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On the Matter of Black Lives

A Group Relations conference on Authority and Identity

Friday 10th March 2017 - Sunday 12th March 2017

University of San Diego, CA, USA

Group Relations International
RISE San Diego
in association with the Black Consciousness Action Alliance

Info & Fees
Web Sites


On the Matter of Black Lives represents a movement force that brings focus to the experience of African Americans and those who seek to be more "woke" on the realities of racial justice in the United States--and potentially beyond.

This intensive experiential conference is ACTIVELY OPEN TO PEOPLE OF ALL IDENTITIES to examine leadership, authority and identity in the post-Obama era. The work of the conference will attend to learning about those unconscious, implicit and often indiscernible aspects of how the Matter of Black Lives is a part of our discourse and actions, individually and collectively.

What will make this group relations conference different is that all consultants hold identities with African descent...In other words, this will be consciously, deliberately, and intentionally an all-Black staff conference.

As such we will explore what matters when the entire staff of a temporary organization identifies as Black (to varying degrees) while those who join as members of the conference represent diverse communities and reflect a range of racial and social identities.

The primary task is to explore the unconscious elements of leadership, authority and identity in human systems with particular focus On the Matter of Black Lives. We will use ourselves as the instruments of that study.

The events, as currently conceived, will largely parallel those offered at more traditional group relations conferences. The events will likely include: plenary sessions, small groups, large groups, community event, application groups, and review sessions. Additional approaches to learning may also be explored.

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More than 20 years ago, a group relations conference on the theme of Black racial identity was held in Washington, DC at the American University. In light of the events that appear to be perennial since well before the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, this conference is brought forward to see what we have learned and have yet to learn On the Matter of Black Lives, especially in light of the new United States presidency.

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Conference Director
Zachary Gabriel Green  PhD
is a professor of practice in Leadership Studies at University of San Diego. He directed the first all-Black staff group relations conference 20 years ago in Washington, DC. A clinical psychologist by training, Zachary teaches courses on human development, organizational behavior, dialogue, negotiations, mindfulness, and love. As a practitioner, Zachary’s clients have included multinational corporations, government agencies, NGO’s, universities, religious institutions, and nonprofits entities.

Career highlights include working on a four-year peace effort with emerging leaders of Northern Ireland in advance of the Good Friday Accord, serving on the dialogue development team for the President’s Commission on Race as part of the Clinton Administration, addressing the digital divide as part of a Microsoft initiative during the Bush II administration, three decades of directing group relations conferences nationally and internationally, and coaching top leaders at the World Bank for the better part of two decades.

Zachary is also lead faculty for the RISE Urban Leadership Fellows in San Diego. His most recent venture, through IMAGO Global Grassroots, involves the implementation of a participatory co-creative model of international development in South Asia, Africa and South America. His latest writing and research are on the nexus of human consciousness and decision-making, an integral model of peace leadership, a critique of modern social movements, and the interface of psychology and virtual reality. Zachary frequently offers consultations, workshops and training nationally and internationally on integral and unconscious psychological dimensions of leadership as well as experiences that promote equity, diversity and inclusion.

Zachary received a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Boston University, completed advanced clinical training at Cambridge Hospital/Harvard Medical School as well as Georgetown University. He began his career as an associate of the Wharton Center for Applied Leadership. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from Case Western Reserve University. He is a fellow of the AK Rice Institute, core faculty for the African American Board Leadership Institute, and a distinguished alum of Cleveland State University.

