Friday, April 12 8:30 AM-7:30 PM

Saturday, April 13, 8:30 AM-7:30 PM Sunday, April 14, 8:30 AM-5:00 PM

Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to join!


Dear Prospective Member,


In the U.S., we are grappling with significant societal and critically salient issues of social justice and women’s rights in multiple domains.  These struggles are not new and have been happening since this country’s founding.  Indeed, women around the world have struggled with similar challenges.  And yet, although often adversely impacted by patriarchal oppression and discrimination, women also have unearned privileges based upon skin color, social class and other advantages and they are not immune to issues of internalized racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and other “isms.”


Women’s Lives: Authority, Complexity, Intersectionality—A Group Relations Conference  brings focus to the complex experience of women and those who seek to understand the realities of women’s lives and gender dynamics in the organizations and social systems in which we live in the US (and beyond). The unique opportunity offered by this conference is to work with an all-woman staff who have different racial-cultural identities. Attendees will explore what arises when the entire staff of a temporary institution are women, while those who join as members of the conference represent diverse communities and reflect a range of gendered and social identities.


This nonresidential 3-day experiential group relations conference is based on the Tavistock tradition of group relations work. It will explore key issues impacting women’s lives in diverse group and organizational contexts while exploring themes central to group relations — such as conscious and unconscious dynamics that affect group functioning, including boundary formation and management, authority relations, overt and covert tasks, formal and informal roles, group defense mechanisms, intergroup dynamics, organizational processes, and the effects of local and global contexts.


The leadership model of the conference consists of three directors and reflects an invitation to work with the intersectional nature of women’s lives. This model also reflects the way many groups and organizations are structured today. Some may find this model familiar, others innovative, some collaborative, and others heretical. This model emerged from our collective work in organizing this conference and reflects our ambition to be open to working with the systemic complexity and intersectionality of women’s lives as these dynamics emerge during the conference. 


This event is open to anyone who is interested in joining. We encourage participants of all social identities to join us and to urge others to attend.  We are excited to welcome you and we look forward to exploring with you Women’s Lives: Authority, Complexity, Intersectionality—A Group Relations Conference on April 12-14, 2019 at the University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education.


Cheryl Getz, Evangeline Sarda and Ellen Short

Conference Directors


Conference Staff


Conference Staff

Conference Staff

Conference Staff


Cheryl Getz, PhD, Director

Dr. Cheryl Getz is an Associate Professor of Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego (USD). She has held several administrative positions at USD including Department Chair and Associate Dean. She also works as a personal coach, consultant and facilitator for a variety of individuals, groups and organizations.  Her areas of expertise include the use of nontraditional pedagogies to facilitate and teach leadership, the application of Group Relations theory, the use of action inquiry to understand groups and organizations, and the development of inclusive and integrated leadership development programs.  Cheryl has been working with the collective unconscious and other aspects of Group Relations work for over fifteen years, and this work informs her teaching, coaching and group facilitation. She frequently uses action inquiry and other reflexive strategies with her students and clients as a way of encouraging them to examine their various identities and to understand the impact of power and privilege individually and collectively.  She continues to explore the power of the collective, knowing that a sacred space emerges when people work together with a collective intention. 


Ellen L. Short, PhD, Director

Dr. Ellen Short is Chairperson and Associate Professor of Graduate Counseling Programs in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology for the School of Education at Long Island University (LIU) Brooklyn. Her areas of specialization in teaching, scholarly research and publishing are: Group dynamics focusing on race, ethnicity, gender and culture, multicultural assessment of intelligence tests and social justice/multicultural counseling. Dr. Short has spent two decades working in the field of group relations and has served as a consultant at group relations conferences in the United States and internationally. She has also directed group relations conferences at Teachers College, Columbia University, and New York University. She is the author of multiple publications, including “Racial and Cultural Dynamics in Group and Organizational Life. Crossing Boundaries,” published by Sage in 2010. Dr. Short’s latest book is “Talking about Structural Inequalities in Everyday Life: New Politics of Race in Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems,” published by Information Age Publishing in 2016.

