Learning Cafes

HR’s Employee Development and Success office is launching a new series called Learning Cafes, online sessions focused on continuing your professional and personal growth while working at home. Each one features a topic of interest, guidance from an experienced moderator, an engaging activity or reading, and time for discussion and sharing to renew your connection to the UofL family. Do you have a topic you’d like to facilitate in a learning café? Reach out to us at staffdev@louisville.edu!

Learning Cafe Schedule, register below:


Making the Day at Home with Young Children Run Smoother

Spending long days at home with children can be very challenging, particularly with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. In this café, we will discuss strategies for making days run more smoothly, creative ideas for play activities that teach, and suggestions for how to build in some peace for yourself. Dr. Jacobi-Vessels has 30 years of experience working together with young children and families and will provide opportunities for participants to share and discuss.

Facilitated by Dr. Jill Jacobi-Vessels, Director of the Early Learning Campus

May 29th, 10:30am-11:30am


Leadership Cafe: How Creative Expression Sustains Robert Barry Fleming During the Pandemic

Art, theater, and creative expression can be great tools for inspiration in these days of social distance.  Join this café to hear how Robert Barry Fleming, Louisville’s new Executive Artistic Director at Actors Theatre, is calling on his creative spirit to stay uplifted and get tips for how you can do the same.  He will also discuss how he’s thinking outside the box to continue the forward momentum of Actors. 

Facilitated by Robert Barry Fleming, Executive Artistic Director, Actors Theatre

June 2nd from 2:00pm-3:00pm


What the Protests Can Teach You About Being An Ally to People of Color

Angela Davis said “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist; we must be antiracist.“  But for many white people, it can seem hard to become an active ally and bravely confront the racism we see.  In this café, we talk with Cate Fosl, director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, and learn steps everyone can take to start the journey.  And like all learning cafes, we’ll include time to share experiences, questions, and stories to illuminate this important issue.

Facilitated by Dr. Cate Fosl, Director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research

Co-sponsored by the university’s employee resource groups (ERGs)

June 5th from 2:00pm-3:00pm


Talking to Kids About Racism, Police Violence, and the Protests

Especially during the pandemic when families are home together all day, children see the news and ask important questions about protests and racism.  How do you respond in age-appropriate ways and encourage open dialogue about difficult issues?  In this café, teachers from the JCPS CARDS program will share tips for talking to your kids about racism and offer tools to help them navigate their feelings with your support. You’ll leave feeling more prepared to have a productive conversation.

Facilitated by JCPS CARDS program teachers

Co-sponsored by the university’s employee resource groups (ERGs)

June 8th from 2:00pm-3:00pm


30-Day Sugar Detox in Quarantine – Exploring Whole30 At Home

The new norm has interrupted our normal eating habits, some for the better – some for the worse. Looking for a challenge to reset your relationship with food? In this café, Kara DeLost shares her journey on the Whole30 program and how she navigated a sugar detox during quarantine. Believe it or not, sugar is one of the worst drugs we’re all addicted to. Her experience with Whole30 helped her reset her sugar intake and other inflammatory foods that can result in low energy, sluggish brain activity, water retention, and other adverse effects. Get tips and tricks on how challenge yourself for 30 days to get increased energy, and other physical and mental wins.

Co-sponsored by Get Healthy Now "Wellness Wednesdays"

Facilitated by Kara DeLost, Associate Brand Manager at KFC & Whole30 Believer

June 10th from 1:00pm-2:00pm


Achieving a Sense of Well-being

You’re probably hearing and reading a lot about well-being these days and may be wondering just exactly what it is.   In this Learning Café with Abbie Beacham, you’ll learn a helpful model to define what well-being means for you, the science behind it, and how a sense of well-being is connected to balance in daily life.  Abby will share practical strategies to try out immediately and facilitate a conversation with café participants about how they are maintaining well-being amidst the pandemic.

Facilitated by Abbie Beacham, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist and the Director of Behavioral Science in the UofL School of Dentistry

June 11th from 10:00am-11:00am


What COVID19 Has Taught Us About Grief and Loss 

Whether it’s the rising death toll or the loss of a sense of normalcy, the pandemic is a moment of collective grief.  This cafe will look at the different forms of grief and how they might be showing up in us. Facilitator Riece Hamilton from Health Promotion will also share techniques on how to identify your feelings and deal with them in a constructive way.  Acknowledging them is an important step in healing, as well as connecting with supportive others who are part of your community of care.

