Conference Schedule

The 2021 conference schedule will be updated soon but please take a look at our 2020 schedule to get a feel of our workshop topics.

Conference Day 1 – February 7, 2020

2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Hotel Check-In

5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Conference Check-In

San Francisco State University
Cesar Chavez Student Center
Jack Adams Hall
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132-4260

Session Block I: General Session
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Opening Workshop: The Role of Identity in Social Justice
Presenters: NSLDC Facilitation Team
Location: Jack Adams Hall
Stories are powerful. Sharing stories is foundational to the building of community. In this workshop, participants will experience an illuminating approach to communicating with each other about the multiple aspects of identity, while being listened to with compassion and respect. Not only will the participants learn about each other’s diverse backgrounds and experiences, but they will also have the opportunity to build relationships based on universal feelings and their common humanity. This activity will be the foundation for the conference experience, which focuses on the many identities that we all may or may not have in common.


Conference Day 2 – February 8, 2020
(Wear Your NSLDC T-Shirt Day)

8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Continental Breakfast
Location: Jack Adams Hall

Session Block II
9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Session A: Intermediate
Workshop Title: Implicit Bias in Higher Education: What Students Need to Know
Presenter: Dr. Judith Springer
Location: Jack Adams Hall
Through a series of presentations, discussions and experiential activities, this interactive session will explore the knowledge and skills needed for participants to (1) understand where implicit or unconscious biases come from and that we all have them, (2) learn to recognize their own blind-spots and (3) apply strategies for reducing the impact of implicit bias in their campus communities.

Session B: Beginner
Workshop Title: The Secret Psychology of Exceptional Student Leaders
Presenter: Mark Fisher
Location: T-160
In this session, we will explore the single most important determining factor for continued success, Focused Leadership. This quality can be instilled as early as middle school. Our interactive discussion will provide information on how to cultivate focused Leadership in students so they flourish and transition seamlessly into their natural great selves. Using role-play we will unpack the horrific consequences of possibility blindness in students as well as the corrective and preventative measures leadership skills will afford.

Workshop Title: No Apology Needed: Exploring apologist behavior in LBGTQ Communities
Presenter: Ayannah Johnson
Location: Richard Oakes Multicultural Center
We often say some variation of “sorry” for trivial and unnecessary reasons. This can undermine our efficacy as leaders, advocates, and activists. The overuse and misuse of “sorry” can also result in minimizing others’ confidence in our ideas and abilities. Often, those in positions of privilege are less likely to apologize, even when it is appropriate. In this session, we will explore the appropriate use of the words and how to evaluate when to truly apologize. It is not about changing who you are rather it is about being intentional in how we show up.

Session Block: III
10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Session A: Intermediate
Workshop Title: No More Drama: Using Restorative Practices in Social Justice Work
Presenter: Dr. Judith Springer
Location: Jack Adams Hall
Conflict is an inevitable consequence when diverse and charismatic leaders are brought together for a common goal. However, how these leaders deal with those conflicts can determine how effectively the group will operate. This workshop is geared towards empowering participants with effective restorative practice skills that they can use to help facilitate difficult conversations, meetings, or events. Furthermore, attendees of this workshop will leave the session having explored their own comfort level with various dimensions of diversity that might be landmines for conflict.

Session B: Intermediate
Workshop Title: Keeping Your Cool: Understanding and Harnessing your Brain Under Challenging Circumstances
Presenter: Dr. Emily Sommerman
Location: T-160
Experiencing your own and others’ intense emotions while you’re trying to change the world is challenging. All of us are familiar with a feeling of shutting down/going numb, feeling a sense of anxiety or panic, or an overwhelming urge to “push back” against something that seems wrong or unjust.  In this experiential workshop, you’ll learn what happens in your brain and body when your mind senses danger. We’ll explore the unconscious ways that we react and explain how your past experiences impact how you react in the present. You’ll gain an understanding of your personal reactions to distress and how to calm your whole being so that you can have a deeper and more impactful connection with others.

Workshop: Exploring Gender and Gender Identity on Campus
Presenter: Ayannah Johnson
Location: Richard Oakes Multicultural Center
In this very interactive workshop, participants will learn about a variety of gender-related issues and will have a chance to truly understand the challenges and benefits of their own and others’ genders. Student leaders will be asked to examine their roles on campus and how they can be effective allies for gender equality. This timely and important workshop will also explore and clarify the topic of gender in all its complexity within the context of a college campus.

Jack Adams Hall
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Session Block IV
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Workshop Title: Class, Culture & Identity Politics: Using Language to Bridge the Gap
Presenter: Melissa Charles

Location: Jack Adams Hall
This interactive workshop explores ways in which language can be both oppressive and liberating with regards to social justice education & identity politics. In particular, the session focuses on the role class (education, access, economic status) plays in one’s attainment of social justice knowledge and credibility when speaking on topics of identity. It examines how social justice language, theory and terminology of “the academy” can be exclusive and marginalizing for the communities it is meant to serve. It also describes ways to ensure the social justice/critical race/ethnic studies realms remain accessible to all.

