Tessa van der Willigen, MPhil, MAPP

Visiting Scholar
Georgetown University

Vice Chair
Board Member Since 2015

Tessa van der Willigen spent about 30 years in international macroeconomics, most of them at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where she managed divisions responsible for strategy in different areas, and where her last position was as Chief of Staff to the Managing Director. Originally from the Netherlands, she was educated in France and at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, first in zoology and later in economics. More recently she completed a Master’s degree in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and trained as a mindfulness meditation teacher under renowned teachers Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Tessa is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Psychology Department at Georgetown University, conducting research focused on autonomy and well-being.

Tessa and her husband, Jonathan Walters, have two sons, of whom the older, David, born in 1995, has hydrocephalus. Tessa and Jonathan discovered HA when its biennial conference was held in Washington, D.C., in 1998, and have remained connected to HA ever since. While David has had his fair share of ups and downs—including dramatic seizure-related issues—he is a proud college graduate and is thriving as a teacher of children with intellectual disabilities. Tessa chairs HA’s Finance Committee and co-chairs its Research Committee, and offers mindfulness courses and workshops through HA which have proved very popular.