Facilitated by Riece Hamilton, UofL Health Promotion, Program Coordinator Senior

June 15th from 11:00am-12:00pm


“Living Fully or FULLY Living”

This is about YOU and honoring yourself in a season of confusion, scarcity, and unknowns. When we are forced to slow down, we are forced to come face to face with ourselves and WHO we truly are: our true purpose. Whether you are discovering your purpose during this difficult time, redefining it day by day, or taking confident strides in your purpose, this is for YOU. When everything else is stripped away- who are you now? Let’s dig in together! 

Facilitated by Olivia Fitchett, Life and Leadership Coach

June 18th from 6:00pm-7:00pm


Leadership Café:  How Stephen Reily Is Leading and Making Art Accessible During the Pandemic

The Speed Art Museum is Louisville’s favorite place to experience all forms of creative expression, so what do we do when the pandemic keeps us away?  Join this Leadership Cafe to hear how the Speed’s director, Stephen Reily, is continuing to provide leadership during the strangest of times and how he stays connected and centered through his appreciation for art. Stephen will share tips for accessing the Speed’s resources virtually and additional ideas for tapping into the healing power of art.

Facilitated by Stephen Reily, Speed Art Museum Director

June 24th from 1:00pm-2:00pm

Previous Learning Cafes:

Talking to Your Kids about Furloughs

In her research on family communication during economic recessions, Dr. Kristen Lucas studied how parents talked to their children about layoffs and how those messages influenced their children into adulthood. The lessons she learned are more relevant than ever today, and in this session she will offer some tips for talking to children about the pandemic’s impact on our work lives.  Like every learning café, we’ll include lots of time to connect with others in the university family and learn from one another through stories and lessons learned.

Facilitated by:

Dr. Kristen Lucas, Associate Dean, College of Business

April 29th from 10:00am-11:00am


Learning While at Home

Continuing to “sharpen your ax” while managing the challenges of working at home can be challenging.  In fact, it takes a well-constructed plan to make sure you continue to grow and learn regardless of the circumstances around you.  In this learning café, we’ll offer tools for creating your own strategic learning plan, tell you about some free resources you can call upon, and provide plenty of time to share ideas and encouragement with others from the university family (a highlight of every learning café!) 

Facilitated by:

Virginia Denny, Executive Director of Integrated Corporate Programs, College of Business

Brian Buford, Director of Employee Development and Success

May 1st from 11:30am-12:30pm


Meditation basics:  Discovering your Peace, Calm, and Stillness

This learning café will introduce you to the concept of meditation as an exercise to unlock peacefulness, calmness, and stillness during stressful times.  With over 35 years’ experience as a meditation teacher, Jessie Morgan will introduce you to the concept of meditation, lead a brief practice, and include lots of time for questions and conversation.  He will also discuss the concept of mindfulness, and how meditation and mindfulness together can create a healthy mind-set and purposeful action.  Like all learning cafes, this session will include resources to help you keep going as a new meditator.  If learning to relax and be peaceful is one of your goals, then this is the introduction for you.

Facilitated by Jessie Morgan, Manager, Get Healthy Now

May 4th from 2:30pm-3:30pm


Creating Communities of Care Through Employee Resource Groups             

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can play an important role in creating a support system for employees, fostering friendships at work, and reducing feelings of isolation around our identities.They  are also important professional networking spaces and can help us navigate our way through a complex university system.  Join this café to hear how UofL’s six ERGs are creating a community of care for their members and how you can get involved (even remotely!) to enhance your university work experience.   Representatives from each ERG will share briefly about their work and will leave plenty of time for questions and connecting, a feature of every Learning Café.

Facilitated by HR’s Employee Development and Success Office

May 7th from 2:00pm-3:00pm


Event Planning and Production in a COVID-19 World

Are you scrambling to re-think the events you had planned for the rest of the year? Joey Wagner has produced some of the biggest events in Louisville for the last 20 years, and currently teaches a course in event planning in UofL’s Communication Department. This cafe will feature Joey’s secrets to producing a successful event and advice on adapting your upcoming events in response to the pandemic. 

