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The National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes

Breakout Session Descriptions

2022 Osher Institutes National Conference

Breakout Session Descriptions

Tuesday, 2:30 – 3:15pm

The More Things Change...

New staff, new volunteer leadership, new strategic plan, new campus or class venue, new schedule, new registration system—who knew that change would be such a constant? Change is inevitable and often beyond the control of Osher Institute staff and volunteers. However, preparing for change, making the case for change, supporting everyone who will be affected by the change, communicating the necessity for change, and leading an Institute forward successfully are all things that can be controlled—most of the time. In this session, participants will look at strategies to smooth the way.


Cate O’Hara, Director, OLLI @ University of Cincinnati



Using Creativity to Lead Your OLLI

Whether a staff leader or a volunteer leader, all roles present challenges that require creative, sometimes non-traditional solutions. In this session, Institute leaders will learn how to tap into their creativity to solve problems, provide alternative perspectives, and inspire new strategies to challenges. Participants will explore ways to unleash their creative genius and use it to grow ideas that will inspire coworkers, teams, leaders, and volunteers to think bigger and do better.


Jill Wagner, Executive Director, OLLI @ California State University, Fresno


Technology: What Worked (And What Didn't) 

Technology is always changing and evolving. Osher Institutes are often seeking technological innovations to assist in classroom, administration, or member engagement, but new technology isn’t as easy as one-size-fits-all. In this session, five Institute leaders will discuss their challenges and successes in experimentation with technology. Learn what worked, and what didn’t, and what might work for your OLLI.


Chris Elliott, Director, OLLI @ University of Oklahoma

Tim Meehan, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of Georgia

Carole Mandryk, Director, OLLI @ University of Hawai’i at Mānoa


Discover and Attract Quality Facilitators/Instructors

High quality facilitators/instructors are a key component to the success of Osher Institute classes and discussion groups. Engaging facilitators can ensure excellent content and member enjoyment and can contribute greatly to the overall satisfaction of members. But how can Institutes find and attract winning facilitators? In this session, three Institute leaders will discuss their methods for discovering and attracting facilitators who offer superior content, engagement, and presence.


Peggy Watson, Director, OLLI @ University of Richmond

Ara Rogers, Director, OLLI @ University of South Florida



Foster Outreach and Growth at Your OLLI

The most effective outreach and membership growth methods are formed and maintained with strategy and care. In this session, participants will explore the development of productive partnerships including collaborations with community organizations, and other outreach techniques. Learn the benefits of these partnerships, including attraction of new instructors, development of unique courses and venues, increased community and campus connections, and, ultimately, growing the Institute’s membership.


Stephanie Reinke, Director, OLLI @ University of North Texas

Pat Walker, Director, OLLI @ Kennesaw State University

Megan Whilden, Executive Director, OLLI @ Berkshire Community College



Tuesday, 4:00 – 5:15pm

Effective Online Instruction Pedagogy

Although many Institutes were forced into online education due to the pandemic, most plan to continue online offerings into the future. Now that OLLIs have overcome most technology hurdles, they can explore new or effective teaching methods. What constitutes effective pedagogy in online teaching? What does engagement look like in online environments? How can an Institute improve the online learning experience? Join this group of online educators as they discuss their online teaching philosophy in this panel discussion.


Pat Gannon, Director, OLLI @ Colorado State University

Anousheh Shayestehpour, Program Manager, OLLI @ University of California, Los Angeles

 Aaron A Santis, Program Lead, Senior Planet, Colorado


Jeanette Toohey, Director, OLLI @University of North Florida


Insights into Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is vital to an Institute’s ongoing success. It provides structure to define and execute change, operations, and the use of resources. Join OLLI directors who have recently engaged in strategic planning or updating of Institute processes. This workshop gives participants the opportunity to discuss effective strategic planning models while engaging with others in small groups to develop and design plan elements. Participants will gain immediate practice and tangible essentials to bring home to their own Osher Institute strategic planning work.  


Patricia Berlowe, Director, OLLI @ Yavapai College

Rick Rokosv, Leadership Council Vice Chair/Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, OLLI @ Yavapai College

Jim Hermelbracht, Director, OLLI @ University of Massachusetts, Boston

Tracy Jacobs, Director, OLLI @ Towson University

Julie Mitchell, Executive Director for Special Programs and Continuing Education, OLLI @ University of Dayton


What You Really Need to Know to Ask for Money In Person

Many organizations leave money on the table because they look for donors in the wrong places, overlooking people right in front of them, or asking for the wrong amount at the wrong time. In this highly interactive workshop, Diane Lebson and OLLI directors will help participants identify who they should be asking and how they should be asking them.  Participants will learn how to build a fundraising team, how to move past anxiety about asking, and how to create a successful solicitation. 


