SENDAS Conference 2023

MCC’s Title V Project, Students & Employees Nurtured & Developed for Academic Success (SENDAS), is a comprehensive development plan that reinforces key institutional commitments to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Guided Pathways to Success (GPS). The project features an annual conference for students and employees to elevate culture and mindfulness at MCC.

Intersections of Culture and Mindfulness in School and Work

There exists a myriad of intersections between culture, mindfulness, school, and work. The conference theme for 2023 offers a platform for exploring and sharing these intersections. The list below is a starting point for investigation and discussion:

  • Culture and teaching and learning
  • Culture and mindfulness
  • Mindfulness and work
  • Neurodiversity and mindfulness
  • Culture and work


The SENDAS conference is open to faculty, staff, and students. Space is limited. Registration will close at 5PM on Monday, April 3, 2023.

Call for Proposals

Faculty, staff, and students are invited to submit proposals for 60-minute sessions that will be offered in person or online on Friday, April 21. Session types: workshop, roundtable discussion, panel, presentation, technology demonstration, other. Proposals are DUE at 5PM on Monday, March 27, 2023.

SENDAS Conference Weeklong Program

This week-long event will include featured speakers, student panels, workshops, and concurrent sessions. Sessions will be offered in-person at the Red Mountain or Southern & Dobson campuses, online, and/or in hyflex modality.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Michael Yellowbird profile

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird

Keynote Speaker, Virtual

Friday, April 21 • 9-10:00a

Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PhD, is Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. He is an enrolled member of the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) in North Dakota, USA. He has held faculty and administrative appointments at the University of British Columbia, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, Humboldt State University, and North Dakota State University. His research focuses on the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization, ancestral health, intermittent fasting, Indigenous mindfulness, neurodecolonization, mindful decolonization, and the cultural significance of Rez dogs. He is the founder, director, and principal investigator of The Centre for Mindful Decolonization and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. He serves as a consultant, trainer, and senior advisor to several BIPOC mindfulness groups and organizations who are seeking to incorporate mindfulness practices, philosophies, and activities to Indigenize and decolonize western mindfulness approaches in order to address systemic racism and engage in structural change.

Pre-conference Employee Workshops

A featured speaker will open the conference week on Monday, April 17 at the Red Mountain campus. The featured speaker session and pre-conference workshops are open to MCC employees. Visit the CTL website for more information.

Zina Mercil

Zina Mercil

Lunch & Learn with Featured Speaker, Red Mountain Hyflex

Monday, April 17 • 1-2:00p

Zina Mercil is the Director of Coaching for Mindful/LifeXT as well as a coach, therapist, presenter, and writer. She specializes in increasing personal awareness, growth, and performance while decreasing burnout and health consequences. Zina is fascinated with mindfulness and the mind/body connection, particularly for professionals and healthcare providers, and has a MA in Somatic Counseling Psychology and BA in Neuroscience. She additionally works with three national non-profits, Vital Hearts Resiliency Training Initiative, Project Athena Foundation, and The Good Listening Project. Her past work spectrum as a therapist includes mind/body approaches to trauma, addiction, hospice, and life-altering medical setbacks. She’s spoken at many national conferences, including Stanford’s MedX.

Community Immersion: Understanding Self and Working at a Community College

Facilitator: Megan Garvy
Guest Speaker: Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo

Tuesday, April 18 10-11:10AM (virtual) & 2-3:00PM (in-person SD campus AS-175)

This workshop experience was designed to help MCC employees gain a better understanding of themselves as employees in a diverse community, gain a better understanding of the community including its challenges and resources, and develop a deep understanding of the experiences of the students and families with whom they will work.

During the session, Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo will take us on a pre-recorded tour of the community that envelops the MCC Southern & Dobson campus. The session facilitator will share resources to explore and discuss the community’s diverse historical roots, the varied socioeconomic and ethnic populations, and issues of racialization, segregation, and marginalization of some areas within the community. 

Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo is a native of Mesa, Arizona. She is the Associate Vice Chancellor of the Center of Excellence in Inclusive Democracy at Maricopa Community Colleges.

Say the Wrong Thing: Emotional Risk & Wellness in Workplace Communities

Presenters: Dexter L. Booth and Natasha Murdock

Thursday, April 20 2-3:30PM (Red Mountain M200 Hyflex)

We’re taught early in our careers to separate the personal from the professional—to leave the emotions at home, but the reality is we don’t live, or teach, in a vacuum. 

Bad things happen: in the world, in our personal lives, and professional lives. There is no “off” switch for the way we feel, even when we’re at work. Mindfulness is being in the moment, even, or maybe especially, when the moment is uncomfortable. 

By implementing and adapting culturally responsive actions, feminist pedagogies, and wellness practices in this workshop, we will learn tangible ways to proactively show up for each other as educators, become more emotionally vulnerable, & foster emotional wellness in workplace communities–this is an opportunity to come together to better understand what it means to be responsive to a myriad of events or situations that may be affecting our colleagues.

Art: CC-BY-NC-ND: Sharon Hinchliffe, Communication, Flickr

Conference Committee

  • Erica Horihan, Student Life, MCC
  • E Payton Sears, Business, MCC
  • Jennifer Strickland, Center for Teaching and Learning, MCC
  • Lauren Halstead, Advisement, MCC
  • Megan Garvy, Center for Teaching and Learning, MCC
  • Melissa Meadows, SENDAS Grant, MCC
  • Nicole Bruno, Cultural Science, MCC
  • Nicole Collins, DEI Officer, MCC
  • Tanya Little, SENDAS Grant, MCC

This event is funded by a U.S. Department of Education Title V grant.