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An Invitation to Practice: Finding Authentic Leadership in the Moment Group Discussion

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When:Wednesday, 24 October | 09:00 - 16:00 | FULL DAY
Where: Palm Beach County Convention Center - 2F & Offsite in the Afternoon
Ticket Price: ILA members - $75 | non-members - $100
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This full-day, experiential session is a beginner's introduction to improvisation and its application to authentic leadership. (No improv experience necessary!) The morning exercises will help us build presence, awareness, possibility, and collaboration through practice and experiencing a set of tools. We will create a learning space that allows for us to stretch, be spontaneous, and perhaps even accidental in our expression of who we are, what we want and what we believe. Applied to leadership (especially emotionally intelligent leadership and authentic expressions of leadership), these experiences will help us cultivate a deeper awareness of ourselves, one another, and our broader context. The afternoon segment will take our newly acquired skills out into the everyday world—applying the improvisational mindset to a solo exploration of West Palm Beach on foot. (Bring comfortable shoes!) By applying a mindset of presence for an extended period, we'll explore what happens when we intentionally apply an improvisational approach to our observations and interactions. The final part of the afternoon will bring us back together and, through facilitated dialogue and storytelling, we will debrief our experience, reflections, and insights as they relate to our lives, our work, and the broader conference themes.

For more information, download the long description.

  Who Should Attend?

Anyone interested in learning about and practicing an improvisational mindset for leadership and in their everyday life.

What Will Attendees Gain?

Attendees will take away:

  • Awareness Practices: Noticing ourselves, others, and our context in a clear and present way facilitates greater understanding and creates possibilities.
  • Ambiguity Practice: The nature of improvisation invites us to immerse ourselves in unfamiliar environments and learn from them in a first-person way.
  • Adaptability Practice: Because nothing is predictable, we're challenged to adapt our approach, shift gears as new information is presented, and move forward without all the information necessary.
  • Resilience Practice: Building tiny habits that help us bounce back or recover from small setbacks and challenges will better prepare us to lean into future adversity

Track: Leadership Development

Workshop Leaders & Presenters

Chris Esparza Marcy Shankman
Chris Esparza
University of Oregon
Marcy Levy Shankman
Cleveland Metropolitan School District


Chris Esparza currently works at the University of Oregon's Holden Center for Leadership & Community Engagement. He was first introduced to theatrical improvisation over 25 years ago. However, over the last few years, Chris has been infusing principals of improvisation into his leadership development curriculum, facilitating workshops and trainings with students, staff, and faculty on adaptability, ambiguity, change, creativity, group development, social power and status, and equity issues. Outside of work, Chris distracts himself with running, eating his comfort foods, and occasionally participating in the world's largest treasure hunt (geocaching).



Marcy Levy Shankman thrives in the challenges and opportunities that come with her role as Leadership Coach and Strategist for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She continues her consulting work with universities and nonprofit organizations on leadership and organizational development (this may be year 20!). Previous experience includes nonprofit management, teaching graduate and undergraduate students, and writing. Marcy co-authored Emotionally Intelligent Leadership: A Guide for Students, now in its second edition. She is a proud mom of two children and actively gives her time to causes in her community.



Paul Kosempel is currently Teaching Associate Professor in leadership studies at the University of Denver (DU) as well as Interim Director of the Pioneer Leadership Program. Paul joined the faculty in 2007, and soon after received his PhD in interpersonal communication from DU. His professional experience includes over twenty years in higher education in various capacities including career development, leadership development, and operations management. He is co-convener of ILA's Sustainability Leadership Learning Community. His research interests include leadership and sustainability, assessment of leadership learning outcomes, and mentoring and leadership. He is also part-owner of the Green Bay Packers Football Team.



Charles David Tauber, M.D. is a founder of the Coalition for Work with Psychotrauma and Peace and has been its Head of Mission for Southeast Europe since 1995. He developed Pragmatic Empowerment Training (PET), a participatory course in communication, psychology, civil society, non-violent conflict transformation, and human rights for people without previous education in these fields. He has given therapy and supervision to victims of war. Previously, Tauber worked with various groups in The Netherlands, assisting asylum seekers and refugees and lay volunteers. He grew up in the USA, where he worked with environmental and peace groups starting in 1966.



Sandra Marić, grew up and studied in Zagreb, Croatia. Before joining to the Coalition for Work with Psychodrama and Peace as Deputy Head of Mission for Southeast Europe in 2006, she worked extensively with children and young people in eastern Croatia. Sandra holds a Masters in Sociology from the University of Zagreb. Her role with the Coalition includes therapy, research, writing, and a wide variety of other Coalition tasks.