Evangeline Sarda, JD, Director

Evangeline Sarda is an Associate Clinical Law Professor at Boston College Law School (BCLS), a co-director of the Criminal Justice Clinic, the director of the Prosecution Clinic, and most recently, the faculty director of Leaders Entering and Advancing Public Service.  She teaches about Law, Leadership and Social Justice through a Group Relations lens and focuses on growing the work of Group Relations International East by organizing Group Relations conferences and training workshops, Social Dreaming Matrices and other events.  Before becoming a lawyer, she taught high school English in inner-city New Haven and also taught and interned at the University of the Cordilleras in Baguio, Philippines.  She received her B.A. from Yale University and J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Dr. Lorri Sulpizio, PhD, Associate Director of Administration

Dr. Lorri Sulpizio is the Director of the Conscious Leadership Academy at the University of San Diego, and the founder of the Center for Women’s Leadership at USD. Her leadership interests include 1) gender dynamics, specifically women, voice, and power; 2) application of group relations theory to the practice of leadership and building effective teams; 3) how authenticity and a balanced sense of self leads to effective leadership; 4) developing confidence, mental strength and team cohesion in athletes.  Dr. Sulpizio created the Women in Higher Education Leadership Summit and the Cultivate Conscious Kids Program and is committed to creating and designing programs that meet the deeper needs of individuals and organizations.


Dr. Sulpizio is a certified leadership coach and a certified practitioner in the Leadership Circle Profile, the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC, and Firo-B, and believes that using data is a useful first step in helping people begin to realize their leadership potential. Dr. Sulpizio was a board member with the New Children’s Museum of San Diego, the California Community College Women’s Basketball Association and the Fitness Advisory Council for San Diego Mesa College. She served as head women’s basketball coach at San Diego Mesa College from 2001-2007 and coached at Cuyamaca College from 2008-2010. She is also the co-founder and principal consultant for Lotus Leadership Institute.


Medria Connolly, PhD., Consultant

Dr. Medria Connolly is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Monica, California.  She has been in practice for 30 years working with adolescents, adults and couples.  In addition to her clinical training, Dr. Connolly also trained in the Tavistock model of group relations work which focuses on the study of authority, the dynamics of social systems, and the overt and covert processes that occur in groups. Using that model as her theoretical orientation, Dr. Connolly also works as an organizational consultant to facilitate leadership, team building, communication and collaboration within diverse groups.

Dr. Connolly has presented at the following conferences: The White Privilege Conference, The National Institute of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference, UCLA Interpersonal Neurobiology Conference, Teachers College Winter Round Table on Cross-Cultural Counseling and Psychotherapy, and The Scientific Meeting of the A.K. Rice Institute. Topics included: Transforming Ghosts into Ancestors: The Psychological Case for Reparations” co-presented with Bryan Nichols, Ph.D.; “Beyond Words: What the Body Knows, How the Body Speaks” co-presented with Pat Ogden, Ph.D.; “Providing Mental Health Care to Inner City Youth: Implications for Training and Staff Development”; “Fix the Children: The Hope and Despair of Treating Kids in Custody”; “Learning from Group Relations Conferences on Diversity & Authority: The Dilemma of Being both Victim and Victimizer”; and “The White Girl in Me, the Colored Girl in you, and the Lesbian in Us: Crossing Boundaries”.  The later was co-authored with Debra Noumair, Ed.D., and published in Off White: Readings on Race, Power, and Society, 1997.

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Betsy Hasegawa, Ed. D, Consultant

Dr. Betsy Hasegawa (she/her/hers; Japanese and Ainu; Ed.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education) is in a new role as Associate Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at South Seattle College. Betsy is still amazed that she was asked to build community, develop leadership, and promote healing as part of a large scale change process to co-create an intentionally intercultural college. Betsy also leads the Change Facilitators team for the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, serves on the Lummi Nation Peacemaking Circle Leadership Team, is a Fellow of the AK Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems, is a Co-creator with Group Relations International, member of GREX, and is an organizational consultant and executive coach with Kindling Consulting, New York, NY.

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Julia Katawazi, Consultant

Julia Katawazi is a recent graduate of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at the University of San Diego. She is interested in the field of Positive Psychology and understanding the mechanics of change/transformation. In her professional life, Julia serves as an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor at Veterans Village of San Diego, a residential program that assists homeless veterans who have substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Julia also works as a Research Associate with the Veterans Medical Research Foundation. Julia is also a mindfulness practitioner and interested in further exploring the relationship between physical and mental health. 

