Coordinating Council

2020 Coordinating Council Members

  • General Coordinator -Rev. Robert Hempel
  • Communications – Brenda Schaeffer
  • Programs – Lucy Freedman
  • Education – Brenda Schaeffer
  • General Member, IESA Committee Chair – Janice Dowson
  • Finance – Dianne Maki-Sethi
  • Canadian Regional Rep. – Tom Burton
  • Membership – Dianne Maki-Sethi
  • Northeastern Regional Rep. – Karen Barret Rightler


  • Vann Joines
  • ITAA North American Rep – Michael Harsh
  • Tom Nissley
  • Laurie Weiss
  • Inger Acking
  • Freddie Suresh

Rev. Robert L. Hempel

General Coordinator

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Rev. Robert L. Hempel, M.Th., T.A.P. is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, retired. He has used TA for over 40 years as a pastor.

He was introduced to TA in 1966 by the late Bob Goulding, M.D. and the late David Kupfer, at church meeting, which lead to extensive training with the Bob and Mary Goulding at Western Institute for Group and Family Therapy.

He also studied with Denton Roberts, and Maurice and Natalie Haimowitz of Chicago. He uses TA in his practice. Visit his website to learn more

He serves on the Coordinating Council as Midwest Representative, FaceBook page editor and a member of the Social Action committee.

Fred Suresh

Brenda Schaeffer

Coordinator of Communications and Education

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​Brenda Schaeffer is an author, a Licensed Psychologist, Certified Addictions Specialist, Certified Transactional Analyst, a TAPI, and holds a doctorate in spiritual psychology.  With over 600,000 publications sold, she is the best-selling author of Is It Love or Is It Addiction?  presently published in twelve languages, among many other books and appearances. Dr. Schaeffer is a national and international lecturer and workshop presenter having been a featured speaker in countries such as Iceland, Chile, Canada, and the UK.

Lucy Freedman

Coordinator of Programs

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Lucy Freedman is a consultant, speaker, teacher, and coach who has practiced transactional analysis since the 1970’s.

She served as General Coordinator of USATAA and as President of ITAA, has organized several international TA conferences in San Francisco, and continues to teach and advocate for TA.

She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California and enjoys walks in the redwoods near her home.

Janice Dowson

General Member,
Chair of IESA Committee

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Janice Dowson, BA, MA, CTA, TSTA (P), TAPI (TA Practitioner Instructor) is one of Canada’s foremost Transactional Analysis therapists and teachers and an active ITAA member for over 35 years. She joined USATAA some years ago and now serves as Canadian representative–active on social justice and education committees.

As a teacher, she emphasizes the ethical application of TA approaches and teaches clinicians how to effectively aid people to change their games and unproductive life scripts while building therapeutic skills. In her clinical practice, Janice uses the practical tools of TA to help people solve problems.

Dianne Maki-Sethi

Finance and Membership

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Dianne Maki-Sethi, MA Counseling Psychology,  was first introduced to TA in the early 70s through 2 101s in Philadelphia. Later she renewed her interest in TA through The Eastern Regional TA Association.

She has served on the Council since 1999 first as a regional rep then Jamaica Gathering Coordinator until 2014. She also served as GC and is now Financial Coordinator.

Dianne is a certified Gestalt Therapist and recognized as a Diplomate in Redecision Therapy. In her other life, she is very involved with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs the largest volunteer organization for women internationally.

Tom Burton

Canadian Regional Rep.

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I have been a practicing CTA psychotherapist for over 20 years. My practice is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, but I work with clients from all over the world on-line.

Since childhood, I’ve pursued excellence in violin and ensemble playing. Recently I have combined my passions for psychotherapy and music to help musicians.

Karen Rightler, RN, BSN, MA-MFT, TAP

Northeastern Regional Rep.

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Karen is an experienced Registered Nurse with a passion for mental health. She uses TA principles in the health care setting to facilitate better communication regarding medical treatment, long term planning, and end of life care. Karen uses every opportunity to apply her training in TA to assist others with relationship building and personal growth.

Karen is a full-time hospital RN Case Manager, and currently working toward her TAAP with Catherine O’Brien. She resides in Buffalo, NY with her husband and 2-year-old daughter.

