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:

August Learning Cafes


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

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

Learning Café:  Tips for Projecting a Professional Virtual Presence

Part of the new normal includes hosting more virtual meetings and conversations, but how do we project a professional presence online?  In this café, we will discuss being more self-aware, identifying communication cues, managing our appearance, potential ethical issues, and tools for maintaining privacy while utilizing the communication platforms.

Facilitated by Carcyle Barrett, Paralegal, Office of University Counsel

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

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

Learning Cafe: Does my vote REALLY count?

As we prepare for the November elections, someone usually asks the question:  “Does my vote REALLY count?”  Join us as UofL Political Science Professor Dr. Dewey Clayton gives a brief overview of the election process, including information about how and why the electoral college exists, the difference between state senators and US senators, and how voting affects the local community, such as the election of judges who make important decisions in the courtroom.   This Learning Café is offered in partnership with the Office of Diversity and Equity. 

Facilitated by Dr. Dewey Clayton, Political Science Professor

Co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equity

June 17th from 10:00am-11:00am

 “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

Learning Café:  What is Juneteenth Why Does It Matter Today?

Join us to learn the importance of JUNETEENTH and why we recognize it.  Nefertiti Burton, Professor Emerita, UofL AA Department of Theater Arts and current Professor and Chair, Howard University Department of Theater and Dance and Aukram Burton, Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, will discuss Juneteenth, including its history and why it matters today.  Co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equity and the Black Faculty/Staff Association.

June 19th from 12:30am-1:30pm

Learning Café:  Technology Tips for Better Online Meetings

Do you want to improve the quality of your meetings by making better use of technology?  In this café, you will learn how to improve your internet connection, the differences between various microphones and cameras, how to troubleshoot problems, and how to explore the various resources in Teams (such as whiteboard, captions, and roles).  

Facilitated by Josiah Brock and Joshua Hardman from Student Affairs.

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

 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

Learning Café: Solving Your Home Technology Problems and Still Keeping Your Cool

Now that you are working from home, are technology challenges like the Virtual Private Network (VPN) giving you a headache?  During this café, Katherine Stevenson from Information Technology will help you solve your most frustrating problems and offer tips for making the most of doing your job from your home computer. In turn, she will use your questions to help Information Technology identify solutions and improvements to support the whole campus community.

June 25th from 10:00am-11:00am

Learning Café: Professional Development on a Shoestring Budget

Let's be honest.  In difficult times when office budgets are shrinking, the professional development fund is sometimes the first to go.  But that doesn’t mean you can't continue to grow professionally and learn more.  Brian Buford from the Employee Development and Success Office will share his top strategies for building a solid development plan without spending a dime, and invite café participants to assist in building a resource list that will keep you growing for years to come.

Facilitated by Brian Buford, Director of Employee Development and Success

July 9th from 1:00pm-2:00pm

Learning Café: Blackboard Collaborate Basics and Best Practices

Do you want to learn more about Blackboard Collaborate and how to utilize it in your work? In this café, you will learn about the basic features, best practices, and how to tap into additional training opportunities for Blackboard through the Delphi Center.

Facilitated by Linda Leake, Instructional Technology Consultant Senior, Delphi Center

July 14th from 10:00am-11:00am

Strategies and Engagement Techniques to Improve Virtual Meetings

“Zoom fatigue” has become a popular term to describe mental exhaustion stemming from virtual synchronous meetings. Given modern working conditions, it is unlikely these feelings of depletion will go away naturally, as virtual meetings have become a staple for many of our workdays. On the bright side, there are multiple strategies that individuals can enact to combat Zoom Fatigue and increase engagement in virtual meetings. In our upcoming Learning Café, join Zachary Goldman, Ph.D., Director of the Online MBA and Assistant Professor of Business Communication, as he discusses techniques and approaches that can be conveniently adopted to enhance any virtual meeting.

July 16th from 11:00am-12:00pm

Learning Cafe: Social Media in Higher Education: Best Practices & Guidelines

In this learning cafe, Alicia Kelso, Director of Digital Content and Social Media, will discuss best practices and guidelines for maximizing your department’s social media presence, all while staying within university guidelines. She will offer suggestions to help you navigate a saturated social media environment and still reach your intended audience. If you are responsible for social media in your department, you don't want to miss this session.

July 17th from 1:00pm-2:00pm


Learning Café:  Ideas for a Great 2020 “Staycation”

Did the pandemic bring your vacation plans to a halt this summer?  You may not be going to the beach like you had planned, but there are fun, affordable things to do right here in your own backyard.  The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau will join us to share some of their suggestions for an exciting “staycation” this summer, including some must-see priorities and a few of the city’s best kept secrets that your whole family can enjoy.

Facilitated by Lynnelle Morgan

July 20th from 10:00am-11:00am

Why are People Calling to Defund the Police and How Did We Get to This Point?

In this critical moment when protesters are confronting the actions of police officers, we find ourselves facing challenging questions.  Does systemic racism exist in law enforcement?  What is the role of the police and how has it changed?  What does it mean to “defund the police?”  Dr. Cherie Dawson-Edwards, chair of the department of Criminal Justice, will help unpack these questions and Marian Vasser, Office for Diversity and Equity, will moderate.

July 22nd from 11:00am-12:30pm

Designing Your Home and Work Office Space

How a place makes us feel has a direct impact on our mood and productivity.  Kara Fultz, commercial interior design veteran and sales manager for Kimball, a leading workplace furnishings manufacturer, will feature tips on adapting your home or office space to create a healthy, happy, inviting and mood boosting workspace. Participants will be provided resources on topics that  include ergonomics, furnishings, personal comfort and  lighting that works for video calls and an invigorated outlook on simple ways to feel better at work.

 Facilitated by Kara Fultz, Interior Designer, Market Sales Manager, Kimball

July 28th from 11:00am– 12:00pm

The Importance of Building Healthy Habits

Have you been working out consistently, waking up early to get in some light meditation and journaling, while keeping up with all of your commitments and relationships? If so, great! If not, you’re definitely not alone. In this learning café, Aimee Jewell will talk about why building healthy habits matters, what happens when we get out of sync, how she’s both succeeded and struggled to build a new “normal”, and how you can find a flow that leaves you feeling healthy, happy, and connected.

Facilitated by Aimee Jewell, Engagement Specialist, Leadership Louisville Center

July 31st, from 11:00am-12:00pm

Things to know about student activism and campus protests

How could a premier research university respond to campus activism in a developmentally rewarding and safe manner for students, staff, and faculty? How do we balance free speech rights for those seeking a voice and educational opportunities for those expecting learning without disruption? Join us for the next Learning Café! Jeffrey Sun along with a panel of students will present lessons about today’s college students and the rights and responsibilities associated with campus activism. 

Facilitated by Dr. Jeffrey Sun, College of Education & Human Development, Co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equity

August 4th from 11:00am-12:00pm