Administrative Director
Dr Roxanne Kymaani  
is a proven leader in the development and implementation of change initiatives in business and educational operations, including programs and people. Her expertise in dialogue and conflict resolution enables her to successfully lead in diverse and challenging environments while gaining and maintaining the trust of those she engages with. She specializes in team effectiveness, dialogue, group problem solving, and community building, emphasizing communication, creativity and discovery. Dr. Kymaani’s research interests include: dialogue, liminality, collective consciousness, group dynamics and cultural identity construction. Her passion is to support others on creating their best “self, and create understanding on who they are "being" as a way of developing a new relationship with themselves that offers a new dialogue for how to view and experience the world. Dr. Kymaani holds a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego. Her dissertation work was on identity construction with women who have one black and one white parent. She is also a certified life coach, where she works with clients on who they are "being" as a way of developing a new relationship with themselves that offers a new dialogue for how to view and experience the world. She also currently serves as the Executive Director for the Division of Extended Learning at National University. Dr. Kymaani is a Certified Core Adjunct Faculty in their Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, and an Adjunct Lecturer with University of San Diego's Master’s and Doctoral Leadership programs, and Goucher College’s Master of Arts in Cultural Sustainability.

Rod Smith  
Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force, Leadership Studies Doctoral Student at the University of San Diego. Rod has attended four group relations conferences (three at the University of San Diego, one in New Orleans) in the three years since his first experience with this approach to understanding the human experience in group dynamics. He aspires to lead group relation conferences later in his professional career in leadership development. During his time in service, Rod has served as an operator, tester, trainer, executive officer, inspector, and strategic planner in the nuclear missile operations career field. He was also an assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy, teaching and directing leadership courses, coaching programs and seminars for students and faculty members. Throughout his Air Force career, Rod has also developed and led organizational discussions regarding resilience and sexual assault awareness. He has a bachelors degree in behavioral sciences from the Air Force Academy, and a masters degree in adult education from Central Michigan University. Defining love as the joining of the separated, Rod’s doctoral focus explores love as a construct for leader development. His other research interests include professional coaching, assessing leader development, group relations, and organizational development interventions.

Candice A. Crawford-Zakian  PsyD
is a consulting psychologist specializing in socioanalytic methods and leadership development. She is a Leadership Consultant and Executive Coach within executive education and degree programs at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Graduate School of Education and INSEAD (France). She is also an Assistant Professor at William James College, an Adjunct Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education and an Affiliate Consultant with Konu, LLC., a boutique firm specializing in Adaptive Leadership and Immunity to Change.

Candice completed a post-doctorate fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance in Psychodynamic Personality Assessment and Psychodynamic Research. She holds a doctorate (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Radio Production from Howard University.

Candice serves on the Board for the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems (CSGSS), a Boston affiliate of the AK Rice Institute and the Tavistock Institute in London. She frequently consults at nationally held group relations conferences conducted in the Tavistock tradition.

Diane Forbes Berthoud  
is the Director of the Sixth College Practicum program and lecturer in Leadership and Discourse at UC San Diego. Previously, she was Associate Professor of Organizational Communication and Department Chair at Trinity Washington University. She has held faculty positions at George Washington University and George Mason University in Virginia. She was also a lecturer at Howard University, where she received her Ph.D. in Organizational Communication and Social Psychology. Forbes is currently a lead faculty and coach for the RISE Urban Leadership Fellows program, a collaboration with USD’s Leadership Institute that identifies and nurtures rising leaders ready to engage in meaningful community change work in urban communities.

Her work in academia, the community, nonprofit and governmental organizations spans over two decades. She also served as an Ombudsperson/Consultant at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC, lead consultant with Montgomery County Government and Senior Fellow in the James McGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland. She is a certified associate and group consultant of the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems and was an executive coach for the Rawlings Center for Public Leadership at the University of Maryland, where she coached elected state officials, public leaders, and entrepreneurs in leadership development, communication, and improved management.

Dr. Forbes has been awarded faculty fellowships from Georgetown University, The Washington Area Women’s Foundation, and the Interactivity Foundation in the areas of women’s leadership, community-based research, public policy and dialogue. Her research focuses on gendered, raced, intersectional processes of organizing, and creative ways to expand pedagogy in Leadership Studies. Her most recent work appears in Communicative Understandings of Women’s Leadership Development: From Ceilings to Labyrinths, a publication by Lexington Press and she is currently finalizing research on Adaptive Leadership and Group-as-a-Whole pedagogy and design applied in the RISE Urban Leadership Fellows program.