Diane Lebson, CEO & Co-Founder, Evergreen Philanthropic Solutions

Jennifer Juanitas, Program Director, OLLI @ University of the Pacific

Rob Levrant, Director, OLLI @ University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Effective Marketing Techniques

An effective marketing strategy is integral to an OLLI’s achievement of both business and programmatic goals. The most effective marketing strategies are those which incorporate creative, measurable, and efficient techniques and events. In this session, six Osher Institute leaders will share inventive ideas that have proven successful at their OLLIs.


Breanne Delligatti, Program Director, OLLI @ Stony Brook University

Natalie Lecher, Director, OLLI @ University of Washington

Jennifer Disano, Executive Director, OLLI @ George Mason University

Bob Michl, Director, OLLI @ University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Kristen C Kennedy, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of Nevada, Reno

Kevin Connaughton, Manager of Adult Learning, The National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes


Language Matters: Sensitivity Education and Training

There is an ever-growing recognition that the language used in education is important and rapidly evolving. Although some debate the degree to which language should be reined in, a consensus has emerged that the language used in interpersonal communication should be inclusive and free of bias. In this workshop, participants will explore the importance of language-sensitive communications and the impact it has on members, marketing, and the community of learners. Attendees will participate in activities designed to raise their consciousness of inclusive communication.


Catherine Frank, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of North Carolina at Asheville

Megan Novak, Director, OLLI @ Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Kristin L. Deal, Director, Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Adjunct Faculty, Morgridge College of Education, The University of Denver


Wednesday, 10:00 – 11:15am

Achieve a Culture of Member Volunteer Engagement

A culture of volunteer engagement is important to any Osher Institute. OLLI leaders universally need to maximize their volunteer resources for their Institute’s efficient operations. However, it can be difficult to understand your current volunteer culture and to harness its potential. In this workshop, participants will assess their culture of volunteer engagement, learn how to nurture a robust culture of volunteerism, and set the stage to strengthen its volunteer corps. Volunteer engagement consultant, author, and speaker Beth Steinhorn will lead this workshop with insights from a successful OLLI director and his volunteer leader from an OLLI with a successful volunteer culture.


Beth Steinhorn, President, VQ Volunteer Strategies, Denver, CO


Lifelong Un-Learning: A Framework for Collaboratively Addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Your OLLI

Join three OLLI staff leaders as they discuss how they collaborated to un-learn what they know about systemic inequity. The group formed an Un-Learning Circle to dive deeply into uncomfortable, vulnerable, and difficult anti-racist and intersectional work within their Osher Institutes. In this workshop, participants will learn how these leaders developed their framework and how participants can develop their own Un-Learning Circle. Activities will provide participants with a “circle” experience to identify next steps in their own critical diversity, equity, and inclusion work at their Institutes.


Jim Hermelbracht, Director, OLLI @ University of Massachusetts, Boston

Chris McLeod, Director, OLLI @ Duke University

Kevin Connaughton, Manager of Adult Learning, The National Resource Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes


What Makes OLLIs Work?

Although numerous factors combine to make each unique Osher Institute program excel, there are four foundational pillars that contribute to the overall success of an OLLI. These are practical financial management, robust volunteerism, constructive university/college relationships, and fruitful community outreach. These efforts are the pillars that strengthen an OLLI and hold it upright. In this session, four Osher Institute directors with demonstrated effectiveness in a particular pillar will examine their methods and successes. Learn about and discuss methods to fortify an Institute’s pillars from these strong program approaches.


Tony Long, Director, OLLI @ American University

Fiona de Merell, Program Director, OLLI @ University of Connecticut

Ann Nikolai, Program Director, OLLI @ California State University, Chico

Dana Thorp Patterson, Director, Osher Institute @ Boise State University


Take Care of Yourself and Your OLLI

The impact of the pandemic was felt especially in the area of personal wellness. The physical, mental, and emotional well-being of members, staff, and leadership rose as a top priority among many Institutes. As a result, many Institutes realized that wellness is essential to an OLLI’s success and incorporated various techniques ranging from group therapy to mindfulness apps. In this workshop, participants will hear how several OLLIs managed and encouraged personal wellness at their Institutes. Additionally, participants will engage in techniques to assist in the wellness needs of their own and their Institute’s members.


Lynn Provenzano, Director, OLLI @ The University of Texas, El Paso

Magda Vergara, Director, OLLI @ University of Miami

Leslie K. Hasche, Ph.D., M.S.W., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor - Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver


Research Across the OLLI Network

Research can be an important component of an Institute’s relationship with its host university. Many Institutes perform, collaborate, or assist in research, often finding positive social capital results. Is your Osher Institute looking to find or expand its research opportunities? If so, then join these OLLI leaders for a discussion of successful strategies for research, ways to engage with research, and how to present research activities.


Rick Knopf, Director, OLLI @ Arizona State University

Julie Vidotto, Director, OLLI @ Clemson University

Susan Hoffman, Director, OLLI @ University of California, Berkeley


Craig Talmage, Assistant Professor, Hobart and William Smith Colleges