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Intersectionality ONLINE: Working in the Borders of our Relatedness and Dividedness
December 15-19, 2020
Group Relations Conference Series at Boston College
A GRI Group Relations Conference


Intersectionality ONLINE: Working in the Borders of our Relatedness and Dividedness is a Group Relations Conference that explores the conscious and unconscious life of an online organization and the experience of intersectionality within it. Participants join to co-create this temporary online organization, which will exist for five days. During the life of the organization, staff and members work together in their roles on the task of learning through experience about the intersecting systemic dynamics that we engender together.


The opportunity

We have the opportunity to examine how our relatedness and dividedness connect and intersect, to discern when and where authority and power is static and fluid, and to exercise leadership in a changing environment.  As we encounter each other, we may ask: Can we bring all of who we are to our work online? If so, how? And if we do, what will be the impact that our collective actions and inactions have on the experience of others? If you want to explore your capacity to authorize yourself and others to lead responsibly online and in the intersections, then join us as we navigate the space!


Evangeline Sarda                                                                                            René Molenkamp

Director                                                                                                         Associate Director


In this conference, we have an opportunity to learn about:

  • How working online impacts taking up authority and leadership.

  • What advantages and constraints working online offers.

  • Which of your social identities are privileged by you and others online.

  • Where intersectionality operates in organizations in online spaces.

  • The relatedness of self and system; the relatedness of part and whole.

  • Why and when our relatedness and dividedness are linked.

  • The fluid nature of our work and relations; the fluidity of power and authority; the way power, roles, identities, tasks, and boundaries might shift or become more rigid in response to an emergent context online.

  • The meaning made of our social identities in organizational life.

  • Working with competition, collaboration, conflict, coalition-building, envy, delegation, and love.

  • How we individually and collectively take up roles, negotiate authority, accomplish tasks, cross borders, and manage anxiety in a changing context.

  • How we do and do not authorize ourselves and others to bring all of who we are to our work together.



This is a different kind of online conference. Here, there are no presentations or power points given by experts to direct and organize learning. Instead, learning is experiential. This conference offers a space to be in the present with others, to co-create a temporary organization where together we explore the here-and-now of engaging as people within a living system through online technology.

During the conference, we make use of our individual and collective experiences to understand what is happening, and from there develop ideas to test how we can be more effective at being and doing what we say we want to be and do in the organization.

By focusing on the conscious and unconscious processes that impact groups and influence leadership styles in the context of the evolving culture of the online conference system, we learn to see and hear what is underneath the surface. The opportunity offered is to grapple with, enjoy, and develop new narratives that explore and contain our experiences of what it is to be human and to take up our different leadership and management roles in our organizations and institutions through online technologies.



During this conference, Dr. Seth Harkins, Ed.D., will be conducting research about the learning that takes place during and after the conference event. The purpose of the research is to understand member, staff, and organizational learning.

As part of this research, you may be invited to complete pre- and post-conference surveys. Responses are confidential and anonymous, and your participation is completely voluntary. Dr. Harkins will also be observing staff meetings and events during the conference.


Primary Task / Aim / Purpose

The primary task of this conference is to study the conscious and unconscious exercise of authority in the taking up of roles in an online organization through the interpersonal, intergroup, and institutional relations that develop with and through technology in the online conference as a system.

The aim of the conference is to provide opportunities to learn through experience about the rational and irrational ways that organizations and groups function in an online space, and the impact group processes and technologies have on the exercise of authority particularly as it relates to the experience of intersectionality, relatedness / dividedness, and being online.

The purpose of the conference is to build the capacity to improve leadership and organizational effectiveness and to develop a spirit of inquiry into the lived experience of authority and intersectionality in organizational life in order to promote transformation.


Conference Events

The conference is organized as a series of events that provide opportunities to learn through experience in a variety of social contexts in online spaces. Each event offers a different view from which one experiences and perceives oneself and others, which may change over time. Participants develop different capacities as they adjust to the distinct dynamics of each event and explore the reality of their situation in the here-and-now. The events will begin and end promptly at the times designated. A final schedule will be provided at registration.


Opening and Closing Plenaries

These sessions open and close the conference, providing an opportunity for members and staff to express and explore their thoughts and feelings on crossing the border into  the online  conference space during  the  opening  plenary  (when the organization begins), and the experience of closing the borders of the conference space during the closing plenary (when the organization ends).


Here and Now Small and Large Study Groups

Here-and-Now events use a “group-as-a-whole” context and focus on the relatedness and relations that develop in the moment. Small study groups provide an opportunity to learn about dynamics in small groups similar to teams and committees, offering an intimate configuration. The small study group consists of 12 or fewer members with one or two staff as consultants. In contrast, large study groups provide an opportunity to study the dynamics that arise in larger groups where it is more difficult to know or see every member and where group myths reflecting various assumptions can arise quickly and powerfully to impact thoughts and behavior. A team of consultants will work with the large study group. The task of the small and large study groups is to be present to the here and now of the conscious and unconscious dynamics of the group as they arise in the online space. The aim is to engage the primary task of the conference as a whole which is to study the conscious and unconscious exercise of authority. The purpose is to provide an opportunity to learn and build capacity to improve leadership.


Intersecting Systems Event

In the Intersecting Systems Event (ISE), members have an opportunity to form their own groups and determine their own group task. The ISE takes place during several sessions and provides an opportunity to study institutional forces that arise as different groups form and interact with each other. The primary task is to explore intersectionality and relatedness between and among groups and the conference system, and within the surrounding context. This event opens and closes with plenaries to cross the border into and out of the ISE system.


Silent Event/ Social Sensing Matrix

All conference participants, members, and staff participate in these events. The task of these events is to explore the state of the conference system through silence, through creative expression, and through dreams and associations. The purpose of these events is to access conscious and unconscious dynamics of the whole system through a different means and form of expression.


