Schedule of Sessions: WISR’s 9th Annual Conference

A Multidisciplinary Conference Celebrating Multiculturalism and Social Justice: WISR’s 9th Annual Conference.

This year’s Annual Conference will focus on themes of resiliency, trauma- informed care, social justice through human dignity and the use expressive arts therapies.

This year’s WISR Annual Conference is part of the week of Nationwide Nonviolent Actions organized by Campaign Nonviolence.

WISR is proud to be joined by the following co-sponsors of this year’s conference:  

  • Campaign Nonviolence: Building a Culture of Peace
  • Think Round Fine Arts Foundation
  • The Tanya Project: Medical-Legal Partnership for Women with Breast and Reproductive Cancers
  • And Then They Came for Us: A Film by Abby Ginzberg and Ken Schneider Featuring George Takei
  • The Choice: Embrace the Impossible, A Memoir by Dr. Edith Eva Eger
  • Aisla Gallery Online
  • Chuck Three Productions: Composers and Schools in Concert
  • The WISR Scholar Fund
  • Ardicare Foundation: Turning the Tide of Trauma
  • The New Workplace Institute: Promoting Healthy, Productive and Socially Responsible Workplaces
  • Together We Stand: Dismantling Racism, Discrimination, and Police Brutality through education, advocacy, and legislation
  • Davillier-Sloan Labor Management Consultants; WISR Board Member and Doctoral Student, Jake Sloan, author of Standing Tall: Willie Long and the Mare Island Original 21ers
  • Center for Critical Environmental and Global Literacy (CCEGL)
  • Bookshop West Portal (San Francisco)
  • The Ecumenical Peace Institute (Berkeley)

Saturday Evening’s Featured Session–Keynote Speakers, Book Signing and Film Screening will be at the Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street, two blocks from Union Square in San Francisco.

All other sessions will be at the Western Institute for Social Research [ ], 2930 Shattuck Ave., Suite 300, Berkeley, near Ashby and Shattuck.


For More Details about the Content of Each Session and Bios for the Presenters, click here.

Thursday, September 21

5 pm: Check In, Welcome Gathering

6 pm to 8:00 pm: Opening Session–“Narcissism, Trauma and Resilience” Ronald Mah, MFT, PhD, WISR Faculty Member and “Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism” Danish Qasim, WISR Master’s Student.  Presentations followed by Discussion.

Friday, September 22

9 am: Check In, Welcome Gathering.

9:30 am to 11:30 am: “Self-Empowerment in the Face of Emotional Trauma”  Larry Berkelhammer, PhD, WISR Alumnus, and David Young, PhD

11:30 am to 1:00 pm: Lunch Break and Socializing

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm: Panel on Racism, Discrimination and Social Justice. Presentations followed by Discussion  

  • Sevgi Fernandez, WISR Master’s Student and Board Member, and Founder of “Together We Stand” dedicated to dismantling racism and discrimination.
  • Heather Watkins, MFTI, Alumnus of WISR’s MFT program on Racism and Trauma
  • John Bilorusky, PhD, WISR Faculty Member Since 1975 on “What I’ve Learned from WISR Students and Alumni about Racism and Discrimination and Paths toward Social Justice”
  • [Unable to Participate as Previously Planned: Richard Lawrence, MDiv, 1960s Civil Rights Activist and currently Affordable Housing Advocate, San Diego.]

3:00 pm to 3:30 pm: Break

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm: Celebrate the 100th Birthday of the Late WISR Board Member and internationally respected Chilean Scholar, Poet and Activist, Fernando Alegria. 

  • Remembrances of Fernando, and discussion of his legacy, will be led by WISR Board member, Marcia Campos, MA, who advocates for further connections between the US and Latin American countries and for a world free of threat of nuclear annihilation. 
  • Showing of the Film, Viva Chile M, on the life and work of Fernando Alegria, produced by the filmmakers WISR PhD alumnus, Uwe Blesching and Marcia Campos.

5:30 pm to 6:30 pm:  Dinner Break and Socializing

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm:  Showing of the Film, In Utero, with an introduction by the filmmaker, Oana Marcu, PhD, NASA Astrobiologist and Systems-Oriented Traumatologist, followed by a discussion after the film.   In Utero is a 40 minute documentary which examines the connection between the science of epigenetics and the impact of “unconscious” memories throughout our lives.

Saturday, September 23

9 am: Check In, Welcome Gathering.

