Professional Laughter Experts, Coming Together for a Greater Good
The World Laughter Tour professional advisory committee is comprised of distinguished experts from all walks of life. From authors, humorists and psychologists; to counselors, professors, hypnotherapists and scientists, these experts take the matter of laughter very seriously (no pun intended)! Their role is to advise and guide the initiatives of WLT, while validating scientific studies and research as to how laughter affects the physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being of the participants.
This outstanding volunteer group has been an enormous help in shaping our curriculum. They make themselves available to answer questions and offer support in the day-to-day practices of the Certified Laughter Leaders. They play a key role in our outstanding reputation.
Our goals are in alignment with the core mission and principles of the Good-Hearted Living™ program. By coming together to discuss new methods of delivering awareness about the benefits of laughter as it relates to the human mind and body, we are able to achieve more through a unified approach. Meet the current principals of the Professional Advisory Committee below to learn more about their qualifications.
Don Baird, PhD is Adjunct Faculty at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago. Don has shared his enthusiasm and expertise on humor and psychology in workshops and conferences from Chicago to Osaka, Japan. He is a long-time friend of World Laughter Tour. He blends scientific expertise with his aficionado’s interest in comedy history and is a master of the anecdote. His interests include learning how past and present politicians have applied humor to their campaigning and governing styles, appropriate and inappropriate uses of humor, coping, and when humorous attempts go wrong. He is an Advisor to the FUNNY LITERACY project. You can read some of his erudite thinking about humor at Audio Book Community.
Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, FACSM, CHES is a pioneer researcher studying positive emotions/behaviors and their biochemical/physiological effects on stress hormones and immune system components in the field of Psychoneuroimmunology. Dr. Berk is Associate Director for the Center Neuroimmunology, Associate Research Professor of Pathology/Human Anatomy and Laboratory Medicine, Loma Linda University School of Medicine; and Associate Professor, Health Promotion and Education at Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California. He has authored numerous key articles documenting the impact of mirthful laughter and exercise on neuroendocrine and immune function (Neuroendocrine and Stress Hormone Changes During Mirthful Laughter. The Amer. J. Med. Sci. 298, No. 6, p390‑396, 1989. and Modulation of Neuroimmune Parameters During the Eustress of Humor Associated Mirthful Laughter. J. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2001, p62-76.) Dr Berk’s medical research has been featured on ABC’s World News Tonight and Good Morning America, The Discovery Channel-Beyond 2000, the BBC, CBS’ 60 minutes, NPR, USA Today and other numerous press media throughout the world. He is in great demand as a speaker presenting positive perception/anticipation, laughter and associated changes of stress hormones and immune system components relative to his medical research findings.
Karyn Buxman, RN, MS, CSP, CPAE, CLL-E, is a co-founder of the World Laughter Tour. While in graduate school, she found a way to combine her research with the one thing that enabled her to get through an entire day without losing her sanity: humor. Now one of the leading national experts on therapeutic humor, Karyn puts her humor studies to work through speaking, writing, and consulting. She is a Member of the National Speakers Association and a Certified Speaking Professional. She holds memberships in the International Society of Humor Studies (ISHS), and American Association for Therapeutic Humor (AATH).http://www.humorx.com
Jim Canterucci, CLL, serves our organization as strategic business advisor. He is the founder and CEO of Transition Management Advisors. Jim has worked in some of the largest organizations implementing major change initiatives over a period of almost twenty years. He reaches over 4,000 change leaders each month via an informative email based newsletter, publishes widely on change leadership and innovation and as a professional speaker is considered a thought leader in this important topic area. CEO of Transition Management Advisors, and author of “Personal Brilliance.” www.corpchange.com
Bernard Louis “Bernie” De Koven In Memoriam October 15, 1941-March 4, 2018. is an American game designer, author, lecturer and fun theorist. He is most notable for his book The Well Played Game, for his contributions to the New Games Foundation, his pioneering work in computer game design, and for his long-running web site, http://www.deepFUN.com.
