Full Bio

Lea Waters, PhD

Lea Waters, PhD is an Australian academic, researcher, psychologist, author and speaker who specializes in positive education, parenting and organizations.

Positive Psychology Expert & Educator

Professor Waters is a Professor in Psychology at the Centre for Positive Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. She is the first Australian to be appointed a Professorship in Positive Psychology, the Founding Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology and the Inaugural Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology. She is a researcher and has held an academic position at the University of Melbourne for more than 20 years. Lea holds affiliate positions at Cambridge University’s Well-being Institute and the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations. She also holds a position on the Science Board of The University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

Lea is a Board Member and the 2017-2019 President of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) and serves on the Council of Happiness and Education for the World Happiness Council. She is a registered psychologist (AHPRA) and a full member of the Australian Psychological Society. She is on the Advisory Board for the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Ambassador for the Positive Education Schools Association and Patron for Flourishing Education Japan.


Lea’s TEDx talk, Warning: Being positive is not for the faint hearted!, explores how, with small positive steps, we can make a huge impact on our wellbeing. Her keynotes and talks offer her audience a unique blend of science and practice. Past clients have included: Metrorail, Merrill Lynch, Marriage and Relationship Educators Australia, International Positive Education Association, International Positive Psychology Association, Academy of Management, International Conference on the Science of Happiness, Chinese International School of Hong Kong, Canadian Positive Psychology Association, Mexican National Conference on Happiness and New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology.

Researcher & Author

Lea has published almost 100 scientific journal articles and book chapters. Her first book, The Strength Switch: How The New Science Of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen To Flourish, was released May 2017 (Avery/The Penguin Group). The Strength Switch was named one of the top reads for 2017 by Greater Good Magazine, one of the top five best books on happiness for children by Five Books, and was the top new release in the parenting category on Amazon. The Strength Switch has been translated into Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese, Hungarian, Arabic, Russian, Spanish and French.

Awards & Honors

In 2015, Professor Waters was listed as one of Australia’s Top 100 Women of Influence by the Australian Financial Review and Westpac Bank. She has been listed in the Marquis Who’s Who in the World since 2009 and has been included in the 2017 edition of Who's Who of Australian Women. A gifted teacher and facilitator, Lea has been awarded many International and National Teaching Awards including the Management Educator of the Year Award (2004) by the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management and two National Teaching Excellence Awards from the Australian Government (2008, 2011).


Lea was featured in the ABC TV documentary Revolution School, TEN National News and Nine Today’s Extra Morning Show. She is frequently featured in print including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, TIME.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, Educational Review, Professional Educator, Global Thrive, Success Magazine, Tec Review, Live Happy Magazine, The Australian, The Herald Sun, Sydney Morning Herald, MindFood Magazine, KidSpot Magazine, Fernwood Magazine, and the Australian Education Leader. A regular on radio, Lea has on been Trending Today USA - USA Radio Network, In the Moment - South Dakota Public Radio (NPR/PBS affiliate), MI Morning Show - WGVU-FM (NPR affiliate), Troy Public Radio (NPR affiliate), Live Matters - ABC National, Big Ideas - Radio National, The Breakfast Show - 2DayFM, Afternoons - ABC Melbourne and Statewide Afternoons - ABC Radio Sydney.

Programs & Projects

Lea is the Director of three education programs and projects. Her Visible Wellbeing initiative is being used in schools across Australia, North America, Asia and New Zealand in both the State and Independent Education systems. The Strengths Exchange (Co-Director with Lara Mossman) brings together stories of character strengths from children, teenagers and parents across different countries to encourage families to start conversations about the strengths within them. Her newest program, The Strength Switch, offers parents and educators free resources to better build the strengths of young people as well as a five-week online course for parents.

Personal Life

Lea’s top strengths include: humor, curiosity and kindness. She lives with her husband and two children in Melbourne, Australia.