Cathy Katz

Pacific Regional Rep.

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Cathy Katz, TAP, ASR is a certified, coach, radio show host and Pacific Coast Regional Rep. She has served on the USATAA Council for several years now. Cathy serves as an educator focusing on effective communication strategies and sharing the principles of TA with her clients for personal and business growth.

Vann Joines


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Vann Joines, PhD, TAPI, TSTA and a Diplomate in Redecision Therapy, serves as an educational advisor on the Council. He directs the Southeast Institute in Chapel Hill, NC where he trains other professionals in Transactional Analysis, Redecision Therapy, Advanced Integrative Therapy, Marriage and Family Therapy and a number of other approaches.

He is currently training in Chapel Hill, Louisville, KY, Japan, and China. He is co-author of TA Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis (2nd Edition) and Personality Adaptations: A New Guide to Human Understanding in Psychotherapy and Counseling, and he developed the Joines Personality Adaptation Questionnaire.

Michael Harsh

Members-at-Large and ITAA North American Rep.

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Michael A. Harsh is a psychotherapist in Omaha, Nebraska.  Michael’s background includes a BA in Philosophy, a JD, a MA in Christian Spirituality, and a MA in Counseling.  He is a CTA-P, PTSTA-P through the ITAA.  He is a TAAP and a TAPI through the USATAA.

Michael also holds a certificate in Redecision Therapy from the Southeast Institute for Group and Family Therapy.  Michael is currently the North American Representative to the ITAA Board of Trustees and a USATAA Council member. Michael has used TA in his work with clients for the past 19 years.  He is now teaching TA and supervising trainees in the practice of Transactional Analysis.

Tom Nissley

Tom Nissley


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Born and grew in Lancaster PA. Early fun as Junior Magician and Floral Designer. High School Band and Orchestra. Entered Franklin and Marshall College planning to be a florist. English degree 1955; by then on the path to Princeton Seminary and ordained as Presbyterian Minister. (Later attended the University of Neufchatel as a doctoral student).

Introduced to TA thru Richard Abell and Bill Holloway; then WIGFT with Bob and Mary Goulding, George Thompson, Jon McNeel. Also trained with Marilyn Zalcman and Richard Erskine and Joseph Zinker (Gestalt).

I am a Clinical Certified Transactional Analyst and can teach the TA 101. Founded and hosted training events for TA and Gestalt at the Ridgelea Institute in Connecticut, which is still my home state. Served ITAA as trustee and Program Chairperson. Helped found the Eastern Region TA Association. Promoted tours to conferences in Belgium, Switzerland, Singapore, and Brazil. Presented workshop demonstrating Family System using the Ridgelea (really, Russian) Dolls.

Laurie Weiss

Laurie Weiss


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Laurie Weiss, Ph.D. TSTA has been involved with TA since 1969.

She has served ITAA and USATAA in many capacities and practices (a little) psychotherapy, coaching and consulting with her husband Jonathan B. Weiss, Ph.D., TSTA in Littleton, CO.

She writes—8 books, several ebooks and many articles—so far.

Laurie is also a Master Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation. She and her husband Jonathan are currently the only Certified Master Logosynthesis Practitioners in the US.

Inger Acking, MSW

Members-at-Large and Pacific Rep.

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Inger Acking, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

As a social worker since 1984, and therapist in private practice since 1987, Inger Acking is a certified Redecision Therapy Diplomate experienced with a variety of therapeutic approaches. She worked at the Alameda County Family Service for 20+ years, and for 16 of those years in the Family Preservation Program focusing on reuniting families via intensive therapies. Inger practices in Oakland, California and has been an ITAA member since 1987. Currently, she serves as Pacific Regional Representative for USATAA and is an active member of the Inclusion, Equity, and Social Action Committee.

Fred Suresh

Freddie Suresh


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​I am a high school Math and special education teacher. I have been learning TA for the last 3 years and have completed my TAP. I am currently working on my CTA. I am interested in applying TA in my classroom and school. I currently teach TA basics to fellow teachers and run weekly community TA group

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