It is with great pleasure and appreciation that The Institute of Poetic Medicine present our board and advisory members.

These professional poets, authors, educators, artists and up-lifters of well-being give of their time and talents — making it possible for  IPM to have a growing impact around the world.

We provide links to them and invite you to become familiar with their work and causes.


Board Members


OPEN POSITIONS Jump on board!


President and CEO
JOHN FOX, CPT,  is a certified poetry therapist and author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making and Finding What You Didn't Lose:  Expressing Your Truth and Creativity through Poem-Making. He teaches at several universities and presents workshops across the United States and in many other countries. Since the age of twelve he has shared with others his fascination and joy in the transformative art of making things.

Representative of the Poetic Medicine Training Program
Student Interests and Concerns; Liaison Students, Past, Current & Future.
(Download Responsibilities)

CATHEY CAPERS is a community health educator and representative of the first training cohort from The Institute for Poetic Medicine. She offers Poetic Medicine in association with interfaith centers for contemplative practice, a Clinical Pastoral Care Program, The Austin Clubhouse for people with mental health diagnoses, and a local non-profit serving incarcerated women. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband where she looks forward to expanding the reach of poetry’s healing.

Director, Poetic Medicine Training Program Committee (Download Responsibilities)
JANET CHILDS, director of education for the Centre for Living with Dying in Santa Clara, CA and has been with the organization since its inception twenty-eight years ago. Janet presently oversees the educational programs and coordinates the Bay Area Critical Incident Stress Management Team. She has offered POST Certified Training for public safety personnel and for the past twenty-three years has provided Certified Training for social workers, nurses and therapists. She enjoys writing poetry in her free time.

 Programming Manager (Download Responsibilities)
KRISTA HARRISON, MFT, CHT is a transpersonal psychotherapist who enjoys integrating expressive arts, depth hypnotherapy, shamanic counseling and psychosynthesis coaching into her private practice work. She is also the Clinical Services Director at Brain Injury Network of the Bay Area. Prior to joining the Board of Directors, Krista was an Institute of Poetic Medicine Poetry Partner who created an expressive writing and art program adapted to the needs of people living with acquired brain injury.

Board-Member-at-Large (Download Responsibilities)
GEOFF OELSNER is a poet, a singer/songwriter, and a psychotherapist. He has lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the Ozarks bioregion since 1979. His wife Leslie Berman Oelsner is also his musical partner. Native Joy: Poems Songs Visions Dreams, is Oelsner's first full-length book of poems. He presents his poetry and original songs in not-for-profit benefit performances, accompanied by harmonium, dulcimer, autoharp, guitar, and banjo.  Books by Oelsner. (website)

Open Board Member: Outreach (Download Responsibilities)

Advisory Board

Coleman Barks was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at the University of North Carolina and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught poetry and creative writing at the University of Georgia for thirty years. He is the author of numerous Rumi translations and has been a student of Sufism since 1977. His work with Rumi was the subject of an hour-long segment in Bill Moyers's Language of Life series on PBS, and he is a featured poet and translator in Bill Moyers's poetry special, "Fooling with Words:, and a 2013 TEDxUGA "Opening the Heart Through Ecstatic Poetry" presentation.  Coleman Barks is the father of two grown children and the grandfather of four. He lives in Athens, Georgia. (website)

Jack Coulehan, MD, is a professor of preventive medicine at SUNY in Stony Brook, New York. He also serves as the division chief for Medicine in Society and director of the Institute for Medicine in Contemporary Society. He is an accomplished writer and poet with many publications. Coulehan is also featured in our IPM Poetry In Action section.