Session B: Intermediate
Workshop Title: “Why All the Conversation About Racism?”
Presenter: LaVerne McLeod
Location: T-160
This Bridge Building to Equity Workshop© is an opportunity to go beyond guilt and fragility about the conversation of racism, to rising to the occasion of creating an equitable society. In a non-conventional, embracing environment, we will dive deep into the conversations surrounding racism, as the “how come” or “why” becomes more evident. In addition to our discussions, the element of play and artistic activities will be interjected. We can then analyze possibilities for “new” mindsets that can open needed doors to solutions and change.

Session C: Beginner
Dialogue Group: Hot Topics for Marginalized Communities
Facilitator: Ayannah Johnson
Location: Richard Oakes Multicultural Center

Dialogue groups are an opportunity for participants to engage in facilitated, respectful

dialogue, as distinguished from a debate, about pressing, relevant social issues.  In this way, participants can share their varied experiences and viewpoints. This session will focus on the current socio-political climate and its societal impact on our campuses. Additionally, it will serve as a safe place to allow participants to collaboratively share strategies for how we can be allies for each other on our campuses.

Session Block V
2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Session A: Closing Workshop
Workshop Title: The Identity Compass
Presenters: NSLDC Facilitation Team
Location: Jack Adams Hall
Identity, the way we see ourselves in relation to those around us, is comprised of many traits and social roles, chosen and unchosen, visible and invisible.  Identity can be the source of our greatest pride and the site of our greatest vulnerability. The most painful emotional attacks are the ones that are aimed at who we are.  In this thought-provoking closing workshop, participants will have the opportunity to consider the impact of multiple aspects of their own identities and share their stories with others engaged in the same process of discovery.

Session Block VI
3:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Conference Closing, Evaluation, & Raffle
Location: Jack Adams Hall


NSLDC Facilitation Team

Mark Fisher’s work as a young leader has been acknowledged by the Providence Journal and he has been quoted in the Boston Globe. He has been featured on ABC affiliates and is the

author of the forthcoming book “The Secret Language of Successful Leaders” which details the kind of love and devotion a genuine leader commands and how they go about securing it.

Mark was the keynote speaker for Northpoint College and St. Raphael Academy in the past. His speaking engagements connect with audiences in a passionate and hi-energy format.

He is happily married and the father of three amazing daughters who make him laugh daily. A marketing consultant and founder of FBL, Focus Based Leadership, Mark holds degrees in Business Management and Pastoral Ministry.

Ayannah Johnson
has been a leadership and diversity trainer with The Cecilyn Miller Institute for Leadership and Diversity, since 2010 and has traveled throughout the U.S. training individuals with the company. She is on the community council for the Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Empowerment Conference. Graduating from Kean University in 2012 with a degree in Communications and a minor in African American studies, Ayannah now has obtained a Master’s in educational leadership from Saint Peters University. Ayannah’s areas of expertise include diversity education, peer leadership and mediation training, higher education retention programming, and LGBTQI specific facilitation. As a current Field Organizer for Success Academy Charter School, she uses her experience to market and walks parents through the application process.

LaVerne McLeod is a public speaker, author and workshop facilitator. Some of her speaker venues include Monterey Peninsula College where she spoke on Restorative Justice, Monterey Museum of Art for its lecture series, her TEDx talk at San Jose State University and others.

She founded Purple Feather Press©2016 and created a series of Bridge Building to Equity Workshops ©2017, designed to help businesses and organizations harmonize with various cultures. McLeod is also the author of Corn Hollow, an African American Historical fiction. Currently, McLeod serves as Co-Coordinator of Big Sur Advocates for a Green Environment and has been a board member of Communities for a Sustainable Monterey County. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master of Arts in Counselor Education from Southeast Missouri State University with Continuing Education work from San Jose State University.

Dr. Emily Sommerman is a clinical psychologist currently in private practice in rural Northern California. Her emphasis is on supporting the LGBTQ community, adults, teens, and couples to understand and harness their highest potential using current neurological and trauma research, the connection in relationships and mindfulness. Previously, Dr. Sommerman was the director of Humboldt State University’s Counseling Masters program and a psychology professor there. Before moving to California,  Dr. Sommerman was a peer leadership, diversity and mediation trainer with Youth Empowerment Strategies in New Jersey, and a staff psychologist at Montclair State University.

Dr. Judith Springer’s areas of expertise include diversity education, peer leadership, and peer mediation training, bullying prevention and youth suicide prevention. Judith Springer, Psy.D., Associate Director and Senior Trainer for CMI, is a licensed psychologist and a certified school psychologist with several decades of experience working in and with schools, colleges and universities and other organizations. Dr. Springer’s areas of expertise include diversity education, peer leadership and peer mediation training, bullying prevention and youth suicide prevention. Most recently, Dr. Springer has co-authored a book with Maureen Underwood, LCSW on youth suicide prevention and intervention, published by Hazeldon in 2011.