Alexis Dixon  
Born in Georgetown Guyana, South America, Alexis Dixon is a Harvard trained mediator with an emphasis in Humanistic (person centered) Psychotherapy Training and Supervision.

His professional mediation career includes work with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the San Diego Police Department, Gren-Save-Save the Children International, the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC), just to name a few. In addition, he is the Director, Corporate Communications for Southeastern Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and facilitates several community dialogues for the corporation. In his off time, Mr. Dixon co-teaches a Mediation in Police Work course at San Diego State University (SDSU) and lectures at University of San Diego (USD). Mr. Dixon is a member of the founding faculty of the RISE San Diego Urban Leadership Fellows Program.

Mr. Dixon international travels include England, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Australia, Austria, the West Indies, Mexico, Canada, Budapest, Israel and Jordan.
He currently lives in San Diego.

Skyler Jackson  
is a diversity consultant, group facilitator, and youth development specialist. His human relations work focuses on sparking personal, organizational, and community transformation by helping people dialogue about issues of identity and difference.

His dialogue-based approach to diversity work prioritizes group safety and encourages individuals to move
beyond shame, which often poses an unconscious barrier to examining personal bias and prejudice. This philosophy allows groups to courageously navigate their personal experiences with identity and difference—and to learn how these concepts impact all of our lives in complex ways. Within this exploration lies the opportunity for increased compassion, self-awareness, and ultimately, change.

Skyler has led many human relations trainings and discussions in collaboration with or on behalf of esteemed educational institutions, prominent social justice organizations, and progressive cultural institutions, including the National Conference for Community & Justice, the Smithsonian Institution, Western Justice Center, Stanford University, the Museum of Tolerance, Wesleyan University, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Cornerstone Theatre Company, and the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems. He is a senior consultant for ENCOMPASS, a California-based organization working to reduce prejudice and conflict among teens.

Skyler currently resides in Washington DC and is completing his PhD in Counseling Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. There, he is a member of the Social Identity Research Lab, which works to examine ways in which social stigma impacts health and well-being among a variety of marginalized groups, with an emphasis on Black and/or LGBTQ populations.

Asha N Gipson  MA
is an independent OD consultant specializing in leadership development, group dynamics, and experiential learning. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Social-Organizational Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Since starting her PhD program, Asha has taught, coached, trained, and consulted with undergraduates, graduate students, and executives. Currently, she serves as an adjunct lecturer of Leadership and Group Dynamics at Brooklyn College, a course focusing on the interplay between self and group through an examination of power, authority, leadership, and interpersonal processes. Prior to teaching at Brooklyn College, Asha taught Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Hunter College and was a teaching assistant for courses in research methods, conflict resolution, organizational change, and organizational dynamics. In addition to teaching and scholarship, Asha also works as a Graduate Assistant for the Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership at Columbia University and as a Community Assistant for the Office of Residential Services at Teachers College, Columbia University. She also serves on the executive committee of the New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations, and Social Systems, an affiliate of the A.K. Rice Institute.

Asha received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Africana Studies from Pomona College where she originally became interested in leadership and group dynamics as the captain of her college basketball team. After completing her undergraduate degree, Asha taught English and Physical Education on a Fulbright scholarship in the Czech Republic before completing her MA in Organizational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. Born in Colorado Springs, and raised in San Diego, she now lives in New York City where she enjoys riding her bike, attending live concerts, and finding free things to do across the five boroughs.

Patrick Jean-Pierre  PsyD
Director, Technical Assistance Center on Disproportionality at Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation od Schools, New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre has over 16 years of combined experience in educational settings, which includes public schools, charter schools and universities. Patrick’s range of professional experiences in the field of education includes teaching, counseling and leadership development, as well as, organizational consulting that fosters systemic change and reduce disproportionality in schools. In addition, Patrick has provided leadership development at the Wharton School of Executive Education. Moreover, he has provided therapy to Youth and Families at the Mental Health provider, Supreme Consultants and teaches group courses at Manhattan College. Patrick received his Doctorate of Psychology at Rutgers University in Organizational Psychology with concentrations in Community and Sport Psychology. Patrick's research interests include masculinity, leadership, inter-group relations, and systemic organizational change.