John Graham-Pole, MD, has an M.D. from the University of London. John teaches at the Clinical and Health Psychology College of Medicine, University of Florida. He is the Department of Pediatrics Adjunct Professor. He is actively engaged in treatment of young patients who suffer from various forms of cancer. John supports the Society for the Arts in Healthcare and with Mary Rockwood Lane co-chaired its 2002 annual conference. He is a founder of the Center for the Arts in Healthcare Research and Education and is prominently featured in a video report on its work titled Color My World.  (website)

Cortney Davis, Nurse practitioner, poet, and writer
A few quotes from Courtney about her herself and her work: I write to honor my patients and the moments we share, and also to keep harm away—not with medicine but with memory. In my writing, nursing becomes a metaphor for how we care or fail to care for one another—our families, our neighbors, our lovers. For me nursing, like writing, is that human place in which nurturing and mystery meet.

A nurse’s story is different from a doctor’s story. Although we both inhabit the strange universe of illness, death, and healing, we bring to that world different skills and points of view. I write from the nurse’s vantage point: we accompany patients as they go from illness to recovery; we walk with patients as they journey through death’s door.

Like other nurses and doctors who write, I feel called upon to translate and pass on in some measure the extraordinary lessons I learn from my patients’ lives. I also realize that when we caregivers tell our patients’ stories, we reveal our own as well. (email website)

Jim Hornsby, LMFT, Langston Hughes Poetry Circle

Jim is a member of San Diego's Langston Hughes Poetry Circle and a past board member of the African American Writers & Artists.  He teaches poetry workshops for gang youth in lockups, children in after school programs, and adults who are beginning or practiced poets.  Jim has been published in City Works, The Langston Hughes Poetry Anthology, The Magee Park Poets Anthology, the poetry conspiracy, Tidepools, and others.  He performs with The Three Deuces, a jazz trumpet, dance, and spoken word ensemble with Mitch Manker and Michael Tompkins.  He is the director of the Encanto Boys and Girls Club Children's Poetry Choir.     (email  |  website)

Jon and Lupita McClanahan, Directors of Footpath Journeys are members of the Diné (Navajo) tribe. They are Native Americans. The Diné tribe is the largest Indian tribe in the United States. Jon and Lupita reside in the heart of the Diné Reservation. They live in a special and sacred place called Tsegi, Canyon de Chelly. Canyon de Chelly is where we traditional Diné still believe the Holy People live. Lupita has worked as a park ranger and for "Trees for Mother Earth."

Lupita also worked as a substitute teacher and Navajo culture instructor in Tsaile, Arizona for many years. Jon, Lupita's husband, helped her found the tour company and is an authorized guide. They are both canyon residents.

Ray McGinnis, Writer and Journaling Teacher
Ray is the designer and instructor of Write to the Heart workshops. He is a graduate of the Center for Journal Therapy, in Lakewood, Colorado. He studied with Kathleen Adams, author of Journal To The Self: 22 Paths To Personal Growth. He is a published poet and studied poetry through the Banff Centre for Fine Arts Writing With Style program in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Ray has facilitated groups for over twenty-five years, including as a program staff member of the Naramata Center for Continuing education, in British Columbia, Canada from 1995-1998. His writing workshops have been in demand at health-care facilities, educational settings, churches, retreat settings, professional groups and conferences across North America. Writing the Sacred: A Psalm-Inspired Path to Appreciating and Writing Sacred Poetry is his first published book through Northstone (2005). Ray lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has kept his own journal since 1981.  (email | website)

Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi  a poet, songwriter a novelist.  Although she regards herself as a "wandering poet", she refers to San Antonio as her home. Nye graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She is married to photographer Michael and they have one son, Madison.

Her first collection of poems, Different Ways to Pray, explored the theme of similarities and differences between cultures, which would become one of her lifelong areas of focus. Her other books include poetry collections 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East,A Maze Me, Red Suitcase, Field Trip and Fuel; a collection of essays entitled Never in a Hurry; a young-adult novel called Habibi  and picture book Lullaby Raft, and two limited edition albums: Lulaby Raft and Rutabaga-Roo. Nye has edited many anthologies of poems, for audiences both young and old. One of the best-known is This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from around the World, which contains translated work by 129 poets from 68 different countries. Her most recent anthology is called Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas.

