John Kepner, MA, MBA, C-IAYT, Executive Director
John was on the founding board for IAYT's renewal as an independent organization in 2003 and has served as executive director since 2004. He is a practicing yoga teacher and therapist with a professional background in economics, finance and non-profit management. John holds teaching and therapist certifications from the American Viniyoga Institute, and a teaching certification from AG Mohan in Chennai, India. His work and his writings for IAYT often have an economic and public policy perspective. In recent years, much of his work has centered around organizing IAYT's membership and research conferences, developing standards for the training of yoga therapists, accrediting programs that meet those standards, and, most recently, certifying individuals that meet IAYT standards.
John has traveled widely on the yoga path, having practiced in several meditative and âsana-based traditions over four decades. In the mid 90's he made extended visits to Findhorn in Scotland and Auroville in India where he found inspiration in their ecumenical and entrepreneurial efforts to integrate spiritual, environmental, economic, and social values. John has also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock.
One of his evolving interests is the sound integration of yoga with allopathic and complementary and alternatives therapies, while at the same time preserving the classical personal growth, spiritual support, and personal relationship foundations of yoga.
John holds a M.A. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M. B. A from Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, with a concentration in Finance. John did his undergraduate work in liberal arts and economics at the University of Texas, Austin.
Abby M. Geyer, C-IAYT, Advertising Services
Abby began her career at Glamour Magazine, Conde Nast Publications, in New York City and served as both the Accessories Editor and later Sportswear Editor. She moved to San Francisco where she was Advertising and Public Relations Manager for a knitwear firm and later moved to be a Fashion Coordinator for all Northern Stores at I. Magnin.
While in California, Abby was introduced to many holistic therapies and became hooked on yoga, nutrition, and meditation. Abby’s passion for following a healthy lifestyle had begun. In the 1990’s, Abby moved with her husband and son to Las Vegas where, for eight years, she worked as the Director of Marketing, Special Events and Public Relations for Saks Fifth Avenue. It was during this time that Abby was introduced to Ayurveda. She quickly realized that this was the life science that she had been searching for. She has used the principles of Ayurveda in her own life since and is certified as an Ayurvedic Life Style Coach and an Ayurvedic Nutritionist. Abby became the Advertising Representative for the Light on Ayurveda journal in 2004 and still holds that position.
In her role as Advertising Manager for IAYT, Abby enjoys supporting the two sisters of yoga and Ayurveda in synergistic ways and the complementary intentions of these two ancient practices.
Laurie Hyland Robertson, MS, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500
Editor in Chief, Yoga Therapy Today, Managing Editor, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
Laurie began her professional life in publishing, with editorial roles ranging from copy work to developmental editing and senior management for publications including peer-reviewed journals, graduate-level texts in healthcare and law, and the medical business magazine Physicians Practice. In 2007 she opened a holistic clinic and a yoga studio with her husband Tom, who is a doctor of chiropractic and yoga teacher.
Laurie's first experiences with yoga, in 2001, were fast-paced vinyasa classes that ultimately helped to channel excess pitta, and she now enjoys a balanced daily practice that draws on multiple traditions. She was a member of the first class in the Master of Science in Yoga Therapy program at Maryland University of Integrative Health, where she has served as adjunct faculty and a clinical supervisor. She is also a trained pilates instructor and E-RYT 500 yoga teacher. Laurie practices yoga therapy with individuals and small groups, emphasizing yoga's potential to transform the pervasive effects of stress.
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD, Editor in Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa has conducted research in neuroscience, chronobiology, and sleep medicine since 1978. Since 2001, he has been fully engaged in basic and clinical research on the efficacy of yoga practices. Dr. Khalsa has been personally involved in the practice of a yoga lifestyle since 1971 and is a certified instructor of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. He is currently the Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute, Research Director for the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Research Associate at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also directs a Harvard Medical School course in mind-body medicine. Dr. Khalsa has conducted federally funded clinical research trials evaluating the efficacy of yoga for insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic stress, generalized anxiety disorder, and K-12 students within the public school curriculum.
Dr. Khalsa has established relationships and collaborations with fellow yoga researchers internationally. He actively works with the International Association of Yoga Therapists to promote research on yoga therapy, serving as chair of the scientific program committee for the annual Symposium on Yoga Research. Dr. Khalsa is the author of the Harvard Medical School ebook Your Brain on Yoga, has served as ad-hoc reviewer and editor for a number of biomedical journals and as editorial board member on yoga journals including IJYT, and is chief editor of an upcoming textbook entitled The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care.
Debra Krajewski, Conference, Financial, and Membership Manager
Debra began her journey with yoga in 1985, falling in love with Iyengar yoga. She continues to study the Iyengar method, along with meditation and other contemplative practices. Her professional background is in accounting, specializing in tax preparation, with more than three decades of experience in that field. Her most noteworthy accomplishment is the raising of her two wonderful sons. She volunteered at her sons' schools and church, as well as Children's Hospital, for over 20 years.
