ITAA Board of Trustees

Elana Leigh, President (2019-2021)

Elana Leigh, Batchelor of Social Work, MSc Integrative Psychotherapy, TSTA (Psychotherapy) has been a member of ITAA since 1985. She immigrated from South Africa to Sydney Australia in 1980. In 1982 she relocated to London where she trained at the Metanoia Institute. After 13 years she returned to Sydney where she has been working as a psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer. Elana’s South African and migrant history have underpinned her interest and drive in understanding and working with the challenges of living and working with difference. This has led her to work with and in many international cultures. In the ITAA she has served in the role of Vice president of Research and innovation as well as on the training and certification committees. ITAA’s core philosophy, its ‘commitment to high professional standards as well to social justice issues is what keeps ITAA her home base.

Diane Salters, Past-President (2019-2020)

Diane Salters, MSc, TSTA (Psychotherapy), has been a member of the ITAA since the early 1980s.  She lived in the United Kingdom for 25 years where she received her TA training and integrative training at Metanoia. Twenty years ago she returned to her native South Africa where she now lives and works.  She is a recipient of the Hedges Capers Humanitarian Award.Diane has served on the ITAA Board of Trustees as regional representative for Africa, on the ethics committee, and as chair of the Eric Berne Fund for the Future and the Scholarship Fund committees. She is previously the VP for Research and Innovation and had a particular interest in the publication of The Script and the Transactional Analysis Journal. Diane values the international TA community and offers Skype supervision to trainees in various parts of the world. She is committed to maintaining the ITAA’s valuable role within that community.

John Oates, Treasurer (2018 - 2021)


John is a chartered accountant (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales - ICAEW). After qualification in 1975 with what is now PwC, he specialized in IT and Business Systems. In the mid-1980s, he joined what is now RSM (UK) in Manchester as partner in charge of IT, managing the firm’s own systems and providing IT consultancy services. During this time, the business grew substantially. John has been a member of the Technical Committee of the ICAEW’s IT Faculty since 1989, chairing it for 7 years, and then chairing the faculty itself for the maximum 4-year period. He retired as a partner in RSM in 2011, remaining as a consultant for 2 years. He continues to conduct software reviews for the ICAEW’s IT Accreditation Scheme, helping him keep up to date with the fast changes in the software industry. John has a number of voluntary roles. He is treasurer of a local group supporting the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales, where he has volunteered since 1969. John is Director, Business Systems at Ffestiniog Travel, being influential in upgrading their systems, putting most of them in The Cloud. He is also chairman of the Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association (400+ members) and chair of the Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership. His wish is to see ITAA’s systems run slickly and for the executive and board of trustees to have appropriate information to inform their decisions as the ITAA develops.

Sumithra Sharatkumar, Secretary (2017 - 2020)

It is a great honor and privilege for me to become ITAA Secretary. I started my TA journey 15 years ago in Bangalore, India, where I received all of my training. After moving to Singapore, I joined the regional TA association (TAAS) and served as secretary on their executive committee for 5 years. My career in counseling has included both individual clients and group workshops on the use of TA in parenting. I was fortunate to cofound the Social Psychology Meet-Up Group of Singapore, where I had opportunities to organize group sessions on a variety of topics for young adults—from dating and office politics to advertising and more, all within a TA framework. I deeply treasure this multicultural experience because it taught me to think on my feet about the different ways TA concepts can be used effectively in real-life situations. I now live in Malaysia, and my work centers on parents, students, and teachers within a school community. I have served as the chair of the ITAA Nominations Committee since 2011 and have learned an immense amount about the workings, goals, and aspirations of the association. As secretary to the ITAA Board of Trustees, I will continue the good work done by my predecessors in spreading TA awareness to larger, more diverse audiences. Having already practiced counseling in different countries, I look forward to working with the various international organizations in the field using TA as a global language to connect countries and cultures.

Deepak Dhananjaya, Vice President, Development (2019 - 2020)

Deepak is a psychotherapist, Agile Coach, Certified Transactional Analyst (psychotherapy), and ACC-level Certified ICF Coach. He is an experienced professional with over a decade in Agile space as a developer, technical expert, manager, process consultant, coach, and now cocreator of AgileSattva Consulting LLP. Having worked for many years on Agile transformations, he believes that the goal of Agile is to create self-sustained, self-organized, and self-reliable systems. Deepak has experience working with a wide range of companies, from large organizations to mid-sized companies and startups. He is also actively engaged with various industry bodies, has presented at conferences, and has been on conference review panels and organizing groups. Deepak is the managing editor of SAJTA (formerly the SAATA Journal), the e-journal of the South Asian Association of Transactional Analysts; chair of the ITAA Membership Committee; and project coordinator of the ITAA supervision project (since 2016). He has a BE in computer science, an MS in sexuality and sexual counseling, a SAATA Diploma, and an SAATA Advanced Diploma in Transactional Analysis.

