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About Us

Founding Director

Dean Spencer G. NilesSpencer G. Niles
Spencer G. Niles is the primary researcher for the Hope-Action Research Group, an international research team that has conducted research related to creating and sustaining hope for more than a decade — often focusing on high-risk populations. Dr. Spencer Niles served as Dean (2013-2020) and Professor (2013-) at the School of Education at William & Mary. Previously, he served as Distinguished Professor and Department Head for Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education at the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, he served as Professor of Counselor Education at the University of Virginia where he was also Assistant Dean for the Curry School of Education. View Dr. Niles's CV.

Relevant Publications by Dr. Niles


Niles, S. G., Amundson, N. E., Neault, R., & Yoon, H. J. (2020). Creating Careers with Hope in Difficult Times. San Diego, CA: Cognella Press.

Niles, S. G., Amundson, N. E., Neault, R., & Yoon, H. J. (2020). Career flow: A hope-action theory of career development. San Diego, CA: Cognella Press.

Sample Hope Research

Yoon, H. J., Bailey, N., Amundson, N., & Niles, S. (2019). The effect of a career development program based on the Hope-Action Theory: Hope to work for refugees in British Columbia. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling. 47, 6-19.

Amundson, N. E., Goddard, T., Yoon, H. J., Niles, S. G. (2018).  Hope-centered interventions with unemployed clients. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 17, 87-98.

Clarke, A., Amundson, N. E., Niles, S. G., & Yoon, H. J. (2018). Hope:An agent of change for internationally educated professionals. Journal of Employment Counseling, 55, 155-165.

Yoon, H.J., In, H., Niles, S.G., Amundson, N.E., Smith, B.A. & Mills, L. (2015). The effects of hope on student engagement, academic performance, and vocational identity. Canadian Journal of Career Development. 14, 34-45.

Smith, B.A., Mills, L., Amundson, N., Niles, S., Yoon, H.J. & In, H. (2014). What helps and hinders post-secondary students who maintain high levels of hope despite experiencing significant barriers. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 13, 59-74.

Niles, S. G. (2014). Using an action-oriented hope-centered model of career interventions. Asia Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 4, 1-15.

Niles, S. G., In, H. & Amundson, N. (2014). Using an action-oriented hope-centered model of career development. Journal of Asia Pacific Counseling, 4, 1-13.

Faculty Fellows

Elizabeth Burgin, Faculty Fellow
Elizabeth Burgin is an assistant professor in the Counselor Education program and program coordinator of the Military and Veterans Counseling program at W&M. Dr. Burgin is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, and Certified Child-Centered Play Therapy Supervisor. The current focus of her research includes military populations, child mental health, and play therapy. View Dr. Burgin's Faculty Profile.

Stephanie Dorais, Faculty Fellow
Stephanie Dorais is a clinical assistant professor in Counselor Education at William & Mary. She is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Virginia and a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in New York. She is an approved clinical supervisor and supervises counselors in both states. Her areas of specialization include trauma counseling, positive psychology, contemplative practices, spiritual issues, and intensive longitudinal methodology. View Dr. Dorais's Faculty Profile.

Allison Dukes M.Ed. '20, Ph.D. '23, Faculty Fellow
Dr. Allison Dukes recently joined the Counseling faculty at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, as a tenure-track assistant professor; she is also the Fieldwork Coordinator for the Counseling program. Her research interests include trauma-informed care and substance use, and positive psychology. 

Daniel Gutierrez, Faculty Fellow
Dr. Daniel Gutierrez is an associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research includes mental health and addiction counseling, individual and community thriving, contemplative practices, and Positive Psychology.

Patrick R. Mullen, Faculty Fellow
Dr. Patrick R. Mullen is an associate professor and chair for the Department of Counseling and Special Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research includes school counseling, counselor education and supervision, and professional well-being.

Jennifer Niles Ph.D. '23, Faculty Fellow
Dr. Jennifer Niles is an assistant professor in Counseling and Educational Development at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro She is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and National Certified School Counselor (NCSC). Her research interests include school counseling and contemplative practices, children and adolescents, and Positive Psychology.

Doctoral Fellows

Jonathan Adams, Ph.D '25
Jonathan Admas is a second-year doctoral student. As a first-year student, he co-presented at the Virginia School Counselors Association an educational session titled, "Mindful Career Exploration: The Application of Contemplative Practice to K-12 and College Career Development" with Jennifer Niles. Additionally, Adams was the lead presenter on an educational session with Niles at the Virginia Counselors Association titled, "Mindfulness-Based Career Interventions for K-12 and College Students."

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