Books and / publications:
“Interplay: a curriculum for elementary school children”, Office of Policy Planning and Development, School District of Philadelphia, 1971 (OCLC 9095130)
“The Well-Played Game”, 1978, updated edition 2002 (ISBN 978-0595217908)
“Connected Executives: A Strategic Communications Plan”, 1986 (ISBN 978-0962583407)
“Junkyard Sports”, 2004 (ISBN 978-0736052078)
“Great Games for Big Activity Balls” (with Todd Strong), 2009 (ISBN 978-0736074810
Debbie Harbinson MHI, RN, HNB-BC
A board-certified holistic nurse with a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Innovation from Arizona State University, Debbie Harbinson has more than 30 years experience in the operating room, Parish nursing, home health care, and geriatric care management. She is passionate about teaching modalities that translate the innate wisdom of our mind, body, and spirit to the support and wellness of others.
Debbie creates educational programs to promote stress resilience and attitudinal healing. She has earned the credential of Expert-Level Certified Laughter Leader and is a Master Trainer for the World Laughter Tour workshops on Therapeutic Laughter and Humor.
Dr. Clifford C. Kuhn is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he resided until graduating from Jefferson Medical College in 1967. Following a psychiatric residency at the University of Michigan and a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he joined the Louisville faculty in 1974.
At the University of Louisville, Dr. Kuhn has served as Chief of Adult Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, Director of Residency Training and Associate Chairman of Psychiatry. His clinical focus is the field of mind/body medicine. He has published articles on comprehensive approaches to chronic pain and has developed an inventory for assessing spiritual health of medical patients.
Working with cancer patients and their families, Dr. Kuhn has learned to appreciate the healing benefits of laughter. His experience as a professional comedian gives him a unique perspective on the application of humor in a wide variety of settings. In 1999 Cliff was named Member of the Year by the Kentucky Chapter of the National Speakers Association. In addition to his popular solo presentation and workshops, he teams up with famed comedian Jerry Lewis to present internationally acclaimed seminars on laughter and healing.
The success of his innovative humor techniques with patients has led Dr. Kuhn to develop effective humor-based principles and strategies for the workplace, which he currently offers to business through his company Laugh Doctor Enterprises, LLC.
Cliff lives with his wife, Connie, in Prospect, Kentucky, and is proud of his son, Gregory, daughter, Rebecca, and grandchildren, Jordan, Noah, William, and Emma.
Jacki Kwan, LCSW-C, is a Clinical Social Worker, National Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a Therapeutic Clown, a member of The American Association for Therapeutic Humor and is passionate about helping to heal the world one HA! at a time. She has completed advanced training in mind-body medicine from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. Last September, she traveled in China for two weeks with Patch Adams, M.D. and brought positive humor to hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, hospices, and the masses over there. In 1999, Jacki created HA!HA!LOGY, a therapeutic humor program for health care facilities. The essence of Jacki’s mission is clearly expressed in Dionne Warwickï’s classic hit: “What the world needs now is LAUGH sweet LAUGH.” www.hahalogy.com
Robert R. Provine, PhD is Professor of Psychology and Assistant Director of the Neuroscience Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He has authored over 50 research papers concerning developmental neuroscience and the neural mechanisms of behavior, conducting studies on over 30 species, using techniques ranging from electrophysiology and tissue culture to field studies. He came to the study of laughter and human ethology from a background in neuroembryology, having studied and published with Nobel Prize and National Medal of Science winners. Author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, Viking Press, (October 2000), 258 pages. A scholar who has lectured in North America and Europe in settings ranging from medical school departments of neurology to NASA, NIST and grade schools, he has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health. His work has been featured in dozens of articles worldwide, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph (London), Le Figaro, New Scientist, Discover, Science et Avenir, Panorama (Italy), Focus (Germany), The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. His numerous television appearances include “Good Morning America,” “ABC World News Tonight” “Eye to Eye” (CBS), and specials on The Learning Channel (“Understanding Laughter” — with Bill Cosby), The Discover Channel (“Laughter”– with Conan O’Brien), and BBC Horizon (“Beyond the Joke”). His radio appearances include “All Things Considered” (NPR), “Morning Edition” (NPR), and “Talk of the Nation–Science Friday” (NPR). When not doing science, Professor Provine enjoys stargazing, optics, and martial arts, serving as advisor and instructor of the University Tae Kwon Do Club. He is married to pianist and musicologist Helen Weems and has two adult children. http://www.umbc.edu/tmp/provine/
Katherine Puckett, PhD, CLL-E, National Director of Mind Body Medicine, Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Dr. Puckett is a licensed clinical social worker. She earned a PhD from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in social work from Loyola University. Dr. Puckett came to Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) with more than 25 years of experience in human services, addressing the needs of vulnerable populations who have sustained major losses. Her broad-based professional background includes more than 20 years in leadership positions in social services and healthcare, with additional experience as a clinician, researcher and teaching assistant.
