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2023 Osher Institutes National Conference

Breakout Session Descriptions

2023 Osher Institutes National Conference

Breakout Session Descriptions

Tuesday, October 17, 8:15 – 9:30am

The Big Brainstorm: Marketing

Energize yourself with an invigorating workshop brainstorming marketing ideas. Facilitators will present and lead activities in three areas: branding, value of membership, and marketing strategies. The workshop will seek to answer questions such as: How does an OLLI effectively brand in line with university guidelines? How can branding and marketing resources reach more potential members? How can membership benefits be used as marketing tools? And what are the physical and digital strategies to effectively market Osher programming? This is a collaborative session, allowing ample time for participants to create and discuss ideas.


Daniel Banyai, Director, OLLI @ California State University Channel Islands

Chris McLeod, Director, OLLI @ Duke University

Jennifer Disano, Executive Director, OLLI @ George Mason University


Hot Topics in Curriculum

Innovator and author Tom Peters once said, “Swipe from the best, then adapt.” This session will make it easy to swipe from some great OLLI programming as multiple Institute leaders share their most creative courses, along with inspiring ideas on innovative presentation models. The “Hot Topics” format will call for six rapid-fire presentations, followed by lively questions and answers from all session participants to engage, adapt, and refine these creative ideas for other OLLIs. Help pay the ultimate compliment of using these clever presenters’ ideas.


Patricia Berlowe, Director, OLLI @ Yavapai College

Diane Donnelly, Volunteer Leader, OLLI @ Montana State University

Bette Felton, Volunteer Leader, OLLI @ California State University, East Bay

Jared Swerzenski, Director, OLLI @ Arizona State University

Fawn Supernaw, Director, OLLI @ California State University, Dominguez Hills

Josh Raney, Director, OLLI @ University of Arkansas


Osher Institute Collaborations

Collaboration in all its forms has become a key component of success for Osher Institutes. Although a wide-ranging topic, OLLI collaborations can be divided into three main types: host university collaborations; community, other colleges, or local business collaborations; and collaborations between multiple OLLIs. This workshop will delve into collaborative events, curriculum and courses, instruction, intergenerational activities, and partnerships. It will also focus on how to foster the key relationships that lead to success for all sides of a collaborative alliance.


Cristen Ruth Newman, Director, OLLI @ California State University, East Bay

Kate Schaefers, Director, OLLI @ University of Minnesota

Robbin Davis, Director, OLLI @ Oklahoma State University


Successful Membership Recovery

Membership growth remains a top priority for those Institutes recovering from pandemic losses. In this workshop, discussions will revolve around four key elements of membership recovery. These elements include methods for regaining members, finding balance in self-sustainment, membership engagement and tracking, as well as how to return to or surpass pre-pandemic numbers.


Kelly Jane Rosenblatt, Program Director, The Bernard Osher Foundation


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

Phyllis Brown, Director, OLLI @ Ringling College of Art and Design

Breanne Delligatti, Program Director, OLLI @ Stony Brook University


The Role of the Donor

Why do donors donate? In this session, participants will learn from the perspectives of a donor sharing their motivation for continued contribution to their local Institute, as well as from an OLLI director and advancement professional on how to engage potential or current donors in a meaningful way. Participants will then explore how these donors can be utilized to engage other members and discover what is meaningful to donors in the forms of fundraising campaigns, legacy giving, and general communication. 


Michelle Riggio, Executive Director, Continuing Education and Professional Development, OLLI @ Bradley University

Hart Roussel, Senior Director, Planned Giving, California State University, Fullerton

Mark Nadel, Volunteer/Board Chair, OLLI @ American University


Tuesday, October 17, 2:15 – 3pm

The Dos and Don'ts of a Multiformat Classroom

Multiformat (hybrid) courses are gaining popularity in Osher Institutes as they rebound and rebuild from the pandemic. While many members are excited to get back to in-person sessions, others have come to expect and appreciate the comfort, safety, and convenience of Zooming. In this session, participants will learn effective practices for a multiformat classroom, what situations are best avoided, and the roles and expectations of the instructor, participants, facilitator, and Zoom hosts. Presenters will include discussion of technology, pedagogy, and customer service.


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

Dolores Ward Cox, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of Nevada, Reno


The Cultural Shift

Many factors and methods are involved in managing the culture of an OLLI. How do OLLI leaders approach shifting demographics, perspectives, and behaviors of OLLI members, volunteers, and staff? How do they approach new structure systems, changes within the university, and overall administration? The culture within an OLLI is ever evolving, especially in the past three years, and leadership must evolve and adapt with it. This session will explore the various aspects of these shifts, how to approach the management of these groups, and how to evolve with your OLLI into the future. 


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

Edward Abeyta, Associate Dean, University of California, San Diego

Kelly Jordan, Advisory Committee Chair, OLLI at Washington University in St. Louis


Trips and Travel: EduTourism

From day trips to international travel, education-based tourism (EduTourism) is a popular supplement to many OLLIs programming. The educational value, member interest, and marketing benefits make EduTourism an attractive addition to an Osher Institute’s offerings. In recent years, numerous OLLIs paused their travel programs but are now looking to restart or revive this area of programming. In this session, presenters will explore planning and execution, working with travel companies (local and beyond), and tying travel into courses and curriculum.


