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 offered a platform for exploring and sharing these intersections.

Conference Summary

Throughout the week, 161 students and employees attended the conference in-person or virtually. The program featured a keynote speaker, featured speaker, two workshops, ten concurrent sessions and two student panels.

Lunch and Learn with Zina Mercil

  • 86% of participants indicated that the session was relevant and useful. The majority indicated interest to participate in another session and would recommend the session to a colleague.
  • Participants shared takeaways that will immediately influence their work including “breathing exercises for our own stress” and “watching out for symptoms [of compassion fatigue] in myself and my colleagues.” Another reported key takeaway was differentiating between empathy and compassion.

Student Panels

  • After attending the First Year at MCC student panel, one participant noted, “It was humbling to hear from students how they appreciate the care and attention they receive from their instructors and student services staff. It motivates me to work harder to support our students.”
  • After attending the Communities of Learners student panel, one guest explained, “Students want a college experience that is based around the communities they feel they fit into.”

Overall Conference

Participants indicated the primary purpose in attending was relevance to work and personal enrichment. Most employees learned about the event from Intranet postings and colleagues. Significantly, 100% of conference attendees that completed the survey agreed or strongly agreed that the content of the conference was useful.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Michael Yellowbird profile

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird

Keynote Speaker

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 opened the conference week. The featured speaker session and pre-conference workshops were open to MCC employees.

Zina Mercil

Zina Mercil

Featured Speaker

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

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

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
  • Patricia Herrera, Center for Teaching and Learning, MCC
  • Tanya Little, SENDAS Grant, MCC

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