Dr. Puckett currently serves as Director of Mind-Body Medicine at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, a position she has held since August 2002. In January 2007, Dr. Puckett was also appointed to the position of National Director of Mind-Body Medicine to assist CTCA in coordinating and enhancing mind-body programs and services across the regional centers.
Lenny Ravich, BA, MS, Tel Aviv, Israel Lenny is the director of the Gestalt Institute of Tel Aviv,and has been a practicing Gestalt training since 1986. An actor, director, teacher, educator, and author of the best-selling book, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Enlightenment”. He has researched the subjects of Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology with Dr. Tal Ben Shachar of Harvard University. He has been a member of The Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor since 2003 and created the “Shalom Scholarship” for the organization. He has also been a member of the National Speakers Association since 2003.
Rajiv Samant MD, FRCPC, DABR
Rajiv is a radiation oncologist at The Ottawa Hospital and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. He has been caring for cancer patients for over 25 years, and has gained much wisdom from his patients and colleagues during that time. As a teacher, educator and researcher interested in improving how we deal and communicate with patients and their families, he believes patients need to be treated on an individual basis with dignity, respect and kindness as well as with a good dose of humor where circumstances allow for levity to enter a too often serious world.
Many people view cancer as all doom and gloom and think that his job must be very serious, sad and depressing all the time. However, there is much more humor and positivity when dealing with cancer patients than you might think. In fact, since cancer will affect almost half of all North Americans, it might be beneficial to deal with it in a positive way! He has decided to show people that working with cancer patients can be filled with laughter and smiles. This is why he published his book titled “Smiles from the Clinic: A humorous look at cancer” and wants to share with everyone the true, funny stories and experiences that he has witnessed in his day-to-day work. His prescription for everyone, including those with cancer and those without it, is a daily dose of smiles and humor – and you don’t need to go to the pharmacy to get this since is all around you!
Joel Schwartz M.D, CLL-E. almost flunked out of nursery school because he was unable to sit still on his square on the floor. Despite this squirminess, which continued during his tenure at Franklin and Marshall College, he was Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to receive his medical degree from Hahnemann University Hospital, and his psychiatric training at the Institute of Living, and Hahnemann University. He is the recipient of the Herman Belmont Award for Excellence in Teaching Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has been on of the Top Docs list of Philadelphia Magazine several times and has received the United States Air Force Commendation Medal during his tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Schwartz has been the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Abington Memorial Hospital, a community hospital just north of Philadelphia. He is a board certified Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist as well as a certified Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychoanalyst. Prior to this, Dr. Schwartz has been an Associate Director and Head of Child and Adolescent Services at Northwestern Institute, a Residency training director for a Child and Adolescent Fellowship, a teacher and a supervisor for psychiatric residents and psychoanalytic candidates.
He is the author of eight books including, “Noses Are Red: How to Nurture Your Child’s Sense of Humor,” and “To Pee Or Not To Pee: The Prostate Guide for the Common Man”.
Neil Shulman, M.D. As it says on his business card “Author, Doctor, Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine, Comedian, Architectural Innovator, Brainstormer, Speaker, Planner of Way Too Many Projects at One Time, Wearer of Bow Ties, and Basically Just a Really Funny Jewish Guy”. Neil intends to pave his way with as many new experiences as he can find. The common purpose of all his choices: joyful laughter. Not bitter sarcasm or trendy cynicism, Neil creates laughter that fills the heart, laughter that bridges fear, and laughter that mends.
