Emersion Session

Leading with Empathy and Care: Lessons from Encanto and Indigenous perspectives to understand collective and historical trauma

When: Thursday, 13 October | 09:00 – 16:00
Where: Meeting at Renwick Room at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel, then various locations in Washington, DC
Facilitators: Fabiola Bagula, San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD); Cheryl Getz, University of San Diego; Doug Paxton, Saint Mary’s College of California; Éliane Ubalijoro, Sustainability in the Digital Age
Maximum Number of Registrants: 30

TICKET PRICES: $105 ILA Member | $142 Non-Member

We are living in precarious times, the pandemic and the various social movements in the last several years has unearthed a wave of mental health issues as a result of fear, anxiety, and frustration. Many in leadership positions are struggling to understand their employees and their experiences that may have come from years of frustration and/or collective trauma. Collective trauma often refers to the psychological reactions to an event or events that impact an entire society. It is not simply the recognition of an event experienced by some people, it is represented in the collective memory of a group and can be passed on through generations. In this workshop participants will engage in a discussion about collective trauma and reflect individually and collectively about their own experiences and those of others. Then the group will watch the Encanto film and discuss the meaning behind the movie and its relationship to them and their work and/or personal lives. Afterwards the group will go to the National Museum of the American Indian, where they will experience a guided tour and have time again to reflect on the connections between Encanto, their own understanding of trauma, and the experiences of Indigenous populations from around the world. Finally, participants will explore strategies for leading with empathy and care at this critical time in our history.

Full Description

We are living in precarious times, the pandemic and the various social movements in the last several years has unearthed a wave of mental health issues as a result of fear, anxiety, and frustration. Many in leadership positions are struggling to understand their employees and their experiences that may have come from years of frustration and/or collective trauma.   Collective trauma often refers to the psychological reactions to an event or events that impact an entire society. It is not simply the recognition of an event experienced by some people, it is represented in the collective memory of a group and can be passed on through generations (Hirschberger, G. 2018). In many parts of the world, we are experiencing the aftermath of ongoing trauma in our communities – we are all impacted by this, even though we may not be aware or even notice the ways that trauma influences our behaviors, relationships and our health. Thus, the ways that collective trauma manifests in our individual minds, and bodies also impacts our collective communities and society as a whole. Unhealed collective trauma places a burden on the health of cultures, societies and the planet as a whole (Hübl, 2020).

This is important work for everyone but especially those who are in positions of leadership. Our histories and life stories (individual and collective) are an important part of who we are and they influence the ways that we function, interact with others and make meaning of our experiences. When we have unhealed trauma, we may react and respond in ways that are unproductive and even harmful to ourselves and others (Levine, P. , & Frederick, A. 1997; Van Der Kolk, B., 2015). When the trauma is part of the larger community (and we argue that collective trauma is an aspect of all groups and organizations) healing is essential for moving forward to address the difficult challenges that we face.

One way to better understand others is through the use of films, which can move us and if done well can help us understand the circumstances of others, and develop more empathy for events and experiences we have not experienced ourselves. Such is the case with the Disney Pixar film Encanto. This movie explores the immigration story of the Madrigal family who had to flee their homeland and rebuild a new home in a new land. In this film, each member of the family has “magical powers” as a result of the historical trauma from previous generations. Each member of the family expresses their power in different ways and each cope with the trauma differently.  As the story unfolds, and the secretes that were left unaddressed for years are exposed, layers of trauma begin to loosen, and healing begins.

The story is not an uncommon one among many families who have been forced from their homeland, and had to start over in a new and unfamiliar place. History repeats and we see this experience all around us from people in South America crossing US borders, to those in Ukraine who have been forced to start a new life far from their homeland. The trauma this creates within individuals and communities impacts how people, families and cultural groups engage with others, as well as how they lead and/or understand those in positions of leadership.  