Devi Mueller, CAS, MAyu, AP (NAMA)
Membership Support and Web Manager
Devi Mueller has been practicing yoga since 2000 and completed her training with the California College of Ayurveda as a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist in 2003. She has an Ayurvedic Healthcare practice in Seal Beach, CA, and has worked closely with the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) since 2003. In 2007, she was elected to NAMA’s Board and completed two 3-year terms before undertaking the position as the Membership and Marketing Manager from 2013 - 2015. She also served as the Conference Manager for most of NAMA’s conferences from 2004 through 2015.
Devi’s previous experience in the corporate world was as the Director of Network Services for Apria Healthcare. Her responsibilities included development of a national network of providers and extensive work as the "super user” for the interface of Apria’s IT system with client organizations’ systems. This required detailed work with the various IT teams helping to develop and document working systems to connect their computer systems seamlessly for use by the end users. She oversaw and did hands on work with the development teams, the IT testing departments, created documentation for the users, and on-site training to assure the interface worked smoothly for both companies.
With her background, she is uniquely suited to serve IAYT as the Membership Support and Web Manager. In conjunction with the entire IAYT team, she will work to assure that the membership system and online tools function smoothly and serve the IAYT membership in the most efficient way possible.
With a career spanning 35 years Tom Peterson is a respected leader in nonprofit strategy, marketing, branding and innovation. Under his leadership, Heifer International’s annual marketing revenue grew from $3 million to $90 million, making Heifer one of the country’s fastest growing nonprofits. Many marketing and communications programs Peterson led are counted among industry leaders. Peterson led Heifer’s online and direct-marketing, and the creation of publications and videos. Heifer’s public relations program garnered media coverage in/on The New York Times, Fast Company, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, 60 Minutes and West Wing. Celebrities such as Barbara Kingsolver, Susan Sarandon, Ted Danson, Diane Lane hosted parties, appeared on television, wrote articles, presented at events.
Consulting for nonprofits, Peterson’s current and recent clients include the International Association of Yoga Therapists, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, Wake Forest Medical Center, and Stakeholder Health. For 10 years he has taught nonprofit marketing at the Clinton School of Public Service. He was managing editor of American City and County and for nine years edited Seeds, a magazine about U.S. and world hunger. He has authored dozens of articles and has made hundreds of presentations. Peterson holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Texas and a Master of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Laura Schmalzl, PhD, RYT 500, Editor in Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
Laura Schmalzl is an Associate Professor at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) where she teaches in the College of Science and Integrative Health. She initially trained as a clinical neuropsychologist, before completing a PhD in cognitive science and post-doctoral work in cognitive neuroscience as well as behavioral medicine. Alongside her academic work, she is also a dedicated yoga practitioner and certified yoga instructor. Much of Laura’s research over the past years has evolved around the development and scientific evaluation of yoga interventions for both clinical and healthy populations. Broadly speaking, her research interests lie in furthering our understanding of the mechanisms through which yoga-based practices can impact cognitive functioning, body awareness and emotional self-regulation.
Beth Whitney-Teeple, PhD, C-IAYT,
Certification and Development Manager
Beth Whitney-Teeple holds a PhD in Health Policy and Bioethics and an MHSA in Health Services and Medical Informatics from the George Washington University in Washington DC. She served 26 years in the USAF and USAFR and has operated an independent consulting firm specializing in information systems and policy development since 1996. She is a graduate of the American Viniyoga Institute's Teacher and Therapist training programs and shares yoga in small classes and private settings. Before much of this she spent years working in wild animal medicine raising lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! She is a talented communicator, facilitating successful exchanges across disciplines with positive outcomes. Beth lives in Steilacoom, WA with her husband, Bob Whitney, and their dog, LuTwo.
Annette Watson, RN, RYT, CCM, BS, MBA
Before joining IAYT, Annette Watson had a distinguished career in accreditation and quality improvement, working in senior positions for two major accrediting bodies based in Washington, DC. She went on to establish a successful consulting company that assists clients to improve quality of care and services using accreditation and certification as tools for transformation. Annette has also spent many years of volunteer Board and committee service for the Commission for Case Manager Certification, helping to establish the Certified Case Manager (CCM) credential as the gold standard for professional case managers in health and human services in the United States.
Annette is a Registered Nurse, and Certified Case Manager. She is also a Reiki Master Teacher and a Registered Yoga Teacher. In addition to her nursing degree, she has a BS in Psychology and Sociology and an MBA with a concentration in Leadership.
She sees her work with the IAYT as the amalgamation of her experience and education, fortunate to be able to make a contribution with meaning and value as the capstone of her career.
Annette is based near Concord, NH, frequently travelling nationally and internationally for business and pleasure, but always happy to return home, where her heart is.
Art Director, Layout & Production Manager
Ken is responsible for the design, layout and production of IAYT's publications, advertising and marketing materials. He holds a B.A. in Graphic Design from the Pennsylvania State University. A lifelong long distance runner and former world class marathoner, Ken discovered the benefits of yoga therapy years ago by watching Rodney Yee videos, designed specifically for runners, to increase flexibility, core strength, and aid in muscle recovery. While no longer running competitively, he still incorporates yoga exercises into his daily pre-run stretching routine. Ken lives in rural New Mexico.