9:30 am to 11:30 am: Multidisciplinary WISR Student Panel and Discussion on “Memoir Writing, Personal Transformation and Social Change”

  • Sajad Shakoor, WISR Doctoral Student and MS Alumnus–beyond trauma to transformative education and leadership development among incarcerated and previously incarcerated people.
  • Christy Whitten, WISR Doctoral Student, Traveling Nurse and Life Coach
  • Gabriela Hofmeyer, WISR Master’s Student, Disability Rights Activist, Artist and Engineer
  • John Bilorusky, PhD, Panel Moderator, WISR President and Co-Founder–writing in one’s own voice to connect personal experiences with “the bigger picture”

11:30 am to 12:30 pm Lunch Break and Socializing

12:30 pm to 2:00 pm: Honored Guest Presenter, Sharon Caringal, Coordinator, Graduate Program of Arts and Sciences and Continuing Education,
and Office for Institutional Linkages, and Assistant Professor of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines. “Developing Resilience in Conflict-Affected Communities” Presentation followed by Discussion.

2:00 pm to 6:00 pm Break–relax and travel to San Francisco for Featured Saturday Evening Program at Marines Memorial Theater.

6:00 pm to 7:30 pm: Keynote Address and Other Speakers. 

  • Dr. Edith Eger, Keynote Speaker.  Dr. Eger is a renown international speaker, and best selling  author. She will share her inspiring story as a survivor of Auschwitz, and her incredible journey from Hungary to the United States, where she has risen to become an Eminent Psychologist, Best Selling Author, Human Dignity Advocate, and inspiring International Speaker. Dr. Eger has been featured on Oprah, TED Talks, and most recently offered the keynote for the California Legislature Annual Caucus. Edith Eger was sixteen years old when the Nazis came to her hometown in Hungary and took her Jewish family to an internment center and then to Auschwitz. Her parents were sent to the gas chamber by Joseph Mengele soon after they arrived at the camp. Hours later Mengele demanded that Edie dance a waltz to “The Blue Danube” and rewarded her with a loaf of bread that she shared with her fellow prisoners. These women later helped save Edie’s life. One of the few living Holocaust survivors to remember the horrors of the camps, Edie has chosen to forgive her captors and find joy in her life every day. She combines her clinical knowledge and her own experiences with trauma to help others who have experienced painful events large and small.Dr. Eger’s message is powerful and important:Your pain matters and is worth healing: you can choose to be joyful and free.” At the end of the first half of the evening’s session, Dr. Edie will be available to sign her new book, The Choice.  The Choice weaves Eger’s personal story with case studies from her work as a psychologist. Her patients and their stories illustrate different phases of healing and show how people can choose to escape the prisons they construct in their minds and find freedom, regardless of circumstance.
  • Other Speakers include:
    • David Yamada, JD, PhD, WISR Doctoral Alumnus and Professor of Law at Suffolk University in Boston and Director of the New Workplace Institute there.  Dr. Yamada is an internationally recognized authority on workplace bullying and he will discuss the intersection of workplace bullying and mobbing behaviors with psychological trauma.
    • Diana Canant and Heidi Hardin will present their work in developing a global grassroots community care initiative, Turning the Tide, a movement designed as a non-pathologizing, non-medical approach to using the innate wisdom we all have within us to heal, recover and build resiliency.  The Center for Human Family Paradise Project envisions a global movement wherein the innate wisdom of all the world’s cultures and peoples come together as one human family through the Expressive Arts, Grassroots Educational Initiatives and Global Conflict Resolution.

7:30 to 8:00 pm: Intermission and Book Signing

8:00 to 9:30 pm: Special Film Screening, And Then They Came for Us, along with a discussion by educator, activist and filmmaker, Satsuki Ina, PhD, who will present this work as a pioneering filmmaker and social justice advocate.  

  • As members of the Trump administration have raised the specter of a Muslim registry and instituted a immigration ban against people from Muslim majority countries, they have cited the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II as the precedent. As the documentary, And Then They Came for Us, demonstrates, the registration and incarceration of Japanese Americans was one of the worst violations of constitutional rights in American history. The U.S. government lied about the threat of espionage to justify the incarceration. Not a single person was ever convicted of espionage or treason. As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 which was signed by President Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942, the film documents through the use of photos taken by Dorothea Lange and others, the damage this order did to 120,000 people, two thirds of whom were American citizens. Featuring George Takei and many others who were incarcerated, And Then They Came for Us, … Written by Social Action Media

Sunday, September 24

10:00 am to 1:00 pm:  Dr. Edith Eger presents a Workshop on Resilience and Forgiveness and Clinical Practice. 

  • All are welcome to register for this event. CEU credits, through affiliated groups and WISR, are available for Educators, Health Care Professionals, Therapists and Counselors.

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm or perhaps later . . . WISR Closing Reception–refreshments and snacks–Good-byes, words of appreciation, socializing, open discussion for collaboration and follow up beyond the conference.