Facilitated by Joey Wagner, Owner of the J Wagner Group (Events, Marketing, PR, & Multimedia) &  Professor of COMM 301 Event Planning - Department of Communications

May 13th from 1:00pm-2:00pm


Keeping Your Team Engaged: Planning for the Future and Leading Remotely

Engagement has never been more important to our community. We need engagement at high levels, in all areas, from all teams. Our University depends on it. For UofL to be a great place to learn, work, and invest, engagement remains a critical resources of time and energy. But, how do you engage your team remotely, and what drives engagement now that we are social distancing. Join Dr. Brad Shuck for a fun, engaging, and hopeful conversation about what engagement means today, what it might look like when we return, and how you can engage your teams today in the remote environment.

Facilitated by Dr. Brad Shuck, Associate Professor, Program Director, Human Resources and Organizational Development, & Assistant Chair, Educational Leadership, Evaluation, and Organizational Development

May 18th from 11:00am-12:00pm


The Trust Equation:  How Do You Measure Up?

All great relationships are built on the foundation of trust.  Building trust takes time and concerted effort.  Now, more than ever, trust is critical with our colleagues, students, customers, and friends as it is even more difficult with our “shelter-in-place” lifestyle. Without the capability to be in person with others, we have to focus on our actions and words even more carefully.  Join this Learning Café to understand the components of the Trust Equation, a model created by David Maister in his book, The Trusted Advisor.   It is a simple way to create strategies to become even more trusted during this time, leading to even stronger relationships.

Facilitated by Dr. Kathy Gosser, Executive-In-Residence & Director of Franchise Management Program

May 19th from 10:30am-11:30am


How Your Journaling Practice Can Lead You to Joy and Gratitude

In his essay collection, "The Book of Delights," Ross Gay journals daily about a moment that delighted him. He soon finds his daily delights increasing as he learns to pay closer attention to the joy that can be found in the little things. Research tells us that practicing gratitude has many benefits: helps us feel more positive, improves health, increases resiliency and builds stronger relationships. Writer and Director of the Spalding Creative Writing BFA program, Minda Reves will share Gay's work and help you begin your own daily practice of expressing thanks through writing.

Facilitated by Minda Reeves, Director of the Spalding Creative Writing BFA program

May 22nd from 10:00am-11:00am


Music as Medicine for the Soul During Tough Times

“ Where words fail, music speaks.” said Hans Christian Andersen.  In a time when it’s difficult to manage our anxiety, music can be a healing force and help us feel calm and centered.  Harry Pickens will share his own story of turning to his favorite music during the pandemic and how he’s inspiring others to find their own musical balm.  Like every learning café, there will be time to connect with others and to share special stories and tunes that have sustained you over the last few months.

Facilitated by Harry Pickens, Author, Educator, Composer, & Pianist

May 26th from 9:00am-10:00am


Money Saving Ideas 

Saving money and managing our budgets don’t have to be a hassle, even in times like these.  In this session, learn some stress-free ways you can save money and meet your personal financial goals.  Christina Reed will provide practical money saving ideas that only require making small changes in your lifestyle while also utilizing your resources. You’ll also learn what other university employees are doing in their households to save money.

Facilitated by Christina Reed, Human Resources Business Partner

May 27th from 10:00am-11:00am


 Forget about Networking!  Relationships are the Real Key!

How many times have you been told that you need to “network” more?  That mere suggestion makes many introverts shudder in horror.  Some imagine it means attending events with your business cards and handing them out like M&Ms.  There…you’ve networked!  Uh…not really….that is why “networking” sometimes has a bad name. When professionals discuss networking, the intent is building relationships, not just the perfunctory distribution of your business cards.  Relationships vs "networking" is what will make a difference to your career and honestly, your life.  Networking implies just meeting people in case you need them in the future.  Nurturing real relationships is critical and takes more time but will be mutually beneficial. In this Learning Café, you will learn some simple tips on meeting people and building lasting relationships with them that will be helpful to both parties.

Facilitated by Dr. Kathy Gosser, Executive-In-Residence & Director of Franchise Management Program

May 28th from 9:00am-10:00am