She has won many awards and fellowships, among them four Pushcart prizes, the Jane Addams Children's Book award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the Amercian Library Association.  (website)

Reverend Carolyn Olds Mikels, PhD, Spiritual Life & Formation, Woodlawn Presbyterian Church (USA)

Carolyn is an ordained Presbyterian Minster of words and sacrament, with a program in interface dialog and activity. Her background is in Christian life, a spiritual companioning of people, helping to hold each other accountable on a spiritual path. She practices meditation and daily prayer as part of her tradition and discipline. She leads prayer support groups and spiritual formation. She co-designs and leads spiritual retreats. Carolyn is very interested in peacemaking and justice. She has studied in depth many of the world’s major religions.

Carolyn earned here Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio. Her studies were centered in the field of psychology of religion, i.e.; the bio psychic foundation of spiritual development, and she  is a writer, journals, and is involved in sacred dance.  Her service to the world is wide and diverse. She is part of a collective vision of energy, moving towards greater love, wholeness and spirit for everyone, helping the world as a whole mature and heal.

Carolyn was an early spiritual mentor and major supporter of John’s poetry. She is John’s long time friend since his teen years.

Gregory Orr, Poet, University of Virginia
Gregory Orr was born in Albany, New York, and grew up in the rural Hudson Valley. ti. He received a B.A. degree from Antioch College, and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. He is the author of nine collections of poetry. He is also the author of a memoir, The Blessing, which was chosen by Publisher's Weekly as one of the fifty best non-fiction books the year. He is considered by many to be a master of short, lyric free verse.

Orr has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2003, he was presented the Award in Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was a Rockefeller Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence, where he worked on a study of the political and social dimension of the lyric in early Greek poetry. He teaches at the University of Virginia, where he founded the MFA Program in Writing in 1975, and served from 1978 to 2003 as Poetry Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. He lives with his wife, the painter Trisha Orr, and their two daughters in Charlottesville, Virginia. (More about Orr)

Toby Symington, Executive Director, The Lloyd Symington Foundation
The Lloyd Symington Foundation, a small family nonprofit, serves the cancer community innovative, imaginative programs and conferences, we look for alternatives to the dominant biomedical paradigm of health care. Along with our partners in service - the Friends of the Foundation - we aim for a new ethos in American medicine, more personal, more humane, and more compassionate.

In addition to running the Lloyd Symington Foundation, I also have a private practice in astrological counseling — designed especially for people going through major life transitions — my approach is transpersonal rather than predictive — both my philanthropic work and my astrological readings are inspired by the sophia perennis or perennial philosophy — the universal wisdom that lies at the core of the world's major religious traditions.

Ann Webster, PhD, Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, Harvard Medical School 
Dr. Webster is the director of the Mind/Body Programs for Cancer and for HIV+/AIDS. She is a health psychologist and a researcher and clinical/corporate trainer.  With the BHI since 1987, she earned her PhD degree in health psychology at Albert Einstein School of Medicine/Yeshiva University. She is an Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School and an Instructor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.

Dr. Webster has received several awards, most notably from the AIDS Action Committee and the Northern Lights Alternatives, for her work with HIV+/AIDS patients. She also was a finalist for the Compassionate Caregiver Award from the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center. She also sits on the boards of The Medical Foundation, the Community Research Initiative, and the Institute for Body, Mind, and Spirituality at Lesley University.

Dr. Webster has created a documentary called Everything Matters.  Everything Matters is about five of her patients who were told by their doctors that they did not have long to live.  At least five times each of these people participated in Dr. Webster's mind-body programs. They learned how true it is — that  everything matters — and  integrated mind-body practices into their every day lives. Now five, ten, fifteen, even twenty-eight years later they are all  alive and thriving! This film shows their inspirational stories.  Once this film is available, IPM will let you know!  In the meantime, here is a trailer from Everything Matters:

Ann offers self-care techniques such as the Relaxation Response, cognitive therapy, positive coping skills, and nutrition and exercise advice. Ann combines psychology, medicine, science, and spirituality in the service of her patients’ health.  Visit website.