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Annysa Polanco, MSW, Consultant

Annysa Polanco  is Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Penguin Random House. She has a Master of Social Work from Boston College. She is currently a Candidate for Diversity Professional/Advanced Practitioner Certification (CCDP/AP) at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, a Member of the National Association of Social Workers and a Trained Facilitator for Cultures Connecting. She is the Mom of one.   

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Katherine Harding, PhD., Consultant

Dr. Katherine Harding received her doctorate at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. She is currently in private practice in Chicago, Illinois. President elect of CCSGO, AKRI Member. 

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Cristina Schaffer, Administrator

Cristina Schaffer is a coordinator/facilitator at the Conscious Leadership Academy, University of San Diego, and the the program organizer for the 2019 SHExperience - A Journey to Your Best Self women's conference. Cristina is dedicated to supporting programs that empower women of all ages and backgrounds to tap into their confidence and power. Working successfully in sales and training for Merck Pharmaceuticals, the tragedies of September 11, 2001 became the crucible moment that led Cristina to re-evaluate her life, leaving her full-time career to explore opportunities that would allow her to more easily blend her family and work lives. She negotiated a flexible work schedule to become the Marketing Director for the University of Chicago Hospitals Pediatric Neurology Department. Two years later, Cristina moved to San Diego and started a marketing consultancy for women-owned small businesses. She also became the marketing director for The San Diego Ballet allowing her the opportunity to support the performing arts in a hands-on position. Cristina is a successful portrait photographer and is currently completing her master's degree in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego.


A first generation Filipina, the eldest daughter to three siblings, and a mom to a strong daughter, Cristina has been practicing leadership in formal and informal ways all her life. She is a motivator, a closet slob, and tries to live her life with curiosity and gratitude every day. "I believe leadership is an everyday practice. My own personal challenge is to let go of perfectionism and to embrace not just the wonders, but also the challenges that life brings me."

Kaila Duke, Administrator

Kaila Duke is the Operations Manager for the Division of Extended Learning at National University. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts and Master's degree in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego. Kaila is passionate about youth leadership in athletics and spends her free time volunteering for the YMCA and Challenged Athletes Foundation. Prior to her journey into the academic higher education landscape at National University Kaila was the Director of Basketball Operations for the University of San Diego Women's Basketball program. 

Conference Events


The Opening, Closing, and Systems Intersections Event Plenaries involve all members and staff.  They enable participants to share the experience of crossing the boundary into the conference, and later, reflecting on the Systems Intersections Event. The final Closing Plenary provides an opportunity to reflect on the experiences of the Conference as a whole, and to study the process of ending our task relationships.


The Intersecting Systems Event (ISE) involves all members and staff.  It provides opportunities for the members to form groups of their own choosing, in the context of the conference-as-a-whole. In this event we can explore intergroup system relatedness between and among member created groups and member groups’ relatedness to the staff.  The staff is present as a management group in the event, and will conduct its work in open session.  Consultants will be available to work with member groups.


The Small Study Group (SSG) is a “here and now” event, using a group-as-a-whole context, that focuses on intra-group relations, in a relatively small and intimate, face-to-face configuration, embedded within the conference system.  The task of the Small Study Group is to study the conscious and unconscious dynamics of the group as they arise in the moment. Each Small Study Group has a consultant.


The Large Study Group (LSG) is a “here and now” event as well, using a group-as-a-whole context.  It includes all members, and provides the opportunity to study intra-group processes in a configuration without easy face-to-face contact, embedded within the conference system. The task of the Large Group is to study the conscious and unconscious dynamics of the group as it occurs.  A team of three or more consultants are available to the Large Study Group. 


The Silent Event (SE) provides opportunities for members and staff to reflect and join with each other in silence.  The Silent Event will be introduced by a staff member but will not have a consultant.  Attendance at the Silent Event is optional. 


The social sensing matrix event provides a space for all members and staff to join around unconscious dynamics that might emerge through the sharing of dreams, images, insights, etc. In this event, the task is for members and staff to use dreams or other reflections and free association to explore emergent unconscious dynamics that might inform the collective as we work together to better understand our group-as-a-whole.


Role, Review and Application Groups (RAG) give members an opportunity to reflect on their experience of the conference, to examine the various roles that they take up within the conference organization, and to relate to their primary roles in their back home groups and systems.  Each Review and Application Group has a consultant.

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