Chitra Ravi,  Vice President, Operations (2018 - 2021)

I am honored to serve as ITAA Vice President Operations. I had the privilege of being on the board as the regional representative for India/Asia from 2015–2017 and have also been the cochair of the International Board of Certification since 2012. Both of these roles gave me experience in holding key positions and contributing to the ITAA, and I have enjoyed the exposure and learning that I have gained in the process. In my role as the regional representative, I was able to address significant issues, answer queries, and solicit suggestions. As IBOC cochair, I have been involved in taking some difficult yet important decisions, often balancing safeguarding the policies and procedures of the Training and Examinations Handbook and the IBOC office with exploring what was required contextually by an individual’s needs. I have found both roles very satisfying. I am, therefore, excited to become the VP of Operations and look forward to undertaking the responsibilities and opportunities that role will entail. I know it will involve even great responsibilities, but I am confident that I can draw on many resources and individuals to help me carry out my duties to the best of my abilities.

Thorsten Geck, Vice President, Professional Standards (2018 - 2021)

Thorsten Geck (Germany) has a passion for TA that began with a TA 101 in 1995. He has a degree in psychology and is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst in the organizational field. He works as a freelance consultant in leadership development and organizational counseling. Thorsten is an EATA language coordinator and contributes to the scientific committee of the German TA Association (DGTA). His commitment to the ITAA goes back to 2012 when he was asked to cochair the International Board of Certification (IBOC). His main motivation for contributing and volunteering is his understanding that TA associations live and benefit from volunteering and giving back what members received during their training from mentors, examiners, audiences and supervisees, boards of trustees, presidents, and delegates. He writes, “I believe that transactional analysis will evolve and improve by linking to the real lives of clients, research, and maintaining standards. I perceive standards as an opportunity to maintain quality. The dark side of standards, however, should not be neglected. Standards create boundaries at which people and their interests may sometimes be left out and kept on the ‘other side of the fence.’ I understand that it is a challenge to balance flexibility and persistence regarding standards to maintain the good reputation TA has in the professional world. This is what I want to pursue in the position of VP Professional Standards.”

Steff Oates, Vice President, Research & Innovation (2018 - 2021)

I served as ITAA Secretary from 2009–2014 so I am very aware of the workings of the Board of Trustees and the executive committee. During that time, I was involved in the process of the TAJ moving to an external publisher. Since the end of my term as secretary, I have remained involved, especially with our publications, which are an important area of responsibility for the VP of R&I. I have been coeditor of The Script, have coedited three TAJ special issues, and have had a number of articles published. I remain a member of the TAJ editorial board and have recently been involved in supporting authors whose first language is not English in their writing for the TAJ. I have also been involved in writing for and soliciting articles for the French-language journal and am very interested in collaboration with TA organizations who publish in their own languages. As secretary, I managed the awards committee and so am well aware of the awards processes, including the Eric Berne Memorial Award and the more recent ITAA Research Award. I am used to regularly producing reports about team and committee activities and would enjoy working with and representing the editors of the TAJ and The Script. I have a passion for disseminating the TA literature and to that end have coauthored a TAJ article with a psychoanalyst. I would very much like our journal to achieve wider coverage in intellectual circles across our four fields of application and beyond.

Alex van Oostveen, Regional Trustee, Africa and Middle-Eastern Regions (2018 - 2021)

Alex van Oostveen (South Africa) is a consultant, coach, and coach supervisor who currently serves as the vice chair of the South African TA Association. He has always been keenly interested in how people’s inner being impacts their doing, and transactional analysis has provided him with a number of clear perspectives on this that are applicable to individual and social contexts. He writes, “I have experienced and believe that TA is particularly effective in bringing peace, progress, and wholeness to Africa and its psychological dynamics. Africa has suffered centuries of injustice and tragedy that continue to manifest macro- and microscopically across the continent. The growing shift in awareness of global issues and technology’s positive impact on communication, travel, and education provide a powerful platform for turning our continent’s scripts around. Apart from advancing the use of TA in developing private individuals and their societies, its use in organizational environments will benefit African communities on a grand scale. TA provides a simple, tangible theory that can be grasped by those without higher education (a problem in Africa as a whole) and as such is ideal for helping people to make sense of themselves, each other, and the world around them. My intention as Africa representative will be to promote and support the use of TA at all levels of society so that it may act as a catalyst for Africa’s beautiful people to think, feel, and behave with awareness, self-worth, mutual respect, and authenticity.

Christine Kalin, Regional Trustee, Australasia (2017 - 2020)

I completed my CTA-P registration in 1999 in New Zealand and a TEW workshop in Sydney in 2015. I am currently in training as a PTSTA-P and am a member of the board of the Aotearoa New Zealand Transactional Analysis Association (ANZTAA). I operate a private psychotherapy practice in Auckland, New Zealand, and am registered in New Zealand as a nurse, a drug and alcohol treatment practitioner, and a psychotherapist. In addition to my clinical qualifications, I have a master’s degree in business and administration and a certificate in company direction (governance). I have enjoyed a successful 30-year career in the health sciences, which has included senior clinical and management roles in child, youth, and adult mental health and addiction services. Eleven of these years were in the capacity of CEO. I have always been passionate about TA, which has significantly informed my practice. As a member of the ITAA Board, I will bring a strong commitment to the purpose for which the association was established: to promote awareness and understanding of transactional analysis. I strive to work from a philosophical base of “I’m OK, You’re OK,” which supports me in working constructively within a team environment. I have a robust understanding of ethical, professional, and safe practice coupled with qualifications and experience in supporting this from a governance perspective.

