Thriving @Work Series

The Thriving @Work series is intended to empower graduate students, post docs, staff and faculty with the tools to navigate difficult and/or toxic work environments. Our hope is to normalize the experience by bringing these often-separate groups together to workshop practical strategies to encourage change and promote a more inclusive, welcoming climate at UConn.

Upcoming Sessions

Beyond Compliance: Cultivating a Workplace Culture of Care
Facilitator: Lauren Donais, M.A.
Date: November 18th, 2020
Time: 11:45 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: The Class of 1947 Conference Room [HBL, Plaza Level]

Empirical research finds a direct connection between incivility and gender harassment (Lim & Cortina, 2005) which according to NASEM’s 2018 Sexual Harassment of Women Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report, is increasingly the most common form of sexual harassment in academia.

This session will include an overview of risk factors for discriminatory harassment in the workplace (with a focus on sexual and gender-based harassment) and offer strategies to reduce harassment. Attendees will be encouraged to reflect on the nature of their own workplace behaviors and identify opportunities to positively influence culture across all levels of leadership.

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Strategies for Building Your Resilience at Work
Facilitator: Vicki Fry, M.S.
Date: October 23rd, 2020
Time: 11:45 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: The Class of 1947 Conference Room [HBL, Plaza Level]

Resilience can be described as the capacity to cope, and even thrive, when faced with stress. It’s more important now than ever to build your resiliency skills to effectively navigate your work life. Learn strategies to build your ability to respond to, rather than react to a difficult situation or person, reduce your vulnerability and susceptibility to stress, and how to boost your ability to cope, thrive and flourish when the going gets tough.

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Got Conflict? Get Competent!
Facilitator: Donna Douglass-Williams, J.D.
Date: October 7th, 2020
Time: 11:45 – 1:00p.m.
Location: The Class of 1947 Conference Room [HBL, Plaza Level]

Facing the reality of conflict can be challenging, but mastering skills that support constructive resolutions is key to developing competence in managing conflict situations. This interactive session includes discussion about the dynamics of conflict (including how and why it escalates), an overview of conflict response styles, learning effective communication techniques to respectfully engage in conflict, and problem solving strategies to reach mutually beneficial resolutions.

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Giving Feedback
Facilitator: Tina Huey, PhD
Date: September 23rd, 2020
Time: 11:45 – 1:00p.m.
Location: The Class of 1947 Conference Room [HBL, Plaza Level]

In this session we will discuss what to keep in mind when you're giving feedback to project collaborators. In teams you will create a product and then practice giving feedback verbally. The skills emphasized in this session include:

  • how to identify the best mode of feedback
  • how to identify the best moment for feedback
  • how to create common ground before giving feedback
  • awareness of the value of feedback on collaborative projects

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Communicating with Style
Facilitator: Jim Wohl, DVM, MPA
Date: March 11th, 2020
Time: 11:45 – 1:00p.m.
Location: The Class of 1947 Conference Room [HBL, Plaza Level]

Our verbal and nonverbal communication is the currency by which we develop our work relationships (for better or worse!). We’ll discuss strategies and features of our communication, how to put them to work to support positive relationships, and how to understand our own and others’ communication preferences.

Learning When and How to Say “NO”
Facilitator: Jonelle Reynolds, M.S.
Date: February 26th, 2020
Time: 11:45 – 1:00p.m.
Location: Werth 113

Many of us struggle with setting boundaries and knowing when and how to say “no” at work. This struggle can lead to feelings of resentment and anxiety and even manifest in our interactions with colleagues.

This session will help participants identify patterns in their lives where they struggle to say “no,” and create boundaries. Participants will learn what healthy boundaries at work look like, explore their own boundaries and learn practical strategies for setting healthy boundaries as well as saying “no”.

The Kickoff Event
Date: January 17th 2020
Location: Student Union
Time: 9:00 a.m - 1:00 p.m

Panel Discussion on Navigating Difficult Work Environments

Student Union Theatre

9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


Concurrent Sessions A + B

Thriving Conversations: Constructive Communication through
Conflict, Tension, and other Challenges

Student Union Ballroom A

10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


Mindfulness at Work

Student Union Ballroom B

10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.



12:30 – 1:00 p.m.



• Eric Kruger – Executive Director of Facilities Operations
• Etan Markus – Professor, Associate Dept. Head of Grad Studies in Psychology
• Endia DeCordova – Director of Development, Strategic Initiatives, UConn Foundation
• Michelle Williams – Associate VP for Research
• Ray Reid – Head Coach Soccer
• Davis Chacon Hurtado – Post doc., Engineering & Human Rights


Thriving Conversations: Constructive Communication through Conflict, Tension, and other Challenges
Facilitators: Jim Wohl, DVM and Donna Douglass Williams, J.D

Communicating at work can frequently be challenging, particularly when emotions are high, power dynamics are at play, or conflict is simmering.  These conversations can prompt a “fight or flight” response, where we either become overwhelmed with anger or frustration, or retreat out of fear of escalating the situation.  What if you could learn and implement strategies to balance assertiveness with diplomacy, manage intense emotions, and build confidence while engaging in these challenging situations?  Join the UConn Ombuds team in this interactive session to learn practical skills and communication strategies designed to de-escalate conflict, neutralize power differences, and approach and re-frame tense conversations in ways that encourage civility, respect, empathy, listening, and collaborative problem solving.

Mindfulness at Work
Facilitator: Maritza Soto-Gomez, LCSW

This session will explore the positive impact of mindfulness at work and in your daily lives. Participants will walk away with an understanding of how mindfulness impacts brains work as well as learn the essential tools for emotion self-regulation amid difficult interactions.

Alternative time due to snow:- January 24th, 2021 9:00-1:00 p.m.

The Office for Diversity & Inclusion is a proud sponsor of the Thriving @Work series in collaboration with The Ombuds Office, The Graduate School and The UConn Foundation.