with substance use disorder groups based on stages of change. She has experience teaching about the effects of trauma, substance use disorders, motivational interviewing and the management of crisis behaviors in a variety of settings. She has a private counseling practice that's based in Amsterdam, and volunteers at a nonprofit organization that provides help/support to victims of human trafficking.

Sheetal Shah

Sheetal Shah, PhD

Counseling

Sheetal Shah, PhD, is the academic director at Webster Leiden Campus, Webster University USA. As an educator and change maker at heart, she is a psychologist with a global orientation. She has had the privilege of applying many psychological theories to different contexts in the real world - for example, in education, public health, leadership, global citizenship and grassroots-level work.

Shah specializes in the field of counseling for chronic illnesses and trauma; her research interests are focused in the field of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. In 2012, she founded the Bijlmer Project, a research project investigating the needs of victims of human trafficking, and now volunteers with the intervention phase of the project, Bridge2Hope that addresses the psychosocial and vocational needs of sexually trafficked women and men in the European Union. This project has also been a successful experiential learning component for many courses that are taught in both the psychology and global citizenship programs at Webster’s Leiden campus.

Part of Shah’s philosophy of teaching has been to connect students to real-world problems, or what she calls the "classroom outdoors" or "classroom in the community" format. This approach focuses on using experiential learning components in the field to build on the theoretical underpinnings that students learn in the classroom. Having studied both in India and the UK, and having worked with an American educational system within a Dutch/European setting, her familiarity with diverse curricula has helped her understand and effectively respond to the evolving needs and dynamics of the international student profile that universities cater to as part of their global network.

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Gerard van der Ree, PhD

International Relations Theory

Gerard van der Ree studied Latin American Studies and International Relations at Utrecht University. He graduated on the subject of the Chilean democracy and democratization after the dictatorship of Pinochet. In 2007, he obtained his PhD from Leiden University on modernization through elite projects in Chile. Currently, he is working as a teacher in International Relations theory at Utrecht University College. His specialties are IR theory, methodology, and philosophy of science.

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Bethany Hipple Walters, PhD

Qualitative Research Methods and Research Design

Bethany Hipple Walters, PhD is the Director for the Center for Implementation at the Trimbos Institute (the Netherlands Institute for Mental Health and Addiction) and an implementation scientist at the Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital. She teaches qualitative research methods and research design at Webster Leiden Campus. Her research focuses on understanding how evidence-based healthcare programs are implemented in practice. In her work, Hipple Walters uses a variety of theory-informed research methods, the majority of which are qualitative in nature.

Katie Lee Weille

Katie Lee Weille, PhD

Organizational Behavior

Katie Lee Weille, PhD, is a psychotherapist practicing in Amsterdam. In addition to teaching at Webster for more than 20 years, Weille was professor of parenthood and professional work with parents at Leiden University of Applied Sciences for three years, and has been teaching for more than a decade at the RINO clinical institutes in Utrecht and Amsterdam on post-doctoral training programs for psychotherapists and other mental health practitioners, developing a certificate program on the psychology of parenthood and clinical work with parents. Weille received her PhD from the University of London, after completing undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States at Wesleyan University and Smith College. Her areas of special practice and research interests include complex and non-normative identities, qualitative research methods, and psychological trauma.

Doron Zilbershtein, PhD

Doron Zilbershtein, PhD

Entrepreneurship, Organizational Behaviour, Well-Being

Doron Zilbershtein is a family man, an avid sailor, a former naval officer and a naval architect who has resided and worked in 15 countries. Hopefully, the Netherlands will be his last port of call. Zilbershtein holds a BSc in Naval Architecture/Ocean Engineering, an MBA in Entrepreneurship, and a PhD in Business Administration with specialization in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Zilbershtein is also a passionate educator who continuously seeks out creative ways to coach, mentor and engage committed learners, and delivers relevant content in an inspiring, fun environment. Did we mention FUN? Beyond lectures, Zilbershtein uses gamification principles, (e.g., role playing, simulation games) to stimulate the learning environment by making it fun and rewarding. He makes extensive application of digital tools and encourages learners to experiment and step out of their comfort zone by challenging the status quo. Over the past 19 years, Zilbershtein has taught diversified subjects: Research methods, entrepreneurship, international management, hospitality operational excellence and HRM. He always flavors his lessons with real-life anecdotes and relevant industry knowledge. Zilbershtein has also supervised learners at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.   

Zilbershtein practices his passion for helping others as an entrepreneur. His family-owned company, Wellennium, coached and mentored young adults, and in 2018, its internship program was nominated for Beste Stagebedrijf [best internship company] 2018, demonstrating the family commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others. Zilbershtein’s interests include human behaviors and well-being. He genuinely enjoys mentoring learners on a broad range of soft skills, including mindset, cross/multi/intercultural communication, active listening, inquisitive mind, self-esteem, attitude and self-efficacy, among others.