Among Neil’s many claims to fame is that he wrote the book that became the movie “Doc Hollywood” starring Michael J. Fox. That makes Neil “the real Doc Hollywood”!
Whether his audience is an auditorium full of giggling kids or a single patient on a ward, Neil tickles and heals through his brand of humor and medicine. Known by many children as “Dr. Neil the Banana Peel”, he overcomes their fear of doctors through his traveling show and book, “What’s in a Doctor’s Bag?” Dr. Neil brings home the importance of immunizations with “The Germ Patrol”, a magical journey through the human body. Come take a closer look at the mind and world of Doc Hollywood. On second thought, just check out the web site www.dochollywood.com .
Marilyn Sprague, M.Ed., DTM, CLL-E, was co-founder of Miracles & Magic, Inc., an organization development and consulting firm. Marilyn has designed and successfully implemented a systems approach model for early childhood quality enhancement initiatives. The model is designed to create work environments that nurture and support early childhood managers and professionals, so they can create fun and developmentally-appropriate learning environments for children, ages 0-5. Marilyn has found that a staff that can laugh together is more willing to resolve conflict, problem solve as a team, try new ideas, and support each other through challenging times.
Marilyn is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA), the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH), and Toastmasters International (TI). She has earned the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designation, the highest education and leadership recognition Toastmasters International awards an individual member. As a professional speaker, seminar leader, consultant and certified laughter leader (CLL), Marilyn is a catalyst for long-term, positive change.
Susan Stewart, RN, MA, CLL-E “The MoveMentor” Susan is a holistic health educator and exercise physiologist whose fascination with using the power of humor and laughter for health and healing led her to become a curriculum consultant and Master Trainer for World Laughter Tour. Her essay “Laughter: Nature’s Healing Refrain” is featured in the book “Healing With Art and Soul: Engaging One’s Self Through Art Modalities.” Alarmed at the growing epidemic of sedentary life and resulting less-than-optimal health and well-being in the American population, she started a movementum known as Mirthful Movement. Known as the MoveMentor, Susan’s mission is to use humor and laughter to help folks reframe negative attitudes towards exercise and get moving towards health, happiness, and vibrant aging. Originally started rather tongue-in-cheek, Susan’s sensational, silly, and so-so simple SMILE’rcise strategy has helped audiences discover that muscle movement is as natural, fun and vital to wellbeing as breathing. How would you answer her favorite question: Have you had a movement today?
Patty Wooten, RN, PHN, In Memoriam December 22, 1946 – September 15, 2019 , is a woman who knows how to laugh at life. Often called the “Queen of Jest”, Ms Wooten has opened hearts, tickled funny bones, and rekindled spirits of people across the US and around the world. She is a veteran of countless radio shows and has appeared on such TV shows as To Tell the Truth, NBC’s Real Life, and the Discovery Channel. Her work has been featured in USA Today, Better Homes and Gardens and Psychology Today. She is a member of ISHS, and she is past president of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor. She has also created a video program with Norman Cousins and clowned with “the real” Patch Adams. She is the author of three books: “Heart Humor and Healing”, “Compassionate Laughter”, and her newest release “Hospital Clowns – A Closer Look”. www.jesthealth.com
William F. Fry, Jr., M.D., In Memoriam March 25, 1924-May 16, 2014. Dr. Fry was a behavioral scientist and psychiatrist. He was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and educated at Bowdoin College, Grinnell College, University of Oregon, University of Southern California, and the University of Cincinnati, where he received his M.D. in 1949. He was Emeritus Associate Clinical Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He was an original member of the International Society for Humor Studies, from which organization he received the 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award. He is author of over 150 articles, chapters, forewords, and reviews on the subject of humor, as well as other subjects. He is author, coauthor, or coeditor of five published books: Sweet Madness: A Study of Humor (1963), The Seasons: Selected Poems (1999), Make ‘Em Laugh (1978, with Dr. Melanie Allen), now republished as Creating Humor: Life Studies of Comedy Writers (1998), Handbook of Humor and Psychotherapy (1987) and Advances in Humor and Psychotherapy (both coedited with Dr. Waleed A. Salameh). He had been a cartoonist for the San Francisco Press Club.