In this workshop participants will engage in a discussion about collective trauma and reflect individually about their own experiences and those of others. Then the group will watch the Encanto film and discuss the meaning behind the move and its relationship to them and their work and/or personal lives. Afterwards the group will go to the National Museum of the American Indian, where they will experience a guided tour and have time individually and collectively to reflect on the connections between Encanto and the experiences of Indigenous populations from around the world. Reflection prompts will be provided that will encourage participants to examine how they related to individuals and communities who have experienced trauma in their personal and professional lives.  We will engage in discussions with small groups and the larger group of participants in attendance. The session will culminate with a meditation and blessing to those who are suffering from around the world.

Who is the specific target audience?

Target audience is very broad. Those who have experienced trauma (one could say that is all of us to some extent). Also anyone who is trying to make sense of the last several years and how to lead with empathy and care.

What unique leadership learnings will attendees gain?

1) Participants will learn more about historical and collective trauma and the ways these events impact all of us individually and collectively.

2) Participants will learn about the impact of collective trauma (from our recent and historical past) on everyone – those who are the victims as well as those who have perpetrated situations that have caused trauma.

3) Participants will develop more effective strategies for leading with empathy and care

Agenda

8:30 – 9:00

Welcome, introductions, overview and discussion of purpose (brief meditation)

9:00 – 9:15

Prompt question for individual reflection: 1) think about any trauma you or your family may have experienced (death, loss, abuse, etc). How did you cope and in what ways did this experience impact how you related to others? 

9:15 – 9:45

Discussion and connection to the movie we are about to watch

9:45 – 11:25

Watch movie (1.40 hrs)

11:25 – 12:30

Discussion during lunch

12:30 – 13:00

Walk to the museum

13:00 – 14:30

Guided tour of the museum

14:30 – 15:30

Small and large group discussion

15:30 – 16:00

Meditation and departure

Facilitators

Fabiola Bagula

Fabiola Bagula, San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD)

Fabiola Bagula, Ph.D., Deputy Superintendent, San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), builds the capacity of site and district leaders and partners with stakeholders and policymakers to improve equity consciousness and cultivate inclusive learning environments. She has served as a teacher, teacher coach, principal, principal coach, and assistant superintendent. In each of these roles, she has focused her attention on transforming systems into places of opportunity and high-quality learning. Dr. Bagula was honored as the 2013 Cesar Chavez Visionary leader and continues to be an active member of the community. She is a published author, a National Equity Project fellow, and faculty for RISE San Diego, and San Jose State University Emancipatory Leadership graduate program.  

Cheryl Getz

Cheryl Getz, Associate Professor, Leadership Studies, University of San Diego

In addition to her faculty role, Cheryl Getz is a certified leadership coach and has been working with groups and teams for over 20 years. She has been a member of ILA since 1999, and she is currently on the ILA board. Cheryl works closely with graduate students and her clients to understand the ways that trauma (individual and collective) impacts one physically, mentally and emotionally. She facilitates group work that helps people connect across differences and recognize the ways that trauma hinders relationship building, an important aspect of effective leadership. Most recently she completed the Thomas Hubl course, “Healing Collective Trauma,” and she continues to engage with other leaders about the impact of ongoing intergenerational, and racial trauma.

Doug Paxton, Saint Mary’s College of California

Doug Paxton brings to his teaching, facilitation and coaching over thirty years of leadership experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.  His leadership roles include:  Director of People and Organizational Development at Business for Social Responsibility, Executive Director of Indochinese Housing Development Corporation and founding Program Director Presidio Graduate School’s MBA in Sustainable Management.  His doctoral work explored how white people can work for social justice.  He currently teaches in the area of Values, Leadership and Sustainable Organizational Change at Saint Mary’s College of California and provides leadership development programs and coaching in organizations. 

Éliane Ubalijoro, Sustainability in the Digital Age

Éliane Ubalijoro is the Executive Director of Sustainability in the Digital Age and the Global Hub Director in Canada for Future Earth. She is a Professor of Practice for Public-Private Sector Partnerships at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development, where her research interests focus on innovation, gender and sustainable development for prosperity creation. Her teaching over the last decade has focused on facilitating leadership development. She is a member of the newly created Capitals Coalition Supervisory Board. Éliane teaches and advises in Leadership programs to help equip executives in science, innovation and international development with tools that support inner and outer sustainable transformation towards global prosperity. Eliane is the founder of C.L.E.A.R. International Development inc.