Role Review and Application Groups

The task of these groups is to provide members the opportunity to reflect on the roles they have taken up and their experiences in conference events and to begin to apply the learning to life outside the conference.



Staff administer and manage the conference as a whole and take up consulting roles during conference events. As administration, staff articulate the primary task, aim, and purpose, and design the conference to serve those goals. As management, staff manage the conditions of conference events, particularly in relation to time, task, and territory. Staff do not manage the participants or their behavior. Instead, participants are free to engage the primary task, aim, and purpose as they choose and as they authorize themselves and each other to do.

As consultants, staff link their own experiences to the activities of the conference and offer working hypotheses and reflections that explore the unconscious aspects of the organizational behavior that is emerging. In these roles, staff are actively involved in the life of the conference. Their interpretations focus on group level dynamics rather than on the individual and on unconscious as well as conscious dynamics.

The ways in which staff work are always open for examination. Staff for the conference will be drawn from the list below, and may include others not listed here. A final list of staff will be provided at registration.





Evangeline Sarda, JD, (she/her/hers) Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Boston College Law School; Faculty Director, Leaders Entering and Advancing Public Service (LEAPS), Prosecution Clinic, Criminal Justice Clinic; Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Treasurer, the Research and Education Collaborative with Al-Quds University. Past Postgraduate Fellow, Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis. Member; AKRI, Midwest Center, NY Center, CSGSS (former board member). Board member, Group Relations International (GRI).


Associate Director

René Molenkamp, MDiv, PhD, (he/him/his) Leadership Consultant and Executive Coach, International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland and Judge Business School, Cambridge, UK; Psychotherapist in Private Practice, San Diego; Adjunct Faculty, SOLES, University of San Diego; Fellow, the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems; Co-founder and Executive Director, Group Relations International. 


Assistant Director of Technology

Robert Hsiung, MD, DLFAPA, (he/him/his) Psychiatrist, private practice. Past Associate Professor, Psychiatry, University of Chicago. Member, CCSGO and AKRI. Board member, Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health, and past board member, American Group Psychotherapy Association. Editor, E-therapy: Case Studies, Guiding Principles, and the Clinical Potential of the Internet (Norton, 2002). Founder, Psycho-Babble online peer support group.


Assistant Director of Administration

Olive Mckeon, PhD, (she/her) Lecturer at Smith College and the University of Hartford; Board member of Grex. Graduate of UCLA's department of World Arts and Cultures / Dance. Editor-in-Chief of Dance Chronicle.



Seth Harkins (he/him/his) Principal, Harkins Educational Consulting and Advocacy.

Adjunct Professor, National Louis University, Chicago, IL. Associate and Board of Directors, AKRI. Past President and Member, Chicago Center for the Study of Groups and Organizations. Vice President and Board Member, Midwest Group Relations Center. Board Member, Illinois Community and Residential Services Authority. Board of Directors, Chicago Virtual Charter School. Executive Director and Board Member, Serenity Academy Chicago. Founding Board Member, China-American Society for the Study of Groups and Organizations. 35 years in public and private school administration. More than 30 years of Group Relations experience.


Additional Consultant Staff


Cathy Chen, CPCC (she/her) Executive Coach, Capriole Consulting Inc. Program Manager, Google LLC in Pittsburgh, PA. Member, AKRI. Member & Vice President, Grex. Volunteer, SAGE USA Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders. MA Organizational Psychology, Teacher's College Columbia University. BS Electrical Engineering, UC Berkeley.


Chris St. John, (they/them; she/her; he/him): Organization and Leadership Development Consultant, Kindling Consulting. Adjunct Lecturer, IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. Advanced Doctoral Student, Social-Organizational Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. Member of The New York Center for the Study of Groups, Organizations & Social Systems. Certified group relations consultant with The A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems.


Janice Wagner, LICSW is a Psychotherapist in Boston, MA. She maintains a private practice where she provides psychotherapy, clinical supervision and coaching. She is an associate of the A.K. Rice Institute, a past-president and member of the Center for the Study of Groups and Social Systems, and a member of Group Relations International. She worked for many years as a social worker, therapist, unit director and team leader in child welfare, criminal justice and medical/psychiatric settings. Additionally she worked for Boston University, Boston College and Simmons College as a Clinical Supervisor, Faculty Field advisor and Group Work instructor.


Amber Williams (they/them; she/her) Area Coordinator for Residence Management, Villanova University. B.A. dual degree in Elementa Special Education, Arcadia University. M.A. in Higher Education Leadership, University of San Diego. Trained facilitator in Intergroup Dialogue and Restorative Justice. Equity and Diversity workshop facilitator specializing in race relations and LGBTQ identities. Co-creator and blog curator with Group Relations International. Internal Director for the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems.



A diverse membership creates the possibility for rich learning. All who are interested are encouraged to apply and join. The conference is designed to be a single integrated educational experience. Individuals who know in advance that they are unable to attend all sessions are   discouraged from applying. Anyone who must leave for any reason is requested to inform the administration.

Special note: The conference is an educational endeavor and does not provide psychotherapy or sensitivity training. Although the experiential learning available can be stimulating and enriching, it can be emotionally demanding as well. Thus, applicants who are ill or experiencing   significant personal difficulties should forgo participating at this time.


Continuing Education

The conference has been approved for 18.5 Social Work Continuing Education hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 258 CMR. NASW-MA Chapter CE Approving Program, Authorization Number D 81339. Please email Olive McKeon at no later than December 10 if you are seeking credit.


Conference Dates and Times

December 15-18, 2020

6:00 PM to 10:00 PM EST


December 19, 2020

8:00 AM to 1:30 PM EST


Conference Fee          $300


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