Dr Carl Mack  

Tyrome ‘Ty’ Smith  
has nearly 20 years consulting and leading executives and their teams by helping them understand human and organizational dynamics. Currently he is as a senior organization development consultant at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He has conducted many senior level engagements with the expressed intention of eliciting buy-in and strategic focusing on revolutionizing how value is both conceptualized and executed. He has served as a trusted advisor and coach to senior leaders throughout the agency. In addition to work in the in the federal government, he progressively grown his private practice consulting to non-profit and public institutions. Much of his early insight into the human dynamic was developed when he served as a police officer very early in his professional career.

Flora Taylor  
A Licensed Counseling Psychologist by training, Dr. Taylor runs an independent practice, located in West Orange, NJ, that includes three domains: Organization Development Consultation, Psychotherapy, and Teaching. She provides OD Consultation (executive coaching, organizational diagnosis, role consultation, team development, and applied research) to retail, educational, NGO, and healthcare institutions. She offers psychotherapy to individual adults and couples, and supervises interns. In the educational and group work arena, Dr. Taylor teaches Group Dynamics at Teachers College, Columbia University, The School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and at Ashoka University in Haryana, India. Dr. Taylor directs Group Relations Conferences and other experiential events for academic and executive populations. Dr. Taylor is a Fellow of the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems, and she has published related research in the AKRice Group Relations Reader 3. She is a wife of one, a mother of 3, an avid tennis player, and far grayer than her picture indicates.

Jessica J. Williams  PhD
Graduate Coordinator, University of California, San Diego, Lecturer at California State University, San Marcos and founder of the I See Color MVMT. Dr. Jessica Williams has nearly a decade of professional experience in higher education which includes work in cultural identity based centers, counseling services, residential life, admissions and outreach, enrollment and at the academic department level. While each setting was different, Dr. Williams’ work has centered around community development, social justice, student development, and the increase of leadership capacity and self-agency. Jessica’s university experience also includes course instruction where she has lead courses on multicultural counseling taught both domestically and abroad in Falmouth, Jamaica, adult and human development, clinical interviewing, counseling skills, Black feminist thought and leadership. Because of her diverse background within the university setting, Jessica has often been called to facilitate workshops on developing a capacity for vulnerability, authentic leadership, how social identity impacts leadership impact and development and working with diverse groups. Dr. Williams’ research and passion centers around how identity shapes perspective, engagement and activism particularly for populations that hold marginalized social identities.

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Info and Fees

Registration Fee: $595. Early registration fee: on or before February 10, 2017: $495. Members of the RISE Familia and Group Relations International are eligible for reduced rates.

$595 General Registration after February 10, 2017
$495 General Registration on or before February 10, 2017 (-$100.00)
$450 GRI members (on or before February 10, 2017) (-$145.00)
$450 Social Justice Non-Profit Organizations (on or before February 10, 2017) Indicate organization below (-$145.00)
$395 Full time students (on or before February 10, 2017) Indicate school and program below (-$200.00)
$395 Three or more participants from the same organization (on or before February 10, 2017). Please list members and organization below (-$200.00)
$125 RISE fellows (Rest of payment through a central account) (-$470.00)

PLEASE NOTE: Though this conference is being held at USD, it is NOT sponsored by the University of San Diego, the Department of Leadership, or the Leadership Institute. USD students are eligible to attend this event but may not use it as an independent study or as a substitute for other experiential learning conference courses offered at SOLES.

ATTENTION: Please be mindful that conferences of this sort are experienced by some as stressful. Those who are going through a particularly difficult period personally may wish to defer attendance. Further, though profound personal learning is often gained from such events, the conference should not be seen as a replacement for counseling, coaching or therapy.

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Web Sites

Conference website:
Registration form:

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