Alessandra Pierini, Regional Trustee, Europe (2019-2022)

Alessandra Pierini, PhD, is a psychologist, psychotherapist, and Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst (psychotherapy) who lives and works in Rome, Italy. She is the editor of an Italian TA journal and the founder of the Physis Training Institute in Rome. Because the ITAA has greatly contributed to her professional growth, she is glad to express her gratitude by offering her services, passion, and competence as the European representative. Alessandra has been involved with her national TA association since 2003 as an executive committee member and later as president. She served as EATA Supervising Examiner (2010-2015) and worked to improve the quality of the evaluation process and to keep the standard of TA certification high. As a result of that role, she knows a good deal about the state of TA in Europe. Since becoming involved in TA in 1992, she has worked to spread it in Italy and Europe by attending conferences, running workshops, and participating in exams. Alessandra is interested in different ways of thinking about and using TA and how they can cooperate and enrich one another. She views the ITAA as an active international TA community that cares about members’ needs, is democratic, and that embodies the values of TA. Her goals as regional representative will include: being a bridge between ITAA and European members, facilitating communications between European members and the ITAA, (3) promoting the ITAA among Europeans, and (4) promoting effectiveness, cohesion, and recognition in the TA community.

Prathitha Gangadharan, Regional Trustee, India/Asia (2017 - 2020)

I have been a member of the ITAA for more than 6 years and in advanced TA training for 10 years. ITAA so far has been about the TAJ and The Script, which have helped me to understand TA theory and facilitated my work as a psychotherapist. I have benefited from being a part of the community in both a personal and a professional capacity.
I am glad to extend my role by becoming a regional representative member of the ITAA Board so that I can directly contribute to the community here. I hope to be a bridge between the ITAA and regional members, facilitating communications between the two and promoting effectiveness, cohesion, and recognition in the TA community. As a regional representative, I want to play a key role in addressing queries, issues, and suggestions that emerge in this region. TA is a simple framework that, combined with local philosophies on health, can be propagated to promote wholeness and wellness. I want to spread the message in our region so that it benefits the community, and I hope to learn and grow in the process.

Michelle Thomé, Regional Trustee, Latin America (2018 - 2021)

My greatest desire as Latin America regional representative is to contribute to aligning the local processes of educational training within Latin America with the ITAA model. This way TA practitioners can work in the global economy across borders. I also want to encourage colleagues from my region to participate actively in the international meetings. Then Latin America can contribute to shaping TA theory and practice throughout the world. I intend to act as an active communication channel between the ITAA and the regional associations, promoting the union between all our countries. I believe that these activities and conviviality with the international TA community will also contribute to both our mutual development as transactional analysts. Since my first contact with transactional analysis in 2013, I have advanced in theoretical knowledge and personal and professional relationships, especially when I increased my international connections. Of course, I “married” TA locally on the first date! Working as a systemic coach, I use TA instruments with clients with significant results. I am currently on the board of UNAT-Brasil, the association that brings together transactional analysts in Brazil. I am responsible for their communication activities, such as the monthly journal Opções. I would like to develop an email newsletter in Spanish and Portuguese for all Latin American transactional analysts (even if they are not ITAA members yet) and encourage another Latin American ITAA conference (the last one was in Lima in 2009).

Michael Harsh, Regional Trustee, North America (2018 - 2021)

Michael Harsh (United States) is a psychotherapist who regards transactional analysis to be the most transformative mode of engaging the human psyche in enduring, desired change. Over 11 years, he received instruction and supervision from Vann Joines, Mary Goulding, Fanita English, and others in classical transactional analysis, redecision therapy, relational therapy, developmental theory, and personality adaptations. Michael’s background includes a BA in philosophy, a Juris doctorate, an MA in Christian spirituality, and an MA in counseling. He has been in private practice as a psychotherapist in Omaha, Nebraska, since 1997. When participating in an intensive program as both therapist and client in a redecision workshop at the Southeast Institute for Group and Family Therapy, he was struck by the constructive framework of TA, which asks people who come to therapy not how they are, but instead, what they want to change about themselves. This, along with TA’s assumption that the individual is already OK, struck a chord with him in terms of who he understood people to be and how therapy works as a collaborative process. So inspired, Michael obtained Transactional Analysis Advanced Practitioner Certification from the USA TA Association, a Certificate in Redecision Therapy from the Southeast Institute, and in 2013 became a Certified Transactional Analyst. He hopes to contribute to a North American and worldwide expansion of transactional analysis, and to this end, is working toward instructional relationships with other practitioners that are supportive, collaborative, and encouraging.