Beth Leconte, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of Rhode Island

Julie Vidotto, Director, OLLI @ Clemson University

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


Bring'em On In! The OLLI Open House

Whatever you call it, “OLLI Open House,” “An OLLI Sampler,” “A Taste of OLLI,” “An OLLI Showcase,” the goal is the same: entice current members to renew and promote the program to potential new members. Many OLLIs use these singular events as tools for marketing, retention, recognition, and community. In this session, presenters will discuss their varied events, what made them successful, and what you can do to improve your own open house events.


Kat Bohr-Buresh, Coordinator, OLLI @ Casper College

Fiona de Merell, Director, OLLI @ University of Connecticut

Meredith Naughton, Director, OLLI @ Colorado State University


Fostering Volunteer and Staff Relationships

Osher Institute leaders know the imperative value of a strong and functional volunteer corps. Fostering productive volunteer and staff relationships is the key. But this is both an art and a developed skill on both sides of the relationship. Through the perspectives of two volunteer leaders and two Osher Institute directors, this panel will explore the sometimes-sensitive questions submitted by attendees. A pre-session survey where participants can submit questions will frame the perspectives of the attendees registered for the session as the moderator interviews the panel.


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


Nancy Kennedy, Director, OLLI @ Furman University

Mary Szaroleta, Director, OLLI @ Eckerd College

Jim Roselle, Volunteer Leader, OLLI @ Northwestern University

Dr. Alice Waagan, Volunteer/Council Chair, OLLI @ University of Richmond


Wednesday, October 18, 8 – 9:15am

Variety is the Spice of Life! Creating an Appealing Mix of Program Offerings

Creating a robust set of offerings for your OLLI can be a difficult task. How do you provide a variety of educationally balanced subject material that appeals to your members? How do you balance the modalities (online, in-person, hybrid) or juggle the times offered (days, evenings, weekends)? How do you reach multiple generations of learners, specifically attracting the incoming Gen X audience? In this session, participants will learn from presenters and then gather together in small groups to further explore these topics and share ideas.


Janet Gillow, Director, OLLI @ Washington University in St. Louis

Tracy Jacobs, Director, OLLI @ Towson University

Jascenna Haislet, Director, OLLI @ West Virginia University


Promoting an Inclusive Culture: Topics in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Inclusiveness is foundational in addressing DEI related issues. How can an OLLI cultivate an inclusive culture? In this workshop, participants will collaborate on topics related to DEI through the lens of inclusiveness. The facilitators will hold short presentations and then moderate rotating breakout groups for discussions. Participants will come away from this workshop with a greater understanding as well as methods to promote inclusiveness at their Osher Institute.


Angela Bingham, Director, OLLI @ University of Michigan

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

Jim Hermelbracht, Director, OLLI @ University of Massachusetts


Reinvigorating Volunteer Leadership

The past few years have been difficult for many, including Osher Institute volunteers. Experiencing lower volunteer numbers to volunteer burn-out, many OLLI leaders are needing to reinvigorate volunteers and reimagine volunteer roles at their Institutes. As a result, these leaders are employing new processes, activities, and techniques to achieve higher levels of volunteer engagement. Participants will explore using retreats, procedural changes, redefined roles, recognition, and other effective methods of engaging volunteers.


Bobbi Geise, Director, OLLI @ Montana State University

Peggy Watson, Director, Osher Institute @ University of Richmond 

Veronica Maxwell, Director, OLLI @ University of South Florida


Mindful Leadership

Mindful leadership is a leadership style in which managers learn how to consciously cultivate their ability to be present, open-minded, and compassionate when interacting with their team members – and they show this same care and consideration to themselves and their OLLI members. In this workshop, Cassandra Vieten, a presenter on mindful leadership from the Center for Mindfulness at the University of California San Diego, will lead discussion with the assistance of two Institute directors who put this style of leadership into practice in their local OLLIs.


Lyn Provenzano, Executive Director, OLLI @ University of Texas, El Paso 

Scott Bishop, Director, OLLI @ Auburn University

Cassandra Vieten, PhD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Director, Center for MindfulnessCenters for Integrative Health
Director of Research and Development, Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human ImaginationClinical Psychology Director, Psychedelics and Health Research Initiative
University of California, San Diego


Instructor Training, Recruitment and Coaching for Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning has evolved over the last few years. Through this evolution, the role of the instructor has changed. In this session, presenters will review the ins and outs of hybrid instruction. This includes identifying and recruiting the right instructors for hybrid course delivery, training instructors, facilitation and teaching tips, and evaluation and coaching. This session will present concepts on instructor issues along with interactive elements.


Jeanette Toohey, Director, OLLI @ University of North Florida

Pat Walker, Director of Community and Professional Programs, OLLI @ Kennesaw State University

Amy Keith, Director, OLLI @ University of North Carolina Wilmington