The International OCD Foundation's staff is a group of dedicated and hardworking individuals all working to provide life-changing programs and create a community of support, with the goal of allowing everyone affected by OCD and related disorders to live full lives.
Jeff Szymanski, PhD
For the past 11 years, Jeff Szymanski, PhD, has been the executive director of the International OCD Foundation. Previously, he was the Director of Psychological Services at McLean Hospital’s OCD Institute. Dr. Szymanski is also the author of: “The Perfectionist’s Handbook” based on his work at the OCD Institute. He is the immediate past president and co-founder of the ACBS New England Chapter which provides education and peer consultation on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for a regional audience. As a Clinical Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Szymanski has supervised pre-doctoral psychology interns, psychiatry residents, and has run Cognitive Behavior Therapy seminars.
Director of Operations
Matt joined the IOCDF in July 2019. Coming from a business management background across various industries he has found his passion in the non-profit sector, specifically by working with a foundation that supports a mental health community. Matt oversees finance, HR, and administrative systems for the IOCDF. In his free time he likes to give back to vulnerable youth populations.
Stephanie Cogen, MPH, MSW
As the Program Director, Stephanie develops new programs for the entire IOCDF community, maintains the quality of the IOCDF’s current programming, and oversees all educational content on our various websites and print materials. She co-chairs the IOCDF’s Diversity Council, oversees the IOCDF's Advocacy Program with Will Sutton, and advocates for the OCD community as the IOCDF’s representative to the Mental Health Liaison Group. Stephanie has worked for the IOCDF since 2013 and is passionate about public mental health. She has a Masters of Public Health (MPH) and a Masters of Social Work (MSW), and is a member of the American Public Health Association’s Mental Health and Public Health Social Work sections. ¡Ella habla español!
Director of Media & Technology
Fran joined the IOCDF in 2010. Fran is a Boston native who calls Jamaica Plain home. Along with Tiia Groden he oversees the IOCDF's Communications Department. Fran manages all in-house graphic design, web development, and IT. In his spare time Fran is very involved in the local soccer community. He is a founding member and current president of The American Outlaws Boston Chapter. He also serves on the board for AO Impact and the leadership council for Boston Scores.
Tiia Groden, MA
Associate Director of Operations
Tiia Groden works interdepartmentally to ensure the IOCDF is working efficiently and effectively to create a community of support among those affected by OCD and related disorders. She also oversees the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk and Affiliate Program at the Foundation, and works operationally with the Development Department to expand and grow fundraising initiatives and the Programs Department with the execution of events, including the Annual OCD Conference. She joined the Foundation in 2014 after completing her Master's degree in Psychology at Boston University, where she studied executive functioning in early child development, and before that Human Development at Boston College for undergrad. She is a native Rhode Islander currently living in Somerville, MA and enjoys singing every chance she gets.
Associate Director of Events
Lise Lawrence manages the logistics for the Annual OCD Conference, the Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI), and the Education Vacation. As someone with OCD, she is proud to produce events providing resources and support to the OCD and related disorders community. Before joining the team in February 2020, she has worked on events all over the world including Cannes Film Festival, Vancouver Fashion Week, Wanderlust Yoga Festival, and events with the 14th Dalai Lama. Today, she dedicates her free time to producing donation based yoga classes for underserved communities.
Will joined the IOCDF staff in 2018. In his role as Research Coordinator, he manages the day-to-day operation of the IOCDF Research Grant Program and assists in the creation of research-related content for the OCD Newsletter and iocdf.org. He also coordinates research programming at the Annual OCD Conference, including administrative oversight of the IOCDF Research Symposium, research poster presentations, and other research-related activities.
Kristen originally joined the IOCDF in May 2018. She oversees all fundraising activities and philanthropy including donor relations, direct mail appeals, grant writing, sponsorships, and corporate relations. With previous experience at suicide prevention and reproductive health nonprofits, she has a passion for these issues and enjoys volunteering.
Senior Events Coordinator
Wilhelm joined the IOCDF in 2017 after volunteering at the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk and Annual OCD Conference for several years. He supports the Behavior Therapy Training Institute and the Annual OCD Conference and also maintains the IOCDF office. His is usually the first voice you hear when calling the foundation, assisting callers in finding OCD resources, getting information about the IOCDF trainings, and attending the Foundation’s growing list of events. His previous occupations include event management for Harvard Medical School and administrative management at the University of California: Santa Cruz. He is a native South African and has lived in a variety of countries, currently and happily settled in Boston. He teaches meditation part-time and is also a certified yoga instructor.
Senior Communications Officer
Jess joined the IOCDF in April 2019. Originally from Chicago, she's an alumni of the University of Chicago and Brandeis University and brings three years of writing and communications experience to the foundation. At the IOCDF, Jess coordinates email and social media communications, and manages Peace of Mind Virtual Community programming. She is also the managing editor of the quarterly OCD Newsletter. In her spare time, Jess enjoys writing, running, and playing guitar.
Bethsy Plaisir, MPH
Education & Community Support Specialist
Bethsy provides information, support, and resources to the OCD and related disorders community via phone, email, and in person at IOCDF events. She also assists in developing new IOCDF programs and the maintenance of existing programs under the guidance of the Program Director. Bethsy started working at the IOCDF in September 2019 and previously worked with Success For Kids and Families as a Family Resource Coordinator doing assessments and providing referrals for Healthy Families and Healthy Start.
Program & Communication Specialist
Chelsea Clifton joined IOCDF as the Program and Communication Specialist after the acquisition of the Peace of Mind Foundation. In her role, she acts as the liaison between the program and communication departments assisting in a variety of projects. She works to increase resources and support for the OCD community through program growth and raising awareness. Chelsea received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor with a concentration in marketing and international business. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and serves on the women's ministry vision team at CFBC-JV. Chelsea is passionate about her faith and giving back to her community.
Ming joined the IOCDF in February 2021. Raised in Boston, he is an alumnus of Northeastern University and brings four years of direct care experience in mental health. As the Administrative Assistant, Ming oversees donations, memberships, and office management for the IOCDF. In his spare time, he is devoted to strategy games such as Go and competes in tournaments.